39 years ago today in New York City's Madison Square Garden. Dusty Rhodes defeated WWWF Champion Superstar Billy Graham via countout.
To say this bout was anticipated would be an understatement: the Garden sold out, so a few thousand had to watch at the Felt Forum via closed circuit television.
21 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, "The Gladiator" Mike Awesome defeated Hayabusa in a tournament final to win the FMW Brass Knuckles Championship.
17 years ago today, WWF presented Unforgiven (WWE Network link) from the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. 15,799 were in attendance, with about 330,000 homes watching on PPV; however, some estimates have the number as high as 408,000 buys.
The event also featured replacement referees for nearly all the matches, as the regular officials were on "strike" due to the continuous physical abuse they took in recent months. The only regular official to work a match on the show was Jimmy Korderas. It would also be the last WWF PPV for head writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara; they would leave a few days later for WCW.
- Val Venis defeated Steve Blackman.
- D'Lo Brown defeated Mark Henry to win the WWF European Championship.
- Jeff Jarrett defeated Chyna by disqualification to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
- The Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von).
- Ivory defeated Luna Vachon in a hardcore match to retain the WWF Women's Championship.
- The New Age Outlaws (Mr. Ass and Road Dogg) defeated Edge & Christian to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
- Al Snow defeated The Big Boss Man in a Kennel From Hell match to retain the WWF Hardcore Championship.
- X-Pac defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification.
- Triple H defeated The Rock, Mankind, Kane, The Big Show, and The British Bulldog in a Six-Pack Challenge to win the vacant WWF Championship. Stone Cold Steve Austin was the special referee.
13 years ago today, The Rundown premiered in theaters.
The Strike Entertainment/WWE Films co-production stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a bounty hunter sent to Brazil to retrieve his employer's son, played by Seann William Scott.
The film, while generally well-liked by critics, was a bust in the box office (The film, budgeted at $85 million, makes just under $81 million, with only $47.7 million coming domestically). Action movie legend Arnold Schwarzenegger has an uncredited cameo in the film.
12 years ago today, Marianna Komlos passed away from breast cancer. She was just 35.
Born September 3, 1969 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Komlos began taking up bodybuilding after weighing close to 200 pounds. In 1993, she got into the competitive bodybuilding circuit, eventually winning the British Columbia Championships as a middleweight in 1997. Komlos would appear on the cover of many fitness magazines, including in a span of four months in 1997 Muscle & Fitness, Flex, and Women's Physique World.
In 1999, she entered the WWF as Mrs. Cleveage, the storyline incestuous mother of Beaver Cleavage in one of wrestling's most infamous angles. Following the abrupt killing of that angle, Marianna was portrayed as an abused girlfriend of the former Beaver Cleavage, Chaz Warrington. After it was revealed she was faking the abuse, Komlos was written off and subsequently released. She was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after.
Less than a week after marrying mixed martial artist and stuntman Paul Lazenby in 2005, Komlos died of breast cancer on September 26, 2004. She was just 35.
11 years ago today, RAW airs for the final time on Spike TV.
The split comes five years and a day to the day WWE’s flagship show was plucked from USA after Viacom won the broadcasting rights to WWE’s cable programming. Unfortunately for the network formerly known as TNN, they got the programming just as the peak of wrestling’s popularity ended, meaning they never saw the ratings USA Network saw at the height of the Monday Night Wars.
In March 2005, Viacom ended negotiations with WWE on a new TV deal, opening the door for the promotion to seek a new broadcast partner. Less than a month later, NBCUniversal nabs the broadcasting rights and announced that RAW would return to its original home, USA Network, effective October 2005.
A side nugget: WWE’s B-level cable shows were not picked up in the new deal (though a one-hour version of RAW and a Spanish-language broadcast of the show was, along with a pair of NBC specials yearly), meaning Sunday Night Heat and Velocity both aired their final shows on American broadcast television the prior weekend. (The shows continued as an online series in the States and airing on television internationally; Velocity ended its series in June 2006 with the reintroduction of ECW; Heat ended in 2008).
Spike wasn’t exactly cordial with its final outing, with the network censoring RAW’s new home and pushing its new Saturday night wrestling show (TNA Impact, which debuted the following weekend) and Monday night UFC block (billing it as unscripted as a shot to WWE). Spike got a little too happy with the mute button: they even muted their own network mention in one instance.
In the show's main event, Carlito & Chris Masters defeated John Cena & Shawn Michaels. Full show’s here on WWE Network, assumingly without the mutes. Also, here’s a partial script from the show leaked by a Redditor earlier this year.
8 years ago today, Smackdown airs for the final time on the CW Network.
The show, born as a one-off special in April 1999, was picked up by UPN and was the first regular primetime wrestling show on broadcast television since the 1950s. It was an immediate hit, and became the most-watched show on the network.
In 2006, UPN and The WB merged to form the CW Network (CBS-Warner Brothers). Though Smackdown continued to deliver solid ratings, it was the “black sheep” of the family as most of CW’s programming catered to young females. Consequently, the once top-rated show on UPN was only seventh in the 18-34 demographic with the CW.
In February 2008, WWE and the CW mutually agreed to part ways; the same month, MyNetworkTV picks up the TV rights. It would be the network’s last first-run series; MyNetworkTV was converted from a television network to a programming service in early 2009, and in October 2010, Smackdown would leave MyNetworkTV for SyFy, officially bringing all of WWE’s programming under the NBCUniversal umbrella.
7 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Glory by Honor VIII: The Final Countdown from the Manhattan Center in New York City.
The show is noted for the final appearances of both Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness in ROH before heading to WWE (Nigel would end up in TNA after failing a physical for WWE) and the return of Jim Cornette just days after he was let go from TNA. Plus Bret Hart appeared.
- Colt Cabana defeated Rhett Titus.
- The Dark City Fight Club (Jon Davis & Kory Chavis) defeated Up in Smoke (Cheech & Cloudy).
- Claudio Castagnoli defeated Kenny Omega.
- Roderick Strong defeated Delirious, Grizzly Redwood, and Sonjay Dutt in a Four Corner Survival Match.
- The American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) defeated El Generico & Kevin Steen in a Ladder War to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
- Chris Hero defeated Eddie Kingston.
- Austin Aries defeated Petey Williams by countout to retain the ROH World Championship.
- The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) defeated The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe).
- Bryan Danielson defeated Nigel McGuinness via submission.
5 years ago today in Kansas City, Missouri, John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger in a five-man Hell in a Cell match to retain the WWE Championship.
The bout was the post-show dark match for that evening's RAW taping and is considered a part of the match's history. Clocking in at just five minutes, it's the shortest Hell in a Cell match in WWE history.
3 years ago today, Hulk Hogan "quits" TNA at the conclusion of an Impact taping in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In a last gasp, Dixie Carter wrapped herself around Hogan's leg as she begged him to stay and "join the Dixie train". Not surprisingly, Hogan basically engineered his own exit from the company. The show airs a week later, two days after his contract with TNA expired.
Though there was rampant speculation that he would re-up in time for Bound for Glory, Hogan instead would sign a legends deal with WWE in time for Wrestlemania XXX. Hogan was fired in July 2015 after transcripts of him making racial remarks on a sex tape made back in 2008 surfaced online. Hogan would later successfully sue Gawker Media for leaking the tape, winning $140 million in damages earlier this year and ultimately drove Gawker to bankruptcy.
It's a happy 34th birthday today for Kanako Urai. Gaining international prominence as Kana, Urai is known these days as NXT Women’s Champion Asuka.
The former graphic designer and video game journalist was enamored with puroresu and decided on a career change, and in 2004, she would make her professional wrestling debut for the all joshi promotion AtoZ. Chronic nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys, forced Urai away from the ring in 2006. In her time away, she opened her own graphics design agency. She returned a year and a half later as a primarily freelance performer, working with at least a dozen promotions, including Ice Ribbon, JWP Joshi Puroresu, NEO Japan Ladies Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Wave, Pro Wrestling Zero1, DDT, Smash, her own promotion Kana Pro, 666, Toryumon Mexico, All Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Noah, and in the United States, Chikara and SHIMMER.
While establishing herself as one of the top villainesses in puroresu, she has become quite successful, collecting over a dozen championships, including winning the Smash Diva Championship twice, the Pro Wrestling Wave annual Catch the Wave tournament in 2011, tag team championships in Reina Joshi Pro, Pro Wrestling Wave, and Neo Japan Ladies Pro Wrestling, and the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship five times.
In July, Kana announced that she would go on an indefinite hiatus following her KanaProMania event in September. Though there were rumors that she was pregnant, she said she wanted to try something new after wrestling for the past ten years. That something new would be more wrestling. After being spotted at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, rumors were abound that she signed with WWE. It turned out that she did, confirming the signing on August 27.
Urai made her NXT debut at the September 10 tapings as Asuka, an homage to joshi legend Lioness Asuka. She was confronted by Dana Brooke and Emma at her contract signing. She would submit Dana Brooke in her debut at NXT Takeover: Respect in October, then Emma at Takeover: London two months later. She would briefly feud with Eva Marie and Nia Jax before being declared the #1 contender to Bayley’s NXT Women’s Championship in March.
At NXT Takeover: Dallas, Asuka defeated Bayley by technical submission to win the title. After defeating Nia Jax in a title defense at Takeover: The End, Asuka defeated Bayley in her return match at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II.
Away from the ring, Urai is a fan of American culture, and cites her favorite bands as Aerosmith, Guns n' Roses, and Bon Jovi. She's also an avid gamer and likes movies including The Godfather, Gran Torino, and Dances with Wolves.