20 years ago today, Jim Ross announces on a special edition of Friday Night RAW (WWE Network link) that Razor Ramon and Diesel were in talks to return to the WWF.
Needless to say this confused a lot of people as (a) Razor Ramon and Diesel both left a few months earlier for big paydays in WCW, (b) Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, the men who were Razor and Diesel respectively, were 2/3 of the hottest storyline in wrestling at the time (the nWo), and (c) Hall and Nash said three months earlier on PPV television they explicitly do not work for the WWF.
At the end of the month, Ross made good on his promise: Razor Ramon and Diesel were back in the WWF—just not as Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Enter Rick Bognar and the former Isaac Yankem, DDS, Glen Jacobs.
The angle, which included the first ever Jim Ross heel turn, would bomb terribly. The angle was abandoned after just four months. Bognar would never wrestle on WWE television again, leaving the company after his one-year deal expired in 1997. Jacobs that same year would be repackaged as The Undertaker’s brother Kane, a persona he uses to this day.
19 years ago today in Memphis, Tennessee, Steven Dunn defeated Doomsday to win the USWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. Dunn would be the last man to hold the title as the company would shut down two months later.
14 years ago today in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Brock Lesnar defeated World Heavyweight Champion Triple H to retain the WWE Championship. Triple H’s World Heavyweight Championship was not at stake.
The event was not televised, and it wouldn't be until a decade later that Brock and Triple H met in a televised match, the main event of Summerslam 2012.
13 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Toshiaki Kawada defeated Shinjiro Ohtani to win the All Japan Triple Crown Championship for the fifth time, tying him for the most Triple Crown championships with Mitsuharu Misawa.
In January 2016, Suwama joined Kawada and Misawa as five-time All Japan Triple Crown champions. Suwama vacated the title just ten days later when he ruptured his Achillies tendon.
11 years ago today, TNA announces that they have signed Gail Kim.
Initially brought on as a manager for Jeff Jarrett and America’s Most Wanted, Kim wrestled occasionally until TNA’s Knockouts division was born in 2007. At Bound for Glory that October, Kim would win a ten-woman gauntlet battle royal to become the first ever TNA Knockouts Champion.
11 years ago today, WWE tapes the first Friday Night Smackdown (WWE Network link) from the Gwinnett Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
Three of the four Smackdown championships were contested on the show, but many people did not get to see the show that Friday due to a benefit concert for victims of Hurricane Katrina airing in most major markets.
Consequently, the show did a 1.9 rating, the lowest in the show's history at the time (for the record, the record low for any show was a 0.46 on New Year’s Eve 2015, and 0.55 for non-holiday shows on December 10, 2015) The show would spend nearly a decade on Friday across three different network before moving back to Thursday last year, then to Tuesday in July 2016.
- The Legion of Doom (Heidenreich & Road Warrior Animal) defeated MNM (Mercury & Nitro) to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
- Ken Kennedy defeated Paul London.
- Paul Burchill defeated Scotty 2 Hotty.
- Eddie Guerrero defeated Rey Mysterio in a steel cage match.
- Chris Benoit defeated Orlando Jordan in just 22 seconds to retain the WWE United States Championship.
- Batista defeated John Bradshaw Layfield in a bullrope match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
6 years ago today at an Impact taping at Universal Orlando, Jay Lethal defeated Doug Williams to win the TNA X Division Championship for the fourth time.
He would have add a fifth and record sixth title reign before the end of the year. The record for most X Division Championships is now held by Chris Sabin, who held the title eight times from 2003 to 2014. In 2015, Austin Aries joined Jay Lethal with six X Division championships, the second most in company history.
5 years ago today, Shigeri Akabnane, best known to wrestling fans as Little Tokyo, died of a heart attack in St. Joseph, Missouri. He was 70.
Born July 5, 1941 in Tokyo, Japan, he began wrestling under his real name in the early 1970s. During his rookie year, he met fellow midget wrestler Eric Tovey, aka Lord Littlebrook. The chance meeting led to Akabane coming to the United States, where he became Little Tokyo, playing off his Japanese heritage and martial arts background.
Little Tokyo would win the NWA World Midgets Championship three times from 1974 to 1983. He appeared on a number of supercards, including Big Time Wrestling's Christmas Star Wars in 1981, WCCW's Christmas Star Wars in 1982, and AWA Superclash '85. Most famously, he appeared at Wrestlemania III in a mixed tag team match where he and his mentor Lord Littlebrook teamed with King Kong Bundy against Hillbilly Jim, the Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver. Bundy's team was disqualified when dropped an elbow on Little Beaver, leading the midget wrestlers to go after Bundy.
His last major bout came at Universal Wrestling Federation's final show in 1994 when he defeated Karate Kid to become the first—and only—UWF Midget World Champion. Akabane continued to wrestle until his retirement in 1997.
Akabane, a fan of the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs, died of complications from a heart attack at a hospital in St. Joseph, Missouri. Shigeri, who was battling cancer at the time, was scheduled to be released from the hospital that day. At the time of his death, he was survived by a daughter and son.
2 years ago today, AAA taped the first episode of Lucha Underground from Los Angeles, California.
The show, not airing until two months later, would be the debut episode of the wrestling telenovela produced by longtime reality show frontman Mark Burnett.
- In a preshow dark match, Famous B defeated Bael.
- In a preshow dark match, Mil Muertes defeated Magnificent Martin.
- Blue Demon Jr. defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr.
- Son Of Havoc defeated Sexy Star.
- Johnny Mundo defeated Prince Puma.
2 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented All-Star Extravaganza VI from the Mattamy Athletic Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- In a preshow dark match, Cheeseburger defeated The Romantic Touch.
- Mark Briscoe defeated Hanson.
- Moose & RD Evans defeated The Decade (Adam Page & BJ Whitmer), Caprice Coleman & Takaaki Watanabe, and The Monster Mafia (Ethan Gabriel Owens & Josh Alexander) in a Four Corner Survival tag team match.
- The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) defeated The Decade (Jimmy Jacobs & Roderick Strong).
- AJ Styles defeated Adam Cole.
- Jay Lethal defeated Cedric Alexander to retain the ROH World Television Championship.
- Jay Briscoe defeated Michael Elgin to win the ROH World Championship. Of note, the win made Briscoe just the second man in the company history to hold the ROH world title more than once.
- reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) 2-1 in a best of three falls match to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
It’s a happy 55th birthday today to Wendi Richter.
Born in Dallas, Texas, she was trained by Lelani Kai, Judy Martin, and future tag team partner Joyce Grable (they would form the Texas Cowgirls) at the Lilian Ellison School of Professional Wrestling, the school run by The Fabulous Moolah. Richter and Moolah actually teamed in early 1982 for a few matches in the WWWF. Richter feuded with Velvet McIntyre in Stampede Wrestling, Mid-South Wrestling, and the AWA over the next two years, and the Cowgirls would win the NWA Womens World Tag Team Championship twice.
Richter joined the WWF in late 1983, and after feuding with old rivals Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria, would play an integral part in the Rock 'n Wrestling Connection. Managed by Cyndi Lauper against Captain Lou Albano-managed The Fabulous Moolah, Richter ended what would be recognized as the longest championship reign in pro wrestling history on July 23, 1984 on MTV's The Brawl to End it All. The match was the most watched show in the history of MTV at the time. She would lose the title to Moolah protege Lelani Kai at another MTV special, The War to Settle the Score the following February, but would win it back at the first Wrestlemania.
Calling herself "150 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal", Richter was arguably the most popular superstar in the WWF not named Hulk Hogan. The popularity did not translate behind the scenes, as she refused to sign a new deal with the WWF due to a pay dispute. In November 1985, Richter defended the title against The Spider Lady, but it turned out to be an elaborate ruse to get the title off Richter. The Spider Lady broke kayfabe and pinned Richter down for a quick three count. Richter unmasked The Spider Lady to reveal it was The Fabulous Moolah, who inexplicably appeared backstage that day, as it was against her custom to show up on days she wasn't scheduled to wrestle. Richter left Madison Square Garden still in her ring gear, booked herself a flight out, and left the WWF, never to return. Moolah and Richter never spoke to one another again.
She was quite successful on the independent circuit, winning the World Wrestling Council Womens Championship twice in 1987 and winning the AWA Womens Championship in December 1988. After retirement, Richter worked as a real estate agent and earned degrees in physical therapy and occupational therapy. Richter still expressed hurt over her WWF exit in a 2005 shoot interview and refused an invitation to be a part of the Wrestlemania 25 Miss Wrestlemania battle royal.
She spoke fondly of her career during her induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010 and made a cameo appearance on RAW in June 2012 in the leadup to RAW 1000. Richter is also a member of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame as a 2012 inductee.