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This Day in Wrestling History (Sept. 7): Next Stop, Ground Zero

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53 years ago today in Omaha, Nebraska, Verne Gagne defeated Fritz Von Erich to unify the AWA and Omaha World Heavyweight Championships.

28 years ago today, Jim Crockett Promotions presented NWA Clash of the Champions III: Fall Brawl (WWE Network link) from the Albany Civic Center in Albany, Georgia.

  • Mike Rotunda and Brad Armstrong fought to a 20-minute time limit draw for the NWA World Television Championship.
  • Nikita Koloff & Steve Williams defeated The Sheepherders (Butch Miller & Luke Williams). It was the last major bout in the NWA for the Sheepherders, as they signed with the WWF a few months later.
  • Dusty Rhodes defeated Kevin Sullivan.
  • Ricky Morton defeated Ivan Koloff in a Russian chain match.
  • Sting defeated Barry Windham by disqualification in an NWA United States Championship match.

25 years ago today in Providence, Rhode Island, Bret Hart defeated Irwin R. Schyster to win the King of the Ring tournament.

This was the last time the event was not televised. The next time the event was held, it was on PPV, but that would not occur until 1993. Other participants in the 1991 tournament were Jerry Sags, Brian Knobbs, Road Warrior Hawk, Road Warrior Animal, Ted DiBiase, Ricky Steamboat, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The Berzerker, Pete Dougherty (substituting for Kerry Von Erich), Skinner, Virgil, Sid Justice, The Warlord, and The Undertaker.

19 years ago today, WWF presented In Your House 17: Ground Zero (WWE Network link) from the Louisville Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky. Officially, the show's title is Ground Zero: In Your House (the first time the event's subtitle was used ahead of the main title).

4,963 were in attendance, with 161,000 homes watching on PPV. That's around the same number for the September 1996 event, In Your House 10: Mind Games. This is the first B-show PPV to have a three-hour run length (and a corresponding price point to match, meaning the In Your House PPVs now cost as much as the Big Five shows).

  • Brian Pillman defeated Goldust. With the win, Pillman won Marlena's services for 30 days. Had Pillman lost, he would have been forced to leave the WWF.
  • Brian Christopher defeated Scott Putski.
  • Savio Vega defeated Crush and Faarooq in a triple threat match.
  • Max Mini defeated El Torito.
  • The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) defeated The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal), The Godwinns (Henry and Phineas), and Owen Hart and The British Bulldog in a fatal four-way elimination match to win the vacated WWF Tag Team Championship. The titles were vacated following Stone Cold Steve Austin's neck injury at Summerslam, forcing Dude Love to vacate his half of the tag titles as well.
  • Bret Hart defeated The Patriot to retain the WWF Championship.
  • Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker fought to a no contest. Side note: though the two have been in the WWF together since 1990, this is the first ever televised singles match between the two.

17 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Albany, New York (WWE Network link), The Big Show and The Undertaker defeated The Rock & Mankind in a tag team Buried Alive match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

To date, this remains the only doubles Buried Alive match in WWE history.

On the undercard, Davey Boy Smith, aka The British Bulldog, returned to the WWF for the first time since the Montreal Screwjob. In his first act, he quickly defeated The Big Boss Man to win the WWF Hardcore Championship. Soon after, he forfeits the championship to Al Snow.

Bulldog’s third and final run in the WWF was a short one. Just over a year into a five-year deal, Bulldog at the request of Vince McMahon entered rehab to combat his prescription drug medication; he would be released soon after.

12 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Tulsa, Oklahoma (WWE Network link), Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree defeated Billy Kidman and Paul London to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

In the show’s main event, Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero fought to a no contest in a lumberjack match. The reason: the Big Show, making his first appearance on WWE programming in over four months (Show was out with a knee injury) cleaning house and laying out most everyone involved in the match.

7 years ago today, WWF presented Unforgiven (WWE Network link) from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. 8,707 were in attendance, with 211,000 homes watching on PPV. That's around the same number as their 2007 event.

The show introduced the Championship Scramble match, a 20-minute match with new participants entering at five-minute intervals. Like the hardcore battle royals of old, falls count anywhere, and anyone can become interim champion by defeating anyone else in the match. Unlike the hardcore battle royals, only the person who scored the last decision when time expired would be recognized as champion. By the way, this is also the last Unforgiven, as the event was replaced by Night of Champions the next year.

  • In a preshow dark match, Evan Bourne defeated John Morrison.
  • Matt Hardy defeated Mark Henry, The Miz, Chavo Guerrero, and Finlay in a Championship Scramble Match to win the ECW Championship.
  • Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase defeated Cryme Tyme (JTG and Shad Gaspard) to retain the World Tag Team Championship.
  • Shawn Michaels defeated Chris Jericho via referee stoppage in an unsanctioned no holds barred match.
  • Triple H defeated The Brian Kendrick, Montel Vontavious Porter, Shelton Benjamin, and Jeff Hardy in a Championship Scramble Match to retain the WWE Championship. Of note, Triple H is the only person to start and finish a Championship Scramble match as champion.
  • Michelle McCool defeated Maryse to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • Chris Jericho defeated Batista, Kane, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and Rey Mysterio in a Championship Scramble Match to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

6 years ago today, Memphis Championship Wrestling, backed by Jerry Lawler, shuts down after business partner Joe Cooper left the company. Cooper was primarily responsible for gaining sponsors for the company.

6 years ago today, WWE presented the first episode of NXT Volume 3.

The all-divas edition would be kicked to a few weeks in with Syfy gaining the TV rights to Friday Night Smackdown. One of the show's contestants, Lindsay Hayward, aka Isis the Amazon, was dropped from the show when fetish photos of her leaked online. Ironically, her replacement, Celeste Bonin, aka Kaitlyn, would go on to win the competition.

1 year ago today, WWE announces on their website they have signed Kanako Urai to a developmental deal.

The well-traveled joshi worked for a number of small independents in her native Japan and ran her own independent in Kana Pro. In the United States, Urai appeared for SHIMMER and Chikara. She also dabbled in freelance graphic design and video game journalism, writing for Xbox’s official magazine in Japan.

Urai and WWE held a press conference the next day to announce the signing. Scheduled to start later in the month, Kanako debuted at the NXT taping just two days later as Asuka, an homage to Lioness Asuka, one half of legendary joshi duo The Crush Gals. Just seven months after her debut, Asuka defeated Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship, a championship she still holds to this day.

It’s a happy 39th birthday to Nora Kristina Benshoof, best known to wrestling fans as "Mighty" Molly Holly.

Born Nora Kristina Greenwald in Forest Lake, MInnesota, Greenwald had no plans to be a wrestler, but became interested in it after watching an episode of American Gladiators. She trained to be a powerlifter and gymnast and once held the Minnesota state powerlifting record for her age group (100 pounds at age 14). With just $200 and a 1965 Oldsmobile, Nora left Minnesota for Florida after graduating high school in 1996. While working at a Subway, it was suggested to her she give wrestling a try. Out of curiosity, she did.

She trained under Dean Malenko and debuted for the World Professional Wrestling Federation in 1997. She tried out for both WWF and WCW as Starla Saxton in 1998 before successfully catching on as Miss Madness in WCW in 1999. She along with Madusa trained Randy Savage's real-life girlfriend at the time, Gorgeous George (real name: Stephanie Bellars). After being fired from the group, she wrestled as Mona until she was let go by WCW in a cost-cutting measure in the summer of 2000.

After a brief run as Lady Ophelia in Memphis Championship Wrestling, she debuted as Holly cousin Molly Holly in November 2000. In 2001, Molly formed an on-screen relationship with Spike Dudley; later Greenwald recalled this storyline being the best time of her career. She dumped Spike in the fall of 2001 and formed an alliance with The Hurricane and became Mighty Molly. The superhero duo split at Wrestlemania X8 when Molly won the WWF Hardcore Championship (she lost it just an hour later to Christian).

She underwent a drastic change following the split, dying her hair autumn brown and fashioning herself as a self-righteous prude, calling herself "pure and wholesome". She would win the WWE Womens Championship twice, once in 2002 and again in 2003. She would lose the title to Victoria in February 2004, then lose her hair to her a month later at Wrestlemania XX.

With the philosophy on the women's division changing with the advent of the RAW Diva Search, Greenwald would be phased out, eventually leaving the company altogether in April 2005, and largely retired from the business. She made sporadic appearances for the company through 2009, last appearing at Wrestlemania 25 in the Miss Wrestlemania battle royal. She also appeared on the independent circuit in non-wrestling capacities.

Following her retirement, she released an autobiographical shoot DVD, has gone into real estate, and is now a teen counselor in Minnesota. In 2010, Greenwald married intern Geno Benshoof.