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This Day in Wrestling History (Sept. 9): Ric Flair Makes His WWF Debut

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this day in wrestling history

49 years ago today in Boston, Massachusetts, Bruno Sammartino defeated Gorilla Monsoon in a Texas Deathmatch to retain the WWWF Championship.

36 years ago today in Allentown, Pennsylvania, The Wild Samoans defeat Tony Garea & Rene Goulet to win the vacated WWWF Tag Team Championship.

The title was vacated following Showdown at Shea when Pedro Morales & Bob Backlund won the titles, but were forced to vacate them due to Backlund being the WWWF Champion at the time.

30 years ago today in Columbia, South Carolina, Dusty Rhodes defeated Arn Anderson to win the NWA World Television Championship.

25 years ago today, Ric Flair makes his WWF television and in-ring debut. Not at the same time though.

He wrestles two matches for a WWF Superstars taping in Ottawa, Ontairo, Canada, defeating Jim Powers (alternate commentary for the match by Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan here) and going to a no contest against Mark Thomas (featuring Vince McMahon’s first ever physical involvement in a storyline).

As Superstars matches are often taped as far as a month in advance, Flair's television debut would occur on Prime Time Wrestling that the same day as the newest client of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.

Oh, and Flair just happens to debut with that Big Gold Belt WCW’s been wanting back for two months. Flair claimed he never his $25,000 plus interest (which was about $13,000) when he left WCW, so in his mind, the belt was his to keep. Eventually, WWF and WCW go to court over the matter. The belt would soon be censored on WWF programming (WWF worked around this by having Flair use a replica tag team title belt—which was also censored) until the two sides came to a settlement and the belt was returned to WCW.

But wait! There’s more. During the same set of tapings, Sgt. Slaughter began his face turn through a series of vignettes. Though he never again reached the heights of his career when he was the Iraqi-sympathizing WWF Champion (and recipient of death threats), his pleas for forgiveness lives on in wrestling lore with a memorable olive branch to the fans: “I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!”

But wait! There’s more. The same set of tapings would produce another series of vignettes where former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion Tito Santana took up bullfighting. At the end of the series of vignettes, he would be simply known as El Matador.

23 years ago today, Shane Douglas wins the ECW Heavyweight Championship via forfeit over Tito Santana. The phantom title changed was alleged to have occurred in Roanoke, Virginia, but the show never took place.

16 years ago today in Mississiauga, Ontario, Canada, Rhino defeated Kid Kash to win the ECW World Television Championship. He would be the last man to hold the title as the company officially shut down a few months later.

13 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Birmingham, Alabama (WWE Network link), Eddie Guerrero defeated John Cena in a parking lot brawl.

On the same show, Stephanie McMahon and Brock Lesnar went to a no contest when Kurt Angle interfered.

10 years ago today at CZW Down with the Sickness 4-Ever: A Tribute to Chris Cash II at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Eddie Kingston defeated Chris Hero to win the CZW Championship.

On the same show, Sonjay Dutt defeated Sexxxy Eddie to win the CZW Junior Heavyweight Championship.

9 years ago today, TNA presented No Surrender from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

The show featured Kurt Angle defending all of TNA's titles as he had won them the previous month in a winner take all match against Samoa Joe. And the in-ring debut of Adam "Pacman" Jones.

  • Team Pacman (Adam Jones and Ron Killings) defeated Kurt Angle and Sting to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Jones did nothing in the match outside of getting the winning pinfall on Sting. Angle turned on Sting, leading to Pacman getting the victory. The reason Jones couldn’t get physical? Court order. Adam, who had been suspended for the entire 2007 season due to repeated violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, had a restraining order issued against him by the Tennessee Titans prohibiting him to engage in any physical contact of any kind.
  • Rhino defeated James Storm.
  • Robert Roode defeated Kaz.
  • Jay Lethal defeated Kurt Angle to win the TNA X Division Championship.
  • Chris Harris defeated Black Reign in a No Disqualification match.
  • A.J. Styles and Tomko won a tag team gauntlet match to earn a TNA World Tag Team Championship match at Bound for Glory. Other teams included The Voodoo Kin Mafia (B.G. James and Kip James), The Latin American Exchange (Homicide and Hernandez), Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon), The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley), Triple X (Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper), Sonjay Dutt and Petey Williams, Serotonin (Raven and Havok), Eric Young and Shark Boy, and Lance Hoyt and Jimmy Rave.
  • Christian Cage defeated Samoa Joe by disqualification.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Abyss to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

4 years ago today, TNA presented No Surrender from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

The show centered on determining who would face the TNA World Heavyweight Champion at Bound for Glory.

  • Jeff Hardy defeated Samoa Joe in a Bound for Glory Series semifinal match.
  • Bully Ray defeated James Storm in a Bound for Glory Series semifinal match.
  • Miss Tessmacher defeated Tara to retain the TNA Knockout Championship.
  • Zema Ion defeated Sonjay Dutt to retain the TNA X-Division Championship.
  • Rob Van Dam defeated Magnus.
  • Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels and Kazarian) defeated A.J. Styles and Kurt Angle to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated Bully Ray to win the Bound for Glory Series and a TNA World Heavyweight Championship match at Bound for Glory.