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This Day in Wrestling History (Jan. 13): Daniel Bryan Breaks Free

this day in wrestling history

26 years ago today, Chris Chavis makes his professional wrestling debut for Larry Sharpe's World Wrestling Alliance in Philadelphia. Chavis was trained by Sharpe at the Monster Factory in New Jersey. Chavis would go on to moderate success in the mid-1990s (and a brief comeback run in 2006) as Tatanka.

24 years ago today, WCW presented Clash of the Champions XXII (WWE Network link) from the Mecca Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

It would be the final major event Jim Ross called for WCW; in February, Eric Bischoff took over for Bill Watts as WCW’s executive vice=president. One of his first acts was to pull Ross from WCW programming (Bischoff and Ross had a contentious relationship since his arrival in the summer of 1991).

Ross in turn demanded his release, but he would have to take an immediate buyout of the remaining time on his contract with Turner Broadcasting to get it. Fearing he would not get work if he were gone for an extended period of time, Jim took the buyout, and would debut for the WWF at Wrestlemania IX.

The card itself got a major shuffling. The original main event of the show was Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Ron Simmons, and Van Hammer versus Big Van Vader, Barry Windham, The Barbarian, and Rick Rude in a THUNDERCAGE match (a domed cage match). Van Hammer and Rude dropped out due to injuries prior to the event. Barbarian was dropped from the team by Vader, who would also take Ron Simmons out of the match. Cactus Jack entered the match midway through to join Sting and Rhodes, essentially turning him face.

Elsewhere on the card, Johnny B. Badd replaced Erik Watts, who was kayfabe suspended due to an altercation with Arn Anderson, while the injured Van Hammer was replaced in the arm wrestling match by Tony Atlas.

  • Cactus Jack defeated Johnny B. Badd.
  • 2 Cold Scorpio defeated Scotty Flamingo.
  • Chris Benoit defeated Brad Armstrong.
  • Vinnie Vegas defeated Tony Atlas in an arm wrestling match.
  • The Wrecking Crew (Fury & Rage) defeated Johnny Gunn & The Z-Man.
  • Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas defeated The Hollywood Blonds (Flyin' Brian & Stunning Steve Austin) by disqualification to retain the NWA/WCW Unified World Tag Team Championship.
  • Cactus Jack, Dustin Rhodes, and Sting defeated Barry Windham, Big Van Vader, and Paul Orndorff in a THUNDERCAGE match.

16 years and two days ago in Chicago, Illinois, Mick Foley rebirths his most famous persona, Cactus Jack, at a Smackdown taping (WWE Network link).

Largely dormant since April 1998, Cactus Jack is billed as the most dangerous of Mick Foley’s three personas (along with Mankind and Dude Love), and Triple H sold it as such (probably due to the flashbacks he probably had when the two first met in September 1997). Foley declared that after the beating Mankind took on RAW, he was not fit to face Triple H at the Royal Rumble, but he named a substitute in the sadist himself.

16 years ago today, ECW held a house show at the Pine Bluff Convention Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

It would turn out to the final ever show presented by the promotion originally known as Eastern Championship Wrestling.

Founded in April 1992 by Tod Gordon, ECW was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance. Eddie Gilbert booked the promotion in its early days, but in September 1993, Paul Heyman, a few months removed from WCW, took over when Gilbert and Gordon had a falling out.

In 1994, Shane Douglas had won the vacated NWA World Heavyweight Championship, defeating 2 Cold Scorpio in the final. In an act of defiance (and in front of NWA President Dennis Coralluzo), Douglas threw down the NWA world title belt, saying he did not want to represent a “promotion that died, RIP, seven years ago”. He raised his Eastern Championship Wrestling heavyweight title belt and proclaimed it as a world heavyweight championship.

The next day, Gordon folded NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling and renamed it Extreme Championship Wrestling, proclaiming Shane Douglas as its first world champion. The promotion presented a blend of hardcore wrestling, lucha libre, and Japanese wrestling.

Adding to the atmosphere was its weekly TV show, ECW Hardcore TV, with many of its shows filmed in the ECW arena, a converted warehouse with chairs and bleachers for seating. Its reputation was enhanced by its liberal use of violence and explicit dialogue as well as copyrighted music; because it was on at such a late hour on hard-to-find television stations, it practically flew under the radar of the FCC.

Gordon sold the company to Paul Heyman in 1995, but remained on board as its on-screen commissioner until he left amidst controversy in September 1997 (allegedly, he was a middleman in regards to WCW poaching ECW talent). In early 1997, ECW entered into a working agreement with the WWF; that April, the company presented its first PPV, Barely Legal.

The promotion’s peak came in August 1999 when they secured a national network deal to broadcast a weekly show on TNN. The deal turned out to be beginning of the end of ECW, as the deal was heavily leveraged in

Without a national television deal (and with Philadelphia’s WGTV-48, ECW’s longtime local TV partner, refusing to air reruns), the clock and the money ran out less than a week after Guilty as Charged in January 2001. With nothing scheduled between the Pine Bluff show and Living Dangerously in March and the company operating millions of dollars in the red (about $7.5 million as it turned out), many believed it was over for ECW. When Heyman appeared on RAW is WAR on March 5, just a week before Living Dangerously, it essentially sealed ECW’s fate as a dead promotion. On April 4, just three days after Wrestlemania X-Seven, Heyman declared bankruptcy, officially ending ECW.

  • Nova defeated Tom Marquez.
  • Christian York & Joey Matthews defeat Hot Commodity (EZ Money & Julio DiNero).
  • Super Crazy defeated Yoshihiro Tajiri.
  • Danny Doring & Tommy Dreamer defeat The FBI (Little Guido & Tony Mamaluke).
  • Jack Victory defeated CW Anderson in a street fight.
  • Michael Shane defeated Oz.
  • Prodigy defeated Phoenix.
  • Rhino defeated Spike Dudley to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Justin Credible defeated The Sandman.
  • The Sandman defeated Justin Credible in a hardcore match. Post-match, Credible and Sandman hugged amidst a sea of bottles and cups being thrown Justin's way until Atlas Security stepped in. Then the locker room emptied and Tommy Dreamer and Sandman thanked the fans while the wrestlers shared beer in the ring.

14 years ago today, WWE broadcasts the first of two parts of their RAW 10th Anniversary special (WWE Network link) from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

The second part, taking place the next night, was an awards ceremony honoring the best matches and moments on RAW from the past ten years.

Of note, Vince McMahon gave an ultimatum to RAW general manager Eric Bischoff: shake the foundation of RAW within a month or be fired. This was the storyline that would bring back Stone Cold Steve Austin for brief final run as an active wrestler.

  • Victoria defeated Jacqueline and Trish Stratus in a triple threat hardcore match to retain the WWE Womens Championship.
  • Maven & Test defeated Christopher Nowinski & D-Lo Brown.
  • William Regal defeated Jerry Lawler by disqualification.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated Raven to earn a spot in the Royal Rumble match.
  • Booker T and Lance Storm fought to a no contest.
  • The Hurricane defeated Steven Richards.
  • Chris Jericho defeated Batista, Kane, and Rob Van Dam in a four-man battle royal to choose his entry number at the Royal Rumble. With Shawn Michaels already assigned #1, Jericho stuns the world and chooses #2.

8 years ago today, Lisa Marie Varon, best known to WWE fans as Victoria, wrestles her final match for the company, a loss to Michelle McCool at a Smackdown taping in Omaha, Nebraska.

Breaking into the business while she was a fitness model and competitive bodybuilder, Varon broke into the business in 2000. She debuted that summer as one of the Godfather's ladies (you may remember her from the "Save the Hos" campaign).

After some seasoning in Memphis and Ohio Valley Wrestling, she returned to the WWE in 2002 as a rival of fellow fitness model turned pro wrestler Trish Stratus. She was a two-time WWE Women's Champion and is often credited as a building block of the women's division in the early 2000s. In recent years, she was the veteran helping with the newer talent getting over.

After making a one-off return at Wrestlemania 25 during the Miss Wrestlemania battle royal, Varon joined TNA in May 2009. She would win the TNA Knockouts Championship five times and would win the Knockouts tag titles once before being released in July 2013.

Varon’s wrestling sporadically since her release, most recently for Chikara in the 2016 King of Trios tournament, teaming with Jazz and Mickie James. They were eliminated in the second round by the Warriors Three.

Just before her TNA release, Varon opened a wrestling-themed restaurant, The Squared Circle, in Chicago. She left the restaurant to her husband and a friend in early 2015. Varon currently resides in Los Angeles.

4 years ago today, TNA presented Genesis from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

Of note, this was the first PPV under the company's new initiative to reduce the number of annual PPVs to four.

  • Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez defeated Matt Morgan and Joey Ryan to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Mr. Anderson defeated Samoa Joe.
  • Christian York defeated Kenny King to earn a TNA X Division Championship match.
  • Rob Van Dam defeated Christian York to retain the TNA X Division Championship.
  • Devon defeated Joseph Park.
  • Velvet Sky last defeated Gail Kim in a gauntlet match to become the #1 contender for the TNA Knockouts Championship. Other participants in order of entry were Miss Tessmacher, ODB, and Mickie James.
  • Christopher Daniels defeated James Storm to earn a TNA World Heavyweight Championship match.
  • Sting defeated DOC.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated Bobby Roode and Austin Aries in a three-way elimination match to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

3 years ago today, James Hellwig, aka The Ultimate Warrior, was announced as the headliner for the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2014.

Two days after his induction at Wrestlemania XXX, Warrior would suffer a fatal heart attack while with his family in Scottsdale, Arizona.

And arguably, that may not been the show's highlight. Daniel Bryan breaking free from the Wyatt Family probably is. After the Usos (Jimmy & Jey) defeated Bryan and Bray Wyatt, he attacks the group, then in one of the iconic images in recent memory, leads a monstrous "YES!" chant on top of the steel cage.

The best of cSs on this day:

2016: Finn Balor is both the WWE NXT Male & Overall Competitor of the Year (NXT Champion Finn Balor wins two NXT Year-End awards)

2015: Kurt Angle has an issue with Paul Heyman's WWE Raw promo from January 12, 2015 (As it turned out, Kurt Angle does have two of the following three things: WWE champion, NCAA champion, UFC champion; also brags about his OIympic gold medal)

2014: Video: Ultimate Warrior's WWE Hall of Fame induction announcement (The official announcement of Ultimate Warrior’s induction... it’s also up there)

2013: One important question about AJ Lee (Is AJ Lee an angel or the devil in disguise? You decide)

2012: Cageside Quote: Dixie Carter thinks 2012 is Sting's last year in pro wrestling (In an interview with the UK’s Daily Star, TNA president Dixie Carter thinks Sting will probably retire at the end of the year)

2011: Cageside Quote: Dave Meltzer is claiming that Vince McMahon still thinks Brock Lesnar will be The Undertaker's WrestleMania opponent (Dave Meltzer in Wrestling Observer Newsletter believes Vince McMahon is still angling for Lesnar-Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXVII)

2010: Great moments in wrestling history: "I was waiting for my spot." (David Bixenspan looks back at Ole Anderson’s heel turn in 1980, one of the most infamous in wrestling history)

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