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This Day in Wrestling History (Feb. 1): Happy Birthday Ronda Rousey!

this day in wrestling history

24 years ago today on Monday Night RAW (WWE Network link) from New York City, Lex Luger makes his WWF in-ring debut with a win over Jason Knight.

On the same show, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake returned to the company. Brutus, real name Ed Leslie, had been sidelined for most of the last year after his “Barber Shop” talk show set was destroyed at the hands of Sid Justice. The talk show was something for Beefcake to do to keep him on television, as he had been away from the ring since a parasailing accident in July 1990 resulted in his face being completely crushed. Over 100 metal plates were required to repair the skeletal bones.

Leslie briefly returned in early 1991 as a masked wrestler that would run in on various heels, throwing a few punches and a headbutt before disappearing. The gimmick never made it to television.

In Beefcake’s first match back, airing February 15 (WWE Network link), Beefcake defeated Ted DiBiase by disqualification. Beefcake's return was a vehicle for another return later in the month: Hulk Hogan.

20 years ago today, ECW presented Crossing the Line Again (part 2 here) from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The show opened with the announcement that ECW will make their PPV debut April 13 with Barely Legal, main evented by Taz vs. Sabu.

  • Louie Spicolli defeated Mike Awesome
  • Lance Storm defeated Balls Mahoney.
  • Stevie Richards defeated Ricky Morton.
  • Steve Williams defeated Axl Rotten.
  • Raven defeated Steve Williams to retain the ECW Championship.
  • Sandman defeated D-Von Dudley.
  • The Eliminators (Perry Saturn & John Kronus) defeated Sabu & Rob Van Dam to retain the ECW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Terry Funk defeated Tommy Rich.
  • Tommy Dreamer & The Pitbulls (#1 and #2) defeated The Triple Threat (Shane Douglas, Chris Candido, and Brian Lee).

7 years ago today, WWE announces puroresu legend and briefly WWWF Champion Antonio Inoki would enter the WWE Hall of Fame.

7 years ago today, Freddie Joe Brisco, best known to wrestling fans as Jack Brisco, died of complications from open heart surgery. He was 68.

Born Freddie Joe Brisco September 21, 1941 in Seminole, Oklahoma and raised in Blackwell, Oklahoma, Jack was a fan of pro wrestling as a young child, specifically Lou Thesz. He was followed into the sport by his brother Gerald, and passed on a football scholarship at Oklahoma to go to Oklahoma State. He was a national NCAA wrestling runner-up at 191 pounds in 1964 and won the national title in 1965, making him the first Native American national champion in the sport. In his junior season, he was never taken down once.

Right out of college, Jack began wrestling professionally. His earliest documented matches came for NWA Missouri in October 1965 when he became the NWA Missouri Junior Heavyweight Championship. He would also win championships for NWA Oklahoma and NWA Arkansas, as well as team with Haystacks Calhoun to win the NWA Tri-State US Tag Team Championship.

His biggest success came with another NWA affiliate, Championship Wrestling from Florida. He won the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship twice in 1969, as well as the first of ten NWA Florida tag team titles with Ciclon Negro.

After touring Japan and Australia, he returned to Florida and began teaming with his brother Gerald. Jack would become the NWA Florida Television Champion in November 1970, then win the NWA Florida tag titles with Gerald in February 1971. They would engage in a years-long feud with the Funk family. He would add the Southern Heavyweight Championship to his trophy case in June 1971, but the title was held up following a controversial rematch with Dick Murdoch. In 1972, he won the Florida TV title for the third time, won a third tag title, and the Florida Brass Knuckles Championship.

Jack was set to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Dory Funk, Jr., but Dory claimed to have been injured in a truck accident and missed the date. The legitimacy of the accident came into question, with several others accusing Dory Sr. of not wanting his son to lose his credibility by losing to a pure wrestler. Eventually Jack won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Harley Race in July 1973. He would hold it for the next two and a half years (save for a four-day run by Giant Baba in December 1974), losing it to Terry Funk in December 1975.

After a year or so on the independent circuit, Jack returned to Florida and teamed with Gerald and would pile on more tag team title reigns, winning back the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship three more times in 1977 and 1978, while at times simultaneously holding the NWA United States tag titles (Florida version). Their success-€”and the Funks-€”followed them to Georgia Championship Wrestling, winning the NWA Georgia tag titles twice, though lost a tag title tournament to the Funks. In late 1979, Jack Brisco became the first NWA National Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Terry Funk in the final.

Jack would have one last stint in Florida in the early 1980s, winning the Florida tag titles with Jimmy Garvin and his brother Gerald. In 1981, Brisco defeated Bobby Jaggers to win the Southern Heavyweight Championship. That same year, he won the NWA North American tag titles (Florida version) with Gerald in a tournament final.

Brisco had a brief run in Puerto Rico in 1981 for World Wrestling Council, winning their Caribbean Heavyweight Championship and teaming with Jack to win the North American tag titles. He also had a brief second run in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, winning their heavyweight title from Roddy Piper in May 1982 and trading it back and forth with Paul Jones later in the year. Speaking of trading back and forth, he and Gerald would trade back and forth the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) several times between them and Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood throughout the summer and fall of 1983.

In 1984, the Briscos, who had a minority stake in Georgia Championship Wrestling, convinced a majority of their shareholders to sell to Vince McMahon (setting up the infamous Black Saturday incident that July). Though it was alleged they were offered lifetime jobs in exchange for their shares, Jack debunked the story in 1986. In December 1984, the Briscos went to a double countout with the North-South Connection (Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch) for the WWF Tag Team Championship. It would prove to be Jack's last major bout. Jack retired from the business entirely in early 1985, while his brother Gerald transitioned into a backstage role within the WWF/E until his retirement in 2009.

Post-retirement, Jack ran the Brisco Brothers Body shop with his brothers Gerald and Bill. He made occasional appearances through the mid-2000s. Jack was inducted into the inaguaral Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class in 1996, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005, and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. Jack is considered one of the greatest professional wrestlers of his era, and fellow wrestler Don Leo Jonathan called him " probably the greatest champion of the 20th century". Jack along with his brother Gerald are credited with discovering Terry Bollea, who would go on to great success as Hulk Hogan.

On February 1, 2010, Brisco died of complications from open heart surgery. At the time of his passing, he was survived by his wife of over 30 years Jan, his five siblings Gerald, Bill, Gene, Sharon, and Shirley, and three children: Debbie, Jennifer, and Barry.

3 years ago today, Chikara presented National Pro Wrestling Day. The show closed with the announcement with the return of the promotion on May 25, their first official event since a storyline shutdown nearly a year prior.

For the curious, this year’s National Pro Wrestling Day is this Saturday.

  • Colt Cabana defeated Drew Gulak 2-1 in a best of three falls match.
  • Dasher Hatfield defeated Eddie Kingston.
  • Hallowicked defeated Mike Bennett.
  • The Baltic Siege defeated The Polar Baron's Bloc Party.
  • Heidi Lovelace and Joe Pittman fought to a no contest for La Copa Idola.
  • Shynron defeated Juan Francisco Coronado in a no disqualification match.
  • Eric Corvis defeated Sonjay Dutt.
  • Icarus, the Colony, and the Osirian Portal defeated The Batiri and Los Ice Creams.

It’s a happy 30th birthday to Ronda Jean Rousey.

Born in Riverside, California, she is the youngest of three daughters; her mother AnnMaria De Mars, was the first American-born world judo champion (she did it in 1984). Her biological father committed suicide following a sledding accident that left him a paraplegic when Ronda was eight. Ronda spent her younger days with apraxia, a neurological childhood speech sound disorder brought on by having an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck at birth.

At age 11, Ronda began training in Judo with her mother. The two trained together for two years until Ronda accidentally broke her mother's wrist. At age 17, Ronda became the youngest judoka in the Olympics in Athens. Success came to the young Rousey, as she won the world junior Judo championship that year, then the Birmingham World Cup in 2006, becoming the first female American judoka to win an A-level tournament. She would go on to earn the bronze medal in the junior world championship later that year, the silver medal at the World Judo Championships the next year at middleweight, and the gold medal in the 2007 Pan American Games. The height of her judo career came in 2008 when she won a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, becoming the first American woman to medal in women's judo since the sport was added to the Games in 1992. Following the Olympics, Rousey retired from judo and moved to Venice Beach, California and began formal MMA training through Team Hayastan and the Glendale Fighting Club.

In August 2010, she made her mixed martial arts debut with a 23-second submission win. She would go on to win two more fights via armbar submission, each in under a minute. In March 2011, she made her professional MMA debut for King of the Cage with a 25-second submission win over Edaine Gomes. She followed it up with a 49 second submission win for Hard Knocks Fighting Championship in Calgary in June.

Her first major MMA debut came for Strikeforce Challengers in August with a controversial first-round technical submission win over Sara D'Alello (D'Alello claimed she did not submit). After another armbar submission win in November (one that dislocated the elbow of Julia Budd), Rousey announced her intention to drop to 135 pounds from 145 and challenge Miesha Tate for the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Championship. In March 2012, Rousey won via armbar submission in the first round over Tate for the title, again dislocating her opponent's elbow. That summer, UFC president Dana White did a 180 on the possibility of female fighters in the Octagon, saying that "in the next 10 years, if there's a woman in the octagon, it's probably going to be Ronda Rousey." After a win over Sarah Kaufman in August (first round, armbar), Ronda announced her intention to fight Cristaine "Cyborg" Santos, but at bantamweight (Santos is a featherweight).

It was around this time Ronda Rousey got the nickname "Rowdy", after famed wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper; Rousey didn't like it so much, feeling it was disrespectful to use the nickname. After meeting the "Hot Rod" himself through Gene LeBell, Roddy gave her the green light.

In November 2012, about a year after the purchase of Strikeforce, Rousey would be the first female fighter signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and was named the promotion's first Women's Bantamweight Champion. Her UFC debut came in February 2013, and despite having her jaw dislocated by Liz Carmouche, Rousey retained the title with a first-round armbar submission.

Rousey's next opponent was to be Cat Zingano, but she suffered a knee injury; in her place, her old Strikeforce rival Miesha Tate. The two met at UFC 168 in December, with Rousey retaining via armbar submission in the third round. Ronda would have her first UFC main event two months later at UFC 170; she defeated Olympic medalist Sara McMann with a knee to the body, the first TKO win of Rousey's career. In April at UFC 175, she scored her second straight knockout with a win 16-second win over Alexis Davis.

Rousey and Zingano finally did meet at UFC 184 in February 2015; Rousey won with an armbar submission in just 14 seconds, at the fastest championship match in UFC history (the record was broken in December when Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds for the undisputed UFC featherweight championship). In August at UFC 190, she knocked out Bethe Correia in just 34 seconds. Post-fight, she dedicated the win to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, who passed away just a day earlier. Her six wins in the UFC average 2 minutes, 59 seconds, five minutes shorter than the average UFC heavyweight bout.

Her undefeated streak came to an end at 12 wins in November at UFC 193 when she was bested by Holly Holm with a kick to the head. It was the first defeat for Rousey in her MMA career, amateur or pro. Despite the defeat, she received a Fight of the Night bonus. After a year away from mixed martial arts, she returned in December 2016 at UFC 207 challenging Amanda Nunes for the women’s bantamweight championship, but she was defeated in just 48 seconds. In a January 2017 interview, UFC president Dana White opined that Rousey’s MMA career may be over.

The former Vegan is a fan of Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, and professional wrestling (she along with Shayna Basler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir have dubbed themselves the Four Horsewomen, a play on the successful stable of the 1980s and 1990s, the Four Horsemen), and plays World of Warcraft. She's also recently dove into acting, appearing in The Expendables 3 in 2014, Furious 7 and Entourage in 2015, and will star in the remake of the 1989 movie Road House.

She's also an author, penning My Fight/Your Fight with Maria Burns Ortiz. Ronda had a cameo appearance at Wrestlemania 31, interacting with The Rock, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon.

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