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This Day in Wrestling History (Feb. 16): The End of ECW

this day in wrestling history

32 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bruno Sammartino comes out of retirement and wrestles his first match in more than three years. He teams with his son David to defeat Paul Orndorff and Bobby Heenan.

30 years ago today at a WWF Superstars of Wrestling taping in New Haven, Connecticut., the Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel & Tom Zenk) and Lanny Poffo defeated Adrian Adonis and The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine).

Adrian Adonis over the past few weeks has been cutting the hair of his opponents in preparation for the Wrestlemania III hair versus hair bout with Roddy Piper.

As Adonis went for the scissors, Martel grabbed Beefcake and reversed positions with him. Adonis ended up cutting Beefcake's hair. As Adonis and Beefcake argued, Martel rolled up Beefcake for the win. Beefcake would get his payback a month and a half later at Wrestlemania III when he helped Rowdy Roddy Piper shave Adrian's hair. The haircut gives birth to Ed Leslie’s most famous gimmick, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.

20 years ago today, WWF presented In Your House 13: Final Four (WWE Network link) from the UTC Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 6,399 were in attendance, with 175,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 238,000 homes for the previous February's In Your House, Rage in the Cage.

The show's hook was a four-way match featuring Steve Austin and the three men he illegally eliminated to win the previous month’s Royal Rumble match: Bret Hart, The Undertaker, and Vader (Austin had been eliminated by Hart, but none of the referees saw his elimination, allowing Austin to re-enter the match).

The bout, originally a #1 contender’s match for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania 13, was changed to a WWF Championship match when Shawn Michaels vacated the title a few days earlier. The winner of the four-way would have a quick turnaround; he would have his first title defense the next night on RAW against Michaels’ original challenger, Sycho Sid.

Match ratings are from Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer as recorded in the Internet Wrestling Database. Ratings are out of a possible five stars.

  • In a dark match, The Godwinns (Henry & Phineas) defeated The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher).
  • Marc Mero defeated Leif Cassidy. (1.5/5)
  • The Nation Of Domination (Crush, Faarooq, and Savio Vega) defeated Bart Gunn, Flash Funk, and Goldust. (1.5)
  • Rocky Maivia defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship. (1.75)
  • Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon defeated Owen Hart & The British Bulldog by disqualification in a WWF Tag Team Championship match. (3.25)
  • Bret Hart defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and Vader in a four corners elimination match to win the vacant WWF Championship. Elimination in this match was by pinfall, submission, or being thrown over the top rope with both feet touching the floor. All three eliminations in the match were via over-the-top-rope. (4.25)
  • In a post-show dark match, Sycho Sid defeated Bret Hart by disqualification in a WWF Championship match.

19 years ago today on WCW Monday Nitro from Tampa, Florida (WWE Network link), Rick Martel defeated Booker T to win the WCW World Television Championship.

18 years ago today at a RAW is WAR taping from Chattanooga, Tennessee (WWE Network link), The Undertaker defeated Kane in an inferno match.

On the undercard, The Public Enemy defeated Edge and Gangrel via disqualification. The duo made their WWF debuts just a month after returning to ECW to feud with the Dudley Boyz. The bout, scheduled for Crossing the Line ‘99, never took place due to the team negotiating (and ultimately signing) with the WWF.

However, Ted Petty and Michael Durham, aka Flyboy Rocco (Rock—Petty couldn’t use this part of the name in his WWF because of a more famous Rock being their WWF Champion at the time) and Johnny Grunge, were not exactly welcomed with open arms to the WWF. Back in late 1995, the duo got an offer to join the WWF, but turned it down to go to WCW. Many of the WWF veterans who were there never let them forget it. Also, the fact that it was Terry Taylor that had a hand in bringing them in didn’t help matters (Taylor had issues with a lot of the locker room at the time).

Public Enemy lasted all of six weeks with the WWF, with their most infamous moment was being squashed at the hands of the Acolytes on Sunday Night Heat in early March.

17 years ago today on WCW Saturday Night, Hacksaw Jim Duggan finds the WCW World Television Championship belt in a trash can and declares himself champion.

Duggan only holds the title for about six weeks before the championship, first established in 1974 as the NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Championship, is deactivated for good.

13 years ago today on RAW from Bakersfield, California (WWE Network link), Booker T and Rob Van Dam defeated Ric Flair and Batista to win the World Tag Team Championship.

On the same show, Sherriff Stone Cold Steve Austin announced that the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XX will be contested in a triple threat match, involving Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, and champion Triple H.

11 years ago today, Michael Lynn Durham, best known to wrestling fans as Johnny Grunge, died of complications from sleep apnea in his home in Peachtree City, Georgia. He was 39.

Born July 10, 1966 in Sulphur, Louisiana, Durham began his wrestling career in 1987. After a one-off meeting in Austria in 1991, Durham formed a tag team with Ted Petty. Known as Johnny Grunge and Flyboy Rocco Rock, the two would become The Public Enemy.

The two would become the most successful team in ECW's early history, winning the tag team titles four times over an eighteen month span in 1994 and 1995. The duo would be a part of two of ECW's more infamous moments: one when the ring was filled with chairs thrown in the ring by fans, and another when the ring collapsed as the team celebrated with the fans filling the ring. The Public Enemy were influential in hardcore wrestling, particularly with their use of tables (a gimmick that would later be adopted by the Dudley Boyz).

In 1996, Grunge and Rock would join WCW. Despite being with the company for about three years, they would only win the tag titles once, from the American Males in September 1996. They would hold them for just a week before losing them to Harlem Heat.

In 1999, the duo briefly returned to ECW before joining the WWF. They were gone just two months later, but would pop up again in WCW at Bash at the Beach that July in the Junkyard Invitational. Following their release, they returned to the independent circuit, wrestling most notably for the X Wrestling Federation and the Australian-based i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling,

Following the death of Ted Petty (Rocco Rock) in 2002, he would team with his kayfabe brother Joey Grunge as the New Public Enemy. He appeared for 3PW and appeared at Hardcore Homecoming in 2005. Durham was preparing for a comeback in 2006 at the time of his death. Officially, the cause of death was a coronary artery blockage and morbid obesity. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife and two sons.

In 2007, Durham was posthumously inducted into the Hardcore Hall of Fame. Five years earlier, his partner Petty was the first ever inductee.

7 years ago today, WWE presented the 193rd and final episode of ECW on Sci-Fi from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Debuting on the strength of a pair of ECW reunion shows known as One Night Stand, the show was a ratings success to start, but quickly drew criticism for not staying true to the original ECW formula. The show, drawing a 2.8 when it debuted in June 2006, lost half its audience by the end of the year and would never recover. For many, the final nail in the coffin came in the aftermath of December to Dismember when Paul Heyman was the fall guy for the PPV’s failure and was dismissed from WWE.

Not even a pair of talent exchanges nor a “new superstar initiative” could save the dying brand. Two weeks prior, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced that ECW would be discontinued in favor of a reality competition series featuring aspiring WWE superstars known as NXT.

Speaking of NXT, the ECW finale featured the first introductions of the eight NXT rookies and their WWE “pro coaches”.

  • ShoMiz (The Big Show & The Miz) defeated Goldust and Yoshi Tatsu to retain the WWE Unified Tag Team Championship.
  • Ezekiel Jackson defeated Christian in an extreme rules match to become the last ECW Champion. The championship was deactivated and retired following the bout.

2 years ago today, TNA taped One Night Only: Gut Check from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

The event, made available on PPV September 4, had a hook of ten Gut Check participants facing off against ten members of the TNA roster. If a Gut Check participant wins their match, they advanced to the elimination match at the end of the show, where the winner would get a TNA contract.

  • Martin Stone defeated Jessie Godderz.
  • MVP defeated Jon Davis.
  • The Revolution (James Storm and Manik) defeated The Von Erichs (Marshall Von Erich and Ross Von Erich).
  • Shaun Ricker defeated Crazzy Steve.
  • Davey Richards defeated Tony Kozina.
  • Crimson defeated Samuel Shaw.
  • Tevita Fifita defeated Ethan Carter III by disqualification.
  • Drew Galloway defeated Pepper Parks.
  • Dalton Castle defeated DJ Z.
  • Tevita Fifita defeated Shaun Ricker, Martin Stone, Dalton Castle and Crimson in an elimination match to earn a spot on the TNA roster.

On the same day, TNA taped One Night Only: Classic from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

The hook of the show, airing November 6, was a one-night 16-man tournament.

  • In a non-tournament match, Brooke Tessmacher, Taryn Terrell, and Rebel defeated Havok, Madison Rayne, and Angelina Love.

TNA Classic First Round:

  • Gunner defeated The Great Sanada.
  • Mr. Anderson defeated DJ Z.
  • Bram defeated Sonjay Dutt.
  • Austin Aries defeated Khoya.
  • MVP defeated Davey Richards.
  • Eric Young and Bobby Roode went to a double countout, eliminating both men.
  • Rockstar Spud defeated Robbie E.
  • Knux defeated Kenny King.

TNA Classic Quarterfinals:

  • Gunner defeated Mr. Anderson.
  • MVP received a bye into the semifinals as a result of Eric Young and Bobby Roode eliminating each other.
  • Bram defeated Austin Aries.
  • Rockstar Spud defeated Knux.

TNA Classic Semifinals:

  • Gunner defeated MVP.
  • Bram defeated Rockstar Spud in just 95 seconds.

TNA Classic Final:

  • Gunner defeated Bram to win the TNA Classic.

1 year ago today, Brie Bella announces that she will likely retire this summer.

In an interview with Good Morning America, Brie said that her husband Daniel Bryan’s retirement (which happened a week prior) led in part to the decision:

"Feeling and seeing everything he went through with his retirement, it's time for me to hang up the boots. It's going to be hard for me as well, but that day is definitely very close.”

Wrestling Observer Radio, which first reported the retirement possibility a day prior, speculated that Brie’s desire to start a family also led to the decision.

Brie did call it a career following scoring the win in a ten-woman tag team match during the Wrestlemania 32 preshow.

In October 2016, Brie announced that she’s pregnant. She’s due to give birth this spring.

The best of cSs on this day:

2016: ESPN's Michelle Beadle shows poor judgement in online spat with Mark Madden (Former WCW commentator and sports radio host Mark Madden and ESPN’s Michelle Beadle get into a Twitter fight over Beadle ending her boycott with WWE; Beadle makes DM conversation with Madden public for some reason)

2015: Anti-WWE and Vince McMahon rant on Cesaro's Twitter ends with fan claiming he hacked the account (Cesaro is the second WWE performer to have his Twitter hacked in a week)

2014: CM Punk leaving WWE causing some to rethink WWE Network subscription? (The absence of CM Punk is causing some to reconsider committing to a WWE Network subscription just before launch)

2013: WWE's three hour Monday Night Raw format to continue through SummerSlam (Figure Four Weekly’s Bryan Alvarez says RAW will be a three-hour show for the foreseeable future)

2012: Video: Randy Orton suffers concussion on Raw but when? (Did Randy Orton suffer a concussion on RAW? A video from his mach with Big Show suggests he did)

2011: The Rock is one of a kind, and that may be a problem for WWE in 2011 (David Bixenspan points out the obvious: The Rock outclasses everyone on the roster by a wide margin)

2010: In which we talk more about the concept and roster for WWE NXT (WWE issues an official press release on what NXT is)

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