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This Day in Wrestling History (Feb. 17): nWo Stands For No Way Out

this day in wrestling history

31 years ago today in New York City, Hulk Hogan defeated "Macho Man" Randy Savage in a lumberjack match to retain the WWF Championship.

In an interesting bit of trivia, this was the third consecutive Madison Square Garden meeting between the two future Mega-Powers.

21 years ago today in Baltimore, Maryland, Lex Luger defeated Johnny B. Badd for the WCW World Television Championship. Luger's reign would last just one day; Johnny would win it back the next night.

21 years ago today, ECW presented Cyberslam '96 (WWE Network link) from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The event, half wresting show, half Internet wrestling fan convention, is noted for the debut of Brian Pillman. You may remember Brian from respecting "bookerman" Kevin Sullivan at WCW’s Superbrawl VI a week prior.

In his first act, Pillman berates the fans, his soon-to-be-former bosses in WCW, nearly urinates in the ring, and stabs a man with a fork (it was a plant). This was part of a worked shoot for Pillman to hone his "loose cannon" persona. It was to lead to a feud with fellow “loose cannon”, Shane Douglas. The match would never materialize as two months later, Pillman was badly injured in a single-car accident when he fell asleep driving his Hummer. By the time Pillman recovered, he had signed a deal with the WWF.

Highlights of the event played on the February 20, February 27, and March 5 episodes of ECW Hardcore TV (WWE Network links).

  • Judge Dredd & The Bad Crew (Dog & Rose) defeated Dino Sandoff, Don E. Allen & The Dirtbike Kid.
  • Spiros Gekko defeated El Puerto Ricano.
  • Taz defeated Joel Hartgood.
  • Buh Buh Ray Dudley defeated Mr. Hughes in just 36 seconds.
  • The Bruise Brothers (Don Harris & Ron Harris) defeat The Headhunters (Headhunter A & Headhunter B).
  • JT Smith defeats Axl Rotten.
  • Francine & The Pitbulls (Pitbull 1 & Pitbull 2) defeated Stevie Richards & The Eliminators (John Kronus & Perry Saturn) in a triple dog collar match.
  • Too Cold Scorpio and Sabu fought to a 30-minute time limit draw for the ECW World Television Championship.
  • Shane Douglas defeats Cactus Jack.
  • Raven defeated The Sandman to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.

20 years ago today on RAW from Nashville, Tennessee (WWE Network link), Sycho Sid defeated Bret Hart to win the WWF Championship.

The win comes just a day after Hart won the title in a Final Four match at the aptly named In Your House: Final Four. It only got worse for the Hitman; just moments after Sid wins the WWF title, it's announced that The Undertaker, not Bret, will challenge Sid for the title at Wrestlemania 13.

20 years ago today on Nitro from Tampa, Florida (WWE Network link), Prince Iaukea defeated Lord Steven Regal to win the WCW World Television Championship.

19 years ago today, Harvard University's Harvard Lampoon Magazine awards its annual "Real Man of the Year" to former WWF and WCW world champion "Macho Man' Randy Savage.

19 years ago today at a RAW is WAR taping in Waco, Texas (WWE Network link), The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) defeated The Rock ‘n Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

The match, contested under WWF rules, was the first time the title changed hands on WWF programming.

16 years ago today in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Steve Blackman defeated Raven to win the WWF Hardcore Championship. He loses the title moments later back to Raven.

15 years ago today, WWF presented No Way Out (WWE Network link) from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 15,291 were in attendance, with 575,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down slightly from the 2001 edition with 590,000 buys.

The show is noted for the WWF debut of the New World Order and the return to the company of its three founding members: Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, who hadn’t been with the company since the infamous Curtain Call in May 1996, and Hulk Hogan, last seen on the house show circuit in August 1993, two months after losing the WWF title at King of the Ring.

The trio made an immediate impact, interfering in the show’s main event and costing Stone Cold Steve Austin the WWF Championship.

  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, Diamond Dallas Page defeated The Big Boss Man by disqualification to retain the WWF European Championship.
  • The APA defeated Lance Storm and Christian, Scotty 2 Hotty and Albert, The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff), The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von), and Billy and Chuck in a Tag Team Turmoil match to earn a WWF Tag Team Championship match at Wrestlemania.
  • Rob Van Dam defeated Goldust.
  • Tazz & Spike Dudley defeated Booker T & Test to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • William Regal defeated Edge in a "Brass Knuckles on a Pole" match to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • The Rock defeated The Undertaker.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Triple H to become the #1 contender for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania X8. Stephanie McMahon was the special referee.
  • Chris Jericho defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin to retain the Undisputed WWF Championship.

10 years ago today, Michael Lee Alfonso, best known to wrestling fans as Mike Awesome, was found dead in his home in Tampa, Florida. He was 42.

Born January 24, 1965 in Tampa, Alfonso trained for about a year under Steve Keirn alongside Dennis Knight and Al Green. Alfonso competed for Florida Championship Wrestling, the United States Wrestling Association, and World Championship Wrestling before making a name for himself in Japan.

In September 1990, Alfonso joined Japanese-based Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling as The Gladiator. It would not be until 1994 Alfonso captured his first championship, the FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Championship with Team Canada stable member Big Titan. He would win the title twice that year; Alfonso won the title later in the year with a different partner in Mr. Pogo.

In February 1994, Alfonso as “Awesome” Mike Awesome nearly injured JT Smith at The Night the Line Was Crossed when a high risk dive resulted in Smith’s back folding backwards against the guardrail on impact. According to ECW announcer Joey Styles, his natural reaction of the moment--“Oh my God!”--was the inspiration for his most famous catchphrase.

In September 1995, Alfonso as The Gladiator, defeated Hayabusa for his first singles title, the FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship. He was forced to vacate it the following February due to injury. He would win the title back in May 1996, then unify it late in the year with the FMW Independent Heavyweight Championship with a win over W*ING Kanemura. In August 1997, The Gladiator would team with Hisakatsu Oya and Mr. Gannosuke to win the vacant FMW World Street Fight Six-Man Tag Team Championship, making him a triple champion... albeit briefly. Within a month, The Gladiator would be defeated for all three titles by Masato Tanaka.

The feud with Masato Tanaka would come stateside to ECW when Awesome reguarly began appearing for the promotion during the year. The feud was bookended by losses to Tanaka; the first bout saw Awesome giving Tanaka an Awesome Bomb to Tanaka over the top rope through a table on the outside.

Just a month after returning to FMW, Alfonso seriously injured his knee in a match with Super Leather. The injury would sideline him for a year.

Upon his return to ECW in September 1999, Alfonso became an immediate player. That month at Anarchy Rulz, Alfonso, again as Mike Awesome, defeated Taz and longtime rival Masato Tanaka in a three-way dance for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. He would hold it for most of the next seven months, and was briefly a double champion when he won the tag titles with Raven in early 2000.

On April 10, 2000, Awesome shocked the wrestling world again when he appeared on WCW Monday Nitro as the regining ECW world heavyweight champion when he attacked Kevin Nash. Awesome claimed that he was owed back wages, giving him the out to join WCW. Through some legal wrangling, Awesome (while working for WCW) defended the title against Taz (who was contracted to the WWF) at an ECW event in Indianapolis. Taz quickly defeated Awesome for the title (Taz himself would lose the title to Tommy Dreamer about a week later, who would then lose it to Justin Credible the same evening).

Awesome aided the New Blood in their feud with the Millionaires Club during his first month or so with the company; most notably, Awesome threw Kanyon off the top of the bottom level of a triple cage onto an entrance ramp. Awesome became “The Career Killer”. Later in the summer, Awesome’s career killer gimmick would be radically altered to becoming a “Fat Chick Thrilla” (for his infatuation with full-figured women) and later “That ’70s Guy” (for his infatuation with all things 1970s, complete with Partridge Family style bus). In a 2005 interview with Highspots, Alfonso opined that the reason for the humiliating gimmicks had to do with his relationship with Horace Hogan, who had left WCW following Bash at the Beach in July 2000 (Alfonso and Hogan were cousins); Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo had tremendous heat with one another following a worked shoot gone awry.

In early 2001, Awesome became the “Canadian Career Killer”. He would have his mullet in a match against Konnan on the January 15, 2001 Nitro. Awesome remained with WCW until its shutdown in March.

On June 25, 2001, Alfonso debuted for the WWF as part of the Invasion storyline. In his first act, he attacked Rhyno, who had just won the WWF Hardcore Championship, with a lead pipe and powerbombed him on a ladder. Awesome got the three count and the WWF hardcore title, making him the first “invader” to win gold in the WWF. He would lose the title just two and a half weeks later when Jeff Hardy defeated Awesome for the title.

It would turn out to be the height of Awesome’s WWF run. After he and Lance Storm were defeated by Edge and Christian at Invasion, Awesome was relegated to B-show duty and was sidelined with an injury in November 2001. Upon his return in July 2002, he appeared mainly on Smackdown’s B-show, Velocity. Awesome was released in September 2002 along with his cousin Horace Hogan and Shawn Stasiak.

Awesome wrestled mostly on the independent circuit, had a brief stint in TNA, and returned to All Japan Pro Wrestling as The Gladiator. He also had a short stint in Major League Wrestling, where he briefly won their heayvweight title in June 2003. His last major appearance came for WWE at the ECW reunion show One Night Stand in June 2005. Awesome defeated longtime rival Masato Tanaka in the bout, but it’s more remembered for Joey Styles’ commentary, particularly calling him a Judas (for the way he left ECW) and wishing Awesome had killed himself on a suicide dive. In February 2006, Awesome retired from the ring and became a real estate agent.

On the evening of February 17, 2007, a group of Alfonso’s friends found him dead via hanging in his home in Tampa, Florida. Alfonso had taken his own life at just age 42. At the time of his passing, he was survived by his wife Diann, and two children, 11-year old Casey, and 7-year old Carissa.

9 years ago today, WWE presented No Way Out (WWE Network link) from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. 15,120 were in attendance, with 329,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 218,000 for the 2007 edition.

  • In a dark match, Kane defeated Shelton Benjamin.
  • Chavo Guerrero defeated CM Punk to retain the ECW Championship.
  • The Undertaker defeated Batista, The Great Khali, Finlay, Montel Vontavious Porter, and Big Daddy V in an Elimination Chamber match to earn a World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania XXIV.
  • Ric Flair defeated Mr. Kennedy. Had Flair lost, he would have been forced to retire.
  • Edge defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • John Cena defeated Randy Orton by disqualification in a WWE Championship match.
  • Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Umaga, Chris Jericho, and Jeff Hardy in an Elimination Chamber match to earn a WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania XXIV.

4 years ago today, WWE presented Elimination Chamber (No Escape for German audiences) from the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. 15,669 were in attendance, with 213,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 178,000 for the 2012 event.

  • In a preshow match, Brodus Clay & Tensai defeated Team Rhodes Scholars (Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes).
  • Alberto Del Rio defeated The Big Show by submission to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Antonio Cesaro defeated The Miz to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • Jack Swagger defeated Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry, Chris Jericho, and Kane in a Elimination Chamber match to earn a World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XXIX.
  • The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose) defeated John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus.
  • Dolph Ziggler defeated Kofi Kingston.
  • Kaitlyn defeated Tamina to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • The Rock defeated CM Punk to retain the WWE Championship. Had The Rock been disqualified or counted out, he would have lost the championship.

2 years ago today, Nuufolau Seanoa, best known to wrestling fans as Samoa Joe, announces via Twitter that he had left TNA after nearly a decade with the company. The announcement:

The long-reigning ROH world champion (Joe still holds the record more than a decade later) came to TNA with a lot of fanfare in June 2005. That September, Joe was a part of what is still TNA's one and only five-star match at Unbreakable as he challenged Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles for the TNA X Division Championship. Though he did not win the match, Joe would not suffer a pinfall defeat until a year and a half into his TNA run when newcomer Kurt Angle became the first man to pin him.

At Victory Road in July 2007, Joe made history by winning the tag team championship from Team 3D in the Match of Champions. Combined with his X Division title win earlier in the month, Joe became the first man to hold multiple titles at the same time. It was brief, as at Hard Justice the next month, Kurt Angle won all the titles in a winner take all match. At Bound for Glory, Joe became the first man to pin or submit Christian Cage in a TNA match, ending Christian's unbeaten run at nearly two years.

Joe won his first—and only—TNA world title at Lockdown in April 2008 when he defeated Angle for the title. He held the championship until being defeated by Sting at Bound for Glory in October.

Joe would add the TNA World Television Championship in September 2012, making him the third man to hold TNA's Grand Slam. At the time of his exit, Joe was a part of TNA's top heel faction, the Beatdown Clan.

In May 2015, just after making his NXT debut, Joe opened up about his decision to leave TNA with Live Audio Wrestling:

I think the decision was made in the final few weeks. I’ve often been called by people loyal to a fault, and I didn’t feel the mission was accomplished in TNA yet. I’d done my best throughout my career to help try to build the company and bring it into prominence. It’s had its ups and down and pitfalls here and there, and I don’t feel that job was finished yet. Towards the end there, there were some apparent things and incidents that kinda showed me that maybe it was time for me to move on and maybe it was better for me, both personally and professionally, to explore other options and explore other things. I’ve gotta admit, I’m not unhappy with my decision. I’m unhappy that I didn’t get the opportunity to kinda finish out what I wanted to start in TNA, but at the same time, so many great things have popped up since that I’m very, very satisfied with the decision that I made.”

Joe made his WWE main roster debut last month, attacking Seth Rollins.

The best of cSs on this day:

2016: Report: Undertaker's WrestleMania 32 opponent 'is not on the WWE roster right now' (Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer says Undertaker's Mania opponent has been decided, but he's not on the active roster—turns out he was right; it was Shane McMahon)

2015: Brie Bella would not want to be brought up to WWE main roster if she was in NXT (In yet another indictment on treatment of WWE's ladies, Brie Bella says that the limited time the main roster ladies get would not make her wanna move up if she were in NXT)

2014: Report: CM Punk telling people he's 'done' with WWE ( says CM Punk may not only not be coming back (despite him still being listed as a roster member), he may have been given his outright release)

2013: Elimination Chamber results: The Shield wins! John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback lose! (The Shield continue their dominance over WWE by knocking off three of their top stars)

2012: Video: Triple H talks WrestleMania 29 in New Jersey, Undertaker match (Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg catches up with Triple H, The Rock, Sheamus, and John Cena at the Wrestlemania 29 press conference)

2011: The Sad and Odd Story of Fedor Emelianenko's Fall (Kaleb Kelchner talks about the fall of fall of the man regarded by many as the top MMA fighter in the world)

2010: TNA Impact Spoilers - TNA courts unnecessary controversy with bisexual kiss angle ( says TNA has greenlit a bisexual angle involving bisexual wrestler Orlando Jordan)

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