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This Day in Wrestling History (Feb. 2): Brock Lesnar Debuts in the Octagon

this day in wrestling history

41 years ago today in Dallas, Texas, Sue Green defeated The Fabulous Moolah to win the NWA World Womens Championship. This title change is not recognized by NWA nor WWE.

31 years ago today, Charles Eugene Wolfe, Jr., best known to wrestling fans as Gino Hernandez, died of a drug overdose in his apartment in Highland Park, Texas. He was just 28.

Born August 14, 1957 in Highland Park, Texas, Hernandez initially wrestled for Ed Farhat (aka the original Sheik)’s Big Time Wrestling based out of Detroit. His long black hair and movie-star looks made him an instant hit with female fans. In January 1977, Hernandez would win their version of the NWA United States Championship from Don Kent, holding it for about three months before losing it to The Sheik. Hernandez also wrestled for Southwest Championship Wrestling, training with, teaming with, and feuding with—and losing his hair to--Jose Lothario.

Following the closure of Big Time Wrestling, Hernandez joined World Class Championship Wrestling, feuding with David Von Erich over the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship. For a brief period, he returned to Southwest Championship Wrestling, teaming with Tully Blanchard as the Dynamic Duo. Blanchard and Hernandez would become one of the most hated duos in the state—and one of the most successful, winning their promotion’s Southwest tag titles five times from 1981 to 1983 and their World Tag Team Championship twice.

Hernandez picked up his feud with the Von Erichs when he returned to World Class Championship Wrestling in 1984. That summer, he would be paired with Nickla Roberts, who had a childhood crush on Hernandez (no, seriously. Roberts would go on to great fame for Jim Crockett Promotions as Baby Doll later in the decade). Billed as Andrea the Lady Giant, the two would be involved in mixed tag bouts against Sunshine and Mike Von Erich.

After briefly teaming with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, he rebooted the Dynamic Duo with Chris Adams. After winning matches, the two, using their gold scissors, would cut the hair of their defeated opponents (this gimmick would later be used by Ed Leslie, whose most famous gimmick was Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake). But in October 1985, the tables were turned; after losing a hair versus hair tag match to Kevin and Kerry Von Erich, it was the Dynamic Duo that endured the haircut. Hernandez tried to escape his fate, but was tackled by Chris Von Erich before being shaved bald.

The breakup of the Dynamic Duo would soon become the focal point of WCCW; two months later, Hernandez turned on Adams. The feud intensified in January 1986 when Hernandez threw “Freebird hair cream”, which was a “hair removal product”, into the face of Adams. It was a write-off, as Adams recently had gotten married and was going to spend time with his new wife Toni and his family in England. Hernandez was scheduled to compete in a pair of bouts the following week, but Gino did not show up, and no phone calls were returned.

Concerned with his well-being, on February 4, 1986, two WCCW officials went to the apartment of Wolfe accompanied by several law enforcement officers. They found Wolfe dead in his apartment. Initially ruled a homicide, a later autopsy concluded his death was the result of a cocaine overdose two to three days prior to his body being found. Wolfe was 28.

Wolfe was a known cocaine user among WCCW wrestlers and staff; manager Gary Hart even tried to get him to kick the habit. Though the conclusion was that it was a drug overdose and not a homicide, many believe that a murder indeed took place. WCCW official David Manning said that Wolfe had three times the amount of cocaine in his system that would kill a normal human being. In addition, Manning believes that foul play was involved as Hernandez’s dead bolt was not locked. Michael Hayes and Jake Roberts both said in 2016 interviews that Charles’ involvement in the “wrong crowd” may have played a part in his death. Brutus Beefcake rejects the homicide theory, saying that Wolfe was a notorious partier and had a “serious drug problem”.

A pre-taped match scheduled for the February 15 broadcast involving Hernandez was pulled from air; replacing it was the announcement of Gino’s death from announcer Bill Mercer and another pre-taped match. In May 1986, four months after Gino’s passing, Chris Adams would win the World Class Heavyweight Championship.

Wolfe was married twice to Janice Bancroft. The couple married first from April 1976 to January 1977, then remarried from April 1978 to July 1979. The couple had one child together. Jake Roberts said that Wolfe was involved with the gay community in the Houston area.

31 years ago today, NWA presented Superstars on the Superstation from the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia.

Airing five days later on TBS, the card presented “dream matches” as voted by the fans. A full seven-match card was presented at the arena, but only the latter half of the card aired on TV.

Also appearing on the show in cameo appearances were singer Willie Nelson and former Major League Baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry.

  • In a preshow dark match, Ron Bass and The Barbarian fought to a draw.
  • In a preshow dark match, Baron von Raschke defeated The Italian Stallion.
  • In a preshow dark match, Jimmy Valiant defeated Arn Anderson by disqualification.
  • The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) defeated The Rock ‘n Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
  • The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) defeated Ivan and Nikita Koloff by disqualification.
  • Dusty Rhodes and Tully Blanchard fought to a 20-minute time limit draw for the NWA National Heavyweight Championship.
  • Ric Flair defeated Ron Garvin to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

9 years ago today in Las Vegas, Nevada, former WWE and NCAA heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar makes his UFC debut at UFC 81. He loses by submission via kneebar to Frank Mir in just 90 seconds.

Lesnar took down Mir in the match’s early moments, but one of those punches hit Mir in the back of the head, which is a no-no in mixed martial arts (that’s a one-point penalty). Lesnar took Mir down again, but Mir hooked a kneebar in, forcing Lesnar to submit.

7 years ago today in Memphis, Tennessee, Vince McMahon makes a surprise appearance on ECW on Syfy.

He didn’t come bearing good news (or maybe he did depending on your view): he announced that the ECW on Syfy would end later in the month, with a new “groundbreaking, original show” to take its place. That show, NXT, would replace ECW on Syfy on February 23, one week after its final episode.

ECW came under criticism almost from the outset from fans of the original ECW. Despite debuting to a 2.8 rating in 2006, audiences quickly tuned out, as the show would lose half its audience within six months, and would settle around 1.0 in its final months following the introduction of the “new superstar initiative”.

NXT, ECW’s replacement, rarely cracked above a 1.0 in the rating before the show was pulled from Syfy after just nine months.

3 years ago today, TNA taped One Night Only: Jokers Wild II from the Barclaycard Arena (known formerly as the National Indoor Arena) in Birmingham, England.

The show's hook is similar to the WCW event Battlebowl: The Lethal Lottery where wrestlers form makeshift teams to face off in qualifying matches for the show's main event, an over-the-top gauntlet battle royal for a winner-take-all prize of £100,000 (about $164,400 US at the time). The show was made available on PPV to US audiences on May 9.

  • In a preshow dark match, Gail Kim defeated Shanna.

Qualifying matches:

  • The British Invasion (Douglas Williams & Magnus) defeated Chris Sabin & Gunner.
  • Bad Bones & Samoa Joe defeated Christopher Daniels & Robbie E.
  • Bully Ray & Rockstar Spud defeated Austin Aries & Mr. Anderson.
  • Ethan Carter III & Kazarian defeated Curry Man & Eric Young.
  • The Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) defeated Beer Money Inc. (Bobby Roode & James Storm).
  • Jessie Godderz & Zema Ion defeated Abyss & Samuel Shaw.
  • Madison Rayne, ODB, and Velvet Sky defeated Alpha Female, Gail Kim, and Lei'D Tapa in an elimination tag team match.

Jokers Wild Gauntlet Battle Royal:

  • Ethan Carter III defeated Bad Bones, Bully Ray, Davey Richards, Douglas Williams, Eddie Edwards, Jessie Godderz, Kazarian, Magnus, Rockstar Spud, Samoa Joe, and Zema Ion to win the gauntlet battle royal and £100,000.

The best of cSs on this day:

2016: Vince McMahon apparently wants Undertaker vs. Braun Strowman at WrestleMania 32 (Bryan Alvarez on Wrestling Observer Radio says an Undertaker-Braun Strowman match may be in the works for Wrestlemania)

2015: WWE does what they want regardless of fan opinion, says Roman Reigns, and he's hopefully going to get rich while they do it (Roman Reigns on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast says what many of us are thinking already: WWE’s gonna do what it wants, regardless of what the fans want, just as long as he gets money in the end)

2014: Build your Super Bowl team of pro wrestlers (In the spirit of Super Bowl XLVIII, Cagesiders build a football team of wrestlers)

2013: CHIKARA: Indie Promotion of the Month (You don’t know about CHIKARA Wrestling? You should get to know it)

2012: Holy flying Superstars, Batman! Will a WWE Network show bring back cruiserweights? (PWInsider reports a cruiserweight show may be in the works for the new WWE Network—little did we know it took more than four years for it to come to fruition)

2011: WWE Raw Elimination Chamber and Miz vs Jerry Lawler set for PPV (A recap of the January 31 RAW and how it sets up Elimination Chamber; also 2/21/11 promo teases a possible Sting debut)

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