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This Day in Wrestling History (Feb. 24): WWE Network is Born

this day in wrestling history

26 years ago today, WCW presented WrestleWar '91 (WWE Network link) from the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. About 6,800 were in attendance with 160,000 homes watching on PPV.

  • In a dark match, Eddie Guerrero & Ultraman defeated Huichol & Rudy Boy.
  • Ricky Morton, The Junkyard Dog, and Tommy Rich defeated Big Cat and State Patrol (Lt. James Earl & Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker) to retain the WCW World Six Man Tag Team Championship.
  • Bobby Eaton defeated Brad Armstrong.
  • Itsuki Yamazaki & Mami Kitamura defeated Miki Handa & Miss A.
  • Dustin Rhodes defeated Buddy Landel.
  • The Southern Boys (Steve Armstrong & Tracy Smothers) defeated The Royal Family (Jack Victory & Rip Morgan).
  • Terrance Taylor defeated The Z-Man in a no disqualification match.
  • Big Van Vader and Stan Hansen fought to a double disqualification.
  • Lex Luger defeated Dan Spivey to retain the WCW United States Championship.
  • The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy Garvin & Michael Hayes) defeated Doom (Butch Reed & Ron Simmons) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Larry Zbyszko and The Four Horsemen (Barry Windham, Ric Flair, and Sid Vicious) defeated Flyin' Brian, Sting, and The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) in a War Games match. The match was stopped when Brian Pillman was deemed unable to continue after he was knocked out from a series of powerbombs.

22 years ago today in Erlanger, Kentucky, Dan Severn defeated Chris Candido to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Severn would hold the championship for the next four years before losing it to Naoya Ogawa in March 1999. His 1,479 day run is the longest of the modern era and the second longest uninterrupted run in the history of the title, bested only by Dory Funk, Sr., who held the title for 1,563 days from 1969 to 1973.

20 years ago today on Monday Night RAW from New York City (WWE Network link), Extreme Championship Wrestling invades the Manhattan Center.

It wasn’t the first time ECW crashed a WWF show: at In Your House: Mind Games a year earlier, The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and ECW owner Paul Heyman were in the front row and seen on camera during the show’s opening match (though the threesome were never identified by name).

In the months that followed, Jerry Lawler became an outspoken critic of ECW and even made occasional appearances for the promotion. The rants reached a fever pitch when a week prior, Lawler challenged anyone associated with ECW to appear on RAW. Later in the show, Paul Heyman called and accepted on the promotion’s behalf.

Paul didn’t come alone. The Eliminators, the Blue World Order, Taz (and his team), the Dudley Boyz, New Jack, Sabu, Little Guido, the Sandman, and Mikey Whipwreck all appeared on the show.

In a roundabout way, the show served as a cross-promotion for ECW’s first ever PPV, Barely Legal, taking place in April.

Three more notes with the show: first, this would be the last time RAW was filmed at the Manhattan Center, the original home of the long-running series. 24 of the first 32 episodes of RAW were filmed there, but the financial burden forced the WWF to shift away from the building by the fall of 1993. In fact, this episode of RAW would be the last time any WWF-related show was filmed there until the August 1, 2006 episode of ECW on Sci-Fi.

Second, mixed martial artist Ken Shamrock made his WWF television debut (he was sitting in the crowd and was confronted by Faarooq) in the show’s main event.

The biggest note: the surprise return of the Legion of Doom. The duo hadn’t been seen on WWF programming since Summerslam in August 1992 (Road Warrior Hawk had essentially quit the company following the event, while Road Warrior Animal had a back injury that put his career on hold for more than three years).

The two were last seen in WCW feuding with Harlem Heat and Sting and Lex Luger. They were in WCW for about six months before leaving the company in a contract dispute. The duo spent the remainder of the year between the independent circuit and Japan. The duo would remain with the company until just after Wrestlemania XV in March 1999. They would make a one-off appearance in May 2003, the last time the original duo appeared on WWE programming. Road Warrior Hawk would die just five months after the appearance.

The ECW invasion does little to turn the tide in the Monday Night War: Nitro still wins the night with a 3.0 rating to RAW’s 2.5.

  • The New Blackjacks (Bradshaw & Windham) defeated the Godwinns (Henry O. & Phineas I.)
  • Stevie Richards defeated Little Guido.
  • Marlena defeated Sunny via disqualification in an arm wrestling contest.
  • Goldust defeated Savio Vega via disqualification.
  • Taz defeated Mikey Whipwreck via submission.
  • The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) and The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) fought to a double countout.
  • Tommy Dreamer defeated D-Von Dudley.
  • The Undertaker defeated Faarooq via disqualification.

15 years ago today, World Wrestling All-Stars presented The Revolution from The Aladdin Casino Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The show was the first wrestling event on PPV by a company other than WWE since the sale of WCW and ECW's bankruptcy the prior year.

The mostly papered crowd of about 2,800 people were supposed to get appearances by Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Randy Savage, but Hall and Nash signed with WWE prior to the event, and Savage was a no-show.

  • Nova defeated Low Ki, Shark Boy, A.J. Styles, Tony Mamaluke, and Christopher Daniels in an elimination match.
  • Alan Funk defeated Reno.
  • KroniK (Brian Adams and Bryan Clark) defeated Navajo Warrior and Ghost Walker.
  • Puppet the Psycho Dwarf defeated Teo in a midget hardcore match.
  • Scott Steiner defeated Disco.
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera in a three-way match to win the WWA International Cruiserweight Championship. Post-match, Jerry Lynn issued a challenge to the new champion. However, the match would never happen, as Guerrero returned to the WWF.
  • Devon Storm defeated Sabu in a no disqualification match.
  • Rick Steiner and Ernest Miller defeated the West Hollywood Blondes (Lenny Lane and Lodi) in just 58 seconds.
  • Jeff Jarrett defeated Brian Christopher to retain the WWA World Heavyweight Championship.

14 years ago today on RAW from Toronto, Ontario, Canada (WWE Network link), Booker T last eliminated The Rock to win a 20-man battle royal and a World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania XIX.

Other participants in the match were Al Snow, Batista, Chris Jericho, Christian, Jamal, Jeff Hardy, Kane, Lance Storm, Maven, Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam, Rodney Mack, Rosey, Scott Steiner, Steven Richards, Test, The Hurricane, and Tommy Dreamer.

12 years ago today, WWE began contacting former ECW wrestlers to take part in a June 2005 PPV. That PPV: ECW One Night Stand.

8 years ago today, WWE announced in a press conference that Wrestlemania XXVI would take place in Phoenix, Arizona.

6 years ago today, USA Network announces that Steve Austin, Bill Demott, Booker T, and Trish Stratus have signed on as trainers for the Tough Enough reboot.

6 years ago today, WWE announces in a press release they have signed Luis Ignacio Urive Alvirde, aka CMLL's top tecnico Mistico. Urive would be rechristened Sin Cara. The press release:

STAMFORD, Conn. – WWE today unveiled their latest Superstar signing, Sin Cara, formerly known worldwide as Mistico. The announcement took place today during a press conference in his hometown Mexico City, where passionate fans of all ages turned out to see their favorite performer become the newest addition to the WWE roster.

Having already forged a strong international fan following, Sin Cara, known for his high-flying and awe-inspiring acrobatics, is expected to reach new heights of global success with WWE.

"Sin Cara is a tremendous performer who brings the crowd to its feet every time he steps into the ring," said Stephanie McMahon, Executive Vice President, WWE. "With us, his stardom will only get bigger and brighter."

Upon his signing, Sin Cara said, "WWE is the pinnacle of sports-entertainment. It is an honor and a thrill for me to be able to perform with the world's best. Being a WWE Superstar will present new challenges, new mountains to climb and new competition. It is a new beginning and a new life. With that in mind, I have chosen the new name of Sin Cara in hopes to represent all the legendary Mexican masked performers and to carry the banner of their legacy to the entire world."

The 2006 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Wrestler of the Year and #3 ranked singles wrestler in the world by Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 2007 would quickly go down as one of the biggest busts in company history.

His inconsistent in-ring performances would make him a laughing stock among fans. In July 2011, Urive would be suspended for 30 days for violating the WWE’s Wellness Policy. On the day he was set to return to television, he was sent home. In the minds of many, his WWE career never recovered. In November, Urive suffered a ruptured pattelar tendon on a dive, causing him to miss six months of action. Urive would have two more stints on the disabled list (one due to a knee injury in 2012, and again after dislocating his ring finger in August 2013).

In February 2014, Urive signed with AAA while technically still under contract to WWE. He would be released on March 26, just two weeks before Wrestlemania XXX.

6 years ago today, TNA issues a press release saying that New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott would be featured on the March 3 and March 10 episodes of Impact. The press release in part from Spike TV:


New York, NY, February 24, 2011 -- New York Jets' linebacker Bart Scott will fulfill a childhood dream by assisting TNA Wrestling legend Hulk Hogan's triumphant return to the ring to settle a score with Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle and Kazarian in Spike TV's "TNA iMPACT."

The special episodes featuring the Jets' defensive star will air on Thursday, March 3 at 9:00pm ET/PT and Thursday, March 10 at 9:00pm ET/PT on Spike TV.

Hulk Hogan, returning from a recent hiatus, will join his Immortal team featuring many of the biggest names in wrestling including Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Jarrett as they look to win control of TNA. Hogan has enlisted the help of the hard-hitting Bart Scott to secure an ultimate victory.

Scott would only appear on the March 3 episode; his March 10 appearance was just a clip from his March 3 appearance.

The live episode from Fayetteville, North Carolina ended with this tease with a 3/3/11 inscription. The promo was a direct rip-off of WWE’s 2/21/11 promos that many speculation would lead to the WWE debut of Sting (a debut that wouldn’t come until more than three years later).

The tease was for the return of Sting (who re-signed with the company earlier in the day; his previous deal expired following Bound for Glory)...

...who would defeat Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the end of the taping.

3 years ago today, WWE Network launched in the United States.

First teased as a pay-tv channel in September 2011, WWE Network launched as a 24/7 streaming service, combining an on-demand video library with a 24-hour-a-day programming feed.

Almost as soon as the service launched—9am that day—complaints rolled in, from its inconsistent quality on the streams, to sign-up issues, with potential customers not being able to sign up for hours or even days. Perhaps the biggest problem in its early months was that the service was only available in the United States.

That lack of availability to the rest of the world (perhaps combined with WWE’s lackluster programming at the time) would come back to haunt WWE, as the service had only 667,000 subscribers at the end of April. Combined with WWE’s new TV deal with NBCUniversal being much less than expected, and the company’s stock price fell 50% in May 2014. In a bit of irony, WWE Network launched as a pay-TV service in Canada through Rogers Media in July 2014.

With less than 100,000 new subscribers by the end of October (despite expanding its availability to over 200 countries), the six-month commitment attached to subscribers was dropped. WWE Network would launch in the United Kingdom and Ireland in January 2015. The same month, WWE announced it had finally reached the break-even mark of one million subscribers (the timing of the announcement was curious to some, as it came against considerable critical backlash from the 2015 Royal Rumble event, causing #CancelWWENetwork to trend on Twitter for two days).

By the summer of 2015, WWE Network would hit its stride, touting between 1.1 million and 1.3 million subscribers through the year. The Network has since expanded its availability to the Middle East, North Africa, India, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. Notably, the Network is not available in China.

As of January 2017, WWE Network has 1.5 million paid subscribers, with 73% of its subscriber base coming from the United States. Only Major League Baseball’s streaming service, (which had a hand in developing WWE Network), has more subscribers among sports streaming services.

That night on RAW from Green Bay, Wisconsin (WWE Network link), Terry Bollea, best known to many as Hulk Hogan, returned to WWE and announces himself (though it was leaked by TMZ a few days earlier) that he would be the host and star of Wrestlemania XXX in New Orleans.

Hogan had not appeared on WWE programming since RAW’s 15th Anniversary show in December 2007. He was last seen infamously having Dixie Carter hanging by his leg on TNA Impact the previous October. Hogan’s contract had expired with the company and it was not renewed.

Hogan’s most recent run with the company ended in disgrace in July 2015 when racist remarks he made on a sex tape was made public. Hogan would become virtually persona non grata with WWE, with all references to him wiped from their website and programming, his merchandise pulled from their online store, and his content removed from their video games.

Hogan would sue Gawker Media for invasion of privacy and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress in July 2015. In March 2016, a Florida jury found in favor of Hogan, awarding him $140 million total in damages. The lawsuit would bankrupt Gawker media, and in August, Univision Communications would buy Gawker Media’s assets for $135 million. Hogan and Gawker would settle in November 2016 for $31 million.

The best of cSs on this day:

2016: Bayley at a 'very important business meeting' with WWE today (Bayley’s at WWE headquarters, hinting a possible call-up to the main roster—turned out it was for a guest spot on the Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness)

2015: There may be issues between Brock Lesnar and WWE (Both Wrestling Observer Newsletter and PWInsider report issues between WWE and its highest paid wrestler)

2014: WWE Network launch: Details, how to sign up, shows, and more! (WWE Network launches)

2013: Why doesn't Chris Jericho face similar backlash to The Rock and Brock Lesnar as WWE part-timers? (Chris Jericho in an interview with AfterBuzz TV says his doing more than just the TV shows prevents him from getting the backlash other part-time performers get)

2012: Shawn Michaels turning heel for Triple H vs Undertaker program leading to WrestleMania 28? ( interview hints at the possibility of HBK going rogue at Wrestlemania)

2011: Sting to return to TNA at tonight's Impact tapings, thus won't appear at WWE's WrestleMania PPV (Sting re-signs with TNA, ending any possibility of him appearing at Wrestlemania XXVII)

2010: It's Sapp time in South Korea (Bob Sapp’s a big deal in South Korea now, also includes amazing “It’s Sapp Time” music video)

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