43 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Giant Baba finishes 8-0-2 in a round robin tournament to become the first Pacific Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Champion. Other participants in the tournament were Abdullah the Butcher, Bobo Brazil, Dick Beyer (aka The Destroyer), Terry Funk, Don Leo Jonathan, Pat O'Connor, Bruno Sammartino, and Wilbur Snyder.
Giant Baba would hold the title for the next 1,920 days, when Tor Kamata defeated him for it on June 1, 1978. The All Japan Pro Wrestling founder would hold the championship four times in all, totaling 3,817 days. Stan Hansen, who also held the title four times, is the only other man to win it more than once.
The title would be classified as a world championship until All Japan joined the National Wrestling Alliance. Despite its downgrade to regional status, the championship would remain All Japan’s top title until Jumbo Tsuruta defeated Stan Hansen to unify the PWF heavyweight, NWA international heavyweight, and NWA united national titles in April 1989.
The championship would be known as the All Japan Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, and is the promotion’s top title today. The champions actually carried three belts until August 2013 when a new belt was created from parts of the old ones (replicas actually; the originals were returned to Mokoto Baba, the widow of Giant Baba). The new belt, introduced that October, has the centerplate of the PWF heavyweight championship (since it was the top title of the promotion before the unification), and the side plates of the other two championships. One of the plates has the inscription, “Jumbo Tsuruta Apr. 18 1989”, the inaugural champion and the date of unification.
19 years ago today in Wilmington, Delaware, Steve Bradley defeated Christopher Daniels to win the third East Coast Wrestling Association Super 8 Tournament.
Other participants included Ace Darling, Jeff Peterson, Matt Hardy, Christian York, Devon Storm, and Jeff Hardy.
17 years ago today, WWF presented No Way Out (WWE Network link) from the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut. 12,551 were in attendance, with 480,000 homes watching on PPV.
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 Sunday Night Heat preshow match, Headbanger Mosh defeated Essa Rios by disqualification in a WWF Light Heavyweight Championship match.
- In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, Ivory and Mideon defeated Jacqueline and Funaki.
- Kurt Angle defeated Chris Jericho to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. (3/5)
- The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) defeated The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. (2.5)
- Mark Henry defeated Viscera. (0.25)
- Edge and Christian defeated The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff). (3)
- Tazz defeated The Big Boss Man by disqualification in just 47 seconds. (0)
- X-Pac defeated Kane in a No Holds Barred match. (2.75)
- Too Cool (Rikishi, Scotty 2 Hotty, and Grand Master Sexay) defeated The Radicalz (Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn). (3)
- The Big Show defeated The Rock to earn a WWF Championship match at Wrestlemania 2000. (1.75)
- Triple H defeated Cactus Jack in a Hell in a Cell match to retain the WWF Championship. With the loss, Cactus Jack was forced to retire. The retirement wouldn't stick, as he was brought back under his real name, Mick Foley, by Linda McMahon three weeks later as the fourth man in a fatal four-way elimination WWF title match at Wrestlemania 2000. As for the match, it was voted the sixth best match of 2000 by Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers (their Royal Rumble encounter finished second). (4.5)
16 years ago today, Stacy Carter, best known to wrestling fans as The Kat, is released from the WWF.
The release comes just two days after was involved as a central figure in the Right to Censor storyline at No Way Out. At the event, The Kat mistakenly hit Jerry Lawler with the WWF Women’s Championship belt, inadvertently costing him his match with Steven Richards. As a result, The Kat had to become a member of the group.
Some speculate it was some combination of Carter’s behind-the-scenes attitude and WWF chairman Vince McMahon wanting to abandon the Right to Censor storyline that led to her release.
The seemingly small release had some pretty heavy collateral damage: Carter’s husband Jerry Lawler quit the company in protest.
Lawler had been with the company since December 1992 as an announcer. He had an off-and-on feud with Bret Hart from 1993 to 1995. He was also heavily involved in a feud with ECW in 1997 as part of a working agreement between the companies. Lawler focused on commentary by 1998 and commentated RAW with Jim Ross and Smackdown with Michael Cole in its early days. He also, albeit begrudgingly, commentated for the XFL before leaving the company.
Lawler on his website that evening issued a brief statement on his release:
“Stacy was released by the WWF this afternoon. In protest, Jerry Lawler has also parted ways with the WWF. The release came as a total surprise without any provocation whatsoever. As for the speculation that was reported on other websites, there wasn't any disagreement involving an angle.”
Lawler and Carter issued a joint statement a few days later on the couple’s final days with the company. Just a few months later, the couple separated (they divorced officially in October 2003). Lawler, to the surprise of many, rejoined the WWF just nine months later. He remained a commentator for the company full-time until the summer of 2016. Jerry made a one-time return to commentary at the 2017 Royal Rumble event.
11 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Washington, DC (WWE Network link), Randy Orton defeated Super Crazy.
In an interesting bit of trivia, Orton came out to "This Fire Burns" by Killswitch Engage to promote WWE's new album Wreckless Intent. Orton would go back to Mercy Drive's "Burn In My Light" a week later, but the theme would not be retired to the dustbin of history: just four months later, the theme was given to CM Punk.
3 years ago today, WWE presented NXT ArRival (WWE Network link) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. The show is noted for being the first live special on WWE Network.
- In a dark match, Mason Ryan defeated Sylvester Lefort.
- Cesaro defeated Sami Zayn. (4.25/5)
- Mojo Rawley defeated CJ Parker. (1)
- The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) defeated Too Cool (Grandmaster Sexay & Scotty 2 Hotty). (1.25)
- Paige defeated Emma by submission to retain the NXT Women's Championship. (2.75)
- Tyler Breeze versus Xavier Woods ended in a no contest.
- Adrian Neville defeated Bo Dallas in a ladder match to win the NXT Championship. The win ends Bo’s 280-day run as NXT Champion, the longest in the promotion’s young history, and nearly as long as the first two reigns (Seth Rollins at 133 days and Big E Langston at 168 days) combined. Neville would break the record with a 287-day reign.(3.25)