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This Day in Wrestling History (Feb. 3): The Mega-Powers EXPLODE!

this day in wrestling history

44 years ago today, All Japan Pro Wrestling joins the National Wrestling Alliance.

In becoming the official Japanese promotion of the NWA, All Japan got the benefit of bringing in foreigners with a pedigree to defend their NWA championships, including Dory Funk Jr. and his brother Terry, Mil Mascaras, Harley Race, and Ric Flair. Giant Baba, All Japan’s promoter, often pitted himself against foreign competitors, but the foreigners themselves would gain a following themselves.

With the collapse of the territorial system, All Japan left the NWA in 1989 and began focusing on developing talent in-house. The promotion would rarely do international shows, but enjoy massive critical and financial success in the 1990s.

28 years ago today, WWF presented the second edition of The Main Event (WWE Network link) from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A full card was presented for the in-house crowd, but only the final two matches aired.

Dark matches:

  • Andre the Giant defeated Jake Roberts.
  • The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond) defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart). Brother Love was the special referee.
  • The Ultimate Warrior defeated Greg Valentine to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • Demolition (Ax & Smash) defeated The Powers of Pain (The Warlord & The Barbarian) to retain the WWF Championship.
  • The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) defeated The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty).
  • Brutus Beefcake and Mr. Perfect fought to a double disqualification.
  • Hacksaw Jim Duggan defeated Dino Bravo in a flag match.

Airing on NBC:

  • The Mega-Powers (Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage) defeated The Twin Towers (Akeem & The Big Bossman). During the match, Savage was thrown out of the ring by Akeem onto Elizabeth. Hogan carried Elizabeth backstage. When Elizabeth recovered, Hogan returned to the ring. He eventually got tagged in, but Savage slapped him on the way out. Hogan went on to win the match. Post-match, Savage accused Hogan of trying to steal Elizabeth away from him. Though Hogan tried to convince Elizabeth to mediate and talk sense into him, it was of no use. Savage hit Hogan with the WWF Championship belt and all hell broke loose. Several officials and Brutus Beefcake got in the room to break up the melee. The fight broke up the Mega Powers and set up the main event for Wrestlemania V.
  • Ted DiBiase defeated Hercules.

21 years ago today in Queens, New York, The Eliminators defeated Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck to win the ECW World Tag Team Championship.

On the same night, Bam Bam Bigelow, less than a year after main eventing Wrestlemania XI, made his ECW debut.

17 years ago today, the WWF and NBC announced a joint venture to form a new football league, the XFL.

The league, often mistakenly called the Xtreme Football League (the X never officially stood for anything—the original Xtreme Football League merged with AF2, the developmental league for Arena Football without playing a game in 1999), was formed essentially as a spring football league.

Hyped as “real” football but with fewer rules, the game featured microphoned players and coaches both during gameplay and in the locker rooms, scantily-clad cheerleaders, a no fair catch rule on kickoffs and punts, and a “human coin toss”, a 20-yard scramble for the football to determine who would have the kickoff option. Vince McMahon commented that the the XFL would be the “extra fun league”, as opposed to the NFL being the “no fun league”.

As with most startup sports leagues, the league handled salaries, paying quarterbacks $5,000 a week, kickers $3,500 a week, and all other uniformed players $4,500 a week. Unique to the XFL was win per-game win bonuses, with $2,500 for regular season wins, $7,500 for the playoffs, and about $25,000 for winning the final (dubbed “The Million Dollar Game”; players on the winning team divided the money equally). Players received no extra benefits and were responsible for their own health insurance. In addition, players on injured reserve would not receive any pay.

Its emphasis on wrestling-style promotion and antics and subpar football (the teams had just one month of camp before a game kicked off) would turn off both wrestling and football fans alike; football fans hated it due to its pro wrestling connection (i.e. the perception that the games were fixed or scripted) and bad games (sportsbooks often lost money on the games, as scoring was not high and gamblers often took the under), and wrestling fans hated it because the antics felt out of place in a football game.

One positive of the XFL was it mainstreamed the use of the Skycam (a common misconception is that the XFL was the first league to use the Skycam; this camera was used prior to the XFL’s formation), an overhead view of the field a la the Madden NFL video game series.

Facing a mountain of critical backlash, financial stress, and sagging ratings, NBC pulled their support from the league and the XFL folded after just one season. A second season could have happened with games on UPN, but Vince McMahon refused to scale back the highly-rated Smackdown to 90 minutes.

The WWF and NBC lost an estimated $70 million each on the venture; for WWF, it’s the biggest financial loss of any outside venture in company history. While WWE hasn’t dipped its toes back into football, NBC would get back into the football business with the Arena Football League from 2003 to 2006, then with the NFL beginning in the fall of 2006. Sunday Night Football in recent years has been the most watched show on primetime television.

OSW Review did a retrospective on the XFL, and you can see it here.

ESPN Films recently aired a 30 for 30 documentary, This Was The XFL, on the league. You can see the trailer for the film here.

16 years ago today, exactly one year to the date of the announcement of the formation of the XFL, the XFL played its opening game.

The NBC national game, coming just a week after Super Bowl XXXV, was between the New York Hitmen and the Las Vegas Outlaws. The Outlaws, thanks in part to the "Dealers of Doom" defense giving up just 205 yards of offense, shut out the Hitmen 19-0.

The other game that night, pitting the Chicago Enforcers and the Orlando Rage, saw the Rage hang on for a 33-29 victory. The game's noted for Orlando's Hashid Shamsid-Deen separating his left shoulder in the game's opening scramble for the ball (a gimmick that replaced the coin toss).

NBC's debut broadcast, which featured most of the Hitmen-Outlaws game, got a 9.5 Nielsen rating and 15.7 million viewers, making it the most watched show that night.

But as reviews came in, the bottom would quickly fall out for NBC. The league lost half its audience a week later—and had its national game, the Los Angeles Xtreme versus the Chicago Enforcers go into double overtime, moving a Jennifer Lopez-hosted Saturday Night Live back 45 minutes—and would never recover (from then on, all XFL broadcasts had a hard out at 11pm ET, regardless of whether the game finished or not). Before the season was out, an XFL telecast drew the lowest-ever rating not just for a first-run primetime sports show, but for any first-run show in the history of primetime network television.

13 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Cleveland, Ohio (WWE Network link), Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty defeated The Basham Brothers to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

It’s a happy 57th birthday to Frederick Marty Jannetty.

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Jannetty was an accomplished two-sport athlete while in high school, winning Golden Gloves events in boxing, and competing in the state tournament in wrestling for three consecutive yars. Jannetty would be a two-time NJCAA qualifier when he wrestled for Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Alabama. He went to Auburn with the intention of wrestling, but the school dropped their football program before his arrival. He wanted to give football a shot, but was talked out of it by Jerry Oates; Jannetty turned to wrestling instead.

Marty began his career wrestling in the Kansas City territory of the National Wrestling Alliance. He teamed with Bulldog Bob Brown, Dave Peterson, and formed the Uptown Boys with Tommy Rogers. It was while in Kansas City he found his most famous partner: another rookie in Shawn Michaels. The two became the Midnight Rockers, and would quickly find success, winning the Central States Tag Team Championship. Also in his rookie year, he took on Tiger Mask II (Mitsuharu Misawa) and challenged Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

In 1986, the Midnight Rockers joined the American Wrestling Association. Their athleticism and good looks proved to be a hit with audiences. They would win the AWA World Tag Team Championship twice and the Southern Tag Team Championship twice before leaving for the WWF in 1988.

Their popularity would translate very easily when they joined the WWF (for a second time—they were there briefly in 1987, but was fired less than a month in for excessive partying) in June 1988. The duo, known simply as The Rockers, would feud with the likes of Demolition, the Hart Foundation, and the Brain Busters. In October 1990, the Rockers would win the WWF Tag Team Championship—sort of. The match was taped and everything. Jim Neidhart, one-half of the Hart Foundation, was in the process of being released from the WWF, necessitating the title change. But ultimately Neidhart agreed to stay with the WWF and the belts were returned to the Hart Foundation; to cover for this, WWF explained that during one of the falls of the title match, one of the turnbuckles collapsed.

In December 1990, Jannetty used his Rocker Dropper on Chuck Austin. Because Austin did not take the bump flat and tucked his head in, Austin’s neck was instantly broken, leaving him paralyzed. Austin would sue Jannetty, Michaels, and Titan Sports—and he would win. In 1994, a jury awarded Austin $26.7 million in damages.

At Survivor Series in November 1991, Jannetty accidentally kicked Michaels in the face. The move was intended for one of the Nasty Boys; the errant kick resulted in Michaels’ elimination from the match. The partners got into a screaming match. The mistakes piled up, but it seemed the two would hash out their differences during an interview segment on “The Barber Shop” with Brutus Beefcake. Well… not exactly. Michaels kicked Jannetty in the face, then threw him through the set’s window, officially severing the team. The two were set to feud through Wrestlemania VIII, but in January 1992, Jannetty was convicted on charges of attacking a police officer and sentenced to six months house arrest. Marty would be released in March 1992. In the interim, Jannetty joined the United States Wrestling Association. He eventually wrestled as a heel there and feuded with Jerry Lawler.

He returned to the WWF in October to confront Shawn and was about to hit him with a mirror, but instead hit Sherri when Shawn pulled her in front. The two fought for the Intercontinental Championship at the 1993 Royal Rumble, with Michaels retaining thanks to errant interference by Sherri. The feud was set to continue through Wrestlemania IX, but Jannetty allegedly wrestled under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in the bout, leading Marty to be released yet again. Jannetty to this day denies the claim, and says the rumor was started by Shawn Michaels.

With some convincing from Curt Hennig, Marty returned to the WWF in May 1993 as a surprise challenger for Shawn Michaels’ Intercontinental Championship. This time, Marty would win it. He didn’t hold it long; Shawn won it back just three weeks later with help from Michaels’ new bodyguard Diesel.

After briefly feuding with Doink the Clown, Jannetty formed a makeshift duo with the 1-2-3 Kid in November. The duo won the WWF Tag Team Championship from the Quebecers in January 1994. They would lose them just a week later back to the Quebecers. Marty would soon disappear from WWF programming in the runup to Wresltemania X; around that time, the case involving Charles Austin was heard. Marty left the mainstream wrestling scene until resurfacing almost a year later in ECW.

Marty had a brief stint in ECW in 1995. In his debut in February, he unsuccessfully challenged Shane Douglas for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, but would defeat him in a non-title match two months later. He unsuccessfully challenged for the ECW World Television title, but was defeated by Eddie Guerrero in May. He also challenged The Sandman for the ECW title in July, but lost. His final, a double disqualification against Jim Neidhart, took place just a week later.

In September, Marty rejoined the WWF. Despite the bad blood between the former Rockers, Marty wrestled as a face (Shawn turned face earlier in the year). He teamed with Razor Ramon and feuded with Sycho Sid and the 1-2-3 Kid before turning heel himself in February 1996. He teamed with Leif Cassidy as “The New Rockers”. However, success was limited for the duo, and Marty left the WWF following that year’s Survivor Series.

After a brief stint for Ultimate Championship Wrestling in New York, Jannetty joined WCW in 1998. He only wrestled eight months for the promotion before suffering a shoulder injury; he was released while in recovery in March 1999. He made a one-off return to ECW in 2000, then stayed on the independent circuit until resurfacing again in 2005.

The Rockers had a one-shot reunion in March 2005, defeating La Resistance; Marty scored the winning fall in that match with the Rocker Dropper. The next night, Marty would challenge Kurt Angle. Angle defeated Jannetty in what turned out to be a very competitive match. Marty was signed to a WWE deal soon after the match, but after being arrested for a domestic disturbance, forcing him to miss some TV tapings, Marty was released in July.

Marty returned in February 2006 in a run-in to save Shawn Michaels from the Spirit Squad. Marty was offered a contract, but only on the condition that he join the Mr. McMahon “Kiss My Ass Club”. Marty refused the next week; Vince then forced Marty to take the Chris Masters “Masterlock Challenge”. Jannetty was on the verge of breaking the hold, but was low-blowed by Vince McMahon. Shawn Michaels ran in to make the save, only for Shane McMahon to knock him out with a steel chair. This was to lead to a Rockers versus McMahons feud, but Jannetty missed a taping and was let go again.

Jannetty rejoined the WWF in September to work with the younger talent, and could have been granted full-time deals if they performed their duties well. Jannetty was released again just two weeks later. Marty denied the rumors on his MySpace page, but both WWE Magazine and Jim Ross on his blog confirmed the firing in December, saying it was a court order in Florida that prevented him from leaving the state that led to his release. Marty would make one-off appearances for WWE in December 2007 and October 2009.

Jannetty’s most recent wrestling appearances have been for Chikara. Marty worked as a trainer, manager (for the Young Bucks), and a wrestler. At the 2012 King of Trios, Jannetty teamed with his old partner, the 1-2-3 Kid, to win the annual tag team gauntlet match. Late in the year, they earned their third point (three consecutive wins is required to challenge for a title in Chikara), enabling them to challenge for the Chikara Campeonatos de Parejas (doubles championship), but they would lose to the Young Bucks.

In July 2016, Jannetty was named as part of a class action lawsuit against WWE, alleging the promotion concealed the risk of head and brain injuries during his time there.

It’s a happy 76th birthday to Dorrance Earnest Funk Jr., or simply Dory Funk, Jr.

Born in Hammond, Indiana, Funk began wrestling in 1963 after a stint playing college football for West Texas State University (known today as West Texas A&M). His debut match was a win over Don Fargo; Funk had college teammate Jerry Logan in his corner.

Dory’s greatest success would come in the National Wrestling Alliance. Using a variety of suplexes, forearm uppercuts, and leglocks (one of which, the Texas Cloverleaf, he invented), Funk defeated Gene Kiniski for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in February 1969. He would go on to hold the title for the next 1,563 days, the second-longest uninterrupted championship reign in NWA history (Lou Thesz holds the record, holding the title from November 1949 to March 1956) before losing the title to Harley Race. Jack Brisco was intended to be the man to defeat Dory Jr. for the title, but Dory Sr. told the NWA Board of Directors he would not lose to a fellow face. Terry Funk would win the NWA world title in December 1975 from Jack Brisco, making Terry and Dory Jr. the only brothers to hold the NWA’s top prize.

Eventually, Dory Jr. himself worked as a heel, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic and Ontario regions. He was a face most everywhere else, especially in Georgia, Florida, and in the Central States. He also had many tours of Japan, including notable bouts against Stan Hansen, Bruiser Brody, Abdullah the Butcher, and The Sheik.

Dory and Terry joined the WWF in 1986. Dory Jr. was renamed Hoss Funk; their most notable bout was at Wrestlemania 2 when they defeated The Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana. Terry left the WWF following the event, but Dory stuck around and would team with Jimmy Jack Funk (no relation; in reality, he was played by Jesse Barr, son of promoter Sandy Barr and older brother of Art Barr).

In 1993, Dory wrestled Nick Bockwinkel to a draw at WCW Slamboree ’93: A Legends Reunion.

Dory’s last notable appearance for the WWF came in 1996 when he was a participant in the Royal Rumble match; he lasted just under 11 minutes before being eliminated by Savio Vega.

These days, Dory runs his own wrestling school, the Funking Conservatory based out of Ocala, Florida. Notable alumni include Kurt Angle, the Hardy Boys, Mickie James, Steve Corino, Edge, Christian, Gail Kim, Steve Corino, and Lita. The school runs a weekly wrestling show, !BANG! TV, with Dory’s second wife Marti producing and taping the show.

Dory finally called it a career in March 2008 when he and Osamu Nishimura defeated Genichiro Tenryu and Masanobu Fuchi. He’s had a few one-offs since, mainly for All Japan Pro Wrestling, wrestling as recently as March 2015, just a month after his 74th birthday. In October 2013, Dory was named the chairman of the Pacific Wrestling Federation, the governing body for All Japan Pro Wrestling.

Dory is twice married; his first marriage to Jimmie lasted for just over 23 years from 1960 to 1983; the couple had three children and five grandchildren. He’s currently married to Marti; the couple have been married since 1989; they have two children together.

Dory is a member of the inaugural Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame class in 1996. He is also a member of the International Wrestling Hall of Fame’s pro wrestling wing (2011), the NWA Hall of Fame (2006), the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (2005), the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame (2008), Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame, and WWE Hall of Fame (2009). In 2014, Dory Jr. received the Stanley Weston Award from Pro Wrestling Illustrated for his lifetime contributions to professional wrestling.

The best of cSs on this day:

2016: The Undertaker's WrestleMania opponent may not be Braun Strowman (Bryan Alvarez on Wrestling Observer Radio goes back on his report that Undertaker-Braun Strowman is in the works for Wrestlemania 32)

2015: Triple H's reasons for excluding Chyna from the Hall of Fame don't hold water, and are an example of WWE's sexism (Triple H on the Stone Cold Podcast says Chyna’s past, which is easy to Google, may keep her out of the WWE Hall of Fame)

2014: Hi, My Name is: Ric Flair (Cagesiders give their likes and dislikes about the legendary wrestler)

2013: Jimmy Jacobs talks about the past and future of The Shield (In an interview on the PWTorch Livecast, Jimmy Jacobs talks Dean Ambrose’s and Seth Rollins’ pre-WWE days)

2012: Video: Take a stroll down memory lane with Zack Ryder and the latest Z! True Long Island Story (A look back at the first year of Z! True Long Island Story)

2011: Present Hardships and Future Glory: Anderson Silva to Take First Step Towards Superfight with Georges St. Pierre at UFC 126 (Anderson Silva to face Vitor Belfort at UFC 126)

2010: ECW is dead, enter WWE NXT (Also Tommy Dreamer is annoying) (Tommy Dreamer comments on the end of ECW)

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