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This Day in Wrestling History (Feb. 9): Dusty Rhodes Wins The NWA World Title... Sort Of

this day in wrestling history

34 years ago today in Tampa, Florida, The Midnight Rider defeated Ric Flair to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Post-match, NWA President Bob Geigel ordered Rider to unmask. The man under the mask was Flair's biggest rival at the time, Dusty Rhodes. However, it was decreed that had Rhodes showed up, it would have violated his suspension and he would have been banned for life from the NWA. Rider—Rhodes, if you will—refused and gave the title back to Flair.

It wouldn't be until 2006 when a masked wrestler, TNA's Abyss, would win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship—on a disqualification.

19 years ago today on Nitro from El Paso, Texas (WWE Network link), The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) defeat The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

On the undercard, Goldberg defeated Lord Steven Regal. The bout has gained some infamy in wrestling history because it was a competitive five-minute bout—which was not exactly what WCW officials wanted. Regal himself disputes this claim in his autobiography and in a 2014 interview on The Stone Cold Podcast, saying he was asked to give a six-minute bout and make Goldberg look good.

Whatever the story (another theory was that Regal had issues with pain pill addiction issues around the time), Regal was released from WCW soon after.

13 years ago today on RAW from Portland, Oregon (WWE Network link), Chris Benoit defeated Ric Flair by submission.

Following the match, Benoit and Triple H were set to sign the contract for the Wrestlemania XX world heavyweight title match. Shawn Michaels intervened and superkicked Benoit before he could sign it. Michaels ended up signing the contract instead. Ultimately, it would be a triple threat match involving Triple H, Michaels, and Benoit for the world title at the event, with Benoit winning.

8 years ago today, Newscorp announced in a press release that MyNetworkTV would be rebranded as "hybrid programming", effectively suspending all original programming on the channel, with the exception of Friday Night Smackdown.

Programming the rest of the week would be filled with repeated series. They would also announce that Saturday programming would be filled by their local affiliates.

The network had never done well in terms of ratings since its inception in 2006, though it had begun to get traction with the addition of Friday Night Smackdown. WWE issued a press release saying that Smackdown has a bright future on MyNetworkTV. The show would leave MyNetworkTV in September 2010.

7 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, WWE announced that puroresu legend and briefly WWWF Champion Antonio Inoki would join the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2010.

7 years ago today, Bobby Lashley leaves TNA to concentrate fully on his MMA career. His release becomes official when Lashley’s profile is removed from TNA’s website the next day.

Lashley would sporadically wrestle in the independent circuit, most notably for the Japanese-based Inoki Genome Federation. After compiling a 10-2 MMA record, Lashley returned to TNA in March 2014 as the mystery opponent for Ethan Carter III. Three months later, Lashley would become the first African-American TNA World Heavyweight Champion ever.

Currently, Lashley’s juggling both MMA under the Bellator banner and TNA; Lashley has a 15-2 overall record and is on his fourth reign as TNA world champion.

6 years ago today, WWE announces that Wrestlemania XXVII would take place on April Fool's Day 2012 in Miami, Florida's Sun Life Stadium.

The event, headlined by a year-in-the-making confrontation of The Rock and John Cena, would be the most watched and highest grossing event in professional wrestling history.

It’s a happy 53rd birthday to Debra Anne Miceli. Born Debra Lewandowski, she is best known as to wrestling fans as Alundra Blayze and Madusa.

Born in Milan, Italy, Debra was raised in several foster homes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was a gymnast and track athlete in her youth and worked at an Arby's at age 14. In 1984, Lewandowski trained with Eddie Sharkey in Minneapolis and began working on the independent circuit. Making just $5 a match, she supplemented her income by working as a nurse part-time.

Two years later, she began wrestling for Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association as Madusa Miceli (Madusa was short for Made in the USA, as she wore patriotic-inspired outfits), feuding with Sherri Martel. She would manage "Mr. Magnificent" Kevin Kelly following Martel leaving for the WWF, and in late 1987, would defeat Candi Devine for the vacant AWA Women's World Championship. She would also manage Curt Hennig, Diamond Dallas Page, and Badd Company as part of the Diamond Exchange. In 1988, she became the first—and until 2014, only—woman to win Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Rookie of the Year award.

She briefly was the IWA Womens Champion while on a six-week tour for All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1989. But her brief run impressed officials enough to sign her to a three-year deal, the first foreign-born wrestler to get such a deal there. She would learn the Japanese wrestling style, as well as train in Muay Thai, kickboxing, and boxing. Madusa was so popular there, action figures, posters, even a CD became hot items.

After a brief stint with the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance where she had feuded with Luna Vachon, she joined WCW primarily as a valet for the Dangerous Alliance's Rick Rude. She remained with the group for virtually its entire existence before she was fired by Paul Heyman. The two fought at Clash of the Champions XXI, with Madusa going to a five-minute time limit draw with Heyman in what turned out to be Heyman's final appearance.

In 1993, Debra joined the WWF, but not as Madusa as Vince didn't want to pay Miceli to use the trademark. She became Alundra Blayze and won a six-woman tournament for the reinstated WWF Womens Championship late in the year. Bull Nakano would be brought in at the request of Miceli in 1994, and the two engaged in a rivalry that would last until the following year. Nakano won the WWF Womens title from Alundra at Big Egg Wrestling Universe in November 1994, but Blayze would win it back the following April on RAW.

Following the bout, she was attacked by Rhonda Sing, who would wrestle as Bertha Faye. The attack was allegedly to write Blayze off to get breast implants and a nose job. She returned at Summerslam four months later, but would lose the title to Faye. She would win it back in October, making her a three-time champion With the WWF under crushing financial debt, the entire women's roster was let go, including Blayze. The Women’s Championship would be abandoned, in part due to what she did on her return to WCW. It would be a long time before Madusa was welcomed back by the WWF.

It was in December 1995 when Debra returned to WCW as Madusa. And she brought the abandoned WWF Women’s Championship with her. In her first act back, she dropped the belt in a trash can. Miceli has since expressed regret for her part in the incident, essentially saying she was coerced under threat of unemployment. Bull Nakano was brought into feud with Madusa, and the two met at Hog Wild in August 1996, with Madusa winning the right to destroy Nakano's motorcycle.

WCW would establish a Womens Championship, but the company hardly committed to it. Akira Hokuto defeated Madusa in the torunament final for the title at Starrcade in December 1996 to become the first—and virtually only—WCW Women's Champion. Akira would defeat Madusa again at the Great American Bash in June 1997 in a title versus career match.

She would disappear for nearly two years before returning as a part of Team Madness with Randy Savage, Gorgeous George, and Miss Madness. After failing to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship when the title was vacated, she managed Evan Karagias and developed an on-screen relationship. That quickly ended when she was busted for flirting with Spice of the Nitro Girls. Spice would turn on Karagis, leading to Madusa winning the cruiserweight title, becoming the only woman to win the title. Madusa would lose the title at Souled Out in January 2000 to Oklahoma.

She would become a trainer at the WCW Power Plant, and helped train Nora Greenwald (who would go on to moderate success as Molly Holly). She briefly feuded with Shane Douglas and Torrie Wilson, leading to a mixed tag team scaffold match won by Douglas and Wilson. Madusa took the big bump in the bout and was never seen on WCW television again. She retired from the business following the WCW sale to the WWF in 2001, in part due to her falling out with the company back in the mid-1990s, and women's wrestling leaning towards bra and panties matches.

Just before her retirement, Madusa began a new career: monster truck racing. She entered the monster truck business under Dennis Anderson in 1999. She would purchase her own truck and name it Madusa (she still had the rights to the name). She would begin winning freestyle competitions in 2001 and in 2004 was part of the first ever three-way tie at the Monster Jam World Finals in freestyle. The next year, she beat her trainer Dennis Anderson to win the Monster Jam World Finals in racing, becoming the first woman to do so.

In 2008, she joined the Major League of Monster Trucks as its Executive Vice President. When that went belly up the next year, she rejoined Monster Jam, where she's been ever since. In a Facebook Live video in September 2016, Miceli announced that she will retire from monster truck driving in March 2017.

In 2011, Miceli married Sergeant Major Alan Johnson at Graceland; Miceli was previously married twice, first to fellow wrestler Eddie Gilbert in 1991, then to NFL player Ken Blackman in 1998. The wedding ceremony was watched by over 22,000 people over the Internet. She owns a pet grooming shop in Lecanto, Florida.

In 2015, Miceli as Alundra Blayze was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, she grabbed the WWF Womens Championship she dumped in the trash out of the trash and called herself the reigning WWF Womens Champion. Post-induction, she's made just two appearances: during Wrestlemania 31 in the Hall of Fame portion, and on an episode of WWE Network series Table for 3 with Ivory and Molly Holly.

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