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This Day in Wrestling History (Mar. 31): WrestleMania is Born

this day in wrestling history

32 years ago today, WWF presented Wrestlemania (WWE Network link) from Madison Square Garden in New York City. 19,121 fans were in attendance, with 398,000 homes watching on closed-circuit television. At the time, it was the most watched event in closed-circuit television history.

Match ratings are from Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter as recorded in the Internet Wrestling Database. Ratings are out of a possible five stars.

  • Tito Santana defeated The Executioner by submission. (2.5)
  • King Kong Bundy defeated Special Delivery Jones. (0)
  • Ricky Steamboat defeated Matt Borne. (3.25)
  • David Sammartino and Brutus Beefcake fought to a double countout. (2)
  • The Junkyard Dog defeated Greg Valentine by countout in a WWF Intercontinental Championship match. (0.5)
  • Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik (w/Freddie Blassie) defeated The US Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. (1)
  • André the Giant defeated Big John Studd in a $15,000 Body Slam match. Had Andre lost, he would have been forced to retire. (3)
  • Wendi Richter defeated Leilani Kai to win the WWF Women's Championship. (-2)
  • Hulk Hogan and Mr. T defeated Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was the special enforcer. (no rating)

28 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia, Sting defeated Mike Rotunda to win the NWA World Television Championship and $10,000.

23 years ago today in Sheffield, England, The Quebecers (Jacques and Pierre) defeated Men on a Mission (Mo and Mabel) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship just two days after losing the titles in London.

21 years ago today, WWF presented Wrestlemania XII (WWE Network link) from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. 18,853 were in attendance, with 290,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 340,000 for Wrestlemania XI.

The show had two hooks: the first televised one-hour Ironman match in WWF history, where the person who scored the most falls at the end of the hour would be the winner, and the return of the Ultimate Warrior, who was last in the WWF in November 1992.

  • In a preshow Free for All match, The Bodydonnas (Skip and Zip) defeated The Godwinns (Henry and Phineas) to win the vacant WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Camp Cornette (Vader, Owen Hart, and British Bulldog) defeated Yokozuna, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Ahmed Johnson. Had Camp Cornette lost, Yokozuna would have gotten five minutes alone with Jim Cornette. (2.5)
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Savio Vega. (2)
  • The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley. This was Warrior's first match for the WWF since leaving the company in 1992. (0)
  • The Undertaker defeated Diesel. (2.25)
  • Roddy Piper versus Goldust ended in a no contest in a Hollywood Backlot Brawl. In a side nugget, portions of the match featured footage from the infamous low-speed chase involving Los Angeles police and OJ Simpson from June 1994. (no rating)
  • Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart 1-0 in a one-hour Ironman match to win the WWF Championship. The score was tied at zero when the time expired, but then-WWF President Gorilla Monsoon ordered a sudden death overtime to determine the winner. (4.25)

14 years ago today on RAW from Seattle, Washington (WWE Network link), Kane and Rob Van Dam defeated Lance Storm & Chief Morley and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) in a three-team elimination match to win the World Tag Team Championship. It would be the eighth tag title reign for Kane, but the first for Van Dam in WWE.

The show opened with the “firing” of Stone Cold Steve Austin by then-RAW general manager Eric Bischoff on “medical grounds”. As it turned out, the list of Austin’s many ailments—including spending the night before Wrestlemania at Harbor View Hospital with an anxiety attack and his cervical spine issues—was indeed very real.

Austin would officially announce his retirement in a interview the next day, but he agreed to stay with the company in non-wrestling roles, something that he has continued to do to this day.

The show ended with the WWE debut of Bill Goldberg, who had been last seen with WCW in February 2001, just before WCW’s closing. Goldberg, who was getting $2.5 million annually under Time Warner (the then-parent company of WCW), took a buyout on the final five months of his contract to join WWE.

In his first act, he declared The Rock was next. He would end The Rock’s full-time career just a month later at Backlash.

9 years ago today, Ric Flair reunites with Four Horsemen members Tully Blanchard, JJ Dillon, Arn Anderson, and Barry Windham in his farewell address on RAW from Orlando, Florida (WWE Network link).

This would be the first—and only—televised reunion of the most successful incarnation of the group until exactly four years late when the group was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

8 years ago today, Peter Senerchia, best known to wrestling fans as Tazz, leaves WWE following his contract expiration.

The ECW triple crown champion twice over joined the WWF in late 1999 and debuted at the 2000 Royal Rumble with a submission win over Kurt Angle. He was involved in one of the most bizarre title changes in wrestling history when Taz defeated Mike Awesome, at the time contracted to WCW, for the ECW world title in April 2000. He held it for just over a week before losing it to Tommy Dreamer.

With injuries mounting, Tazz became a color commentator. He juggled wrestling and commentating until shortly after the brand split in 2002, where he became a commentator full-time, most notably for Smackdown and ECW beginning in 2006.

Despite Tazz giving his notice, he offered to commentate Wrestlemania 25, taking place less than a week later, for free, but was turned down. He would join TNA later that summer and would commentate for them until leaving the promotion in 2015.

Today, he hosts a daily podcast appropriately titled The Taz Show: Bodyslams and Beyond, with occasional episodes airing on CBS Sports Radio.

2 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Fresno, California (WWE Network link), Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan via countout.

It would turn out to be Daniel Bryan's last singles match ever. Two weeks later, Bryan would once again land on the disabled list when he is injured on WWE's annual European tour. Bryan would forfeit the Intercontinental Championship he'd won at Wrestlemania 31 in May before retiring from in-ring competition in February 2016.

1 year ago today, Kristoffer Darren Travis, or simply Kris Travis, dies of stomach cancer. He was 32.

Born December 13, 1983 in Sheffield, England, Travis began wrestling in Northern England. He wrestled primarily for Grand Pro Wrestling and Norton British Wrestling. In the late 2000s, Travis as a part of Project Ego with Martin Kirby would win tag team championships all over Europe, including 1PW, IPW: UK, Revolution Pro, and 3CW. In August 2012, Travis defeated Lionheart for the Preston City Wrestling Heavyweight Championship.

In October 2014, Travis announced he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was forced to take a hiatus from wrestling. Many wrestlers gave words of encouragement as Travis did charity work to raise funds for cancer research. Travis made a notable appearance for Insane Championship Wrestling in April 2015, but in a non-wrestling role.

In June 2015, Travis announced he had beaten cancer and he would return to the ring. On August 7, 2015, Travis defeated Sha Samuels in his return bout. Two days later, Project Ego reunited to win the Southside Wrestling Entertainment tag team titles. Two weeks later, Travis had his highest-profile match, a loss to Drew Galloway for the ICW World Heavyweight Championship. On September 6, at PROGRESS Chapter 21: We Don’t Like to Use the Sit Down Gun, Travis defeated Marty Scrull.

On September 21, 2015, Travis announced the stomach cancer had returned and that he would retire from wrestling. The cancer would claim his life on March 31, 2016. He was 32. Just a month before his passing, Travis married his long-time girlfriend.

Tributes for Travis poured in from all over the wrestling world, and fans and pro wrestlers petitioned the WWE for him to be posthumously given the Warrior Award. Said longtime tag team partner Martin Kirby following his passing, "Sleep well my friend. You no longer need to suffer.”

In April 2016, Cody Rhodes and Tomasso Ciampa began Our Ladder, a fundraising campaign dedicated to raising money for Cavendish Cancer Care in Travis’ hometown of Sheffield, England.

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