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This Day in Wrestling History (Apr. 12): Mike Von Erich Passes Away

this day in wrestling history

37 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika) defeated Ivan Putski and Tito Santana to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

30 years ago today, Michael Brett Adkisson, best known to wrestling fans as Mike Von Erich, dies of an intentional overdose of Placidyl, a tranquilizing medication, and alcohol. He was just 23.

A few days prior to his death, Michael was arrested on drunk driving and drug charges. The previous summer, he suffered head injuries from an auto accident in which his vehicle overturned.

Prior to his death, Mike left a suicide note for his family, then went to Lake Dallas, overdosed, and wrapped himself in a sleeping bag. Mike at the time of his death was one-third of the World Class Championship Wrestling six-man tag team champions with brothers Kevin and Lance (Lance was not legitimately related to Michael and Kevin).

It would be the beginning of a tragic period for the Von Erich family. Over the next six years, two more of the Von Erichs would take their own lives: Chris in 1991, and Kerry in 1993.

23 years ago today, WWF taped the 400th episode of Wrestling Challenge from the War Memorial Auditorium in Rochester, New York.

  • Lex Luger defeted Tony DeVito via submission.
  • Jeff Jarrett defeated John Paul.
  • The 1-2-3 Kid defeated Kwang.
  • Thurman “Sparky” Plugg defeated PJ Walker.
  • Irwin R. Schyster defeated Jason Hawkins via submission.

20 years ago today at New Japan Pro Wrestling's Battle Formation '97, Riki Choshu and Kensuke Sasaki defeated Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship.

In the show's main event, 1992 Olympic silver medalist in judo Naoya Ogawa defeated IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinya Hashimoto by knockout. It was Ogawa's professional wrestling debut. About 60,500 were in attendance for the event, one of the largest crowds in professional wrestling history.

18 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Detroit, Michigan (WWE Network link), The Godfather defeated Goldust to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

The show is best remembered for The Rock beating WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin off a bridge, then tossing Austin’s custom smoking skull championship belt off the bridge and into the Detroit River. Familiar? Just over a year prior, Austin tossed The Rock’s Intercontinental Championship belt off a bridge.

14 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, B-Boy defeated Sonjay Dutt to win the 2003 CZW Best of the Best tournament.

Other participants included Ruckus, Chris Cash, Trent Acid, Ric Blade, Tony Mamaluke, Lil' Cholo, Deranged, Jay Briscoe, Jimmy Rave, Jason Cross, AJ Styles, and Mark Briscoe (Mark was an injury replacement for Ruckus who advanced out of the first round, but was injured during the match).

8 years ago today, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla presented One Hundred from American Legion Post 308 in Resada, California.

As the name implies, this was the 100th event in the promotion's history.

  • The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) defeated The Cutler Brothers to retain the PWG World Tag Team Championship.
  • Roderick Strong defeated Scott Lost.
  • Bryan Danielson defeated Kenny Omega via submission.
  • Joey Ryan defeated Paul London.
  • Austin Aries, Human Tornado, and Chuck Taylor defeated B-Boy, Candice LeRae, and Scorpion Sky.
  • Davey Richards defeated Tyler Black.
  • El Generico defeated Sonjay Dutt
  • Chris Hero defeated Colt Cabana to retain the PWG World Championship.

7 years ago today at a RAW taping in Cardiff, Wales (WWE Network link), Eve Torres defeated Maryse to win the WWE Divas Championship.

6 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Albany, New York (WWE Network link), Christian last eliminated Jack Swagger to win a 20-man battle royal for the right to challenge Alberto Del Rio for the vacated World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules.

Other participants in alphabetical order were Brodus Clay, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Masters, Cody Rhodes, Curt Hawkins, Drew McIntyre, Ezekiel Jackson, Heath Slater, JTG, Justin Gabriel, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio, The Big Show, Trent Barreta, Tyler Reks, Wade Barrett, and Yoshi Tatsu.

The title was vacated earlier in the show when Edge announced his retirement just a day prior due to suffering the effects of cervical spinal stensois. Edge had won the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXVII in what would turn out to be his final televised match.

5 years ago today in Vorhees, New Jersey, Alex Colon defeated AR Fox to win the CZW Best of the Best 2012 tournament.

Other participants included Jonathan Gresham, Biff Busick, Caleb Konley, Tommy End, Alex Reynolds, Shane Hollister, Rich Swann, Shane Strickland, Chiva Kid, and Uhaa Nation.

3 years ago today, TNA taped One Night Only: X-Travaganza II from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando. The show's hook was a showcase of past and present X Division wrestlers.

Ultimate X qualifying matches:

  • Low Ki defeated Chris Sabin.
  • Rashad Cameron defeated DJ Z.
  • Kenny King defeated Rubix.
  • Ace Vedder defeated Manik.
  • Sonjay Dutt defeated Rockstar Spud.
  • Tigre Uno defeated Petey Williams.

Non-Ultimate X qualifiers:

  • The Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) defeated Bad Influence (Daniels & Kazarian) in the Ethan Carter III Invitational ladder match. Ethan Carter tried to take off with the $25,000 prize, but The Wolves laid out Carter and got their check.
  • Sanada defeated Austin Aries 2-0 in a best of three falls match to retain the X Division Championship.
  • Low Ki defeated Rashad Cameron, Kenny King, Ace Vedder, Sonjay Dutt, and Tigre Uno in a Ultimate X match to earn a future X Division Championship match.

On the same night, TNA taped One Night Only: World Cup of Wrestling II. The hook of the event was a four-team competition where representatives from each team competed in different disciplines (singles, tag, X-Division, knockout) for points.

Singles match wins were worth 1 point, tag team wins were worth 2. The two teams with the most points would face off in the show's final bout for the World Cup of Wrestling.

The event was made available for PPV audiences on September 5.

The teams:

  • Team Young: Eric Young, Bully Ray, Eddie Edwards, Gunner, ODB
  • Team Angle: Kurt Angle, Davey Richards, Mr. Anderson, Sanada, Madison Rayne
  • Team EC3: Ethan Carter III, Jessie Godderz, Robbie E, Magnus, Gail Kim
  • Team Roode: Bobby Roode, James Storm, Kenny King, Samuel Shaw, Angelina Love


  • Eddie Edwards defeated James Storm.
  • Bro Mans (Jessie Godderz & Robbie E) defeated Mr. Anderson & Sanada.
  • Gail Kim defeated Madison Rayne.
  • Eric Young defeated Bobby Roode.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Magnus.
  • Angelina Love defeated ODB.
  • Ethan Carter III defeated Davey Richards.
  • Bully Ray & Gunner defeated Samuel Shaw & Kenny King.
  • Team Young (Eric Young, Bully Ray, Eddie Edwards, Gunner, ODB) defeated Team ECIII (Ethan Carter III, Bro Mans (Jessie Godderz, Robbie E), Magnus, Gail Kim) 5-4 in an elimination tag team match to win the World Cup of Wrestling. Young defeated Magnus in the deciding fall to win the match.

1 year ago today, Jonathan Rechner, best known to wrestling fans as Balls Mahoney, dies of a heart attack in is hometown of Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey. He was 44.

Born April 11, 1972, Rechner began his career at just 15 years old as Abbudah Singh for World Wrestling Council. His first big break came for Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1994 as Boo Bradley, Jr., a take on the Boo Radley character from To Kill A Mockingbird. He initially aligned with Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch, but the duo abused him for months before eventually turning on him after killing his pet cat (in reality, Candido and Rechner were good friends. Such good friends, Rechner named his son after Chris). He would befriend Cactus Jack and the two would have a long-standing rivalry with Candido and Sytch before feuding with Gangstas member Killer Kyle. During his time in SMW, he was the Beat the Champ Television Champion twice.

In late 1995, Rechner briefly appeared for the WWF as Xanta Claus, a South Pole version of Santa Claus who stole presents. He was managed by “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, but the Xanta character only appeared a few times before it was quietly dropped in early 1996. This was actually Rechner’s second run with the company; he occasionally appeared for the WWF as a jobber under his real name in 1992 and 1993.

In 1997, Rechner joined ECW under what would be his most famous persona, Balls Mahoney. Never without a steel chair in hand, Balls’ penchant for violently swinging it in the direction of his opposition (not to mention his entrance theme being “Big Balls by AC/DC) made him a fan favorite. He teamed with Axl Rotten as “The Hardcore Chair Swingin’ Freaks”. The duo feuded with the Dudley Boyz, but would never win the tag titles together.

Balls actually ended up winning the tag titles with a different partner: Masato Tanaka, defeating the Dudley Boyz at November to Remember in November 1998. Their moment of glory was fleeting; they lose the titles back to the Dudleys just six days later.

The following spring, Mahoney would team with Spike Dudley. Again feuding with the Dudley Boyz, the two would win the ECW Tag Team Championship at Heat Wave in July 1999. Just as before, their glory was fleeting; Balls and Spike lost the titles back to the Dudleys just 26 days later, but would win them back again just one night later... only to lose them back to the Dudleys again by the end of August. Though Balls would never again capture a title in ECW, he was with the promotion until its shutdown in early 2001.

Following ECW’s closure, Rechner returned to the independent circuit, wrestling most notably for Juggalo Championship Wrestling and a brief stint in TNA. In 2005, Balls was a part of the WWE-produced ECW reunion show One Night Stand, taking part in a pair of huge brawls.

Balls would get a third run with WWE as part of the ECW relaunch in 2006. He was to reunite with Axl Rotten, but Balls would go solo after Axl missed some dates and wound up being released. At the second One Night Stand in 2006, Balls defeated his former tag partner Masato Tanaka. Balls remained with WWE, even appearing on an episode of Smackdown in February 2008, until his release in April 2008.

Following his release, he returned to the Independent circuit, appearing for World Wrestling Council (in a bit of trivia, Balls was the final WWC opponent for Abdullah the Butcher). He would wrestle for Juggalo Championship Wrestling, Ring of Honor, TNA, and Jersey All-Pro Wrestling most notably. His final match came for Deathproof Fight Club in December 2015 when he defeated Shauymo in a flaming tables match.

On April 12, 2016, just a day after his 44th birthday, Rechner suffered a heart attack in his home in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey. He was watching Jeopardy! as he laid on his side to get more comfortable, but would lost consciousness moments later. When his wife noticed, she called 911, but Rechner was beyond help, as he had already died by the time medics arrived. An autopsy concluded that Rechner had suffered a fatal heart attack. Two months later, the Boston Globe reported that Rechner suffered the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE for short. Ironically, Rechner’s longtime tag partner, Brian Knighton, aka Axl Rotten, had shown signs of the disease following his death. Knighton had also died at age 44 last year.

Rechner is survived by his wife of ten years, Gayle Schetner, and one child, Christopher, now age 9.

BONUS! From 12 years ago today, Kurt Angle takes on Eddie Guerrero at a Smackdown taping in Chicago, Illinois (WWE Network link). The match was rated 4¼ stars from Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer.

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