76 years ago today in Los Angeles, California, Ed "Strangler" Lewis defeated Ed Don George to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
34 years ago today, the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance shuts down. This comes a few months after their two top stars, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki left to form their own companies and took many of JWA's wrestlers with them. Those two companies, All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling respectively, still exist today.
28 years ago today, Jerry Lawler defeated Kerry Von Erich to win the WCWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship.
Lawler would be the last man to hold the title; 11 days later, the championship was unified with the AWA World Heavyweight Championship to become the United States Wrestling Association Unified World Heavyweight Championship (again defeating Kerry Von Erich).
About a year and a half later, World Class Championship Wrestling (then known as the World Class Wrestling Association) withdraws from USWA and would fold by the end of the year.
24 years ago today, WCW makes its debut in New York City at the Paramount Theater in Madison Square Garden.
- Johnny B. Badd defeated Tex Slazenger.
- Maxx Payne defeated Steven Regal.
- Chris Benoit and Ron Simmons fought to a double countout.
- Van Hammer defeated Vinnie Vegas.
- The Hollywood Blonds (Steve Austin and Brian Pillman) defeated Marcus Alexander Bagwell and 2 Cold Scorpio to retain the NWA/WCW World Tag Team Championship.
- Rick Rude defeated Cactus Jack.
- Dustin Rhodes defeated Paul Orndorff by disqualification to retain the WCW United States Championship.
- Barry Windham defeated Ricky Steamboat to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
- Sting defeated Big Van Vader by disqualification in a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match.
20 years ago today, WCW presented Monday Nitro (WWE Network link) from the CoreStates Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
This was WCW's first ever event at the building, which was for many years home to WWF events. WWF events in Philadelphia moved to the new Corestates Center (today known as the Wells Fargo Center) in 1996.
- Chris Benoit defeated The Barbarian.
- Dean Malenko defeated Hector Guerrero by submission to retain the WCW United States Championship.
- Rey Misterio, Jr. defeated Juventud Guerrera.
- Ultimo Dragon defeated Lenny Lane to retain the WCW World Television Championship.
- Syxx defeated Prince Iaukea by submission to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
- Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock) defeated High Voltage (Kaos and Rage) in a street fight.
- The Giant defeated Big Al.
- Diamond Dallas Page defeated Konnan.
- Jeff Jarrett and Steve McMichael defeated Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) by disqualification.
- Lex Luger defeated Kevin Nash by disqualification.
13 years ago today at an NWA-TNA weekly PPV taping in Nashville, Apollo & D-Lo Brown defeated Kid Kash & Dallas by disqualification to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
Under NWA-TNA rules at the time, championships could change hands on a disqualification if said disqualification was deemed to be intentional. The rule most infamously came into play in November 2006 at Genesis when Sting lost the NWA world title on a disqualification to Abyss.
9 years ago today on RAW from London, England (WWE Network link), Mickie James defeated Beth Phoenix to win the WWE Womens Championship.
The win made Mickie just the third woman to win the WWE Women’s Championship at least four times, joining Trish Stratus and Lita.
9 years ago today at a TNA Impact taping at Universal Orlando, Kaz & Super Eric defeated The Christian Coalition (AJ Styles & Tomko) and LAX (Homicide & Hernandez) in a three-team match to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship.
They don’t hold the titles long however; Jim Cornette strips them of the titles when Super Eric refuses to unmask as Eric Young (it was Kaz and Eric Young that won the title shot... look, I don’t get it either). The titles are held up until Sacrifice in May when LAX wins a one-night tournament to win the titles.
On the same show, Petey Williams cashes in his Feast or Fired briefcase and defeated Jay Lethal to win the TNA X Division Championship.
7 years ago today, Eugene Nicholas Kiniski, or Gene Kiniski for short, died of cancer in a long-term care facility in Blaine, Washington. He was 81.
Born November 23, 1928 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Gene was one of six children of Julia Kiniski, who would serve as an alderman for the Edmonton City Council. A two-sport athlete at St. Joseph’s High School, he caught the attention of Edmonton Eskimos scout Annis Stukus and invited him to training camp (in a side note, Al Oerning and Stu Hart were also at the camp). He would eventually make the team as a defensive lineman and he earned a scholarship to the University of Arizona. It was while playing college football Kiniski was talked into getting into professional wrestling.
After training with Dory Funk and Tony Morelli, Kiniski made his pro wrestling debut on February 13, 1952, less than a month removed from college. But his pro wrestling gig was part-time… for all of about six months. In the Eskimos’ season opener in August 1952, Gene suffered a torn kneecap and would miss the remainder of the season. The next year, he retired from football to concentrate on wrestling full-time.
Success came quickly for Gene; in 1954, he was a prominent figure on television in southern California, competing with the likes of Wilbur Snyder and Bobo Brazil. Later that year, he would win the NWA International TV Tag Team Championship with John Tolos and challenge Lou Thesz for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Over the next two years, Kiniski would win the NWA world tag titles (San Francisco version) with Lord James Blears three times and the NWA Texas heavyweight title as Gene Kelly in 1956.
Late in 1956, Kiniski returned to his native Canada and wrestled for Toronto’s Maple Leaf Wrestling. Just two months after debuting for the promotion, he would have his first main event bout, teaming with Buddy Rogers against Whipper Billy Watson and Pat O’Connor. The bout would be the beginning of a long-standing feud between Watson and Kiniski, with some of their bouts airing nationally on CBC.
Despite failing to capture the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Watson, Thesz, and Dick Hutton, Gene would win some gold of his own, winning the British Empire Heavyweight Championship from Pat O’Connor in May 1957 and the Montreal version of the NWA world title just a month later. He wouldn’t hold the Montreal title long; just a month later, over 21,000 fans saw Kiniski defeated for the title by Killer Kowalski.
In 1960, Kiniski joined the American Wrestling Association. In July 1961, he defeated Verne Gagne for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship. Interesting tidbit: on the same day he won the AWA world title, he would win the second of his two AWA world tag team titles with Hard Boiled Haggerty. He would lose both titles on the same day, first when Gagne won the title back four weeks later, then when he split from Haggerty after the failed interference cost Kiniski the world title.
In 1962, Gene returned to Canada and joined NWA All Star Wrestling. Just as it had before, success came to Gene, winning the NWA British Empire heavyweight title twice and the Pacific Coast tag team titles twice. He also traveled on occasion, appearing most notably for the WWWF. He challenged Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship several times, and even stole their belt for four weeks in late 1964 (this was following a disputed decision in a title match); Sammartino would repossess the belt when he defeated Kiniski in a rematch.
In 1965, he joined Indianapolis-based World Wrestling Association, holding their world title for four months. This would be the gateway to perhaps his biggest moment. On January 7, 1966 in St. Louis, Gene Kiniski defeated Lou Thesz for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Kiniski was considered a “heel” world champion, a distinction he had no problem with. He took on all comers worldwide over the next three years, including Bobo Brazil, Dick the Bruiser, Bill Watts, John Tolos, Abdullah the Butcher, Don Leo Jonathan, and Haystacks Calhoun. In November 1968, Kiniski made history by being the first NWA world champion to appear in Los Angeles in a decade.
By this point, the miles and demands of being a world champion had exhausted him. He announced at the NWA annual convention he would step down as champion. On February 11, 1969, Kiniski lost the NWA world title to Dory Funk, Jr. Kiniski would later claim that he had submitted too quickly, thinking the bout was a best-of-three falls match.
Though the world championship days of “Big Thunder” were behind him, Gene was far from done capturing titles: he would add the NWA International Heavyweight Championship in 1970, NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship in 1973 (a championship once considered the gateway for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship), seven Pacific Coast Heavyweight Championships in the 1970s, and eight more NWA Canadian Tag Team Championships (Vancouver version—he won the title ten times in all) from 1971 to 1976.
He even dabbled in promotion, joining Sandar Kovacs and Don Owen to buy NWA All-Star Wrestling in the late 1960s. Al Tomko would buy Sandar Kovacs stake in 1977, while Kiniski retained his stake until 1983. Kiniski also promoted events for Stampede Wrestling and the AWA when they were in the Vancouver area.
In 1978, Kiniski went into acting, most notably appearing in Paradise Alley in 1978 and in a cameo role in Double Happiness in 1994.
Kiniski, the special referee for the first ever Starrcade main event between Ric Flair and Harley Race for the NWA world title, teamed periodically with his sons Kelly and Nick in his later years. Gene’s final bouts were for Winnipeg-based West Four Wrestling Alliance in February 1992. In his final ever bout, he was the last man eliminated in a battle royal for the vacant WFWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship won by Gerry Morrow (side note: in his next to last bout, he teamed with fellow Canadians Chris Jericho and Lance Storm). His last notable wrestling appearance stateside came at Slamboree in May 1993 when he was a cornerman for Dory Funk Jr. against Nick Bockwinkel (who had Verne Gagne in his corner).
In 2000, Gene was the interim president of the Pacific Wrestling Federation, the governing body for All Japan Pro Wrestling’s championships, replacing Lord James Blears. He left All Japan in 2001 when Stan Hansen was chosen as their permanent successor.
In the 21st century, Gene graced himself to a whole new generation of Canadians, appearing on Wrestling with the Past on The Comedy Network.
In early 2010, Kiniski was hospitalized with congestive heart failure. Around that time, the cancer which he had battled for years returned. The cancer would claim his life on April 4, 2010 at age 81. At the time of his passing, Gene was survived by his sons Nick and Kelly (both of whom went into wrestling), sister Dorothy, and daughter-in-law Joyce.
Kiniski was inducted as an inaugural member of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2004, he was inducted into the professional wing of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was inducted into the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame, and inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008.
6 years ago today, WWE Superstars moves to WWE.com after the show was dropped by WGN America after two years.
Though the show featured big names such as John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H, and The Undertaker in the beginning, the series would become a showcase for lower and midcard and enhancement talent, plus highlights of the main shows, RAW and Smackdown.
The show would stream on WWE.com through September 2012 before moving to streaming service Hulu, then to WWE Network upon its launch in February 2014 (the show was still presented as a traditional broadcast internationally).
Superstars ended in November 2016 with 398 total episodes aired to make room for 205 Live. Main Event has essentially taken on the role of Superstars.
6 years ago today, Sami Callahan defeated AR Fox to win the 2011 CZW Best of the Best tournament. Other participants were Drake Younger, Trent Seven, MK McKinnan, Chuck Taylor, Johnny Garango, Samuray Del Sol, Lince Dorado, ACH, Alex Colon, Willie Mack, and Greg Excellent.
4 years ago today, Fandango's theme "Cha La La" comes in at #44 on the UK singles charts. This is the first time a WWE song makes the UK chart since Hacksaw Jim Duggan's single in 1994. "Cha La La" missed the Top 40 by just 239 sales.
2 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in London, England (WWE Network link), Daniel Bryan and John Cena defeated Cesaro and Tyson Kidd.
It turns out to be Bryan's last professional wrestling match. Bryan was sent home from the European tour after he's diagnosed with a concussion following the taping. He's pulled from the tour as a precautionary measure. Months of tests followed, and in February 2016, Bryan retired from in-ring competition at age 34.
For the record, Bryan went out a winner, with a submission on Tyson Kidd.
2 years ago today, PWInsider reports that Taz missed a commentary session with Josh Matthews that was to correspond with the next few weeks of Impact tapings. The report cites Taz had issues with the company in terms of back pay.
Soon after, all references to TNA were removed from his social media, leading to believe that he had left the company. The next day, Taz made it official: he left the company after six years. Today, he hosts a daily podcast, The Taz Show: Bodyslams and Beyond.
It’s a happy 23rd birthday to Bin Wang, known these days as Tian Bing.
Last June, the three-year veteran of the Inoki Genome Federation became the first Chinese-born wrestler to sign with WWE (though this is disputed). He made his television debut as Tian Bing in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic last October, and competed in the Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal at Wrestlemania 33, his first main roster bout.
It’s a happy 76th birthday for Peter Edward Rose, Sr., or Pete Rose for short.
Rose, known to many as “Charlie Hustle”, is one of the most prolific players in baseball history, holding Major League Baseball records in hits, games played, at-bats, singles, and outs.
The four-time World Series Champion (three as a player in 1975, 1976, and 1980, all for the Cincinnati Reds) and 17-time All-Star is banned from MLB for life for his involvement in betting on baseball games as a player and manager, including betting on his own team. Two years later, the Baseball Hall of Fame voted to ban anyone on the permanently ineligible list from Hall of Fame consideration.
Wrestling connection: Rose appeared at Wrestlemanias XIV, XV, and 2000 in a multi-year angle with Kane. In 2004, Rose was the first celebrity inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Another bit of trivia: Rose was the guest host of RAW on March 22, 2010, the Sunday before Wrestlemania XXVI. He booked Shawn Michaels’ next-to-last match, a win over Kane.
The best of cSs on this day:
2016: WWE had current Superstars pose with old championships and everyone is flipping out (A new gallery on WWE.com shows current superstars with classic championship belts; full gallery is here)
2015: Steve Austin's problem with John Cena using the Springboard Stunner (Austin on his podcast expresses his issue with John Cena’s springboard stunner)
2014: Jim Ross goes off on the status of heels in WWE (Jim Ross goes on a Twitter rant on heeldom in WWE)
2012: Cageside Fave Five: The silliest finishing moves ever (Cagesiders weigh in on the silliest finishers ever)
2011: With Nick Diaz Rumored to Step Into Boxing, Will MMA Fans Take Interest? (Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz discusses a possible boxing future in an Inside MMA interview)
2010: Dana White only lies to those he doesn't trust, controls the media much better than Vince McMahon ever did (UFC president Dana White is a lying ass liar)
BONUS! From 14 years ago today on RAW, Scott Steiner debates Chris Nowinski on foreign policy. The full episode, one in which Scott said he wrestled a lot of countries (he probably did too) is here on WWE Network.