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This Day in Wrestling History (Apr. 24): Super Sunday

this day in wrestling history

34 years ago today, Hulk Hogan is officially stripped of the AWA World Heavyweight Championship and his win erased from the record books.

The announcement from AWA president Stanley Blackburn comes five days after a match in which Hogan used an illegal object on Bockwinkel to win the title. This came moments after Bockwinkel's manager Bobby Heenan hit Hogan with that same object.

33 years ago today, AWA presented Super Sunday (WWE Network link) from the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. About 20,000 fans were in attendance.

  • Brad Rheingans defeated Rocky Stone.
  • Buck Zumhofe defeated Steve Regal to become the #1 contender for the AWA Junior Heavyweight Championship.
  • Jerry Lawler defeated John Tolos.
  • Joyce Grable & Wendi Richter defeat Judy Martin & Velvet McIntyre to retain the NWA World Women’s Tag Team Championship.
  • Wahoo McDaniel defeats Eddie Boulder.
  • Blackjack Lanza, Jesse Ventura, and Ken Patera defeated Rick Martel and The High Flyers (Greg Gagne & Jim Brunzell).
  • Nick Bockwinkel defeated Hulk Hogan by disqualification to retain the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Mad Dog Vachon & Verne Gagne defeated Sheik Adnan Al-Kassie & Jerry Blackwell.

30 years ago today, Ken Patera returns to the WWF after serving two years in prison for breaking the window of a McDonald's and assaulting a police officer.

In his first match back, a television taping in New Haven, Connecticut, Patera defeated Hercules Hernandez via disqualification after interference by Harley Race and Bobby Heenan.

28 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling debuts in the Tokyo Dome with Super Powers Clash. The event, drawing around 44,000 fans, featured a tournament for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

In the final, Big Van Vader defeated Shinya Hashimoto to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Lou Thesz was the special referee. Vader also defeated former champion Tatsumi Fujinami and Masahiro Chono in the tournament.

Jushin "Thunder" Liger also made his debut at the show, defeating Kuniaki Kobayashi.

27 years ago today at a WWF television taping in San Antonio, Texas, Rick Martel and Rowdy Roddy Piper fought to a double disqualification in a WWF Intercontinental Championship tournament semifinal match.

The double elimination makes the other semifinal, Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana, the final match. Interesting quirk: the semifinal turned final was actually taped the previous night (Perfect won).

23 years ago today at a WCW Saturday Night taping in Atlanta, Georgia, Ric Flair defeated Ricky Steamboat to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

The championship was held up due to a double pin at Spring Stampede. This would be the final match between the two longtime rivals.

17 years ago today on WCW Monday Nitro from Rochester, New York (WWE Network link), Diamond Dallas Page defeated Jeff Jarrett in a steel cage match to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

12 years ago today, TNA presented Lockdown from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

The show’s hook was that every match on the show was contested in a steel cage, believed to be a first for professional wrestling.

  • In a preshow match, 3 Live Kru (Konnan and Ron Killings) defeated David Young and Lex Lovett and The Naturals (Andy Douglas and Chase Stevens) in a three-team match.
  • Apolo & Sonny Siaki defeated Chris Candido & Lance Hoyt. It would turn out to be the final match for Candido. In the early moments of the match, Candido suffered a dislocated ankle, broken tibia, and broken fibula after taking a dropkick and landing on his leg awkwardly. Two days later, he had an operation on his ankle, and a plate, screws, and pins were placed in his ankle. Three days after the surgery, Candido collapsed and was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. The death was due to a blood clot from the surgery.
  • Dustin Rhodes defeated Bobby Roode 2-1 in a best of three falls "Prince of Darkness" match.
  • Shocker defeated Chris Sabin, Michael Shane, and Sonjay Dutt in an Xscape match.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated Raven in a tables and chairs match.
  • America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) defeated Team Canada (Eric Young & Petey Williams) in a strap match to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Christopher Daniels defeated Elix Skipper to retain the TNA X-Division Championship.
  • BG James, Diamond Dallas Page, and Sean Waltman defeated Jeff Jarrett, Monty Brown, and The Outlaw in a Lethal Lockdown match.
  • AJ Styles defeated Abyss to become the #1 contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

11 years ago today, WWE and Brock Lesnar settle a lawsuit brought on by Lesnar.

Lesnar left the company amid controversy in 2004, after which he signed a no-compete clause to pursue an NFL career. After washing out there, he went to New Japan and pursued mixed martial arts, both of which were against the no-compete clause.

Terms were not disclosed, though the settlement opened the door for Lesnar to fully pursue his MMA career, first appearing for K-1 in 2007, then UFC in 2008. Lesnar would return to WWE in 2012. He would make a one-time return to UFC in 2016.

7 years ago today, reported that Dave Batista's contract was set to run out with WWE, and his exit was imminent.

Batista, cast for the lead role in WWE Studios’ Killing Karma (later renamed Inside Out, and recast with Triple H in the lead), would not actually leave until about a month later following his loss at Over the Limit. He did not return to WWE until January 2014.

Today would have been in the 101st birthday of Aloysius Martin Thesz. Born Lajos Tiza, he is best known as legendary pro wrestler Lou Thesz.

Born in Banat, Michigan, Thesz moved to St. Louis as a young boy. His working class father instilled the foundation of Greco-Roman wrestling from a young age; it would not take long for Thesz to parlay that success. He had prominent success on his high school wrestling team and trained with Ad Santel.

He made his professional debut in 1932 at just age 16. He would soon cross paths with Ed "Strangler" Lewis, the premier wrestler of the 1920s, and would learn the art of hooking (stretching an opponent in painful holds). The two would form a lasting friendship.

In late December 1937, Thesz, one of the biggest wrestling stars in the St. Louis territory, would win the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Championship from Everett Marshall. At 21, he became the youngest world champion ever. He would hold the title two more times, first in 1939, and again in 1948.

It was in 1948 where Thesz was to meet Orville Brown to crown the first champion of the National Wrestling Alliance. Just weeks before the match, however, Brown was involved in a career-ending automobile accident. The championship would be awarded to Thesz as a result. Over the next few years, Thesz would unify other world championships, and by 1952, he was recognized as the undisputed world heavyweight champion. Thesz would finally lose the title in 1956 to Whipper Billy Watson. During this period, he won over 900 consecutive matches.

In 1957, Thesz would forfeit the title due to injury to Edouard Carpentier. The NWA did not recognize Carpentier as champion, though some promotions did. In the same year, Thesz defended the NWA world title against Rikidozan in Japan, often going to one-hour draws. Their series of matches popularized professional wrestling in Japan. Thesz would finally drop the championship to Dick Hutton in late 1957. He would then embark on a tour of Europe and Japan, billing himself as the NWA International Champion; the title still exists today as a part of All Japan Pro Wrestling's Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship.

At age 46, Lou would win a fifth world championship in 1963 when he defeated longtime rival Buddy Rogers. He held the title for three years before dropping it to Gene Kinski. Lou would wrestle part time for over a decade, winning his last major championship in 1978, the Universal Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Championship. He would drop it about a year later to El Canek. Thesz retired in 1979 after a bout with Luke Graham.

Over the next decade, he would referee some of the most famous matches in wrestling, including Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes for the NWA world title in 1981 and Big Van Vader vs. Shinya Hashimoto for the IWGP heavyweight title in 1989. As it usually goes in wrestling, retirements don't stick; he sporadically wrestled before finally calling it a career in December 1990 at age 74. His final opponent: one of his protégés, Masahiro Chono. Thesz is believed to be the only male wrestler to compete in at least one match in seven different decades.

Post-retirement, he wrote an autobiography, Hooker in 1995, became president of the Cauliflower Alley Club, an organization for retired pro wrestlers, and a trainer for Union of Wrestling Force International (UWF-I). He also dabbled in announcing, doing color commentary for World Class Championship Wrestling. In 1999, Thesz got a professional wrestling hall of fame named after him along with George Tragos in Newton, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines.

Until his last illness, Thesz worked out three or four times a week near his home. On April 9, 2002, Lou underwent a triple bypass surgery to replace an aortic valve. He would die from complications of the surgery 19 days later. He was 86. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife, Charlie, three sons, three sisters, and ten grandchildren.

Thesz in addition to having a Hall of Fame named after him is a member of the Missouri Sports (2002), NWA (2005), Professional Wrestling (2002), Stampede Wrestling, St. Louis Wrestling (2007), Wrestling Observer Newsletter (1996), WCW (1993), and WWE (2016) Hall of Fame.

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