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This Day in Wrestling History (Apr. 25): David Arquette Wins the WCW World Title

this day in wrestling history

37 years ago today, the WWF and NWA world heavyweight championships were defended in the same building. The Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri played host to the title bouts.

WWF Champion Bob Backlund defeated Bulldog Bob Brown to retain his championship, and NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race successfully defended against Ric Flair. On the same show, Ken Patera defeated Kevin Von Erich to win the NWA Missouri Championship.

34 years ago today in New York City, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka defeated Superstar Billy Graham.

This was Graham's last major appearance for the WWF. A few days earlier, he was rushed to a hospital following an overdose of pills. Graham left for the AWA a few weeks later, and would not return to the WWF until 1987.

28 years ago, WWF taped the 21st edition of Saturday Night's Main Event (WWE Network link) from Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. The episode aired May 27.

  • King Hacksaw Jim Duggan defeated Ravishing Rick Rude by countout in a WWF Intercontinental Championship match.
  • Randy Savage defeated Jim Neidhart.
  • Hulk Hogan defeated The Big Boss Man in a steel cage match to retain the WWF Championship. Prior to the match, Hogan was attacked by Tiny "Zeus" Lister (who appeared in the movie No Holds Barred) to set up a storyline that would run for the remainder of the year.
  • The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) defeated Demolition (Ax & Smash) by disqualification in a WWF Tag Team Championship match.
  • Jimmy Snuka defeated Boris Zuhkov. This was Snuka's first appearance in the WWF after a three-year absence.

25 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jimmy Snuka defeated Sal Bellomo to become the first ECW heavyweight champion.

The promotion at the time known as Eastern Championship Wrestling would be a part of the NWA until their very public breakup in August 1994.

18 years ago today, WWF presented In Your House 28: Backlash (WWE Network link) from the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island. 10,939 were in attendance, with 398,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 309,000 homes from the April 1998 event, In Your House: Unforgiven.

This would be the final WWF PPV to be presented under the In Your House banner, as non-Big Five events were given permanent names following the event. The show's hook was a series of matches that stemmed from the events from and after Wrestlemania XV, thus the name "Backlash".

Sunday Night Heat matches:

  • Val Venis & Nicole Bass defeated D'Lo Brown & Ivory.
  • Droz & Albert defeated Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor.
  • Kane defeated The Big Bossman.
  • Viscera defeated Test.

PPV matches:

  • The Ministry of Darkness (Bradshaw, Faarooq, and Mideon) defeated The Brood (Edge, Christian, and Gangrel).
  • Al Snow defeated Hardcore Holly to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.
  • The Godfather defeated Goldust to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) defeated Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart to become the #1 contender for the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Mankind defeated The Big Show in a Boiler Room Brawl.
  • Triple H defeated X-Pac.
  • The Undertaker defeated Ken Shamrock.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock in a no holds barred match to retain the WWF Championship. Shane McMahon was the special referee, but it was referee Earl Hebner that counted the fall.

17 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Charlotte, North Carolina (WWE Network link), Dean Malenko defeated Scotty 2 Hotty to win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.

Malenko would hold the championship for the next 322 days, just surpassing Taka Michinoku for the second longest championship reign in the history of the second incarnation of the belt (Duane “Gillberg” Gill held the title for 448 days, spanning November 1998 to February 2000).

On the same show, Crash Holly defeated Matt Hardy to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.

But the show's most remembered for Steve Austin's first appearance on WWF programming since being undergoing neck surgery the previous November. He used a crane to drop a steel beam on the DX Express tour bus, crushing the bus in the parking lot and somehow blowing it up.

17 years ago today at a WCW Thunder taping in Syracuse, New York, David Arquette defeated Eric Bischoff to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Kimberly Page was the special referee.

A bit of an explanation is in order. No, Bischoff was not the WCW world champion; that was Diamond Dallas Page, who won the title a day earlier from Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett took the actor hostage and demanded a tag match with Jarrett and Bischoff taking on DDP and Arquette, with the WCW world title on the line. As Mickey Jay (a second ref as the original Kimberly was out cold from a kiss... or... something) counted the fall for Arquette, it was he that won the title.

To say this is an unmitigated disaster for WCW would be an understatement. It all started with a production meeting where Tony Schiavone jokingly suggested that David Arquette should win the WCW world title. For some reason, the booking powers that be (by that I mean Vince Russo) did not take this as a joke. At least their heart was in the right place... probably.

Ready to Rumble, the WCW movie recently released at the time of the show, wasn’t doing well at the box office (only $12 million in gross through three weeks against a $24 million budget), so the hope was the title change would create some buzz for the promotion and maybe help the movie turn in a profit.

It did create some buzz, just not the good kind. The critical backlash was swift and severe: the movie made just $272,000 in the following weekend, ticket sales for Slamboree came to almost an immediate halt, and Nitro the Monday after the title change lost 600,000 viewers compared to the week prior. Among many wrestling fans, this was a bridge too far, and is often regarded as the tipping point for WCW’s demise, which would come just 11 months later.

Arquette, who reluctantly went along with the plan (he as a wrestling fan knew the backlash was coming), didn’t made a penny off his 12-day run as WCW champion (the eleventh of 25 total title changes in 2000, including vacancies). He donated his earnings to the families of Darren Drozdov, who was paralyzed in 1999, Brian Pillman, and Owen Hart, who died in 1997 and 1999 respectively.

15 years and two days ago at a Smackdown taping in Peoria, Illinois, Randy Orton makes his WWF television debut with a win over Hardcore Holly.

7 years ago today, WWE presented Extreme Rules (WWE Network link) from the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. 12,278 were in attendance, with 182,000 homes watching on PPV.

That's about the same number as the April 2009 event, Backlash. The show's hook was that every match on the show would carry some sort of hardcore rules stipulation.

  • In a dark match, Kofi Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler.
  • The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd) defeated ShoMiz (The Big Show and The Miz), John Morrison & R-Truth, and the World's Strongest Tag Team (Montel Vontavious Porter & Mark Henry) in a gauntlet match to win a Unified WWE Tag Team Championship match.
  • CM Punk defeated Rey Mysterio. Had Punk lost, he would have been forced to shave his head.
  • JTG defeated Shad Gaspard in a strap match.
  • Jack Swagger defeated Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Sheamus defeated Triple H in a street fight.
  • Beth Phoenix defeated Michelle McCool in an Extreme Makeover match to win the WWE Women's Championship.
  • Edge defeated Chris Jericho in a steel cage match.
  • John Cena defeated Batista in a last man standing match to retain the WWE Championship.

6 years ago today, WWE presented the 2011 WWE Draft on a special edition of RAW (WWE Network link) from the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

As with more recent editions of the Draft, there were interpromotional matches where superstars and divas competed to win randomly generated picks from the opposing roster. Eight picks were done live, with 23 others picks made through the Supplemental Draft the next day.

It hardly mattered, the two rosters would be reunited as one during the summer. Despite that, there were still two world champions (one for RAW, one for Smackdown) until they were unified in December 2013. This would be the last WWE Draft until the rosters were split again in July 2016.

  • In a preshow dark match, JTG defeated Tyson Kidd.
  • Team SmackDown (Brodus Clay, Chris Masters, Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre, Ezekiel Jackson, Heath Slater, Kane, Kofi Kingston, The Big Show, and Wade Barrett) defeated Team RAW (Daniel Bryan, Evan Bourne, Mark Henry, Mason Ryan, Santino Marella, Sheamus, Ted DiBiase, The Great Khali, Vladimir Kozlov, and Yoshi Tatsu) 10-8 in a 20-man interbrand battle royal.
  • Eve Torres defeated Layla in just 35 seconds.
  • Kofi Kingston defeated Sheamus.
  • Jim Ross defeated Michael Cole by disqualification. No draft picks were at stake.
  • Randy Orton defeated Dolph Ziggler to win two draft picks for Smackdown.
  • Rey Mysterio defeated Wade Barrett.
  • Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, and The Miz defeated Christian, John Cena, and Mark Henry.
  • In a post-show dark match, John Cena & Randy Orton defeated CM Punk & The Miz.

2011 WWE Draft

Pick # Brand (to) Employee Brand (from)
Pick # Brand (to) Employee Brand (from)
1 SmackDown John Cena Raw
2 Raw Rey Mysterio Smackdown
3 SmackDown Randy Orton Raw
4 SmackDown Mark Henry Raw
5 SmackDown Sin Cara Raw
6 Raw Big Show SmackDown
7 Raw Alberto Del Rio SmackDown
8 Raw John Cena SmackDown
9 SmackDown Daniel Bryan Raw
10 Raw Jack Swagger SmackDown
11 SmackDown The Great Khali & Ranjin Singh Raw
12 SmackDown Jimmy Uso Raw
13 Raw Kelly Kelly SmackDown
14 Raw JTG SmackDown
15 SmackDown Alicia Fox Raw
16 SmackDown William Regal Raw
17 SmackDown Yoshi Tatsu Raw
18 Raw Drew McIntyre SmackDown
19 SmackDown Natalya Raw
20 Raw Curt Hawkins SmackDown
21 Raw Chris Masters SmackDown
22 SmackDown Jey Uso Raw
23 Raw Kofi Kingston SmackDown
24 SmackDown Ted DiBiase Raw
25 SmackDown Tyson Kidd Raw
26 SmackDown Tamina Raw
27 Raw Tyler Reks SmackDown
28 SmackDown Alex Riley Raw
29 Raw Beth Phoenix SmackDown
30 SmackDown Sheamus Raw

3 years ago today, WWE superfan Connor Michalek died of complications from brain and spinal cancer. He was just eight years old.

Battling cancer for most of his life (at age four, his parents were told he would have just a year to live following surgery), MIchalek received considerable media attention after a social media campaign was launched for Connor to meet his favorite wrestler, Daniel Bryan.

The video, first posted on Youtube in October 2012, quickly got the attention of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Connor finally got to meet Daniel Bryan in late December. They met again in October 2013 and at the 2014 Royal Rumble. Connor got his own entrance a few hours before RAWjust before Wrestlemania XXX, and knocked out Triple H with one punch. At Wrestlemania XXX, Connor and his family were in the in the front row to see his hero Daniel Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Posthumously, a video released in his memory quickly went viral. That summer, WWE launched Connor's Cure, a nonprofit organization launched through the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh dedicated to curing children's cancer.

In March 2015, just under a year to the date of his passing, Michalek was the first recipient of the Warrior Award, an honor given to one person who best embodies the spirit, courage, compassion, and strength of the Ultimate Warrior. His father Steve and brother Jackson accepted on Connor's behalf.

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