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This Day in Wrestling History (Apr. 30): Wrestling with God

this day in wrestling history

40 years ago today in Baltimore, Maryland, Superstar Billy Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino to win the WWWF Championship.

The win ends Sammartino’s second and final run as WWWF Champion, with this run spanning 1,237 days. At the time, it was the second-longest championship reign in company history. The mark would be surpassed twice: first by Bob Backlund at 2,135 days (including an Antonio Inoki title run that is not recognized by WWE), then by Hulk Hogan at 1,474 days.

Graham won the title on an illegal pin, as he had his feet on the ropes for leverage. Ironically, Graham would lose the title the following February on an illegal pin; his foot was on the ropes as Bob Backlund pinned him.

34 years ago today in Greensboro, North Carolina, Greg Valentine defeated Roddy Piper to win the NWA United States Championship.

24 years ago today, AAA presented the first ever TripleMania from Plaza de Toros in Mexico City, Mexico.

TripleMania is the signature annual event for Asistencia, Asesoria, y Administracion, today known as Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide; basically, it’s their Wrestlemania.

Originally taking place in the spring to coincide with the founding of AAA, the show has moved around the calendar quite a bit, taking place in June or July for most of its history before finding a home in August in recent years.

About 48,000 were in attendance for the event; to this day, it's the largest attendance for any wrestling event held in Mexico.

Dark matches:

  • Martha Villalobos, Pantera Sureña and Wendy defeated Lola Gonzales, Vicky Caranza, and La Rosa.
  • Winners, Super Caló, and El Salsero defeated May Flowers, Rudy Reyna, and Baby Sharon.
  • Volador, Misterioso, and Rey Misterio, Jr. defeated Los Destructores (Tony Arce, Vulcano, and Rocco Valente).
  • Octagón, El Hijo del Santo, and Villaño III defeated Fuerza Guerrera, Heavy Metal, and Rambo.

Matches airing on PPV:

  • Lizmark defeated La Parka 1-0 in overtime in a best of three falls match to retain the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship. Neither man scored a fall within the 15-minute time limit; both wrestlers asked for five more minutes, which was approved by the Mexico City Boxing and Wrestling Commission.
  • Máscara Sagrada, Love Machine, and Mascarita Sagrada defeated Jerry Estrada, Blue Panther, and Jerrito Estrada.
  • Perro Aguayo defeated Máscara Año 2000 2-1 in a best of three falls lucha de apuestas hair versus mask match. As a result of the loss, Máscara Año 2000 was forced to unmask.
  • Cien Caras defeated Konnan 2-0 in a best of three falls retirement match. As a result of the loss, Konnan was forced to retire. In a bit of trivial, Jake "The Snake" Roberts interfered in the deciding fall, causing Konnan to be counted out. The match was a write-off for Konnan, who wanted to pursue an acting career. He wasn't gone long; he returned to AAA just four months later and would remain with the company until joining WCW in 1996.

19 years ago today in Augusta, Georgia, Chris Benoit defeated Booker T to win the WCW World Television Championship.

It would be the first of five consecutive days where the title changed hands, four of them occurring at house shows. Booker won it back in Greenville the next day, Benoit won it back in Charleston on May 2, Booker T won it back on May 3 in Savannah, Georgia, and on May 4 on Nitro from Indianapolis, Fit Finlay defeated Booker T for the title.

17 years ago today, WWF presented Backlash (WWE Network link) from the MCI Center in Washington, DC. 17,867 were in attendance, with an event record 675,000 homes watching on PPV.

The show featured the PPV return of Stone Cold Steve Austin in The Rock’s corner of the main event. It was Austin’s first appearance on PPV since Survivor Series.

Sunday Night Heat matches:

  • D-Lo Brown defeated Al Snow by disqualification.
  • Steve Blackman defeated Val Venis.
  • The Godfather and Kaientai defeated Steven Richards and The Headbangers.

PPV matches:

  • Edge & Christian defeated D-Generation X (X-Pac and Road Dogg) to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Dean Malenko defeated Scotty 2 Hotty to retain the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.
  • The Big Boss Man and Bull Buchanan defeated The Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw).
  • Crash Holly defeated Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Hardcore Holly, Perry Saturn, and Tazz in a six-man hardcore match to retain the WWF Hardcore Championship.
  • The Big Show defeated Kurt Angle.
  • T&A (Test and Albert) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley).
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Essa Rios to retain the WWF European Championship.
  • Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • The Rock defeated Triple H to win the WWF Championship. Shane McMahon was the special referee, but it was a returning Earl Hebner that counted the fall.

14 years ago today at an NWA-TNA weekly PPV taping in Nashville, Tennessee, The Amazing Red defeated Kid Kash to win the TNA X Division Championship.

11 years ago today, WWE presented Backlash (WWE Network link) from the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. About 14,000 were in attendance, with 273,000 homes watching on PPV, though some estimates have it as low as 220,000 buys. Either way, it's down from 320,000 for the 2005 event.

  • In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, Goldust defeated Rob Conway.
  • Carlito defeated Chris Masters.
  • Umaga defeated Ric Flair.
  • Trish Stratus defeated Mickie James by disqualification in a WWE Womens Championship match.
  • Rob Van Dam defeated Shelton Benjamin to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Van Dam's Money in the Bank contract was also at stake in the match.
  • The Big Show fought Kane to no contest.
  • Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon defeated Shawn Michaels and "God" in a no holds barred match.
  • John Cena defeated Triple H and Edge in a triple threat match to retain the WWE Championship.

8 years ago today, TNA releases Nicole Raczynski, who was working as Roxxi Laveaux.

Nicole was serving a 60-day suspension after she was involved in a backstage altercation with Trenesha Biggers (aka Rhaka Khan) during an Impact taping.

She made a few brief returns to the company, including two in 2009 (the second ended with a broken ankle; Nicole would be released while she was on the DL in March 2010), again in 2010, and again in 2011. She turned down a deal to take part in an all Knockouts PPV in March 2013. Raczynski retired in December 2013 to concentrate on her fitness career and company.

7 years ago today, WWE releases Hall of Famer Tony Atlas.

Atlas had been working with the ECW brand, but was seldom used when the brand was discontinued two months earlier.

7 years ago today, TNA announces in a statement that they have fired Todd Clem, aka Bubba the Love Sponge.

This comes off the heels of Clem's negative comments about Haiti after the country suffered a devastating earthquake earlier that month, leading to then-TNA Knockout Awesome Kong, who was raising money for earthquake relief, to physically attack Clem at a TNA taping backstage.

6 years ago today, Tommaso Ciampa defeated Adam Cole to win the East Coast Wrestling Association Super 8 tournament.

5 years ago today on RAW from Dayton, Ohio (WWE Network link), Layla defeated Brie Bella and Nikki Bella in a triple threat match in just 11 seconds to retain the WWE Divas Championship.

It would be the final match for both Brie Bella and her twin sister Nikki. The twins’ contracts with WWE were set to expire and they would not be renewed. To cover for this, the Bellas were fired by Eve Torres, who served as then WWE General Manager John Lauranaitis’ assistant.

The two wouldn’t be gone forever; they returned to WWE just 11 months later.

In an unrelated story, on the same RAW from Dayton, Ohio, Kofi Kingston & R-Truth defeated Epico & Primo to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

2 years ago today, WWE releases five NXT talents: Mason Ryan, who had a brief run with the New Nexus, Shaul Guerrero, who was working under the name Racquel Diaz, Oliver Grey, who was a NXT Tag Team Champion with Adrian Neville, Danny Burch, and multi-time arm wrestling champion Sarah Backman, who two months after her release married Bo Dallas.

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