43 years ago today, Giant Baba defeated Mr. Wrestling in the finals to win the All Japan Pro Wrestling Champion Carnival. It's his second straight tournament title. He would go one to win a third straight tournament the next year, and eight of the first ten overall. The only two he did not win were in 1976 and 1979--both were won by Abdullah the Butcher.
34 years ago today in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carlos Colon defeated Ox Baker to win the WWC Heavyweight Championship.
27 years ago today, Ole Anderson replaces Ric Flair as the head booker of WCW.
Flair constantly clashed with then WCW executive vice-president Jim Herd over creative differences, ultimately leading Flair to resign from the position back in March (and would play a part in Flair leaving WCW altogether just over a year later).
Anderson's booking, highlighted infamously by Sting being rescued by Robocop at Capital Combat and The Black Scorpion saga, led WCW to then-record losses ($6.5 million for the year), and Ole to be fired from his position after just seven months.
23 years ago today, ECW presented When Worlds Collide from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The show's hook was a main event tag team match featuring WCW's Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton.
- Tommy Dreamer defeated Rockin' Rebel.
- Mikey Whipwreck defeated 911 by disqualification to retain the ECW World Television Championship.
- Jimmy Snuka defeated Kevin Sullivan.
- Tommy Cairo and Peaches defeated Sandman and Woman in a Singapore cane match. As a result of getting pinned, Sandman was caned. Peaches only got three shots in on Sandman before Woman threw powder in her face.
- Pitbull #1 defeated Tazmaniac.
- JT Smith and The Bruise Brothers (Ron Harris and Don Harris) defeated Shane Douglas, Mr. Hughes, and Public Enemy (Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge) in a 3-on-4 handicap elimination match.
- Sabu and Bobby Eaton defeated Terry Funk and Arn Anderson.
22 years ago today, WWF presented the first ever In Your House (WWE Network link) from the Onandaga War Memorial Coliseum in Syracuse, New York. About 7,000 were in attendance, with 180,000 homes watching on PPV, though some estimates have it as high as 261,000 to 332,000 buys.
The hook of the In Your House series was a two-hour (later three-hour) PPV for a lower price compared to their major PPV offerings (Wrestlemania, King of the Ring, Summerslam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble).
This particular show, retroactively subtitled Premiere, had a second hook; one viewer would win a house. Like a real house. It was won by 11-year old Matthew Pomposelli of Henderson, Nevada. If you're wondering what happened to the house, Matt sold it just six months later. For $175,000.
- In a preshow Free for All match, Jean-Pierre LaFitte defeated Bob Holly.
- Bret Hart defeated Hakushi.
- Razor Ramon defeated Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie.
- Mabel defeated Adam Bomb.
- Owen Hart & Yokozuna defeated The Smoking Gunns (Bart Gunn & Billy Gunn) to retain the WWF World Tag Team Championship.
- Jerry Lawler defeated Bret Hart.
- Diesel defeated Psycho Sid to retain the WWF Championship.
- In a post-show dark match, Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Tatanka.
- In a post-show dark match, The Undertaker defeated Kama.
- In a post-show dark match, The British Bulldog fought Owen Hart to a 15-minute time-limit draw in a King of the Ring qualifying match.
19 years ago today, ECW presented It Ain't Seinfeld from the Elks Lodge in Queens, New York.
Of course, anyone watching ECW could obviously see it’s not Seinfeld. But the name did have meaning: the show took place on the night of the final episode of NBC’s popular comedy series, Seinfeld. For the record, the Seinfeld series finale was seen by an estimated 76.8 million viewers, the fifth-most watched series finale in television history (behind M*A*S*H, Roots, Cheers and The Fugitive). It’s also regarded among the worst series finales in television history.
It Ain't Seinfeld is also notable for Taz introducing a new championship belt: the FTW (yes, it is what you think it stands for) Heavyweight Championship, a potshot at Shane Douglas' reluctance (due to injury) to give Taz an ECW world title shot.
- Jerry Lynn defeated Justin Credible.
- Super Nova & The Blue Meanie defeated The FBI (Little Guido & Tracy Smothers).
- Lance Storm defeated Balls Mahoney.
- Chris Candido defeated Jamie Dundee.
- Sabu defeated Danny Doring.
- Rob Van Dam and Mikey Whipwreck went to a no contest in an ECW World Television Championship match.
- The Dudley Boyz (Big Dick Dudley, Buh Buh Ray Dudley, and D-Von Dudley) defeated Spike Dudley, The Sandman, and Tommy Dreamer.
17 years ago today, ECW presented Hardcore Heaven (WWE Network link) from The Rave in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In an interesting bit of trivia, the building was also hosting a concert at the same time and the power went out briefly during the show.
- In a preshow dark match, Chilly Willy defeated Johnny Swinger.
- Masato Tanaka defeated Balls Mahoney.
- Little Guido defeated Mikey Whipwreck and Simon Diamond in a three-way dance.
- Kid Kash defeated C.W. Anderson.
- Super Nova and Chris Chetti defeated Da Baldies (Angel and Tony DeVito) and Danny Doring and Amish Roadkill in a three-way dance.
- New Jack defeated Angel.
- Yoshihiro Tajiri defeated Steve Corino.
- Rhino defeated The Sandman to retain the ECW World Television Championship.
- Jerry Lynn defeated Rob Van Dam.
- Justin Credible defeated Lance Storm to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. It was Lance Storm's final match with the company, as he was heading for WCW. Tommy Dreamer was originally scheduled to be involved in the match, but Justin Credible, threatening to vacate the championship and spit on it unless Tommy Dreamer was removed from the match, got Tommy removed from the match.
12 years ago today, tickets for ECW One Night Stand went on sale—and sold out that very day. Tickets for the event at the Hammerstein Ballroom for the ECW reunion show went for as much as $400.
12 years ago today, Mike Quackenbush defeated B-Boy, Kevin Steen, and Super Dragon in an elimination match to win CZW's Best of the Best 5 tournament.
11 years ago today, TNA presented Sacrifice from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.
- Jushin Liger defeated Petey Williams in a World X Cup match.
- America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm) defeated A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
- Raven defeated A-1.
- Bobby Roode defeated Rhino.
- The James Gang (B.G. James and Kip James) defeated Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon).
- Petey Williams won a World X Cup Gauntlet match. Other participants in the match were Minoru Tanaka, Puma, Chris Sabin, Hirooki Goto, Incognito, Johnny Devine, Sonjay Dutt, Black Tiger IV, Magno, Eric Young, Alex Shelley, Jushin Liger, Shocker, Tyson Dux, and Jay Lethal.
- Sting and Samoa Joe defeated Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner.
- Christian Cage defeated Abyss in a Full Metal Mayhem match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
9 years ago today, Ring of Honor announces they would make their Canadian debut in July at the Ted Reeves Arena in Toronto.
The company also announced that Jay Briscoe would vacate the ROH World Tag Team Championship on behalf of his team.
Jay's brother and tag team partner Mark at the time was out with a wrist injury. Jay said in a statement that he "realized it felt wrong to be defending the belts without Mark as [his] partner". Mark returned two months later, but it wouldn't be until late 2009 the Briscoes would be tag champions again.
It's a happy 32nd birthday for Matthew Brett Cardona. Wrestling one time as Brett Major, he's known these days as Zack Ryder.
The Long Island-born and raised Cardona (he's actually from Merrick, New York) began wrestling in 2004 for the New York Wrestling Connection with Bryan Myers before being picked up by WWE in 2005. He wrestled for their developmental properties Deep South Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling before joining the main roster in May 2007 as Brett Major.
He teamed with Bryan Myers (who was Brian Major) as the Major Brothers. They saw limited success until joining the La Familia stable as doppelganger Edges at Armageddon. The two were repackaged and renamed Curt Hawkins (Bryan) and Zack Ryder (Matthew). The two won the WWE Tag Team Championship at The Great American Bash in July 2008 in a four-team match; the win made the duo, both 23 at the time, the youngest team to win this version of the tag titles in WWE history. La Familia fractured over the remainder of the summer, but Hawkins and Ryder continued to team up, but would lose the tag titles just two months after winning them to the Colons (Primo and Carlito) without a single successful defense on television. The duo split up after Ryder was sent to ECW in the 2009 supplemental draft.
Ryder debuted a new gimmick soon after, he became a Long Island guido, with short hair, tanned skin, sunglasses, and a headband. One could say the gimmick is based off the hit MTV reality series Jersey Shore, but Ryder's gimmick predates the series by a few months. His most notable wins came in September where he won a 10-man battle royal for an ECW title match and in a loser-leaves-ECW match where forced Tommy Dreamer out of the company.
When ECW ended in February 2010, Ryder and his valet Rosa Mendes moved to RAW. His valet Mendes was moved soon after in the 2010 supplemental draft to Smackdown. His most notable bout that year came in August when Sheamus defeated Zack Ryder in just 11 seconds to retain the WWE Championship; the bout was the second shortest WWE Championship match ever.
That same summer, Ryder mentored Titus O'Neil on the second season of NXT. Ryder lost to Percy Watson on the July 27 episode, the first time a rookie defeated a pro in a singles match that season. As for his rookie O'Neil, he was the first man eliminated from the competition.
Ryder grew dissatisfied with his place in WWE, so he began a YouTube web series, Z! True Long Island Story in February 2011 to promote his character. The series grew a cult fan following, and his T-shirts began selling out regularly at WWE events. Chants of "We Want Ryder!" became frequent, especially on shows he did not appear.
Thanks to the web series, Ryder began appearing on a more frequent basis on WWE programming. In July 2011, Ryder was appointed the assistant to then-Smackdown general manager Theodore Long. That September, Ryder defeated Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match (Ziggler was United States Champion at the time) with help from actor Hugh Jackman. Ryder got his first RAW main event in November, but it was a losing effort as The Miz and R-Truth defeated Ryder and John Cena. In December at TLC, Ryder defeated Ziggler to win the United States Championship, his first singles title in WWE.
In the new year, Ryder would be in a romantic storyline with Eve. Because Ryder was friends with John Cena, that made them targets for Kane, who tried to encourage Cena to "embrace the hate". Ryder suffered a rib injury at the hands of Kane, which would play a part in losing the United States title without a successful defense on television to Jack Swagger. Ryder would never get a return match for the title. The attacks by Kane would escalate over the next few weeks, eventually confining Ryder to a wheelchair. After Cena saved Eve from Kane, the two kissed, which Ryder saw. Awkward. After a confrontation with Cena, Kane wheeled Ryder off the stage injuring him further. His ego got it worse though, as Eve admitted to using Ryder for fame and publicity.
Ryder was convinced by Eve to join Team Teddy for the 12-man tag bout at Wrestlemania XXVIII against Team Johnny for full control of RAW and Smackdown. Eve distracted Ryder, kicked him in the groin, and cost Team Johnny the match. Ryder wrestled sporadically for the next few months, including losing to Kane at the Over the Limit preshow, and winning a 20-man battle royal to earn general manager duties for an episode of Smackdown in July.
Ryder's career which began a downward spiral in 2012, went into a full tailspin after that, appearing mostly on Superstars and losing all his singles bouts on RAW and Smackdown. In fact, his only notable win on RAW in 2013 came in September when he was a part of an 11-man team that defeated The Shield.
Ryder would not win on RAW again until July 21, 2014 when he defeated Fandango with help from Layla. Ryder took time off to repair his torn rotator cuff in November 2014. He would return at the 2015 Royal Rumble and would be quickly eliminated by Bray Wyatt. He was also quickly eliminated in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 31. In May, Ryder would be the open challenger for John Cena's United States Championship; despite having home field advantage (the event was at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island), Cena would retain after Ryder missed a 450 splash. Ryder would lose another open challenge a few days later when he was defeated by Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship.
After spending a few months in NXT as one half of the Hype Bros with Mojo Rawley (he continued to float around the main roster on Superstars), Ryder would replace the injured Neville in a seven-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania 32. The replacement Ryder would go on to win the match and his first Intercontinental title. As he did when he won the US title back in December 2011, he celebrated with his father. His glory was fleeting though; Ryder would lose the title the next night to the man he pushed off the ladder just before he grabbed the belt, The Miz, with help from a returning Maryse. Ryder would get a return match at the Smackdown taping the next night, but was defeated by Miz again.
In July 2016, the Hype Bros were reunited when a debuting Mojo Rawley came to Ryder’s rescue after he was assaulted by Rusev. The duo experienced mixed success, but in December, after winning a tag team battle royal to determine the top contenders for the titles, Ryder injured his knee, sidelining him indefinitely. As of this writing, he has not returned to competition.
Ryder, who was listed among the 100 most influential Twitter users in sports in July 2011, had a small hit single, "Hoeski", in 2013. The song got over 100,000 views in four days, and cracked the top 100 on the iTunes pop music chart.
Cardona is a cancer survivor; the cancer resided in his foot and would spread to his lungs while he was in high school. He missed a year of school to battle the disease. Cardona had previously dated fellow wrestler Tenille Dashwood, who WWE fans may know as Emma. He’s also a huge Ghostbusters fan, and periodically wears Ghostbusters-themed attire in his matches.