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This Day in Wrestling History (May 30): Sunday Night Heat Signs Off


44 years ago today at an All-Star Wrestling taping in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, Tony Garea & Haystacks Calhoun defeated Professor Tanaka & Mr. Fuji to win the WWWF Tag Team Championship.

The win ended a 337-day run as tag team champions for Tanaka and Fuji, at the time, the longest in company history. The record would stand until Demolition breaks it in 1989 with a 478-day run.

36 years ago today in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sweet Ebony Diamond (a masked Rocky Johnson) defeated Greg Valentine to win the NWA Television Championship.

31 years ago today in Houston, Texas, Terry Gordy defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan in the finals of a one-night tournament to become the first ever Universal Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion.

An interesting note: during Duggan’s semifinal match with Kamala, Jim went head first into a ring post. He would get swelling in his head over the next few days, to the point where he couldn’t close his eyes.

As it turned out, he was suffering from blood poisoning. Duggan’s wife called UWF founder Bill Watts and told him to go to the hospital. The phone call for all intents and purposes saved his life.

30 years ago today in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Midnight Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) make their WWF debut. In their first act, the two-time AWA tag team champions challenged the current WWF tag team champions, The Hart Foundation.

Four days later, the Rockers made their WWF television debut with a win over Jose Estrada and Jimmy Jack Funk. It would be their only appearance on WWF programming for over a year.

Following the taping, Michaels and Jannetty lived up to their gimmick a little too much; their partying ways got them fired from the WWF, but they would return a year later.

21 years ago today in Caguas, Puerto Rico, Sean Morley defeated El Bronco to win the World Wrestling Council Television Championship.

Morley would go on to hold the championship for nearly three years before finally vacating it in March 1999. Morley spent the last year of his title reign working in the WWF as Val Venis.

20 years ago today in Augusta, Georgia, Tony Halme, who had a brief run as Ludvig Borga in the mid-1990s, loses his one and only major mixed martial arts match via submission at UFC 13 in just 56 seconds.

The man that defeated him: an alternate called in on just three weeks notice by the name of Randall Duane Couture.

Randy would finish his career with a modest 19-11 record, but he would have one of the most prolific careers in MMA history, winning the UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight championships three times each (one of his runs as light heavyweight champion was an interim run).

Couture, who retired in 2011, is the oldest person to win a UFC championship (winning it at age 43) and a UFC fight (defeating James Toney at age 47). Couture is a member of the International Wrestling Hall of Fame’s class of 2013.

17 years ago today at a Thunder taping in Boise, Idaho, Chuck Palumbo & Shawn Stasiak defeated Kronik (Bryan Clark & Brian Adams) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

9 years ago today, airs the 513th and last episode of Heat.

Originally commissioned as a six-episode series in the summer of 1998, the series proved very popular and became a supplement to WWE’s main weekly show, RAW is WAR. Like RAW at the time, the show alternated with live and taped airings (live one week, taped the next). On days RAW was live, Heat was taped prior to RAW to air the following Sunday.

Sunday Night Heat was the WWF’s B-show until the introduction of Smackdown in August 1999, after which, the show’s profile was greatly reduced. Heat matches were taped before Smackdown, with Jakked/Metal bouts taped before RAW. For a brief period following Smackdown’s debut, Heat became a show summarizing the week’s events in the WWF.

Following the brand extension, Heat became the B-show for RAW, while Velocity became the B-show for Smackdown. Though ratings remained respectable for the duration of the show’s run (even while changing networks—twice—USA to MTV to TNN, later Spike), the show was not picked up by USA when they regained the rights to WWE programming in 2005.

To solve this issue, the show was moved to WWE’s website for American audiences (it still aired on television in international markets), with new episodes uploaded Fridays (with the change, the Sunday Night was dropped from Heat) and a 30-minute special edition airing on PPV Sundays (this practice was discontinued in April 2006).

The most famous (and most watched) episode of the series was a special edition of the show that aired during halftime of Super Bowl XXXIV. The show, dubbed Halftime Heat, saw Mankind defeat The Rock for the WWF Championship in an empty arena match in January 1999.

The series finale was taped four days earlier from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

6 years ago today, Kia Stevens, best known to wrestling fans as Amazing Kong (or Awesome Kong), but most recently as Kharma in WWE, announces she is pregnant and is forced to take a leave of absence.

Stevens announced she gave birth on New Year's Eve that year, but later recanted that announcement when she revealed she miscarried. She would make just one more appearance for the company, taking part in the 2012 Royal Rumble match, which was her only official bout in WWE. Stevens would be released from the company in July 2012.

She remained largely on the independent circuit following her release, even saying she would in a November 2012 interview she would never again work for TNA—which of course she does when she returns to the company in January 2015. Stevens was released in February 2016 following an altercation with Rebecca Hardy.

5 years ago today, Randy Orton is suspended sixty days following his second violation of the WWE's Wellness Policy.

Mexican wrestling website report that oral steroid methandrostenolone, aka Dianabol, was found in his system, as well as marijuana. A conflicting report from Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter said that it was a high level of testosterone that contributed to his suspension.

Either way, had Orton been suspended in connection with being a part of the Signature Pharmacy scandal back in 2007 (he wasn't; WWE claimed the issue was addressed a year prior with his 60-day suspension), that would have been his third strike, which would have triggered an automatic termination of his contract, with a minimum one-year ban before being allowed to return (if ever).

The WWE Wellness Policy was amended in November 2013, allowing anyone who violated the policy twice to remove one violation if they undergo an extensive 18-month "redemption process" (this is unofficially known as the Orton rule). The policy was also amended at that time to include therapeutic use exemptions for medicines that contained substances that would normally go against the policy.

4 years ago today, both Ring of Honor and TNA announce major signings.

TNA signs MMA fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Jackson would would debut a week later and would be done with the company by the end of the summer when MMA promotion Bellator pulls him and Tito Ortiz from all TNA programming due to an upcoming fight the two were scheduled to have (a fight that ultimately never took place).

Ring of Honor signs Adam Cole a new contract, ending speculation that he was WWE-bound. Cole would win the ROH World Championship just under four months later.

Cole’s, real name Austin Jenkins, wrestling future is again in doubt. His ROH deal expired on May 1 and is considered a free agent, with many speculating that a WWE debut is imminent.

3 years ago today, NXT presented its 100th episode of the Full Sail era (WWE Network link, officially listed as episode #225) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

  • In a dark match, Baron Corbin defeated Wesley Blake.
  • Mojo Rawley defeated Aiden English.
  • Charlotte defeated Bayley.
  • Jason Jordan & Tye Dillinger defeated Phillip Gooljar & Stewart Cumberland.
  • Adrian Neville defeated Justin Gabriel.

It's a happy 62nd birthday to Aurelian Smith, Jr., best known to wrestling fans as Jake "The Snake" Roberts.

The son of famed 1960's wrestler Grizzly Smith, Roberts had two runs in the WWF, his more famous coming in the 1980s and early 1990s, with a second one in 1996-97. He also wrestled for AAA, WCW, and ECW in the 1990s and made appearances for TNA in the 2000s.

Roberts is known for his intense, cerebral, and charismatic promos, and is credited as the inventor of the DDT. Roberts was one of the featured subjects in the 1999 documentary Beyond the Mat, which chronicled his continuing struggles with alcohol and drug abuse. He sought help from fellow wrestler Diamond Dallas Page in 2012. Two years later, it was Page that inducted Roberts into the WWE Hall of Fame.

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