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This Day in Wrestling History (May 9): Enter the Dragon

this day in wrestling history

46 years ago today, Tatsumi Fujinami at just age 17 makes his professional wrestling debut for the Japan Wrestling Association.

Fujinami the next year would follow his mentor Antonio Inoki to New Japan Pro Wrestling, he would wrestle for most of the next 34 years. Fujinami would become one of the most successful performers in New Japan history, winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship six times, a record that would stand until 2014 when Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated AJ Styles to win the IWGP heavyweight title for a seventh time.

He is also a five-time IWGP tag team champion (four of them with Kengo Kimura), a WCWA World Heavyweight Champion, NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion, two-time NWA International Junior Heavyweight Champion, and the winner of the G1 Climax tournament in 1993.

Fujinami, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015, still wrestles occasionally to this day.

42 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino and Pacific Wrestling Federation Champion Giant Baba fought to a no contest in a title unification match. This was the first time the WWWF Championship was ever defended in Japan.

29 years ago today in Memphis, Tennessee, Jerry Lawler defeated Curt Hennig in a career versus title match to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Later in the year, Lawler unifies it with the World Class Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship and becomes the first—and only—Unified AWA World Heavyweight Champion.

Jerry holds the title until AWA and the Continental Wrestling Association (Lawler’s home promotion) end their alliance in January 1988.

23 years ago today in Osaka, Japan, The Undertaker last eliminated Bam Bam Bigelow to win a Royal Rumble match.

Other participants were Rick Martel, Bob Backlund, Jinsei Shinzaki. Adam Bomb, 1-2-3 Kid, Masashi Aoyag, Tatanka, Billy Gunn, Nobukazu Hirai, Bart Gunn, Owen Hart, Randy Savage, Samu, Fatu, Bret Hart and Doink the Clown.

21 years ago today in Johnson City, Tennessee, Malia Hosaka defeated Debbie Combs to win the NWA World Womens Championship.

19 years ago today, WCW presented The Ultimate Video Bash, a WCW/MTV crossover event from MTV Studios in New York City.

Mother Nature wasn't having it. The show barely got off the ground, as New York City was in the middle of one of its wettest weekends on record (about an inch and a half rain fell that day, and nearly five inches total that weekend), driving nearly all of the attendees away.

Only one match happened on the show: Public Enemy defeating High Voltage. In addition, the scheduled three-hour broadcast was cut to two hours.

18 years ago today, WCW presented Slamboree (WWE Network link) from the Trans World Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. 20,516 were in attendance, with 195,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 275,000 homes for Slamboree 1998.

  • In a preshow dark match, Dale Torborg defeated Johnny Swinger.
  • Raven and Saturn defeated Rey Misterio, Jr. and Billy Kidman and Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit in a triangle match to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Konnan defeated Stevie Ray.
  • Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Brian Knobbs in a hardcore match.
  • Rick Steiner defeated Booker T to win the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Gorgeous George defeated Charles Robinson.
  • Scott Steiner defeated Buff Bagwell to retain the WCW United States Championship.
  • Roddy Piper defeated Ric Flair by disqualification.
  • Sting fought Goldberg to a no contest.
  • Kevin Nash defeated Diamond Dallas Page to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. In an interesting bit of trivia, Nash holds the title for nine weeks--the second longest world title reign in WCW in 1999, behind Hollywood Hogan, who holds it for ten weeks.

17 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in New Haven, Connecticut (WWE Network link), Crash Holly defeated The British Bulldog to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.

8 years ago today, Nick Bollea, son of Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, was sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading no contest to his role in an auto accident in Clearwater, Florida in August 2007 that left his passenger, 22-year old John Graziano, with eye and brain injuries.

Nick was charged with reckless driving involving serious injury, use of a motor vehicle to commit a felony, operating a vehicle over the legal limit while under 21 (he was 17 at the time of the accident), and illegal window tint.

Nick was also was ordered to serve five years probation, 500 hours community service, and his license suspended for three years. Nick was released after five and a half months for good behavior from the Pinellas County Jail and was granted early release from probation after four years.

3 years and 3 days ago today, Eugene “Buck” Zumhofe, was sentenced to a total of 310 months (that’s 25 years, 10 months) in prison on two charges of first-degree and two charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and escape from custody.

Zumhofe, a three-time AWA light heavyweight champion and two-time NWA America tag team champion World Class Championship Wrestling, was arrested on twelve felony counts of criminal sexual misconduct stemming from sexually abusing his daughter between 1999 and 2011. During that time, Buck ran his own promotion in the upper Midwest, Rock ‘n Roll Wrestling.

Zumhofe was arrested on twelve felony counts of criminal sexual misconduct in May 2013 (six first-degree and six third-degree). In March 2014, Zumhofe was convicted on all twelve counts.

It wasn’t the first time he was convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor. It was the third (he was jailed for it in 1986 and again in 1989, the latter for three years).

After he was convicted, Zumhofe tried to flee from the courthouse, but was quickly taken down and charge with escaping custody. Zumhofe was sentenced on the escape charge three years ago today, but it was ruled his escape charge will run concurrently with his criminal sexual misconduct sentence (essentially meaning he did not receive additional jail time on top of what he already has, but will still serve a term corresponding to that charge).

Zumhofe, who was famously the opponent for Triple H in his WWF television debut in 1995, is ineligible for parole until 2031. Even if he gets out, he will have to register as a sex offender and serve ten years of probation.

It's a happy 50th birthday today for Kevin Foote, but wrestling fans these days know him best as Kevin Kelly.

Born in New York City and a graduate of Florida State University, Kevin joined the WWF in June 1996 after five years on the independent circuit. Kelly served as an interviewer, commentator, talent evaluator, and was a member of the creative team. In fact, he was the brainchild of the McMahon-Helmsley storyline marriage. Kevin also produced the short-lived WWE Confidential series. On screen, he was often subjected to ridicule by The Rock.

Foote also dabbled in wrestling, managing and wrestling for the Delaware-based East Coast Wrestling Association, even winning their heavyweight title in 2001. He was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2005.

Foote was released due to budget cuts in 2003, and has been critical of WWE's business practices ever since. He went on to work for Major League Wrestling, announce for Lucha Libre USA’s second season, and continues to appear on the independent circuit

Foote was the main voice of Ring of Honor from 2010, when he voiced their Internet PPVs (he would take over full-time duties in 2011) until resigning from his post in February 2017. He remains on with the company as a part-time announcer. He also handles the English-language announcing for New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Today would have been the 60th birthday of Mike Shaw.

Born in Skandia, Michigan, he began his career as Klondike Mike for NWA All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver. The next year, he wrestled for Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, first under his real name, then as Makhan Singh as one-third of Karachi Vice, feuding notably with Owen Hart, Bret Hart, and Chris Benoit.

His first big break on a national stage came for World Championship Wrestling in 1989 and 1990 as Norman the Lunatic (and later Norman the Maniac) and once even faced Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He also adopted a trucker gimmick as a tribute to his father. He would spend the early 1990s in Mexico as Aaron Grundy and for the Global Wrestling Federation as Mahkan Singh as part of the Cartel.

Shaw transitioned to the WWF in 1993 as "angry monk" Friar Ferguson. After backlash from the Catholic Church of New York, he was repackaged as notorious hunchback slob Bastion Booger. His success was minimal, with his biggest win coming over Owen Hart just before his main event push. His lone PPV appearance came at the 1993 Survivor Series in a losing effort when he, Bam Bam Bigelow, and the Headshrinkers were defeated by The Bushwhackers and Men on a Mission. The bout was voted the worst worked match of 1993 by Wrestling Observer Newsletter. He was scheduled to appear in the 1994 Royal Rumble match, but he no-showed the event; it was explained that he overate and got sick.

Following a brief feud with Bigelow, Shaw was released in August 1994, four months after losing his final television bout to Koko B. Ware.

Shaw opened a wrestling school in his hometown of Skandia, Michigan post-WWF, but he did return to the company for one appearance on the RAW 15th Anniversary special in 2007.

On September 11, 2010, Shaw died of a heart attack in Marquette, Michigan. He was 53. At the time of his death, he left behind a wife, Kelly, and two children, Joshua and Amanda.