41 years ago today, James Ervin Mondt, professionally known as Joseph Raymond Mondt, but is best known by his nickname "Toots" Mondt, died after a long battle with pneumonia. He was 82.
Born January 18, 1894 in Garden Grove, Iowa, Mondt began wrestling at age 18. A chance meeting with Stu Hart led to a wrestling lesson with Jack Taylor for Mondt. After dabbling with acrobatics, Mondt returned to wrestling and would be discovered by Farmer Burns.
Under the recommendation of Burns, he joined the camp of Ed "Strangler" Lewis and would serve as a jack-of-all-trades for Lewis: sparring partner, trainer, opponent, and police officer. While sparring with Lewis, they would work on new holds and counters. Eventually, Mondt would combine elements of boxing and Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling and call it "Slam Bang Western-Style Wrestling".
Mondt, along with Lewis and manager Billy Sandow, together known as the Gold Dust Trio, set a template that would revolutionize the wrestling business. Lewis and Sandow served as bookers and agents for wrestlers signing up for their events. Mondt would institutionalize time limits and scripted finishes for matches. The new style worked, taking wrestling out of burlesque theaters and back alley halls and into major sports venues.
After a falling out between Mondt and Billy Sandow's brother Max, he partnered with Philadelphia promoter Ray Fabiani. With champions Dick Schikat and Jim Londos, they would promote throughout the Northeast, but not in New York City thanks to promoter Jack Curley and future world champion Lou Thesz.
But eventually, he got the New York area, forming a secret alliance with Rudy Dusek. With other New York area promoters including Jack Pfeffer and Jess McMahon (great-grandfather of Vince McMahon) and financial backer Bernarr McFadden, Mondt was able to promote in New York City, but not in Madison Square Garden, as Tex Ricard prevented wrestling from being booked in the building for most of the 1940s (it would be a Mondt-promoted event that was the first wrestling bout promoted in the Garden in the 1940s—in 1949).
Eventually Mondt and Fabiani brought in Vince McMahon Sr., primarily to keep their champion Antonio Rocca happy. McMahon, Sr. and Mondt famously broke away from the NWA in 1963 to form the WWWF. While Mondt parted with the NWA on good terms, lest he be seen as an enemy of NWA president Sam Muchnick, McMahon... well, not so much. Mondt was the man who created the fictional story of Buddy Rogers winning a tournament in Rio de Janeiro to become the first WWWF Champion following the split from the NWA.
Two years later, Vince Sr. took over as promoter for Madison Square Garden from Mondt, and it was Mondt that convinced McMahon to build the WWWF around Bruno Sammartino based on his instant likability among crowds, though McMahon saw him as a midcarder at best who would flame out in about three years. Turned out Toots was right, as Sammartino would go on to be the longest reigning world champion in company history.
Mondt's influence diminished in his later years... as did his bank account. With television becoming a significant part of the wrestling business, Toots was never able to grasp the business changing around him and eventually was muscled out of ownership of the New York territory. His gambling addiction contributed at least in part to Mondt being phased out as an owner. McMahon would buy Toots' share of the New York territory, then reduce him to being a salaried employee. His gambling vice rendered Mondt virtually broke in his final years.
On June 11, 1976, after a long battle with pneumonia, Mondt passed away. He was 82. Posthumously, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008, and the WWE Hall of Fame as a Legacy member earlier this year.
18 years ago today, AAA presented TripleMania VII from Centro de Convenciones de Madero in Madero, Mexico.
- Los Spice Boys (Alan, Billy and Vangelis) defeated Los Payasos (Coco Rojo, Coco Verde, Coco Amarillo) in a lucha libre rules match.
- Los Vatos Locos (Charly Manson, El Picudo, Nygma and May Flowers) went to a double Disqualification with Los Vipers (Histeria, Psicosis II, Maniaco and Mosco de la Merced) in an atomicos match.
- Pentagón defeated Xóchitl Hamada by disqualification.
- Heavy Metal and El Felino defeated Kick Boxer and Thai Boxer in a hair versus hair match. With the win, El Tirantes' hair was shaved and Pepe "Tropi" Casas' hair was spared.
- Perro Aguayo, Octagón and El Cobarde defeated El Texano, Perro Aguayo, Jr. and Sangre Chicana.
17 years ago today, WCW presented The Great American Bash (WWE Network link) from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, MD. 7,031 were in attendance, with 85,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 185,000 homes for the 1999 edition.
The event is noted for the shocking heel turn of Bill Goldberg, who had been babyface (arguably their top babyface at the height of his career) for pretty much his entire run in WCW.
- Lt. Loco defeated Disco Inferno to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
- KroniK (Brian Adams and Bryan Clark) defeated The Mamalukes (Big Vito and Johnny the Bull).
- Mike Awesome defeated Diamond Dallas Page in an ambulance match.
- GI Bro defeated Shawn Stasiak in a "boot camp" match.
- Shane Douglas defeated The Wall 3-2 in a best of five tables match.
- Scott Steiner defeated Rick Steiner and Tank Abbott by submission in a 1-on-2 handicap asylum match to retain the WCW United States Championship.
- Hulk Hogan defeated Billy Kidman to earn a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match. Had Hogan lost, he would have been forced to retire. Horace Hogan was the special referee.
- Ric Flair defeated David Flair. Had Ric Flair lost, he would have been forced to retire.
- Vampiro defeated Sting in a "human torch" match.
- Jeff Jarrett defeated Kevin Nash to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Ernest Miller was the special referee.
14 years ago today at an NWA-TNA weekly PPV taping in Nashville, Tennessee, AJ Styles defeated Jeff Jarrett and Raven in a three-way match to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
At the same taping, Kim Nielsen, aka Desire, suffers a back injury during a match for Xplosion. She finished the match, but collapsed in the locker room a few minutes later. She suffers a compression fracture of her L1 vertebrae. Nielsen returned to the ring in April 2004 and wrestled sporadically until her retirement the next year due to lingering injuries and pregnancy.
Nielsen ended up gaining about 80 pounds following the pregnancy, and at the suggestion of her husband Sonny Siaki, she tried out for The Biggest Loser in 2012. She made it to the finals of that season, losing 118 pounds.
11 years ago today, WWE presented ECW One Night Stand (WWE Network link) from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. A sold-out 2,460 were in attendance, with 340,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 309,000 homes for the 2005 event.
The show effectively served as the relaunch of the ECW brand.
- Tazz defeated Jerry Lawler by submission in just 35 seconds.
- Kurt Angle defeated Randy Orton by submission.
- The F.B.I. (Little Guido Maritato and Tony Mamaluke) defeated Yoshihiro Tajiri and Super Crazy.
- Rey Mysterio fought Sabu to a no contest in an extreme rules match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
- Mick Foley, Edge and Lita defeated Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer and Beulah McGillicutty in an extreme rules intergender tag team match.
- Balls Mahoney defeated Masato Tanaka in an extreme rules match.
- Rob Van Dam defeated John Cena in an extreme rules match to win the WWE Championship.
10 years ago today, WWE presented the 2007 WWE Draft Lottery on a special edition of RAW (WWE Network link) from the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The Draft Lottery followed a different format from past drafts, as wrestlers competed in matches to earn draft picks for their respective brands. The winning brand would win one random wrestler from another brand. This would be the format for the WWE Draft shows through 2011.
- Edge defeated John Cena by countout to earn a draft pick for Smackdown.
- CM Punk defeated Carlito to earn a draft pick for ECW.
- Umaga defeated Balls Mahoney in just 29 seconds to earn a draft pick for RAW.
- Bobby Lashley defeated Chris Benoit to earn a draft pick for ECW.
- Montel Vontavious Porter defeated Santino Marella to earn a draft pick for Smackdown.
- The Miz defeated Snitsky by disqualification in just 86 seconds to earn a draft pick for Smackdown.
- Candice Michelle defeated Kristal Marshall to earn a draft pick for RAW.
- Batista defeated Elijah Burke and Jeff Hardy in a triple threat match to earn a draft pick for Smackdown.
- Randy Orton last eliminated Matt Hardy to win a 15-man, three-team battle royal to earn RAW two draft picks. Other participants were William Regal, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Masters, Mark Henry (all representing Smackdown), Kevin Thorn, Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von, Tommy Dreamer, and Sandman (representing ECW), Kenny Dykstra, Johnny Nitro, Eugene, and Viscera (representing RAW).
But the story of the evening was the show's B-plot, "Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night".
Losing his mind after losing the ECW Championship, Vince McMahon hoped that someone somewhere would cheer him up and tell him that he's appreciated. It didn't quite work out that way as one former superstar after another (including one Bret Hart in his first WWE appearance since going in the WWE Hall of Fame the previous year) and a few celebrities buried him.
It drove McMahon into dejection and despondence, and McMahon took a slow walk to his limo. When he shut the door, the limo exploded, killing McMahon. Or more accurately, "killing" McMahon.
Needless to say, people FREAKED OUT. WWE.com reported his death as legitimate just minutes after the show ended. People in attendance called police. News outlets picked up the story as legit. It was the perfect wrestling angle... or so it seemed.
Business partners were left confused. Stock prices fell. And critics blasted the stunt, especially after this press release came out the next day:
Who Blew Up WWE® Chairman Mr. McMahon?
STAMFORD, Conn., June 12, 2007 ...While some might say "The Sopranos" went out with a whimper, last night on USA Network, WWE's "Monday Night RAW" went out with a bang. At the end of his self-anointed "Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night", WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon entered his limousine when it suddenly exploded. The shocking ending raised a myriad of questions: How could Mr. McMahon have survived the fiery explosion? And who could have committed such a heinous act?
Although full details have not been disclosed, initial reports indicate that Mr. McMahon is presumed dead. An official investigation into Monday night's events is currently underway with no one being ruled out as a suspect. Throughout the night, people from Mr. McMahon's past - from Donald Trump to Snoop Dogg to Bob Costas to Stone Cold Steve Austin - had less than flattering things to say about the WWE Chairman, but would any go so far as to actually blow him up? The question of "whodunit", as well as the fate of Mr. McMahon, will be on everyone's minds as the WWE saga continues on "Monday Night RAW" on USA (9 p.m. ET/8C).
The whodunit storyline would be scrapped two weeks later when Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and son Daniel were all found dead in their suburban home in Atlanta, Georgia. The June 25 RAW was pegged to be the funeral for the Mr. McMahon character. After addressing the Benoit tragedy on ECW on Sci-Fi on June 26, Vince would return to WWE programming in early August.
7 years ago today, WWE releases Bryan Danielson, aka Daniel Bryan, just days after he is busted for choking Justin Roberts with his own necktie on camera during the Nexus debut angle.
The incident was seen as someone overstepping the boundaries of projecting the PG image the company has. The firing creates a great deal of sympathy from fans and wrestlers alike, and Bryan returns to the company just two months later in the Summerslam main event.
It's a happy 58th birthday of Terrance Wayne "Terry" Allen, best known to wrestling fans as Magnum T.A.
Allen was a two-time NWA United States Champion with a somewhat striking resemblance to actor Tom Selleck (the basis for his ring name was named after the TV series Magnum, P.I.), Allen was one of the most popular performers in the NWA, seemingly on track for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
In October 1986, Allen lost control of his Porsche in the rain and crashed into a telephone pole in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was left in the car for two hours before a witness called 911. The accident caused Allen's C4 and C5 vertebrae to explode, effectively ending his wrestling career. Allen worked as a commentator and manager for NWA and would make sporadic appearances until leaving the business for good in 1993.
Today, Allen, a born again Christian, works in building aircraft, runs a communication towers business, and runs a small community hedge fund. He is the stepfather of wrestling prodigy Tessa Blanchard and the godfather of former WWE wrestler Cody Rhodes.