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This Day in Wrestling History (June 24): The Great Betrayal


31 years ago today at a WWF Championship Wrestling taping in Poughkeepsie, New York, Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff defeated Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy.

The story was what went down post-match. Following the match as Orndorff raised Hogan’s hand, he clotheslined him then delivered a piledriver, turning him heel and joining up with the Heenan Family. The moment is known in wrestling lore as “The Great Betrayal”.

Hogan and Orndorff would feud for the remainder of the year, with their most notable bouts coming at The Big Event in Toronto in August and a steel cage match at Saturday Night’s Main Event in December.

Orndorff’s career-making feud came at a price. During the feud, Paul injured his right arm in a weightlifting accident. He opted to hold off surgery until well after the feud ended. Because of this, his right arm would weaken and his muscles shrank, with his right biceps (and later the entire right side of his body) eventually succumbing to atrophy. Paul retired in December 1995 and would become a trainer for WCW’s training facility, the Power Plant, until the promotion’s close in 2001.

23 years ago today, Eastern Championship Wrestling presented Hostile City Showdown from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Tommy Dreamer defeated Hack Myers.
  • The Tazmaniac defeated Pitbull #1 in a dog collar match.
  • The Bruise Brothers (Don Harris & Ron Harris) defeated Mr. Hughes & Shane Douglas.
  • Tommy Cairo defeated The Sandman by disqualification in a Singapore cane on a pole match.
  • The Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge & Rocco Rock) and Dory Funk Jr. & Terry Funk fought to a no contest.
  • Mikey Whipwreck defeated Rockin' Rebel by disqualification to retain the ECW World Television Championship.
  • Sabu defeated Cactus Jack.

22 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the second WWE Hall of Fame class is inducted. The 1995 class included The Fabulous Moolah, The Grand Wizard, Ernie Ladd, Pedro Morales, Ivan Putski, Antonio Rocca, and George "The Animal" Steele.

Pedro was not in attendance at the ceremony (making him the first, and to this day, the only living person to miss his WWE Hall of Fame induction). Turned out there was a reason for that: he was a Spanish language announcer for WCW.

21 years ago today at a Monday Night RAW taping (WWE Network link) in Green Bay, Wisconsin, The Ultimate Warrior defeated Owen Hart by disqualification.

Airing July 8, this would be the final ever WWF match for The Ultimate Warrior. Soon after the episode aired, Warrior was fired from the company. Why he was fired depends on who is telling the story.

One story claims it was after he had missed several house shows and had taken time off without prior authorization to grieve for the death of his father (Vince McMahon claimed that Warrior had not spoken with his father in about a decade prior to his death and didn’t care for him that much). Another story claimed it was over another dispute with the company over merchandising royalties.

Warrior was originally set to team with Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson to face Camp Cornette (Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Vader) at In Your House 9: International Incident later in the month. Warrior would be replaced by Sycho Sid.

As for Warrior, like many ex-WWF talents at the time, he would turn up in WCW. But not until two years later.

21 years ago today on Nitro (WWE Network link) from Charlotte, North Carolina, Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) defeated Lex Luger & Sting and The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) in a three-team match to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

16 years ago today, WWF presented King of the Ring (WWE Network link) from the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. 17,777 were in attendance, with 445,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 475,000 homes for the 2000 edition.

The event is most noted for three things.

First, Diamond Dallas Page’s WWF PPV debut as he confronted The Undertaker (well, not so much confronted as much as he was beaten down by him).

Second, Booker T making his WWF debut near the conclusion of the show’s main event triple threat match. In his first act, he put Stone Cold Steve Austin through the Spanish announce table. The act reaggravated Austin’s neck and back injuries. He would be sidelined (but still on WWF programming) for about the next month, but he would never fully recover; just a year later, Austin left the company in part due to said neck and back issues. He would retire following Wrestlemania XIX.

Third, the brutal street fight between Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon. It came as a shock that the WWF were able to deliver such a bout in a state that had recently outlawed “deathmatch”-style wrestling (the bill was signed into law the prior September). As defined by the law, extreme wrestling was...

“an activity in which participants struggle hand-to-hand and cut, slash or strike each other or themselves with an implement to intentionally cause bleeding or perform any intentional act which could reasonably be expected to cause bleeding, primarily for the purpose of providing entertainment to spectators rather than conducting a bona fide athletic contest.”

So how did WWF get away with such a match, regarded by many as one of the most brutal in company history? This little nugget also in the law:

“[The bill] does not re-regulate professional wrestling groups such as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), World Championship Wrestling (WCW) or Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), but instead distinguishes extreme wrestling from professional wrestling.”

Basically, organizations like the Big Three (at the time just Big One, really) were in the clear, while smaller federations, most notably Combat Zone Wrestling and Jersey All-Pro Wrestling, were not.

  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, Matt Hardy defeated Justin Credible to retain the WWF European Championship.

King of the Ring Semifinals:

  • Kurt Angle defeated Christian.
  • Edge defeated Rhyno.

King of the Ring Final:

  • Edge defeated Kurt Angle to win the King of the Ring tournament.

Non-tournament matches in order of occurrence:

  • The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) defeated Kane & Spike Dudley to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated X-Pac to retain the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Shane McMahon in a street fight.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit in a triple threat match to retain the WWF Championship.

15 years ago today, Bret Hart suffers a stroke when a blood clot reaches his brain around the same time he fell off a bicycle. At the time, Hart was not wearing a helmet.

He would lose feeling in the left side of his body. He would have to relearn how to walk and talk. Eventually, he makes a full recovery and even returns to the ring, albeit in a limited capacity in 2010.

16 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson defeated Austin Aries, Colt Cabana, Homicide, Mark Briscoe, and Samoa Joe in a six-man elimination match to win the ROH Survival of the Fittest tournament. Other participants were Alex Shelley, Trent Acid, Jay Briscoe, Jack Evans, and Matt Stryker.

11 years ago today in San Francisco, California, Cheerleader Melissa defeated Jazz in a falls count anywhere match to win the All Pro Wrestling Chickfight V tournament. Other participants were Tanny Mouse, Yoshiko Tamura, Allison Danger, MsChif, Sumie Sakai, and Simply Luscious.

10 years ago today, WWE presented Vengeance: Night of Champions (WWE Network link) from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. About 15,000 were in attendance, with 247,000 homes watching on PPV.

The event is noted for Chris Benoit no-showing the event for "personal reasons". The personal reasons would become clear by the next morning: over the weekend, Benoit killed his wife Nancy, his son Daniel, then himself. Their bodies were discovered the next day.

As for the show itself, the show's hook was that all the WWE's championships were defended, or in the case of the ECW Championship, a new champion would be crowned.

  • In a preshow dark match, Super Crazy defeated Carlito.
  • Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch defeated The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy) to retain the World Tag Team Championship.
  • Chavo Guerrero defeated Jimmy Wang Yang to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Johnny Nitro defeated CM Punk to win the vacant ECW Championship. The championship was vacated when Bobby Lashley was drafted to RAW earlier in the month.
  • Santino Marella defeated Umaga by disqualification to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Montel Vontavious Porter defeated Ric Flair to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • Deuce 'n Domino defeated Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy Snuka to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Edge defeated Batista by countout to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Batista had originally won the match by disqualification, but Smackdown GM Teddy Long restarted the match. With the loss, Batista could not challenge for the title again as long as Edge was champion.
  • Candice Michelle defeated Melina to win the WWE Womens Championship. The win made Candice the first Diva Search contestant to win a championship.
  • John Cena defeated Mick Foley, Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton, and King Booker in a "Champion's Challenge" to retain the WWE Championship.

9 years ago today at a TNA Impact taping in Orlando, Florida, Taylor Wilde defeated Awesome Kong to win $25,000 and the TNA Knockouts Championship

5 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.

  • The Briscoes defeated The Guardians of Truth.
  • Homicide defeated Eddie Edwards.
  • Adam Cole defeated Kyle O'Reilly in a hybrid fighting rules match.
  • Michael Elgin defeated Finlay.
  • Mike Mondo defeated Mike Bennett.
  • Roderick Strong defeated Tomasso Ciampa and Jay Lethal in a three-way dance to retain the ROH World Television Championship.
  • The All Night Express defeated Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team to win the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Kevin Steen defeated Davey Richards in a no disqualification match to retain the ROH World Championship.

4 years ago today, Rob Van Dam opens up publicly for the first time about why he left TNA to return to WWE. His brief response on Twitter:

"Contract expired. So did professionalism, courtesy and respect."

Van Dam had a very eventful three years in TNA; it began with him defeating Sting in just ten seconds. Just over a month later, he defeated AJ Styles for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. He was never defeated for it before he was taken off television in August to preserve dates on his contract. In late 2012, Van Dam won the TNA X Division Championship.

Rob returned to WWE at Money in the Bank in July 2013 and would stick around for just over a year. He has competed on the independent circuit since 2015.

2 years ago today, Jeff Jarrett returns to the promotion he founded, TNA Wrestling.

During the live Impact, he promotes his new venture, Global Force Wrestling, and said he wanted to leave TNA on his own terms (despite pretty much doing just that four years prior). He also said he would compete in the match he created, the King of the Mountain match.

Also returning to TNA during the taping were Matt Morgan (last seen with the company in 2013), Shawn Hernandez (who was released in May 2014, though TNA never notified him of said release), and Vader, who made three appearances for TNA back in 2003.

In January, Jarrett rejoined the company, known officially as Impact Wrestling. At first joining as an executive consultant, Jarrett became the promotion’s executive producer, running the day-to-day operations of the company. As for his old promotion, Global Force Wrestling, it is considered defunct and is in the process of merging with Impact.

1 year ago today, WWE presented the 200th episode of NXT (WWE Network link) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

It’s actually episode 343, counting the reality competition and Redemption eras from 2010 to 2012. The episode aired July 6.

  • In a preshow dark match, Tye Dillinger defeated Kai Katana.
  • Bayley defeated Alexa Bliss.
  • Buddy Murphy and Wesley Blake and the Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder) went to a no contest.
  • The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) defeated American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) 2-1 in a best of three falls match to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship.

It's a happy 39th birthday today for Adam Pearce.

Pearce is among the most successful independent wrestlers of the 21st century, winning the NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship, the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Championship, and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship five times (only Jeff Jarrett, Harley Race, and Ric Flair have more).

Pearce is actually retired from in-ring competition, calling it a career in December 2014 after facing longtime rival Colt Cabana. In February 2015, Pearce was inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame.

Today, Pearce serves a trainer for WWE's NXT developmental program. He served as a producer for the highly-acclaimed NXT Takeover: R Evolution in December 2014.

It’s a happy 59th birthday to Thomas "Tiny" Lister, Jr.

The actor, best known for his roles as neighborhood bully Deebo in the Friday trilogy and President Lindberg in The Fifth Element, actually dabbled a bit in wrestling in the late 1980s and mid-1990s.

He appears as Zeus in the 1989 movie No Holds Barred starring Hulk Hogan, a character that would carry over to WWE programming for a brief period of time. He also had a briefer run in WCW in 1996 as Z-Gangsta as part of The Alliance to End Hulkamania.

In November 2012, Lister pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mortgage that resulted in nearly $4 million in losses. He faced up to five years in federal prison.

Lister’s most recent credits include appearing the Independent Film Channel series Comedy Bang! Bang! in 2015, Nick Cannon Presents: Wild n’ Out in 2016, and voicing Finnick in the animated movie Zootopia.

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