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This Day in Wrestling History (June 25): John Cena’s WWE Debut

Today’s TDIPWH is presented in two parts. The second part will focus on the Chris Benoit double-murder suicide, happening over a four-day period ten years ago.


49 years ago today in Nagoya, Japan, Bobo Brazil defeated Giant Baba to win the NWA International Heavyweight Championship. He would lose it back to Giant Baba just two days later in Tokyo.

25 years ago today at a WCW Main Event taping in Kansas City, Missouri, The Barbarian and Dick Slater defeat The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) to win the WCW United States Tag Team Championship.

They would be the last duo to hold the titles as the championship was retired on July 31.

22 years ago today, WWF presented King of the Ring (WWE Network link) from the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 16,590 were in attendance, with 204,000 homes watching on PPV, though some estimates have it at only 150,000 home buys.

Often considered one of the worst wrestling shows in company history, the show finished second in Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Worst Major Show poll (WCW's Uncensored got nearly double the first place votes as King of the Ring and won the award). The show was for many people the first national exposure of Extreme Championship Wrestling, as ECW chants peppered the show.

  • In a Free for All preshow match, Savio Vega defeated Irwin R. Schyster to take Razor Ramon's place in the King of the Ring tournament. Razor had to drop out of the tournament due to a rib injury he suffered during a ladder match at a house show two weeks prior to the event.

King of the Ring Quarterfinals:

  • Savio Vega defeated Yokozuna by countout.
  • The Roadie defeated Bob Holly.
  • Shawn Michaels fought Kama to a 15-minute time limit draw, eliminating both competitors.
  • Mabel defeated The Undertaker.

King of the Ring Semifinals:

  • Savio Vega defeated The Roadie.
  • Mabel was given a bye to the finals as a result of the double elimination with Shawn Michaels and Kama.

King of the Ring Final:

  • Mabel defeated Savio Vega to win the King of the Ring tournament.

Non-tournament matches in order of occurrence:

  • Bret Hart defeated Jerry Lawler in a "Kiss My Foot" match.
  • Diesel & Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Tatanka & Sid.

17 years ago today, WWF presented King of the Ring (WWE Network link) from the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts. 17,651 were in attendance, with an event record 475,000 homes watching on PPV. Though the PPV had the final eight, the tournament began with 32 participants, the most for a King of the Ring tournament ever.

The event finished fourth worst for Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Worst Major Wrestling Show of 2000 (three WCW shows claimed the top spots, with Halloween Havoc finishing first).

King of the Ring Quarterfinals:

  • Rikishi defeated Chris Benoit.
  • Val Venis defeated Eddie Guerrero.
  • Crash Holly defeated Bull Buchanan.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Chris Jericho.

King of the Ring Semifinals:

  • Rikishi defeated Val Venis.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Crash Holly.

King of the Ring Final:

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

Non-tournament matches in order of occurrence:

  • Edge and Christian defeated Too Cool (Grand Master Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty), The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff), and T&A (Test and Albert) in a four corners elimination match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • WWF Hardcore Champion Pat Patterson fought Gerald Brisco to a no contest in a Hardcore Evening Gown match because...
  • Crash Holly defeated Pat Patterson to win the WWF Hardcore Championship. The hardcore evening gown match was voted the worst match of 2000 by Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers.
  • D-Generation X (Road Dogg and X-Pac) and Tori defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) in a handicap tables/dumpster match.
  • The Rock, Kane, and The Undertaker defeated Triple H, Vince McMahon, and Shane McMahon. Under the pre-match stipulation, which was had anyone other than a McMahon scored the fall, they would win the WWF Championship (had a McMahon won, Triple H would retain the title), The Rock won the WWF Championship. The win made The Rock just the third five-time WWF Champion in company history, joining Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart.

16 years ago today on RAW is WAR from New York City (WWE Network link), Rhyno defeated Test to win the WWF Hardcore Championship... only to lose it moments later to the debuting Mike Awesome. This was the first time an active WCW competitor won a WWF championship.

On the same show, X-Pac defeated Jeff Hardy to win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.

15 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Chicago, Illinois (WWE Network link), John Cena makes his WWE television debut, answering the open challenge of Kurt Angle. Angle would defeat Cena in the bout.

11 years ago today, WWE presented Vengeance (WWE Network link) from Bobcats Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. About 6,800 were in attendance with 320,000 homes watching on PPV.

  • In a dark match, Val Venis defeated Rob Conway.
  • Randy Orton defeated Kurt Angle.
  • Umaga defeated Eugene in just 97 seconds.
  • Ric Flair defeated Mick Foley 2-0 in a best of three falls match.
  • Johnny Nitro defeated Shelton Benjamin and Carlito in a triple threat match to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Rob Van Dam defeated Edge to retain the WWE Championship.
  • Impostor Kane defeated Kane.
  • John Cena defeated Sabu by submission in an extreme lumberjack match. Acting as lumberjacks were Viscera, Trevor Murdoch, Lance Cade, Rob Conway, Gene Snitsky, Matt Striker, Charlie Haas, Val Venis, Tommy Dreamer, Balls Mahoney, Stevie Richards, Little Guido, Roadkill, Danny Doring, Justin Credible, Al Snow and The Sandman.
  • D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) defeated the Spirit Squad (Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky, and Mikey) in a 2-on-5 handicap match.

9 years ago today in Barcelona, Spain, Ultimate Warrior, in his first match since retiring in 1999, defeated Orlando Jordan to win the Nu-Wrestling Evolution World Heavyweight Championship.

Immediately following the win, Warrior vacated the championship and retired again. It would be Warrior's last ever match.

8 years ago today at a TNA Impact taping at Universal Orlando, Tara defeated Angelina Love to win the TNA Knockouts Championship.

On the same show, Homicide defeated Suicide to win the TNA X Division Championship.

6 years ago today, WWE releases Chavo Guerrero, Jr. Guerrero was one of the 25 that were brought in following WWF's purchase of WCW in 2001. Chavo did not take long to address his release on Twitter, a release he requested:

"Yes, it's true. My release is the big news I was talking about. But let's get something straight. I asked for my release. I was just tired of not being used correctly. Just cuz u can make other ppl look good, doesn't mean they should just have u lose to them. The same thing happened to Eddie. After being champ, they still had him working mid card status. Being a Guerrero, we've been taught since diapers to get the most out of ppl & matches. It's our gift, but also our curse. WWE has always used us to make other ppl look good. It all comes down to being happy. I was not happy in WWE anymore. I had a smile on my face last night though when I got my release though! :) now it's time for me to start being a Guerrero again, and start kicking ass again, be able to tell stories in the ring like u know we can. :) win or lose I will never go back to the place WWE put me in. I will never go back to being under utilized and watching ppl who suck get bigger "pushes" than me! Thank u to all of u who stuck by me & kept reminding me, I was better than that! :) stay tuned.. Big things coming!! Now I will really be able to entertain u! :) like me or hate me, 1 thing I have always tried to do is entertain u and give u fans your $ worth. Even if my hands were tied most of the time. I love u all and can't wait for the future!! So happy. :)"

After a brief run on the independents, he spent a year and a half in TNA before being released in late 2013. In 2015, he signed with AAA and is a wrestler/producer for El Rey Network's wrestling series, Lucha Underground. Most recently, Guerrero served as a stunt coordinator and appeared in two episodes of Netflix series GLOW, a dramedy series based on the 1980s promotion of the same name.

4 years ago today in Gulfport, Mississippi, Jake Hager, aka Jack Swagger, was found guilty of speeding and driving under the influence.

Hager was arrested following a Smackdown taping in Biloxi, Mississippi for DUI, speeding, and marijuana possession. He was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to pay a $500 and all court costs relating to the case. Hager avoided a two-day jail sentence.

2 years ago today at an Impact taping at Universal Orlando, Ethan Carter III defeated Kurt Angle to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

It's a happy 40th birthday for Layla El, or just Layla as WWE fans call her.

A dancer for Carnival Cruise Lines, the NBA's Miami Heat, and Kanye West, she won the 2006 WWE Diva Search. She was a part of ECW's dance troupe Extreme Expose for about a year before being drafted to RAW and briefly managing William Regal.

Her biggest success post-Diva Search victory came as one half of LayCool with her BFF Michelle McCool. In May 2010, Layla became the last person to hold the original version of the WWE Women's Championship. After a year-long absence, she won the Divas Championship in April 2012. That year she was ranked #6 in the PWI Female 50 and #95 in the Maxim Hot 100.

Layla announced her retirement from wrestling in July 2015 in an interview with On the day of her retirement, she got engaged to Richard Young, who had a brief run in WWE as Ricky Ortiz. The couple married in November 2015.

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