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This Day in Wrestling History (June 28): The Most-Watched Wrestling Match in Cable History

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34 years ago today in New York City, Chief Jay and Jules Strongbow defeated Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

20 years ago today, WCW presented Saturday Nitro from the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.

The show was a “pay-per-listen” event, the first of six WCW put on in 1997 and 1998. For a small fee, fans could listen to an audio broadcast of the event streamed through WCW’s website.

  • Damien, Juventud Guerrera, and Super Calo defeated Konnan, La Parka, and Villano IV.
  • Ultimo Dragon defeated Psicosis via submission.
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Dean Malenko.
  • The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) defeated the nWo (Buff Bagwell & Masahiro Chono).
  • Syxx defeated Rey Mysterio Jr. via submission to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Chris Jericho defeated Syxx in just 37 seconds to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Rowdy Roddy Piper defeated Ric Flair via submission.
  • Diamond Dallas Page defeated Macho Man Randy Savage.
  • Lex Luger and The Giant defeated The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) via disqualification in a WCW World Tag Team Championship match.

18 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Charlotte, North Carolina (WWE Network link), Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Undertaker to win the WWF Championship. The win made Austin just the third man to win the WWF Championship four times, joining Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart.

The bout is the most-watched wrestling match (and segment) in the history of cable television, scoring a 9.5 rating (meaning nearly one in ten homes that had cable had the match on) and an estimated 10.7 million viewers. By comparison, the “This Is Your Life” segment, often cited as the most watched segment in RAW history, got only an 8.4 rating.

The marks surpass the RAW is WAR May 10 main event with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Vince McMahon defeating The Corporate Ministry’s The Undertaker, Triple H, and Shane McMahon in terms of rating and viewers (9.17 rating, with 10.58 million viewers). In fact, five of the twelve most watched matches in cable history were on that episode. That episode was the highest-rated in the show’s history, with an 8.1 rating for the night.

RAW crushes Nitro in the head-to-head for the evening, with a 6.8 for WWF’s offering and a 3.6 for WCW’s.

8 years ago today, WWE presented The Bash (WWE Network link) from the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California. 11,946 were in attendance, with 178,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 196,000 homes for the 2008 event.

  • Tommy Dreamer defeated Jack Swagger, Christian, Mark Henry, and Finlay in a Championship Scramble match to retain the ECW Championship.
  • Rey Mysterio defeated Chris Jericho in a mask versus title match to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Had Mysterio lost, he would have been forced to unmask.
  • Dolph Ziggler defeated The Great Khali in a no disqualification match.
  • Edge and Chris Jericho defeated Carlito and Primo to win the WWE Unified Tag Team Championship.
  • Michelle McCool defeated Melina to win the WWE Womens Championship.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated CM Punk by disqualification in a World Heavyweight Championship match.
  • John Cena defeated The Miz.
  • Randy Orton defeated Triple H 2-1 in Three Stages of Hell match to retain the WWE Championship. Orton won the first fall via disqualification, but lost the second fall less than two minutes later in a falls count anywhere match. Orton won the deciding fall in a stretcher match.

5 years ago today on a live episode of Impact from Universal Orlando, Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) defeated AJ Styles and Kurt Angle to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship.

4 years ago today, Matthew Wade Osborne, who had his biggest success as the original Doink the Clown, was found dead in his apartment in Plano, Texas. He was 55.

Born July 27, 1957 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Matt made his debut as Matt Borne and wrestled for various NWA territories, including Pacific Northwest Wrestling (where he won their heavyweight title and their tag team championship four times), Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (where he won his first championship in 1980), Mid-South Wrestling, and All-Star Wrestling and Maple Leaf Wrestling in Canada.

He spent a year in the WWF in the mid-1980s and was a part of the first Wrestlemania, losing to Ricky Steamboat. He had a year run in World Class Championship Wrestling where he won the tag team championship with Buzz Sawyer and was a Texas Heavyweight Champion. In 1991, Osborne appeared in WCW as Big Josh, an outdoorsman who danced with bears. He won tag gold there too, winning the United States tag team and six-man tag team titles.

In late 1992, Matt arrived in the WWF in his most famous persona, the evil Doink the Clown. He feuded primarily with Crush (wrapped up infamously by the two Doinks trick at Wrestlemania IX) and Mr. Perfect, though he also had house show runs with Marty Jannetty and the 1-2-3 Kid. Doink turned face when he poured water over Bobby Heenan in September 1993. However, Osborne never got a decent run as face Doink; he was fired for recurring drug abuses. Face Doink would be played by Ray Apollo.

After leaving the WWF, he reprised his role in ECW. Fans didn't take a liking to this, seeing that ECW was presented as an alternative to the WWF and WCW's cartoonish worlds. Following a loss to Shane Douglas, Shane criticized Vince McMahon for turning a talented wrestler into a joke character and he would be the one to bring out Matt's full potential. Known going forward as Borne Again, he would wear the clown suit, but skimp on the face paint and ditch the wig. He also grew out his hair and beard. After beating his opponents, he would put a clown suit on them. But personal problems ended his ECW run.

Osborne spent the remainder of his life wrestling on the independent circuit and at various reunions. In December 2007, Osborne reprised the role for the final time in the WWF when he took part in the Legends Battle Royal. He wrestled a full-time schedule for the last few years of his life.

On June 28, 2013, Osborne was found dead in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend. A preliminary homicide investigation was launched even though no weapons were found near his body and the death looked accidental. A few weeks later, it was determined Matt had died of an accidental overdose of morphine and hydrocodone. He also had heart disease at the time of his death, which may have played a factor.

2 years ago today, TNA presented Slammiversary XIII from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

Of note, a scheduled TNA world title match between Kurt Angle and Ethan Carter III was dropped from the PPV in the week leading up to the show; the match took place three days prior to the PPV at an Impact taping with Carter winning the title.

  • Tigre Uno defeated Manik & DJ Z in a three-way elimination match to retain the TNA X Division Championship.
  • Robbie E defeated Jessie Godderz.
  • Bram defeated Matt Morgan.
  • Austin Aries defeated Davey Richards. This was Austin's final TNA match; his contract expired that evening and he chose not to renew.
  • Awesome Kong & Brooke defeated The Doll House (Taryn Terrell, Jade, and Marti Belle) in a 2-on-3 handicap match.
  • James Storm defeated Magnus. This was the final match (save for pre-taped appearances) for both Storm and Magnus as their contracts expired. Magnus signed with Global Force Wrestling the next day; Storm left for NXT—albeit briefly. Storm signed a fully-guaranteed contract six months later to return to TNA.
  • Ethan Carter III & Tyrus defeated Lashley & Mr. Anderson.
  • Jeff Jarrett defeated Eric Young, Drew Galloway, Bobby Roode, and Matt Hardy in a King of the Mountain match to win the TNA King of the Mountain Championship.

2 years ago today, Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that Austin Aries, Taryn Terrell, and Awesome Kong were all leaving TNA.

In the end, only Aries actually leaves (his contract expired). After a brief run with Ring of Honor, he signed with WWE in January. Terrell and Kong would be gone soon enough though; Terrell would leave TNA—and the wrestling business altogether—in January, while Kong would be fired from the company in February following an altercation with Rebecca Hardy, aka Reby Sky.