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This Day in Wrestling History (June 29): A Day and Night of Champions

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31 years ago today in Denver, Colorado, Nick Bockwinkel defeated Stan Hansen by forfeit to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.

In reality, Stan Hansen walked out on AWA and took their championship belt with him. It came down to loyalty to All Japan Pro Wrestling over AWA. Hansen was booked to defend the title on a series of shows there in July, but Hansen was told beforehand to drop the title to Nick Bockwinkel.

Small problem, however: Giant Baba was advertised have an AWA title defense on that tour. Hansen went to Japan with the belt and "defended" it, only dropping after he won the NWA International Championship (which was an All Japan belt, a championship that would become a part of All Japan's Triple Crown Championship in 1989) from Jumbo Tsuruta.

In response to his being stripped of the AWA world title, Hansen ran over the AWA world title belt with his truck and mailed the remains to Verne Gagne. Bockwinkel, who had a new belt made for him, took the mangled belt and restored it.

19 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Cleveland, Ohio, Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Kane to win the WWF Championship. This comes just a day after losing the championship in a first blood match to Kane.

18 years ago today at a RAW is WAR taping in Fayetteville, North Carolina (WWE Network link), The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) defeated the Acolytes to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

17 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Atsuo Sawada, aka Poison Sawada Black, creates the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship and names himself the first champion.

Presented as a comedy title, the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship is contested like the WWF Hardcore Championship when it enacted the 24/7 rule, meaning the title is on the line at all times as long as there’s an official present. The title is most often contested in ten-minute battle royals similar to the hardcore battle royal at Wrestlemania 2000, where anyone who gets a pin or submission on the champion wins the title.

What makes the championship unique is that anyone—or anything—can win the title. And it doesn’t have to be won via pin or submission. For example, the title has changed hands via Rock, Paper, Scissors, via auction, in exchange for an autograph, in a magic trick, even in a dream.

Shinobu and Yuko Miyamoto have the most title reigns with 299 each (the two traded the title back and forth often throughout 2006). The “modern” record belongs to Joey Ryan, who held the title 42 times, most recently on June 3. Ryan is the first American to win the title.

Champions its seventeen year history include a female newscaster, a model, a monkey, a Daschund, two stuffed dolls, a baseball bat, three different ladders, a wrestling poster, a steel chair, two inflatable love dolls, a ring truck, a bus, a trash bin, two invisible wrestlers, three elementary school girls, a three-year old, two tag teams (the Addiction and the Young Bucks), the entire audience of Beyond Wrestling’s Americanrana ’16, Vince McMahon’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and on April 29, 2014, the title belt itself.

As of this writing, the champion is Laura James. She won the title last Saturday at a WrestleCircus event in Austin, Texas.

9 years ago, WWE presented Night of Champions (WWE Network link) from the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. 16,151 people were in attendance, with 273,000 homes purchasing the event on PPV. That's up from 247,000 homes for the 2007 edition.

The show’s hook was that every title in the company was on the line, thus a night of champions.

  • John Morrison and The Miz defeated Finlay and Hornswoggle to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase) defeated Hardcore Holly to win the World Tag Team Championship. Holly had won the title with Rhodes, but Rhodes turned on him at the event.
  • Kofi Kingston defeated Chris Jericho to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Matt Hardy defeated Chavo Guerrero to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • Mickie James defeated Katie Lea Burchill to retain the WWE Women's Championship.
  • Mark Henry defeated Kane and The Big Show to win the ECW Championship.
  • Edge defeated Batista to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Triple H defeated John Cena to retain the WWE Championship.

8 years ago today in Mexico City, Alberto Perez Jimenez and his twin brother Alejandro were found dead in a hotel room. The brothers were 34 years old.

The brothers, wrestling as La Parkita and Espectrito II, were approached by two female prostitutes following a Sunday night show. The brothers joined the ladies in their hotel room. There, the brothers were served alcoholic drinks mixed with eye drops. The idea was that the drinks would knock them out, giving the ladies enough time to rob them of their belongings, including money and cell phones. Because of their size (4’9” for Alberto, 4’7” for Alejandro), the drinks proved fatal.

On July 22, 65-year old Estela Gonzalez Calva, aka La Tia, was arrested in connection with the murder. A second woman, 44-year old Maria de los Angels Sanches Rueda, aka La Gorda, was arrested in August. She admitted to being at the scene, but said it was Calva that administered the drugs. The two women were part of a crime syndicate known as La Flirtacion.

The women were convicted of the double murder and in July 2010 were each sentenced to 47 and a half years in prison.

Alejandro briefly appeared for the WWF in 1997 and 1998 as Mini Mankind.

4 years ago today at an Impact taping in Las Vegas, Nevada, Chris Sabin defeated Austin Aries and Manik to win the TNA X Division Championship.

3 years ago today, WWE presented Money in the Bank (WWE Network link) from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 15,653 were in attendance, with 122,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 199,000 homes for the 2013 event.

  • The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) defeated The Wyatt Family (Erick Rowan & Luke Harper) to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Paige defeated Naomi to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • Adam Rose defeated Damien Sandow.
  • Seth Rollins defeated Rob Van Dam, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, and Dean Ambrose in the Money in the Bank ladder match for a future WWE World Heavyweight Championship at any time up to one year.
  • Stardust & Goldust defeated RybAxel (Curtis Axel & Ryback).
  • Rusev defeated Big E by submission.
  • Layla defeated Summer Rae. Fandango was the special referee.
  • John Cena defeated Sheamus, Bray Wyatt, Alberto Del Rio, Cesaro, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, and Kane in a ladder match to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Happy 31st birthday today to Serena Deeb.

Best known for her time in WWE and their-then developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling, Serena is a six-time Ohio Valley Wrestling Women's Champion (the second most in promotion history). She also appeared for Shimmer Women Athletes, Shine Wrestling, and Wrestling New Classic, where she won their women's title once.

One day before her 28th birthday, Serena wrestled to a one-hour draw with Ivelisse Velez for the Shine Championship. In June 2015, she returned to TNA as the mystery tag partner for James Storm in a losing effort to Mickie James and Magnus.

Serena, now a yoga instructor in Los Angeles, retired from wresting in July 2015.

It's a happy 76th birthday to John Miller, but British wrestling fans know the legend by another name: Johnny Saint.

Born in Fallsworth, Lancashire, England, Miller followed in the footsteps of his father and became a factory worker after finishing school at age 15. John's introduction to the wrestling world was unconventional to say the least: his mother was getting a haircut by Billy Robinson's mother. Through the connection, Miller began training at Robinson's father's gym.

He made his professional debut as Johnny Saint (based on the popular TV series at the time The Saint starring Roger Moore) in June 1958 in a losing effort to Colin McDonald. Saint would be a fixture on ITV's World of Sport's weekly wrestling program. In May 1973, Saint defeated Jim Breaks for the British Lightweight Championship. Three and a half years later, Saint won the Joint Productions world lightweight championship for the first time. He would have nine more runs as the world lightweight champion, his last coming in 1993 following a victory over Steve Grey.

Saint's athletic and no-frills style made him a star in the 1960s would marginalize him in the 1970s and 1980s as more flamboyant wrestlers were becoming high-profile stars. With the cancellation of World of Sport and British Wrestling in 1988, Saint and his peers had to retire or find work elsewhere. Saint travelled abroad wrestling throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa until his retirement from full-time competition in 1996.

But a few years of training younger wrestlers led Saint back into the ring. He wrestled about a dozen bouts for LDN Wrestling in late 2007, including three against LDN British Heavyweight Champion "Gentleman" John Ritchie.

At age 67, Saint made his American debut for Chikara during their 2009 King of Trios tournament, teaming with Mike Quakenbush and Jorge Rivera as "The Masters of a Thousand Holds". They defeated Incoherence (Delirious, Hallowicked, and Frightmare) in the first round, but would be knocked off in the second round by Team Uppercut (Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castignoli, and Dave Taylor).

Saint returned to Chikara for a pair of bouts in 2011, losing to Johnny Kidd in a World of Sport rules match, then defeated Kidd the next night in a tag match.