35 years ago today in Greenville, South Carolina, Sgt. Slaughter defeated Wahoo McDaniel via forfeit to win the NWA United States Championship. McDaniel was injured and unable to compete at the time of the match.
22 years ago today in Jelico, Tennessee, The Thugs (Tony Anthony & Tracy Smothers) defeated The Dynamic Duo (Al Snow and Unabomb) to win the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Tag Team Championship.
In an interesting bit of trivia, this is the only title change in the promotion’s brief history that did not involve the Rock ‘n Roll Express nor the Heavenly Bodies.
18 years ago today, Rena Mero, best known to wrestling fans as Sable, files a $110 million lawsuit against the WWF, citing negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, negligent infliction of emotional distress, unlawful discharge, and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. In the lawsuit, Rena also sought rights to the Sable name and trademark.
Mero had not appeared on WWF programming since the United Kingdom-exclusive PPV event No Mercy on May 16 (she last appeared stateside on the May 10 episode of RAW is WAR). Among the allegations brought in the lawsuit (you can read the full filing here):
"After repeatedly refusing to have her gown torn off on national television, and after refusing to expose her breasts on national television (by a 'scripted mistake'), she was advised by Defendant that her championship belt was to be lost in her next match. She was, according to Defendant's chief executive, Vince McMahon, being a 'prima donna' and the WWF would move on to its next queen."
"Subsequently, she found her appearances canceled and her merchandise pulled from store shelves. Soon thereafter, Mrs. Mero found her personal effects in her dressing room smeared with feces." (Of note, Sean Waltman, who was in the WWF as X-Pac at the time, later admitted to having a hand in a similar act)
"Mrs. Mero raised with McMahon her concerns regarding the safety of appearing in Defendant's wrestling events. In this regard, she told McMahon that she had no training as a wrestler and had undergone breast implant surgery which could pose a serious health risk if she were to experience a frontal fall. McMahon again represented to and assured Plaintiff that wrestling events staged by the WWF were safe and that she need riot be concerned about safety or health risks."
"Mrs, Mero bitterly complained about her concerns and the humiliation that she was constantly facing, which was not only interfering with her well-being, but with her safety and state of mind. For example, men would routinely walk into the women's dressing room as if by accident; men would cut holes in the walls to watch the women dressing; extras were hired as WWF regulars to expose their breasts; big nipple contests were engaged in; men regularly bragged about their sexual encounters without regard to the women present; WWF produced catalogues and tee-shirts depicting Mrs. Mero In a degrading fashion offering sexual favors; Mrs. Mero was requested to display affection to women to promote a 'lesbian angle'; Mrs. Mero was asked to have her gown ripped off repeatedly (notwithstanding promises to the contrary), and Plaintiff was asked to expose her breasts by 'mistake' on national television during a wrestling contest."
The timing of the lawsuit came as opportunistic to some fans, considering it came two weeks after the death of Owen Hart.
The lawsuit would never make it to a courtroom, as the two sides settled in August. Financial terms were not disclosed, though it’s believed that Mero got considerably less than what she was seeking. Also under the terms of the settlement, WWF retained the rights to the Sable name.
And in a case of time healing most wounds, Mero rejoined WWE in 2003, where she would meet her future husband, Brock Lesnar. Mero left WWE on good terms in August 2004.
14 years ago today, WWE presented Insurrextion (WWE Network link) from Telewest Arena in Newcastle, England.
- In a preshow dark match, Maven defeated Christian Eckstein.
- In a preshow dark match, The Hurricane defeated Lance Storm
- Jazz defeated Trish Stratus to retain the WWE Women's Championship.
- Christian defeated Booker T to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
- Rob Van Dam and Kane defeated La Résistance (Sylvain Grenier and René Duprée) to retain the World Tag Team Championship.
- Goldust defeated Rico.
- The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray, D-Von, and Spike) defeated Rodney Mack, Christopher Nowinski, and Theodore Long.
- Scott Steiner defeated Test. Val Venis was the special referee.
- Triple H defeated Kevin Nash in a street fight to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
12 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Benoit is selected first for Smackdown (second overall) in the WWE Draft Lottery.
11 years ago today, WWE presented WWE vs. ECW: Head to Head from the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio.
The special was doubled as a soft relaunch of ECW in preparation for the actual relaunch of ECW taking place five days later, One Night Stand.
- Rob Van Dam defeated Rey Mysterio in a no disqualification match. Mysterio’s World Heavyweight Championship was not at stake.
- Mickie James defeated Jazz. Mickie’s WWE Women’s Championship was not at stake.
- Big Show last eliminated Randy Orton to win a WWE-ECW battle royal. Other participants were Finlay, Lashley, Tatanka, Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, and Mark Henry (representing WWE). The ECW competitors were Al Snow, Nunzio, Justin Credible, Tony Mamaluke, The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, Balls Mahoney, Steven Richards, and Kurt Angle. Big Show originally represented WWE, but turned on their crew to join ECW late in the match.
- Edge defeated Tommy Dreamer in an extreme rules match.
- John Cena defeated Sabu via disqualification in a non-title match.
11 years ago today, John Anthony Tenta Jr., best known to wrestling fans as Earthquake, died of bladder cancer in Sanford, Florida. He was 42.
Born June 22, 1963 at 11 pounds, 3 ounces in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, Tenta decided very young he wanted to be a pro wrestler growing up. Learning freestyle wrestling while at North Surrey Secondary, Tenta became a Canadian junior champion in 1981, and would finish sixth in the super heavyweight division at the World Junior Wrestling Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia.
He would go to Louisiana State University on an athletic scholarship, and would compete in wrestling. In 1985, LSU dropped wrestling to comply with Title IX, forcing Tenta to choose a new sport. He would play football and played on the junior varsity team as a defensive lineman. He also played rugby union for the school’s rugby club and was employed as a bouncer for a nearby college bar.
Following college, Tenta moved to Japan to pursue a career in sumo. Named Kototenta (Tenta the Harp), John’s late start in sumo (age 22 for Tenta; some start as early as age 15) didn’t prevent him from being a success, thanks to his training in wrestling and his size (6’ 5¾”, 423 pounds). He would win all 24 of his bouts and would later be named Kototenzan, or Heavenly Mountain Harp. He would also be nicknamed the Canadian Comet by the Japanese press.
But the difficult sumo lifestyle, the aches and pains of the sport, and a tattoo of a tiger on his left prevented him from advancing further in his career (tattoos are often associated with gangsters in Japan, and public display is largely prohibited). Tenta walked away from sumo after just eight months.
He would quickly join Shohei “Giant” Baba’s All Japan Pro Wrestling, debuting on May 1, 1987. He teamed with Baba to defeat Rusher Kimura and Goro Tsurumi. He would work for the company for about a year and a half; while with All Japan, he would tour for Vancouver-based NWA All Star Wrestling. His size obviously made him very attractive to American promoters, and one would snatch him up.
After a pair of tryout matches with the company, John Tenta joined the WWF in September 1989. Initally introduced as Earthquake Evans under management of Slick, Tenta made his WWF television debut for Superstars of Wrestling as a spectator. He was picked as a volunteer for a strength demonstration. Dino Bravo and Jimmy Hart picked Tenta, then Bravo did situps with Tenta (identified as John from West Virginia) sitting on his back. During Ultimate Warrior’s set, Tenta leapt downwards onto Warrior, then Bravo and Tenta assaulted him with repeated big splashes. Tenta would become the Canadian Earthquake (later simply Earthquake), a monster heel that sat on his opponents with his sitdown splash, then have them stretchered out.
Earthquake’s highest profile feud started in May 1990 when attacked Hulk Hogan from behind during a segment on WWF Superstars of Wrestling. He would crush Hogan’s ribs with his sitdown “Earthquake splash”. The injury sidelined Hogan until Summerslam, where Hogan would defeat Earthquake by countout. The feud ended in the 1991 Royal Rumble, with Hogan last eliminating Earthquake to win.
Following Wrestlemania VII, Earthquake would feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Earthquake squashed Damien, Jake’s snake (in reality, it wasn’t a snake—it was pantyhose stuffed with hamburger and a small motor to simulate a snake’s movement). To get over the gravity of the situation, the actual squashing did not air on Superstars of Wrestling, but aired without interruption on WWF’s cable show, Prime Time Wrestling. In a separate skit on Prime Time Wrestling, Earthquake served “Quakeburgers”, basically hamburgers with meat ground from Damien’s carcass. Once the secret behind the burgers were revealed, Lord Alfred Hayes threw up and Vince knocked the tray of burgers out of Earthquake’s hands. The feud between Roberts and Earthquake lasted through the summer and fall.
Late in the year, Earthquake would team with the Typhoon (Fred Ottman, who wrestled previously Tugboat) as The Natural Disasters. Initially a heel team managed by Jimmy Hart, the duo turned face when Hart betrayed them and joined forces with Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster, aka Money Inc. Hart led his new team to the tag team titles. Money Inc. would be challenged by Hart’s old team, the Natural Disasters at Wrestlemania VIII. The Disasters would win the match but not the titles. The Disasters would win the titles in July 1992, but would lose them back to Money Inc. in October.
In January 1993, Tenta left the WWF for stints in Japanese promotion WAR (Wrestle and Romance) and Mexican promotion CMLL.
He briefly returned to WWF in 1994 when he served as a bodyguard for Bret Hart to counter Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard Diesel. His television return came at Wrestlemania X when he quickly defeated Adam Bomb. He briefly feuded with Yokozuna on the house show circuit and had a sumo match with him on RAW, with Earthquake winning (of note, Tenta’s real-life sumo background was mentioned on WWF programming for the first time).
Earthquake was set to face Owen Hart in the 1994 King of the Ring tournament, but he was taken out by Yokozuna and Crush at a house show prior to the bout. In reality, Tenta had left the WWF for a second time and returned to WAR in Japan and teamed with Super Vader in UWF International.
With Tenta having financial problems, he turned to World Championship Wrestling for a job. Thanks to Tenta’s friend Hulk Hogan, John was welcomed in.
Initially introduced as Avalanche, a member of Kevin Sullivan’s Three Faces of Fear, he would align with Big Bubba Rogers and feuded with Sting and Randy Savage. The feud extended into early 1995, with Avalanche losing to both Sting and Savage via disqualification (Sting at Starrcade, Savage at Uncensored). The Avalanche name was dropped with the WWF threatening legal action due to similarities to the Earthquake character.
Tenta would reemerge as The Shark as part of the Dungeon of Doom. Believing it would be a long-term gimmick, Tenta redid his tiger tattoo to that of a shark. Though it was believed WCW management told him to do it, it was John’s idea. The Dungeon would be defeated by the Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Sting, Lex Luger, and Randy Savage) in the WarGames match at Fall Brawl. Shark also had a high profile bout with Sting for the WCW United States Championship in early October, but was defeated. His last notable bout as Shark came as part of the 60-man three-ring battle royal at World War 3, a bout won by Randy Savage.
After leaving the Dungeon of Doom, he would wrestle under his real name and cut a promo on his past, stating that he’s “not a shark, I'm not a fish. I'm not an Avalanche. I'm a man". He feuded with Big Bubba Rogers, defeating him at The Great American Bash in June 1996. Post-match, he cut Rogers’ goatee. The next month, Tenta would defeat him again in a Carson City Silver Dollar match at Bash at the Beach. The shavings continued when Rogers retaliated by shaving half of Tenta’s head, then Tenta’s beard. In the spring of 1997, Tenta would join Roddy Piper’s family, but he would leave WCW after the angle was dropped.
In May 1998, Tenta returned to the WWF as the masked South Park enthusiast Golga. Golga had a fascination with one of the show’s main characters, Eric Cartman. Tenta by this time had lost so much weight, WWF officials thought it wouldn’t be believable that he returned as Earthquake, thus the new gimmick.
Golga competed usually in tag team bouts as part of the Oddities; his most notable bout came at Summerslam when the Oddities defeated Kaientai in a three-on-four handicap match. Golga’s last notable bout came in the 1999 Royal Rumble match when he was quickly eliminated by the match’s runner-up, Stone Cold Steve Austin. In February 1999, the entire group, including Golga, was released. Tenta re-emerged in the Gimmick Battle Royal as Earthquake at Wrestlemania X-Seven, but he was eliminated by Kamala.
In May 2004, John retired after it was revealed he had bladder cancer. He later revealed he had just a 20% chance to live. In a November 2005 interview with WrestleCrap Radio, Tenta revealed that radiation did not work and not only had no effect on the tumor, the cancer had spread to his lungs. The cancer would claim his life on June 7, 2006, just two weeks shy of his 43rd birthday.
At the time of his passing, he was survived by his wife Josie and three children, Jeff, Johnny, and Joanna.
8 years ago today, WWE presented Extreme Rules (WWE Network link) from the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. 9,124 were in attendance, with 213,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 194,000 homes for the June 2008 event, One Night Stand.
- In a preshow dark match, Mickie James and Kelly Kelly defeated Beth Phoenix and Rosa Mendes.
- Kofi Kingston defeated Montel Vontavious Porter, William Regal, and Matt Hardy in a fatal four-way match to win the WWE United States Championship.
- Chris Jericho defeated Rey Mysterio in a no holds barred match to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
- CM Punk defeated Umaga in a Samoan strap match.
- Tommy Dreamer defeated Christian and Jack Swagger in a triple threat match to win the ECW Championship.
- Santina Marella defeated Vickie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero in a hog pen match to win the title of Miss Wrestlemania.
- Batista defeated Randy Orton in a steel cage match to win the WWE Championship. An interesting quirk regarding this bout: Batista is the first man to win the WWE Championship in a steel cage match.
- John Cena defeated The Big Show in a submission match.
- Jeff Hardy defeated Edge in a ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Post-match, CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank.
- CM Punk defeated Jeff Hardy in just 61 seconds to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
7 years ago today, WWE presented a Viewer's Choice edition of RAW (WWE Network link) from the American Airlines Center in Miami, Florida. All of the matches on the show were determined by a live vote.
- In a dark match, Chris Masters defeated Caylen Croft & Trent Baretta in a handicap match.
- Big Show defeated Chris Jericho in a Body Slam Challenge.
- The Hart Dynasty defeated The Great Khali & Hornswoggle.
- Vladimir Kozlov defeated Santino Marella in a dance-off.
- Maryse won a Divas battle royal. Other participants were Eve Torres, Rosa Mendes, the Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie), Layla, Michelle McCool, Gail Kim, Tiffany, Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, and Jillian Hall.
- Kane defeated Sheamus by countout.
- The Miz & Zack Ryder defeated R-Truth & John Morrison.
- Randy Orton defeated Edge via disqualification. Edge had one arm tied behind his back for the match.
- Matt Hardy defeated Drew McIntyre.
- John Cena and CM Punk fought to a no contest. Near the conclusion of the match, NXT Season 1 winner Wade Barrett comes out. Over the next two minutes, the rest of the rookies from the season emerge from the crowd. They attack CM Punk and Luke Gallows. The rookies, all wearing black armbands with a "N" logo, eventually surround the ring and quickly swarm Cena. They go after the announce team, Justin Roberts, basically anyone in the immediate area. They would quickly swarm Punk as well as he tried to fight back. They tear down the ringside area and the ring itself before laying out Cena. Gabriel tops it off with a 450 splash on Cena. Daniel Bryan, one of the rookies involved in the attack, spat on Cena and choked Justin Roberts with his own necktie. While Bryan surely would have been reprimanded for spitting on the face of the company, it was the choking that would be his undoing. With sponsors demanding action, Bryan was fired less than a week later. He would return when the heat dies down at the end of August at Summerslam.
7 years ago today, Moore County Superior Court officials announce that prosecutors dropped three of the four charges against Jeff Hardy stemming from a raid and arrest at his North Carolina home in September 2009 shortly after his release from WWE.
The charges that were dropped following a June 3 hearing were felony drug trafficking, felony cocaine possession, and misdemeanor drug possession. The only remaining charge he faced was conspiracy to traffic opium. Officials decline to give specifics as to why the charges were dropped.
In September 2011, Hardy pled guilty to two counts of intent to distribute a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to traffic opium. He would be sentenced to ten days in prison, two and a half years probation, and fined $100,000.
6 years ago today, WWE releases The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro on DVD.
The collection, hosted by Diamond Dallas Page, features some of the best matches and moments in the show's history. Two follow-up volumes were released, with Volume 2 released in 2013 and Volume 3 released in 2015.
It’s a happy 28th birthday to Taeler Conrad-Mellen, best known to wrestling fans as Taeler Hendrix.
Working primarily on the independent circuit, Taeler had a brief run in TNA in 2012 and 2013. Her biggest success has been with Ohio Valley Wrestling, where she's won their women's championship three times and was Miss OVW in 2012. She had two cameo appearances for WWE in 2014 as one of Adam Rose's Rosebuds.
Taeler appeared most notably for Ring of Honor as a valet for Truth Martini’s House of Truth, even sporadically wrestling in their Women of Honor division. She departed the promotion in April 2017.
It’s a happy 67th birthday to legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel.
The first and longest tenured employee under the elder Vince McMahon for the WWE (then WWWF), Finkel had been a ring announcer for the company since 1977. It was Finkel that's credited with "The Dragon" name for Ricky Steamboat and the name of the WWE's signature event, Wrestlemania, where he was featured on camera for each of the first thirty-two editions.
Finkel has worked a lighter schedule since the turn the of the century, but still appears on occasion on WWE programming. Finkel, also the WWE's chief statistician, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.