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This Day in Wrestling History (July 2): The Rebirth of WCW

Today’s TDIPWH is presented in two parts. The second part will focus on the career and life of Bret “Hitman” Hart. He celebrates his 60th birthday today.


16 years ago today, WWF presented the first WCW match since its shutdown back in March on RAW is WAR from Tacoma, Washington (WWE Network link).

In what was the show’s main event, Booker T defeated Buff Bagwell via disqualification to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

To call what was supposed to be the relaunch of WCW a disaster would be greatly underselling it. Booker and Buff were gassed just moments in (which could be defensible; after all, their first match following the sale of WCW was the day before). The crowd, clearly not expecting a WCW title match on a WWF show this evening (and also not expecting a match relying heavily on rest holds, probably) quickly turn on the match, chanting “BORING!” and “THIS MATCH SUCKS!”.

The loudest cheers from the match came from Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle beating on Booker T. It should be pointed out at the time of this show, Austin and Angle were the top heels in the company (not named Vince McMahon).

The bout, called the most awkward match in WWE history by in 2013, would be Bagwell’s one and only WWF match.

Prior to the July 9 RAW taping in Atlanta, Bagwell was fired. Why exactly he was fired depends on who is telling the story. One account says he got into a fight with Shane Helms. Another account suggests his mother Judy tried to get his son time off after he was injured on a double powerbomb at the July 3 Smackdown taping. Yet another account says Bagwell faked said injury to get the time off.

This match was Plan B in WCW’s relaunch. Plan A was getting WCW a TV deal and a timeslot; however, Viacom wasn’t about to give WWF another timeslot, even though RAW is WAR was the most-watched show on cable television. Eventually, the settled-on plan was believed to be to turn over RAW to WCW and change it to Nitro (with the Vince McMahon-Linda McMahon storyline divorce explaining the changeover), while WWF retained Smackdown. Following the show, those plans were abandoned.

15 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Boston, Massachusetts (WWE Network link), Edge and Hulk Hogan defeated Billy and Chuck to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

This is the first time Edge wins the WWE Tag Team Championship with someone other than Christian as his partner. As for Hogan, it’s his one and only tag title win in his four-decade career.

10 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Phil Astin III, the personal physician for Chris Benoit, is indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of illegal distribution of prescription drugs.

In the days following the death of Benoit, a search of the home and Astin's office produced evidence that would lead to the indictment, including a prescription for a (on average) ten-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit about every four weeks from May 2006 to May 2007, and multiple prescriptions for two unnamed patients that were not dated. The DEA also pointed out that the investigation was in progress at the time of the indictment. Astin was released on $125,000 bond, was forced to surrender his medical license, and was subject to electronic monitoring.

Ultimately, Astin would face 175 counts of illegal distribution of prescription drugs spanning a five-year period. Astin pled guilty in January 2009, and was sentenced later that year to 10 years in federal prison.

10 years ago today on RAW from Dallas, Texas (WWE Network link), Umaga defeated Santino Marella to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.

5 years ago today, Hazem Ali, best known as Armando Alejandro Estrada, was released from WWE.

Ali was first with the company back in 2007, primarily as ECW General Manager. He was released in November 2008 after not appearing on WWE programming for about three months.

His second run actually began in December 2010, but he only made a single appearance before his release, on the May 26, 2011 episode of WWE Superstars, managing Tyson Kidd.

In a most bizarre twist, WWE creative actually forgot he was even signed with the company. No, seriously. He said as much in a public statement following his release:

"Espérate ... Espérate ... Espérate ...

Everybody, listen to me!

I would like to take this opportunity to let everyone in the wrestling world know that on 6/27/12, I was released from my contract with WWE.

What's that you say??? OH, you didn't know (Road Dogg) I was under contract to WWE? Apparently, a lot of people (including members of creative) were not privy to that information. I have been "working" with World Wrestling Entertainment for almost 18 months. I was only used once during that time period, making a brief cameo as Tyson Kidd's manager in May of last year. I was told I did a great job and to be patient. I have been patient for quite some time now while sitting at home "waiting for the call".

It's not fun, trust me. Numerous creative ideas/scenarios were submitted during my tenure and unfortunately nothing materialized for me. And although my talents were not utilized this time around, should I decide to return to WWE in the future, I firmly believe that door will be open. Timing is everything, not just in showbiz, but in life. Thank you to everyone in WWE!

For those promoters that would like to utilize my talents, believe me when I say, I am the MOST ENTERTAINING individual to step foot into the wrestling industry in the last decade (toot-toot)! If you would like to book me for wrestling shows, autograph signings/appearances, please do so at (serious inquiries only). I will show up on time, in shape, and ready to perform for your audience.

You can also follow me on Twitter @RealArmandoHaHa. Thanks for your time....Oh yeah, 1 last thing. My name es ARMANDO ALEJANDRO ESTRRRADA and I will be making an #Impact soon.........HA-HA! "

4 years ago today, Jesus Rodriguez, aka Ricardo Rodriguez, is suspended 30 days following his first violation of the WWE Wellness Policy.

3 years ago today, Tenille Dashwood, best known to WWE and NXT fans as Emma, was fired... then rehired.

The release stems from Dashwood allegedly shoplifting an iPad case from a Wal-Mart in Hartford, Connecticut. The value of the case: $21.14. Dashwood was charged with sixth degree larceny and was sentenced to one day community service and was ordered to take an online course, upon which the charges would be dismissed. Dashwood's attorney claimed that she simply forgot to pay for the case at a self-checkout.

That afternoon, WWE announces on their website that Dashwood was released:

WWE has come to terms on the release of WWE Diva Emma as of today, July 2, 2014. WWE wishes Emma the best in all her future endeavors.

This came in the midst of some serious budget cutting following the disappointing WWE Network subscriber numbers following Wrestlemania XXX. When news got out of her release, the Internet pounced, quick to point out that those that had more serious charges (i.e. Cameron and Jack Swagger—both arrested for DUI) weren't as harshly reprimanded.

Just an hour later, WWE issues another statement on their website and announced that Dashwood was not fired after all:

Upon further evaluation, WWE has reinstated Tenille Dashwood (WWE Diva Emma) but will take appropriate punitive action for her violation of the law.

For what it's worth, Emma saw a career resurgence in NXT before returning to the main roster full-time just before Wrestlemania 32. But her career has been snake-bitten ever since.

After suffering a back injury in May 2016, promotional videos played for Emma’s return as Emmalina beginning in October. The videos played for more than four months before the gimmick was abandoned. Dashwood returned on the April 3, 2017 RAW, but suffered a shoulder injury just a month after her return (almost a year to the day of her back injury). She returned to RAW earlier this month.

It’s a happy 44th birthday to Scott Ronald Garland, but wrestling fans know him best as Scotty 2 Hotty.

Beginning his career as a ring crew member, Garland began wrestling at age 16. While still in high school, Garland began appearing for the WWF in October 1991 as Scott Taylor. He was primarily a jobber over the next six years, supplementing his income by working as a bank teller, an assistant store manager, and working for an insurance company.

His big break came in 1997 when Garland signed a full-time deal with the WWF. He competed primarily in their new light heavyweight division at first, then began teaming with Brian Christopher in early 1998. Scott “Too Hot” Taylor and “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher became Too Much, then the hip-hop culture parody Too Cool in the summer of 1999. Garland would become Scotty 2 Hotty and Christopher became Grandmaster Sexay. They would later be joined by Rikishi (who would be briefly renamed Rikishi Phatu).

Garland briefly held the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship in April 2000, but the team’s biggest success came just when Too Cool defeated Edge and Christian for the WWF Tag Team Championship on Memorial Day.

The Too Cool alliance split in late 2000 after Rikishi was revealed to be the man that ran over Stone Cold Steve Austin. In February 2001, Scotty suffered a bulge in the C5 and C6 vertebrae and would be sidelined for more than a year (to cover for this, Kurt Angle kayfabe broke Scotty’s ankle). While recovering, Garland’s partner Brian Christopher was fired after trying to cross the US-Canadian border with illegal contraband.

Shortly after returning, Scotty teamed with Albert, who was dubbed the “Hip Hop Hippo”. The duo split in April 2002 when Albert turned on Scotty. Garland’s neck problems returned, and he underwent cervical fusion surgery in May.

He would be sidelined until October 2003, after which he formed a tag team with former ally Rikishi. In February 2004, the duo won the WWE Tag Team Championship from the Basham Brothers. They held it until April 2004 when they were defeated by Charlie Haas and Rico. In July, Rikishi was released, leaving Scotty to pursue a singles run once again. Over the next three years, Scotty wrestled primarily in dark matches and on WWE’s B-shows, Velocity and Heat until his release in May 2007.

Garland spent the following decade wrestling on the independent circuit and made sporadic appearances on WWE programming, most notably as part of a 15-man battle royal at the RAW 15th Anniversary Special in 2007, as one-third of a reunited Too Cool in January 2004, and being the surprise opponents for the Ascension at NXT Arrival in February 2014.

Garland, who became a firefighter and emergency medical technician in 2013, returned to the WWE as a trainer for their Performance Center in September 2016. Garland has two children and is an avid fan of all things Disney.

It’s a happy 47th birthday to Amy Marie Weber.

The actress and model was a part of the 2004 RAW Diva Search, finishing fourth (side nugget: she was presented as 27 at the time of the contest, but in reality she was in her mid-30s).

She still got a contract and landed on Smackdown as a member of John "Bradshaw" Layfield's Cabinet as his "image consultant". In Janaury 2005, she defeated fellow Diva Search contestant Joy Giovanni in her only WWE match via forfeit. She quit WWE in February 2005 alleging harassment.

Most recently, she's a dance pop singer, releasing Let it Rain in 2012.

It’s a happy 53rd birthday to Charles Shane Robinson.

Robinson, often called Little Naitch for his striking resemblance to wrestling legend Ric Flair, began refereeing in 1995, but gained national prominence when he joined WCW in 1999. He joined the WWF following the sale of WCW, and he remains with the company to this day.

It’s a happy 55th birthday for Achim Albrecht, best known to wrestling fans as Brakkus.

The German-born bodybuilder was the 1990 Mr. Universe and a top ten finisher in the 1991 Mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic from 1992 to 1994.

In September 1996, Albercht signed with the WWF and trained alongside Mark Henry and Dwayne Johnson (who went on to somewhat moderate success as The Rock). Albercht competed in dark matches as well as in the United States Wrestling Association and ECW from late 1996 to early 1998.

His WWF television debut didn’t come until March 1998 in a losing effort to The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust. In July 1998, Albrecht was eliminated in the first round of the Brawl for All tournament by Savio Vega. Later in the month, he scored his only only WWF televised win over Jesus. After leaving the WWF in early 1999, Albrecht briefly competed on the independent circuit before retiring due to recurring injuries.

Today, Albrecht is a personal trainer and sports nutritionist in San Francisco.

The best of cSs on this day:

2016: WWE announces 2 new matches for Raw on July 4 (Independence Day RAW to feature Dean Ambrose versus The Miz in a non-title match and a 16-man tag match)

2015: The CSS Creative Team's Script for an episode of Monday Night Raw (Cagesiders write an episode of RAW)

2014: Emma released by WWE (Tenille Dashwood gets her walking papers after getting busted for shoplifting; the suspension is walked back a couple hours later)

2013: Report: Sting 'has sent feelers WWE's way' (Sting may be testing the WWE waters, says Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio)

2012: Hulk Hogan admits the Impact Zone makes TNA look minor league (Hulk Hogan not a fan of the Impact Zone if you go by his response to a fan on Twitter)

2011: UFC 132 Results: Jeff Hougland Defeats Donny Walker By Unanimous Decision (Jeff Houghland makes his UFC debut with a win over fellow debutante Donny Walker)

2010: [Countdown to UFC 116] Great moments in Brock Lesnar history: Brock moment roundup, Brock smash door (A look back at some of Brock Lesnar’s greatest hits and misses)

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