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This Day in Wrestling History (August 1): #August1Warning


140 years ago today, George Karl Julius Hackenschmidt, famed pro wrestler and strongman, was born.

Born to a Baltic German father and Estonian Swedish mother on August 1, 1877, Hackenschmidt, the oldest of three children, devoted much of his life to physical development. He spent a lot of time in the gym and took up a number of sports, including running, swimming, cycling, and weightlifting. His feats of strength astounded anyone that witnessed them. Among them: lifting a small horse, lifting 276 pounds with one hand, and bench-pressing a 335-pound barbell from the wrestler's bridge position.

After graduating high school in 1895, he worked in a factory as a blacksmith's apprentice. He also joined the Athletic and Cycling Club of Revel (today known as Tallinn). While he was a prized cyclist, wrestling and weightlifting were his first loves. After taking on Greco-Roman wrestler and strongman Georg Lurich in 1896, Hackenschmidt began leaning toward wrestling. Two years later, he left for St. Petersburg, Russia.

He joined their Athletic and Cycling Club in 1898, and under the training of Dr. Vladislav von Krajeweski, he quickly became a competent wrestler. He began his career in April 1898, but army duty in early 1899 put his wrestling dreams on hold. Right after his service, Hackenschmidt won the Russian championship.

The championships would keep coming for Georg. In 1900, he won a six-week tournament to claim the championships of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The next year, he won world title tournaments in Vienna and Paris. In fact, he won virtually everywhere he went. By 1903, Hackenschmidt was commanding audiences in music halls, opera halls, and theaters. He'd wrestle as many as five times a night, winning them all with minimal effort. Hackenschmidt at the height of his popularity was admired by men and adored by women. His humbling, soft-spoken, yet intelligent attitude garnered praise even from President Theodore Roosevelt, who once said if he wasn't President of the United States, he would like to be Georg Hackenschmidt.

In 1904, Hackenschmidt took on Ahmed Madrali. Nicknamed the "Terrible Turk", he was under the charge of Antonio Pieri, who fell twice to Hackenschmidt and was brought in to tame the "Russian Lion". The anticipated bout packed the Olympia exhibition center in London to capacity, and traffic was backed up into Piccadilly in anticipation for the bout. The bout lasted less than three minutes. Hackenschmidt picked up Madrali and threw him down on his arm, dislocating his shoulder. The two met again later in the year. Madrali lasted longer, but he still went down to Hackenschmidt. In July, he was pushed against American rising star Tom Jenkins, but Georg still won in two straight falls under Greco-Roman rules. The two met again under freestyle rules in Madison Square Garden, and Hackenschmidt won again in two straight falls.

After defeating Jenkins, Hackenschmidt would hold the world title for the next three years. In April 1908 in Chicago's Dexter Park, Hackenschmidt took on American Frank Gotch. Gotch was in peak physical condition. Hackenschmidt, not so much, as he refused to train publicly and was barred from training at the Chicago Athletic Club. The two bout went more than two hours and had its share of foul tactics, but in the end, Hackenschmidt quit the fall and surrendered the title to Gotch. He shook his hand, went to his dressing room, and never returned to the ring. Though he was quick to praise Gotch at first, he reversed course, complaining of Gotch and Americans in general and their style of wrestling.

The two met three and a half years later again in Chicago, this time at Comiskey Park. The crowd of nearly 30,000 produced an $87,000 gate, then a record for a wrestling event (over $2 million in today's dollars) would watch one of the most controversial rematches in wrestling history. Hackenschmidt claimed he was injured in preparation for the match and that Gotch's backers paid people off to injure Hackenschmidt. The injury was ultimately declared not serious and the match was on as scheduled. It was more or less a massacre: Gotch needed only 20 minutes to defeat Hackenschmidt in consecutive falls, the second won by submission when Frank locked George in his toe hold. This time around, Hackenschmidt was full of praise for Gotch, applauding his strategy to go after the knee, saying he would have done the same had the roles been reversed.

Hackenschmidt retired due to a knee injury while preparing for a match with Stanislaus Zbyzsko to take place the following summer. The two losses to Gotch were believed to be the only times he had suffered defeat in his career. Though Hackenschmidt remained in the public eye following retirement due to his contributions in wrestling (he wrote a few books on health, wrestling, and bodybuilding), he had lived a relatively quiet life. But even into his mid-80s, he had a strict workout and diet regimen.

While hospitalized in Dulwich, England, a suburb of London, Hackenschmidt died of natural causes on February 19, 1968. He was 90 years old. His body was cremated at West Norwood Cemetary in London, where his headstone has him as George Hackenschmidt.

Hackenschmidt left a lasting legacy in the wrestling world, often being credited with popularizing catch-as-catch-can wrestling in England. Wrestling historians call the Gotch-Hackenschmidt rivalry the height of the Golden Age of Wrestling. Their exploits were national and international news and also launched amateur wrestling outfits in the United States. There is a museum dedicated to him in his honor in Tartu that opened in 1969. Not surprisingly, Hackenschmidt was inducted in the inaugural Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class in 1996 and is a member of the inaugural class of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 2002.

45 years ago today, wrestler and promoter Raymond Fred “Ray” Gunkel died of heart trauma following a match in Savannah, Georgia. He was 48.

Born February 26, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois, Gunkel was a two-sport athlete in college for Purdue University (he competed in wrestling in football, and was an All-American in wrestling in his junior and senior years). He was a national runner-up in wrestling to Dick Hutton (who went on to a modest pro wrestling career himself) in 1947.

Initially going to college to pursue a career in teaching, he instead became a professional wrestler following school, debuting in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1948. He would spend the majority of his early career wrestling in Texas under the management of former heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey. His first title came in September 1951 when he defeated Duke Keomuka for the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (he would have three total runs with the title, the last coming in February 1953). He was also a successful tag team champion, winning the NWA Texas tag titles seven times with six different partners.

After his last tag title reign (it was with Amazing Zuma) ended, Gunkel moved to Georgia, where he would wrestle for the remainder of his career. He was an even bigger success in Georgia, winning the NWA Georgia heavyweight championship twice, and the NWA Georgia tag team titles five times, four of them with Buddy Fuller. He would hold the Georgia version of the NWA International tag titles seven times with six partners and the state’s version of the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship seven times.

On August 1, 1972, Gunkel was punched in the chest by Ox Baker. The punch created a hematoma, which led to a blood clot. Though Gunkel went on to win the match, the blood clot soon turned fatal. The hematoma swelled to about the size of a gumball, then broke off, turning into a blood clot. The clot reached his heart, killing him just before 11pm that evening. Gunkel was 48.

An autopsy performed the next day declared Gunkel’s death was accidental due to injury to his heart during the match. The autopsy also revealed that Gunkel had an undiagnosed arteriosclerosis (basically, heart disease), but it was not directly connected with his death.

Following Gunkel’s death, promoters Eddie Graham, Ed and Lester Welch, and Paul Jones pushed Ray’s widow Ann out of the company and subsequently shut down ABC Booking. They would form a new company under the name of Georgia Championship Wrestling. Ann would start her own company soon after in the All-South Wrestling Alliance. The two even had competing weekly shows airing back-to-back for a brief period on WTGC (which would go on to become WTBS, later TBS). Most of Gunkel’s old crew joined Ann’s ASWA, but Georgia Championship Wrestling had the backing of the National Wrestling Alliance. The ASWA never stood a chance. Ann sold her promotion in November 1974, just two years after its formation.

In 2008, Gunkel was posthumously inducted into the professional wing of the International Wrestling Hall of Fame.

23 years ago today on Monday Night RAW from Youngstown, Ohio, Shawn Michaels defeated Razor Ramon. This was Michaels’ first bout since his defeat in a ladder match at Wrestlemania X.

On the same show, Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano fought to a double countout. This was Bull’s first match with the WWF since March 1986.

Also returning on the show: Vince McMahon. The WWF boss/commentator had been dealing with his steroid trial. About two weeks prior, McMahon was acquitted on conspiracy to distribute steroids. He took more than a few opportunities to gloat

Also taped that evening was Summerslam Spectacular, a one-hour Summerslam hype special that aired on August 21. The show re-aired the next night in place of RAW.

  • Lex Luger defeated Crush.
  • Bam Bam Bigelow & IRS defeated The 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly.
  • Razor Ramon defeated Todd Becker.
  • Bull Nakano defeated Heidi Lee Morgan.
  • Diesel defeated Typhoon.
  • The Undertaker (Brian Lee) defeated Sonny Rogers.

11 years ago today on ECW on Sci-FI from New York City (WWE Network link), CM Punk makes his WWE in-ring debut with a submission victory over Justin Credible.

The show’s most infamously remembered for the main event between Big Show and Batista for the ECW World Championship. Both competitors got booed throughout the match, and there were very vocal chants against the bout, including “Boring!”, “Same old shit!”, and “Change the channel!” The bout ended in a disqualification win for Batista when Show title-shotted Batista.

It would be WWE’s final appearance in the Hammerstein Ballroom, but this one isn’t on the vocal fans. That honor goes to the just as infamous December to Dismember. Its record low buyrate and poor reception caused WWE to abandon single-branded PPVs, including a planned third One Night Stand event in the Hammerstein Ballroom in June 2007.

6 years ago today on RAW from Indianapolis, Indiana (WWE Network link) Beth Phoenix last eliminates the Bella Twins (Brie and Nikki) to earn a WWE Divas Championship match at Summerslam.

The big story, however, is what happened during the match, and chances are, you may not have seen it in its original airing. At 45 seconds of the above video, Gail Kim eliminates herself from the match by going under the bottom rope. As she later explained, she was instructed to be out of the match within the first minute, so she eliminated herself.

It would turn out to be her final appearance in the WWE. Four days later, she announced via Twitter that she quit the company. WWE struck back, not granting her an early release from her contract (she had two months left on it). Kim was benched until her contract expired on September 30.

Gail soon returned to TNA, where she would win the Knockouts Championship five more times (she was the promotion’s inaugural Knockouts champion in October 2007) and the Knockouts tag titles once. Last year, she was inducted into the promotion’s Hall of Fame. Last month, Kim said she will retire at the end of the year.

4 years ago today on Impact from Wichita Falls, Texas, Tito Ortiz made his return to TNA as the infamous August 1 Warning.

Ortiz was last seen in TNA in 2005 when he refereed a pair of NWA world title bouts on PPV (Hard Justice between Jeff Jarrett and AJ Styles and Bound for Glory between Jarrett and Rhino).

The #August1Warning as they called it, was heavily promoted on TNA’s programming and on social media (it even had its own Twitter account).

Coming at a time when TNA wasn’t really in a position to bring in new talent (it had released about a dozen wrestlers two weeks prior, including a pregnant-at-the-time Madison Rayne and Jesse Sorensen, who was still recovering from a broken neck), the addition of TNA proved to be an unpopular idea with fans. But the orders to bring in the former UFC light heavyweight champion didn’t come from TNA.

It turned out that the angle was mandated by Spike to promote an upcoming Bellator matchup between Ortiz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson that would take place at their very first PPV—a fight that never took place because Ortiz got injured just days before the fight was set to take place.

The heavy promotion didn’t do any good either, as viewership for the episode dropped 5% from the prior week (1.25 million viewers for this episode compared to 1.31 million for the week prior).

In a side note, shortly after Ortiz turned on the Main Event Mafia to join the Aces and 8s, both Ortiz and Jackson were pulled from TNA programming by Bellator themselves, making the whole #August1Warning...entirely pointless.

2 years ago today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ronda Rousey defeated Bethe Correia by knockout in just 34 seconds to retain the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship. Post-match, she dedicated the victory to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, who died just a day earlier in his home.

The 34 seconds is actually longer than her previous two fights combined (14 seconds over Cat Zingano and 16 seconds over Alexis Davis). It would be the last of her six successful title defenses, and the last time Rousey won an MMA fight; Rousey would be defeated by Holly Holm in November 2015 by knockout. After a year away, Ronda was defeated in just 48 seconds at UFC 207 by Amanda Nunes.

It’s a happy 45th birthday today to Devon Edgar Hughes, best known to wrestling fans as D-Von Dudley.

One half of the famous--and infamous--Dudley Boyz in ECW and WWE (later Team 3D in TNA), Hughes collected two dozen championships, most of them tag team titles across TNA, WWE, ECW, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. In October 2014, he and Mark Lomonaco, aka Bubba Ray Dudley (later Brother Ray, then Bully Ray) was inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame.

After a one-year reunion in WWE in parts of 2015 and 2016, Hughes retired from wrestling and is now a producer for the company.

It’s a happy 52nd birthday to Michael Laauli Hayner, best known to wrestling fans as Prince Iaukea.

Hayner was a two-time WCW cruiserweight champion and in 1997 won the WCW World Television Championship. Today, Hayner owns an independent promotion in American Samoa and New Zealand, and wrestles himself along with his son Nick for a few small independents in Florida.

The best of cSs on this day:

2016: Update on wrestlers returning to WWE (potential spoilers) (PWInsider reports Jinder Mahal, Rosa Mendes, and Curt Hawkins are on their way back to the company)

2015: UFC President Dana White calls out pro wrestling as fake; wrestling world freaks out over it (Dana White takes a shot at wrestling and WWE Network)

2014: Hulk Hogan killed his daughter's marriage to Dallas Cowboys player Phil Costa (Hulk Hogan talks about his daughter Brooke’s engagement to Phil Costa)

2013: #August1Warning reveal: Tito Ortiz is the TNA mystery man (Tito Ortiz is the #August1Warning)

2012: Billy Gunn back with WWE for one more match? (Figure Four Weekly says WWE was impressed with Billy Gunn, teasing a possible New Age Outlaws reunion)

2011: WWE's Sin Cara advertised to return on August 20th in Tacoma (Jason Powell of says Sin Cara to return from suspension at Smackdown house show in late August)

2010: UFC on Versus 2 Results: Jon Jones Dominates Vladimir Matyushenko (Jon Jones TKO’s Vladimir Matyushenko in less than two minutes

2009: The Prodigal Son Returns (Tito Ortiz rejoins UFC, ending a year-long feud)

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