34 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Tatsumi Fujinami defeated Riki Choshu by countout to win the WWF International Heavyweight Championship. Well, sorta.
Fujinami turned down the belt. A rematch was scheduled for eight days later in Calgary, but Choshu could not get into Canada, thus Fujinami was awarded the title via forfeit.
28 years ago today, the Adkisson family's World Class Wrestling Association (originally World Class Championship Wrestling) merged with the Memphis-based Continental Wrestling Association to form the United States Wrestling Association.
Originally called Big Time Wrestling, WCCW was born from the mind of promoter Ed Larrimore and president of Southwest Sports, Inc. Jack Adkisson (aka Fritz Von Erich) in 1966 after they bought the Dallas-Fort Worth wrestling territory and broke it away from Paul Boesch’s Houston territory. With the territory came the Dallas Sportatorium, which would play host to many WCCW events.
In 1969, Fritz Von Erich became the sole owner of the territory following McLemore’s passing. Fritz was the face of the territory through the late 1970s when he began pushing his sons in the spotlight: Kevin, David, Kerry, and Mike.
WCCW’s peak came in the early 1980s when the Von Erich family engaged in a long and heated war with the Fabulous Freebirds. But the promotion—and the family specifically—were dealt one tragedy after another. In February 1984, David Von Erich, at the time just 25 years old, died of a supposed drug overdose, though the official autopsy attributes his death to acute enteritis (an inflammation of the small intestine).
In early 1986, Gino Hernandez, another of WCCW’s major stars, was found dead in his apartment. Soon after, Jim Crockett Jr., then the president of the National Wrestling Alliance, pulled Ric Flair from all bookings in the state. In response, WCCW withdrew from the NWA.
In 1987, the Von Erichs suffered another tragedy when Mike committed suicide soon after being forced into retirement due to suffering from toxic shock syndrome. He was 23.
Also that year, in a bid to chase the surging WWF, WCCW joined a conglomerate of NWA-affiliated promotions which included the American Wrestling Association, Jim Crockett Promotions, and the Continental Wrestling Association as Pro Wrestling USA. The alliance dissolved following the critical and financial failure of AWA Superclash III in December 1988. Soon after, Ken Mantell and Fritz Von Erich sold WCCW to CWA’s Jerry Jarrett (Jarrett got 60% ownership, while the Kerry and Kevin Von Erich retained the rest).
To explain away the takeover in storyline, Devastation Inc. would disgrace and disparage the name of World Class Championship Wrestling to the point where it had to be destroyed (in reality, Jerry Jarrett, the new majority owner, was not allowed by the Adkissons to use the World Class name).
In what would be the final ever match for WCCW, Eric Embry defeat P.Y. Chu-Hi in a steel cage match.
On the undercard, Cactus Jack and Scott Braddock defeated Jeff Jarrett and Matt Borne to win the WCCW World Tag Team Championship. With WCCW being absorbed into the USWA, that technically makes Cactus and Scott the last team to hold the titles. They would carry over to the USWA, where they would lose the title just a week later back to Jarrett and Borne.
A side note: conspicuous by their absence in the post-match celebration were Kerry and Kevin Von Erich. As the celebration was happening, wrestlers tore down, stomped on, and spat on the old World Class banner. Longtime announcer Marc Lowrance and Chris Adams were in the celebration, but did not partake in the defacing of the banner out of respect for the Adkissons and the World Class name.
The USWA/WCCW merger did not last long: just a year later, longtime TV partner KTVT dropped their Saturday night program due to its graphic content, then Jerry Jarrett pulled USWA out of Dallas due to a revenue dispute.
Kevin Von Erich tried to promote the Sportatorium bringing back the World Class name, but with no TV deal and low attendance, the financial well quickly ran dry and the new World Class bottomed out by the end of 1990.
22 years ago today at SMW's Superbowl of Wrestling from Knoxville, Tennessee, The Heavenly Bodies (Jimmy Del Ray and Tom Pritchard) defeated The Thugs (Tony Anthony and Tracy Smothers) to win the SMW Tag Team Championship.
They would be the last champions in the promotion's history before the promotion shut down in December.
22 years ago today, WCW aired Collision in Korea.
The event, originally taped over two days in April, was co-promoted by New Japan Pro Wrestling. It was the first North American wrestling PPV to take place in North Korea.
With a reported combined attendance of 340,000 people (though this number is highly disputed), it's the largest attended pro wrestling event ever. Results below are matches that were broadcast on the PPV. For full results of the event, click here.
- Wild Pegasus defeated 2 Cold Scorpio.
- Yuji Nagata defeated Tokimitsu Ishizawa via submission.
- Masahiro Chono and Hiro Saito defeated El Samurai and Tadao Yasuda.
- Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto defeated Manami Toyota and Mariko Yoshida.
- Shinya Hashimoto fought Scott Norton to a 20-minute time limit draw for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
- Road Warrior Hawk defeated Tadao Yasuda.
- The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) defeated Hiroshi Hase and Kensuke Sasaki.
- Antonio Inoki defeated Ric Flair.
20 years ago today on the 100th episode of WCW Monday Nitro from Auburn Hills, Michigan (WWE Network link), Lex Luger defeated Hollywood Hogan via submission to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Of note, this wasn’t actually the 100th episode of Nitro. It was #99, but WCW counted the Internet-only Saturday Nitro from June 28, 1997 as an episode (as they had the full set and everything), thus this is in their mind Nitro 100.
The win ended Hogan's run as WCW champion just six days short of a full calendar yea, the second-longest reign in the title’s history (Hogan also holds the record for the most days, holding it for 469 days spanning parts of 1994 and 1995).
As for Luger, his second WCW world title reign—and his last—didn’t last long; Hogan won it back at Road Wild five days later.
11 years ago today, WWE announces that Jeff Hardy would soon rejoin the company.
Jeff’s first run with the company dated back to 1994 when he was just 16 years old, but was used as occasional enhancement talent until 1998 when he began teaming with his older brother (and fellow enhancement talent) Matt as the Hardy Boyz.
The duo became one of the most successful teams in WWE history, winning the WWF tag titles five times and the WCW tag titles once. Jeff himself would be a very prolific singles competitor, holding every singles championship in the company at least once (Intercontinental, European, Light Heavyweight, and Hardcore) but the WWF title.
Jeff’s run ended in disgrace in April 2003 when his erratic performances combined with his refusal to go to rehab to combat his drug addiction forced WWE’s hand (in a bit of trivia, Jeff’s final WWE match of his first run was against The Rock, who to date has not wrestled a match on RAW since).
After wrestling one match each for Ring of Honor and OMEGA, Jeff took a year-long sabbatical before turning up in TNA in June 2004. Hardy’s TNA run ended when he no-showed Final Resolution in December 2005 citing “travel problems” (it was the second time he no-showed a PPV that year); he was subsequently pulled off television and was released from the company six months later.
The following Monday, WWE aired highlight vignettes to promote his return, which would happen on August 21.
9 years ago today on RAW from Knoxville, Tennessee, Batista and John Cena defeated Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr.) to win the WWE World Tag Team Championship. The duo would lose the championships back to Legacy just one week later.
It’s a happy 40th birthday of Frank Gerdelman, but wrestling fans know him best known as Frankie Kazarian.
He had a cup of coffee in the WWE, but his best successes came in TNA, where he is a five-time X Division champion and twice tag team champion. He also won the PWG world title twice, once in 2003, and again in 2004.
After nearly a decade in TNA, he debuted in 2014 for Ring of Honor at Best in the World. He has two runs as ROH world tag team champion with Christopher Daniels as The Addiction. The two won Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Tag Team of the Year award for 2012 as Bad Influence in TNA.
Gerdleman is married to Tracy Brookshaw, who is best known from her time in TNA as Traci Brooks. The couple, married in 2010, have one son together.
It’s happy 51st birthday to Kensuke Sasaki.
Along with Yoshihiro Takayama, he is one of just two men to hold every major puroresu heavyweight championship (New Japan's IWGP Heavyweight Championship, which he held five times, the All Japan Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, and Pro Wrestling NOAH's GHC Heavyweight Championship).
Sasaki briefly held the WCW United States Championship in late 1995. Sasaki and his wife, fellow wrestler Akira Hokuto, ran their own independent company, Kensuke Office (later known as Diamond Ring) from 2005 until his retirement in 2014. The company served as a developmental territory for Pro Wrestling NOAH. The promotion folded following Sasaki's retirement.
Sasaki is married to fellow wrestler Akira Hokuto; Sasaki proposed to her on their first date together. The couple have been married since October 1995, and have two sons together, Kennosuke, age 18, and Seinnosuke, age 14. They also have an adopted son in Sasaki’s protege Katsuhiko Nakajima.
It’s a happy 56th birthday to Dean Simon, best known to wrestling fans as Dean Malenko.
Today, Malenko works as a road agent for WWE, but he's won just about everywhere he's been as a wrestler. He's a two-time ECW World Television Champion, four-time WCW Cruiserweight Champion, United States Champion, and tag team champion, and twice light heavyweight champion in the WWF.
The "Man of 1000 Holds" was the #1 ranked wrestler in the world according to Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 1997, and won Best Technical Wrestler from Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 1996 and 1997.
Today would have been the 105th birthday of Clara Peller.
Peller, a long-time manicurist in Chicago, is best known for her role in fast-food chain Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” campaign in early 1984 (Peller at the time was 81 when the campaign launched). Sales for the chain jumped 31%, and Peller became a pop-culture icon (and very rich: working for scale for her very first commercial, just $317.40, she allegedly got $500,000 for her follow-up ad eight months later).
Despite that, Wendy’s let her go a year later when she appeared in an ad for Prego Pasta Plus spaghetti sauce. Sales for Wendy’s slumped for the remainder of the decade, only recovering when its founder, Dave Thomas, began appearing in humorous ads.
Wrestling connection: she got to give her famous catchphrase at Wrestlemania 2 for the second main event, a 20-man battle royal featuring WWF wrestlers and NFL players.
It would be Peller’s final significant public appearance. On August 11, 1987, just nine days after her 85th birthday, Peller died of congestive heart failure.
The best of cSs on this day:
2016: More on Nikki Bella’s comeback and WWE future (Nikki Bella training with Bayley, Natalya, and MMA fighter/wrestler Shayna Basler; Wrestling Observer Newsletter says Bella’s likely a part-time wrestler going forward)
2015: GIF: What were Charlotte and Brie Bella doing here? (Charlotte, Brie Bella, time, and reality stop during a women’s tag team match)
2014: Hi, My Name is: Natalya (Cagesiders weigh in on the the third-generation Hart)
2013: Scary incident with BJ Whitmer overshadows ROH All-Star card in Toronto (BJ Whitmer suffers a possible neck injury on apron piledriver at All-Star Extravaganza; Whitmer
2012: WWE considering new Saturday morning programming (WWE sent out a survey teasing the possibility of a new Saturday morning show—Saturday Morning Slam would debut just three weeks later)
2011: Will Mick Foley have one more match at WWE WrestleMania 28? (Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports Mick Foley will appear in WWE ‘12; possible Wrestlemania match imminent—he ultimately doesn’t wrestle at the event)
2010: Could Linda McMahon Becoming A Senator Actually Be A Bad Thing For The WWE? (WWE’s change from TV-14 to TV-PG may be politically motivated)
2009: There are going to be a lot more RAW guest GMs! (Businessweek says Freddie Prinze Jr., Bob Barker, and Reverend Al Sharpton on the list of possible RAW guest general managers)