53 years ago today, Antonio Inoki makes his professional wrestling debut in Honolulu, Hawaii.
24 years ago today, Adolfo Bresciano, best known to wrestling fans as Dino Bravo, was brutally murdered in his home in Vimont, Quebec, Canada. He was 44.
Born August 6, 1948 in Italy, Bresciano began wrestling in 1970 under the training of Gino Brito. Bresciano often teamed with his mentor as his billed cousin. Bresciano would adopt the name Dino Bravo, based on a 1960's wrestler who teamed with Dominic Denucci. His most notable tag team pairing of the time was with "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods, with whom he held the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Jim Crockett Promotions version). He also feuded with Blackjack Mulligan over the United States championship and had several shots at Harley Race and the NWA world title.
In 1978, Bravo and Denucci captured the WWWF Tag Team Championship from Professor Tanaka and Mr. Fuji. The duo would hold them through the spring, losing them in June to the Yukon Lumberjacks. Bravo teamed with King Tonga (later known as Haku and Meng), but the duo never found success. Bravo quit the WWF in 1986 when a scheduled main event with he and Hulk Hogan was cancelled on short notice. The reason: allegedly, the WWF did not want the Montreal crowd to cheer Bravo over Hogan (Bravo by this point had become a major star in the Montreal area). When Bravo found out, he left.
He wouldn't stay gone for long. He was back a year later, and noticeably bigger (possibly due to steroids). He dyed his hair blond and was a part of Luscious Johnny Valiant's stable with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and Brutus Beefcake. Beefcake was kicked from the stable at Wrestlemania III; a few months later, Bravo began a singles run.
His singles run emphasized Bravo as a strongman, eschewing technical wrestling for power-based maneuvers. Legitimately strong (it's been said he could lift more than 500 pounds), Bravo went after the bench press world record at the 1988 Royal Rumble by trying to bench press 715 pounds (at the time, the record was 705.5 pounds). With the help of Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Bravo claimed the lift was a success, and would begin calling himself "The World's Strongest Man". Bravo feuded with Don Muraco, fellow strongman Ken Patera, Ron Garvin, and Jim Garvin. Bravo for much of his strongman era wore the Quebecois Fleur-de-lis and was managed by Frenchy Martin. Following Martin's departure, Bravo joined Jimmy Hart's stable, teaming with another Canadian in Earthquake, and feuding with Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and Tugboat.
After losing to Kerry Von Erich at Wrestlemania VII in 1991, he mostly disappeared from television, though he had a face run when the WWF came to Montreal. After a European tour in April 1992, Bravo called it a career. Post-retirement, he trained wrestlers in Montreal.
On March 10, 1993, Bresciano was found shot dead in his home while watching hockey in Vimont, Laval, Quebec. He was shot 17 times: seven in the head, and ten in the torso. Though there were allegations that he had been involved in a cigarette smuggling ring, it was never officially proven. Rick Martel, a fellow Canadian wrestler and friend of Bresciano, believes his popularity in the Montreal area upset some members of the mafia. Bresciano, a nephew of Montreal crime boss Vic Cotroni by marriage, may have been linked to Cotroni's organization. In the days prior to his death, Bresciano confided to friends that he knew his death was imminent. Bresciano's murder has never been officially solved.
24 years ago today in London, England, Sting defeated Big Van Vader to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
21 years ago today on Nitro from Winston-Salem, North Carolina (WWE Network link), The Steiner Brothers made their surprise return to WCW.
Rick and Scott were last seen nationally in 1994 for the WWF. After appearing in the Royal Rumble match, the brothers were sparingly used until leaving the company in April. More recently, the two had a brief three-month tenure in ECW.
In their return bout, the Steiners were defeated by one of their old rivals, the Road Warriors.
21 years ago today on RAW from San Antonio, Texas (WWE Network link), Mark Henry made his WWF television debut in a pre-taped segment, during which he gorilla press slammed Jerry Lawler.
15 years ago today on RAW from Detroit, Michigan (WWE Network link), The nWo (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan) defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in a three-on-two handicap match.
In a bit of trivia, this was the only time Hogan and Austin were in a match together in a WWF ring.
14 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kurt Angle defeated Brock Lesnar to retain the WWE Championship.
The bout, the billed main event of Wrestlemania XIX, had been moved up with Angle needing neck surgery, perhaps teasing the possibility of Lesnar winning the title and he going into the event as champion with a different challenger (possibly Chris Benoit).
The win, taking officially 77 seconds due to shenanigans by Team Angle (Kurt had swapped in for his brother Eric Angle), makes Angle the first man to defeat Lesnar on television.
11 years ago today, Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling both held events at the New Alhambra Arena (the ECW Arena) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ROH presented Arena Warfare, while CZW presented When 2 Worlds Collide.
To drive home the interpromotional rivalry, fans of the two promotions sat on opposite sides of the arena.
- The Rottweilers (Homicide & Ricky Reyes) defeated Jason Blade & Kid Mikaze, The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe), and The Ring Crew Express (Dunn & Marcos) in a scramble match to become the #1 contender for the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
- Roderick Strong defeated Jimmy Yang by submission.
- Austin Aries defeated Matt Sydal.
- Irish Airborne (Dave Crist & Jake Crist) defeated Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke.
- Bryan Danielson defeated Alex Shelley to retain the ROH World Championship.
- Samoa Joe defeated Colt Cabana and Christopher Daniels in a three-way dance. Following the bout, a locker-room clearing brawled ensued between ROH and CZW wrestlers. Witnesses at the event called the brawl one of the largest in Ring of Honor history, with fights spilling out into the crowd and parking lot. BJ Whitmer, who instigated the brawl, was tortured and assaulted by the CZW locker room as they had set up for their show.
When 2 Worlds Collide:
- Pandora's Box (Adam Flash, B-Boy, and Sonjay Dutt) defeated Nate Webb, Sexxxy Eddy, and The Messiah.
- Hallowicked defeated Andy Sumner and Jigsaw and Larry Sweeney in a four-way dance.
- Justice Pain defeated El Generico.
- Nick Gage defeated Danny Havoc and DJ Hyde in a three-way “panes of glass” match to retain the CZW Ultraviolent Underground Championship.
- Kevin Steen defeated Super Dragon to retain the CZW Iron Man Championship.
- Niles Young defeated Derek Frazier, Cheech, Cloudy, Sabian, and The Heretic in a ladder match to win the CZW Junior Heavyweight Championship.
- Generation Next (Austin Aries, Matt Sydal, and Roderick Strong) defeated BLKOUT (Eddie Kingston & Ruckus) and Necro Butcher in an interpromotional match. Post-match, Generation Next continued to beat on BLKOUT and Necro Butcher until CZW wrestlers and their commissioner Lobo cleared the ring.
10 years ago today, TNA presented Destination X from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.
- The Latin American Xchange (Homicide and Hernandez) defeated Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon) in a Ghetto Brawl.
- James Storm and Jacqueline Moore defeated Petey Williams and Gail Kim in a double bullrope match.
- Senshi defeated Austin Starr in a "crossface chickenwing" match.
- The Voodoo Kin Mafia (B.G. James and Kip James) defeated The Heartbreakers (Antonio Thomas and Romeo Roselli).
- Chris Sabin defeated Jerry Lynn 2-1 in a best of three falls match to retain the X Division Championship.
- Rhino defeated A.J. Styles in an Elevation X match.
- Kurt Angle defeated Scott Steiner.
- Sting defeated Abyss in a Last Rites match. During the match, there were very audible chants of "Fire Russo!", at the time the head of TNA creative.
- Christian Cage defeated Samoa Joe to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
10 years ago today in a battle royal in Tokyo, Japan, the Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship changes hands 25 times in a single match.
Similar to the WWE’s Hardcore Championship, the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship is contested at all times as long as there is a referee present. Unlike in WWE, an official referee doesn’t even have to be on the premises; just as long as someone is there to count the pinfall, the title change counts. The belt is most often contested in the promotion in ten-minute battle royal bouts, where anyone—or anything—scoring a pin or submission over the champion takes the belt.
Sempai entered the event as champion, but during the battle royal, Naoshi Sano wins it six times, Yuki Miyazaki wins it six times, Taneichi Kacho wins it three times, Kikutaro wins it four times, Naomi Susan wins it once, and Exciting Yoshida wins it twice, holding it last when the time expired. Shortly after the battle royal ended, a ladder fell on top of Yoshida, and the referee counted the fall for the ladder, making the ladder that fell on him the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion.
It's not the first time this has happened: a ladder claimed the title from Yoshihiro Sakai and Sansiro Takagi in separate instances in 2003. The ladder actually has a decent run as champion, holding it for three weeks before losing it to Cocolo, a dog. It's also not the first nonhuman to win the title: stuffed dolls, posters, a baseball bat, a chair, a cat, a monkey, Vince McMahon’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, even the very belt itself has logged in time as champion. The entire audience at Beyond Wrestling’s Americanrana ‘16 was briefly champion as well, making them probably the largest collective of people to hold one championship simultaneously in wrestling history.
Kotatsu is the current champion; he’s on his second reign as champion. He won the title from Hyoto Echizenya on February 4.
9 years ago today, WWE announces that Jeff Hardy had been suspended for 60 days following his second violation of the WWE's Wellness Policy.
His first violation came back in July 2007, just weeks after the death of Chris Benoit, but before the Signature Pharmacy scandal that resulted in ten suspensions in September.
Hardy is the first wrestler of consequence to be suspended after the policy was amended the previous November to include that violators' names would be made public. The suspension obviously meant Hardy would miss Wrestlemania XXIV, where he was the prohibitive favorite to win the Money in the Bank ladder match.
8 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,former Xtreme Pro Wrestling owner Rob Zicari and his wife Janet Romano, aka Rob Black and Lizzy Borden, plead guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to distribute obscene materials. Zicari also plead guilty to one count of the same charge on behalf of his video company.
The indictment back in 2003 stemmed from a 2002 film featuring his wife that had scenes of simulated rape.
The raid and subsequent obscenity charges would contribute to the shutdown of XPW in 2003. Facing a maximum of fifty years in prison and five million dollars in fines, Zicari and Romano were sentenced to a year and one day in federal prison in July 2009.
8 years ago today, former WWF Intercontinental champion, NWA world champion, and mixed martial arts legend Ken Shamrock was suspended for one year and fined $2,500 by the California State Athletic Commission after he was found to have tested positive for three different types of steroids.
The ruling comes less than two weeks before Shamrock was set to face Bobby Lashley in a MMA/boxing event in Pensacola, Florida. Shamrock initally denied taking steroids, but admitted to doing such in a 2014 interview.
2 years ago today, Family Wrestling Entertainment presented FWE XIX: Hennigan vs. Styles from St. Patrick’s Church in New York City.
It would turn out to be the last show the New York-based independent ever put on. Later in the month, three April shows scheduled were cancelled. An event scheduled for October was also cancelled.
- Johnny Gargano defeated Bandido Jr.
- Ben Ortiz, Kai Katana, and Sam Shields defeated Jorge Santi, Mike Law, and Wes Draven.
- Orange Cassidy defeated VSK.
- Chuck Taylor defeated Robbie E.
- The Juicy Product (David Starr & JT Dunn) defeated Jigsaw & Tony Nese.
- Shelly Martinez defeated Deonna Purrazzo.
- Tommy Dreamer defeated Chris Hero.
- The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) defeated The Colony (Fire Ant & Silver Ant) to retain the FWE Tag Team Championship.
- Paul London & Veda Scott defeated The World’s Cutest Tag Team (Candice LeRae & Joey Ryan). As a result of the win, Scott won LeRae’s FWE Women’s Championship. Paul London’s FWE Tri-Borough Championship was also at stake in the match.
- AJ Styles defeated John Hennigan 2-1 in a best of three falls match to win the FWE World Heavyweight Championship.
BONUS! From 15 years ago today, the RAW before Wrestlemania X8 is centered around, of all things, Triple H and Stephanie’s bulldog Lucy. No, seriously. Full episode’s here via WWE Network.
The best of cSs on this day:
2016: WWE Roadblock predictions: Triple H vs. Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar vs. Bray Wyatt, more! (Geno, Sean, and Bill Hanstock pick the winners for Roadblock)
2015: John Cena talks creating his current character, says he doesn't 'want to offend anyone' in WWE's audience (Cena in an interview with USA Today says he doesn’t want his character to offend anyone—his past actions may say otherwise though)
2014: Cageside Seats Worst Gimmick Tournament First Round Match-ups and Schedule (cSs presents the field for the Worst Gimmick Ever tournament)
2013: Video: WWE and Undertaker pay tribute to Paul Bearer on Monday Night Raw (WWE drops a brilliant tribute video to Paul Bearer, while Undertaker closes the show with a tribute of his own)
2012: Is the onscreen friction between John Cena and The Rock real? (Wade Keller of PWTorch says WWE management is intentionally stoking the fires of the rivalry)
2010: Is UFC finally feeling the effects of overexposure through running too many major shows? (After a disappointing buyrate for UFC 110, people are asking if too many shows is hurting the brand)