1764
Richard Carew of London publishes The Survey Of Cornwall. In it, he describes contemporary English wrestling in detail. According to Carew, Cornwall wrestlers wore short jackets and gripped one another’s sleeve and shoulders as in modern judo. A standard trick involved trapping the right arm and then backheel tripping. The Cornwall style was called “in-play.” Devonshire wrestlers wore straw shinguards and clogs, and were allowed to kick one another in the shins. Otherwise their techniques were similar. The Devonshire style was called “in-play.” Lancashire wrestlers wore tight jackets or underwear. The players stood well apart with their knees bent and hands outstretched. While kicking, hair-pulling, pinching, and the twisting of arms and fingers were prohibited, the full-nelson hold to the neck was allowed, probably because it is so easily escaped by standing wrestlers. Lancashire wrestling was also known as “catch-as-catch-can,” and is an ancestor of both Olympic free-style and American professional wrestling.

1769
Near Westminster Bridge in London, a former cavalryman named Philip Astley establishes England’s first modern circus. The first shows were mostly equestrian acts, but within a few years they also included acrobatic acts, clowns, and humorous skits. In 1806, Astley moved his amphitheater into a building called the Olympic Theatre, and added boxing, wrestling, and horseracing to his venue.

1798
During a North Country wrestling meet held at Soukerry, England, the 18-year old William Richardson of Caldbeck scores his first professional wrestling victory. A joiner by trade, Richardson never had a single fall recorded against him between 1801 and 1809, despite attending nearly every event in the country. A strongly built man with round shoulders and back, Richardson stood 5’9” in height and weighed about 200 pounds. His official prize was usually a leather belt with his name on it and enough cloth to make a pair of pants. As with boxing, the real money rode on the side bets.

1811
The Marquis of Queensberry and the Earl of Lonsdale are among the 12,000 spectators who watch the wrestling matches held during the annual horse races at Carlisle. The promoters of the races preferred wrestling to boxing because the wrestling crowds were judged less likely to riot.

Circa 1830
Irish immigrants introduce collar-and-elbow wrestling into New England. The style was often used by the Irish to settle arguments, and was known as “collar-and-elbow” after the initial stances taken as defenses against kicking, punching, and rushing. The style became widely known during the American Civil War, and formed the basis for the American professional wrestling techniques of the 1870s and 1880s.

1837
The Highland Games are introduced at Braemar, Scotland. These games were the progenitors of modern track-and-field, and of professional sports in general. They also helped popularize Cumberland wrestling, which had been popular mainly in London and Northern England. To ensure proper decorum, a prize of a gold guinea was awarded for the neatest costume. (Said costume consisted of long underwear, stocking feet, and a pair of shorts.) To ensure equitable matches, four weight divisions were used. Matches only began when the wrestlers had fair holds behind one another’s backs, or five minutes had passed. Victory was determined by best of three falls. Failure to keep one’s hands gripped behind the other’s back or touching the ground with any part of the body other than the feet constituted a fall.

1845
May 25: William Muldoon is born in Belfast, New York.

1856
Due to a spate of crudely fixed matches, professional wrestling and savate are banned in Paris. This causes the Montesquieu salon to become a restaurant, and many French boxers and wrestlers to move to Belgium, Greece, and the Americas.

1873
Wrestling’s first masked wrestler enters the ring, in Paris. He is known simply as The Masked Wrestler.

1874
Viro Small, a former slave from Beaufort, South Carolina, becomes North America’s first known African American professional wrestler. Small’s training involved hauling beer kegs and sauerkraut barrels around New York City. His venue was a tavern named the “Bastille Of The Bowery.”

1877
February 6: William Muldoon wins the Greco-Roman championship from French champion Christol in two straight falls of 10 and 17 minutes. He also wins about $2,000 in side bets.

1878
April 27: Frank Gotch is born on a farm near Humboldt, Iowa.

July 20: George Hackenschmidt, later nicknamed “The Russian Lion,” is born in Dorpat, Russia; his mother is Swedish, his father is German.



1880
January 19: William Muldoon defeats Thebaud Bauer at Gilmore’s Gardens (later site of Madison Square Garden) in a best-of-three-falls match to emerge with the Greco-Roman championship. The bout draws more than 3,000 fans. By defeating Thebaud Bauer of Germany, William Muldoon becomes the United States’ first famous wrestling champion. An avid physical culturalist, Muldoon also had done some prize fighting. He preferred wrestling, though, as the purses were larger: $7 to the winner and $3 to the loser, instead of $3 to the winner and $2 to the loser.

1881
The National Police Gazette coins the phrase “the championship of the world.” The idea was to sell newspapers describing a bare-knuckle boxing match between the Irish-born Paddy Ryan and the Boston-born John L. Sullivan.

1885
September 26: Australia’s first professional wrestling bout, William Miller vs. Clarence Whistler, is staged at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal. Whistler won, but died afterward. The cause of death was internal bleeding caused by ingesting glass while eating a champagne glass after the match.

1887
Wrestler William Muldoon faces off against boxer John L. Sullivan before a crowd of about 2,000 in a baseball park in Gloucester, MA. According to boxing and wrestling historian Nat Fleischer, Muldoon slammed Sullivan, and “the crowd rushed in and stopped the combat.”

Circus magnate P.T. Barnum hires wrestler Ed Decker, the “Little Wonder From Vermont,” as a sideshow attraction. Barnum offered to pay $100 to anyone who could pin the 5’6”, 150-pound Decker, and $50 to anyone who could avoid being pinned within three minutes.

March 14: Evan “Strangler” Lewis (the original Strangler Lewis) beats Joe Acton in Chicago, IL, to win the American Catch-as-Catch Can championship.

1891
Richard Kyle Fox and the National Police Gazette sponsor a women’s championship wrestling match in New York City. To prevent hair pulling, the women cut their hair short, and to keep everything “decent,” the women wore tights. (Not all matches were so prim; in 1932, Frederick Van Wyck recollected some matches of his youth that were between “two ladies, with nothing but trunks on.”) Fox’s wrestlers included Alice Williams and Sadie Morgan.

1893
March 2: Evan “Strangler” Lewis defeats Ernest Roeber in New Orleans, Louisiana, to unify the American Catch-as-Catch Can and American Greco-Roman championships. The match is a best of five falls with alternating catch-as-catch can and Greco-Roman falls.

1894
April 5: Joe Stecher is born in Dodge, Nebraska.

Despite his comparatively small size (5’10”, 170 pounds), Martin “Farmer” Burns wins the U.S. catch-as-catch-can heavyweight championship. Following this success, Burns started training other athletes, including Frank Gotch, who was arguably the best North American wrestler of the 20th century.

1895
April 20: Martin “Farmer” Burns defeats Evan “Strangler” Lewis three falls to two in Chicago, to capture the American heavyweight championship.

1896
September: George Hackenschmidt makes his wrestling debut.

1897
January 2: Jim Londos is born Chris Theophelos in Argos, Greece. The youngest of 13 children, Londos’ father was a Greek amateur champion.

October 26: Dan McLeod beats Martin “Farmer” Burns in Indianapolis, Indiana, to capture the American heavyweight championship.

1899
April 2: Frank Gotch makes his pro debut, defeating Marshall Green in Humboldt, Iowa.

1900
After winning the Russian national wrestling championships, George Hackenschmidt follows up with convincing wins in Dresden, Budapest, and Paris. After these triumphs, Hackenschmidt then sets up camp in a London music hall. Hackenschmidt offered £10 to any British wrestler he failed to throw in 10 minutes, £25 to any British wrestler he failed to throw in 15 minutes, and £100 to any British wrestler who succeeded in throwing him in 15 minutes. The stipulation “British wrestlers” was intentional, as it kept dangerous foreign wrestlers like Ghulam Pahelwan of Amritsar from walking on stage and ruining what was quickly becoming a lucrative business.

1901
The first tag team matches are held in the United States, in San Francisco. San Francisco promoters introduce tag team wrestling as a way of improving the sport’s entertainment value. Another California innovation was 18-foot padded mats laid atop risers. While both are now almost traditional in American professional wrestling, neither innovation became especially popular outside San Francisco until the 1930s.

November 7: Tom Jenkins defeats Dan McLeod to win the American heavyweight championship.

In Vienna, George Hackenschmidt wins the European heavyweight wrestling championship. The event was billed as the “world championships,” but the omissions were so glaring that calling them the European championships seems much more precise.

1902
December 26: Dan McLeod defeats Tom Jenkins in Worcester, Massachusetts, to regain the American heavyweight championship. Jenkins took the first fall in 59:00, while McLeod came back to win the second fall at 24: 00. Jenkins forfeited the match and the title 20 minutes into the third fall due to a leg injury (later revealed to be blood poisoning).

1903
February 22: Tom Jenkins defeats Frank Gotch in Cleveland, Ohio, in the first meeting of the dominant American wrestlers of the era.

April 3: Tom Jenkins defeats Dan McLeod in Buffalo, New York, in straight falls (1:17: 00 and 14: 30) to regain the American heavyweight championship.

1904
January 27: Frank Gotch beats Tom Jenkins in Bellingham, Washington, to win the American heavyweight championship for the first time. Gotch took the first fall by pinfall, while Jenkins was disqualified in the second fall for fouling Gotch.

1905
February 2: Tom Jenkins is heavily criticized by his hometown press for running out of gas late in his unsuccessful title challenge against American heavyweight champion Frank Gotch in Cleveland. Jenkins took the first fall, with Gotch sweeping the last two.

March 15: Tom Jenkins defeats Frank Gotch at Madison Square Garden to regain the American heavyweight championship. After splitting the first two falls, Jenkins dug down and took the third fall in 10: 31 to win the title for a record third time.

May 5: World Greco-Roman champion George Hackenschmidt thoroughly dominates American heavyweight champion Tom Jenkins in two straight falls at Madison Square Garden in a match to crown the World Catch-as-Catch-Can heavyweight champion. The match is the origin of the World heavyweight title in the United States.

May 19: In the crowning moment of his career, Tom Jenkins comes back two weeks after his thrashing at the hands of Hackenschmidt to defeat Frank Gotch at Madison Square Garden to retain his American heavyweight championship. The match, arguably the most epic of the decade, sees Jenkins take the first fall in 1: 27: 57, and Gotch evening it up by taking the second fall in 36:27. Jenkins came back to overpower Gotch to take the third fall at 11: 10. A battered and exhausted Gotch had to be carried from the ring by his seconds.

1906
May 23: Frank Gotch defeats Tom Jenkins to regain the American heavyweight championship. Jenkins takes the first fall in 26: 00, but Gotch finishes strongly to take the last two falls in 14: 00 and 17: 00.

December 1: Arguably the biggest upset in pro wrestling history sees Fred Beell, outweighed by 50 pounds, beat Frank Gotch in New Orleans, Louisiana, to win the American heavyweight championship. Beell won the third fall by throwing Gotch over the edge of mat, with Gotch striking his head on the floor. When the dazed Gotch was returned to the ring, Beell finished him off fast to take the title.

December 17: Frank Gotch beats Fred Beell in two one-sided falls in Kansas City, Missouri, to regain the American heavyweight championship and record-tying third time.

1907
October 4: Leopold McLaglan (brother of actor Victor McLaglen) wrestles T.H. Kanada in a wrestling vs. jujitsu match held in New Westminster, British Columbia. While the referee called it a no-contest after watching McLaglan lay on top of Kanada for two hours, McLaglan subsequently advertised himself as the jujitsu champion of the world.

1908
April 3: Frank Gotch beats George Hackenschmidt at Chicago’s Dexter Park Pavilion to win the World heavyweight title in a match that was three years in the making. The match was highly controversial, with Hackenschmidt claiming Gotch doused himself in oil or other substances to make himself impossible to grasp. In addition, all newspaper reports showed Gotch refusing to lock up and liberally using fouls and roughhouse tactics to damage the champion. After the ref turned a deaf ear to his appeals, Hackenschmidt finally quit the ring after two hours and three minutes. The referee ruled Hackenschmidt had forfeited and awarded the title to Gotch.

1909
April 14: Frank Gotch, in his first big U.S. match following a U.K. tour, defeats Bulgarian wrestler Yussiff Mahmout in two straight falls (8:00, 9: 10) at Chicago’s Dexter Park Pavilion.

November 25: Frank Gotch beats Stanislaus Zbyszko in a non-title match in Buffalo, New York. It’s their first meeting, and the buzz begins for a title match between the two.

1910
A Muslim wrestler known as Gama the Great easily defeats a highly regarded U.S. professional wrestler named Benjamin Franklin Roller in London. Gama then issued a challenge to George Hackenschmidt, but the Estonian dodged the bout by suddenly remembering a pressing engagement in Switzerland. Therefore Gama was instead paired with the European Greco-Roman champion Stanislaus Zbyszko. Although Zbyszko avoided being pinned by stalling for 2 hour 40 minutes, he too failed to show for the scheduled rematch. As a result, Gama was named the British national champion.

April: A Federal court convicts John C. Maybray, Joe Carroll, Bert Warner, and other wrestlers and promoters of using the U.S. mail to illegally rig the results of wrestling matches. All Maybray had to say was, “I never bilked an honest man.”

June 1: In what May have been his crowning achievement, Frank Gotch defeats Stanislaus Zbyszko in the first fall of a Chicago contest in 6.4 seconds! Gotch went on to take the second fall in 27: 33 to retain the World title.

1911
February: Wrestler Charley Olson returns home to Indianapolis after accidentally killing a Texas wrestler calling himself McRay. Five years earlier, Olson had also accidentally killed another wrestler in Montreal. The Texan died after being driven into the mat using a crotch hold while the wrestler in Montreal died after being thrown from the ring and hitting his head on a chair.

September 4: Three years after their controversial first match, Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt wrestle each other at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Gotch dominates to take straight falls over Hackenschmidt, who severely injured his knee in training for the match. The live gate of $87,053 (tickets range from $1 to $10) is the biggest ever at the time.

1912
October 2: Legendary Texas promoter Paul Boesch is born in Brooklyn, New York.

1913
April 1: Frank Gotch announces his retirement after beating George Lurich in Kansas City, Missouri.

1915
July 4: Joe Stecher beats Charlie Cutler in Omaha, Nebraska, to become the first widely recognized World heavyweight champion after the retirement of Frank Gotch.

October 20: In the first World title meeting between the two wrestlers who would dominate the era, Joe Stecher beats Ed “Strangler” Lewis in Evansville, Indiana, to retain the title. Stecher won after 2: 03:00 of the first fall when Lewis was unable to continue after being driven out of the ring and hitting his head on the floor.

November 1915 to January 1916: An international tournament is held at the Manhattan Opera House featuring many of the top stars of the era. Among the wrestlers are Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Alex Aberg, Waldek Zbyszko, B.F. Roller, and Charles Cutler. The talk of the tournament is The Masked Marvel, a hooded wrestler who came out of the crowd and demanded to be entered. The promoters finally relent, allowing Marvel to debut on December 9. Aberg eventually beats Zbyszko in the tourney final, while Lewis finishes in third place.

1916
January 27: Joe Stecher retains the World title by beating The Masked Marvel in straight falls at Madison Square Garden. The Marvel was revealed to be Mort Henderson.

July 5: Joe Stecher and Ed “Strangler” Lewis wrestle to a legendary five-hour draw In Omaha, Nebraska. Lewis was soundly hooted by the crowd for wrestling defensively and making no attempts to go on the offense against the champion. Some fans at points showered the ring seat cushions to show their displeasure.

July 18: Frank Gotch fractures his leg in an exhibition match with Bob Managoff Sr. at a Sells-Floto Circus performance in Kenosha, Wisconsin; the great champion would never wrestle again.

1917
Jim Londos makes his professional debut.

April 9: Joe Stecher forfeits the World title to Earl Caddock in Omaha, Nebraska. Stecher won the first fall in 1: 22: 05. Caddock evened the match by taking the second fall in 1: 40:10. Stecher claimed he wasn’t pinned and was so livid that he refused to wrestle the third fall.

1920
January 30: After beating Waldek Zbyszko and Ed “Strangler” Lewis in late-1919 to earn a title shot, Joe Stecher regains the World title by beating Earl Caddock in 2: 05:30 at Madison Square Garden.

December 13: Ed “Strangler” Lewis beats Joe Stecher in 1: 41:56 at the 71st Regiment Armory in New York to win the World title for the first time.

1921
March: San Francisco’s Ad Santel leads a troupe of European and Japanese American professional wrestlers to Japan. They did not attract nearly as much media attention as some concurrent boxing vs. wrestling acts called “Merikan,” and as result, Santel said that in future he would not wrestle in Japan without first receiving cash guarantees from the Japanese promoters.

May 6: Nearly 11 years after his bitter defeat to Frank Gotch, Stanislaus Zbyszko finally wins the World title by beating Ed “Strangler” Lewis in 23: 17 at the 22nd Regiment Armory in New York.

September 22: The New York State Athletic Commission takes wrestling under its control and issues stringent rules regarding the use of “strange” holds. Headlocks, toelocks, and scissorsholds, which are used specifically to punish an opponent are to be foul methods, punishable by disqualification. Repeat offenders would have their licenses revoked.
November 8: New York State Athletic Commissioner William Muldoon redefines the Commission’s rules to make an exception for holds that are applied as decisive elements in producing a fall.

September 30: Joe Stecher plays first base for Salt Lake City Bees of the Pacific Coast League for San Francisco with Oakland as opposition. Stecher singles in two runs in the fourth inning, going 1-for-4 at the plate, handling nine chances without error in the field. He was originally set to finish the season with the Bees, but then decided not to risk injury that might cause him to miss his October 4 match with Ed Lewis in San Francisco (which Stecher won on a referee’s decision after a no-fall, two-hour bout).

1922
Gobar Goho defeats Ad Santel in San Francisco to become the first Asian to win a “World Professional Wrestling Championship” in the United States.

December 30: Ed “Strangler” Lewis posts a $10,000 bond with a $25,000 side bet, agreeing to fight heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey. A Wichita oil syndicate offers $300,000 for the bout.

1923
December 31: Ed “Strangler” Lewis meets a Fusen-ryu jujutsuka named Taro Miyake in Chicago for the “jujitsu championship of the world.” To no one’s surprise, Lewis, who was also Miyake’s employer, won.

1924
December 2: Wrestler Nick Gotch defeats light heavyweight boxing champion Battling Siki in a wrestler vs. boxer match at Philadelphia.

1925
January 8: In one of the bigger upsets of all-time, Wayne Munn beats Ed “Strangler” Lewis in Kansas City to win the World title.

Vince McMahon Sr.’s, father, Jess McMahon, promotes the first boxing card in the “old” Madison Square Garden.

September 16: In Dallas, Texas, Japanese American Matty Matsuda successfully defends his world welterweight title against Boston’s Joe Sylvio. Matsuda had started his wrestling career in 1905 after winning a sumo tournament held in Vancouver.

1927
April 13: Antonio Biasetton, the man who would gain wrestling fame as Antonino (Argentina) Rocca, is born, along with a twin sister, in Treviso, Italy.

June 23: Angelo Taramacchi defeats Alexander Yermerkoff in 9: 22 at San Francisco’s Dreamland Rink, in the words of the Associated Press, “without using any recognized wrestling hold.”

October 27: Wrestler Joe Shimkus wins two pinfalls from boxer Johnn Mack at Fort Hayes, Ohio.

December: Ad Santel introduces American-style professional wrestling to the Leichardt Stadium in Sydney, Australia.

1928
February 28: After chasing Joe Stecher for nearly three years, Ed “Strangler” Lewis wins the World title a third time, taking two out of three falls in just under 2 1/2 hours in St. Louis.

1929
April 3: Joe Savoldi is secretly married to Audrey Koehler, age 19, at South Bend, Indiana. Savoldi never lived with her but was forced to withdraw from Notre Dame (and football stardom) on November 17, 1930. A month later, she sued for divorce, charging desertion.

June 7: The Grand Wizard is born Ernie Roth in Canton, Ohio.

August 23: Dick Shikat beats Jim Londos in Philadelphia to gain recognition as a World heavyweight champion from the New York and Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissions. The two commissions had withdrawn their recognition from reigning champion Gus Sonneberg.

1930
April 4: Hugh Nichols beats Joe Banaski in the National Boxing (Wrestling) Association tournament final in Cincinnati, Ohio, to become the World light heavyweight champion.

June 6: Jim Londos beats Dick Shikat in Philadelphia to win the New York and Pennsylvania version of the World title.

November: Promoters Atholl Oakeley and Jeff Dickson introduce American-style professional wrestling to London. Although the promoters called it “all-in” wrestling, the British press responded by calling it “baboon wrestling” and saying that people didn’t want that kind of sport in England. By March 1934 even the staid William (“Apollo”) Bankier of the National Sporting Club was starting to replace boxing with American-style wrestling. All-in wrestling shows went out of fashion during World War II, but resumed in 1946 under the direction of Norman Morrell, Lord Mountevans, and Maurice Webb.

1931
April 13: Ed “Strangler” Lewis beats Ed Don George in straight falls at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles to win a then-record fourth World championship.

May 4: The World title is fragmented further after a controversial finish in the Henri DeGlane-Ed “Strangler” Lewis match in Montreal. DeGlane claimed to have been bitten by Lewis, and the referee agreed and awarded the match and title to DeGlane. Lewis denied the foul and asserted that DeGlane bit himself to get a cheap win. As a result, DeGlane was recognized as champion in parts of New England and Canada, while Lewis was recognized in states such as California and Illinois.

June 29: What is presumed to be wrestling’s first sleeperhold is applied by Jim Londos against Ray Steele in the main event of a card at New York’s Yankee Stadium in front of 21,000 fans. The controversial hold helps Londos win victory at the 1: 09:12 mark. “Simply a new hold I’ve perfected which shuts off the jugular vein,” Londos said the next day in the New York Sun.

1932
September 23: Former World champion Dick Shikat breaks arm in auto wreck in New York.

October 10: The New York Athletic Commission recognizes Ed “Strangler” Lewis as World heavyweight champion. The Commission had ordered Jim Londos to meet Lewis following Lewis’ June 9 victory over Dick Shikat. When Londos refused, the Commission stripped him of title recognition.

October 17: Cliff White, 185, wrestler, defeats Ed Petich, 180, boxer, in the third round of a wrestler vs. boxer match in Portland.

October 25: Paul Boesch makes his professional wrestling debut, wrestling and defeating Benny Ginsburg in Staten Island, New York.

1933
Texas passes state laws legalizing and governing boxing and wrestling. Morris Siegel receives the first license issued in both sports.

February 20: Jim Browning brings Ed “Strangler” Lewis’ final World title reign to a close by beating him at Madison Square Garden.

March 1: Gus Sonnenberg testifies in a Lawrence, Massachusetts, trial that he had consumed ginger ale, not beer, when he hit and killed patrolman Richard L. Morrissey in July, 1932. It was alleged that Morrissey had been drinking.

April 7: Joe Savoldi scores a surprising pinfall win over Jim Londos Chicago. Savoldi would claim Londos’ version of the World title, and jumped to the New York wrestling promotions where he would lose to New York World champion Jim Browning. Londos ignored the loss to Savoldi and continued to bill himself as World champion.

April 13: A jury in Boston deadlocks on Gus Sonnenberg’s $1-million libel suit vs. Boston Herald, stemming from a 1929 article.

April 13: Daisy Florence Savoldi, second wife of wrestler Joe Savoldi, wins divorce in Los Angeles when she testifies the only time she knew her husband’s whereabouts was when papers chronicled his progress from city to city; they were married Aug. 20, 1931, separated October, 1932. She is granted $25 a week for two years as settlement.

April 14: Percy R. Gardner of Toronto pays $100,000 to wrestling promoters Jack Curley and Paul Bowser for a 50 percent share of Joe Savoldi’s contract.

May 21: Joe Savoldi marries Miss Lola Poole in Buchanan, Michigan.

May 27: Jim Browning, recognized as world heavyweight wrestling champion in New York and a number of other states, appears in a nationally distributed newspaper advertisement for Adam Pantara Hats; other sports icons, such as Jack Dempsey, Maxie Rosenbloom, Benny Leonard, and Carl Hubbell appear in the same ad.

June 7: Stanislaus Zbyszko declared bankruptcy with $26,869 in debts against $256 in assets

December 18: Jim Browning and Ed Don George meet in a unification World title match at Madison Square Garden. The match is declared a draw after 1: 40:00.

1934
January 2: The New York State Athletic Commission investigates “secret agreements” and “title juggling” in wrestling, calling Rudy Miller, Jack Curley, Jim Londos, Toots Mondt, Ed White, Tom Packs, and Dick Shikat to a January 9 hearing. Peace is said to exist between the Londos-Curley factions, but Jack Pfeffer-Rudy Miller are on the outs, says New York Times.

January 9: After the witnesses testify, the New York State Athletic Commission says, in a statement: “We have heard all the testimony. We have sent it out to be translated into English. When that is done, we will consider it.”

January 15: An expose is published in New York, quoting Jack Pfeffer as saying that Londos was determined to be the next champion in August 1929, before Londos beat Dick Shikat on August 29, 1929, for the world title. Pfeffer says both Jim Browning and Ed Don George are managed by Paul Bowser of Boston.

January 17: Everett Marshall asks for reinstatement from the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission; he was suspended following a December 15 match with Jim Londos, after which Marshall attacked referee Ben Paul.

January 26: The New York State Athletic Commission issues new rules, outlawing syndicate agreements between promoters and banning the dropkick.

February 15: A Johannesburg, South Africa, council bans professional wrestling as “brutal and degrading.”

March 5: Leroy McGurk wins the NWA World lightweight title, beating Hugh Nichols in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

March 19: Detroit promoter Nick Londos challenges University of Michigan wrestling coach Clifford Keene; says Ray Steele can throw four his Wolvernine wrestlers “or even eight” and will pay Keene $1,000 if Steele can’t.

April 12: Former world middleweight wrestling champ Jack Reynolds, 38, is indicted by a Cincinnati grand jury for the second-degree slaying of James Meyers and Philip Citron on March 11. He is acquitted May 28, but thereafter is relegated to working the tank towns and promoting “athletic shows” or carnival bouts for the remainder of his mat career.

June 25: Jim Londos returns to New York and beats Jim Browning at the Garden Bowl in Queens, New York, to win the New York version of the World title.

September 20: Jim Londos scores the first win of his career against bitter rival Ed “Strangler” Lewis at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The match draws a then-record gate of $96,302. Ex-boxing champ Jack Dempsey referees the Jim Londos win.

October 9: Wrestler Abe Kashey pins boxer Charlie Retzlaff in the fourth round of a mixed bout before 7,500, with Jack Dempsey serving as referee. The next day, the Minnesota Athletic Commission says, “Never again.”

December 17: Man Mountain Dean is the defendant in a $60,000 damages suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by James Gordon McGinley, 20, who claims Dean beat him up in a San Pedro street fight; he asks $10,000 actual damages for an impaired right eye and $50,000 in punitive damages.

1935
February 7: Gus Sonnenberg arrives in U.S. from Australia tour with a strangulated hernia.

April 17: The Masked Marvel, a.k.a. Jim Maloney, unmasks in order to wed Virginia Campbell in Walla Walla, Washington.

April 22: Ex-Alabama All-American tackle Bill Lee says he’ll become a pro wrestler upon completion of his studies in May.

June 27: Danno O’Mahoney upsets Jim Londos at Fenway Park in Boston to win the New York version of the World title.

July 30: Danno O’Mahoney beats Ed Don George in Boston to become the undisputed World champion.

Jim Crockett Sr. forms Jim Crockett Promotions.

Vince McMahon Sr. promotes his first wrestling card.

Seventeen-year-old Mildred Bliss of Kansas City, Missouri, pesters a promoter named Billy Wolfe to teach her to wrestle. After a few months of this, Wolfe told one of his wrestlers to slam Bliss so hard she’d quit nagging him. Bliss pinned the man. Twice. After that, Wolfe hired her as a carnival wrestler, gave her the name “Mildred Burke.” Wolfe offered $25 to any man within 20 pounds of her weight who could defeat her within fifteen minutes. “I wrestled almost 200 men,” said Burke many years later, “and the only time I was defeated—it wasn’t because I was pinned, but I got knocked out.”

1936
March 2: Dick Shikat shocks the wrestling world by beating Danno O’Mahoney for the World title. The promotional alliance that brought about an undisputed World champion the year before quickly dissolves and sends the title picture back into confusion.

March 31: Wrestler George Zaharias comes back from six first-round knockdowns to pin boxer Art (The Great) Shires in the second round in Indianapolis.

April 20: Climaxing an eight-week tournament, Albion Britt beats Ted Christy in finals at Hollywood Legion Stadium in California to become the first NWA World junior heavyweight champion.

June 5: A White Owl cigar advertisement in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer features Gus Sonnenberg, Yvon Robert, Chief Little Wolf, and Ernie Dusek.

1937
Mud wrestling is invented in Seattle, Washington … by mistake. Promoter Paul Boesch used too much water on the dirt used for a “Hindu match” between Prince Bhu Pinder (real name: Ranjit Singh) and former champion Gus Sonnenberg. Mud wrestling then moved to San Francisco. There the ring was filled with mud and the bout filmed and shown in newsreels across the world. Women’s mud-wrestling soon followed. The first match was held in January 1938. Photos of this exhibition, which featured Mildred Burke and Babe Gordon, subsequently appeared in Life.

January 28: In New York, wrestlers on the Hippodrome weekly card donate blood for Dave Levin, who was in critical condition from an infection suffered in the wake of the previous week’s loss to Bobby Bruns.

February 9: Billy Wolfe defeats Clara Mortensen via disqualification in a man vs. woman bout in Atlanta.

March 11: Wrestlers, objecting to newspaper criticism, perform brief sit-down strike in a Washington, DC, ring.

June 30: Bronko Nagurski beats Dean Detton in Minneapolis to win one of the many versions of the World heavyweight title. Nagurski would go on to win the National Wrestling Association version of the World title on two occasions.

July 8: Lou Thesz claims National Wrestling Association title because, he says, Everett Marshall will not meet him in Kansas City in mid-July.

September 29: Japan’s first American-style pro wrestling match takes place at Tokyo’s Susaki baseball stadium. The main event starred a 208-pound Korean named Ken Gen vs. former Japanese Olympian Kiyoshi Kose. Before a small crowd, Gen lost in two straight falls. Joint wrestling and boxing cards continued to be staged until the start of the Pacific War in December 1941.

October 2: The first “Texas tornado” tag team match (in which all four men are in the ring at the same time) is held in Houston, the brainchild of promoter Morris Sigel: Milo Steinborn & Whiskers Savage vs. Tiger Daula & Fazul Mohammed.

October 7: King Levinsky, 204, kayoes wrestler Jack Conley, 195, in the second round of a mixed bout in Dubuque, Iowa.

October 11: Danny McShain beats Wild Red Berry at Hollywood Legion Stadium in California to win the NWA World light heavyweight title. McShain and Berry would dominate the division for the next decade, combining to win the title more than 20 times.

November 11: Dale J. Greif sues Sandor Szabo for $24,000, saying he was “mauled” after an October 8 bout in Santa Monica, California, and suffered a broken neck, dislocated shoulder, and displacement of several vertebrae.

November 16: Ray Steele is suspended 60 days by the New York State Athletic Commission for using a knee on Bronko Nagurski in a title match.

December 29: Lou Thesz beats Everett Marshall in St. Louis, Missouri, to win a version of the World title for the first time.

1938
Paul Boesch helps promote the first mud wrestling match.

January: The Seattle Times says the real Red Shadow (Leo Numa) is afflicted with trachoma and that James Morrissey Casey, eventually unmasked as the Shadow, is an impostor.

January 23: Shohei “Giant” Baba is born.

February 11: Steve Casey beats Lou Thesz in Boston, MA to win the old AWA version of the World heavyweight title.

May 31: World hammer throw recordholder Dr. Patrick O’Callaghan, 240, makes his pro wrestling debut in San Francisco, pinning veteran toughie Cy Williams in 4: 26.

August 8: Wrestler Man Mountain Dean withdraws from the race for the Georgia State Legislature, noting: “The things they say about in politics no honest man can take. If I stay in politics, I’ll slug somebody for sure. When a wrestler gets personal in the ring, I let him have one right on the jaw, or May be I pick him up and slam him to the mat. But if I tried that on one of these politicians, I’d land in jail and be sued for all I own. Wrestling is on the level, but politics … “

August 23: Bronko Nagurski beats The Purple Shadow in San Francisco. The Purple Shadow is unmasked and is revealed to be Bill Longson.

September 14: Everett Marshall is awarded the National Wrestling Association’s version of the World title.

November 18: Jim Londos beats Bronko Nagurski in Philadelphia to win a claim to the World title. Londos never loses this version of the title, defending it successfully across the country until he retires.

December 5: Danny McShain beats Leroy McGuirk at Hollywood Legion Stadium in California to regain the NWA World light heavyweight title. McGuirk moves up in weight to concentrate on winning the World junior heavyweight title.


1939
January 19: Wrestlers Steve Casey and Marv Westenberg, the latter under a mask as The Shadow, grapple 2 hours 45 minutes, until 1: 23 a.m. the next morning, before collapsing, exhausted, in a Boston ring; each man had secured one fall.

March 16: Wrestler Gene Barutha pins boxer John Wrobell in three minutes at Milwaukee’s South Side Armory.

April 19: After being disqualified in a Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium match with Sandor Szabo, Man Mountain Dean is stabbed by an irate fan wielding a pen knife.

May 24: Richard Smith, 28, described as a WPA worker from Plesant Green, Missouri, died after being in a Pilot Grove, Missouri, ring three minutes with Dale (Swede) Hanson, a wrestler traveling with a carnival. The Associated Press said “Hanson gripped Smith around the neck and applied a tight squeeze. When Hanson released the hold, Smith slumped to the ring floor and died. J.C. Tincher, Cooper County coroner, said no inquest would be held as the accident appeared to be ‘unavoidable.’”

June 19: Leroy McGuirk beats John Swenski at Hollywood Legion Stadium in California to win the NWA World junior heavyweight title.

August 16: Jim Londos, 39, marries Arva Esther Rochwite, 27, daughter of a St. Louis architect, in the Los Angeles home of theater magnate Charles P. Skouras. met her in St. Louis in 1935; the new couple embarks on a “working” honeymoon to Honolulu, where Londos beats Vic Christy and Oki Shikina, and then moves on to subsequent bouts in New Zealand and Australia.

December 21: Rhode Island bans Gus Sonnenberg from competition due to a heart condition.

1940
March 7: After a decade of being a top contender, Ray Steele finally wins a World heavyweight title by beating Bronko Nagurski in St. Louis for the National Wrestling Association crown.

July 15: Boxer Jack Dempsey defeats wrestler Bull Curry in 1: 05 of the second round of a match in Detroit.

1941
August 9: Bill Longson beats Frank Sexton in San Jose, California, to win the Pacific Coast title.

August 29: Primo Carnera, former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, takes up wrestling at age 34, the Associated Press reports from Rome.

December 1: Billy Varga wins the NWA World light heavyweight title for the first time by beating Wild Red Berry at Hollywood Legion Stadium in California.

1942
Toward reducing factional violence between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, the British stop all Indian professional wrestling championships. Regional championships resume after Partition in 1947, and Indian national championships resume in 1953. The driving force behind their resumption was a Bombay millionaire named Gustad Irani.

With so many men off to war, women’s wrestling becomes popular in the United States. The audiences were about half men and about half women and school-age boys. The wrestlers were working-class women who viewed the business as a way of earning good money—up to $100 a week for a champion—while staying physically fit.

1944
California bans women from participating in public combat (boxing and wrestling) for profit. Illinois, on the other hand, upheld the right of women to wrestle in 1955. By 1972, most other states had followed suit.

January 21: The City Auditorium in Houston, Texas, hosts one of the most unusual nights of wrestling ever: a joint benefit with wrestlers and the Houston Symphony Orchestra that brought in over a million dollars in war bonds (ringside seats were had for a $500 war bond purchase). Wild Bill Longson battles Lou Thesz in the main event. A match between Ellis Bashara and Dave Levin is set to symphonic arrangement by the Orchestra; Bashara, after winning the bout, pushes the conductor aside to lead the Orchestra himself!

April 25: Associated Press sportswriter Russ Newland suggests a circular ring to promoter Joe Malcewicz in San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium. Malcewicz has one constructed and uses it in his next week’s show; the innovation does not catch on.

1945
April 2: Babe Ruth, legendary baseball slugger, announces he’ll become a wrestling referee and works shows the next two nights in Portland, Maine, and Boston.

1946
February 23: Gory Guerrero beats Tarzan Lopez in Mexico City to win the NWA World middleweight title. Guerrero, the father of Chavo, Mondo, Hector, and Eddy Guerrero, would go on to win the NWA World titles in the welterweight and light heavyweight divisions.

March 15: El Santo beats Pete Pancof in Mexico City to win the NWA World welterweight title (now part of the unified eight title J-Crown). El Santo would go on to become the biggest star in the history of Mexican wrestling. He was the father of current superstar El Hijo del Santo.

May 19: Andre the Giant is born in Grenoble, France.

June 14: Bruiser Brody is born.

1947
Killer Kowalaski makes his pro debut.

Former boxer Tony Galento makes his pro debut, defeating “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers.

A New York match between Buddy Rogers and Billy Darnell is such a wild brawl, a ringside fan dies of a heart attack. Both wrestlers are disqualified from New York competition for two years.

Fred Blassie suffers a head injury that places him on the verge of retirement when he is bounced out of the ring by Rudy Dusek.

1948
Portland, Oregon, promoter Don Owen’s cards are first aired on television.

Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon represents Canada in wrestling in the Olympic Games.

July 19: The current version of the National Wrestling Alliance is formed, in Waterloo, Iowa. The first NWA president is P.L. “Pinkie” George.

Later in the year, Orville Brown is recognized as the first NWA World champion.

1949
Sky Low Low wins a 30-man tournament in Paris to emerge as midget world champion.

Antonino Rocca arrives in the U.S.

January: Paul Boesch announces his first televised wrestling match.

February 22: Gorgeous George headlines the first Madison Square Garden wrestling card in 12 years, against Ernie Dusek; George pins Dusek in 26: 57 in front of 4,197 fans. The New York press is not impressed by George’s theatrics. One New York Times sportswriter writes two days later: “Gorgeous George? Phooey!”

April 18: Verne Gagne announces he’ll turn pro, spurning football offers from the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears. He makes pro debut by beating Abe Kashey via disqualification in 22: 10 before 2,724 in Minneapolis on May 3.

April 20: Primo Carnera’s winning streak ends at 321 when he is defeated by Antonino Rocca.

October 4: Lillian Ellison (later known as Fabulous Moolah) defeats Cecilia Blevins, 15: 33, at Kansas City, Missouri, on the undercard of the Orville Brown-Bill Longson National Wrestling Alliance title match.

November 1: Orville Brown, 38, and Bob Bruns, 35, are severely injured as their car collides with stalled transport line truck three miles north of Eagleville, Missouri, returning to Kansas City from Des Moines.

November 27: The National Wrestling Alliance recognizes Lou Thesz as its World heavyweight champion. Thesz, the National Wrestling Association World champion, was scheduled to meet the Alliance’s World champion Orville Brown on November 25 in a title unification match, but Brown suffered a career ending injury on November 1.

1950
Primo Carnera is thrown off his feet for the first time, by Don Eagle.

Jim Londos comes out of retirement to wrestle Primo Carnera at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. The match draws wrestling’s biggest gate of the year: $54,000.

February 4: The Crosley Broadcasting Corp. inaugurates studio TV wrestling in Cincinnati.

July 27: Lou Thesz defeats Gorgeous George in Chicago to merge the old AWA version of the World title into the NWA World title.

October: Former All-Japan judo champion Masahiko Kimura becomes the first Japanese (rather than Japanese American or Canadian) wrestler to tour the Americas since the 1920s. His promoter was a retired Hawaiian professional wrestler named Tetsuro “Rubberman” Higami.

November 13: Verne Gagne beats Sonny Myers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to win the vacant NWA World junior heavyweight title.

1951
Japan’s first professional wrestling card is held.

October 24: In Brazil, Masahiko Kimura defeats Helio Gracie in 13 minutes of unexciting wrestling. This was the same Helio Gracie whose sons subsequently popularized Gracie jiu-jitsu in the USA.

November 19: Danny McShain beats Verne Gagne at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, TN, to win the NWA World junior heavyweight title. McShain joins Leroy McGuirk as the only men to win both the NWA World junior heavyweight and World light heavyweight titles.

Gagne moves up to the heavyweight division.

1952
The Sheik makes his pro debut.

May 21: Lou Thesz beats Baron Michele Leone in Los Angeles to merge the California version of the World heavyweight title into the NWA World title. Thesz is, at that moment, the closet any one man would get in the last half century to being the undisputed World heavyweight champion. The match draws the first $100,000-plus gate in U.S. wrestling history: $103,277.

1953
Capt. Lou Albano makes his pro debut in Montreal, Canada, by defeating Bob Lozaro.

March 6: The first brass knuckles match is held, pitting “Irish” Danny McShain against “Wild” Bull Curry. The match, promoted by Paul Boesch in Houston, Texas, is won by Curry.

May 11: New York lifts a state ban on tag team wrestling.

September 3: Verne Gagne is awarded the NWA United States heavyweight title.

1954
U.S. bodybuilder John Grimek becomes the first strength athlete known to have used anabolic steroids on a regular and systematic basis. His source of supply was John Ziegler, a physician working for a Swiss pharmaceutical company associated with the CIA. (Anabolic steroids are an outgrowth of artificial testosterone research done during World War II by both the Germans and the Americans. During both World War II and the Cold War, international militaries wanted chemically assisted soldiers, and were willing to do whatever it took to get them.)

January 11: Wilber Snyder beats Mr. Moto at Hollywood Legion Stadium in California to win the International TV title.

December 22: In Tokyo, a former sumotori called Rikidozan defeats Masahiko Kimura to become the first All-Japan professional wrestling champion.

1955
March: Wrestling from Marigold Garden in Chicago is cancelled in New York after being telecast six years every Saturday night on the Dumont network.

August 4: Channel 5 in New York debuts a new wrestling series, broadcast from the Dumont Telecenter on East 67th Street, rather than an arena. Pat O’Connor and Don Leo Jonathan appear on the first show, which is announced by former Olympic sprinter Marty Glickman.

August 5: Pepper Gomez beats Mr. Moto in Houston to win the NWA Texas heavyweight title for the first time.

1956
April 7: Wilber Snyder beats Verne Gagne in Chicago to win the NWA U.S. title, ending Gagne’s 31-month title reign.

June 2: Joe Louis announces that his wrestling bout with Cowboy Rocky Lee in Huntington, West Virginia, will be his last “until the government men lay off me.” Louis, who owes the Internal Revenue Service some $1,180,000, including interest, is paid a $500 guarantee against a percentage of the gate by promoter Dick Deutsch.

June 21: Announced as a summer replacement for the Channel 5 studio show, which had run 46 weeks, wrestling is presented from the Capitol Arena in Washington, D.C., with Vince McMahon Sr. as promoter. The show became a permanent fixture.

September 8: Boxing champion Archie Moore kayoes wrestler Roy Shire in the third round of a bout at Ogden, Utah, just 83 days before fighting Floyd Patterson in Chicago as part of an elimination series for the heavyweight championship.

November 26: The first Madison Square Garden show promoted by Vince McMahon Sr. draws a dismal 10,400 ($30,300 gate) to see Antonino Rocca battle Dick the Bruiser.

1957
February 4: A sellout crowd of 19,300 pay $61,250 at Madison Square Garden to see Antonino Rocca and Verne Gagne against Hans Schmidt and Karl Von Hess.

April 1: Danny Hodge appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

June 14: Edouard Carpentier beats Lou Thesz in Chicago when Thesz is injured and unable to wrestle the third fall. Carpentier is announced as the NWA World champion in the building, but the NWA rules Thesz is still champion. A number of midwestern promoters recognize Carpentier as a World champion, creating the first crack in the NWA title being seen as the undisputed title.

October 7: Lou Thesz meets Rikidozan in Tokyo for the first-ever NWA World World title match held in Japan. The match ends in a 60-minute time-limit draw.

November 11: Ray Stevens beats Tor Yamata in Birmingham, Alabama, to win the Southern junior heavyweight title.

November 19: Two police officers are injured as a riot in Madison Square Garden ensues following a tag team bout pitting Antonino Rocca and Edouard Carpentier against Dick the Bruiser and Dr. Jerry Graham.

1958
April 12: Verne Gagne beats Dick the Bruiser in Chicago to win the NWA U.S. title for the second time.

June 5: Dory Funk Sr. beats Angelo Savoldi in Amarillo, Texas, to win the NWA World junior heavyweight title.

August 27: Rikidozan beats Lou Thesz in Los Angeles to win the NWA International title. The title is now the crown jewel of All-Japan’s Triple Crown title.

1959
Bruno Sammartino makes his pro debut.

Legendary St. Louis wrestling television program Wrestling At The Chase (named after the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel, where matches initially were held) makes its debut broadcast.

A crippled Argentine youth named Carlos tells reporters asking him why he liked watching the professional wrestler Antonino Rocca: “When I see him in the ring, I become Rocca. He gives me the feeling that I am living in the ring with him. I am big and strong. I am a conqueror. My legs are jumping with him.” Added Rocca, who popularized professional wrestling’s karate-style kicking, “You put a guy in a position to smile, and that is greatness. In the ring, I try to transmit the desire to smile.” If this was a true statement of Rocca’s philosophy, then he probably did not kill a Japanese wrestler named Okitaro in 1949 as his press agents have sometimes claimed.

February 13: Dory Dixon beats Al Kashey in Mexico City to win the NWA World light heavyweight title. The belt rapidly becomes the most prized in Mexico.

April 15: The Verne Gagne & Hans Schmidt vs. Boris & Nicoli Volkoff match sets off small riot at Milwaukee Arena before crowd of 3,434; Arena-Auditorium board bars wrestling for nearly a year in its aftermath.

April 28: Danny Hodge loses by TKO to Nino Valdes in Wichita, Kansas, and announces his retirement from boxing shortly thereafter.

May 16: Enrique Torres, 36, is critically injured when his car hits another at some 100 miles an hour near Van Nuys, California. The other driver, Everett DeWynn, 45, suffered a broken back.

October 7: “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers faces “Jersey” Joe Walcott in a wrestler-boxer contest at The Forum in Montreal.

1960
May 13: Rikidozan beats Leo Nomellini in Tokyo to win the second annual World League singles tournament.

May 27: Edouard Carpentier beats Lou Thesz in Los Angeles to retain the WWA heavyweight title.

July 22: Danny Hodge wins the NWA World junior heavyweight for the first of an eventual seven times by beating Angelo Savoldi in Oklahoma City.

September 30: Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki both debut in Tokyo for the Japanese Wrestling Association.

1961
March 4: Promoter Roy Shire presents his first wrestling card at San Francisco’s famed Cow Palace.

June 12: Fred Blassie beats Edouard Carpentier in Los Angeles to win the WWA heavyweight title for the first of four times.

October 17: Jackie Fargo and Lester Welch beat Mephisto and Dante in Nashville, Tennessee, to win the Southern tag team title.

1962
Ray Stevens does the “bombs away” off a ladder onto Pepper Gomez’ throat, injuring Gomez. Their grudge match sells out the San Francisco Cow Palace to the tune of 17,000 fans paying a gate of $65,000.

March 28: Rikidozan beats Fred Blassie at the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium to win the WWA heavyweight title and become the first Japanese to win a major U.S. title.

April 27: Dick Beyer dons The Destroyer mask for the first time, beating Seymour Koenig in San Diego, California.

June 9: Cheree Dupre, 33, divorces Gorgeous George, 47, after nearly four years of marriage.

August 2: Bruno Sammartino is awarded the NWA World title after defeating champion Buddy Rogers in Toronto, Ontario, but refuses to accept the title because Rogers had wrestled with an injury.

November 7: Gorgeous George is shaved bald after losing a hair vs. mask match to The Destroyer at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.

1963
January 24: Lou Thesz defeats NWA World champion Buddy Rogers in one fall in Toronto, Ontario. Shortly after, promoters in the Northeast break away from the NWA to form the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), later renamed the WWF. WWWF promoters continue to recognize Rogers as champion.

February 7: NWA World champion Lou Thesz defeats Buddy Rogers in a return two-out-of-three falls match in Toronto, Ontario. The result has largely been forgotten in wrestling history.

March 15: Veteran boxer Archie Moore knocks out wrestler Mike DiBiase in the third round of a bout at Phoenix.

April 15: Lou Thesz pins “Jersey” Joe Walcott in 1: 30 of the fourth round of a wrestler-boxer bout in Memphis.

April 27: Dick the Bruiser defeats football player Alex Karras in 11: 21 of a bout held before approximately 10,000 fans at the Olympia in Detroit. Bruiser suffers a five-stitch wound over his right eye in the match.

May 19: The Destroyer beats Rikidozan in Osaka, Japan, in one of the most famous matches in Japanese wrestling history and becomes an instant legend in Japan. It’s the last singles match Rikidozan would ever lose.

October 15: Bobo Brazil vs. Tino Tim Anderson marks the first professional bout involving black male wrestlers in Tampa, Florida.

December 15: The Father of Japanese Wrestling, Rikidozan, dies from stab wounds suffered on December 8. His last singles match was a successful title defense of the NWA International title over top rival The Destroyer on December 4 in Osaka.

1964
Andre the Giant makes his pro debut.

Mil Mascaras makes his pro debut.

March 11: Antonio Inoki makes his U.S. debut in Honolulu.

May 12: Toyonobori beats Gene Kiniski in Tokyo, Japan, to win the sixth annual JWA World League tournament. Toyonobori is the first wrestler other than Rikidozan to win the tournament.

1965
Jack Brisco, representing Oklahoma State, captures the NCAA wrestling title in the 191-pound class.

June 5: Jack Brisco makes his pro debut, defeating Terry Garvin in 14 minutes in Oklahoma City.

November 24: Giant Baba beats Dick the Bruiser in Osaka, Japan, to win the NWA International heavyweight title. The title had been vacant since Rikidozan died.

1966
February 24: Tarzan Tyler beats Bob Orton Sr. in Jacksonville, Florida, to win the NWA Southern title.

October 14: Lou Thesz beats Buddy Austin in Los Angeles to win the WWA heavyweight title. It’s the last major title Thesz would win in the United States.

1967
February 2: Ex-wrestling champion Everett Marshall is inducted into the Colorado Hall of Fame.

February 13: “Moondog” Lonnie Mayne eats can of Ken-L-Ration during a Sacramento television interview after beating Jerry Monti with his Arkansas Stomp.

July 15: In a WWWF heavyweight title vs. U.S. heavyweight title match, Ray Stevens beats Bruno Sammartino in San Francisco via countout after delivering the “bombs away.” Stevens’ claims the WWWF title, but the WWWF doesn’t recognize his claim as Federation rules state that titles cannot changes hands via countout.

October 31: Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki beat Bill Watts and Tarzan Tyler in Osaka, Japan, to win their first of four NWA International tag team titles.

November 11: Bearcat Wright eliminates Ray Stevens to win the first of the famous Cow Palace battle royals in San Francisco.


1968
February 19: In the main event of the first wrestling card at the “new” Madison Square Garden, Bruno Sammartino defeats Bull Ramos.

May 17: Giant Baba beats Killer Kowalaski to win the 10th annual JWA World League tournament. It’s the third of a record six times that Baba would win the tournament.

1969
August 4: Fritz Von Erich beats Johnny Valentine in Fort Worth, Texas, to win the NWA American title.

December 2: In the first NWA World title match in Japan in 12 years, Dory Funk Jr. and Antonio Inoki wrestle to a 60-minute draw. Inoki’s strong showing elevates him to superstardom.

1971
Bob Backlund captures the NCAA Division II 190-pound amateur wrestling championship at North Dakota State.

March 26: Antonio Inoki beats John Tolos in Los Angeles to become the United National champion. The belt is now part of All-Japan’s Triple Crown.

August 27: The Freddie Blasie vs. John Tolos feud reaches a climax, drawing 25,847 fans to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Tolos, whose Americas title is not on the line, is deemed unfit to continue when Blassie opens a deep cut on his head.

May 18: Andre the Giant wins the annual IWA round-robin tournament in Japan. Karl Gotch and Billy Robinson finish tied for second.

June 1: Andre the Giant makes his Canadian debut at Verdun in Quebec.

1972
Ken Patera represents the U.S. at the Olympic Games in super heavyweight weightlifting.

March: Japan-based New Japan Pro Wrestling is formed. At the time, its top stars include Antonio Inoki, Osamu Kido, and Tatsumi Fujinami.

September 16: Harley Race beats Pak Song in St. Louis to become the first NWA Missouri State champion.

October: Japan-based All-Japan Pro Wrestling, featuring such stars as Shohei “Giant” Baba, Motoshi Okuma, Akio Sato, and Mitsuo Momota, holds its first card.

December 18: Mil Mascaras becomes the first masked wrestler to compete in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Ironically, he defeats The Spoiler, who had previously been denied the right to compete with his mask in New York.

December 19: Giant Baba beats The Destroyer in Niigata, Japan. As a stipulation in the match, The Destroyer agrees to wrestle full-time in Japan as one of Baba’s partners. He would spend the next five years in Japan as the first American full-time worker in Japanese wrestling history.

1973
February 27: Giant Baba completes a series of 10 matches with the record of eight wins, no losses, and two draws, against Bruno Sammartino (one win, one draw), Terry Funk, Abdullah the Butcher, The Destroyer, Wilber Snyder (one win, one draw), Don Leo Jonathan, Pat O’Connor, and Bobo Brazil.

Baba is declared the first All-Japan PWF heavyweight champion. The belt is now part of All-Japan’s Triple Crown.

March: Jim Duggan captures the New York State high school wrestling championship in the 250-pound division.

May 18: Bill Watts beats Mr. Wrestling II in Atlanta to win the NWA Georgia title.

December 10: Antonio Inoki beats Johnny Powers in Tokyo to win the NWF heavyweight title. The belt becomes New Japan’s top title prior to the creation of the IWGP title.

1974
February 16: In a battle of pro football stars in Cincinnati, Bengals linebacker Ron Pritchard defeats Cleveland Browns tackle Walter Johnson by disqualification.

1975
May 9: Bruno Sammartino and Giant Baba meet in Tokyo with Sammartino putting up his WWWF title and Baba putting up his PWF title. It’s the first ever WWWF title match held in Japan, and ends in a no-decision.

October 4: Ric Flair suffers a broken back when the Cessna 310 he is riding in crashes near Wilmington, North Carolina. Also on the plane: Johnny Valentine and Bob Bruggers. Doctors say Flair will never wrestle again.

1976
“Bad News” Allen Coage wins a bronze medal in judo for the U.S. in the Olympic Games.

March 17: Light heavyweight great Dan Hodge suffers a broken neck as the result of a car wreck near Monroe, Louisiana, and never wrestles again.

April : Bruno Sammartino suffers a broken neck at the hands of Stan Hansen at Madison Square Garden.

May 24: Ric Flair beats Wahoo McDaniel in Charlotte, North Carolina, to win the Mid-Atlantic heavyweight title. The match stipulated that McDaniel put up his title against Flair’s hair.

June 25: Boxer Muhammad Ali and wrestler Antonio Inoki go to a 15-round draw in Tokyo. The match is aired live on closed-circuit TV as part of a card at New York’s Shea Stadium that draws 32,000 fans and features a boxer vs. wrestler bout between Chuck Wepner and Andre the Giant and the Bruno Sammartino vs. Stan Hansen return match.

December 25: Ric Flair wins his first world title when he teams with Greg Valentine to beat NWA World tag team champions Gene and Ole Anderson in Greensboro, North Carolina.

1977
September 25: El Canek beats Lou Thesz in Mexico City to win the UWA heavyweight title. It’s the last major title Thesz would ever hold, remarkably nearly 40 years after winning his first world title.

September 26: Bob Backlund makes his Madison Square Garden debut.

December 15: Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk beat Abdullah the Butcher and The Sheik in Tokyo in a wild match to win the first annual World Tag League tournament. The match, legendary in Japan for its sheer violence, turned the Funks fan favorites in Japan.

1978
October 6: NWA World champion Harley Race bodyslams Andre the Giant.

January 23: Tatsumi Fujinami beats Jose Estrada in Madison Square Garden to win the WWWF junior heavyweight title.

1979
Brad Rheingans, who would later hold the AWA World tag team title with Ken Patera, wins the World Cup in Greco-Roman wrestling.

January: Bruiser Brody causes a sensation on his first tour of All-Japan.

April : The WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) drops one “W” to become known as the WWF (World Wrestling Federation).

July: The first edition of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, cover-dated September 1979, hits the newsstands.

July 8: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair uses the figure-four leglock to defeat “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers in Greensboro, North Carolina.

August 26: Bitter promotional rivals Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki set aside their differences for one night to team up and beat Abdullah the Butcher and Tiger Jeet Singh in an all-star dream match held in Tokyo, Japan.

November 30: Antonio Inoki pins Bob Backlund in 28:16 in Tokushima, Japan, to win the WWF title. The title change is never officially recognized in the U.S. by the WWF.

December 6: Backlund pins Inoki in the rematch in Tokyo to regain the title.

1980
Tatsumi Fujinami, the reigning WWF junior heavyweight champion, beats Steve Keirn in Sapporo, Japan, to win the NWA International junior heavyweight title.

February 8: Stan Hansen beats Antonio Inoki in Tokyo to win the NWF heavyweight title. It’s the first of many major Japanese titles Hansen would win.

April : Ken Patera pulls off a double by beating Pat Patterson on April 21 to win the WWF Intercontinental title, and then beating Kevin Von Erich in St. Louis on April 25 to win the Missouri State title.

August 3: The “Last Tangle In Tampa” main event finds Harley Race retaining his NWA World title in a best-of-three-falls match against Dusty Rhodes; Fritz Von Erich serves as special referee.

August 9: Bruno Sammartino defeats Larry Zbyszko in the main event of a steel cage match at New York’s Shea Stadium. Also on the card: Andre the Giant pins Hulk Hogan, Bob Backlund and Pedro Morales win the WWF World tag team title from The Samoans, and Intercontinental champion Ken Patera is counted out against Tony Atlas.

1981
April 23: The original and revolutionary Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama) debuts for New Japan by beating Dynamite Kid.

April 30: Dory Funk Jr. beats Bruiser Brody and Terry Funk in Matsudo, Japan, to win the vacant NWA International title.

May 2: Killer Khan leaps off the top rope onto Andre the Giant during a match in Rochester, New York, breaking Andre’s left ankle and igniting the feud of the year.

May 10: AWA World champion Verne Gagne retires after a successful title defense against Nick Bockwinkel.
May 10: Stan Hansen beats Hulk Hogan in Tokyo in New Japan’s annual MSG Tournament.

June 7: Terry Taylor beats Les Thorton in Roanaoke, Virginia, to win the NWA World junior heavyweight title. Thorton would regain the belt two weeks later in the same city.

September 23: In Tokyo, Andre the Giant and Stan Hansen wrestle to a wild, out-of-control no-contest in one of the most anticipated matches of the year.

December 13: In the one of the biggest stories of the year in Japan, Stan Hansen secretly jumps from New Japan to All-Japan. Brody makes a surprise appearance, seconding Bruiser Brody and Jimmy Snuka in their match against Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk in the finals of All-Japan’s annual tag tournament. Hansen interferes in the end to help Brody and Snuka win, setting off a melee that sets the tone for the run of violence Brody and Hansen would cause over the next two years as a team.

December 21: Andre the Giant is the subject of a profile in Sports Illustrated; up to that time, it is the longest profile of any individual athlete ever published by SI. The article is later condensed for Reader’s Digest’s June 1982 issue, and reprinted in its entirety in the Summer 1987 edition of Wrestling 87.

1982
Steve Williams, at the time a senior in college, loses in the NCAA finals to Bruce Baumgartner by a score of 4-3; Baumgartner would go on to compete in the 1984 Olympics and capture the gold medal in wrestling.

WTBS’ Georgia Championship Wrestling is renamed World Championship Wrestling.

May : The original Tiger Mask scores an amazing double by winning both the NWA and WWF versions of the junior heavyweight title on consecutive nights. First, on May 25 in Shizuoka, Japan, Tiger beats Les Thorton to win the NWA title. On the following night in Osaka, he beats Black Tiger to win the WWF title.

June: Vince McMahon Jr. and TitanSports purchases Capitol Wrestling Corporation from his father and other shareholders.

June 28: In one of the most memorable and dramatic moments in Madison Square Garden wrestling history, Jimmy Snuka performs his “superfly” flying bodypress from the top of the steel cage in a match against WWF World champion Bob Backlund. He misses, and Backlund escapes from the cage with his title reign intact.

July 4: WWF World champion Bob Backlund battles NWA World champion Ric Flair in Atlanta’s Omni. The bout ends in a double-disqualification after about 20 minutes of furious action.

July 29: Comedian Andy Kaufman and Memphis mainstay Jerry Lawler appear on the Late Night With David Letterman show. Kaufman, wearing a neck brace due to an injury sustained in a match against “The King,” gets into an obscenity-laced shouting match with Lawler, then throws Letterman’s coffee in Lawler’s face. The confrontation makes headlines on the entertainment pages of newspapers nationwide.

October 8: In a six-man tag bout in Koichi, Japan, Riki Choshu turns on partners Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami. The turn marks the birth of the landmark Ishingun vs. Seikigun feud that flames all across Japan for the next two years as Choshu’s Seikigun group rebels against the established New Japan powers, Inoki and Fujinami’s Ishingun group.

December 25: Kerry Von Erich battles NWA World champion Ric Flair in a steel cage in Dallas, with Freebird Michael Hayes serving as special referee. When Von Erich and Flair are both dazed after a mid-ring collision, Hayes places Von Erich on top of the champion. Von Erich won’t accept the title that way, and Hayes becomes outraged, calling Von Erich an “idiot.” As Von Erich leaves the cage, Hayes’ Freebird partner, Terry Gordy, slams the cage door shut on Von Erich’s head. That act ignited the Freebird-Von Erichs war that subsequently embroiled Texas for nearly five years.

1983
March 20: Larry Zbyszko pays Killer Brooks $25,000 for the NWA National title. NWA President Bob Geigel strips Zbyszko of the title.

June 2: Hulk Hogan defeats Antonio Inoki to become the first IWGP heavyweight champion.

July 15: In between runs as NWA World champion, Ric Flair beats David Von Erich in the finals of a 20-man tournament to be crowned the Missouri champion. The title became vacant when Missouri champion Harley Race beat Flair for the NWA World title on June 10.

October 23: The Tommy Rich-Buzz Sawyer feud, which has been raging for more than 18 months, comes to a bloody climax at “The Last Battle Of Atlanta” cage match in The Omni. Rich defeats Sawyer, but hardly looks like a winner.

November 24: The first Starrcade card is held, in Greensboro, North Carolina. A crowd of 15,447 in the Greensboro Coliseum is joined by about 30,000 fans in closed-circuit locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. In the main event, Ric Flair captures his second NWA World heavyweight title from Harley Race.

1984
January 22: Two-time NWA World champion and pro football Hall of Famer Bronko Nagurski, 75, is given the honor of tossing the coin at the start of Super Bowl XVIII in Tampa, Florida. The Los Angeles Raiders win the toss—and the game, defeating the Washington Redskins, 38-9.

February 7: Dynamite Kid beats The Cobra in Tokyo Japan to win the vacant WWF junior heavyweight title. Kid beats British Bulldog teammate Davey Boy Smith in the semifinals of what is considered one of the greatest junior heavyweight tournaments in wrestling history.

March: Ric Flair and Harley Race exchange the NWA World titles in a pair of matches never acknowledged at the time by the NWA. Race beats Flair on March 21 in Wellington, New Zealand, while Flair regains the title on March 23 in Kallang, Singapore. The title changes were finally recognized by the NWA in the 1990s as “official.”

April : Japan-based UWF is formed, at the time featuring such stars as Akira Maeda, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Nobuhiko Takada, and Rusher Kimura.

April 6: Ken Patera and Mr. Saito throw a 30-pound boulder through the window of a McDonald’s in Waukesha, Wisconsin, when they are refused service after hours. A brawl with Waukesha police officers takes place shortly thereafter at the Holiday Inn where Patera and Saito are staying.

April 25: Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen thrash the field to win All-Japan’s tournament to crown the first PWF tag team champions.

May 29: The first card of NWA wrestling in the New York area in 20 years, dubbed “The Night Of Champions,” is held in New Jersey’s Byrne Meadowlands Arena.

June 14: Antonio Inoki beats Hulk Hogan to win the IWGP heavyweight title.

July 14: The WWF takes over the NWA’s airtime on Atlanta SuperStation WTBS’ World Championship Wrestling. Hundreds of calls of complaint are received, to which WWF head Vince McMahon responds in an Atlanta Constitution news article: “We’ll show those complainers the difference between a major league and a minor league production, given time.” NWA wrestling is quickly reinstated on TBS on Saturday mornings, and returns to the Saturday evening time slot about nine months later.

September: In the top Japanese story of the year, the JWP (Japan Wrestling Promotion) is formed and affiliates itself with All-Japan. The organization features top New Japan stars who walked out in a dispute with the promotion: Riki Choshu, Masa Saito, Kuniaki Kobayashi, and Yoshiaki Yatsu. New Japan is crippled by their departure, while All-Japan enjoys banner years in 1985 and 1986 with Choshu’s Army wrestling at the top of their cards against such All-Japan stars as Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu.

September 17: Sports Illustrated checks in with this sartorial criticism of Lord Al Hays, who at the time is serving as co-host of the WWF’s Tuesday Night Titans program: “Lord Alfred Hays is a syrupy British wimp who wears frilly tuxedos of the type fashionable in Las Vegas in the late-’60s.”

September 29: In an attempt to counter the rising power of the WWF, a new wrestling program, Pro Wrestling USA, makes its debut on New York’s WPIX. The program, also aired in Japan, features a combination of NWA and AWA talent, and most notably brings Bob Backlund back into the public eye just months after the birth of Hulkamania in the WWF.

December 28: The Cobra beats Black Tiger in Madison Square Garden to win the vacant WWF junior heavyweight title.


1985
February 18: “The War To Settle The Score” is broadcast live on MTV. The Madison Square Garden bout pits Roddy Piper against WWF World champion Hulk Hogan, who wins by disqualification when Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper interfere.
February 21: ABC airs an installment of 20/20 during which “Dr. D” David Shultz hits reporter John Stossel in the ears; Stossel later sued and received a $280,000 settlement from the WWF.

March 9: The Road Warriors make their Tokyo wrestling debut and are an instant sensation.

March 10: Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling debuts on WTBS, but its run lasts only a few months.

March 28: Richard Belzer is injured when Hulk Hogan drops him on the floor while demonstrating a front facelock during a broadcast of Belzer’s cable-TV show, Hot Properties. He received nine stitches in his head and an undisclosed sum of money following a lawsuit in which he sought $5-million in damages.

March 31: The first WrestleMania card is held, in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The card is made available to 135 closed-circuit locations, drawing an estimated viewership of 400,000. In the main event, Hulk Hogan and Mr. T defeat Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper when Hogan pins Orndorff.

April : The first-ever wrestling videotape—Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Lords Of The Ring—is released by Vestron Video.

April : In need of revenue, Vince McMahon sells his TBS time slot to Mid-Atlantic-based promoter Jim Crockett for a reported $1-million.

April 11: Bruiser Brody jumps from All-Japan to New Japan.

April 18: Brody wrestles his first ever singles match against Antonio Inoki at Tokyo’s Sumo Hall before a packed house.

April 29: Hulk Hogan appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated; next to the swimsuit issue, the magazine is the year’s best seller.

May 11: Professional wrestling returns to network television after a 30-year absence as the WWF’s Saturday Night’s Main Event premieres on NBC. In the main event, WWF World champion Hulk Hogan battles Bob Orton, with Roddy Piper, Mr. T, and Paul Orndorff at ringside.

June 5: Steve Williams receives 108 stitches in his right eye following a match against Brad Armstrong in Shreveport, LA. He wrestles again just hours after being stitched up.

June 6: After seven hours of deliberation, a jury finds Ken Patera and Mr. Saito guilty of several assault charges stemming from a fight with police officers in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Patera is convicted of two counts of battery on a peace officer and one count of criminal damage to property; Saito is convicted of three counts of battery on a peace officer and one count of obstructing an officer. Both men are sentenced to two years in prison.

July 2: Pro Wrestling Illustrated reinstates world title recognition for the WWF heavyweight title after more than two years of viewing it as a regional championship.

August 22: Mike Von Erich is operated on at Granville C. Morton Cancer and Research Hospital in Dallas, Texas, for an injured shoulder. He is released four days later with no apparent complications, but readmitted a day after that with a 105-degree fever. His temperature soars to 107 degrees as he begins a month-long battle against toxic shock syndrome.
August 27: ESPN airs wrestling for the first time as it begins broadcasting a weekly AWA program.

September 2: A Florida-based “Battle Of The Belts” card from Tampa is aired on free TV throughout Florida as well as in Boston, Dallas, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

September 20: The St. Louis Wrestling Club holds its final card at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis.

September 20: Fred Blassie and Lou Albano “wrestle” each other inside a steel cage at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

October 8: New York State Senator Abraham Bernstein opens hearings to ban professional wrestling in New York.

November 19: Lex Luger captures the Southern heavyweight title from Wahoo McDaniel in Tampa, FL—less than three weeks after making his pro debut.

December 12: Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura beat Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi to win the annual New Japan tag tournament and become the first IWGP tag team champions. The end is a major upset as Fujinami scores his first pin ever over his mentor, Inoki, at 31:53.

1986
February: Dallas-based World Class Championship Wrestling secedes from the NWA.

February 6: Shiro Koshinaka beats The Cobra in Tokyo in the finals of New Japan’s tournament to crown the first IWGP junior heavyweight champion.

February 7: WTBS airs its first prime time wrestling special, Superstars On The SuperStation, more than two years before the first Clash of the Champions.

March 1: MTV airs the WWF’s first-ever “Slammys” awards program.

April 19: The Superdome in New Orleans hosts the first-ever Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup tag team tournament. The Road Warriors emerge from the 24-team field to defeat Magnum T.A. and Ronnie Garvin and claim the $1-million prize.

May : The Four Horsemen are formed, a quartet consisting of Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, and Ole Anderson, with management by James J. Dillon.

June 4: Kerry Von Erich, driving his motorcycle south on U.S. 373 in Argyle, Texas, pulls to his left on a two-lane two-way highway to pass a van. Von Erich skids into the rear of the police car that had stopped in front of the van to make a left turn, then flies 50 feet through the air and lands in the road. He suffers a dislocated hip and a severely damaged right knee and ankle.

June 17: Antonio Inoki beats Andre the Giant via submission in 9: 30 in Nagoya, Japan.

September 16: Chris Adams is convicted of misdemeanor assault for headbutting an airline pilot on a June 30 flight from Puerto Rico to Texas. He is sentenced to three months in prison.

October 9: Antonio Inoki pins former boxing world champion Leon Spinks in the eighth round of a wrestler-boxer bout in Tokyo before a sellout crowd of 11,520 fans. On the undercard, rising star Akira Maeda beats Don Neilsen in a thrilling match that steals the show.

October 14: Magnum T.A. crashes his Porsche into a utility pole at 2: 30 a.m. in Charlotte, North Carolina. Magnum’s fifth cervical vertebra from the top explodes, sending bone fragments into his spinal cord and resulting in extensive surgery and physical therapy. Remarkably, he beats the odds to survive and walk again.

December 12: “Dr. Death” Steve Williams defeats UWF champion One Man Gang in 21: 43 in Houston, Texas, to become the winner of the $50,000 Pro Wrestling Illustrated/UWF Challenge Cup Tournament.

December 13: Dynamite Kid collapses due to a severe back injury during a match in Hamilton, Ontario.

1987
February 28: Jim Neidhart is indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of assaulting and interfering with a flight attendant; he is subsequently acquitted.

February: Riki Choshu decides to jump back to New Japan from All-Japan. Masa Saito, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Super Strong Machine, and Hiro Saito follow Choshu back to New Japan. Yoshiaki Yatsu, Choshu’s regular tag team partner, stays with All-Japan.

March 1: Two-time former WWF World champion Bruno Sammartino is inducted into the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame at a banquet in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

March 12: The Road Warriors beat Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu in Tokyo to win the International tag team title, at the time the oldest and most prestigious tag title in Japan.

April : The Global Wrestling Alliance becomes the first publicly traded wrestling organization, with seven million shares of stock hitting the market at an initial offering of 40 cents per share.

April 9: Jim Crockett Promotions purchases the Universal Wrestling Federation, headed by Bill Watts.

April 10-11: The Baltimore Arena hosts the second Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup tag team tournament. Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff down Tully Blanchard and Lex Luger in the final round of the 24-team tournament to capture the $1-million prize.

April 27: Jerry Lawler and Austin Idol wrestle a hair vs. hair cage match for the Southern title in Memphis. Tommy Rich comes out from underneath the ring to aid Idol in winning, causing Lawler to lose not only the match but his hair. The Mid-South Coliseum crowd nearly riots in outrage.

May 11: Kevin Von Erich collapses in the middle of the ring during an eight-man bout pitting him, The Fantastics, and Bruiser Brody against Brian Adias, Black Bart, Al Madril, and Al Perez. Fantastic Tommy Rogers, seeing Von Erich turning blue, administers cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

May 26: Hacksaw Duggan and The Iron Sheik are arrested by New Jersey state police. Duggan is charged with possession of marijuana and drinking alcohol while driving; Sheik is charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana. Duggan receives a conditional discharge; Sheik receives one year probation.

November 19: Akira Maeda takes a cheap shot kick at Riki Choshu’s face, breaking Choshu’s orbital bone. Maeda never wrestles again for New Japan, as he and New Japan cannot come to terms on a suitable punishment. The following year, Maeda reopens the Japanese UWF, which becomes a red hot promotion.

December 27: Big Van Vader debuts in Japan, destroying and pinning Antonio Inoki in 2: 27 in the main event of the Sumo Hall card. The match incites a riot, causing New Japan to be banned indefinitely from its home major arena. On the undercard, Hiroshi Hase wrestles his first professional match in Japan and defeats Kuniaki Kobayashi to win the IWGP junior heavyweight title.

1988
February 5: Wrestling returns to prime-time network television after a 33-year absence with the broadcast of WWF’s Main Event program.

March 27: Bruiser Brody pins Jumbo Tsuruta in Tokyo to win the International heavyweight title for the third time. It would be the final major title Brody would ever hold.

March 27: The first-ever Clash of the Champions card is held, in Greensboro, North Carolina. In the main event, Sting and Ric Flair battle to a 45-minute draw.

April 22-23: The third Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup tag team tournament is held in Greenville, South Carolina, and Greensboro, North Carolina. Sting and Lex Luger combine to win the $1-million prize, defeating Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson in the final round.

June: In Japan, Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu pull off a double in a week. On June 6 in Sapporo, they beat top rivals Genichiro Tenryu and Ashura Hara to win the PWF tag team titles. In Tokyo on June 10, they end The Road Warriors’ 15-month International tag title reign by winning a double title match, thus creating All-Japan’s Unified tag team title.

July 16: Bruiser Brody is stabbed to death in the showers of Bayoman Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jose Gonzales is charged with the murder but later aquitted.

July 27: Riki Choshu scores his first-ever singles pin over Antonio Inoki, in Sapporo, Japan.

October 17: Forbes magazine reports that the estimated worth of the World Wrestling Federation is $100-million.

November: Ted Turner purchases NWA cornerstone Jim Crockett Promotions, renaming the organization World Championship Wrestling.

November 7: TitanSports promotes its first-ever non-wrestling pay-per-view, a boxing match between Sugar Ray Leonard and Donny Lalonde.

December 13: Stan Hansen and Terry Gordy beat Genichiro Tenryu and Toshiaki Kawada in Tokyo to win All-Japan’s annual tag tournament and the vacant Unified tag team title.

1989
April 18: International champion Jumbo Tsuruta beats PWF and United National champion Stan Hansen in Tokyo to become All-Japan’s first Triple Crown champion.

May 25: A month after putting on the costume, Jushin Liger beats Shiro Koshinaka in Osaka to win the IWGP junior heavyweight title for the first time.

May 28: Jake Roberts undergoes surgery to remove a ruptured disk from his neck. He is sidelined for nearly four months.
June 6: After a two-year feud, Genichiro Tenryu finally pins Jumbo Tsuruta in a singles match, winning the Triple Crown in the process. The match, held at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, is the consensus Japanese Match of the Year.

June 25: Boxer Leon Spinks loses to Greg Wojokowski in a boxer-wrestler bout in Toledo, Ohio.

July 4: Davey Boy Smith, Jason the Terrible, and Chris Benoit are injured in a head-on automobile accident in Jasper, Alberta. Smith suffers a cracked vertebra in his back and needs 100 stitches in his head after being thrown through the windshield of the vehicle. Jason suffers two fractures in his left leg, while Benoit suffers an injured right knee. All three eventually return to ring action.

August 11: Art Barr, also known as Beetlejuice, is arrested in Eugene, Oregon, and is charged with raping of a 19-year-old fan on July 16.

August 28: The first issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated Weekly, cover-dated September 11, is published.
September 16: Terry Allen—Magnum T.A.—marries Tracey Cedarburg in Chesapeake, VA.

November 22: Big Van Vader beats El Canek in Mexico City to win the UWA heavyweight title. With the win, Vader simultaneously holds major heavyweight titles in Asia (New Japan’s IWGP title), Europe (CWA title), and North America (UWA title).

November 28: Veteran NWA referee Tommy Young suffers career-ending neck and back injuries while officiating a match between Mike Rotundo and Tommy Rich at Center Stage Theater in Atlanta.

November 29: The Japanese wrestling world is shocked as Akira Maeda’s UWF promotion draws 60,000 fans to sell out the Tokyo Dome. Maeda beats Willie Wilhelm in the main event.

1990
February 6: Sting suffers a ruptured left patella tendon at Clash of the Champions X. He’s forced to bow out of an upcoming title match against Ric Flair, and Lex Lugar takes his place.

February 10: Rival promotions New Japan and All-Japan work together for only the second time. The result is a sold-out Tokyo Dome crowd of 63,900 fans, paying $3.2-million. Among the 11 matches, Genichiro Tenryu and Tiger Mask II beat Riki Choshu and George Takano, and Big Van Vader retains the IWGP title by going to a double-countout against Stan Hansen.

February 23: Twelve days after kayoing Mike Tyson in Tokyo for the undisputed heavyweight boxing championship, special referee Buster Douglas kayos Randy Savage during an argument following a Savage-Hulk Hogan bout (part of an NBC prime time special). Tyson had originally been scheduled to serve as special referee in the bout, but that changed with Douglas’ Tokyo win.

April 13: All-Japan, New Japan, and the WWF put on a combined show at the Tokyo Dome. The top matches see Hulk Hogan pin Stan Hansen and Genichiro Tenryu pin Randy Savage.

May 14: After nearly six years as the second Tiger Mask, Mitsuharu Misawa takes off the mask in the middle of a tag match in Tokyo to reveal his identity.

June 8: A new superstar is born at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall as Mitsuharu Misawa upsets long-time top All-Japan star Jumbo Tsuruta. In the semifinal, Stan Hansen pins Terry Gordy to win the Triple Crown for the first of a record four times.

July 4: Brutus Beefcake suffers massive facial injuries in a parasailing accident in Lutz, Florida, as the knees of a parasailer crash into his head. He undergoes 8 1/2 hours of surgery during which eight steel plates, 40 screws, and more than 100 staples are inserted into his head.

September: Tully Blanchard announces his retirement from wrestling to devote his life to the ministry.

September 1: Eddie Gilbert, driving his brother Doug’s car, attempts to run down Jerry Lawler during a broadcast of USWA Championship Wrestling. Lawler was trying to save USWA matchmaker Eddie Marlin, who had just fired Eddie and Doug Gilbert from the USWA and was escorting them from the building. Remarkably, Lawler escapes the incident with just a bruised hip.

November 6: Jesse Ventura is elected May or of Brooklyn Park, MN, defeating 18-year incumbent Jim Krautkremer.

December 26: Lou Thesz, 74, wrestles impressively, but is defeated by his former student, Masa Chono, 27, on a New Japan card in Hamamatsu, Japan. In the main event, Tatsumi Fujinami beats old Ishingun rival Riki Choshu to regain the IWGP heavyweight title.

1991
March 21: New Japan and WCW hold a joint show that draws 64,500 fans to the Tokyo Dome. The main event sees IWGP heavyweight champion Tatsumi Fujinami pin NWA World champion Ric Flair in a double title match to “win” the NWA title. In Japan, Fujinami is recognized as the NWA champion, while in the U.S., WCW disputes the finish. In the summer of 1991, the NWA Board “officially” recognizes the match as a title change, and that Flair had regained the title by pinning Fujinami on May 19 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

June 8: AWA and PWA wrestler Derrick Dukes squares off against former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau in Salem, Virginia, in Gastineau’s pro boxing debut. Dukes, 2-1 as a boxer coming into the bout, is kayoed by Gastineau in the first round. He later admits to having taken a dive.

June 12: Scott Steiner’s left biceps tendon is torn from the bone when he is attacked by Dick Slater and Dick Murdoch following a successful defense of the Steiners’ WCW World tag team title against Hiroshi Hase and Masa Chono at Clash of the Champions XV.

June 27: Dr. George T. Zahorian, a physician who formerly served as a ringside physician at WWF events in Pennsylvania, is convicted on 12 of 14 counts of selling anabolic steroids to four pro wrestlers and a weightlifter in a trial held in Harrisburg, PA. He is subsequently sentenced to three years in prison.

July 2: In one of the decade’s most shocking events, NWA/WCW World champion Ric Flair quits/is fired by WCW.

July 16: At a press conference in New York, WWF head Vince McMahon announces that WWF stars will now undergo mandatory testing for anabolic steroids as part of its anti-drug policy. The policy is called into question when testing does not begin until November, and the second round of tests are not taken until early-1992.

July 16: Appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show, WWF World champion Hulk Hogan sternly declares, “I’ve trained 20 years, two hours a day, to look like I do. But the thing I am not, is I’m not a steroid abuser, and I do not use steroids.” Hogan would contradict those statements at Vince McMahon’s 1994 trial.

August 3: Cactus Jack and Eddie Gilbert wrestle a best-of-three series in Philadelphia. The first match is a fall-counts-anywhere bout, the second is a stretcher match, and the third is a cage match.

August 11: Masahiro Chono wins New Japan’s first Grade One (G1) tournament by beating The Great Muta (Keiji Muto) in the finals in Tokyo. Chono beats Riki Choshu, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Shinya Hashimoto on the way to the finals.

August 26: After the SummerSlam PPV ends, Jake Roberts, and The Undertaker crash the reception of Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. The incident launches a heated and twisted feud between Roberts and Savage, that includes at one point Savage being bit by one of Roberts’ snakes. The feud climaxes with a Savage win at the Tuesday in Texas PPV on December 3.

September 8: The NWA Board strips Ric Flair of recognition as NWA champion.

September 10: Ric Flair wrestles his first WWF bout, forcing Jim Powers to submit to the figure-four leglock in Cornwall, Ontario.

October: Ralston Purina Co. launches WWF Superstars cereal in television commercials broadcast on the West Coast.

October 23: The first-ever match between WWF World champion Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair takes place in Dayton, Ohio; Flair wins the bout by countout.

December 6: Dynamite Kid, long a legend in Japan and best known in the U.S. as part of The British Bulldogs tag team with Davey Boy Smith, announces his retirement from the ring during a ceremony in Budokan, Japan. Also on the card, Terry Gordy and Steve Williams become the first team to win All-Japan’s annual tag team tournament in consecutive years.

1992
January 20: Dino Bravo wrestles his last match before retiring, defeating The Barbarian at The Forum in Montreal.

February 8: Kerry Von Erich is arrested in Richardson, Texas, for attempting to falsify two drug prescriptions. Shortly after he is released on $6,000 bond, his father, Fritz Von Erich, says that Kerry would be entering a drug rehabilitation program.

March 2: Two top-ranking WWF officials—Pat Patterson and Terry Garvin—resign their positions on the heels of allegations of sexual misconduct leveled by former WWF employees, wrestler Barry Orton, a former front office worker, and two former ring attendants.

March 6: Former WWF star Paul Roma’s pro boxing debut results in a fourth-round loss to Jerry Arentzen in Callicoon, New York, when Roma’s manager, Kevin Rooney, throws in the towel.

March 13: WWF head Vince McMahon appears on CNN’s Larry King Live to address allegations of sexual misconduct and steroid abuse in the WWF. McMahon says the allegations of sexual misconduct are “a bunch of bunk.”

March 16: The WWF denies allegations of sexual misconduct within its organization and promises to conduct its own investigation into the charges. “We do not believe the charges in these stories to be true,” the statement says, in part, “and we are so outraged that we have asked our attorneys to determine what legal action might be appropriate.”

April 1: Former WWF star Paul Roma scores his first win as a pro boxer, a 47-second TKO victory over Norman Fortini in Randolph, Massachusetts.

April 4: The USA Network debuts WBF Body Stars, TitanSports’ new weekly bodybuilding program. The show, featurings former WCW World champion Lex Luger, is a ratings failure.

May 30: After 68 years in the wrestling promoting business, Don Owen relinquishes control of Pacific Northwest Wrestling and says goodbye to the fans.

July 31: WWF World champion Randy Savage appears on The Arsenio Hall Show and admits that he experimented with steroids, pointing out that the muscle-enhancing drugs were legal when he did so.

September 2: WCW’s Clash of the Champions XX celebrates 20 years of wrestling on TBS. It also marks the last U.S. appearance of Andre the Giant.

October 1: Kerry Von Erich is sentenced on six felony counts of prescription forgery. He receives a 10-year suspended sentence, 10 years of supervised probation, and a $6,000 fine.

October 30: Eric Embry suffers a badly bruised liver and severe ligament and cartilage damage to his left knee when his car is run off the road in Beaver Dam, KY.

December 14: The Hellraisers—Road Warrior Hawk and Power Warrior (Kensuke Sasaki)—beat Scott Norton and Tony Halme in Tokyo to win the IWGP tag team title. For Hawk, the win marks a unique accomplishment: winning the top tag team titles of the five major promotions in the U.S. and Japan. He previously had held (with Animal) the AWA, NWA, and WWF World tag titles along with All-Japan’s International tag title.


1993
January 4: In a rematch of a feud started in All-Japan in 1985, WAR’s Genichiro Tenryu pins New Japan’s Riki Choshu in the main event of New Japan’s annual Tokyo Dome card. In the semifinal, IWGP champion The Great Muta (Keiji Muto) pins NWA champion Masahiro Chono in a title vs. title match.

January 29: The WWF donates $100,000 to relief efforts in Somalia during a ceremony at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

February 21: Ric Flair returns to WCW, at SuperBrawl III in Asheville, North Carolina, after approximately 18 months of competing in the WWF.

April 2: The All-Japan Women’s promotion holds a multipromotional card at Yokohama Arena to celebrate the promotion’s 25th anniversary. The show draws a sellout crowd of 16,500 and shatters the all-time women’s gate record with $1.2-million in receipts. The top matches see AJW’s Akira Hokuto beat LLPW’s Shinobu Kandori in the women’s singles match of the year, while AJW’s Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada beat FMW’s Megumi Kudo and Combat Toyoda.

April 30: AAA draws 48,000 fans to Plaza de Toros in Mexico City for Triple Mania. In the main event, Cien Caras wins a retirement match over Konnan due to the interference of Jake Roberts.

May 28: Riki Choshu suffers a broken bone around the rim of his right eye as the result of a Kengo Kimura elbowdrop during a match in Tokyo.

June 12: Jushin Liger suffers a broken left leg in a match against 2 Cold Scorpio in Chigasaki, Japan.

July 4: Lex Luger bodyslams Yokozuna on the deck of the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York City.

August 28: The Mexico-based AAA organization runs a card at the Los Angeles Sports Arena that draws a sellout of 16,742 fans paying $243,000—and turns away nearly 8,000 fans at the door. In the main event, Konnan beats Cien Caras and Jake Roberts in a triangle match.

October 28: An early-morning brawl at the Moat House Hotel in Blackburn, England, takes place between Sid Vicious and Arn Anderson. Both men are rushed to a local hospital. Anderson receives approximately 20 stab wounds from a pair of scissors, while Vicious suffers four puncture wounds.

November 18: WWF head Vince McMahon is indicted on charges of possession of anabolic steroids and conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, facing up to eight years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted on both counts.

December 5: UWFI champion Nobuhiko Takada forces WCW World champion Big Van Vader to submit to the cross armbreaker in a non-title match at Tokyo’s Jingu Baseball Stadium. The matchup of two major champions draws a sellout crowd of 46,168.

1994
February 28: Promoter Jim Crockett holds a taping in New York for a new venture entitled World Wrestling Network. Stars appearing at the taping include Sabu, Terry Funk, Road Warrior Hawk, Public Enemy, Jake Roberts, and Missy Hyatt.

March 16: Two-thirds of Cactus Jack’s right ear is severed when he becomes entangled in the ropes during a match in Germany against Big Van Vader.

April 13: Jesse Ventura is awarded $809,958 by a federal jury in St. Paul, MN, as the result of a lawsuit against TitanSports, parent company of the WWF. All but $8,625 was for royalties on videotapes on which Ventura did color commentary. Ventura originally sought $2-million in the case.

April 16: New Japan’s “Wild Pegasus” Chris Benoit wins the seven-promotion “Super J Cup” junior heavyweight tournament at a sold-out Sumo Hall in Tokyo. In the finals, Benoit beats Michinoku Pro’s Great Sasuke in the junior heavyweight match of the decade, sparking comparisons to the revolutionary Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid matches of the early-1980s. It’s Sasuke, though, who’s the show’s true revelation, beating New Japan’s El Samurai and then current IWGP junior heavyweight kingpin Jushin Liger on the way to the finals.

April 16: Across town at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall, Toshiaki Kawada pins Steve Williams with a power bomb in a thrilling 25: 49 match to win All-Japan’s annual Champions Carnival singles tournament.

April 29: Charles Austin, a preliminary wrestler left paralyzed after a 1990 WWF tag team match in Tampa, Florida, against The Rockers, is awarded $26.7-million in a lawsuit against the federation.

June 3: For the third year running, Triple Crown champion Mitsuharu Misawa turns back the challenge of former tag team partner and now bitter rival Toshiaki Kawada at Budokan Hall in Tokyo. This one was the hardest-fought bout yet, as Kawada pushes Misawa for an epic 35:50 before Misawa knocks him out with his most lethal finisher, the dangerous and rarely used Tiger Driver ‘91.

June 9: Fred Blassie, Bobo Brazil, James Dudley, Gorilla Monsoon, Buddy Rogers, Arnold Skaaland, and Chief Jay Strongbow are inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore.

June 11: Hulk Hogan signs with WCW.

July 5: The trial of WWF head Vince McMahon on steroid distribution charges gets underway in Uniondale, New York.
July 22: WWF head Vince McMahon is acquitted of conspiracy to distribute steroids to wrestlers following 16 hours of jury deliberations. The announcement of the decision, at a federal courtroom in Uniondale, New York, saw spectators applaud.

August 7: “Mr. August” Masahiro Chono beats Kensuke Sasaki in Tokyo to win his third New Japan G1 tournament championship in four years.

August 27: Eastern Championship Wrestling renames itself Extreme Championship Wrestling.

September 24: IWGP junior heavyweight champion Jushin Liger breaks his leg in a tag team match. The injury forces him to vacate the title, and puts him out of action for nearly 11 months.

November 20: All-Japan Women’s draw 42,500 fans to the Tokyo Dome for the biggest show in the history of women’s wrestling. The 10-hour, 23-match card is headlined by the V-Top tournament of champions. In the finals, EMLL champion Akira Hokuto beats WWWA champion Aja Kong. Also on the card, Bull Nakano beats Madusa for the WWF Women’s title.

December 3: After more than a decade of competing in the WWF, “Macho Man” Randy Savage makes his WCW debut on a live broadcast of WCW Saturday Night.


1995
January 7: Tully Blanchard comes out of retirement to wrestle ECW champion Shane Douglas to a 60-minute draw at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia.

January 24: Former NWA World champion Harley Race suffers a broken hip and two broken hands in a car accident in Kansas City, Missouri.

February 18: Eddie Gilbert dies of a heart attack in his apartment in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico; he was 33.

February 18: Roddy Piper makes a rare appearance at a wrestling card to present longtime Portland promoter Don Owen with a plaque commemorating Owen’s decades-long career in the sport.

February 22: The New York Post publishes a scathing article regarding the deaths of Eddie Gilbert and several other wrestlers who tragically died young. Two-time former WWF World champion Bruno Sammartino is quoted as saying, “It’s time to clean up this business or abolish it, because it’s nothing like it used to be. Right now, it’s filled with human junk.”

February 26: Smoky Mountain Wrestling shows signs of financial trouble when its supercard, Sunday Bloody Sunday II, draws only 1,100 fans—less than a third of the 4,000 in attendance just a year earlier.

March 13: Crush is arrested at his home in Kona, Hawaii, after narcotics officers search his home and discover 500 units of anabolic steroids and several unregistered semi-automatic guns. He is released on $10,275 bail.

March 28: Lawrence Taylor receives major mainstream publicity when he has a public workout in New York’s Times Square in preparation for his WrestleMania XI bout against Bam Bam Bigelow.

April 2: The 13-promotion Weekly Pro card draws a sellout crowd of 60,000 fans to the Tokyo Dome. Each promotion sends what it believes is its best matchup, sparking a competition among the promotions for the best match on the card. The card reaches its emotional climax as All-Japan’s wrestlers appear at the Tokyo Dome for the first time in five years. The “Best Six” match, featuring Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, and Stan Hansen vs. Toshiaki Kawada, Akira Taue, and Johnny Ace electrifies the crowd and goes to a 30-minute draw.

April 7: NWA champion Dan Severn wins the Ultimate Fighting Championship V in Charlotte, North Carolina.

April 28: Fred Blassie suffers a heart attack that results in triple-bypass heart surgery on May 3. The former wrestler and manager makes a full recovery.

April 28: Approximately 150,000 fans attend a New Japan Pro Wrestling event in Korea, setting an attendance record that stands for one day, as nearly 190,000 fans attend the second day of wrestling at the Korean cultural festival.

April 28 & 29: New Japan draws 320,000 fans over two nights to shatter the wrestling attendance record.

April 30: In an incident that launches the hottest Mexican feud of the year, Mascara Ano Dos Mil breaks a beer bottle over the head of Perro Aguayo in Guadalajara, allowing Dos Mil’s brother Cien Caras to win a triangle match over Aguayo and Konnan.

May 5: In Japan, FMW’s top star, Atsushi Onita, retires after beating Hayabusa at Kawasaki Baseball Stadium in front of 48,000 fans.

May 6: The Sheik, still semi-active at age 70, suffers a heart attack while getting into a taxi in Tokyo. He makes makes a full recovery.

May 13: The Boston Garden hosts its last pro wrestling show ever, the WWF’s “A Night To Remember.”

June 9: Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue beat Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi to win All-Japan’s Unified tag team title. Kawada pins Misawa for the first time ever to end the 42:37 match that is the consensus Japanese Tag Team Match of the Year.

June 13: Chris Benoit wins New Japan’s annual Super Juniors round-robin tournament for the second time by beating Shinjiro Otani in Hiroshima.

June 24: The Grand Wizard, Fabulous Moolah, Antonino Rocca, Ivan Putski, George “The Animal” Steele, Pedro Morales, and Ernie Ladd are inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame.

July 12: WWF President Jack Tunney resigns.

July 22: The Ultimate Warrior wrestles his first match in more than two years before 2,000 fans in Las Vegas, Nevada; he defeats the Honky Tonk Man.

July 23: Pro wrestler Hiroshi Hase is elected to the Japanese House of Councilors.

August: WWF preliminary wrestler Chuck Austin, to whom a federal jury awarded $26.7-million in an April 1994 lawsuit against the WWF, settles his dispute with the federation out of court. According to the settlement, Austin will receive approximately $7-million, while his legal team will receive approximately $3-million.

August 15: Keiji Muto beats Shinya Hashimoto to win New Japan’s annual G1 tournament. It marks the first time in the tourney’s five-year history that the “sitting” IWGP champion wins the G1.

August 20: Cactus Jack beats Terry Funk to win the IWA King of Death Matches tournament at Kawasaki Stadium in Japan.

August 29: Big Van Vader and Paul Orndorff are involved in a locker room brawl at Atlanta’s Center Stage Theater that results in Vader’s suspension and eventual dismissal from the organization.

August 30: JWP’s Dynamite Kansai beats Aja Kong to win All-Japan Women’s WWWA Women’s title. Kansai is the first “outsider” ever to win AJW’s top prize.

September 4: WCW debuts Monday Nitro, live from The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Top WWF star Lex Luger shocks the wrestling world by appearing on the show, speaking derisively about the WWF and its stars, and claiming he wants a shot at Hulk Hogan and the WCW World title; Hogan gives him that title shot a week later, and the match ends in disqualification when members of The Dungeon of Doom enter the ring.

September 11: WCW wins the first head-to-head meeting of Monday Nitro vs. Monday Night Raw, posting a 2.5 rating to Raw’s 2.2.

September 11: Jesse Ventura scores a major victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit Court in St. Paul, Minnesota, affirms an April 3, 1994, verdict awarding Ventura $809,958 in a lawsuit against the WWF over his participation in wrestling videotapes.

September 25: Ted Turner agrees to sell TBS and all its holdings, including WCW, to Time Warner Inc., which would take control in 1996.

October 9: In the biggest singles match in Japanese wresting history, New Japan’s IWGP heavyweight champion beats UWFI’s Nobuhiko Takada with the figure-four in 16: 16. The match draws 67,000 fans, paying $6.1-million, the largest live gate in pro wrestling history.

October 14: A sleeping Shawn Michaels is pulled out of a car in front of Club 37 in Syracuse, New York, and beaten by several men (reports range from four to 10), who flee the scene before police arrive.

October 28: Crush is sentenced to five years probation after pleading no-contest to 11 counts of drug and weapons charges.

October 28: A near-riot occurs at ECW Arena in Philadelphia when Cactus Jack brings a chair wrapped in a flaming towel that ignites part of Terry Funk’s clothing. Funk flings the towel into the crowd, the lights go out, fire entinguishers are squirted toward the crowd, and panic ensues.

October 29: Hulk Hogan pushes The Giant off the roof of Cobo Hall in Detroit following a monster truck battle between the two men.

October 29: Jimmy Hart, manager and confidante to Hulk Hogan for years, turns against the “Hulkster.”

November 20: Shawn Michaels collapses in the ring in Richmond, Virginia, during a match with Owen Hart.

November 22: The New York Post reports that federal prosecutors and the FBI are investigating the possibility of witness tampering prior to last year’s Vince McMahon steroid trial.

November 26: Smoky Mountain Wrestling announces in Cookeville, TN, that it is closing down operations.

December 4: Manami Toyota brings the WWWA World title back to the All-Japan Women’s promotion by beating JWP’s Dynamite Kansai at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo.

December 9: Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi beat top rivals Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue to become the first team to three-peat in All-Japan’s annual tag tournament.

December 13: At Tokyo’s Sumo Hall, Jushin Liger firmly states that he’s “back” by winning the second Super J Cup one-night, multipromotional juniors tournament. After defeating Ultimo Dragon in the semis, Liger beats Gedo in the finals.

1996
January 4: Hulk Hogan files a lawsuit against a Minneapolis woman and her attorney, charging them both with extortion relating to their allegations of sexual assault.

January 5: No longer “The Dean,” Shane Douglas makes a triumphant return to ECW in Philadelphia and makes some derogatory comments about the WWF.

January 22: Big Van Vader’s second night in the WWF results in a suspension after he attacks WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. Roddy Piper is named acting president while Monsoon recuperates.

January 23: The long-awaited reunion of The Road Warriors finally occurs at WCW’s Clash of the Champions event in Las Vegas. Elizabeth also returns at the side of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage (temporarily).

February 3: The NWA holds the inaugural Eddie Gilbert Memorial Brawl in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

February 19: Days after announcing the signing of a Razor Ramon-Goldust streetfight for WrestleMania XII, the WWF suspends Ramon for six weeks due to “unprofessional conduct.”

March 5: The WWF issues a statement that “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel (Kevin Nash) will be leaving for WCW. His last day with the federation is to be June 6.

March 11: Rick and Scott Steiner make a surprise return to WCW ring wars to face The Road Warriors on WCW Monday Nitro.

March 17: Diesel officially turns rulebreaker when he attacks his best friend, Shawn Michaels, in front of a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden.

March 24: “Diamond” Dallas Page’s wrestling career apparently ends when he is pinned by The Booty Man at WCW Uncensored. According to a prematch stipulation, Page has to retire. He would be reinstated several months later when a legal loophole in the match contract is found.

March 31: The ongoing “Billionaire Ted” saga finally ends at WrestleMania XII when referee “Billionaire Ted,” “The Huckster” and “The Nacho Man” expire during their match. The event also features the return of The Ultimate Warrior to active competition, the return of Gorilla Monsoon to the office of WWF president, and the WWF debut of Marc Mero (Johnny B. Badd in WCW).

April 13: Jerry Jarrett Promotions holds its 1,000th live card at Memphis’ WMC-TV studios.

April 15: Brian Pillman suffers numerous injuries in a serious automobile accident in Kentucky. He has yet to return to active competition.

May 18: After several years of wrestling as a rulebreaker in the WWF and a fan favorite in the USWA, Jerry Lawler finally turns rulebreaker in the USWA.

May 19: “Diamond” Dallas Page becomes the WCW Lord of the Ring by winning the Battlebowl battle royal at Slamboree. He earned a World title shot but never received it because officials determined that he had cheated during the battle royal.

May 27: During the first two-hour Monday Nitro broadcast, Scott Hall (a.k.a. Razor Ramon) emerges from the audience to declare war on WCW.

May 28: Ted DiBiase is forced to leave the WWF due to a prematch stipulation after his charge, “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin, loses a Caribbean strap match to Savio Vega.

June 1: The first World Peace Festival, organized by Antonio Inoki, is held at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles; it features wrestlers from promotions such as WCW, EMLL, AAA, and New Japan. The WWF chooses not to send any of its wrestlers

June 1: Brian Pillman, restricted to a wheelchair because of an ankle injury, makes his first appearance in a wrestling arena since his April automobile accident when he shows up at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia.

June 10: Brian Pillman signs with the WWF in an eventful and, thanks to Pillman, chaotic press conference at Titan Towers.

June 10: Kevin Nash (formerly Diesel) returns to WCW at the side of Scott Hall and reveals himself to the be the second of three “Outsiders.”

June 16: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash attack Eric Bischoff at The Great American Bash. Nash power-bombs the WCW senior vice president through an interview stage when Bischoff claims he can’t tell them whom he has selected to answer their challenge.

June 16: The Four Horsemen return to full-force when former Nitro commentator Steve McMichael attacks his tag team partner, current NFL great Kevin Greene, and joins the quartet.

June 29: Sid Vicious ends his retirement and returns to the WWF (as a substitute for The Ultimate Warrior) and defeats Owen Hart in Detroit.

July 7: Hulk Hogan reveals himself to be the third “Outsider” when he joins Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in their main event match at Bash at the Beach against Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger. After the match, the group formally christens itself the New World Order.

July 8: WWF President Gorilla Monsoon suspends The Ultimate Warrior for his failure to appear at several WWF arena cards. The suspension was to be lifted only if the Warrior agreed to post an appearance bond. He never did.

July 13: Pit Bull I’s neck is broken in a match by Shane Douglas in Philadelphia.

July 22: Ahmed Johnson suffers a ruptured kidney after WWF newcomer Faarooq (a.k.a. Ron Simmons), with manager Sunny, sneak-attacks him on a live edition of WWF Monday Night Raw.

August 7: Jushin Liger holds a press conference to announce that doctors have discovered a tumor on his brain. Test results later reveal the tumor to be benign and, after surgery to remove it, Liger is able to return to action.

August 18: Paul Bearer turns against his long-time charge, The Undertaker, at SummerSlam in Cleveland. Bearer’s betrayal allows Mankind to defeat Undertaker in a “Boiler Room Brawl.”

August 19: The tournament for the WWF Intercontinental title begins after Ahmed Johnson is stripped of the belt due to injuries. Marc Mero would go on to win the title.

Ausust 19: Ted DiBiase makes his first Nitro appearance when he sits at ringside to observe the matches. He would later reveal himself to be the “money man” of the NWO.

September 2: The Giant shocks WCW by joining the NWO just 23 days after losing the WCW World title to Hulk Hogan.

September 6: Jim Ross confuses everyone when he announces on a special Friday edition of Raw that Razor Ramon and Diesel have been negotiating to return to the WWF. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall vehemently deny the claim.

September 9: Millions of Nitro viewers witness what appears to be Sting attacking Lex Luger and driving off in a limousine with the New World Order. Later, it would be revealed that it was an NWO replica of the popular WCW star.

September 16: Syxx (formerly The 1-2-3 Kid in the WWF) joins the NWO

September 16: Sting declares himself a “free agent” with no loyatly to WCW or the NWO.

September 22: ECW makes its presence known at a WWF In Your House pay-per-view when The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and Paul E. Dangerously buy ringside tickets. The three are escorted out of the building after Sandman spits beer on Savio Vega during a match.

September 23: For a second straight night, ECW wrestlers upset a televised WWF event, as Taz and Bill Alfonso break through security barriers and further taunt WWF wrestlers. The same night, Jim Ross lashes out at WWF head Vince McMahon for firing him twice. He also introduces The New Razor Ramon and The New Diesel.

September 30: WCW U.S. champion Ric Flair is attacked by the New World Order and aggravates a shoulder injury he suffered in Japan several weeks earlier. Flair opts for surgery and is expected to be out until spring.

October 7: Amidst speculation that he will join the NWO, Jeff Jarrett makes his Nitro debut and aligns himself with WCW.

October 21: Bret Hart ends months of speculation and announces that he has turned down a generous offer from WCW to return to the WWF. A match with “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin, whom Hart and McMahon both call the best wrestler in the WWF, is immediately signed for Survivor Series.

October 22: Three-time former WWF World tag team champions The Smokin’ Gunns officially break up when Billy attacks Bart in Cincinnati.

October 27: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper confronts WCW World champion Hulk Hogan after his title match at Halloween Havoc in Las Vegas. Their old WWF feud is rekindled as the two men argue over who is the bigger wrestling icon.

November 4: After nearly four years in the same timeslot, WWF Monday Night Raw moves to one hour earlier in an effort to boost ratings. That night features the infamous gun confrontation between Brian Pillman and Steve Austin.

November 16: The WWF inducts Capt. Lou Albano, Killer Kowalski, Vince McMahon Sr., Pat Patterson, Johnny Rodz, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Jimmy Snuka, and Jimmy and Johnny Valiant into its Hall of Fame

November 18: WCW Senior Vice President Eric Bischoff reveals his allegiance to the NWO, embracing Hulk Hogan on a live Nitro and watching the NWO attack Roddy Piper

November 25: Eric Bischoff announces on Nitro that all WCW wrestlers have 30 days to convert their WCW contracts to NWO contracts or risk becoming targets of the NWO. Long-time WCW fan favorite Marcus Bagwell is the first to sign up.

December 9: Ric Flair and Roddy Piper appear side by side on Nitro as Flair offers assistance to his long-time rival in his feud with Hulk Hogan. Piper respectfully declines the offer.

December 29: Roddy Piper deals Hulk Hogan his first clean loss since WrestleMania VI (1990) when he beats him in a non-title match with a sleeperhold at Starrcade. After the match, Hogan, Hall, and Nash exchange angry words with The Giant, who failed in his attempt to choke-slam Piper during the bout.

December 30: The Giant is officially booted out of the NWO as the rest of the group attacks him under orders from Hogan.

1997
January 4: Shotgun Saturday Night debuts at the Mirage Nightclub in New York. The Sisters of Love make their first and last WWF appearance and Marlena reveals her “assets” to The Sultan.

January 19: “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin wins the Royal Rumble after eliminating Bret Hart. Austin was eliminated previously by Hart, but WWF officials did not see it.

January 20: Randy Savage returns to WCW as a free agent. He stages a sit-in on Nitro.

January 24: Goldust wrestles two matches in one day. He loses to Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the WWF and goes on to defeat Lance Diamond in Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling.

January 25: The New World Order promotes Souled Out, its first pay-per-view. Even though the NWO was largely successful, the show itself was a critical failure … Savio Vega turns against tag team partner Ahmed Johnson and joins The Nation of Domination at Madison Square Garden during a match against the NOD’s Faarooq and Crush.

January 27: Referee Randy Anderson is fired by Eric Bischoff after having declared the Steiners winners and new WCW World champions in a match against The Outsiders at Souled Out. Anderson had come out of the stands to make a three-count when original referee Nick Patrick was knocked out. He would be reinstated several weeks later.

February 13: Weeks after winning the WWF World title, Shawn Michaels relinquishes the belt on a live Thursday Raw Thursday, citing a knee injury and the loss of his “smile.”

February 17: After Bret Hart’s WWF World title loss to “Psycho” Sid Vicious, the “Hitman” physically and verbally attacks Vince McMahon.

February 23: Randy Savage officially joins the New World Order after attacking Roddy Piper and causing the “Rowdy Scot” to lose his SuperBrawl World title match to Hulk Hogan.

February 24: ECW wrestlers debut on Raw one week after Jerry Lawler’s diatribe criticizing the independent federation. Paul E. Dangerously serves as color commentator and heavily plugs Barely Legal, ECW’s first PPV … The Road Warriors return to the WWF, beating The Headbangers.

March 16: Sting makes his intentions and loyalties clear when he attacks his so-called “comrades” in the New World Order at Uncensored.

March 25: Two nights after WrestleMania XIII, Bret Hart turns rulebreaker in a speech filled with hatred and bitterness toward American wrestling fans. He then reunites with his brother Owen and brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith to form The New Hart Foundation.

April 6: Scott Steiner is arrested at Spring Stampede after he accidentally hits a police officer during a locker room scuffle with Kevin Nash … Ken Shamrock debuts in the WWF by defeating Vernon White.

April 11: Big Van Vader is detained by authorities in Kuwait after he attacks Bassam Al Otham, host of Good Morning Kuwait, after taking offense to Otham’s questions … Hulk Hogan is pinned by Jacques Rougeau in a non-title match at the Molson Centre in Montreal.

April 13: ECW finally debuts on pay-per-view with Barely Legal. The event garners an impressive .26 buy rate.

April 20: The Undertaker throws fire in the face of Paul Bearer in Rochester, New York, at In Your House.

April 21: Acting under the authority of Turner Sports President Dr. Harvey Schiller, recently named WCW Executive Committee Chairman J.J. Dillon announces that Eric Bischoff no longer has any official authority within WCW.

May 2: The new Triple Threat is formed when Bam Bam Bigelow returns to ECW and, along with Shane Douglas and Chris Candido, attacks B. Mahoney.

May 5: The WWF airs an up-close and personal interview with Goldust in which he reveals his true identity to be Dustin Rhodes and speaks of his estranged relationship with father Dusty.

May 10: PG-13 ventures out of Memphis to face ECW tag team champions The Eliminators at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia.

May 11: Ken Shamrock makes his pay-per-view debut at the WWF’s In Your House by forcing Big Van Vader to submit.

May 12: Rob Van Dam officially becomes “Mr. Monday Night” when he debuts alongside Jerry Lawler on Raw Is War. He defeats Matt Hardy in his first WWF outing, although he does not sign a formal contract.

May 17: Terry Funk drops a guardrail on Stevie Richards’ neck, temporarily paralyzing him. Richards is told to stay out of the ring for four to six weeks. He doesn’t heed the warning.

May 18: Ric Flair returns to active competition at Slamboree in Charlotte, North Carolina, after being sidelined eight months with a torn left rotator cuff. He, Kevin Greene, and Roddy Piper defeat Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx … On the same card, NFL great Reggie White makes his wrestling debut, losing to Steve McMichael.

May 30: Stevie Richards suffers a broken vertebra during a tag team match that pitted him and Raven against The Eliminators. It would be his last bout before jumping to WCW.

June 6: Retired NFL star Jim Kelly helps “Diamond” Dallas Page beat Randy Savage in Buffalo with a pair of elbowdrops.

June 7: Raven loses a “loser-leaves-ECW” match to Tommy Dreamer at the ECW Arena … On the same card, Jerry Lawler enters enemy territory when he, Sabu, Rob Van Dam, and Bill Alfonso attack Tommy Dreamer and nearly every ECW wrestler.

June 9: Ahmed Johnson shocks the wrestling world by joining former foe Faarooq in The Nation of Domination … Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels brawl backstage before a Raw broadcast. Michaels would temporarily leave the federation, vowing never to return.

June 15: Madusa loses a retirement match to WCW Women’s champion Akira Hokuto at The Great American Bash.

June 16: Steve McMichael piledrives tag team partner Jeff Jarrett, thus ending their tempestuous relationship.

June 23: The long friendship of Ric Flair and Roddy Piper is shelved when the “Nature Boy” and his Horsemen attack the “Rowdy Scot.”

June 30: Jeff Jarrett is officially fired from The Four Horsemen, surprisingly without incident.

July 1: PG-13 becomes a trio when Wolfie D and J.C. Ice sign Aldo Montoya (P.J. Walker).

July 11: King Kong Bundy attempts a kneedrop on Primo Carnera III at an independent show in Schenectady, New York. Bundy’s weight causes two wooden support beams to snap and the ring sags. The match continues with Bundy winning.

July 13: Curt Hennig wrestles his first match in nearly four years; he would turn against partner Dallas Page during their Bash at the Beach match with the NWO’s Scott Hall and Randy Savage … On the same card, Dennis Rodman makes his wrestling debut when he and “Hollywood” Hogan lose the main event to Lex Luger and The Giant.

July 14: “Mr. Monday Night” Rob Van Dam is seen backstage at Nitro. Pictures are taken of him talking to the NWO’s Vincent … Mankind’s alter ego, Dude Love, makes his debut in the WWF and helps Steve Austin win the WWF World tag team title.

July 19: The recently unretired George “The Animal” Steele (under the guidance of Capt. Lou Albano) defeats Mr. Ooh La La on an ECWA card in Wilmington, Delaware.

July 22: Raven returns to WCW … Fritz Von Erich suffers a mild stroke. Upon further examination, doctors discover that he has lung cancer.

August 3: Steve Austin suffers spinal shock syndrome at SummerSlam, a result of a “tombstone” piledriver from Owen Hart. Austin would go on to win the Intercontinental title, but his career is put in jeopardy.

August 4: Shawn Michaels turns rulebreaker again after inadvertently helping Bret Hart to win the WWF World title a day earlier at SummerSlam … Sgt. Slaughter is named commissioner of the WWF by President Gorilla Monsoon … Ted DiBiase returns to WCW to manage the Steiners in their battles with the NWO … Sting is offered the first of what would be many opponents by J.J. Dillon, who tried to get Sting to return to competition in WCW.

August 11: Rick Rude returns to the WWF to serve as Shawn Michaels “insurance man” … Stevie Richards makes his WCW debut.

August 16: Japanese woman wrestler Plum Mariko, 29, dies as the result of head injuries suffered in a tag team match the previous day.

August 17: ECW returns to pay-per-view with Hardcore Heaven. The show is marred by technical problems and is considered a setback for the promotion.

August 25: In an emotional speech, Arn Anderson publicly retires and turns over the Horsemen’s “Enforcer” mantle to Curt Hennig.

September 5: Tod Gordon and ECW sever ties amid allegations that Gordon acted as a “mole” within the federation he founded to help supply talent to WCW.

September 10: Fritz Von Erich dies of cancer at age 68.

September 14: Curt Hennig turns against The Four Horsemen and joins the New World Order at Fall Brawl.

September 19: “Wildman” Marc Mero makes his return to the WWF seven months after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee. His attitude is reflected in his new nickname, “Marvelous.”

September 29: Ric Flair officially disbands The Four Horsemen.

October 5: Brian Pillman is found dead in his hotel room in Bloomington, Minnesota. He wrestled his last match the night before in St. Paul, where he lost to Goldust … Kane, the Undertaker’s purported brother, attacks his sibling at In Your House: Badd Blood.

October 20: Jeff Jarrett returns to the WWF on a live Raw.

October 26: Steve Austin returns to action with a victory over Hunter Hearst Helmsley … Jacquelyn upends WCW TV champion Disco Inferno in a non-title bout at Halloween Havoc.

November 9: Bret Hart attacks Vince McMahon following his controversial WWF World title loss at Survivor Series to Shawn Michaels. Hart had just signed a three-year contract with rival WCW and was convinced that McMahon had colluded with referee Earl Hebner to cause his defeat.

November 17: Rick Rude shocks the wrestling world when he shows up with Hulk Hogan on Nitro 24 hours after appearing at a WWF show. On the same night, Rude would appear on a Raw episode taped the week before … Vince McMahon appears in an interview on Raw and defends his decision that resulted in the Survivor Series controversy by concluding, “Bret screwed Bret.”

November 19: The Hennepin County Coroner releases a report that reveals Brian Pillman’s death was a result of arteriosclerotic heart disease.

November 23: Scott Hall wins the 60-man battle royal in the main event of World War III.

November 30: Weeks after announcing his retirement from wrestling and his intentions to start a video game business, Stevie Richards returns to ECW at November to Remember, ECW’s third pay-per-view.

December 8: The Road Warriors suffer their most humiliating moment as all the members of DeGeneration X, along with Jesse James and Billy Gunn, attack them and shave Hawk’s mohawk.

December 14/15: The main events of WWF cards in Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas, are canceled when it is determined that the fans had become too unruly. The cancellations spur “fan riots,” according to published reports.

December 15: Bret Hart makes his first WCW appearance when he accepts J.J. Dillon’s invitation to referee the match between Eric Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko at Starrcade.

1998
January 4: Riki Choshu wrestles his final card at the Tokyo Dome, competing in five matches. Choshu defeats Kauyuki Fujita, pins Yutaka Yoshie, forces Tatsutoshi Takaiwa to submit, loses to Takashi Iizuka, then pins Jushin Liger in his final bout.

January 8: WCW Thunder debuts at 8 p.m. on TBS, giving WCW two weekly live shows on prime-time cable. Thunder later changes its format to live broadcasts on alternate weeks.

January 10: Former heavyweight fighter Mike Tyson and the WWF agree on a deal that allows Tyson to serve as special “enforcer” for the Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels World title match at WrestleMania XIV in Boston.

January 13: Eric Bischoff is promoted to president of WCW while Nick Lambros is promoted to executive vice president. (Lambros would later resign his post to accept an executive position with Turner Sports) … Former Road Warriors’ manager Paul Ellering finishes 10th at the John Beargrease Dog Sled Marathon in Northern, Minnesota. Ellering was in second place with one day left in the race, but slowed near the end.

January 20: Bobo Brazil, one of professional wrestling’s most influential black athletes and a WWF Hall of Famer, dies from complications due to a stroke in St. Joseph, Michigan, at age 74.

January 24: Dusty Rhodes becomes a member of the New World Order after blindsiding Larry Zbyszko during his match against Scott Hall. Rhodes then opens his shirt to reveal an NWO shirt underneath.

January 26: Use of the power bomb is banned from use in all WCW competition by the WCW Executive Committee Chairman J.J. Dillon after The Giant suffers a concussion when being power-bombed by Kevin Nash at Souled Out on January 24.

January 27: Japan’s WAR promotion announces it will be shutting down at the end of February. WAR President Masato Motakei blames poor ticket sales.

January 31: WCW attempts to do a live pay-per-listen from a Boston show, but technical difficulties cause the PPL to be canceled. The $7.95 cost was refunded to all who paid for it.

February 13: Independent wrestler Gary Dean Mabe, who wrestles as “Handsome” Bill Armstrong, is charged with two counts of statutory rape, two counts of statutory sex offenses, and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor, in connection with an incident with a 10-year-old girl. The case was still pending at press time.

February 15: Louie Spicolli (Muciollo), 27, is found dead at his home in San Pedro, California. The official cause of death, as determined by the Los Angles Coroner’s office on April 21, was arherosclerotic heart disease caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy syndrome (enlarged heart).

February 16: Nitro draws a 5.1 Nielsen rating, setting its all-time record high. The show aired unopposed since Raw was preempted for the Westminster Dog Show on the USA Network.

February 17: “Macho Man” Randy Savage receives the prestigious Harvard Lampoon’s 1998 Real Man of the Year award on the steps of the Lampoon Castle in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The award, along with honorary Lampoon membership, is given each year to the male who best exemplifies universal manliness.

February 18: Arison, a women’s wrestling promotion owned by Aja Kong, holds its first card at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. It is the first women’s show ever broadcast on pay-per-view in Japan, but draws sparse ratings.

February 22: Scott Steiner turns against his brother, Rick, during a match against Kevin Nash and Scott Hall at SuperBrawl in San Francisco, then joins the NWO. Scott’s attack cost the Steiners their WCW tag titles. Also, on the show, Juventud Guerrera loses his mask after being defeated by TV champion Chris Jericho.

February 27: A near-riot takes place at a WCW show in Lincoln, Nebraska, when rowdy fans object to Chris Jericho’s negative remarks about the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Ringside fans are pelted with garbage until 30 cops are called in to stop the incident. Another disturbance occurs later in the card after Curt Hennig makes a remark about ‘Huskers coach Tom Osbourne.

March 3: Pit Bulls I and II are placed on three years probation for admittedly selling steroids and marijuana in 1995. Gary Wolf, 30, and Anthony Durante, 29, are fined $2,000 each and ordered to return the $7,600 they grossed from the drug sales.

March 15: Former wrestling announcer Dan Coates, 88, dies at his Box Canyon Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. For 25 years, Coates announced for KTVT-Channel 11’s Saturday Night Wrestling shows from Fort Worth’s North Side Coliseum.

April 13: For the first time in 83 head-to-head meetings, dating back to June 10, 1996, Raw beats Nitro in the Nielsen ratings, 4.6-4.3

April 21: WCW begins legal action against Ric Flair for breech of contract. Flair failed to appear at several shows, prompting WCW to file a $2-million suit with the Fulton County Superior Court. Flair later countersues.

April 22: Buff Bagwell sustains spinal shock syndrome after receiving a top rope bulldog from Rick Steiner on Thunder. Bagwell is paralyzed in the ring for four minutes but regains mobility. He later undergoes successful surgery to repair damage done to his C3 and C5 vertebrae.

April 27: Both Raw and Nitro are broadcast from the Norfolk, Virginia, area. Raw sets an all-time record rating with a 5.7 overall rating as DeGeneration X stages a mock invasion of the the Scope, where Nitro is being held.

April 28: William G. Kinney II, who wrestles as Tiny, is arrested after leading police on an eight-mile chase in Pennsylvania. He is charged with reckless endangerment, simple assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and a traffic violation.

May 19: A 34-year-old woman is critically injured when a fire erupts in a restroom at the Nashville Arena during a WWF show. The woman reportedly flushed the toilet and then caught on fire. Fire marshall John Petty said it was not clear where or how the fire started.

June 2: Junkyard Dog, 45, one of wrestling’s most beloved figures, dies in a car crash near Forest, Mississippi after falling asleep at the wheel. JYD was coming home from his daughter’s graduation.

June 8: Dennis Rodman appears on Nitro instead of reporting to practice for the Chicago Bulls’ NBA final series. Rodman calls the appearance “preparation” for his match with Hollywood Hogan vs. Dallas Page and Karl Malone at Bash at the Beach.

June 11: THQ Inc., in partnership with JAKKS Pacific, a premier manufacturer and marketer of children’s toys, signs a 10-year exclusive agreement with TitanSports to produce WWF electronic games. The first games are scheduled to be released at the end of 1999.

June 20/21: The WWF cancels shows in Oklahoma City and Tulsa to give its main stars, including Steve Austin, Kane, and The Undertaker, a chance to recover from various illnesses and injuries.

June 22: Joey Styles begins legal action against the WWF, seeking damages for the unauthorized use of footage of him and Steve Austin from a 1995 ECW show.

July 6: Marcus Bagwell appears on Nitro for the first time since his accident. Bagwell, in a wheelchair, is escorted to the runway by his doctor for an interview with Gene Okerlund … ECWA announcer “Big” Al Napier commits suicide by hanging in his Wilmington, Delaware, home. Napier had been battling personal problems and was recently fired from his day job.

July 20: USA Network announces the addition of Sunday Night Heat, a one-hour WWF wrestling show to be aired from 7 to 8 p.m. … Former woman wrestler June Byers dies at age 76 at her home in Houston.

July 30: Scott Hall is served two summons by Baton Rouge Police Department for allegedly fondling an unidentified 56-year-old woman in the parking lot of a Radisson Hotel. Hall was also charged with disturbing the peace by public intoxication.

August 11: Shane McMahon, 28, is named president of New Media at TitanSports, parent company of the World Wrestling Federation. In his new capacity, McMahon would be responsible for exploring, developing, and managing the WWF’s interactive network.

August 17: Maryland Championship Wrestling light heavyweight champ Shane Shamrock, 23, is shot and killed in Glen Burnie, Maryland, by Ann Arundel police officer Pete Scarpetta after pulling a knife during a domestic dispute with his former girlfriend, Laura Hamlet … Former wrestler and WWF promoter Terry Garvin dies of stomach cancer at age 60 in New England. Garvin often competed in six-man tag teams with brothers, Ronnie and Jimmy.

September 8: WCW competitor Hacksaw Jim Duggan declares that he has been diagnosed with cancer and will retire from professional wrestling. Two days later, Duggan undergoes successful surgery to remove a cancerous kidney … The Sandman, arguably the most popular wrestler in ECW history, shocks the wrestling world when he signs a three-year deal with WCW.

September 9: The Giant surrenders to Nassau County authorities almost three months after allegedly breaking the jaw of Robert Sawyer Jr., a 29-year-old Levittown, New York, man during a fight in the dining room of a Uniondale Marriott.

September 12: Former ECW TV champion Taz is arrested outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh and charged with indecent exposure and contributing to the corruption of a minor after a tanning salon attendant claims Taz exposed himself to her.

September 14: Although Ric Flair and WCW remained deadlocked in their legal battle, “The Nature Boy” makes an emotional return to Nitro when he joins Dean Malenko, Steve McMichael, and Chris Benoit for a Four Horsemen reunion in Greenville, South Carolina.

October 2: Scott Hall is arrested and charged with felonious criminal mischief for using a key to scratch the side of a white limousine outside of an Orlando, Florida, nightclub.

October 26: New York magazine’s cover subjects are Vince McMahon and The Undertaker. Inside is an eight-page feature on McMahon.

November 3: Capturing 37 percent of the votes, Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura wins the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election.

November 6: Sky Low Low, considered by many to be the greatest midget wrestler ever, dies at age 70. Sky, whose real name was Marcel Gauthier, wrestled from 1948 until 1982.

November 16: Bam Bam Bigelow crashes Nitro and challenges World champion Bill Goldberg to a match the same night. Goldberg accepts, but is attacked by Bigelow on the runway prior to their match. WCW Executive Committee Chairman J.J. Dillon is fired by Eric Bischoff after the confrontation.

November 26: Hollywood “Hulk” Hogan announces his retirement on The Tonight Show, and indicates that he will run for the presidency of the United States in 2000.

November 27: Dennis Rodman files suit against WCW in Orange County (Los Angeles) Superior Court for failure to pay him the full amount of money he was entitled to for wrestling at the Bash at the Beach … Scott Hall falls asleep at the wheel in Orlando, Florida, smashing his car but sustaining only minor injuries. Hall passes a breathalyzer test issued by police immediately after the crash.

November 28: Scott Steiner is arraigned on charges of aggravated assault and terroristic threats stemming from an April incident in which he allegedly threatened to run over Paul Kaspareen in south Cherokee County, Georgia. Police said Steiner struck Kaspareen twice with his truck, but the Department of Transportation worker was not seriously injured.

November 30: THQ Inc. releases WCW Nitro, the first wrestling game for personal computers.

November 30: TV Guide features the WWF vs. WCW war in its cover story. The issue is distributed with one of four collector’s covers: Steve Austin, Bill Goldberg, The Undertaker, or Hollywood Hogan. The issue sells 65 percent of its newsstand copies, the best sales percentage since the Princess Diana special.

December 6: The WWF runs its second U.K.-only pay-per-view from the London Arena before a sellout crowd of 10,441 … WWF Vice President and announcer Jim Ross suffers a bout of Bell’s palsy while calling a match, temporarily forcing him from an on-air role with the WWF.

December 14: Rolling Stone and People Weekly magazines get on the wrestling bandwagon, running articles on Steve Austin and Bill Goldberg, respectively … Ric Flair suffers what was believed at the time to be a heart attack in the ring at the Ice Palace in Tampa during an interview with Gene Okerlund. Tests proved, however, that he did not.

1999
January 1: Eddy Guerrero is involved in a serious car crash in Florida. He suffers a broken hip and a punctured liver. The injuries aren’t considered career-threatening, and he returns to action several months later.

January 4: Ric Flair gains the WCW presidency by defeating Eric Bischoff. According to a prematch stipulation, Flair would have been forced to retire if he lost … Kevin Nash allows Hollywood Hogan to pin him for his fifth WCW World title, setting up the short-lived reunion of the New World Order.

January 10: Taz effectively ends the Shane Douglas era in ECW by defeating “The Franchise” for the heavyweight title at Guilty as Charged in Kissimmee, Florida. Douglas had briefly escaped Taz’ katahajimi, but Taz gained hold again and choked him out … Yoshihiro Tajiri beats Super Crazy with a dragon suplex in their first high-profile encounter.

January 12: Three-time former WWF World champ Shawn Michaels undergoes surgery to repair several herniated discs in his back. Acting upon his doctor’s advice, Michaels later announces his retirement.

January 13: The A&E Network’s Biography of Andre the Giant draws the highest ratings in the program’s 12-year history, with 3.5 million viewers. The documentary includes interviews of Andre’s childhood friends, wrestling colleagues, and acquaintances in later years.

January 16: Public Enemy, once hardcore icons, receive a cool reception upon their return to the ECW Arena in Philadelphia. Buh Buh Ray Dudley criticizes PE’s lackluster, three-year stint in WCW. Public Enemy later jumps to the WWF, but are no more successful.

January 17: David Flair shocks the wrestling world by pinning Curt Hennig at Souled Out. The match features David and his father, Ric, against Hennig and Barry Windham. After the Flairs’ victory, Hollywood Hogan whips David with a weight-lifting belt and spray-paints the letters “E-Z-E,” an obvious reference to Eric Bischoff … Perry Saturn is forced to wear a dress for 90 days following a loss to Chris Jericho. Strangely enough, Saturn wears the dress well beyond the stipulated period.

January 18: David Flair embarrasses Eric Bischoff by defeating him in a hair vs. hair match. The tape replay shows referee Randy Anderson handing Flair a roll of quarters. David’s father, Ric, takes pleasure in shaving Bischoff’s hair, revealing ugly gray roots underneath.

January 19: Former Japanese star Yoshino Sato dies of heart failure. He was 70.

January 22: Toshiaki Kawada breaks his right arm, but rallies to win the All-Japan Triple Crown from Mitsuharu Misawa in Osaka. Kawada later relinquishes the Triple Crown due to his injury.

January 24: The Rock defeats Mankind in an “I quit” match for his second WWF World title at the Royal Rumble. Later, it is discovered that the words “I quit” were dubbed into the sound system from a prematch Mankind interview … Vince McMahon earns a WWF World title shot by eliminating Steve Austin in the Royal Rumble event. McMahon survives 28 other competitors, including Chyna.

January 26: Mankind ends The Rock’s two-day reign as WWF champ by defeating him in the empty Tucson Convention Center. The combatants fight along the steps, in and out of several offices, through the cafeteria, and in the arena’s loading area. There, Mankind regains the belt by using a forklift to lower a pallet of beer kegs onto The Rock. The match, dubbed Halftime Heat, airs during halftime of Super Bowl XXXIII.

January 31: All-Japan Pro Wrestling President Shohei “Giant” Baba dies of bowel cancer in Tokyo. Baba, one of the most famous Japanese wrestlers ever, won three NWA World titles and numerous championships in the Orient during his 38-year career. He was 61.

February 5: Three-time former WWF champ Bob Backlund announces he will run for the First District Congressional seat of Connecticut in 2000.

February 8: With the help of Mad TV comedian Will Sasso, Roddy Piper wins the U.S. title again—15 years after his previous reign.

February 13: Paul Wight, who competed in WCW as The Giant, makes his WWF debut at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view, when he cuts through the mat during the Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon steel cage match.

February 14: Steve Austin brutalizes and bloodies WWF owner Vince McMahon by throwing him down 15 feet through the Spanish announcers’ table and pummeling him inside a steel cage. Former WCW World champion Paul Wight makes his WWF debut by cutting through the mat canvas and slinging Austin through the cage and onto the floor, inadvertently giving Austin the victory. McMahon suffers a broken tailbone, among other injuries … Masa Saito ends his 34-year career with a match in Tokyo. Saito won the WWF tag team title twice with Mr. Fuji in the early-1980s and was AWA World champion for two months in 1990.

February 19: During an appearance on The Tonight Show, Bill Goldberg offers to put up $100,000 to secure a bout against Steve Austin. He also offers to meet Austin in an alley. Three days later, while on Howard Stern’s radio show, Austin says that they can have a match “when Goldberg makes it to the big leagues.”

February 20: All-Japan star Tomomi “Jumbo” Tsuruta announces his retirement after a 27-year career. He defeated Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA World title in 1984.

February 21: David Flair shocks his father with a taser at SuperBrawl IX, giving WCW champ Hollywood Hogan a chance to recover and pin Ric Flair … Rey Misterio Jr. loses his mask in a stipulation match pitting he and Konnan against Kevin Nash and Scott Hall (subbing for Lex Luger). At stake for Hall and Nash was Elizabeth’s hair.

February 22: Ronald C. Williams, better known as The Renegade, commits suicide in Marietta, Georgia, by shooting himself with a .380 handgun. Those close to Williams say he was despondent over being fired from WCW four months before his death. He was 33.

February 26: Steve Austin guest stars on CBS’ Nash Bridges. The program beats the second hour of The Daytime Soap Opera Awards on NBC and ABC’s 20/20 in the ratings.

February 27: The East Coast Wrestling Association’s Third Annual Super 8 Tournament climaxes with a bout between Steve Bradley and Christopher Daniels in Wilmington, Delaware. Bradley reverses the momentum of a Daniels bodypress for the victory.

February 27: After competing for years as a masked wrestler, Rey Misterio Jr. loses his mask at SuperBrawl IX. Misterio agreed to put his mask up vs. Miss Elizabeth’s hair in a tag team match with Konnan vs. Kvin Nash and Scott Hall, who subbed for an injured Lex Luger.

March 6: Less than six months after being released by the WWF, Vader defeats Akira Taue in 12:51 for the vacant All-Japan Triple Crown in Tokyo. Former champ Toshiaki Kawada was forced to vacate the titles due to a broken arm he suffered during his Triple Crown victory over Mitsuharu Misawa on January 22.

March 13: Dan Severn’s four year NWA World title reign comes to an end when he submits to Naoya Ogawa’s SOS hold in Tokyo Japan. The match was threatened when Ogawa ripped up the contract at a March 12 press conference, but special envoy Dory Funk Jr. restored negotiations.

March 14: Ric Flair becomes a 14-time world champion and “permanent president” of WCW by virtue of his win over Hollywood Hogan at Uncensored. It becomes apparent early in the match that referee Charles Robinson’s is cheating for Flair when he refuses to call for the bell when the “Nature Boy” is bleeding profusely in the first-blood, barbed-wire cage match. He also refuses to count a Hogan pin over Flair at 7:40. Arn Anderson’s tire iron assists Flair in his victory … Anderson’s tire iron also helps Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko beat Curt Hennig and Barry Windham for the World tag team title, giving The Four Horsemen a monopoly over WCW’s World championships … In a match with former NWA champ Dory Funk Jr. serving as special referee, Naoya Ogawa ends Dan Severn’s four-year NWA championship reign when Severn taps out to his SOS finisher at the Yokohama Arena in Japan.

March 21: ECW champion Taz chokes out long-time rival Sabu with the katahajimi at Living Dangerously in Asbury Park, New Jersey, at the 18:27 mark … Jerry Lynn turns down the ECW TV title after referee John Finnegan awards him a decision victory over champion Rob Van Dam after the 20-minute time-limit elapses. The match resumes and Van Dam wins with a frog splash in overtime.

March 28: Steve Austin wins his third WWF World title by defeating The Rock in 16:50 at WrestleMania XV in Philadelphia. Austin overcomes two Rock bottoms en route to victory … At the same PPV, Triple-H costs DX pal X-Pac his match against European champion Shane McMahon. HHH later announces his affiliation with The Corporation … Butterbean scores a devastating knockout of Bart Gunn in 35 seconds in a Brawl for All.

March 28: “Triple-H” and Chyna shock DeGeneration X and the wrestling world at WrestleMania XV when they attack X-Pac during his match with European champ Shane McMahon and later join The Corporation. Earlier on the card, Paul Wight left The Corporation after a physical confrontation with Vince McMahon.

March 29: Bret Hart challenges Bill Goldberg in Toronto, Ontario. Goldberg rushes into the ring and spears Hart. Hart feigns injury and then gets up and reveals a metal plate under his hockey jersey. He then stuns the world with this announcement: “Hey, WCW, Eric Bischoff, I quit!” … WCW matchmaker Kevin Sullivan collapses at the same Nitro card and goes into convulsions. Paramedics note that Sullivan’s heart stopped several times although he didn’t suffer a heart attack. The cause of the seizure is unknown, but EMTs suspect Sullivan may have had a negative reaction to prescription drug interactions.

April 9: Japanese woman wrestler Emiko Kado, 23, dies from head injuries suffered in a tag team match on March 31 in Fukuoka. Kado never regained consciousness after being suplexed on her head by Mariko Yoshida.

April 10: The Tokyo Dome—packed with 63,000 fans—is the scene for an electrified explosive barbed-wire match between Masa Chono and Atsushi Onita. Chono, who enters the arena in a U.S. Army tank, is the first to touch the dynamite- and barbed-wire-laden ropes, but makes sure Onita does the same. At one point, the two wrestlers and referee Mr. Unno become tangled in the exploding ropes and are knocked unconscious. The contest is later ruled a draw.

April 11: “Diamond” Dallas Page pins Ric Flair in a four-way match also including Hollywood Hogan and Sting to win the WCW World title at Spring Stampede. A top-rope elbowdrop from special referee Randy Savage sets up Flair for the pin. Hogan is elimianted early and sidelined with a knee injury after Page locks him in a figure-four leglock around the ringpost … Scott Steiner strikes Booker T in the face with a foreign object to win the U.S. championship in a tournament final on the same card.

April 20: Former WCW U.S. and WWF International champ Rick Rude dies at age 40 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Alpharetta, Georgia. Police said two empty prescription bottles were found near his bed.

April 25: WWF World champion Steve Austin defeats The Rock at Backlash in Providence, Rhode Island. Vince McMahon kayos his son, Shane, who, as special referee, is cheating for The Rock. Vince also returns Austin’s customized smoking-skulls title belt, which had been stolen by the McMahons several months earlier.

April 26: Sting beats Dallas Page for his sixth NWA/WCW World title on Nitro, airing from Fargo, North Dakota. Page regains the belt in a four-way match, which also involves Bill Goldberg and Kevin Nash, 90 minutes later … On Raw, Shane McMahon fires The Rock from The Corporation.

April 29: The WWF airs a special, titled Smackdown, on UPN. The program scores a 5.8 rating, beating out ABC and WB programming for the 8 p.m. time slot.

May 2: Mitsuharu Misawa beats Vader for his fifth All-Japan Triple Crown at the Giant Baba Memorial Show held at the Tokyo Dome … Bruno Sammartino, Gene Kiniski, The Destroyer, and Lord James Blears eulogize Baba on the same card. Fans stand for the entire ceremony.

May 4: Jos LeDuc, who suffered for years from diabetes, succumbs to a lung infection in Fayetteville, Georgia. He was 55.

May 9: Kevin Nash defeats Dallas Page for his second WCW World title at Slamboree in St. Louis. Randy Savage interfers on Page’s behalf, but Eric Bischoff orders the match to continue. Nash uses a power bomb to gain the victory.

May 10: Although WWF women’s champion Sable strips Debra first in their evening gown match, Commissioner Shawn Michaels rules that the woman who got stripped should be the winner. He awards Debra the title. Events surrounding that incident are noted in Rena Mero’s future lawsuit against the WWF … Jerry Brisco and Pat Patterson come out of retirement to beat Pete Gas and Rodney of The Mean Street Posse in a loser-leaves-the-federation match. The Posse’s exile is short-lived.

May 15: At the Break the Barrier independent card held in Philadelphia, Shane Douglas signals his departure from ECW with these comments: “Since the fans pay to see the wrestlers, it’s the wrestlers who should see the money. Paul Heyman can’t accuse Shane Douglas of no-showing Hardcore Heaven (the ECW PPV scheduled for the next evening), because I’m not contractually bound to be there.” Rumors indicate Douglas is being courted by the WWF, but he winds up in WCW.

May 16: ECW champion Taz pulls a double at Hardcore Heaven by defeating Chris Candido in less than a minute and then Buh Buh Ray Dudley later in the night … Sid Vicious returns to ECW and beats Justin Credible by disqualification when Lance Storm interferes. Vicious power-bombs Credible, Storm, and Judge Jeff Jones, then fends off an attack from Sabu … WWF World champion Steve Austin beats The Undertaker and Triple-H in a three-way match at Rebellion, held at England’s Manchester MEN Arena.

May 17: Charles Robinson suffers a collapsed lung when Randy Savage hits him with a top-rope elbowdrop. Robinson and Ric Flair were involved in a mixed tag team match against Savage and Madusa.

May 23: Owen Hart plummets 72 feet to his death when his decent into the ring as The Blue Blazer goes awry at the Over The Edge pay-per-view from the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. The show is delayed for 20 minutes, but later resumes, promting harsh criticism from Owen’s fans and family.

May 28: NWA champion Naoya Ogawa defends against Dan Severn at the Texas Indoor Speedway in North Richland Hills. Both men are counted out at the 13-minute mark. Fans demand an extra five minutes, but the time limit expires.

June 4: Former women’s champion, Sable, files a $110-million sexual harrassment lawsuit against the WWF claiming that the federation “controls its performers through a carefully designed program of intimidation and humiliation,icluding scriptes sexual provocation and staged stunts that are inherently dangerous.”

June 6: Chyna becomes the first female to qualify for the annual King of the Ring tournament by defeating Val Venis. It is announced that Chyna will face former DX comrade Jesse James in the first round.

June 7: Rena Mero (Sable) files a $110-million lawsuit against the WWF, claiming negligence, breach of contract, unfair trade practices, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mero states she was stripped of the women’s title for refusing to expose her breasts on cable-TV. “Professional wrestling has become increasingly obscene, titillating, vulgar, and unsafe,” the lawsuit charges. “[The WWF] controls its performers through a carefully designed program of intimidation and humiliation—included scripted sexual provocation.”

June 8: Linda and Stephanie McMahon, angered at being duped by Vince and Shane in their “greater power” conspiracy, help elect Steve Austin the new chief executive officer of the WWF.

June 10: Billy Black and Vic Roze attack NWA Georgia promoter Bill Behrens and wrestler T.J. Gray in Loganville. Upon entering the Georgia Belle Flea Market, Black hits Behrens from behind in the ring, knocking him out. Black and Roze order everyone to leave the ring, but Gray—who owns the ring—refuses. Black and Roze go after Gray until wrestlers run to the rescue. Black and Roze speed away in separate vehicles. They are apprehended and charged with simple battery. Behrens later says Black had been upset with him over a perceived slight.

June 11: Kenta Kobashi suffers a broken nose during his match against All-Japan Triple Crown champion Mitsuharu Misawa in Tokyo, Japan. It is announced Kobashi will be out for at least a month.

June 13: Sid Vicious makes a surprise return to WCW by interrupting a match between World champion Kevin Nash and Randy Savage at the Great American Bash in Baltimore. He power-bombs Nash and aligns himself with Savage. Nash wins by disqualification … On the same card, Rick and Scott Steiner hit new lows by sicking Doberman pinschers on Sting.

June 14: The Kansas City Police Department begins a criminal investigation into Owen Hart’s death at Kemper Arena. Major Gregory Mills says the investigation isn’t centered on a particular suspect, but rather the circumstances of the tragedy … WCW President Ric Flair appoints Roddy Piper as his vice president. Flair and Arn Anderson helped Piper in a three-on-one attack on Buff Bagwell the night before.

June 15: Bassam Al Othman, a Kuwaiti talk show host, files a $1-million lawsuit against the WWF for using a video clip of an April 1997 incident in which he was attacked by Vader. The suit alleges that “the defendents use of the video clip constitutes a false and defamatory statement which exposed Othman to publc scorn, hatred, contempt, and ridicule.”

June 21: Two more high-profile lawsuits are filed against the WWF. Martha Hart, Owen Hart’s widow, files a wrongful death claim on behalf of herself, the two Hart children, and Owen’s parents against Vince and Linda McMahon, Titan Sports, Amspec Inc., Lewmar Ltd., Lewmar Marine Ltd., Lift-All Ltd. (the manufacturers and installers of the harness system used to lower Owen into the ring), various harness operators, and the city of Kansas City, Missouri (which owns Kemper Arena). Bassam Al Othman, the Kuwaiti talk show host attacked by Vader in April 1997, files a $1-million lawsuit against the WWF for its unauthorized use of the video detailing the incident. The WWF had used the clip in promotional packages about Vader and during the “Mastadon’s” ring entrances … Vince McMahon fires Big Bossman from the Corporate Ministry when he fails to beat Steve Austin in Memphis.

June 27: Vince and Shane McMahon retain ownership of the WWF by defeating Steve Austin in a ladder match at the King of the Ring in Greensboro, North Carolina. In accordance with prematch stipulations, Austin loses his position as chief executive officer of the WWF. The object of the match was to climb a ladder and grab a briefcase dangling from the ceiling. Whenever Austin reached for the briefcase, it was mysteriously raised … Billy Gunn defeats X-Pac to become the King of the Ring. Gunn’s only legitimate victory in the entire tourney is over X-Pac, who was hindered by a stinger he suffered against Bob Holly in the first round.

June 28: Former WWF junior heavyweight champ Tatsumi Fujinami is named president of New Japan Pro Wrestling. The previous president, Seiji Sakaguchi, assumes the vacant chairman post. Sakaguchi and long-time matchmaker Riki Choshu thought it was time to give control to a younger leader. Fujinami announces his desire to organize a joint card among New Japan, All-Japan, and the Universal Fighting Arts Organization … Steve Austin regains the WWF World title from The Undertaker in Charlotte, North Carolina.

July 1: Chris Jericho signs a multiyear deal with the WWF and is expected to make his debut after his WCW contract expires on July 27. “Jericho’s debut has not been finalized, but Chris’ creative game plan has been discussed, in the advent that he would sign, for months,” says Jim Ross, the WWF’s vice president of talent relations. Jericho turned down a lucrative deal with WCW in exchange for more creative control in the WWF.

July 5: Bret Hart returns to WCW for the first time since the death of his younger brother Owen. He speaks frankly to the Nitro audience about Owen and the future of his own career. Hart says he’s still uncertain whether to become an active wrestler again.

July 6: PWI grants world title status to ECW following the promotion’s deal with The Nashville Network to begin airing weekly programs on August 27. The one-hour program is scheduled to air Friday nights at 8 p.m., between Motor Madness and Rollerjam, with TNN getting a share in the revenue of all ECW ventures. “In terms of match quality, pay-per-views, competition, and longevity, ECW had already earned world title status,” comments PWI Publisher Stu Saks. “We were just waiting for them to establish a national presence, and with the TNN deal, they have” … The WWF confirms that Vince McMahon suffered a cracked tailbone during the Fourth of July holiday weekend in Greenwich, Connecticut. A motorist backed out of a driveway and into McMahon, who was riding his motorcycle. McMahon landed flat on his back 30 feet from the scene.

July 11: Randy Savage pins Kevin Nash in a tag team match to win his fourth WCW World title at Bash at the Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. According to a prematch stipulation, Savage’s partner, Sid Vicious, and even Nash’s partner, Sting, were eligible to pin “Big Sexy” during the contest.

July 12: WWF commentator and former AWA World champion Jerry Lawler announces his candidacy for the mayor’s office in Memphis. “I’m running because I think [the people of Memphis] are looking at me as someone who’s certainly not a politician, but a lifelong resident of Memphis and as someone who has a love of this city,” Lawler explains to the Commercial Appeal. “The King” intends to continue his announcing duties with the WWF while pursuing his political career … Hollywood Hogan defeats Randy Savage for his sixth WCW World title during a Nitro broadcast. Sid Vicious on Savage’s behalf as Hogan pins Savage, but Kevin Nash power-bombs Savage, handing Hogan the WCW belt a second time. Nash demands a shot at Hogan’s newly won title.

July 18: ECW World champion Taz defeats Yoshihiro Tajiri at Heatwave in Dayton, Ohio … Spike Dudley and Mahoney beat Buh Buh Ray and D-Von Dudley for the ECW World tag team title on the same card. The Dudleys have the last laugh, however, as they slam Spike and Mahoney through two flaming tables. New Jack chases the Dudleys away.

July 19: Shane Douglas, after a falling-out with ECW, ends months of speculation by appearing in WCW rather than the WWF. He immediately forms The Revolution, with Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn as members. Douglas claims WCW has held these men down long enough and that his group is going to change the pecking order in the federation … Sting defeats Ric Flair to gain control of the WCW presidency, due to a prematch stipulation. Sting refuses to become president himself, but quietly searches for a successor. Eventually, WCW takes the “presidential title” out of circulation.

July 24: Rick Justice defends the Tri-Star title four times in one card. He beats Tank Norton, Jimmy Sharpe, and Bobby Hayes. He loses the belt to Hayes in a rematch later in the evening.

July 25: WWF World champion Steve Austin defeats The Undertaker in a first-blood “End Of An Era” match at Fully Loaded in Buffalo, New York. Due to a prematch stipulation, Vince McMahon is banned from appearing on WWF television. If Austin had lost, he would have lost the championship and surrendered all future title shots.

July 25: WCW hardcore champion Dave Finlay is sidelined for several months after fragments from a smashed table sever a nerve below his left knee in a defense against Brian Knobs.

July 26: During an impromptu brawl with Triple-H, WWF World champion Steve Austin suffers a twisted knee and strained ligaments. When Triple-H attacked announcer Jim Ross, who had questioned Helmsley’s ability to beat Austin at SummerSlam, “Stone-Cold” ran to J.R.’s rescue. Austin didn’t return to action until SummerSlam, one month later … WCW World champion Hollywood Hogan hyperextends his knee when Sid Vicious executes a fall-away slam in a match pitting Hogan and Sting vs. Vicious and Kevin Nash. Hogan says he’ll be ready to defend the title against Kevin Nash three weeks later at Road Wild.

July 29: Mankind returns to action, following six weeks recovering from knee surgery, as part of a six-man tag team match at the Baltimore Arena. Substituting for Steve Austin, Mankind helps Kane and X-Pac defeat The Undertaker, Triple-H, and Paul Wight.

July 30: The “Curtis Comes Home” benefit show takes place at the Ice Gardens in Rostraver, Pennsylvania, in honor of Mark Curtis (Brian Hildebrand), who is fighting stomach cancer. When special referee Mankind tries to maintain control by applying mandible claws to both Al Snow and D-Lo Brown, Curtis enters the ring and makes a three-count, declaring Mankind the winner.

July 31: Florida independent wrestler Yuel Lovett dies … Kamala, in his debut at ECW Arena, defeats David Cash with a bodysplash.

August 7: Lord Jonathan Boyd, a former member of The Royal Kangaroos and The Sheepherders, dies of a heart attack at age 56.

August 9: The WWF files with the Securities & Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of stock. Titan Sports’ name is changed to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. … Chris Jericho debuts in the WWF, revealing himself as the force behind the millennium countdown clock promos airing during recent weeks. He refers to his new nickname, Y2J.

August 14: Kevin Nash loses a retirement match to WCW World champion Hollywood Hogan at Road Wild in Sturgis, South Dakota. Nash almost wins with a power bomb, but Hogan rallies with a boot to the face and legdrop for the pin … Randy Savage beats Dennis Rodman after Gorgeous George drops the “Worm” with a low blow. At one point, Savage forces Rodman into a Port-O-Pot and pushes it over. Five referees and one ringside photographer are injured during the contest.

August 19: Ann Laverne, a popular woman wrestler during the 1940s and ’50s, does at age 76. She was married to wrestler Pancho Villa and mother to two wrestlers, Bobby Lane and Marie Laverne.

August 20: Bret Hart returns to action for the first time since the death of his brother, Owen. He wrestles WCW World champion Hulk Hogan to a no-contest at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

August 22: Mankind uses a double-arm DDT to pin Steve Austin for his third WWF World title in a three-way match at SummerSlam in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Earlier, referee Jesse Ventura refuses to count a pin of Mankind by the third participant, Triple-H, because of Chyna’s interference … On the same PPV, Jeff Jarrett beats D-Lo Brown for the Intercontinental and European championships.

August 23: Triple-H wins the WWF World title in Ames, Iowa, ending Mankind’s one-day reign … Jeff Jarrett gives his newly won European title to Mark Henry, whose interference enabled Jarrett to beat D-Lo Brown for the Intercontinental and European titles the previous night.

August 26: Raven returns to ECW by rescuing Tommy Dreamer and beating Buh Buh Ray and D-Von Dudley for the World tag team title. The victory by Raven and Dreamer prevents the Dudleys from taking the ECW tag belts to the WWF.

August 27: ECW’s one-hour show premieres on The Nashville Network. The program features TV champion Rob Van Dam’s win over Jerry Lynn at Hardcore Heaven, a summary of ECW history, and clips of superstars who previously passed through the federation. The show’s Nielsen rating is 0.94.

August 28: IWGP champion The Great Muta (Keiji Muto) defeats The Great Nita (Atsushi Onita’s mocking alter-ego) in a no-rope barbed-wire barricade-mat electric-mine double-hell death match at Jinju Stadium in Tokyo. The two combatants fought for a large knife, in addition to throwing each other onto barbed wire and deadly electric mines in front of 48,000 fans. Muta injured Nita and pinned him after 13 minutes of action.

August 30: Raw defeats Nitro, 4.2 to 4.0, in the Monday night ratings—despite the fact Nitro airs at 11 p.m. EDT instead of its usual 9 p.m. time slot. Raw had been pre-empted by USA’s coverage of the U.S. Open.

September 8: Brian Hildebrand, known by his ring name Mark Curtis, dies after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. Hildebrand was primarily a referee, but also managed and wrestled on occasion. He was 37.

September 10: Time Warner executives remove WCW President Eric Bischoff from office and promote Bill Busch to executive vice president. TV ratings, PPV buy rates, and arena attendance had been dropping.

September 12: Sting ends 13 years of goodwill with his fans by walloping Hulk Hogan with a bat to win his seventh NWA/WCW World title at Fall Brawl in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Lex Luger had brought the bat to ringside.

September 13: ECW World champion Taz agrees to a contract with the WWF.

September 14: WWF Chairman Vince McMahon becomes WWF World champion by defeating Triple-H in Las Vegas, Nevada. Steve Austin assisted McMahon, his former nemesis, in the victory. McMahon, at 54 years old, is the oldest man to hold the championship.

September 17: Nicole Bass files a $120-million lawsuit against the WWF in a federal court in Brooklyn. She seeks $20-million in compensation for alleged sexual harassment and $100-million in punitive damages. Bass claims a long-time WWF executive and wrestler grabbed her breast during a plane flight and warned her against reporting the incident. She also mentions being struck with an unusually rigid guitar during one in-ring scuffle, which she feels was direct intimidation by management.

September 19: Mike Awesome defeats previous champ Taz and Masato Tanaka to win the ECW World title in a three-way match at Anarchy Rulz in Rosemont, Illinois. The bout had been scheduled to be a singles match between Taz and Tanaka, but Awesome prompted Taz to make a it a three-way by doing a lot of trash-talking at ringside. Awesome and Tanaka eliminated Taz with a double-cover, then Awesome used a top-rope Awesome bomb to pin Tanaka … On the same PPV, Chris Chetti slips on Tony DeVito’s shirt and injures his neck during a tag team match pitting Chetti and Nova vs. DeVito and Simon Diamond.

September 20: Vince McMahon relinquishes the WWF World championship because his title-winning effort against Triple-H violated the “End Of An Era” agreement that prevented him from appearing on WWF television.

September 24: Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch return to ECW for a TNN taping at the Compuserve Sports Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. Candido and Sytch had taken time off to work out personal problems dealing with alcohol and drug abuse. Candido’s homecoming is spoiled by a loss to former partner Lance Storm.

September 25: Gary Steele defeats previous champ Naoya Ogawa and Brian Anthony for the NWA title in a three-way bout at the NWA 51st Anniversary show in Charlotte, North Carolina … On the same card, former NWA champion Ronnie Garvin beat Stan Lane in a legends match.

September 26: Triple-H outlasts five other contenders at Unforgiven, held at the Charlotte Coliseum in North Carolina, to win his second WWF World title. He executes a pedigree on The Rock for the victory. The other participants were Mankind, Davey Boy Smith, Kane, and Paul Wight.

September 27: Psicosis loses his mask in a hair vs. mask bout with Billy Kidman. Juventud Guerrera and Chavo Guerrero Jr. interfere on behalf of Psicosis, but Kidman is able to use the seated power bomb and shooting star press for the win.

October 2: Naoya Ogawa regains the NWA title from Gary Steele in Thomaston, Connecticut. Tony Rumble, Steele’s manager for the evening, hits his own charge in the head with a batter’s helmet, allowing Ogawa to clamp Steele in the STF for the victory … The fourth annual Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show takes place in Vineland, New Jersey. Tommy Gilbert, Eddie’s father, teams with John Kronus to defeat Public Enemy in the main event. King Kong Bundy and George Steele also appear.

October 3: Television writer Vince Russo, whose provocative storylines helped Raw dominate the ratings war with WCW over the past year, resigns from the WWF to become the creative director of WCW. “I’m not doing this to destroy Vince McMahon or prove anything to Vince McMahon,” Russo tells PWI. “I’m looking at this simply as a business decision.” Russo warns it may take six months to a year before WCW “gets it right.”

October 4: Bret Hart defeats Chris Benoit in a half-hour match at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, in a bout was dedicated to Owen Hart. Hart family friend and Kansas City legend Harley Race is the guest ring announcer.

October 5: Jerry Lawler places third in a 15-candidate race for Memphis mayor, with 12 percent of the vote. Mayor Willie Hereton, the incumbent, wins his third term … Darren Drosdov is left paralyzed from the waist down following a match against D-Lo Brown at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Brown was attempting a running power bomb when Drosdov fell awkwardly on his neck. Droz underwent surgery to remove two discs causing pressure on his neck. Surgeons extracted a piece of Drosdov’s pelvis to replace the discs and his neck was stabilized by inserting a plate and screws.

October 6: WWF legend Gorilla Monsoon dies three weeks after suffering a heart attack at his home in Mooresville, New Jersey, at age 62. Monsoon, whose real name was Robert Marella, was a two-time holder of the WWF tag team title and a top challenger to World champion Bruno Sammartino. Later, he served as an announcer and WWF president.

October 10: Heroes of Wrestling, a PPV featuring many WWF stars of the 1980s, emanates from Casino Magic in St. Louis, Missouri. King Kong Bundy and Jim Neidhart defeat Jake Roberts and Yokozuna in the main event. The card, which is believed to have lost money, gains notoriety because of Roberts’ lewd gestures.

October 17: Chyna becomes the first female Intercontinental champion by defeating Jeff Jarrett in a “Good Housekeeping” match at No Mercy in Cleveland, Ohio. Various kitchen utensils and appliances are used as weapons … Also at No Mercy, septuagenarian Fabulous Moolah becomes the oldest person to hold the women’s title by pinning Ivory. The presence of Mae Young, Moolah’s friend, distracts Ivory enough to make her lose the title … On the same PPV, WWF World champion Triple-H beats Steve Austin in a no-disqualification bout. The Rock, who attacked by Helmsley earlier, tries to hit Triple-H with a sledgehammer, but the champ ducks, causing Austin to take the blow in the abdomen. Triple-H gains an easy pinfall … In yet another match from the same PPV, The Hardy Boyz win $100,000 and Terri’s services in a scintillating ladder match, which quickly becomes a PWI Match of the Year candidate.

October 18: WWF chairman Vince McMahon’s WWFE stock has a paper value of $963.9-million following the WWF’s initial public offering, which raises $170-million for the company.

October 20: Ultimo Dragon announces his retirement at a press conference in Tokyo. Ultimo’s career was cut short by elbow surgery that made his right arm ineffective in the ring … Bert Prentice and Bill Behrens sell NWA Worldwide/Music City to Memphis-based Lone Ranger Lending Service. Prentice and Behrens plan on remaining with the promotion.

October 23: The Sandman (Hak) and Mikey Whipwreck return to the ECW Arena after being released from WCW. While Whipwreck is defeated easily by World champion Mike Awesome, The Sandman’s reappearance—and his intimidation of The Impact Players—is more noteworthy.

October 24: Bill Goldberg dominates Halloween Havoc by grabbing the U.S. title and by defeating WCW World champ Sting at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Goldberg gained the U.S. belt when the ex-champ, Sid Vicious, is too bloody and battered to continue. When World champion Hulk Hogan lays down for Sting, Goldberg answered the “Stinger’s” challenge to be his opponent. Goldberg appears to win the World belt, but it is only a non-title bout … Rey Misterio Jr. reinjures his ACL injury prior to a World tag team title defense at the same PPV. He and Konnan forfeit the belts. Harlem Heat win the championship in a three-way match over the First Family (Brian Knobs and Hugh Morrus) and the Filthy Animals (Konnan and Billy Kidman).

October 25: WCW official J.J. Dillon strips Sting of the World championship for using the Scorpion deathdrop on referee Charles Robinson following his non-title loss to Bill Goldberg the previous night. A 32-man world title tournament begins that evening … Bret Hart, despite a hairline fracture in his shin, wins the U.S. title and advances past Goldberg in the first-round of the tournament. Hart later claims he didn’t know Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Sid Vicious attacked Goldberg during that match. “The Hitman” seemed to be nearly unconscious outside the ring as the interference took place.

October 30: Vader regains the All-Japan Triple Crown from Mitsuharu Misawa at Budokan Hall in Tokyo. The “Mastadon” survived backdrops, missile kicks, and a Tiger driver, then launched a power bomb to pin Misawa. The American contingent of wrestlers—Johnny Ace, Mike Burton (Bart Gunn), and Maunukea Mossman—congratulated Vader. Motoka Baba, wife of the late Shohei “Giant” Baba, was in attendance to celebrate All-Japan’s 27th anniversary.

November 1: Steve Williams is cleared in a paternity suit brought forth by a California woman, who claimed Williams was the father of her daughter. “Dr. Death” had been indicted in 1998 for failing to pay $64,000 in back child support. DNA tests proved he was not the father.

November 2: Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time Warner, announced that TBS Entertainment President Brad Siegel would assume responsibility for overseeing WCW operations. The move comes after Dr. Harvey Schiller leaves the company to take a position with George Steinbrenner’s Yankees-Nets corporation.

November 8: Terry Taylor joins the growing list of WWF front office defectors by joining the creative team of Vince Russo, Ed Ferrara, and Bill Banks in WCW. According to friends, Taylor was frustrated because of his failure to become the federation’s top creative writer and a contractual demand from Vince McMahon that would have restricted him from working in WCW for one year if he parted company with the WWF for any reason. Taylor had joined the WWF several months earlier after a parting of the ways with Eric Bischoff.

November 13: Tony Rumble (Anthony Magliaro), a veteran wrestler and New England promoter, dies of a heart attack at age 43.

November 14: The Big Show becomes the sixth man to hold both the WWF and NWA/WCW World titles when he defeats Triple-H for the WWF World title at Survivor Series in Detroit.

November 15: A documentary on Steve Austin, the first of a week-long series of wrestler profiles on the program Biography, airs on A&E. The show also examines the lives of Owen Hart and Mick Foley and re-runs its Jesse Ventura and Andre the Giant segments.

November 21: Bret Hart wins the WCW World title at Mayhem in Toronto, beating Sting and Chris Benoit in the final two rounds of a 32-man championship tournament. Hart becomes the seventh man to hold both the NWA/WCW and WWF World titles … Curt Hennig loses a retirement match to Buff Bagwell on the same PPV.

November 22: A federal judge rules that the October 1999 edition of Playboy magazine containing nude photos of Rena Mero infringed on the WWF’s copyright of the “Sable” trademark with a cover headline that read “The Woman You Loved As Sable In The Raw.” Playboy has to reprint 500,000 issues containing that headline … NWA Georgia owner Bill Behrens confirms Music City Wrestling (where Behrens is an official) will end its two-year association with the NWA. The decision to abandon Nashville operations is a result of Music City promoter Bert Prentice’s impending retirement on December 18 … Curt Hennig double-crosses the fans again. Instead of retiring quietly as a result of his loss to Buff Bagwell the previous night, Hennig aligns himself with the Powers-That-Be.

November 27: Two-time former NWA junior heavyweight champion Hiro Matsuda dies of colon cancer at age 62. Matsuda helped train some of today’s top stars, including Lex Luger, Keiji Muto, and Hulk Hogan.

November 29: WWF Vice President Jim Ross confirms Steve Austin’s career is in jeopardy when it is determined that numbness in Austin’s hands, arms, and legs are caused by a bone spur touching his spinal cord.

December 2: The WWF responds to an advertiser exodus by changing Smackdown’s TV-14 rating to a more family-friendly TV-PG. The Parents Television Council, headed by L. Brent Bozell III, launched a letter-writing campaign for sponsors to pull their ads from WWF programs and publications. Coca-Cola, AT&T, Mars, the Coast Guard, and the Army were among the advertisers that complied. “I just hope that both organizations, or all organizations, including ECW, for that matter, will be able to find a way to capture the public’s interest without having to do things that alienate advertisers,” former WCW President Eric Bischoff comments in an interview with PWI Weekly … Dusty Rhodes, soon after parting ways with WCW, appears in ECW during an Atlanta TV taping. Steve Corino goads Rhodes, who is visiting the locker room, to enter the ring where the “King Of Old School” blames Rhodes for “ruining” the current generation. He slaps Rhodes, who retaliates with bionic elbows to Corino and his associate, Jack Victory.

December 3: Jerry Monte, who wrestled in the NWA, AWA, and WWF dies of liver cancer at age 57.

December 6: Larry Zbyszko loses his job as Thunder commentator as a result of his disqualification loss to Curt Hennig in a special match orchestrated by the Powers-That-Be. Officials cite Arn Anderson’s interference to help Zbyszko gain the pin over Hennig as the reason for Zbyszko’s disqualification.

December 10: Genichiro Tenyru, less than two months before his 50th birthday, uses two Northern Lights power bombs to defeat Keiji Muto for the IWGP title in Osaka, Japan. He becomes the second man to hold both the IWGP championship and the All-Japan Triple Crown.

December 12: Triple-H beats Vince McMahon in a no-holds-barred contest at Armageddon in Sunrise, Florida. Stephanie McMahon shocks the world by celebrating with Triple-H while her father lays unconscious in the ring. At one point, Helmsley tries to run over McMahon with a car, but the WWF chairman hops on a rail to escape … Miss Kitty causes headlines at Armageddon by removing her top following her women’s title victory over previous champ Ivory, Jacquelyn, and B.B. in an evening gown match held in a pool.

December 17: Masato Tanaka defeats Mike Awesome for the ECW World title in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a rebound for Tanaka, who lost their last high-profile match at November to Remember.

December 19: Bret Hart beats Bill Goldberg at Starrcade in Washington, D.C. Roddy Piper, subbing for the injured referee for the match, “screwed” Goldberg out of the title by ringing the bell prematurely. It is Goldberg’s third defeat … Kevin Sullivan reunites the Varsity Club with charges Mike Rotundo and Rick Steiner. In typical fashion, they double-cross Hacksaw Duggan in a match against The Revolution.

December 20: On Nitro, Roddy Piper admitss he screwed Bill Goldberg at Starrcade because the Powers-That-Be forced him to do so. An irritated Goldberg forgives Piper as Bret Hart vacates the title and maintains his innocence … Later, the conspiracy is revealed as Hart gains a tainted win over Goldberg, then joins Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Jeff Jarrett to re-form the New World Order. They spray-paint “N-W-O” on Goldberg and Piper … Triple-H orders Matt Hardy and Edge to face Jeff Hardy and Christian. Although all four are reluctant to participate, they wrestle a brilliant match. Jeff breaks his brother’s nose when he finishes off Matt with a 450 splash.

December 21: Bill Goldberg requires emergency reconstructive surgery on a tendon in his right arm following a parking lot tirade in Salisbury, Maryland. Goldberg had chased the members of the reformed New World Order out of the arena and in to the parking lot, where he shattered the glass of the NWO’s limousine with his bare hands. He is forced to cancel a match against Rick Steiner, scheduled for January 4 at the Tokyo Dome. Randy Savage is chosen as a substitute.

December 23: Mike Awesome regains the ECW World title from Masato Tanaka in White Plains, New York. Tanaka is less than 100 percent for the bout, having injured his elbow in his championship victory over Awesome on December 17 and lost a tooth during a match against Wing Kanemura the following night.

December 27: Mankind loses a pink slip-on-a-pole match to The Rock. The match had been set by the McMahon-Helmsley era in order to split the WWF’s most popular tandem. Although Mankind is forced into retirement, he vows revenge … WCW official J.J. Dillon confiscates the World tag team belts from The Outsiders because a knee injury prevented Scott Hall from making a scheduled defense at Starrcade … After declaring his retirment in a tear-filled speech earlier in the night, Scott Steiner stuns the world by joining the New World Order.

2000
January 3: Three WWF legends appear on Monday Nitro to assist WCW Commissioner Terry Funk in his war against NWO 2000—and all three hand Jeff Jarrett humiliating losses. George “The Animal” Steele beats Jarrett in 1:10 with help from Arn Anderson. Tito Santana pins Jarrett in a dungeon match, thanks to an assist from a Paul Orndorff piledriver. Jimmy Snuka delivers a spectacular Superfly leap from the top of a steel cage to defeat Jarrett. Chris Benoit, special referee for each match, lends plenty of assistance to the old-timers.

January 7: Nicole Bass’ $120-million sexual harassment case against the WWF begins in Brooklyn … All-Japan star Gary Albright, 38, dies of a heart attack during a WXW show in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Albright was making his debut for the promotion, which is owned by his father-in-law, Afa the Wild Samoan.

January 9: ECW World champion Mike Awesome defeats Spike Dudley at Guilty as Charged. At the same pay-per-view, Justin Credible and Lance Storm beat Tommy Dreamer and Raven for the World tag team title.

January 13: Smackdown scores its highest numbers to date, with an amazing 5.0 rating and 7.0 share. The UPN program actually beats Fox’s presentation of Lethal Weapon 3 head-to-head in the 18-to-34 male demographic: 5.5 to 3.1. It is also marks the first week Thunder does not provide opposition.

January 14: Jerry Lynn fractures his ankle in five places during a match against Little Guido Maritato in Danbury, Connecticut. He executes a cross-bodyblock from the top rope onto Guido’s sidekick, Sal E. Graziano, and his ankle gives way upon landing. He is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks.

January 16: WCW World champion Bret Hart and U.S. champion Jeff Jarrett, both suffering concussion symptoms from separate incidents, no-show Souled Out per doctors’ orders. Commissioner Terry Funk strips them of their titles. Sid Vicious and Chris Benoit, who were the scheduled challengers for the respective titles, wrestle for the vacant World championship. Benoit wins the strap with a Crippler crossface … Kevin Nash is named WCW commissioner at the same PPV due to a special stipulation in his match against then-Commissioner Terry Funk.

January 17: Steve Austin’s chances of returning to action are deemed “good” by his doctor following four hours of surgery. Surgeons remove part of his hip bone and insert it into his neck. Austin suffered from bone spurs touching his spinal column, which caused numbness in his hands, arms, and legs. The injury stemmed from a SummerSlam ’97 match in which Owen Hart spiked Austin’s head into the mat with a piledriver … Arn Anderson, who served as special referee in the WCW World title match the previous night, reverses his decision and effectively strips Chris Benoit of the championship. Rumors persist that Benoit’s dispute with WCW management factored into the decision … New WCW Commissioner Kevin Nash returns the U.S. title belt to Jeff Jarrett.

January 19: The McMahon family, Sugar Ray, Luther Vandross, Joan Lunden, and several WWF stars attend the opening of WWF New York in Times Square. The theme restaurant is one of the first expansion projects initiated by WWFE since the company went public.

January 22: Al Costello, a former member of the Fabulous Kangaroos tag team, dies of pneumonia at age 80.

January 23: WWF World champion Triple-H upsets hardcore legend Cactus Jack in a falls-count-anywhere match at the Royal Rumble … The Rock wins the actual Royal Rumble match, last eliminating The Big Show … Mae Young shocks viewers by removing her top during the Miss Royal Rumble 2000 swimsuit competition … Former ECW and WCW star Bobby Duncum Jr.—best known to American fans as one of The West Texas Rednecks—dies of a drug overdose at age 34.

January 31: Ex-WCW stars Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn make their WWF debut on Raw. Moments after they take seats at ringside, the four get into a fight with The New Age Outlaws. Jim Ross dubs them “The Radicals.”

February 3: Vince McMahon stuns the sports world by announcing WWFE’s latest venture: the XFL. McMahon says the eight-team league will emphasize “smashmouth, wide-open football.” Hoping to make the XFL a rowdier product than the NFL, broadcast consultant Michael Weisman says, “I don’t know how good the quality of our play will be, but I do know that when it comes to presentation, we will be unique.”

February 6: Sting’s made-for-cable movie, Shutterspeed, premieres on TBS. He plays a Los Angeles cop investigating the death of his father. Daisy Fuentes co-stars.

February 16: Jim Duggan finds the old WCW TV title belt in a trash can while performing his janitorial duties. The booking committee reactivates the title and declares Duggan the new champion. Scott Hall had nonchalantly tossed away the belt a few months earlier.

February 18: WWF champ Triple-H infuriates Bill Goldberg with several of his comments on the Mancow radio show: “I think that Bill Goldberg is a flash in the pan,” Helmsley says. “He’s a guy that came in that they tried to push as the ultimate, unstoppable machine, but the reality of it is he’s a guy who believes too much in what he does and is kind of a prima donna. Every time he doesn’t get something his way, he goes out with an injury and kind of sits out.”

February 20: WCW World champion Sid Vicious retains his title in a no-disqualification three-way match against Jeff Jarrett and Scott Hall at SuperBrawl. Hall suffers a stinger and is taken to a local hospital … At the same pay-per-view, Hulk Hogan defeats Lex Luger, and Ric Flair beats Terry Funk in a Texas death match … Vader and Steve Williams defeat Jun Akiyama and Kenta Kobashi for the All-Japan International and Pacific Wrestling Federation tag team titles in Kobe, Japan. These are the second and third concurrent championships for Vader, who is already the Triple Crown champion.

February 26: Liz Chase, 45, dies while undergoing surgery in Costa Rica. She had been a regular competitor in Florida Championship Wrestling prior to her death.

February 27: WWF World champion Triple-H hands Cactus Jack his second consecutive pay-per-view loss at No Way Out. Their final singles showdown—which takes place in a “Hell In A Cell” match—effectively ends the career of Mick Foley, due to a prematch retirement stipulation … Kurt Angle captures the Intercontinental title from Chris Jericho at the same pay-per-view … The Big Show beats The Rock for a World title shot at WrestleMania 2000.

March 8: Saved By The Bell star Dustin Diamond harasses The Kat at a Memphis Championship Wrestling TV taping. Chip Diver, Danny B, and The Fabulous Rocker intervene, and Diamond responds by smearing Diver’s head with cotton candy. Diver, Danny B, and Rocker attack the screeching Diamond, who is carried out on a stretcher.

March 12: New Jack takes a suicide dive at Living Dangerously for the third consecutive year. This time, he and Vic Grimes fall from a scaffold and through two double-stacked tables … Justin Credible and Lance Storm regain the ECW World tag team belts in a three-way match at the same show … Super Crazy wins a tournament for the ECW TV championship … Dusty Rhodes bashes Steve Corino in the head with a cowbell and follows with a flying elbowsmash to win a bullrope match.

March 13: The Rock places his career on the line against The Big Show’s WWF title shot at WrestleMania 2000. Vince McMahon punches out his son, Shane, who is in the midst of some biased officiating, and counts the pinfall after The Rock floors The Big Show with a Rock bottom … On the same edition of Raw, Dean Malenko becomes the first man to capture the WCW cruiserweight and WWF light heavyweight championships when he defeats Essa Rios in less than four minutes.

March 17: Beyond The Mat opens to critical acclaim in theaters nationwide. Produced by Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, the documentary reveals the personal hardships and physical risks associated with being a pro wrestler. Director Barry Blaustein put three years of work into the project, including a meeting with PWI editors at the magazine’s offices in Ambler, Pennsylvania … The Rock appears on The Tonight Show.

March 18: The Rock guest-hosts Saturday Night Live. During his monologue, he is heckled by his opponents for the upcoming fatal four-way at WrestleMania 2000: Triple-H, Mick Foley, and The Big Show. Vince McMahon delivers SNL’s keynote introduction, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

March 19: WCW World champion Sid Vicious retains his title against Jeff Jarrett at Uncensored. Struggling to fend off Jarrett and the Harris boys, Vicious is saved by Hulk Hogan, who pummels the Harrises, legdrops Jarrett, and pulls Vicious on top of him for the pinfall. Ron and Don Harris had better luck against The Mamalukes, whom they defeated for the World tag team title earlier in the evening … Hogan beats Ric Flair in a strap match in the main event, and Dustin Rhodes beats Terry Funk in a bullrope match.

March 24: The Big Show appears on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. He talks about spending $20 to $30 during a single trip to McDonald’s and the challenges of being a 12-year-old boy standing 6’2”. It is his first solo appearance on a network talk show.

April 2: WWF World champion Triple-H becomes the first heel in the 16-year history of WrestleMania to win the main event. He retains the title in a fatal four-way also involving The Rock, Mick Foley, and The Big Show. A member of the McMahon family stood in each combatant’s corner … At the same pay-per-view, Kurt Angle loses the Intercontinental belt to Chris Benoit, and the European strap to Chris Jericho in a special best-of-three-falls three-way match … Christian and Edge capture the World tag team title in a three-way ladder match also involving The Hardy Boyz and previous champs The Dudley Boyz.

April 4: Shawn Michaels retains the Texas Wrestling Alliance title—which Justin Credible had handed over to him in late-March due to previous ECW engagements—against Venom in a bloody bunkhouse brawl. Michaels finishes off Venom by climbing a ladder and delivering a fistdrop. After his one-night appearance, HBK vacates the championship.

April 7: NWA champion Naoya Ogawa forces Shinya Hashimoto to submit to the STO in a non-title match. New Japan President Tatsumi Fujinami says he will enforce a prematch stipulation requiring Hashimoto to retire in case of a loss.

April 10: At the request of Turner Entertainment President Brad Siegel, Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff return to WCW and join forces for the first time. To “level the playing field” between established stars and the up-and-coming New Blood, Russo and Bischoff strip all champions of their titles and schedule vacancy-filling tournaments for Spring Stampede … ECW World champion Mike Awesome debuts on Nitro when he attacks Kevin Nash.
April 13: The WWF allows Tazz to wrestle ECW World champion Mike Awesome only days after Awesome unofficially defected to WCW. Tazz defeats Awesome for the World title in less than three minutes.

April 16: Jeff Jarrett beats Dallas Page in the finals of a mini-tournament for the WCW World title at Spring Stampede, thanks to the interference of DDP’s wife, Kimberly. Kim hits Page with a guitar, enabling “The Chosen One” to capture the gold after six months of trying … At the same pay-per-view, Scott Steiner wins the U.S. title tournament, and Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas win the World tag team title tournament.

April 19: New Japan wrestler Masakazu Fukuda, 27, dies of head injuries he suffered in a match.

April 20: WWF World champion Triple-H defeats ECW World champion Tazz in the first showdown between world heavyweight champions in 15 years. The match takes place on Smackdown, and is marred by interference when Tommy Dreamer—supposedly aiming for Helmsley—nails Tazz with a steel chair. Triple-H executes the pedigree and scores the pinfall over Tazz.

April 22: Tommy Dreamer realizes a career-long goal by defeating Tazz for the ECW World title at Cyberslam in Philadelphia. Justin Credible ruins Dreamer’s victory party, however, by attacking him with a Singapore cane—and relying on the surprise interference of Francine—and pinning “The Innovator Of Violence” for the championship … Rhino beats Yoshihiro Tajiri for the TV title, and Steve Corino upsets Dusty Rhodes in a bullrope match at the same show.

April 24: “Diamond” Dallas Page pins Jeff Jarrett in a steel cage for the WCW World title. Chris Kanyon fends off interference from Mike Awesome, which allows Page to make the pinfall. It is sweet revenge for Page, whose wife, Kimberly, had cost him the title eight days earlier.

April 25: AT&T pitchman David Arquette dials up the center to win the WCW World title in a tag team match in which he teams with Dallas Page to face Jeff Jarrett and Eric Bischoff. Thunder, which had reached 3.0 at one point during the program, drops to 2.3 during the overrun featuring Arquette’s title victory. Arquette’s win eventually comes to symbolize the failure of Bischoff and Russo’s joint attempt to revitalize WCW … Tom Renesto, who was part of both The Masked Bolos and Masked Assassins tag teams, dies of heart failure at his home in Paris, Texas, at the age of 72.

April 30: The Rock withstands the crooked officiating of special referee Shane McMahon—and the interference of Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, and Gerald Brisco—to defeat Triple-H for the WWF World title at Backlash. Steve Austin, in his first in-ring appearance since spinal surgery, levels Helmsley, Vince, Patterson, and Brisco with a steel chair, enabling The Rock to hit Triple-H with the people’s elbow as new referee Earl Hebner arrives in the ring.

May 7: Jeff Jarrett regains the WCW World title in a three-tiered cage match at Slamboree. Once again, Jarrett benefits from a heel turn at Dallas Page’s expense. David Arquette, whom Page protected throughout the three-way match, hits DDP over the head with Jarrett’s guitar, enabling “The Chosen One” to grab the World title belt dangling from the top. Mike Awesome throws Chris Kanyon, Page’s friend, off the cage and onto the rampway … In three highly anticipated grudge matches at the pay-per-view, Shane Douglas beats Ric Flair, Sting defeats Vampiro, and Hulk Hogan pins Billy Kidman.

May 8: Chris Jericho interrupts Vince McMahon’s promo on Raw, and the WWF chairman punishes Y2J by scheduling him for three Intercontinental title defenses in one night. Jericho pins Kurt Angle and beats The Big Show via countout. Because of crooked referee Triple-H, however, Chris Benoit wins the I-C belt from Jericho in the third match.

May 9: Buff Bagwell is arrested in Springfield, Illinois, for allegedly punching a WCW production worker. Darrell Miller, 35, encountered Bagwell while carrying a splattered carpet (Hulk Hogan had been doused with the New Blood’s red liquid earlier in the evening) through the backstage area. According to reports, Miller asked Bagwell to move twice before Bagwell punched Miller. Bagwell is later charged with battery, a Class A misdemeanor, and ordered to appear in court at a later date. WCW suspends him for 30 days.

May 13: Japanese legend and former AWA World champ Jumbo Tsuruta, 49, loses his battle with cancer after undergoing kidney surgery in the Philippines. Tsuruta was the first-ever All-Japan Triple Crown champion.

May 14: ECW World champion Justin Credible defeats ex-partner Lance Storm at Hardcore Heaven. Credible executes a tombstone piledriver for a clean pinfall over Storm. It is Storm’s last appearance with the company … TV champion Rhino retains his title against The Sandman at the same pay-per-view.

May 15: Ric Flair captures an unprecedented 15th world title by pinning Jeff Jarrett with an inside cradle. Vince Russo, with the encouragement of David Flair at ringside, tries to steal the WCW World title belt, but Kevin Nash intercepts him. “Big Sexy” takes the belt from Russo and power-bombs Jarrett in the ring. Then he hands the gold to the “Nature Boy” … Shawn Michaels resigns as WWF commissioner, but accepts a post as official spokesperson and an assignment as special referee for the upcoming “Ironman” match between WWF World champion The Rock and Triple-H at Judgment Day.

May 16: New WCW World champion Ric Flair collapses during a six-man match pitting himself, Arn Anderson, and Kevin Nash against David Flair, Crowbar, and Jeff Jarrett. Nash and Jarrett brawl near the backstage area as Flair clutches his chest and crumples to the canvas. Unable to stand on his own, Flair is helped to the back.

May 21: Triple-H regains the WWF World title from The Rock in an “Ironman” match at Judgment Day. Special referee Shawn Michaels, while on the arena floor, misses blatant interference by the McMahon family, but turns around in time to see The Undertaker choke-slam Triple-H. He disqualifies The Rock near the 60-minute mark, enabling Helmsley to win, six falls to five.

May 22: Vince Russo strips Ric Flair of the WCW World title due to his condition, later diagnosed as an equilibrium problem. He awards the title to former champion Jeff Jarrett during a Nitro broadcast in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

May 23: Kevin Nash pins Jeff Jarrett in a three-way match for the WCW World title. Nash survives a vicious two-on-one attack by his opponents, Jarrett and Scott Steiner, to gain the victory. It occurs in Saginaw, Michigan, at a Thunder taping.

May 29: Out of respect, Kevin Nash hands the WCW World title belt to Ric Flair, who is declared fit to wrestle … Jeff Jarrett regains the World championship from Ric Flair later in the evening. Vince Russo dons Charles Robinson’s referee shirt just before Jarrett smashes a guitar over Flair’s head. Russo makes the three-count. R & B Security drags Ric’s wife, Beth, and his son, Reid, to ringside to witness the spectacle … Bill Goldberg makes a dramatic return to Monday Nitro by rescuing Kevin Nash from an attack by Tank Abbott and Rick Steiner. To the chagrin of Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff, the Goldberg hotshot scores a better-than-average but still-disappointing 3.5. Goldberg had missed nearly six months due to a severed tendon in his arm.

June 1: Mark Mendlan, a 20-year-old Michigan wrestler who wrestled as Kid Gorgeous, dies a day after suffering a broken neck. He had landed wrong while taking a press-slam from Ben Alcorn (a.k.a. Dudeman) the previous night in Lincoln, Michigan.

June 5: SFX Entertainment Chairman Robert Sillerman hints that his company is negotiating with the Turner Broadcasting System to purchase WCW. In an interview on CNBC, he is asked about the impending WCW deal. He responds: “We never comment on anything that is in the pipeline other than to say this: We already enjoy an excellent relationship with them.” The rumored negotiations follow a Multichannel News report that WCW is on pace to lose $61.2-million in 2000.

June 9: Several more wrestlers leave All-Japan following Mitsuharu Misawa’s resignation as president and go to Misawa’s new promotion, Pro Wrestling NOAH. Misawa and Motoko Baba, widow of former President Shohei Baba, had disagreed over All-Japan’s direction. Kenta Kobashi vacates the All-Japan Triple Crown to join NOAH, and the International tag team title is declared vacant when Akira Taue splits with partner Toshiaki Kawada to defect.

June 11: Bill Goldberg joins Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo, supposedly his most hated enemies, in a not-so-surprising heel turn at The Great American Bash. He spears ally Kevin Nash, causing him to lose to WCW World champion Jeff Jarrett … During his “Human Torch” match against Vampiro at the same pay-per-view, Sting catches fire and falls from a scaffold … Fans witness an apparent miracle as an allegedly paralyzed Chris Kanyon jumps out of a wheelchair and Diamond-cuts his friend Dallas Page, causing him to lose an ambulance match to Mike Awesome.

June 12: Vince Russo and David Flair beat Ric and Reid Flair, forcing Ric to retire. Flair had challenged Russo to put their careers on the line in the match, and Russo added the hair vs. hair stipulation. Russo hits Flair in the head with a Statue of Liberty figurine, then Ric’s daughter throws in the towel. Russo and David proceed to shave Ric’s head and part of Reid’s.

June 21: Steven (now William) Regal captures the MCW Southern title from Jerry Lawler in Memphis. Viscera and K-Krush (K-Kwik) threaten to harm The Kat unless Lawler submits to Regal’s STF. Lawler submits.

June 24: The last edition of WCW Saturday Night airs, ending a 27-year tradition on TBS. The program had become a mere highlight show in recent weeks. WCW Saturday Morning, another highlight show, debuts the following week.

June 25: The Rock pins Vince McMahon in a six-man match to capture the WWF World title at King of the Ring. Vince and Shane McMahon teamed with Triple-H to defend Helmsley’s World title against The Rock, The Undertaker, and Kane … Kurt Angle beats Chris Jericho, Crash Holly, and Rikishi to win the King of the Ring tournament … Holly crashes an evening gown match between Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco. After Brisco strips Patterson down to his red bra and panties, Holly nails Patterson with a trash can and recaptures the hardcore belt.

June 26: WWF spokesperson Shawn Michaels pre-empts an elaborate coronation scheduled for new King of the Ring Kurt Angle to announce Linda McMahon’s selection of a new commissioner. He introduces Mick Foley as the new commish. Angle is not happy with the interruption.

June 27: A federal judge rules the WWF has the right to switch its programs from the USA Network to Viacom-owned cable channels. The WWF confirms Raw, Livewire, and Superstars will move to TNN, Sunday Night Heat will move to MTV, and Smackdown will remain on Viacom-owned UPN. TNN, citing lower-than-expected ratings, immediately announces the cancellation of its weekly ECW program.

July 7: Former WWF champ Bob Backlund argues with a “fan” at an ECW house show in a self-promotional bit without Paul Heyman’s consent. Heyman orders Atlas Security to remove Backlund from the building.

July 9: WCW World champion Jeff Jarrett, under orders from Vince Russo, lays down for Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach. Russo tosses the WCW title belt to Hogan, who walks out of the building in anger … Russo voids the World title change and books a championship match between Booker T and Jarrett, which Booker wins … Kronic captures the World tag team title from The Perfect Event at the same pay-per-view.

July 10: Scott Steiner disrupts the victory speech of new WCW World champion Booker T. Midajah badmouths Booker’s wife, and Steiner beats Booker and his brother, Stevie Ray, with a bat.

July 11: Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura makes a cameo appearance on CBS’ daytime drama The Young And The Restless. He plays himself on the program. Ventura misses the actual airing due to an education conference in St. Paul.

July 16: Homeless Jimmy, Kristi Myst, Messiah, and Supreme of Xtreme Pro Wrestling get into a street brawl with ECW wrestlers at Heatwave, airing from the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles … ECW World champion Justin Credible defeats Tommy Dreamer, and TV champion Rhino beats The Sandman at the pay-per-view.

July 23: WWF World champion The Rock defeats Chris Benoit, Triple-H beats Chris Jericho in a last-man-standing match, and The Undertaker downs Kurt Angle in the triple main event at Fully Loaded. Despite their losing efforts, Benoit, Jericho, and Angle are considered part of the top tier after this pay-per-view … Intercontinental champion Val Venis beats Rikishi in a steel cage at Fully Loaded after Tazz hits Rikishi with a television camera.

July 24: Sting wins an Internet poll to earn a shot at WCW World champion Booker T, but Bill Goldberg ruthlessly attacks him before the match occurs. Booker T barely survives two matches against Goldberg that evening.

July 25: Jeff Jarrett reaggravates Booker T’s old knee injury en route to beating the WCW World champion in a non-title bunkhouse brawl. Jarrett’s figure-four leglock forces Booker T to pass out.

July 26: Gordon Solie, 71, dies of cancer at his home in New Port Richey, Florida. His nasally voice became synonymous with Florida, Alabama, and Georgia wrestling during his 45-year career. He is best remembered as host of the original World Championship Wrestling broadcast in the 1980s.

July 30: Dennis Rodman and Curt Hennig wrestle to a double-disqualification at an independent show in Sydney, Australia. While brawling in the aisle, a bloody Hennig knocks down Rodman with one punch.

July 31: Lance Storm becomes WCW’s first three-title champion by capturing the cruiserweight belt, in addition to his U.S. and hardcore straps. He renames the championships the Canadian title, the Saskatchewan hardcore invitational title, and the 100-kilo-and-under title.

August 2: WWF World champion The Rock opens the Wednesday session of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia at the request of vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney. The Rock has a heated exchange with Parents Television Council Chairman L. Brent Bozell III during a live interview. Rock’s appearance occurs in the midst of the WWF’s “Smackdown Your Vote” youth voter participation campaign.

August 3: Mitch Snow, a veteran of the AWA and Mid-Atlantic territory, commits suicide.

August 5: Wisconsin All-Star Wrestling’s Tony Nash, 30, dies after his first-ever professional match in Sussex, Wisconsin. He never regains consciousness after landing on his neck while taking a back suplex and is pronounced dead at a local hospital.

August 6: Long-time PWI correspondent and independent wrestling promoter Bill Needham dies of cancer. Needham was a fixture on the independent scene in Tennessee and several surrounding states.

August 13: WCW World champion Booker T defeats Jeff Jarrett at New Blood Rising, the first pay-per-view without most of The Millionaires Club. He pins “The Chosen One” after a Book-end.

August 18: Several ECW wrestlers suffer injuries at a bad luck show in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Francine suffers a two-inch gash and a concussion when she executes a huracanrana, sending herself and Steve Corino to the arena floor. The Sandman’s huracanrana onto Rhino and Francine blackens her eye and breaks her nose. Yoshihiro Tajiri slaps Little Guido Maritato’s head, busting his eardrum. Tony Mamaluke suffers a very bloody nose, and Scotty Anton suffers a rib injury against Rob Van Dam.

August 19: The last edition of WCW Saturday Morning airs on TBS. The highlight show ends a very brief run following the demise of WCW Saturday Night two months earlier. The final program scores a 0.6 overall rating … Montreal legend Tony Parisi dies at age 58. He captured the WWWF U.S. tag team title twice in 1966, and one WWWF World tag team title 10 years later. He was known as Antonio Pugliese and billed as Bruno Sammartino’s cousin early in his career.

August 22: Prof. Toru Tanaka, one of the most feared wrestlers of the 1970s, dies of a heart attack in Lake Forest, California, at the age of 70. Tanaka was a three-time WWF World tag team champion with Mr. Fuji and later starred in numerous films.

August 25: Yoshihiro Tajiri and Mikey Whipwreck win the ECW World tag team title tournament at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. It is a three-way match involving Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lynn, as well as Simon Diamond and Swinger.

August 26: Tony Mamaluke and Little Guido Maritato defeat Yoshihiro Tajiri and Mikey Whipwreck for the ECW World tag team title at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.

August 27: After receiving a concussion earlier in the match, Kurt Angle returns to battle Triple-H and WWF World champion The Rock in the three-way main event at SummerSlam 2000. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley slides a sledgehammer toward Triple-H, but Angle intercepts it and knocks out Triple-H. The Rock throws Angle to the arena floor and delivers a people’s elbow onto an unconscious Triple-H for the victory … Jim Ross breaks a candy jar over Tazz’ head to help his broadcast colleague, Jerry Lawler, beat “The Human Wrecking Machine” at the same pay-per-view.

August 28: Kevin Nash—with the help of Jeff Jarrett as special referee, and outside interference by Scott Steiner and Vince Russo—beats Booker T for the WCW World title. Jarrett smashes a guitar over Booker’s head, enabling Nash to power-bomb the champion and get the win.

August 29: Access Hollywood’s prime-time special, The Top 10 Celebrities Of 2000, features The Rock, who ranks number six. He discusses his wrestling persona and acting career, his role in The Mummy II in particular, during a five-minute segment.

September 9: Bret Hart hints at a comeback in his weekly Calgary Sun column. “I think it would be a sad epitaph for a guy who has never hurt anyone in 23 years of wrestling to go out with a brain injury,” he writes. “I don’t want to be remembered as ‘that guy in that documentary,’ and especially not as ‘that guy who got double-crossed in Montreal.’”

September 11: The impending David Flair-Stacy Keibler wedding helps Nitro reach 4.1 in the segment just before the start of Raw—its highest rating since January 10. Ric Flair’s presence at the wedding, three months after his forced retirement, is credited for the high rating.

September 17: Booker T regains the WCW World title from Kevin Nash in a steel cage at Fall Brawl. Booker’s superior cardiovascular conditioning enables him to escape Nash’s jackknife and catch the champion with a Book-end for the victory … At the same pay-per-view, Midajah uses a lead pipe, Vince Russo uses a bat, and Scott Steiner himself uses a steel chair to gain a tainted win over Bill Goldberg … American hero Jim Duggan betrays Gen. Rection in his match against U.S. champion Lance Storm and defects to Team Canada.

September 24: WWF World champion The Rock retains his title in a four-way match also involving The Undertaker, Kane, and Chris Benoit at Unforgiven. He floors Benoit with a Rock bottom for the victory … At the same pay-per-view, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley belts her rumored love interest, Kurt Angle, with a low blow, giving Triple-H a chance to execute the pedigree and score the pinfall … The Hardy Boyz regain the World tag team title from Christian and Edge in a steel cage match.

September 25: Raw Is War finally debuts on Viacom’s National Network after USA Network and Viacom wage a legal war for WWF programming. The WWF schedules Steve Austin’s return for the inaugural TNN broadcast to entice viewers to watch. The remaining WWF programs also leave USA.

October 1: Hometown hero Jerry Lynn pins Justin Credible for the ECW World title at Anarchy Rulz, held in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lynn uses a pumphandle piledriver to earn the victory … At the same pay-per-view, TV champion Rhino gores Rob Van Dam through a table and spikes him with a piledriver to retain his title … The Sandman gives Joel Gertner an assist by throwing beer in Cyrus’ face, enabling the ECW commentator to score the biggest win of his lackluster career.

October 3: William Soloweyko (a.k.a. Klondike Bill), a former wrestler and long-time member of WCW’s ring crew, dies of Bulbar palsy (a neuromuscular disease) at the age of 68.

October 7: Juventud Guerrera goes into a drug-induced fit at the Brisbane Marriott Hotel in Australia. Six officers need capsicum spray to subdue the Luchadore, and he punches a female officer, breaking her rib. He is held in a padded cell and charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, obstructing police, drug possession, and three counts of assault. Two days later, he pleads guilty and pays a $3,500 fine, the equivalent of $1,900 in U.S. currency. He is subsequently fired by WCW.

October 9: WWF Commissioner Mick Foley solves the “Who ran over ‘Stone-Cold’?” mystery by assigning guilt to Rikishi. The big man admits guilt and cites the WWF’s discrimination against his Samoan relatives and his desire to see The Rock as the federation’s top star as his motives.

October 17: Leo Nomellini, 76, a former AWA World tag team champion who also won numerous other regional titles and was a standout with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, dies.

October 20: WCW fires 24-year veteran Bret Hart due to his “ongoing incapacity.” Bill Goldberg injured Hart with a vicious sidekick at Starrcade ’99. He announces his retirement later in the week.

October 23: Kurt Angle beats The Rock for the WWF World title in a no-disqualification match at No Mercy. The people’s champion neutralizes Angle’s business partner, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, with a Rock bottom, but it is the mistimed interference of Rikishi that costs him the belt. Angle ducks Rikishi’s kick, which hits Rock flush. Angle uses the Olympic slam on Rikishi, then Rock, to win the championship … Yokozuna (real name Rodney Anoai) dies in his sleep in a London hotel room at the age of 34. The two-time former WWF World champion was a cousin of Rikishi and a nephew of Afa and Sika. The nearly 600-pounder had toured the U.S. independent circuit and Great Britain toward the end of his life.

October 26: Davey Boy Smith is arrested for allegedly threatening his wife, Diana, and her sister, Ellie Hart. Thinking her husband was still in custody, Diana goes to his house later in the day to pick up their daughter. She finds Davey Boy at home, and he allegedly threatens her again. He is arrested a second time.

October 29: WCW World champion Booker T defeats Scott Steiner by disqualification at Halloween Havoc, and Bill Goldberg beats Kronic in the main event … Gen. Rection surprises the Las Vegas crowd by upsetting Lance Storm and Jim Duggan in a handicap match to capture the U.S. title.

November 5: Steve Corino captures the ECW World title in a “Double Jeopardy” match at November to Remember. Corino faces The Sandman while defending champion Jerry Lynn wrestles Justin Credible in simultaneous matches. Both Corino and Credible advance when they score simultaneous pinfalls. Despite the turn and interference of Dawn Marie, Corino manages to defeat Credible and win the title after knocking Credible out with a superkick … Prior to the pay-per-view, The Sinister Minister injures himself while preparing a pipe-like flamethrower. The tip of his index finger is blown off, shrapnel is embedded in his hand, and he undergoes surgery to remove shrapnel from his stomach. Some of his fingers suffer tendon and nerve damage, and he is severely burned … Cherie Dupree, the first known valet in the history of the sport and the former wife of Gorgeous George, dies in Florida at the age of 73. She had been suffering from numerous health problems for some time.

November 7: A Kansas City circuit court judge approves an $18-million settlement proposed by the WWF for the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Owen Hart family. WWFE’s insurance covers $11-million of the settlement, and the company announces plans to sue other parties involved in the accident, including the makers of Hart’s harness, to recoup the remaining $7-million.

November 9: WWFE files suit against the Parents Television Council in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In a press release, WWFE states it “seeks relief and damages from a systematic campaign of slanderous and tortious activities devised and orchestrated by right-wing zealot L. Brent Bozell III.”

November 16: Vince McMahon welcomes Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura to the XFL in a press conference. The former WWF commentator is slated to be in the broadcast booth for at least the first 10-game season … After the press conference, McMahon confirms his pullout from negotiations with Turner Broadcasting System Inc. to purchase WCW. He says Viacom, which owns the rights to all WWF programming, wanted too much money in exchange for allowing WWF programming to air on Turner networks.

November 19: Steve Austin nearly kills Triple-H by using a crane to hoist Helmsley’s getaway car at the Survivor Series, then drops it—with Helmsley still inside—to the pavement below. Triple-H survives with severe lacerations and bruises and misses several weeks … At the same pay-per-view, WWF World champion Kurt Angle relies on his older brother, Eric, to pull a “switcheroo” on The Undertaker, helping Angle retain his title.

November 22: Scott Hall is arrested for allegedly driving the wrong way down a street, following a two-car accident in Sanford, Florida. No one was injured. Police allegedly found open beer bottles in Hall’s car, and his blood alcohol content allegedly exceeded the legal limit … Yoshihiro Momota, a former wrestler and the oldest son of Japanese legend Rikidozan, dies of liver cancer at the age of 54. He was working as a business manager for Pro Wrestling NOAH at the time of his death.

November 26: Scott Steiner beats Booker T for the WCW World title in a steel cage match at Mayhem. Steiner nails Booker with a steel chair as the champion spins up from a spinnerooni. “Big Poppa Pump” injures Booker’s sternum in the match … Just days after losing the U.S. title to Gen. Rection in London, Lance Storm regains the belt at Mayhem, and Kevin Nash and Dallas Page defeat The Perfect Event for the World tag team straps.

November 27: WCW CEO Ric Flair introduces Sid Vicious as the challenger for Scott Steiner’s World title at Starrcade 2000. Vicious hadn’t appeared in WCW since Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff stripped him of the World championship seven months earlier … At the same Nitro, the WCW champ ends the in-ring career of Stevie Ray by forcing him to submit to the Steiner recliner. Stevie Ray had agreed to retire if he lost.

December 3: World champion Steve Corino retains his title in a three-way match at ECW’s Massacre at 34th Street. He defeats Justin Credible and Jerry Lynn … At the same pay-per-view, Danny Doring and Roadkill beat The Full-Blooded Italians for the World tag team belts. Doring and Roadkill had vowed to split up if they lost.

December 10: Kurt Angle barely survives the six-man Armageddon “Hell In A Cell” match with his WWF World title belt intact. The Rock falls prey to Steve Austin’s stunner, then Triple-H intercepts “Stone-Cold.” A bloody and dazed Angle throws his arm across The Rock’s chest and scores the pinfall. The Undertaker and Rikishi also participate in the match … At the same pay-per-view, Chris Benoit beats Billy Gunn for the Intercontinental title, and Chris Jericho upsets Kane in a last-man-standing match.

December 12: Vince McMahon blames Commissioner Mick Foley for allowing the WWF chairman to fall prey to the Stone-Cold stunner, the Rock bottom, and The Undertaker’s last ride the previous night. When Linda McMahon tries to mediate, Vince snaps and demands a divorce.

December 13: Scott Hall allegedly kicks a taxicab door in Orange County, Florida, and winds up in front of a judge again. He is arraigned for the criminal mischief charge stemming from the taxicab incident, a recent DUI arrest, and failure to comply with community service terms of his parole resulting from a 1998 episode in which he keyed a limousine.

December 15: The Dudley Boyz and Tazz make a one-night-only appearance in ECW at the Elks Lodge in Elmhurst, New York—where Buh Buh Ray helped book shows at one time—as a gesture to help the struggling company. The Dudleys and Tommy Dreamer defeat Simon Diamond, Swinger, and C.W. Anderson. The Dudleys and Tazz refuse payment for the sellout card.

December 16: The Blue Demon (real name Alejandro Munoz Moreno), one of the most famous wrestlers in Mexico’s history, dies of a heart attack at the age of 78.

December 17: WCW World champion Scott Steiner defeats Sid Vicious at Starrcade 2000. Vicious submits to the Steiner recliner. Outside interference from Jeff Jarrett and Midajah taints Steiner’s win, however … Bill Goldberg plants Lex Luger with a spear and jackhammer to extend his undefeated streak. Buff Bagwell shocks fans by interfering on Luger’s behalf during the match.

December 18: “Diamond” Dallas Page and WCW champ Scott Steiner get into a brief backstage brawl after “Big Poppa Pump” makes unauthorized comments about DDP on Nitro. Page hits Steiner, who responds with a series of punches before wrestlers and security personnel pull them apart … After meeting with the WWF board of directors, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley presents papers that declare Linda McMahon “mentally incompetent.” Vince is named the new CEO.

December 24: Television commentator and controversial hotline host Mark Madden is fired by WCW. Reportedly, management is angry because Madden made unauthorized comments about Scott Hall on the air and gave an unauthorized interview to a radio station. Madden says the charges are inaccurate.

2001
January 4: Kensuke Sasaki defeats Toshiaki Kawada in a six-man tournament for the IWGP title at the Tokyo Dome. The other participants are Yuji Nagata, Masa Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Satoshi Kojima. Sasaki had vacated the championship following a non-title loss to Kawada on October 9 … At the same show, Riki Choshu emerges from retirement to battle rival Shinya Hashimoto in a very violent fistfight.

January 4: Jose de Jesus Diaz Mendoza, who gained great fame in Mexico competing as Villano I, dies of a heart attack at the age of 54.

January 7: ECW holds its final pay-per-view, Guilty as Charged. The Sandman defeats Justin Credible and defending champ Steve Corino in a three-way match for the ECW World title. TV champ Rhyno demands an immediate title shot and beats Sandman for the World belt a few minutes later. Rob Van Dam returns after a long contractual dispute and defeats long-time rival Jerry Lynn. Missy Hyatt makes a special appearance at the PPV.

January 14: Sid Vicious breaks his leg in the main event of Sin. Vicious is dominating Jeff Jarrett and WCW World champion Scott Steiner when he jumps off the top turnbuckle and the grisly break occurs. A masked man, who is supposed to be a mystery opponent in the scheduled four-way match, briefly stomps the writhing Sid with the help of Jarrett and Steiner near the end of the bout. The WCW champ covers Vicious for the victory. The mystery man reveals himself to be Road Warrior Animal, and WCW CEO Ric Flair announces the formation of The Magnificent Seven … Earlier at the pay-per-view, Buff Bagwell and Lex Luger beat “Sarge” DeWayne Bruce and Bill Goldberg. Due to a special stipulation, Goldberg is forced to retire from WCW … This event marks Eric Bischoff’s unofficial return to power behind the scenes.

January 21: Steve Austin wins the Royal Rumble to earn a WWF World title shot at WrestleMania X-Seven. The final four features Austin, Billy Gunn, The Rock, and Kane. Austin needs to use a stunner and three consecutive chair shots to weaken Kane enough to clothesline him over the top rope for the final elimination … Also at the pay-per-view, Austin helps WWF World champion Kurt Angle beat Triple-H, and Chris Jericho beats Chris Benoit in a ladder match for his fourth Intercontinental title.

January 31: Kane defeats Leviathan in the main event of Ohio Valley Wrestling’s “Christmas Chaos” card, which had been postponed until January because of bad weather in Louisville. Rico Constantino’s interference spoils Ohio Valley champ Nick Dinsmore’s chance to defeat Chris Benoit. Constantino also has the audacity to interrupt Jim Ross’ mid-ring interview with Steve Austin, who stuns Constantino for his actions. At the same show, The Hardy Boyz and Lita beat The Disciples of Synn … The WWF releases Road Dogg following a suspension for “unprofessional conduct.” Road Dogg claims to be as surprised as anyone because he believed the WWF was going to allow him time to handle family and substance abuse problems.

February 1: CBS’ Survivor II: The Australian Outback begins the February sweeps war by moving to Thursday nights, against NBC’s Friends and UPN’s Smackdown. To combat Survivor, Friends extends to 40 minutes, and the WWF bills Smackdown as a special “Xtreme” edition. Smackdown’s rating of 4.9 had been very impressive the previous week; that number dropped to 4.0 against Survivor and Friends … Many programs use wrestling to boost ratings on this night, including the WB’s Charmed with several WCW guest stars, A&E’s Biography of Hulk Hogan, and A&E’s Behind Closed Doors profile of WCW.

February 3: The XFlorida, a joint venture of WWFE and NBC, debuts to an astounding 10.3 rating as part of NBC’s Saturday night lineup. Network executives are thrilled because Saturday night ratings had been poor since the departure of The Golden Girls many years earlier. XFL football games are scheduled for Viacom networks UPN and TNN.

February 4: David McLain, who promoted the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) during the 1980s, showcases his latest venture, Women of Wrestling (WOW), on pay-per-view at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. Thug (Peggy Lee Leather) beats Selina Majors (Bambi) in a bloody steel cage match, and Terri Gold regains the WOW title from Danger. Lee Marshall joins former WCW and AWA colleague Bobby Heenan to form the broadcast team.

February 18: WCW World champion Scott Steiner beats Kevin Nash at SuperBrawl Revenge with assistance from Midajah, Ric Flair, and a steel chair. Because Nash placed his career against Steiner’s title, “Big Sexy” is forced to leave WCW. The fact that Flair keeps changing the rules of the match—from a regulation match, to a best-of-three-falls match, to a falls-count-anywhere match—as the bout progresses doesn’t help Nash’s chances.

February 25: Triple-H defeats Steve Austin in a spectacular best-of-three-falls match at No Way Out. Austin wins the first fall in a match with regulation rules, Helmsley uses a sledgehammer to win the streetfight-style second fall, and “The Game” uses the sledgehammer again in a steel cage to determine the decisive fall … Also at the pay-per-view, The Rock delivers four Rock bottoms through the course of the match to defeat Kurt Angle for his sixth WWF World title, and Chris Jericho retains the Intercontinental belt in a four-way bout.

February 27: The WWF announces it has released Stacy Carter (The Kat) and that her husband, Jerry Lawler, has left the company in protest. Lawler claims he was given no specific reason for his wife’s firing, but was told she had “an attitude problem.” On his Web site, kinglawler.com, “The King” later posts the following statement: “Let me say that I don’t really know what is going on other than that I feel there is more to this than meets the eye.”

March 3: Scott Hall begins a New Japan tour after months of legal and personal problems. Former NWO Japan leader Masa Chono introduces Hall to the crowd as his “best friend.” Hall, Scott Norton, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Satoshi Kojima lose their eight-man match to IWGP champ Kensuke Sasaki, Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, and Yutaka Yoshie.

March 5: Paul Heyman replaces Jerry Lawler as color commentator on Raw. It is later announced that Heyman will be a member of the WWF’s creative team. Heyman’s WWF appearance douses hopes that he planned to resurrect ECW. In fact, ECW would file for bankruptcy only a few weeks later.

March 9: Plummeting XFL ratings cause WWFE stock to fall to $11.51 per share, its lowest price of the year. The stock had dropped by a stunning 10 points during the past month. ABC, CBS, and Fox had been walloping NBC’s XFL games in the ratings every Saturday night.

March 12: Ozzie Timmins, a former wrestler, referee, and historian of the sport, dies at the age of 81. He had been hospitalized with heart and kidney ailments prior to his death.

March 16: Dave Vicious, a New England-based independent wrestler, dies of a heart attack at the age of 32.

March 17: Scott Norton defeats Kensuke Sasaki for his second IWGP heavyweight title at the Nagoya Aiichi Prefectural Gym in Japan. He had also beaten Yuji Nagata for the championship in 1998.

March 18: World champion Scott Steiner beats Dallas Page in the main event of Greed, WCW’s final pay-per-view, although Booker T takes another step toward the World title by defeating Rick Steiner for the U.S. strap … Also at the pay-per-view, Shane Helms captures the WCW cruiserweight belt from Chavo Guerrero Jr., and Kid Romeo and Elix Skipper upset former World tag team champs Billy Kidman and Rey Misterio Jr. in a tournament final for the newly established cruiserweight tag team title. Although junior heavyweight tag team championships are a staple of the Japanese scene, it is considered an unusual concept in North America.

March 23: In a stunning move, WWFE pays AOL Time Warner only $2.5-million for WCW. WWFE confirms its plans to operate WCW as a separate company. Viacom had nixed WWFE’s bid to purchase WCW in October 2000 because it didn’t want competing wrestling programs on TNT and TBS. New Turner Broadcasting Chairman and CEO Jamie Kellner made that a moot point by pulling WCW programming from all Turner networks, thus giving Eric Bischoff and Fusient Media Ventures little choice but to cease negotiations to buy the wrestling company.

March 26: Vince McMahon introduces Monday Nitro by proclaiming, “WCW’s fate … its very fate … is in the palms of my hands.” From the Raw telecast emanating from Cleveland, he addresses WCW and WWF wrestlers and fans in an unprecedented simulcast on TNT and TNN. He teases the idea of resuscitating WCW, then declares that he plans to bury it. But his son, Shane McMahon, makes a surprise appearance in Panama City, Florida, the site of the Nitro telecast, and declares he is the real new owner of WCW … At Nitro’s final telecast, Booker T regains the WCW World title from Scott Steiner, and Sting defeats Ric Flair in the program’s last match ever … Benny McGuire dies.

March 26: Johnny “Red Shoes” Dugan, one of the most famous referees of the 1970s, dies of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 89. Dugan, who officiated as recently as the mid-1980s, refereed some of the biggest matches ever in Los Angeles.

March 28: Benny McGuire, a former wrestler who once made the Guinness Book Of World Records for being one-half of the world’s fattest twins (with brother Billy, also a wrestler) at a combined 1,600 pounds, dies at the age of 54 in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

March 29: Rolando Vera, a former NWA middleweight champion and one of the biggest stars in Mexico in the 1950s, dies of a heart attack at the age of 86.

April 1: Steve Austin turns against The Rock and captures the WWF World title at WrestleMania X-Seven. Vince McMahon gives Austin a steel chair, which he uses to batter Rock and make him vulnerable for the pinfall. Austin shakes the hand of McMahon, his former nemesis, after the match … Also at the pay-per-view, The Undertaker defeats Triple-H to extend his WrestleMania streak to 8-0, and Edge and Christian capture the World tag team title in TLC II … WrestleMania X-Seven earns $3.5-million at the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, surpassing WrestleMania III in terms of the live gate. The figure doesn’t include PPV buys. WrestleMania III still holds the attendance record.

April 2: The Rock’s steel cage rematch against new WWF World champion Steve Austin turns ugly when Triple-H uses a sledgehammer to help Austin and McMahon in a vicious three-on-one attack. Helmsley and Austin (with McMahon) create an alliance that is later dubbed “The Two-Man Power Trip.” McMahon later announces The Rock has been suspended for his own safety, which actually allows Rock time to film the movie The Scorpion King in Morocco.

April 2: Reisor Bowden, a broadcaster/ring announcer for Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling in the 1980s, dies of cancer at the age of 74.

April 3: Triple-H beats Chris Jericho for his third Intercontinental title on Smackdown. “The Game” relies on the interference of his wife, Stephanie, and WWF Commissioner William Regal for the victory. It is the second step in “The Two-Man Power Trip’s” consolidation of power.

April 10: Jeff Hardy ruins Vince McMahon’s grand plans by pinning Triple-H for the Intercontinental title on Smackdown. Matt Hardy hits Helmsley with a chair, enabling his younger brother to deliver a swanton bomb. It is by far the biggest singles victory of Jeff’s career.

April 13: Steve Corino defeats Redd Dogg Begnaud for the NWA North American title in Fort Worth, Texas. The win secures an NWA heavyweight title shot for Corino later in the month.

April 16: Triple-H regains the Intercontinental belt from Jeff Hardy on Raw. “Power Trip” partner Steve Austin attacks Matt Hardy backstage and chases Lita to ringside, distracting Jeff long enough for Triple-H to execute the pedigree and score the three-count.

April 21: The Best Of Memphis Wrestling debuts on WMC-TV. The WWF had pulled its developmental deal from Power Pro Wrestling, and then WMC studios cancelled its live Saturday morning program—which had survived in some form for 34 years—due to insurance liability issues. Ironically, The Best Of Memphis Wrestling taped highlight show scores higher ratings than the live program because of appearances by Jerry Lawler, Lance Russell, and Terry Funk, along with footage of classic Memphis bouts.

April 24: Steve Corino defeats Mike Rapada for the NWA title at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa. He pins Rapada with the old school expulsion at the 22-minute mark. Corino joins Sabu and Terry Funk as the only men to hold both the NWA and ECW championships … Johnny Valentine dies.

April 24: Former wrestler Johnny Valentine, father of wrestler Greg Valentine, dies at the age of 72. Valentine, who was one of the toughest wrestlers of all-time, had great feuds with the likes of Wahoo McDaniel and Buddy Rogers. He had his career cut short by the injuries he suffered in a 1975 plane crash that also injured Ric Flair (though not as seriously). He never fully recovered from injuries he suffered in a fall from his porch in the fall of 2000.

April 29: WWF World heavyweight champ Steve Austin and Intercontinental champ Triple-H beat The Undertaker and Kane for the World tag team title at Backlash. In this winner-takes-all match, the man pinned was to lose his championship. Triple-H hits Kane with a sledgehammer for yet another tainted victory … Also at the pay-per-view, Chris Benoit defeats Kurt Angle, four falls to three, in a 30-minute “Ironman” match requiring overtime … On the Sunday Night Heat pre-show, former ECW World heavyweight champ Jerry Lynn holds on to Crash Holly’s tights to capture the WWF light heavyweight title in his WWF TV debut.

May 5: The Mummy Returns, featuring The Rock in a special appearance, shatters a two-year record by earning $28,594,667, making it the highest-grossing single day for any film in history. The movie, starring Brendan Fraser, eclipses Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which held the record since May 19, 1999 … The Undertaker defeats WWF champ Steve Austin and Intercontinental champ Triple-H in a handicap match at the U.K.’s Insurrextion PPV, held at the Earl’s Court in London. Because The Undertaker pins Triple-H, he doesn’t win Austin’s World title, which was on the line. One of Austin’s knee braces grazes Undertaker’s ear, which requires emergency cosmetic surgery upon his return to the States.

May 7: Perry Saturn manhandles preliminary wrestler Mike Bell during a Metal taping held just before a live airing of Raw. Saturn throws Bell over the top rope, causing him to land awkwardly on his head. Then he bodyslams Bell, full-force, into the ringside steps. WWF officials admonish Saturn after the match. Saturn does not participate at the following night’s Smackdown taping.

May 10: Vince McMahon announces the discontinuation of the XFL after just one season. It is estimated that WWFE and NBC both lost $35-million in the equal partnership. “The quality of play just wasn’t there,” states NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol the following day. A series of fumbles had caused the XFL’s prime time Saturday ratings to plummet from 10.3 to an embarrassingly low 3.0 within a few weeks.

May 17: Francine becomes the latest star to put some of her time up for auction on eBay. The highest bidder is promised two to three hours with Francine at Dave & Buster’s, a Philadelphia nightclub. Bids reach $11,500 by the end of the month, but the auction is eventually halted because many of them are illegitimate.

May 20: WWF World champion Steve Austin beats The Undertaker at Judgment Day. Triple-H runs to ringside with a sledgehammer as Vince McMahon leaves the announcers’ table to interfere. Kane tries to make the rescue, but he’s too late, so Austin pins a distracted Undertaker at the 21-minute mark … Earlier at the pay-per-view, Kane—despite his broken arm—pins Triple-H in a chain match for the Intercontinental title, Kurt Angle beats Chris Benoit in a best-of-three-falls bout, and Benoit later teams with Chris Jericho to defeat Edge and Christian in the final segment of “Tag Team Turmoil” to earn a shot at WWF tag team champs Austin and Triple-H the following night.

May 21: Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho defeat WWF World heavyweight champ Steve Austin and Triple-H for the World tag team title on Raw. The victory is supposed to launch Benoit and Jericho’s long-awaited elevation to the top tier. Their win turns out to be even more significant because Triple-H tears his quadriceps muscle, which runs through the thigh, during the match. Triple-H misses eight months of action, ending “The Two-Man Power Trip.”

May 28: Grandmaster Sexay (Brian Christopher) is arrested for possession of illegal drugs at a checkpoint on the U.S.-Canadian border. When the wrestler finally arrives at Calgary’s Saddledome, WWF management terminates his contract. Later, Christopher admits drugs were in his car, but insists they didn’t belong to him … Lance Storm makes a surprise appearance on Raw, signaling the start of the WCW invasion of the WWF. Hugh Morrus, Stacy Keibler, and Dallas Page appear over the next few weeks.

June 2: Kurt Angle, along with other standouts, is inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Stillwater, Oklahoma. During his acceptance speech, he stresses the importance of amateur wrestling and pays tribute to his “inspiration,” the late Dave Schultz.

June 4: WWF officials send Eddie Guerrero home after “Latino Heat” exhibits erratic behavior backstage at Raw. Guerrero checks into a rehabilitation facility two days later. Jim Ross, the WWF’s vice president of talent relations, later recounts the incident during an interview on Slam! Wrestling, “This was the first time that we had seen Eddie in this degree of condition and, the first time we saw him at this level, we shut everything down. We sent him home, we made the arrangements to get him into therapy and rehab, and we are standing solidly behind him and his family while he’s going through treatment.”

June 17: WCW champ Booker T appears at the end of King of the Ring’s main event—WWF champ Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho in a three-way match—and throws Austin through a table, breaking his hand. Benoit aggravates previous neck injuries during the same match, and spinal surgery forces him out of action for the rest of the year … Also at the pay-per-view, Edge beats Kurt Angle in the King of the Ring tournament final, and Angle almost breaks Shane McMahon’s neck en route to winning their streetfight.

June 15: Jimmy Hart wins a 20-man battle royal at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, the site of some of his most notorious achievements. The participants at the “Clash Of The Legends” show features a who’s who of Memphis wrestling, including Jerry Lawler, The Road Warriors, Curt Hennig, Rocky Johnson, Jimmy Valiant, and Porkchop Cash. Hart avoids much physical contact to emerge victorious. Sputnik Monroe presents “The Mouth Of The South” with the keys to a 2002 Cadillac Escalade.

June 20: The WWF terminates its developmental deal with Memphis Championship Wrestling. Joey Matthews, Christian York, American Dragon, Spanky, and Shooter Schultz—along with Joey Abs and Rodney of The Mean Street Posse—are among those to receive termination notices. The WWF relocates Steve Bradley, The Island Boys, Lance Cade, Victoria, and Charlie and Russ Haas to the HWA, the WWF’s new developmental territory.

June 22: Jim Ross announces that women’s champ Chyna will no longer be on the WWF roster. Sources suggest Chyna asked for a salary in the same league as Triple-H, The Rock, and Steve Austin. Chyna was also lured by the prospect of an acting career and more time at home … Chris Adams is indicted for manslaughter in connection with the death of his 30-year-old girlfriend, Linda Kaphengst. Adams, 45, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $2,000 fine if convicted. Kaphengst died on April 22, 2000, when she and Adams mixed an often-used club drug, GHB, with alcohol.

June 28: WWFE releases its fourth-quarter report, signaling the end of the company’s fiscal year. WWFE reported a gross income of $379-million, down from $456-million the previous year. WWFE stock had dropped by an alarming 28 cents per share, despite what was still considered to be healthy numbers.

June 29: Alex Perez, a former Golden Gloves boxing champion who went on to become a wrestler under the tutelage of Dory Funk Sr., dies at the age of 71.

July 7: Supreme suffers burns over 25 percent of his body when he dives face-first through a flaming table during a death match against Kaos at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. XPW manager Veronica Caine had doused the table in too much lighter fluid, making it far too combustible … At the same show, XPW champion The Messiah defeats Vampiro and Sabu in a three-way main event. The Sandman comes to the rescue when The Messiah and the Black Army attack Sabu after the match.

July 9: Paul Heyman leads the unofficial reformation of ECW, and Shane McMahon reveals an alliance between ECW and his company, WCW. McMahon also introduces his sister, Stephanie, as the new on-air owner of ECW … Rob Van Dam returns to the WWF on this edition of Raw, emanating from the Philips Arena in Atlanta.

July 9: Former wrestler/promoter Ace Freeman dies in a nursing home in Western Pennsylvania at the age of 87.

July 16: Terry Gordy is found dead of a heart attack in his home in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, by his girlfriend. He was 40. Gordy, who started wrestling at the age of 13, found fame as a member of The Fabulous Freebirds with Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts. He was also a former All-Japan Triple Crown champion.

July 18: Joey Matthews wins the Maryland ChampionshipWrestling Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup in Glen Burnie, Maryland. He defeats Nick Berk in a qualifying bout, then survives a six-way elimination match featuring ECWA champion Scoot Andrews, Mike Quackenbush, Red, Mikey Whipwreck, and the previous year’s winner, Qenaan Creed.

July 21: The Southern title changes hands three times during one edition of Memphis Championship Wrestling’s weekly TV show. Joey Abs beats Steve Bradley for the belt in a no-disqualification ladder match, Bradley regains the strap in an immediate rematch, and Seven beats an exhausted Bradley in a special challenge bout to end the show.

July 22: WWF champ Steve Austin defects to the WCW/ECW Alliance at Invasion. In a showdown between Team WWF and Team WCW/ECW, Austin stuns teammate Kurt Angle, who was about to force WCW champ Booker T into submission with an anklelock. “Stone-Cold” celebrates with Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, Paul Heyman, and other Alliance members … Also at the pay-per-view, WWF tag team champs The Acolytes defeat WCW tag team champs Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo in a non-title match, WCW cruiserweight champ Billy Kidman beats WWF light heavyweight champ X-Pac in a non-title bout, and Rob Van Dam flattens Jeff Hardy with the five-star frog splash to capture the WWF hardcore title.

July 24: Kurt Angle defeats Booker T for the WCW World title on Smackdown. Angle survives a chair shot from Chris Kanyon and a stunner from Steve Austin to force Booker to submit to the anklelock in Angle’s hometown of Pittsburgh. Angle joins an exclusive group of wrestlers to hold both the WCW and WWF world championships. Booker T foolishly awarded Kanyon the U.S. belt earlier on the program.

July 27: Former WWF women’s champion Rhonda Singh (a.k.a. Bertha Faye) dies at the age of 40 in Calgary. A trainee of Mildred Burke, Singh initially gained fame in Japan as Monster Ripper, but she also had success in Mexico and Puerto Rico and a brief run during the Vince Russo era in WCW.

July 29: New Jersey-based promoter Dennis Coraluzzo, who helped to spearhead the NWA revival of the 1990s, dies of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 48. Coraluzzo was instrumental in the early success of wrestlers such as Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Crowbar, Billy Kidman, Simon Diamond, D-Lo Brown, Steve Corino, and Russ and Charlie Haas, and he appeared on WWF TV in the mid-1990s as part of an NWA storyline.

July 30: WWF light heavyweight champ X-Pac pins Billy Kidman for the WCW cruiserweight title on Raw. X-Pac becomes the first wrestler since Dean Malenko to win both championships and the very first to hold them simultaneously. Kidman had embarrassed X-Pac with a non-title win at Invasion.

August 9: The Hardy Boyz defeat Edge and Christian and Chris Kanyon and Dallas Page in the three-way main event at the Brian Pillman Memorial Show in Cincinnati. Matt Stryker’s HWA cruiserweight title victory in a four-corners match—which also involves Shark Boy, Chad Collyer, and defending champ Pepper Parks—is considered by many to be the best match of the night … In other bouts, Steve Corino retains the NWA title against David Flair, and Nick Dinsmore pins Race Steele for the HWA belt. The Pillman show is the HWA’s premier event of the year, and an opportunity for some WWF stars to face HWA talent … Dean Malenko creates a bit of controversy at the show by stating if his match at Pillman 2001 were to be his last, he considered it an honor to have wrestled in front of such appreciative fans. News of Malenko’s retirement spreads across the Internet before “The Man Of 1,000 Holds” reiterates the operative word was “if.”

August 16: Smackdown airs live and unveils a new set, with a huge fist punching through glass and two off-center big screens. The Rock goes to a no-contest with WCW World champion Booker T in a lights-out match. Another live show is scheduled for the following week.

August 19: Kurt Angle beats WWF World champ Steve Austin by disqualification at SummerSlam. Austin knocks out referee Earl Hebner, uses the stunner on a second referee, and hits a third referee with the World title belt. Alliance referee Nick Patrick, the fourth official to enter the ring, disqualifies Austin for abusing the other referees, allowing “Stone-Cold” to keep his title … Also at the pay-per-view, The Rock defeats Booker T for the WCW World heavyweight title, WCW tag team champs The Undertaker and Kane nearly destroy U.S. champion Chris Kanyon and Dallas Page for the WWF tag team belts inside a steel cage, and WCW cruiserweight champ X-Pac wins the WWF light heavyweight strap from Tajiri.

August 21: Florida mainstay Lex Lovett, with surprising help from rival Jason Rumble, beats Mike Thunder for the NWA junior heavyweight title. Rumble reveals his ulterior motive by attacking Lovett afterward and demanding a title shot for the NWA’s 53rd anniversary show, scheduled for October 13.

August 25: WWF Excess debuts on TNN at 10 p.m. Eastern time. The two-hour Saturday night (mostly) highlight show, hosted by Jonathan Coachman and Trish Stratus, earns only a 0.9 in its premiere. The low rating is despite the guest appearance of Triple-H, who had been sidelined for more than three months. Excess replaces Livewire and Superstars, the one-hour highlight shows that aired on Saturday and Sunday mornings, respectively.

September 11: Terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and The Pentagon in Washington, D.C.—along with the crash of an American Airlines plane in Pennsylvania—strongly impact the wrestling industry. WWF management and Houston city officials cancel the Smackdown taping scheduled for the Compaq Center in the evening, and wrestlers are left stranded in Texas when all U.S. airports are closed.

September 13: UPN airs a live edition of Smackdown with a patriotic theme interspersed with sincere comments from WWF stars. Bradshaw, in particular, expresses the rage many Americans were feeling at the time.

September 17: The Undertaker and Kane lose the WWF tag team title to The Dudley Boyz in Nashville. Although they remain the WCW tag team champs, Undertaker and Kane no longer control the industry’s two world tag team titles. Their historic run as dual champions lasted a month … WWFE stock falls to $10.31 per share, a 52-week low, after the New York Stock Exchange opens for the first time since the September 11 catastrophe. Credit Suisse First Boston downgrades its forecast of media and cable companies in light of the impending war and certain recession, further debilitating the stocks of WWFE, Viacom, USA Networks, Walt Disney, and Metro-Goldwyn-May er, among others.

September 22: Carlee Colon and Ray Gonzales beat Thunder and Lightning by disqualification in the main event of a show in Caguas, Puerto Rico, that draws 4,000 fans. Carlos Colon tears into old rival Barrabas Sr. for helping his son, WWC junior heavyweight champion Barrabas Jr., gain a tainted pinfall over Eddie Colon.

September 23: Kurt Angle gives Americans a feel-good moment with a red, white, and blue victory over Steve Austin for the WWF World title at Unforgiven, held in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Members of the Olympian’s family hoist him onto their shoulders to celebrate his win … Also at the pay-per-view, WCW World heavyweight champion The Rock survives Test’s interference to defeat Booker T and Shane McMahon in a handicap match, WWF tag team champs The Dudley Boyz win a four-way bout, WCW tag team champs The Undertaker and Kane devastate Kronik, and WWF hardcore champion Rob Van Dam beats Chris Jericho.

October 2: Governor Jesse Ventura sparks controversy when he and his wife, Terry, visit the World Trade Center disaster site to present 10,000 cards and letters—signed by a total of 40,000 Minnesotans—to rescue workers. Members of the Minnesota press corps allege they were kept out of the presentation in favor of ABC’s Good Morning America, which paid for Ventura’s trip. Ventura’s spokesman cites security restrictions as the reason.

October 3: Bill Goldberg retracts his criticism of the WWF for not sending wrestlers to New York’s Ground Zero. After learning that the WWF had donated $1-million to relief efforts and that WWF wrestlers had visited the site, Goldberg says, “Well, I spoke too soon; and I am man enough to admit when I’m wrong.” During his visit on September 26, Goldberg had said, “After inquiring about whether or not any WWF wrestlers had been to New York to offer support for the policemen and firefighters, it’s amazing that—even though the WWF is basically based in New York City—none had been by there. Or at least to the places where we had been, and with the people we saw and spoke with. That’s disgusting.”

October 7: British star Chris Adams is shot to death by his friend William Parnell at the age of 46 in Waxahachie, Texas. Parnell claimed the two had been drinking heavily and that he shot Adams in self-defense when innocent roughhousing turned violent. Adams had his greatest success in the Texas-based World Class promotion in the 1980s. He wrestled briefly in WCW as a member of a British clique as recently as 2000.

October 8: Linda McMahon fires William Regal and reappoints Mick Foley WWF commissioner. Regal defected to the Alliance the previous night when he hit Kurt Angle with the WWF title belt, enabling Steve Austin to execute the stunner and regain the championship.

October 13: Shinya Hashimoto brutalizes heavyweight champ Steve Corino and induces massive blood loss at the NWA’s 53rd anniversary show. Senior referee Fred Richards deems Corino unfit to continue, but the NWA title can change hands only via pinfall or submission. New NWA President Jim Miller makes his first executive decision by declaring the title vacant … At the same event, the “War Games”-style steel cage match intended to settle the promotional feud between NWA Florida and IPW Hardcore Wrestling is ruled a no-contest at the nine-minute mark. An NWA Wildside contingent overwhelms all the combatants, prompting NWA Florida and IPW to join forces … Also at the 53rd anniversary show, Jason Rumble captures the NWA junior heavyweight title in a five-way match.

October 21: WWF World champion Steve Austin defeats Kurt Angle and hardcore champ Rob Van Dam in a three-way main event at No Mercy. Shane McMahon tries to attack Angle, but is intercepted by his father, Vince, who supports Van Dam. Austin capitalizes on the distractions and uses the stunner to pin Angle … Also at the pay-per-view, Chris Jericho beats The Rock for the WCW World title and the biggest win of his career, Edge regains the Intercontinental belt from Christian in a ladder match, The Dudley Boyz retain the WWF tag team straps against The Big Show and Tajiri, and Test upsets Kane.

October 22: High-flying FMW star Hayabusa is left paralyzed when his attempted Asai moonsault during a pay-per-view match with Mammoth Sasaki goes awry and he lands on his head. Doctors were hopeful of at least a partial recovery when, by year’s end, Hayabusa was feeling some sensation in his extremities.

November 3: Steve Austin retains the WWF World title against The Rock at Rebellion, held at the Manchester Evening News Arena in England. Kurt Angle hits The Rock with the WWF title belt, enabling “Stone-Cold” to score the pinfall … Also at the pay-per-view, Angle loses to WCW World champion Chris Jericho, and William Regal defeats former manservant Tajiri by submission.

November 4: Helen Hart, matriarch of the famed Hart family in Calgary, dies at the age of 76. She had been in a coma since suffering seizures several weeks earlier and also suffered from diabetes.

November 5: The Rock regains the WCW World title from Chris Jericho on Raw. Y2J attempts to lock on the Walls of Jericho when Rock surprises him with a quick rollup pinfall. Jericho brutalizes the already-bloody Rock by hitting him with the WCW title belt and three chair shots. Jericho’s heel turn is complete.

November 9: WWF star Eddie Guerrero is charged with driving under the influence, stemming from an early-morning accident. He had crashed his vehicle into the gate of an apartment complex in Tampa, causing $500 worth of damage. According to the Tampa Tribune, the 34-year-old Guerrero failed two breath tests. He is fired by the WWF soon after … CEO Linda McMahon announces WWFE will implement its first significant round of layoffs in eight years. She says the company will release 39 employees, which comprise nine percent of its work force. Stuart Snyder resigns as president and chief operating officer.

November 14: Hulk Hogan makes his first in-ring appearance since July 2000 when he headlines two days worth of television tapings at Orlando’s Universal Studios for the newly established Xtreme Wrestling Federation. He uses the big boot and legdrop to defeat Curt Hennig.

November 18: Team WWF—comprised of WCW champ The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, and The Big Show—beats Team Alliance, which includes WWF champ Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and Shane McMahon, at Survivor Series. Angle turns against Austin with a wicked chair shot, which enables Rock to score the pinfall and officially destroy the Alliance … Also at the pay-per-view, WWF World tag team champions The Dudley Boyz beat The Hardy Boyz in a steel cage title-unification match, thereby eliminating the WCW World tag team title, and WCW United States champion Edge is declared the WWF Intercontinental champion after defeating Test in another title-unification bout.

November 19: Ric Flair makes a surprise appearance on Raw in Charlotte and claims he was the “consortium” to which Shane and Stephanie McMahon had sold their WWFE stock in the early-summer. He faces down Vince McMahon and announces he is, in effect, co-owner of the WWF. Flair signs a three-year contract with the WWF … On the same program, Vince McMahon fires Paul Heyman from his color commentator’s position and replaces him with the returning Jerry Lawler, Steve Austin returns to the good graces of the fans by aligning himself with Flair, and William Regal becomes the first person to join the new Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass club and thus avoids being fired.

November 24: IWA champion Nuevo Gran Apolo defeats Glamour Boy Shane in the best-of-three-falls main event at the Bruiser Brody Memorial Show in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Dutch Mantel, Tiger Ali Singh, Herberto Lopez, and Commissioner Savio Vega are among those who interfere in the third and deciding fall.

November 26: The Undertaker turns heel by forcing Jim Ross to “kiss” Vince McMahon’s butt on Raw in his native Oklahoma.

December 1: Scott Steiner debuts in World Wrestling All-Stars during a show in Birmingham, England. He loses the three-way main event when WWA champion Jeff Jarrett hits the other participant, Road Dogg, over the head with a guitar and scores the pinfall.

December 4: Ed Whalen, long-time broadcaster for Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling, dies several days after suffering a massive heart attack while on vacation in Florida. He was 74. Whalen was one of the featured speakers at the funeral of Helen Hart a month earlier … Rikishi returns to Smackdown and gives Vince McMahon the most disgusting stinkface ever. Due to a prematch stipulation, McMahon is actually supposed to kiss “The Great One’s” butt after the WWF chairman and Kurt Angle lost to Rock and Trish Stratus on Raw, but Rock gives Rikishi the honors. A serious shoulder injury had sidelined Rikishi for six months.

December 5: The law firm of Lovell & Stuart files a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all investors who acquired WWFE stock between its initial sale date of October 18, 1999, and December 6, 2000. The suit alleges WWFE violated federal securities laws by not disclosing several brokerages that served as underwriters for its initial public offering had allocated WWFE shares to its customers at $17 per share on the condition they would purchase additional shares at progressively higher prices. According to Lovell & Stuart, this allowed investors to sell the stock at artificially high prices, and resulted in substantial commissions being “kicked back” to the brokerages. WWFE denies any wrongdoing.

December 9: Chris Jericho unifies the WWF and World (formerly WCW) titles at Vengeance to become the first undisputed world champion in 40 years. In the mini-tournament to crown the undisputed champion, WWF champ Steve Austin defeats Kurt Angle, and Jericho beats WCW champ The Rock, leading to Y2J’s victory over Austin … Also at the pay-per-view, The Undertaker choke-slams Rob Van Dam off the stage and to the floor 20 feet below to capture the WWF hardcore belt, and Intercontinental champion Edge pins William Regal … During an appearance on the Get In The Ring radio show, former referee Billy Silverman blasts the WWF for condoning hazing. He accuses some WWF wrestlers, specifically Bradshaw, of continually harassing new employees.

December 10: Booker T forms an alliance with Vince McMahon and becomes the WWF chairman’s point man in his feud with Steve Austin. Booker and McMahon enjoy a skybox view of the unfolding events on Raw.

December 15: WWF developmental wrestler Russ Haas dies in his sleep of heart disease at his apartment in Cincinnati. Haas was 27. He had suffered a heart attack on September 24 and hadn’t wrestled since, though he was hoping to get clearance to on December 18. Russ and brother Charlie were assigned to the Heartland Wrestling Association at the time of his death and were considered promising prospects as a team by the WWF … Former WWF World champion Shawn Michaels appears on Excess. Michaels admits he would love to re-form The Kliq with Triple-H, X-Pac, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash. He claims to miss wrestling “every now and then,” but would have to check with his wife and doctors before considering a comeback … Shinay Hashimoto wins the vacant NWA title by beating Steve Corino and Gary Steele in a three-way bout.

December 20: Hulk Hogan appears on ESPN’s Unscripted and hints at a return to the WWF. Host Chris Connelly accuses Hogan of merely flirting with the fledgling XWF, and Hogan admits it is true. Hogan praises Vince McMahon for his business acumen, and Triple-H for his work ethic. He calls his WrestleMania III match against Andre the Giant the best of his career.

December 25: “Maniac” Mike Davis, a journeyman wrestler who gained some fame as a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll RPMs tag team in the 1980s, dies of a heart attack at the age of 46 at his home in Granbury, Texas.

2002
January 7: Spike Dudley and Tazz score an upset victory over Buh Buh Ray and D-Von Dudley for the WWF World tag team title on Raw, emanating from Madison Square Garden in New York. The underdogs thrive in the hardcore-rules match, and “Duchess Of Dudleyville” Stacy Keibler unintentionally distracts Buh Buh Ray with her shapely posterior, enabling Spike to nail D-Von with the Dudley dog and get the three-count … Richard Garza, who wrestled for most of his three-decade career as strongman The Mighty Igor and gained most of his fame in the Midwest, dies of a heart attack in Detroit. He was 70.

January 16: At an OVW television taping, Jim Cornette announces that Randy Orton will be promoted to WWE. Prototype (John Cena) challenges Orton to a final match and uses his Proto-plex to humble the promising youngster.

January 20: Less than three weeks after his return from a torn quadriceps, Triple-H eliminates Kurt Angle to win the Royal Rumble and earn a WWF undisputed title shot at WrestleMania X8. Goldust, Val Venis, and “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig make their returns to the company in the Rumble event. Also at the pay-per-view, undisputed champion Chris Jericho astounds his critics with another victory over The Rock, Ric Flair beats Vince McMahon in a streetfight between on-air co-owners, and Intercontinental champ William Regal uses his brass knuckles to score a surprise win over his challenger, Edge.

January 29: Dallas Page’s power of positive thinking helps him overcome Christian for the European title on Smackdown. Page uses his Diamond cutter on his rival to the delight of the fans at Virginia’s Norfolk Scope, where former WCW loyalists savor his victory.

February 3: Former NWA junior heavyweight champion Nelson Royal dies of a massive heart attack while driving home from church in Mooresville, North Carolina. After his retirement, Royal trained several prospects for Jim Crockett Jr.’s World Championship Wrestling and, later, Ken Shamrock. He was 70.

February 7: WWFE and DirecTV announce they have settled on a new contract after a four-month blackout, starting with October 2001’s No Mercy, had prevented DirecTV subscribers from watching WWF pay-per-views. Linda McMahon had asserted that DirecTV didn’t deserve so much of the profits because, unlike cable companies, it did not have the expense of marketing events through distributors. The new contract will be in effect until August 2003.

February 16: Tadao Yasuda wins an IWGP title tournament in Tokyo. The overweight, fortysomething superstar is considered an unlikely champion, but his martial arts background and his accomplishments in Japan’s Pride promotion give him credibility.

February 17: Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash re-form the NWO at No Way Out. Despite their insincere requests for a “clean slate,” the NWO members cause Steve Austin to lose his match against WWF undisputed champion Chris Jericho, and proceed to spray-paint “N-W-O” on his back afterward. Also at the pay-per-view, The Rock pins The Undertaker, special referee Stephanie McMahon helps Kurt Angle beat Triple-H to gain a WWE undisputed title shot at WrestleMania X8, and Intercontinental champion William Regal defeats Edge once again, this time in a “brass-knuckles-on-a-pole” match.

February 18: The Rock and Hulk Hogan debate who is “the best ever” during an electrifying face-to-face confrontation on Raw. Hogan accepts The Rock’s challenge to a match at WrestleMania X8. Moments later, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash help Hogan attack and spray-paint “The Great One,” and “Hollywood” drives a semi-truck into an ambulance containing the injured Rock. Also on the show, Triple-H is granted a rematch with Kurt Angle and defeats him to regain his WrestleMania title shot … Former WWF developmental wrestler Slick Robbie D dies.

February 18: Former WWE developmental wrestler Slick Robbie D (real name Robbie Dicks Jr.) commits suicide in Culver City, California. He was 32.

February 19: Robert “Swede” Hanson, who won several regional titles with partner Rip Hawk in the Southeast in the 1970s and enjoyed good runs as a heel in both the WWF and the Mid-Atlantic region, dies after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and diabetes. He was 68.

February 20: Prototype (John Cena) defeats Leviathan (Batista) for the Ohio Valley Wrestling title in Jeffersonville, Indiana. It is considered the biggest victory of the 23-year-old star’s fledgling career.

February 23: Ring of Honor brings together much of the top cruiserweight talent of the East and West Coasts at its debut show at the Murphy Recreational Center in Philadelphia. Low-Ki defeats Christopher Daniels and American Dragon in the three-way main event, and Super Crazy defeats Eddie Guerrero to become the first ROH Intercontinental champion … Former wrestler and Texas promoter Nick Roberts dies.

February 23: Nick Roberts, a long-time wrestler and promoter in Texas, and the father of popular 1980s valet Baby Doll, dies of pancreatic cancer at age 73.

February 24: Only a few weeks after jumping from New Japan, Keiji Muto loses the All-Japan Triple Crown to Toshiaki Kawada. It is Kawada’s fourth reign as champion. He defeats Muto with his folding power bomb … World Wrestling All-Stars holds its first pay-per-view in the United States, live from the Aladdin Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Although scheduled headliner Randy Savage fails to appear due to a financial dispute, WWA: The Revolution is considered a decent show by non-WWF standards. WWA champion Jeff Jarrett beats Savage’s replacement, Brian Christopher, in the main event.

March 1: The WWF embarks on its “Smackdown” tour of the Far East, beginning at Yokohama Arena in Tokyo. Additional stops are scheduled for Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

March 2: Donovan Morgan defeats A.J. Styles in the finals of the ECWA’s Super 8 Tournament. Morgan also beats HWA stars Pepper Parks and Jamie Noble en route to his victory.

March 4: Tony Gonzalez, one-half of the 1960s tag team known as The Masked Medics, is found dead in his home in South Mobile, Alabama.

March 9: Dan Severn defeats Shinya Hashimoto for the NWA title at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall. Controversy taints the victory after NWA President Jim Miller orders chief referee Fred Richards to speed up his three-counts when Hashimoto’s shoulders are on the mat. Fans voice their disapproval as the portly Miller prances around the ring.

March 17: The Rock defeats Hulk Hogan, who receives surprising support from the enthusiastic crowd at the Toronto SkyDome, to earn bragging rights as “the best ever” at WrestleMania X8. Along with Hogan, Flair helps steal the show, despite his bloody no-disqualification loss to The Undertaker, who extends his WrestleMania undefeated streak to 10-0. Triple-H makes his comeback complete by defeating Chris Jericho, who has Stephanie McMahon in his corner, for the WWF undisputed title in the main event. Also at the pay-per-view, Rob Van Dam defeats William Regal for the Intercontinental title, and European champion Dallas Page pins Christian. WrestleMania X8 draws 68,237 people to the Toronto SkyDome, breaking WrestleMania VI’s record at the same venue, and generates $3.9-million at the gate.

March 27: Steve Wilkos, the bald-headed security chief for The Jerry Springer Show, makes his debut at a sold-out MCW show in Glen Burnie, Maryland. The 6’3”, 220-pound former Chicago cop helps Gillberg put away Chad Bowman and Dino Divine with double-sleepers.

April 1: Ric Flair and Vince McMahon participate in a brand extension draft, assembling the rosters for Raw and Smackdown, respectively. McMahon, who won a coin toss to earn the first pick for Smackdown, selects The Rock, along with Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Edge, and WWF World tag team champions Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo. Flair chooses The Undertaker, the NWO as a unit, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Kane, Brock Lesnar, and Buh Buh Ray Dudley, among others. Steve Austin is not part of the draft because he walked out of WWE the day after WrestleMania X8. Both Raw and Smackdown continue to recognize undisputed champion Triple-H and women’s champ Jazz.

April 2: Second-generation wrestler Bobby Managoff, a former National Wrestling Association and AWA champion, dies in Chicago after being in poor health for many years. He was 85.

April 11: Publishing pioneer Stanley Weston, founder of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, The Wrestler, Inside Wrestling, and many boxing magazine titles, dies after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82.

April 18: Dallas Page aggravates existing back injuries during a match against Hardcore Holly on Smackdown. Page schedules appointments with several spinal specialists to determine whether he should have surgery, retire, or both.

April 19: The Rock’s first starring vehicle, The Scorpion King, makes it nationwide premiere and earns $36.2-million in the first three days of its release. It reaches a total of $60.8-million within 10 days … Long-time wrestling and football great Ed “Wahoo” McDaniel dies of renal failure and diabetes at Houston’s Cy-Fair Medical Clinic. McDaniel had great runs in Texas, the Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic area, among other regions, and held numerous regional titles (including the National and U.S. heavyweight belts) before retiring in 1996. He was 63.

April 21: Hulk Hogan beats Triple-H for his sixth WWF title at Backlash. After Chris Jericho prevents Hogan’s pin of Triple-H, The Undertaker interferes by smashing Helmsley with a chair, enabling “Hollywood” to deliver the legdrop for the pinfall. Also at the pay-per-view, Eddie Guerrero defeats Rob Van Dam for his second Intercontinental belt, Kurt Angle “goes Olympic” and hands Edge another PPV loss, and Tajiri regains the cruiserweight strap from Billy Kidman.

April 22: Bret Hart attempts to communicate with deceased relatives—including brothers Dean and Owen, and mother Helen—on ABC’s Contact: Talking To The Dead. The program airs opposite Raw’s second hour.

April 27: Spanky wins the right to call himself Shawn Michaels’ best student at a Ring of Honor show in Philadelphia. Paul London, John Hope, Michael Shane, and American Dragon also compete in the gauntlet series, with Spanky using an acid drop to pin Dragon in the final match. Also at the show, WWF Intercontinental champ Eddie Guerrero teams with The Amazing Red to defeat Joel and Jose Maximo.

April 28: Six-time former NWA World champion Lou Thesz, who held that title for a total of 18 years between 1937 and 1966 and is considered by many to be the greatest wrestler of all-time, dies following a triple-bypass and an aortic valve replacement in Orlando, Florida. He had celebrated his 86th birthday just four days earlier.

May 4: Triple-H defeats The Undertaker in the main event of the U.K.’s Insurexxion, emanating from Wembley Arena in London. Also at the pay-per-view, Steve Austin beats The Big Show, European champion Spike Dudley embarrasses William Regal in front of his countrymen to retain his title, and former WWF World tag team champs The Hardy Boyz defeat Brock Lesnar and Shawn Stasiak.

May 6: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler announce that the World Wrestling Federation has changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment during a broadcast of Raw. The company had lost a series of legal battles with the World Wide Fund For Nature, most recently a decision in a British high court, for the right to use the “WWF” acronym.

May 14: Erich Kulas, the aspiring young wrestler who was involved in an infamous 1996 incident in an ECW ring in Massachusetts in which he bled profusely at the hands of New Jack, is found dead in his home in Cranston, Rhode Island. He was 22.

May 16: Former FMW President Shoichi Arai is found dead of an apparent suicide in Tokyo … “Big” Dick Dudley (real name Alex Rizzo), the mostly silent enforcer of the Dudley clan in ECW, is found dead in his apartment in New York. He had been suffering from numerous health problems since he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in 2001. He was 34.

May 17: Davey Boy Smith, 39, is found dead of a heart attack during a vacation in British Columbia with his girlfriend, Andrea Hart. Smith began wrestling at age 15 and had great runs in the WWF as both a member of The British Bulldogs with Dynamite Kid and as a singles star. He also excelled in WCW, in Japan, and in Calgary. He was training his 16-year-old son Harry at the time of his death.

May 19: The Undertaker ends Hulk Hogan’s 28-day reign as WWE undisputed champ at Judgment Day. Vince McMahon distracts Hogan, who gives his long-time employer a legdrop. UT capitalizes by smashing a steel chair across Hogan’s back and executing a choke-slam to capture the title. Undertaker continues the onslaught after the match. Also at the pay-per-view, Steve Austin defeats The Big Show and Raw owner Ric Flair in a handicap bout, Triple-H defeats Chris Jericho in a “Hell In A Cell” match that sends referee Tim White to the hospital with a separated shoulder, and Edge shaves Kurt Angle bald after winning a hair vs. hair bout.

May 28: NWA Vice President Bill Behrens strips Dan Severn of the heavyweight title because of his inability to appear at NWA-TNA’s inaugural pay-per-view event the following month. Severn was already committed to a mixed martial arts competition the same night.

June 10: Just as he did right after WrestleMania X8, Steve Austin leaves WWE, but this time he walks out just hours before a Raw on which he was to be featured prominently goes on the air. Vince McMahon considers this an unforgivable act and condemns Austin on a Confidential broadcast later in the week.

June 19: NWA-TNA begins its weekly pay-per-view series with an event from Huntsville, Alabama. Ken Shamrock eliminates Malice (formerly known as The Wall) to win the main event, a “Gauntlet For The Gold” competition for the vacant NWA championship. Also on the pay-per-view, Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki, and Jimmy Yang defeat Jerry Lynn, A.J. Styles, and Low-Ki, Richard and Rod Johnson (The Shane Twins) beat James Storm and Psicosis, and the Dupps defeat Joey Matthews and Christian York. Like all subsequent TNA PPVs, the two-hour show costs $9.95.

June 20: WWE posts a startling announcement on its Web site that reads, “World Wrestling Entertainment welcomes back Vince Russo to the creative writing staff.” This is a surprise to many WWE insiders, including Hulk Hogan, Triple-H, and The Undertaker. Vince McMahon’s ears ache from howls of protest. Russo would be demoted to at-home consultant before he ever begins work and would leave the company before signing a contract.

June 22: Low-Ki defeats Prince Nana and The Amazing Red, Christopher Daniels beats Scoot Andrews and A.J. Styles, Spanky defeats Paul London and Jody Fleisch, and Doug Williams scores wins over Jay Briscoe and American Dragon at Ring of Honor’s “Road To The Title” show in Philadelphia. Low-Ki, Daniels, Spanky, and Williams earn spots in a four-way match for the newly created Ring of Honor championship.

June 24: Bret Hart hits a pothole while riding his bicycle in Calgary, flies over the handlebars, and knocks his head against a curb. Hart, who isn’t wearing a helmet, feels the symptoms of a stroke immediately. Physicians say the “Hitman” will have to undergo six months of rehabilitation to relearn how to walk.

June 26: Brock Lesnar defeats Test in the semifinals, and then Rob Van Dam in the tournament final to become the 2002 King of the Ring. Lesnar’s agent, Paul Heyman, distracts Van Dam long enough for “The Next Big Thing” to plant RVD with the F5. Also at the pay-per-view, The Rock’s interference doesn’t prevent The Undertaker from retaining the WWE undisputed title against Triple-H, Kurt Angle uses his anklelock to force Hulk Hogan into submission, and Jamie Noble beats Billy Kidman and defending champ The Hurricane in a three-way match for the cruiserweight belt.

July 1: Leon “Vader” White concludes a bizarre evening of catching bullfrogs and catfish by driving his sports utility vehicle into a neighbor’s bush near his home in Boulder County, Colorado. When police confront him, he responds by threatening to kill the officers’ dogs, grabbing two baseball-sized rocks, and spitting at a state trooper. He is charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest, and several other offenses. White already had two drunken driving arrests on his record in Boulder County.

July 8: Kevin Nash goes down in agony after suffering a torn quadriceps during a 10-man tag team match on Raw. Nash was teaming with X-Pac, The Big Show, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero against I-C champ Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Goldust, Buh Buh Ray Dudley, and Spike Dudley. It is predicted that Nash will miss at least six months.

July 10: During a meeting with an InDemand executive prior to an NWA-TNA event, the Jarretts learn their pay-per-views are drawing buy rates that are only in the 20,000 range, a far cry from the 50,000 to 80,000 they claim their consultant, Jay Hassman, was suggesting. The Jarretts question Hassman’s integrity when they learn that he is also working for Team Services, which handles WWE’s PPV account.

July 15: Vince McMahon introduces his fiercest rival ever, former WCW President Eric Bischoff, as the new general manager of Raw. Fans gasp as McMahon greets Bischoff with a big hug on the entrance ramp. Booker T sums up most people’s feelings about Bischoff’s surprise appearance: “Tell me I did not just see that!”

July 17: Reckless Youth wins the 2002 Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, Maryland. He defeats Tough Enough 2’s Danny Carney in a qualifying bout, and emerges victorious in a six-way elimination match also involving Xavier, Adam Flash, Trent Acid, The Amazing Red, and the 2001 Shamrock Cup winner, Joey Matthews.

July 21: The Rock breaks the record for most WWE World titles by winning his seventh at Vengeance. “The Great One” uses the Rock bottom to pin Kurt Angle in a three-way match also involving defending champ The Undertaker to win the championship. Also at the pay-per-view, Lance Storm and Christian defeat Hulk Hogan and Edge for the World tag team belts, and Intercontinental champion Rob Van Dam beats Brock Lesnar by disqualification.

July 22: Triple-H defects to Raw after close friend Shawn Michaels persuades him to make the jump for “fun and friendship.” Michaels seemingly wants a DX reunion, but Triple-H has other plans.

July 27: Low-Ki gains the most falls in a 60-minute “Ironman” match also involving Christopher Daniels, Spanky, and Doug Williams to win the newly created Ring of Honor title at “Crowning Of A Champion” in Philadelphia. He tearfully dedicates his victory to the late Russ Haas, brother of WWE developmental wrestler Charlie Haas.

August 1: Don Owen, who promoted wrestling in Portland for 54 years (ending in 1992) and was one of the few regional promoters to survive Vince McMahon’s national expansion in the 1980s, dies at the age of 90 … Two men enter The Messiah’s California apartment and use garden shears to cut off one of his thumbs. Messiah’s loud screams prompt the assailants to flee the scene before doing even more harm. The indy star had recently left Xtreme Pro Wrestling and was concentrating primarily on his East Coast career in Combat Zone Wrestling.

August 7: Ron Killings becomes the first African-American to win the NWA title by pinning Ken Shamrock at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. Special referee Rick Steamboat draws criticism for rolling Shamrock back into the ring, although Gran Apolo’s blatant interference is what caused him to fall out in the first place. Steamboat makes the three-count nonetheless.

August 13: Steve Austin posts a bond of $5,000 and is released from custody after being arrested for misdemeanor assault. The previous day, a judge in Bexar County, Texas, had issued a warrant for Austin’s arrest, stemming from a domestic abuse incident involving Austin and his wife, Debra, in June.

August 14: Don Harris causes controversy when he wears a T-shirt with a racist symbol, the lightning “S” logo once promoted by German Nazis, in the ring against Malice at an NWA-TNA pay-per-view. TNA officials later release a statement apologizing for the incident and stating they “have taken steps to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.”

August 25: Brock Lesnar defeats The Rock for the undisputed WWE title at SummerSlam, held at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Many fans cheer Lesnar and boo The Rock as “The Next Big Thing” uses an F5 to earn a clean pinfall over the so-called people’s champion, who is headed back to Hollywood. Also at the pay-per-view, Rob Van Dam beats Chris Benoit to regain the Intercontinental championship, and Shawn Michaels—in his first WWE match in more than four years—emerges victorious in a streetfight against former DX teammate Triple-H.

August 26: General Manager Stephanie McMahon announces that WWE undisputed champ Brock Lesnar has become exclusive property of Smackdown. Lesnar’s agent, Paul Heyman says they agreed to Stephanie’s deal in return for “a wad of cash.”

August 30: Bill Goldberg steamrolls Satoshi Kojima at an All-Japan show at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall, his first match in 20 months. He defeats Taiyo Kea just as easily the following night at the same venue.

August 31: Charlie Haas and Nova defeat Doug Basham and Damaja in the final of the inaugural Russ Haas Memorial Tag Team Tournament in Toms River, New Jersey. Phoenix Championship Wrestling tag team champions Tiger Khan and Prophet, Steve Corino and The Amazing Red, the Maximos, Chris Divine and Quiet Storm, Malice and Seven, Da Hit Squad, Joey Matthews and Christian York, Bo Dupp and Matt Vandal, Lance Cade and Nick Dinsmore, and The Ballard Brothers are among the other participants … Xtreme Pro Wrestling stages “Hostile Takeover” at the old ECW Arena in Philadelphia, 18 months after its extreme rival had gone out of business. In the company’s East Coast debut, XPW champion Shane Douglas is awarded a victory after Terry Funk’s arm is cut wide open by glass from a broken beer bottle, Supreme bashes Angel with light tubes to retain his King of the Deathmatch title, and TV champ Kaos beats Chris Hamrick with help from his associates, G.Q Money and Veronica Caine.

September 2: Eric Bischoff crowns Triple-H the first “World heavyweight champion” of Raw (dubbed the Raw title by PWI and its sister publications) in response to WWE champion Brock Lesnar becoming exclusive property of Smackdown. Triple-H retains his newly awarded title against 16-time former world champion Ric Flair later in the night.

September 4: Smackdown champion Brock Lesnar distracts Doug Basham, enabling Chris Benoit to use a German suplex to pin the hated Ohio Valley star in the main event of “Fall Brawl,” held in Louisville, Kentucky. Basham had been slated for a Smackdown title shot against Lesnar, who was not allowed to wrestle due to an injured elbow … Former WCW promoter Mike Lima dies of a heart attack at his home in Clearwater, Florida. Lima, 39, had also been involved with the fledgling XWF.

September 9: Raw hits a new low as General Manager Eric Bischoff instructs Ultimate Pro Wrestling divas Jenny Loony Lane and Savvy to engage in “hot lesbian action,” dubbed HLA for short, before they are brutally attacked by Jamal and Rosie. Bischoff justifies the display by stating, “Controversy equals cash.” The following day, TNN issues a press release condemning the incident. At the same show, Bradshaw suffers a torn biceps while teaming with Kane against Un-Americans Lance Storm and Christian. The injury occurs when Bradshaw attempts his clothesline from hell with his left arm, instead of his right. Bradshaw finishes the match and helps rescue Kane from an attack by the other two Un-Americans, William Regal and Test, later in the program. Bradshaw is expected to undergo four to six months of extensive rehabilitation before making his return.

September 12: Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo say “I don’t” at the last moment during their commitment ceremony on Smackdown. Although this is considered one of WWE’s most outrageous stunts ever, the company receives surprisingly positive press and even an endorsement from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) before the show airs.

September 18: Sean Waltman debuts on NWA-TNA at the side of former NWO teammate Scott Hall. “Before we get fired from this place, which we probably will, let’s go down in a blaze of glory and kick some ass,” he says. The previous month, Waltman and WWE mutually agreed to a parting of the ways due mainly to creative differences. WWE allows Waltman to use “Syxx-Pac” as his ring moniker … Joey Matthews and Christian York are forced to break up their team in Maryland Championship Wrestling after losing a special stipulation match to their long-time rivals Rich Myers and Earl the Pearl at “Tag Wars 2K2” in Glen Burnie, Maryland. The Holy Rollers take advantage of a high-flying mistake by Matthews to earn the victory in the falls-count-anywhere match.

September 21: Rocco Rock (real name Ted Petty) dies of a heart attack while driving from an independent show in Jersey City, New Jersey, to another in Philadelphia. He made his pro debut in 1978 but didn’t make it big until 15 years later as one-half of the hardcore tag team Public Enemy in ECW. He and Johnny Grunge won four ECW and one WCW tag title together and also had several stints in the WWF. He was 49.

September 22: The Undertaker battles Smackdown champion Brock Lesnar to a double-disqualification at Unforgiven. It is the first non-finish of a WWE pay-per-view main event in four years. Both combatants manhandle the referee before he calls for the bell. Also at the pay-per-view, Ric Flair shocks the crowd by hitting Rob Van Dam with a sledgehammer to help Triple-H keep his Raw title, Trish Stratus beats Molly Holly for the women’s strap, and Chris Benoit uses the ropes for leverage to pin Kurt Angle.

September 25: NWA-TNA X champion Jerry Lynn scores a big win for his division by defeating NWA heavyweight champion Ron Killings. A.J. Styles and Kid Kash, Lynn’s rivals, give him an assist in a show of divisional pride. Only Lynn’s X title is on the line. Killings had gained a tainted victory over Lynn when he defended the NWA belt against him the previous week.

September 29: Mike “The Alaskan” York, an outstanding tag team wrestler in the 1960s and 1970s, dies of heart failure at age 61.

October 7: Raw champion Triple-H accuses Intercontinental champ Kane of killing his high school sweetheart, Katie Vick, in a drunk driving accident and raping her corpse many years earlier. It is the beginning of WWE’s most controversial storyline ever.

October 8: A jury clears WWE of all charges relating to the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by bodybuilder Nicole Bass in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Bass had accused agent Steve Lombardi (The Brooklyn Brawler) of groping her during a flight to England in May 1999, and alleged that WWE engaged in a pattern of physical abuse leading to her wrongful termination.

October 14: Masa Chono escapes the clutches of Joanie Laurer’s STF to plant the former WWE diva with a kick and score the pinfall at the Tokyo Dome. He then gives Laurer a spanking for good measure. Chono says he won’t grant Laurer a rematch unless she undergoes a sex change.

October 16: NWA champion Ron Killings blinds Curt Hennig with a foreign substance, and receives a low-blow assist from Jeff Jarrett, to retain his title at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville. The following week, Mr. Wrestling III hands Killings a pair of brass knuckles to knock out Hennig for another dirty win.

October 20: Triple-H unifies his Raw title with Kane’s Intercontinental championship at No Mercy, where he smashes “The Big Red Machine” with a sledgehammer and finishes him off with the pedigree. Also at the pay-per-view, Smackdown champion Brock Lesnar devastates The Undertaker with the F5 to emerge victorious inside a “Hell In A Cell,” and Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit defeat Rey Misterio Jr. and Edge in a scientific thriller to win the newly created Smackdown tag team championship in a tournament final.

October 21: Raw champ Triple-H enters a funeral parlor, wearing a Kane mask and a T-shirt that reads “Big Freakin’ Machine,” and jumps into a casket supposedly containing the remains of Katie Vick. He simulates a sexual act and then makes a disgusting comment. In response to critics, WWE producer Kevin Dunn says, “While the subject matter is sensitive, on balance this was an attempt at dark humor capitalizing on the popularity of programs such as CSI, Six Feet Under, and X-Files.”

October 22: The Big Show jumps to Smackdown and begins a rampage against stars such as Rikishi, The Undertaker, and Rey Misterio Jr. while demanding a shot at champion Brock Lesnar. Raw receives a number of Smackdown wrestlers in return for Big Show.

October 26: Heavyweight champion Ron Killings defeats Hotstuff Hernandez at the NWA’s 54th anniversary show in Corpus Christi, Texas. Also at the event, junior heavyweight champion Jason Rumble beats Rocky Reynolds, and tag team champs Chris Harris and James Storm defeat Reynolds and A.J. Styles. There are other matches for the women’s, North American, Texas state, Canadian, and U.K. championships. Richard Arpin of NWA Tri-State replaces Jim Miller as NWA president, and Fredric G. Rubenstein of NWA Over the Top succeeds Bill Behrens as vice president.

October 31: Ed “Moose” Cholak, one of the sport’s best big men of the 1960s and ‘70s, dies a few days after suffering a stroke. He was 72.

November 1: Former DX teammates Syxx-Pac (Sean Waltman) and Joanie Laurer make their engagement official at The Deep in Los Angeles. The lovebirds then head for Las Vegas for a vacation.

November 5: Brian Blair nearly pulls off an upset in a race for Hillsborough County commissioner in Florida. Blair, a Republican, leads the polls throughout the day, due in part to a last-minute campaign blitz that included Hulk Hogan’s endorsement in a commercial that aired during the previous night’s Raw. Democratic incumbent Pat Frank rallies to win with 51 percent of the vote.

November 17: Shawn Michaels wins a six-way match inside the “Elimination Chamber” and is awarded the Raw title at Survivor Series. The other participants are Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and defending champ Triple-H. Van Dam’s dive from the top of a cage door causes “The Game” to suffer a crushed trachea. Four other new champions are crowned at the pay-per-view: Smackdown champion The Big Show (who beats Brock Lesnar), Smackdown tag team champions Los Guerreros (who defeat Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, along with defending titleholders Rey Misterio Jr. and Edge), women’s champion Victoria (who beats Trish Stratus in a hardcore match), and cruiserweight champion Billy Kidman (who ends Jamie Noble’s five-month reign). Also at the event, D-Von Dudley reunites with Buh Buh Ray and Spike Dudley, and Scott Steiner makes his first televised WWE appearance in a decade when he attacks Christopher Nowinski of Raw and Matt Hardy of Smackdown.

November 20: Mr. Wrestling III does yet another run-in on a TNA pay-per-view, this time during Ron Killings’ NWA title defense against Jeff Jarrett. After Mr. Wrestling III smashes a “Slapnuts” guitar over Killings’ head, Jarrett pins him for the NWA belt. III unmasks to reveal Vince Russo underneath.

November 22: Long-time Tennessee star and former WWF preliminary wrestler Billy Joe Travis dies of a heart attack at his mother’s home in London, Kentucky. He was 41.

November 25: Steve Austin pleads no contest to misdemeanor assault charges filed after he was involved in a domestic incident with his wife, Debra, in June. A judge in Bexar County, Texas, sentences Austin to a $1,000 fine, one year’s probation, 80 hours of community service, counseling for family violence, and a one-year prohibition on drinking alcohol, except during his wrestling performances.

November 26: NWA-TNA releases Syxx-Pac (Sean Waltman), stating that he informed officials that he would no-show his second pay-per-view within a month. Waltman counters that he decided to leave TNA because he doesn’t want to work with Vince Russo, whom he feels has no respect for the business. He had been slated to team with Curt Hennig against NWA tag team champions Brian Lee and Slash.

November 29: Independent star Jeff Peterson dies in Tampa, Florida, after a two-year-plus struggle with cancer. He was 21.

November 30: “Mr. Wrestling” Tim Woods, one of the most famous and most successful masked wrestlers in history, dies after suffering a massive heart attack in his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Woods also wrestled without the mask during a pro career that started in 1962 and ended in 1983. He was 68.

December 4: Roddy Piper blames Vince Russo for the death of Owen Hart during a surprise appearance on NWA-TNA to promote his autobiography, In The Pit With Piper. Russo enters the ring to rebut Piper’s rant, but “Hot Rod” refuses to give him the microphone. TNA officials insist that neither Piper nor Russo had orchestrated that part of the show in advance.

December 6: Lex Luger beats perennial rival Sting for the vacant World Wrestling All-Stars championship in Glasgow, Scotland. The WWA tour marks the return of both men to action since the demise of the AOL Time Warner-owned WCW in March 2001. Sting wins the title in a three-way match with Luger and Malice a week later. Sting and Luger, who are former WCW World tag team champions, also join forces during the tour.

December 7: Abdullah the Butcher debuts in Ring of Honor at the Murphy Recreational Center in Philadelphia. He and Homicide carve out a victory against The Carnage Crew, DeVito and H.C. Loc. “The Madman From The Sudan” causes a full-scale melee involving the much of the locker room before the night is over.

December 14: The final broadcast of Championship Wrestling, the latest incarnation of Memphis wrestling, airs on WMC channel 5. Unfortunately, the potentially historic program—which ended 30 years of local televised wrestling in Memphis—was only a repeat.

December 15: At Armageddon, Triple-H regains the Raw title from Shawn Michaels in a best-of-three-falls specialties bout, which includes a streetfight, a cage match, and a ladder match. Michaels wins the streetfight, but Triple-H rallies to score the second fall inside the steel cage and succeeds in climbing the ladder to recapture his Raw gold. Also at the pay-per-view, Kurt Angle gets help from Brock Lesnar’s F5 to overcome the interference of Paul Heyman and A-Train en route to pinning The Big Show for the Smackdown title, Booker T and Goldust win a four-way elimination bout for the Raw tag team belts, and Al Wilson prevents Dawn Marie from showing all the footage of her hotel room romp with his daughter, Torrie.

December 17: Raw champion Triple-H is diagnosed with a partially torn quadriceps and a massive hematoma in his right thigh. “The Game” thought he was simply suffering from a charley horse following a match against Jeff Hardy on Raw, but aggravated the condition during a house show in Fort Myers, Florida. He received an anti-inflammatory drug and had his right thigh heavily taped during his Armageddon match against Shawn Michaels. Triple-H tore his left quadriceps in 2001.

December 18: David Flair and The Road Warriors debut in NWA-TNA, as Flair joins Vince Russo’s Sports Entertainment Xtreme group, and The Road Warriors join Bob Armstrong’s band of old schoolers. In TNA’s final pay-per-view of the year, Russo tears down the set to prepare for a new era in 2003.

December 19: Smackdown champion Kurt Angle undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery to repair torn cartilage. Angle had been suffering from the injury for some time, and WWE officials thought December—with a 10-day break incorporated into the touring schedule—was the best time for the procedure.

December 27: Steve Austin promotes an autograph signing during a radio interview on Wise Guys, Black Guys, And Rabbis, airing in New York. Austin says that rigorous training and a special diet have enabled him to fine-tune his physique into a muscular 265 pounds—superb fighting shape for a return to WWE.

2003
January 3: Jim Ross files his final “Ross Report,” which had become known as the definitive online commentary regarding the inner workings of WWE. The vice president of talent relations cites his busy schedule and the wrestling media’s tendency to overanalyze his comments. “I have never intended to slight any talent, but the mere omission of a particular talent from the ‘Ross Report’ can be perceived as a negative for that individual,” he notes. “That was never my goal, but it seemed like the column oftentimes took on a life of its own, with many often writing about what J.R. ‘really was saying.’”

January 9: Naoto Morishita, president of the mixed martial arts company Pride, hangs himself in a Tokyo hotel room just hours after expressing optimism about his promotion’s future in a press conference. He was 42.

January 13: Raw’s 10th anniversary special airs on TNN. While there had been rumors that Steve Austin might return from his long hiatus to appear on this special, the two-hour program turns out to be simply a nostalgic look back at Raw’s first decade. The Rock appears “live via satellite,” although it seems suspiciously like “live on tape,” and the absence of the decade’s biggest superstars—including Austin, Mick Foley, The Undertaker, and Bret Hart—makes the special an overall disappointment. Nevertheless, Raw’s 10th anniversary program is the highest-rated special that WWE has ever produced for TNN.

January 19: Brock Lesnar, who defeated The Big Show earlier on the show, eliminates The Undertaker to win the Royal Rumble and earn a WWE Smackdown title shot at WrestleMania XIX. The Rumble is the first major event to feature both Raw and Smackdown superstars, 15 from each brand, in the same ring since the brand extension in April 2002. Also at the pay-per-view, Smackdown champion Kurt Angle defeats Chris Benoit in a breathtaking match, Scott Steiner beats Raw champion Triple-H by disqualification in a lackluster encounter, and The Dudley Boyz win the Raw tag team title from William Regal and Lance Storm. … Legendary madman The Sheik—real name Edward Farhat—dies of liver and kidney failure in a Lansing, Michigan, hospital at age 76. The despised Sheik, a huge star in Detroit and Toronto in the 1960s, regularly used fireballs, pencils, forks, and other weapons to retain the U.S. title. The Hall of Famer also challenged for the WWWF title. In later years, he trained Sabu, his nephew, and Rob Van Dam.

January 22: Elix Skipper and Low-Ki defeat Chris Harris and James Storm for the NWA tag team belts at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville. As the two legal men, Low-Ki and Storm, lay in the ring, Skipper hits Harris with a title belt and drapes Low-Ki’s arm over Storm to score the victory after 15 minutes of action.

January 23: On the 19th anniversary of his first WWF title victory over The Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan returns to Smackdown, promising to make the most of what could become his farewell tour. The live crowd gives Hogan a standing ovation that lasts nearly 10 minutes. Vince McMahon also returns to Smackdown, vowing to destroy his most famous “creation.”

January 29: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express debut in NWA-TNA. They pretend to be trying to save America’s Most Wanted from a gang-style attack, but instead attack them with chair shots and align themselves with Vince Russo’s SEX faction.

February 3: Shadito Cruz, patriarch of one of the most famous families in Lucha Libre (sons Brazo de Oro, Brazo de Platina, El Brazo, Super Brazo, and Brazo de Plata and several grandchildren became stars in Mexico), dies of pneumonia.

February 5: During an appearance on The Tonight Show, Jesse Ventura confirms that he will host a nightly prime time program on MSNBC. Executives hope the former Minnesota governor will become a signature personality for their network, in the mold of CNN’s Larry King and the Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. “I’m going to educate ‘em, entertain ‘em, and tell people the truth,” Ventura tells Jay Leno. “I don’t know if they’re ready for me. If there’s one person that can get MSNBC off the air, you’re looking at it.”

February 10: Former AWA World, WWF Intercontinental, and WCW U.S. champ Curt Hennig, one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, dies of acute cocaine intoxication. Hennig, 44, was the son of wrestler Larry “The Ax” Hennig and gained his greatest fame as “Mr. Perfect” in the WWF, where he wrestled as recently as 2002. He was found dead in a Florida hotel room hours before he was to wrestle on an independent card.

February 18: Tony Altimore, best known for his brief 1967 reign as a WWWF U.S. tag team champion with Lou Albano, his partner in The Sicilians, dies shortly after undergoing surgery for a detached retina. He was 74.

February 19: Revolution members Damaja (Danny Basham) and Doug Basham have a falling-out during a three-way match also involving Nick Dinsmore, allowing Dinsmore to pin Damaja for the Ohio Valley Wrestling heavyweight title. This leads to a vicious feud between Damaja and Basham, despite the fact that they later form a tag team as The Basham Brothers for Smackdown.

February 23: Steve Austin makes his WWE return after an eight-month absence and stomps a mudhole in Eric Bischoff at No Way Out. Austin appears a bit heavier in the lopsided match, in which he gives the Raw general manager a total of four stunners. “Stone-Cold” had walked out of WWE just prior to a live edition of Raw in June 2002. Also at the pay-per-view, Vince McMahon helps The Rock beat Hulk Hogan in their long-awaited rematch from WrestleMania X8, Raw champion Triple-H relies on interference from Evolution to pin Scott Steiner, and Brock Lesnar teams with Chris Benoit to defeat Smackdown champion Kurt Angle, Shelton Benjamin, and Charlie Haas … Shinya Hashimoto defeats hometown favorite The Great Muta (Keiji Muto) for the All-Japan Triple Crown at Budokan Hall in Tokyo. Hashimoto uses Muta’s own finishing move, the shining wizard, to win the hard-hitting match at the 20-minute mark. He becomes the first man to hold the All-Japan Triple Crown, IWGP, and NWA championships.

March 1: Kenta Kobashi defeats Mitsuharu Misawa for Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Global Honored Crown at Budokan Hall in Tokyo. Kobashi, despite his perennially aching knees, unleashes his burning hammer maneuver and his signature lariat to wear down Misawa. The rivalry between the two stars dates back to their respective reigns as All-Japan Triple Crown champion. Misawa, who often accused Kobashi of defending the Triple Crown against inferior challengers, announces there will be no rematch for the GHC title.

March 10: Edge undergoes spinal surgery. After discovering bone spurs touching Edge’s spinal cord and cutting off several nerves, Dr. Lloyd Youngblood of San Antonio grafts a portion of Edge’s hipbone between two vertebrae, stabilizing the problem for at least a few more years. The surgery takes five hours instead of the scheduled 3 1/2 because of the extent of the damage. The 29-year-old star is expected to miss about 12 months.

March 12: Christopher Daniels and Low-Ki beat America’s Most Wanted to capture the vacant NWA tag team championship at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville. Triple-X uses one of their favorite tactics, as Low-Ki nails Chris Harris with a title belt to score the tainted victory after 12 minutes of action. The NWA tag team title was declared vacant after a February 5 match pitting Elix Skipper and Low-Ki against Brian Lee and Slash ended in controversy. At the same NWA-TNA pay-per-view, Glenn Gilberti suckers TNA dancer Lollipop into the ring for a catfight with Holly Wood. During the scratching and squirming, Lollipop’s right breast is exposed momentarily, but instead of giving her foe time to compose herself, Wood rips off the rest of Lollipop’s top. Lollipop continues fighting as announcer Jeremy Borash takes his sweet time in covering her chest … Janet Jackson has an idea.

March 19: Hiromichi “Kodo” Fuyuki, who made a name for himself as a wrestler for All-Japan and later as a wrestler and matchmaker for FMW and, finally, WEW, dies of cancer at age 42.

March 20: “Sailor” Art Thomas, a popular African-American star in the WWWF, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida, Texas, and elsewhere in the 1960s and 1970s, dies a month after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 79.

March 22: Steve Corino’s Group clashes with Christopher Daniels’ Prophecy at Ring of Honor’s “Night Of Champions” in Philadelphia. Michael Shane nails Daniels with a superkick, and C.W. Anderson punches Prophecy valet Allison Danger to start the feud. The Group gains more power when Samoa Joe defeats Xavier for the ROH title in the main event.

March 23: “Bruiser” Brian Cox, an 11-year veteran of the independent circuit in Oregon, dies of a heart attack at age 32.

March 30: Brock Lesnar defeats Kurt Angle for the WWE Smackdown title in the main event of WrestleMania XIX, held at Safeco Field in Seattle. Lesnar overcomes a botched shooting star press attempt to pin Angle in this clash between WWE’s top amateur stars. Also at the pay-per-view, Ric Flair helps Raw champion Triple-H beat Booker T, Hulk Hogan finishes off Vince McMahon with three legdrops to win a bloody streetfight against his long-time boss, Shawn Michaels pins Chris Jericho, and The Rock scores a rare clean pinfall over Steve Austin. WrestleMania XIX breaks the stadium’s attendance record by drawing 54,097 fans.

March 31: Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff presents a doctor’s note cataloguing Steve Austin’s extensive list of injuries, and proclaims that “Stone-Cold” will no longer be allowed to wrestle due to liability issues. Austin later confirms his degenerating physical condition in an exchange with Jonathan Coachman, responding, “My neck sucks, Eric Bischoff fired me; my neck sucks” … Bill Goldberg makes his WWE debut on the same edition of Raw. As The Rock announces his departure from WWE for Hollywood, Goldberg marches to the ring, informs “The Great One” that he’s “next,” and spears him to end the show. Negotiations between Goldberg and WWE had been ongoing for several months.

April 1: Sable makes a surprise return to WWE, appearing at a Smackdown taping. She gives Torrie Wilson a quick kiss, but seems jealous of Wilson’s recent pictorial in Playboy. Vince McMahon shocked insiders by rehiring Sable, who had filed a $110-million sexual harassment lawsuit against WWE in 1999 and testified in Nicole Bass’ lawsuit against the company in 2002.

April 4: Kurt Angle undergoes “minimally invasive spine surgery,” a term coined by his surgeon, Dr. Hae-Dong Jho of Pittsburgh. WWE officials assumed that Angle’s match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XIX was his last for a year or more, but Dr. Jho read about his plight in a local newspaper and offered to perform an innovative procedure to save the Olympian’s career. Instead of fusing Angle’s vertebrae together, Dr. Jho individually reconstructs each damaged vertebrae. The procedure reduces Angle’s recovery time from one year to six to eight weeks.

April 5: Paul London defeats Chance Beckett in the finals of the ECWA’s Super 8 Tournament in Wilmington, Delaware. The other participants are Frankie Kazarian, Brian Kendrick (Spanky), Alex Arion, Sedrick Strong, Chris Cage, and Chris Sabin. London is overshadowed by the Beckett, who suffers a bloody gash on his chin in the opening round, but still gives a gutsy performance in the tourney.

April 7: An English Court of Appeals rules in favor of WWE over the World Wide Fund For Nature. The judge says the old WWF logo, in the context of a vintage video game, does not infringe upon the Fund’s use of the acronym. The ruling gives WWE new hope that it can market vintage videotapes and merchandise without breaking the law.

April 8: “Piper’s Pit” returns to WWE television after a 15-year absence. Roddy Piper, who tried to help Vince McMahon in his streetfight against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania XIX, interviews the WWE chairman to kick off his first “Piper’s Pit” on Smackdown. Later in the segment, Rikishi approaches Piper with a coconut, seeking retribution for “The Rowdy One’s” attack of Jimmy Snuka nearly 20 years earlier. Sean O’Haire nails him from behind, allowing Piper to smash Rikishi with the coconut.

April 16: Ray Mendoza, one of the biggest stars in Lucha Libre history, dies of a heart attack at age 73. The Hall of Famer was the father of Los Villanos.

April 22: WWE releases Jeff Hardy. The 25-year-old daredevil was often late for live events, was putting forth less effort in the ring, and publicly stated he would rather be a rock star than a wrestler. Hardy claims the release frees him to spend more time on his artwork and his band, Peroxwhygen. He doesn’t rule out one-shot deals for NWA-TNA or on the independent circuit, however.

April 27: Bill Goldberg defeats The Rock at Backlash. WWE management is taken by surprise when there are far more chants of “Goldberg sucks” than “Rocky sucks,” prompting concerns about Creative’s handling of “Da Man.” Also at the pay-per-view, Smackdown champion Brock Lesnar defeats John Cena; Raw champion Triple-H, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho beat Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, and Booker T; and Jazz pins Trish Stratus for the women’s title. The buy rate for Backlash, despite the Goldberg-Rock main event, is disappointing.

April 30: NWA champion Jeff Jarrett beats Raven at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville. Jarrett matches Raven on a hold-for-hold basis, but then has to deal with the interference of 13 people—including members of Raven’s Flock, Vince Russo’s SEX faction, and Jim Mitchell’s New Church—and must be freed from handcuffs in order to execute a DDT on Raven and retain the championship.

May 1: Elizabeth Hulette—known professionally as Miss Elizabeth—dies of a lethal mix of alcohol, painkillers, nausea medication, and tranquilizers in Cobb County, Georgia. She was rushed to the hospital shortly after her boyfriend, Lex Luger, was unable to revive her when she passed out while choking on food. Hulette, 42, was one of the most popular female managers of all-time. She gained fame in the mid-1980s as the elegant manager of her husband, Randy Savage, whom she would later divorce, and enjoyed a run as a manager in WCW a decade later. … Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Lex Luger, is arrested on 14 drug possession counts during a subsequent search of the Georgia townhome they were sharing. The substances warranting felony charges include Xanax (an anti-anxiety drug), OxyContin, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and hydrocodone. Luger’s possession of Saizen, a synthetic growth hormone, accounts for one misdemeanor charge.

May 18: Kevin Nash defeats WWE Raw champion Triple-H by disqualification at Judgment Day. This time, Triple-H doesn’t use his trusty sledgehammer on Nash, but on the referee, to save his title. “The Game,” who furthers his reputation as a scheming champion who defends against handpicked opponents, earns a chorus of boos at the Charlotte Coliseum. Also at the pay-per-view, Smackdown champion Brock Lesnar uses an F5 and a forklift to beat The Big Show in a stretcher match, Christian outlasts Booker T and seven former Intercontinental champions in a battle royal to capture the reactivated I-C title, and Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri defeat Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas for the Smackdown tag title in a ladder match.

May 19: Expecting his adviser to take it easy on him, WWE Raw champion Triple-H grants Ric Flair a title shot in the 54-year-old veteran’s home state of North Carolina. Instead, Flair makes a tremendous effort against Triple-H, who barely overcomes the 16-time world champion to win the match. The quarter-hour featuring the Helmsley-Flair bout draws an impressive rating of 4.4 on Raw.

May 25: Jeff Jarrett beats Sting to unify the NWA and WWA heavyweight championships in Auckland, New Zealand. The Reckoning is World Wrestling All-Stars’ only pay-per-view in 2003 and likely its final show ever. Rick Steiner smashes long-time friend Sting with a guitar to help Jarrett win the match. In the other unification bout on the show, NWA-TNA X champion Chris Sabin wins a four-way match involving WWA international cruiserweight champion Jerry Lynn, Frankie Kazarian, and Johnny Swinger. Also on the pay-per-view, Bret Hart makes his highest-profile appearance since suffering a stroke in 2002, telling the crowd, “I like to think of myself, sitting here today, that I’m a survivor. I’ve survived a hell of a lot. Life is short and death is long.”

May 31: Scott Steiner teams with Johnny Jeter to defeat Doug Basham and Kanyon at Ohio Valley’s “Spring Breakout” in Louisville. Damaja intercepts Rob Conway to help Steiner and Jeter score the win. Also on the show, Southern tag champs Bradshaw and Faarooq humble Bolin Services by defeating Lance (Garrison) Cade and Mark Jindrak, and Chris Cage, Nova, and Mark Henry beat Orlando Jordan, Johnny Spade, and Tough Enough III winner John Hennigan.

June 2: Freddie Blassie, one of the most sadistic heels of all-time, dies of kidney and heart failure at the age of 85. Blassie was a huge star in California during his prime and later became one of the WWF’s top managers in addition to appearing on various TV shows and on film. The Hall of Famer appeared on Raw just three weeks before his death and had recently completed his autobiography.

June 7: WWE presents Insurrextion, its first brand-exclusive PPV, held at the Telewest Arena in Newcastle, England. Co-General Manager Steve Austin changes Triple-H’s Raw title defense against Kevin Nash to a streetfight at the last minute. This helps Triple-H, who relies on Ric Flair’s interference and a sledgehammer, to beat Nash. Also at the pay-per-view, Scott Steiner defeats Test, Intercontinental champion Christian beats Booker T, and women’s champion Jazz pins Trish Stratus.

June 9: Mick Foley returns to Raw to promote his first novel, Tietam Brown, and accept Co-General Manager Steve Austin’s invitation to officiate Triple-H’s WWE Raw title defense against Kevin Nash in a “Hell In A Cell” match at Bad Blood.

June 11: A.J. Styles wins the NWA title in a three-way match also involving Raven and defending champ Jeff Jarrett at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville. Shane Douglas attacks Raven, who is unable to continue the bout, and Vince Russo smashes Jarrett with a guitar to help set up the Styles clash. Despite the controversial finish, Styles later says, “I have to show that my name belongs up there, and that it will belong up there in the future. The last thing I want my reign as NWA champion to become is a joke five or 10 years down the line.”

June 15: WWE presents Bad Blood, its first brand-exclusive PPV in North America. Raw champion Triple-H scores a victory over Kevin Nash in a “Hell In A Cell” match. Also at the pay-per-view, Ric Flair beats Shawn Michaels in their long-awaited singles match, Bill Goldberg steamrolls Chris Jericho, and La Resistance defeats Rob Van Dam and Kane for the Raw tag team title. WWE executives later consider Bad Blood a success because there is no significant drop in buy rate, despite the absence of Smackdown stars on the show.

June 18: Sting makes his first North American appearance in two years. Less than four weeks after losing the WWA title to Jeff Jarrett in a unification match in New Zealand, Sting teams with Jarrett to defeat new NWA champion A.J. Styles and Syxx-Pac at TNA’s first anniversary show in Nashville. Also at the pay-per-view, NWA tag team champions America’s Most Wanted beat Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper, Justin Credible defeats Jerry Lynn, and X champion Chris Sabin beats Paul London.

June 20: Former WCW and WWF promoter Zane Bresloff dies of injuries he sustained in an automobile accident in Genessee, Colorado, four weeks earlier. He was 57.

June 23: Kane is forced to unmask following a special stipulation match on Raw. Although WWE Raw champion Triple-H cheats to win the bout, co-General Manager Eric Bischoff forces Kane to honor the commitment by removing his mask and wig, revealing a scarred face and half-shaven head.

June 24: Hulk Hogan wrestles his final match before leaving WWE in a creative dispute. At a Smackdown taping held at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, and The Big Show beat Hogan (as the masked Mr. America), Kurt Angle, and Brock Lesnar when Vince McMahon attacks Zach Gowen at ringside, helping Big Show score a pinfall over a distracted Mr. America. Hogan complains that WWE should use him sparingly and more wisely … Roddy Piper blames unscrupulous promoters for forcing wrestlers into cycles of drug dependence, and admits to being an addict himself on a broadcast of HBO’s Real Sports. Piper’s opinion contradicts that of Vince McMahon, who appears on the same investigative program. To prevent him “from engaging in any self-destructive behavior,” WWE ceases contract negotiations with Piper—who had been appearing only on a night-by-night basis—the following day. Piper also ends up wrestling his final match at the Smackdown taping, as he and Sean O’Haire lose to Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri.

June 25: America’s Most Wanted defeat Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper for the NWA tag team title in a thrilling steel cage match in Nashville. James Storm holds Daniels on the mat as Chris Harris climbs to the top of the taller-than-average cage and delivers a devastating legdrop to secure the victory. Old-timers compare the effort to Rick Steamboat and Jay Youngblood’s steel cage win over Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle in 1983.

July 1: Zach Gowen officially becomes a Smackdown superstar. Vince McMahon forces Gowen to team with Stephanie McMahon in a handicap match against The Big Show, with the stipulation that Zach and Stephanie must win for him to earn a contract. WWE Smackdown champion Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle provide helpful interference, leading to the one-legged wonder using a moonsault to pin Big Show.

July 7: Shawn Michaels insults Montreal fans on Raw. Although Michaels earlier admitted to being involved in Vince McMahon’s double-cross of Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997, he shows no remorse to “Highlight Reel” host Chris Jericho. Michaels advises Montreal fans to “get over it” and get on with their lives. Hart criticizes Michaels’ behavior on his Web site the following day.

July 14: In one of WWE’s most bizarre stunts ever, Kane turns against Jim Ross during an interview, pours gasoline all over the popular announcer, and then sets him on fire. It is only the beginning of Kane’s rampage over the coming weeks.

July 16: Maryland Championship Wrestling hosts its final show, the Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup, after a five-year run. Christian York wins the Cup and the MCW/MEWF cruiserweight title in a six-way elimination match also involving Joey Matthews, Reckless Youth, Qenaan Creed, Jay Briscoe, and Crash Holly. In addition to several unification bouts between MCW and the Mid-Eastern Wrestling Federation, Headbanger Thrasher, Gillberg, and Van Hammer appear … NWA-TNA executives and their former marketing consultant, Jay Hassman, agree to a “mutual walk away,” dismissing all claims and resulting in no cash payments. In 2002, the Jarretts accused Hassman of giving them misleading buy rate information and of conflict of interests, due to his firm also doing work for WWE. Hassman had filed a counter-claim.

July 19: Jeff Hardy appears in a three-way match also involving Joey Matthews and Krazy K at a Ring of Honor show in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Coming out as Will o’ the Wisp, a persona he developed before joining WWE, Hardy is booed mercilessly by ROH fans. “He goes out there, misses moves, wrestles sloppy, and dances like a fool,” notes one fan on a prominent wrestling newsboard. In the main event, ROH champion Samoa Joe chokes out Paul London, who is already headed for WWE.

July 23: A.J. Styles retains the NWA title against D-Lo Brown in a best-of-three series. The series takes place over the course of TNA’s weekly pay-per-view, with Styles pinning Brown in the first match, Brown forcing Styles into submission with a sharpshooter in the second match, and Brown battling Styles to a no-contest in the third encounter, a ladder match. Sonny Siaki interferes on the champion’s behalf in all three bouts.

July 25: Chris Jericho defeats Johnny Jeter at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville as part of OVW’s “Super Summer Sizzler Series.” Jeter, who had recently signed a WWE developmental contract, submits to the Walls of Jericho. Also on the show, Rico beats the hated Mark Magnus, Nick Dinsmore and Damaja defeat Ohio Valley champion Doug Basham and Rob Conway in a streetfight, and Southern tag team champions Chris Cage and Tank Toland defeat Bane and Seven.

July 27: Kurt Angle regains the WWE Smackdown title in a three-way match also involving The Big Show and defending champ Brock Lesnar at Vengeance. Although Lesnar and Angle are friends at the time of the bout, that doesn’t prevent the Olympian from executing an Angle slam on a distracted Lesnar to secure the victory. Also on the pay-per-view, Eddie Guerrero—thanks to the interference of Rhyno—beats Chris Benoit to capture the newly established WWE U.S. championship, Vince McMahon defeats Zach Gowen, and Smackdown tag team titleholders Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas beat former WCW World tag team champions Billy Kidman and Rey Misterio Jr. Vengeance is Smackdown’s first brand-exclusive PPV.

July 28: WWE Raw champion Triple-H suffers a severe groin injury only a few minutes into a match against Bill Goldberg, which takes place immediately following a Raw broadcast at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Fellow Evolution member Randy Orton runs into the ring to save Triple-H’s title by disqualification. “The Game” is expected to miss several weeks of action.

July 31: Community activist Kathy Morrow organizes a group of concerned citizens to picket a Windy City Wrestling show in Kankakee, Illinois, to protest the lack of African-American women in WWE. Morrow claims to have logged many complaints with WWE over the past four years. She does not explain, however, the connection between Windy City Wrestling and WWE.

August 6: A judge dismisses Hulk Hogan’s defamation lawsuit against Vince Russo. The lawsuit stemmed from Russo’s uncensored diatribe against Hogan at WCW’s Bash at the Beach 2000. The judge rules that Russo’s rant was a part of the show and was meant for Hulk Hogan the wrestler, not Terry Bollea the person. A possible action against AOL Time Warner is not ruled out, however.

August 8: WJ promotion hopeful Giant Ochiai—real name Takayuki Okada—dies at age 30 from massive brain injuries suffered in a training session accident 11 days earlier. He had been in a coma ever since the accident.

August 9: Jim Cornette appears at a Ring of Honor show in Dayton, Ohio. The up-and-coming team of Dunn and Marcos ask Cornette to manage them, but The Prophecy enters the ring before he can respond. When Christopher Daniels, Dan Maff, and Allison Danger attack Dunn and Marcos, Cornette gets in a few shots with his tennis racket.

August 10: Christian regains the Intercontinental belt from Booker T in Des Moines, Iowa. Booker T dealt with back pain for several months, and reached the point of sheer agony after a 20-hour flight returning from WWE’s tour of Australia. Booker is unable to complete a scissors kick, prompting Christian to execute the unprettier and win the match. Because the match occurs at a house show, there is no videotape of the title change.

August 16: Low-Ki knocks out Dan Maff with a vicious kick to the head at a Ring of Honor show in Fairfield, Connecticut. He scores an easy pinfall, but fans are asked to temporarily evacuate the building when Maff does not regain consciousness. Maff finally recovers a few minutes later. In his frustration, Low-Ki slaps cameraman Doug Gentry as he leaves the ring.

August 20: Michael Shane beats Frankie Kazarian and defending champ Chris Sabin in the first-ever “Ultimate X” match for the NWA-TNA X title. The three wrestlers spend much of the bout pulling themselves along two cables forming an “X” high above the ring. A bloody Shane grabs the title belt, which is suspended from the rafters, as Sabin and Kazarian do battle only a few feet away.

August 24: Triple-H retains the WWE Raw title in a six-way “Elimination Chamber” match at SummerSlam. Bill Goldberg, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kevin Nash, and Randy Orton are the other participants. Also at the pay-per-view, Smackdown champion Kurt Angle uses the anklelock to force Brock Lesnar into submission, U.S. champion Eddie Guerrero wins a four-way bout also involving Chris Benoit, Rhyno, and Tajiri, and Shane McMahon destroys Eric Bischoff in a grudge match.

August 27: NWA champion A.J. Styles beats Raven at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville. Although the match features the best of hardcore and scientific wrestling, Raven is unable to withstand the interference of Vince Russo, Sinn, Slash, and Shane Douglas. The NWA champ executes the Styles clash to pin Raven.

August 31: Vince McMahon orders Rhyno and Tajiri out of the ring during a house show in Uniondale, New York, claiming they are boring the fans. Rhyno and Tajiri are incensed because agents advised them to keep close to the mat, instead of opting for their typical hard-hitting fare. McMahon summons the Smackdown divas for a bikini contest instead.

September 3: Chris Sabin wins NWA-TNA’s Super X Tournament. TNA regulars comprise a U.S. bracket, and international stars comprise the other in this eight-man tourney. The American participants include Frankie Kazarian, X champion Michael Shane, and Jerry Lynn, while the international competitors include Canada’s Teddy Hart, the U.K.’s Johnny Storm, and Japan’s Nosawa. Sabin defeats Mexico’s Juventud Guerrera in the final.

September 8: The Great Antonio, who wrestled briefly in the WWWF in the early-1960s, but was best known for a feud with Japanese icon Rikidozan, dies of a heart attack at age 77.

September 10: NWA-TNA offers a one-cent PPV to entice viewers who have yet to sample its weekly events. The show features highlight bouts, including NWA champ A.J. Styles vs. D-Lo Brown, Jeff Jarrett and Sting vs. Styles and Syxx-Pac, and X champ Chris Sabin vs. Frankie Kazarian vs. Michael Shane in an “Ultimate X” match. “We wondered how we could get people to sample the product without anything coming out of their hip pockets,” TNA minority owner Jeff Jarrett later tells The Wrestler. “Well, you can’t charge zero on a pay-per-view format, so what’s the next best thing? One penny.”

September 13: Superstar Graham appears on Confidential and admits to falsely accusing Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, and Hulk Hogan of wrongdoing when the WWF was embroiled in steroid and sexual harassment scandals in the early-1990s. “Vince McMahon never suggested or implied once about taking any kind of drug,” confesses Graham, regarding the steroids charge. Skeptics wonder if the former WWWF champion is telling the truth, or lying about lying.

September 17: Roddy Piper returns to NWA-TNA. Piper delivers a rambling promo, criticizing Internet writers for discussing his drug problems and complaining that wrestling relies too much on sports entertainment. Vince Russo tells Piper, “You are here tonight because you burned every bridge and nobody wants you,” and advises him to leave TNA. At the same pay-per-view, Vampiro helps Shane Douglas beat Raven in a hair vs. hair bout. Jim Mitchell, demanding to shave Raven’s hair himself, digs far into Raven’s scalp, causing a bloody mess. A furious Raven confronts Mitchell backstage afterward.

September 18: Brock Lesnar wins his third WWE Smackdown title from Kurt Angle in the first “Ironman” match ever on broadcast TV. Lesnar willingly loses a fall by disqualification in order to batter Angle with a steel chair in the early going. It proves to be an effective strategy because the champion is slow to recover, and Lesnar wins the 60-minute match, scoring five falls to Angle’s four.

September 21: Six months after entering WWE, Bill Goldberg defeats Triple-H for the Raw title at Unforgiven. Goldberg uses his trademark spear/jackhammer combination to pin “The Game.” Also at the pay-per-view, Shane McMahon misses a 20-foot-high senton bomb from the top of the Unforgiven set and loses a last-man-standing match to Kane, and The Dudley Boyz beat Raw tag team champions La Resistance and Rob Conway in a handicap table match to win an unprecedented 17th world tag team title.

September 25: Anthony Durante, a former ECW TV and tag team champ as Pit Bull II, is found dead of an overdose of OxyContin along with his girlfriend, Dianna Hulsey, in their Rhode Island home. He was 36.

September 26: The Rundown opens in theaters nationwide. The Rock plays a bounty hunter in the action adventure, which also stars Sean William Scott of American Pie fame and veteran actor Christopher Walken. The Rundown becomes the U.S.’s number-one movie, grosses $20-million during its opening weekend, and receives good reviews. Considering the substantial sum that was put into advertising the movie, however, it is ultimately considered a box office disappointment.

October 8: NWA champion A.J. Styles beats Dusty Rhodes in Nashville. Although Styles begins tapping out to Rhodes’ figure-four after the referee takes a spill, the champion grabs a bat from adviser Vince Russo, smashes Rhodes with it, and puts him into a figure-four of his own. The referee recovers in time to see the former NWA champ unconscious on his back and counts the pinfall.

October 13: Hulk Hogan defeats Masa Chono in front of 35,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome. After Hogan expresses an interest in winning the NWA heavyweight title at a postmatch press conference, TNA minority owner Jeff Jarrett makes a surprise appearance and bashes the “Hulkster” over the head with a guitar. Plans are immediately made to feature Hogan as the centerpiece of TNA’s first three-hour, Sunday night pay-per-view, scheduled for November 30.

October 16: Stu Hart, patriarch of Calgary’s legendary Hart family, dies of complications from diabetes and pneumonia at the age of 88. Hart established Stampede Wrestling in 1948 and presided over numerous incarnations of the promotion until the early-1990s. In addition to his sons, the Hall of Famer helped to train such stars as Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Lance Storm.

October 19: Road Warrior Hawk (real name Michael Hegstrand), one-half of what many consider the greatest tag team of all-time, dies of an apparent heart attack at his home in Indian Shores, Florida. Hawk and Animal were Hall of Fame inductees and the only team to win the NWA, WWF, and AWA world tag team titles. He was 46.

October 19: WWE Smackdown champion Brock Lesnar defeats The Undertaker in a biker chain match at No Mercy. The FBI and Vince McMahon interfere on Lesnar’s behalf, enabling the champ to grab the biker chain and knock out UT for the victory. Also at the pay-per-view, The Big Show squelches Eddie Guerrero’s recent momentum by capturing his U.S. title, Kurt Angle uses the anklelock to force John Cena into submission, and Zach Gowen defeats Matt Hardy for his first WWE singles win … Road Warrior Hawk dies.

October 21: Paul Heyman is named the new GM of Smackdown. Vince McMahon announces that Heyman is the replacement for his daughter, Stephanie, whom Vince beat in an “I Quit” match at No Mercy. Heyman, considerably thinner and sporting a stylish tan, was on hiatus from Smackdown for several months after suffering an injury at the hands of Brock Lesnar.

October 22: Jeff Jarrett regains the NWA title from A.J. Styles. Jarrett turns heel during this pay-per-view, shocking TNA fans by attacking Hulk Hogan’s manager, Jimmy Hart, and later hitting Styles with the NWA title belt to gain a tainted victory. This sets up the tentative main event—Jarrett defending the NWA championship against Hogan—for TNA’s Bound For Glory PPV.

October 25: Triple-H (Paul Levesque) marries Stephanie McMahon in a quaint ceremony in Sleepy Hollow, New York. In addition to the Levesque and McMahon families, current and former WWE superstars such as Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, William Regal, Sgt. Slaughter, and Killer Kowalski are in attendance … Montreal-based former wrestler/manager/promoter Floyd Creachman dies of Crohn’s disease at the age of 46.

October 28: The Stone Cold Truth hits bookstores nationwide. In his long-awaited autobiography, Steve Austin forgives Eric Bischoff for firing him from WCW, praises Vince McMahon for helping him with an IRS debt earlier in his career, and criticizes Owen Hart for not taking enough responsibility for injuring his neck at SummerSlam 1997. Austin also reveals that an anxiety attack—no doubt aggravated by his consumption of several energy drinks and a whole pot of coffee—landed him in the hospital the night before his loss to The Rock at WrestleMania XIX.

October 31: Hulk Hogan undergoes knee surgery, forcing his TNA debut to be postponed indefinitely. Jeff Jarrett aggravated Hogan’s pre-existing knee injury at a Tokyo press conference weeks earlier. TNA executives go into damage control mode with fans and cable operators when they decide to postpone their first three-hour pay-per-view, Bound For Glory, until early-2004.

November 6: Crash Holly (real name Michael Lockwood), best known for popularizing the 24/7 title defense rule during his 21 hardcore title reigns in WWE, is found dead in the Florida home of WWE star Steven Richards. Lockwood, 32, had begun wrestling as Mad Mikey in NWA-TNA shortly after his release from WWE earlier in the year.

November 12: Lex Luger debuts in NWA-TNA. Luger and NWA champ Jeff Jarrett lose to A.J. Styles and Sting when Styles pins Luger. It is Luger’s first match since his arrest for drug possession and the overdose death of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Hulette. In a written statement, TNA President Dixie Carter responds to criticism that the company is exploiting the Luger-Elizabeth tragedy: “The success of bringing Lex to TNA won’t be measured with pay-per-view buys. It will be measured by what a man does with an opportunity given.”

November 16: Steve Austin loses power to Eric Bischoff at Survivor Series. Randy Orton, thanks to the interference of fellow Evolution member Batista, eliminates Shawn Michaels to lead Team Bischoff to victory over Team Austin. Austin is forced out of WWE and Bischoff becomes Raw’s sole general manager as a result. Also at the pay-per-view, Raw champion Bill Goldberg beats former champ Triple-H in a rematch from Unforgiven, Chris Benoit and John Cena of Team Angle win a classic Survivor Series bout over Team Lesnar, and Kane helps Vince McMahon beat The Undertaker in a “Buried Alive” match.

November 24: Dick Hutton, who beat Lou Thesz on November 14, 1957, to begin a 14-month reign as NWA World champion, dies of natural causes at age 80.

November 29: A “Birthday Bash” takes place at the Mid-South Coliseum, site of Memphis wrestling’s greatest moments. The event celebrates the 54th birthday of the territory’s most famous star, Jerry Lawler. Rocky Johnson, father of The Rock, returns to Memphis and battles Mabel to a no-contest in a boxing match. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes as Moondog Spot dies during a four-team concession stand brawl … Former WWF World tag team champion Larry Booker (known professionally as Moondog Spot) dies of an apparent heart attack or stroke shortly after collapsing during a tag team match in Memphis’ Mid-South Coliseum. He was 61.

December 6: Nathan Jones quits WWE during the “Passport To Smackdown” tour of Australia. Jones notifies WWE just before arguably the most important match of his career, headlining as a fan favorite in his hometown of Perth. It marks the end of Jones’ rocky stint in WWE, where his lack of coordination was an ongoing issue. Jones’ original trainer, Rick Bassman, tells wwe.com: “He was a big guy, and he was traveling in cramped conditions … It doesn’t make him a bad person. It just doesn’t work for him.” … Jerry Tuite, best known as The Wall in WCW and Malice in NWA-TNA, is found dead, presumably of a massive heart attack, in his hotel room in Narita, Japan, less than 24 hours after competing as Gigantes in a six-man All-Japan tag team bout. He was 36.

December 10: The 4th District Court of Appeals orders a new trial for Lionel Tate, a 16-year-old boy serving a life sentence for killing Tiffany Eunick, a six-year-old, in 1999. At the time, Tate’s attorney said the boy was simply mimicking pro wrestling moves and therefore wasn’t responsible for the girl’s death. In overturning the first-degree murder conviction, the appellate court asserts that Tate’s competency should have been evaluated before the original trial and also cites the boy’s young age and developmental immaturity.

December 12: Bogus bidding disrupts Jim Duggan’s auction of the WCW TV title belt and an official WWF King of the Ring crown and cape on eBay. Legitimate bids appear to place values of $6,980 on the TV belt and $1,200 on the crown and cape. False bids raise those amounts to $7,080 and $1,225, respectively. Duggan was awarded the TV championship after finding the belt in a trash can in 2000, and was recognized as King of the Ring in 1987.

December 14: Triple-H wins his third WWE Raw title in a three-way match also involving Kane and defending champ Bill Goldberg at Armageddon. Goldberg often finds himself the victim of Triple-H and Kane’s double-teaming and the interference of Evolution members Ric Flair, Batista, and Randy Orton. Kane choke-slams Goldberg, Batista yanks Kane out of the ring, and Triple-H makes the winning pinfall. Also at the pay-per-view, Flair helps Orton beat Rob Van Dam for the Intercontinental belt, and Flair and Batista win a gauntlet series for the Raw tag team belts. By the end of the night, each member of Evolution holds a major championship.

December 17: Sting beats NWA champion Jeff Jarrett in a non-title bout. Kevin Northcutt, Legend, and Kid Kash help Jarrett—and Chris Harris, James Storm, and A.J. Styles assist Sting—in yet another TNA match tainted by interference. Sting surprises Jarrett with a scorpion deathdrop to score the pinfall.

December 18: Journeyman independent wrestler Mike Lozansky, who competed all over the world, dies in his sleep at age 35. He is best remembered by U.S. fans for his brief runs in ECW and the USWA (as Mike Anthony).

December 20: WWE holds a Smackdown taping for Coalition troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq. The event’s location is kept secret until the last possible moment for security reasons, and several superstars make personal appearances throughout the region. At the taping, John Cena defeats U.S. champion The Big Show in a non-title bout, Eddie Guerrero beats Chris Benoit, and a “Stone-Cold” Santa (Steve Austin) gives a naughty Vince McMahon a low blow and a stunner.


2004
January 1: Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling holds the first professional wrestling show in Chinese history at Huadu Stadium in the city of Guangzhou. Approximately 6,100 fans are in attendance. Mid-Atlantic champion Steve Williams beats former UWF rival Terry Taylor in the 28-minute main event. In other bouts, Mid-Atlantic junior heavyweight champion Chris Hamrick defeats Rikki Nelson, Frankie Capone beats Lex Lovett in a battle of NWA Florida stars, Bruiser Bradley defeats Jeff Justice, and Andrue Bane beats former NWA champ Mike Rapada.

January 7: Chris Sabin regains the TNA X title from Michael Shane in a four-way “Ultimate X II” match also involving Christopher Daniels and Low-Ki at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville. The bout is promoted as the sequel to August 2003’s “Ultimate X” match, which featured two cables forming an “X” high above the ring. Triple X members Daniels and Low-Ki battle each other for most of the match, enabling Sabin to kick Shane off a cornerpost, sending the X champ crashing through a table on the arena floor. Sabin pulls himself along the cable, grabs the belt, hangs in mid-air until the duct tape finally gives way, and lands on the mat to win the championship.

January 16: Stars of the old Continental Wrestling Federation reunite at the Dothan Civic Center in Alabama. All-Star Productions and the American Wrestling Federation organize the event. The CWF’s first family is prominent on the card, with Bob Armstrong teaming with sons Brad Armstrong and B.G. James, along with Johnny Rich, to beat Blake Richards, The Assassin, Mr. Fantasy, and former Southeast favorite and WWE executive Tom Prichard. “Exotic” Adrian Street, at 62 years of age, defeats AWF star Al Savage in a makeover match. Other long-lost CWF stars appearing on the show include Scott Armstrong, Steve Armstrong, Robert Gibson, Ken Wayne, Humongous, Bob Kelly, and Donnie Fargo.

January 24: Jack Tunney dies in his sleep of a heart attack at age 68. While Tunney was best known as the WWF’s figurehead president in the mid-1980s, often making unpopular and nonsensical decrees, he was also a member of a famous family of promoters that controlled the Toronto territory for decades. Known as a savvy businessman, Tunney joined forces with Vince McMahon during the WWF’s expansion into Canada in 1984.

January 25: Chris Benoit eliminates The Big Show to win the Royal Rumble and earn a world title shot at WrestleMania XX. Benoit is considered an underdog because Smackdown General Manager Paul Heyman makes him the number-one entrant, while Raw superstar Bill Goldberg enters at number 30. The Big Show is the last participant to be eliminated from the Rumble. Also at the pay-per-view, Shawn Michaels battles WWE Raw champion Triple-H to a no-contest, and Smackdown champion Brock Lesnar defeats Hardcore Holly … Jeff Jarrett retains the NWA heavyweight title against former champ Dory Funk Jr. in Ocala, Florida. Funk’s ex-protege Adam Windsor interferes in the match to help Jarrett pin the 61-year-old veteran, who reigned as NWA champ from 1969 to 1973. The title showdown receives considerable coverage in Japan.

February 14: A.J. Styles is crowned the first Ring of Honor pure wrestling champion in an eight-man tournament held in Braintree, Massachusetts. He beats Jimmy Rave and Matt Stryker before finishing off C.M. Punk with the Styles clash in the final. To promote scientific wrestling, ROH officials enforce rules that dictate only three rope breaks per match, with the illegal use of a closed fist counting as a rope break, and a strict 20-count when action spills out of the ring.

February 15: Eddie Guerrero defeats Brock Lesnar for the WWE Smackdown championship at No Way Out. Bill Goldberg runs into the ring and spears Lesnar as the Smackdown champ is about to strike Guerrero with the title belt. But Guerrero isn’t able to finish off Lesnar until later, however, when he unleashes a ring-jarring frog splash to set up the pinfall. His Smackdown title victory occurs at the site of many other Guerrero family triumphs, the San Francisco Cow Palace. Also at the pay-per-view, Kurt Angle defeats John Cena and U.S. champ The Big Show to earn a Smackdown title shot at WrestleMania XX, and Chavo Guerrero Jr. beats Rey Misterio Jr. for the cruiserweight belt.

February 18: Vince Russo is introduced as TNA’s new director of authority. Russo vows to curb NWA champion Jeff Jarrett’s abuse of power, and announces the rehiring of broadcaster Mike Tenay, whom Jarrett had fired a week earlier. Jarrett considers Russo’s defiance to be a major betrayal because their on-air/backstage alliance had dated back to the WWF’s “Attitude” era, thrived during WCW’s last, dying days, and continued after TNA’s launch. Friends close to Russo say his new attitude is inspired by his real-life decision to become a born-again Christian … At the same TNA pay-per-view, Joanie Laurer fails to appear as a guest on Jonny Fairplay’s interview segment. Laurer makes last-minute demands, reportedly concerning first-class airfare, that TNA officials aren’t willing to accommodate. Fairplay goes on to crassly ridicule the former WWE diva in her absence.

February 20: In their first appearance together since their 2002 WWE run, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash headline Ultimate Pro Wrestling’s fifth anniversary show, held at The Grove in Anaheim, California. Because the proceeds are to benefit the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, The Outsiders generously work for free and give UPW its money’s worth—by sleepwalking through their match against Christopher Daniels and Tom Howard. Daniels and Howard win the bout, which is refereed by Joe Millionaire star Evan Marriott. Vince McMahon congratulates Rick Bassman on UPW’s fifth anniversary in a prerecorded message.

March 4: Rob Feinstein resigns as a business partner in Ring of Honor and as president of RF Video after being implicated in an Internet sex sting conducted by a child advocate Web site and a Philadelphia television station. Feinstein arrived at a house in suburban Philadelphia, allegedly to meet someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy he had met in an Internet chat room, when a WCAU reporter and camera crew confronted him. Refusing to answer questions, Feinstein sped off in his car. Roddy Piper, Bobby Heenan, and Abyss were among the stars who canceled upcoming ROH appearances in the wake of the scandal.

March 6: Hercules Hernandez dies of an apparent heart attack at age 47. Hernandez’ grueling schedule and fast lifestyle in the 1980s’ WWF is assumed to have contributed to his declining health in recent years. The mighty Hercules was best known for his series of matches against WWF World champion Hulk Hogan and Intercontinental champion Rick Steamboat, in addition to his feud with Billy Jack Haynes … Jim Ross makes a surprise appearance at an Ohio Valley show in Louisville, following a six-man tag team match pitting WWE executive John Laurinaitis’ handpicked stooges—Rob Conway, Nick Dinsmore, and Mark Magnus—against Doug Basham, Damaja, and Johnny Jeter. When Laurinaitis interferes, helping Dinsmore pin Basham, Ross restarts the match and demands to see his colleague in the office “first thing in the morning.” Basham, Damaja, and Jeter go on to score a clean victory over Laurinaitis’ cronies.

March 12: Kensuke Sasaki defeats Hiroyoshi Tenzan for his fourth IWGP title at Sumo Hall in Tokyo. Sasaki overcomes a Northern Lights bomb and a tombstone driver to pin Tenzan at the 15-minute mark. Famed shootfighter Bob Sapp immediately challenges Sasaki for his newly won title, and a match is set for March 28 at the same arena.

March 14: Chris Benoit captures the WWE Raw title in a fantastic three-way match also involving Shawn Michaels and defending champ Triple-H in the main event of WrestleMania XX, held at New York’s Madison Square Garden. It is considered the crowning moment of Benoit’s 18-year career. In addition, Bill Goldberg beats Brock Lesnar in what turns out to be the final WWE appearances of both men. Goldberg intends to pursue a film career and perhaps compete in Japan, while Lesnar wants to try his luck in the NFlorida. Special referee Steve Austin, who uses stunners on Lesnar and Goldberg after the match, would leave the company only a few weeks later. Also at the pay-per-view, Smackdown champion Eddie Guerrero beats Kurt Angle; The Undertaker defeats Kane to extend his WrestleMania record to 12-0; Ric Flair, Batista, and Intercontinental champion Randy Orton beat Mick Foley and The Rock; and John Cena wins the U.S. title from The Big Show.

March 22: General Managers Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman participate in a talent draft, held live on Raw, two years after WWE’s original brand extension. The random draft turns out to be a boost to the mid-cards of both brands, especially Smackdown. Bischoff’s random picks include Shelton Benjamin, Nidia, Rhyno, Tajiri, and Edge for Raw, while Heyman drafts Triple-H, Rob Van Dam, Rene Dupree, Mark Jindrak, Spike Dudley, and Theodore Long. In addition, Bischoff draws the name of Heyman, who, instead of working under “Easy E,” quits his job as Smackdown GM and walks out of WWE. This edition of Raw scores an overall rating of 4.5, the show’s highest number in nearly two years.

March 23: Vince McMahon chooses Kurt Angle, who had experienced great pain and tingling in his extremities during his WrestleMania match against Smackdown champ Eddie Guerrero, to replace Paul Heyman as Smackdown general manager. Angle immediately infuriates some Smackdown fans by trading Triple-H back to Raw for The Dudley Boyz and Booker T. Angle plans to undergo yet another neck operation during his break from in-ring action.

March 26: Steve Austin becomes embroiled in another domestic disturbance at his San Antonio home, this time with ex-girlfriend Tess Broussard. The Baywatch Nights star wants to discuss a possible reconciliation with Austin, but their exchange allegedly turns violent when Austin grabs Broussard and pushes her to the ground, where she lands on her hands and knees. Broussard states her right hand was injured in the incident, according to a San Antonio Police Department report. San Antonio police responded to a similar incident between Austin and then-wife Debra at the same residence in June 2002.

March 28: Bob Sapp destroys Kensuke Sasaki for the IWGP belt at Tokyo’s Sumo Hall. The 374-pound shootfighter uses a power bomb to defeat Sasaki after only nine minutes of action. Following the bout, Sapp ignores former champ Shinsuke Nakamura, who immediately demands a title shot, and instead issues challenges to sumo star Akebono and another ex-IWGP champ, Hulk Hogan.

March 29: Flight attendants Taralyn Cappellano and Heidi Doyle file lawsuits against WWE and SportsJet, an Arizona-based luxury charter airline, for negligence, assault and battery, and false imprisonment. The charges stem from the so-called “Flight From Hell,” a 2002 transatlantic flight carrying WWE superstars back to the U.S. from a tour of Europe. According to documents filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, Ric Flair allegedly walked around the plane in only his ring robe, flashing flight attendants and asking them to touch his privates, Scott Hall supposedly licked the face of an attendant, and Dustin Runnels was also accused of sexual harassment. The suit specifically blames WWE executives Jim Ross and Stephanie McMahon for doing nothing to stop the wrestlers’ crude behavior.

April 2: The Rock’s latest movie, Walking Tall, is released in theaters nationwide. His character is based on a real-life wrestler-turned-sheriff, Buford H. Pusser of McNairy County, Tennessee. Although the 2004 remake of Walking Tall is less fact-based than the 1973 original, The Rock gets some solid reviews, most notably from the late sheriff’s daughter, Dwana Pusser Garrison. “While some people have noted that The Rock’s ethnic background is different from my father’s, my family is honored that he’s playing the lead in Walking Tall,” Garrison told PWI. Pusser wrestled in the Midwest in the late-1950s and early-’60s.

April 3: Christopher Daniels defeats Austin Aries in Wilmington, Delaware, to become the first man to win the ECWA Super 8 Tournament on two occasions. The other tournament participants were John Walters, Mike Kruel, Nicho (Psicosis), Shawn Daivari, Ricky Reyes, and Rocky Romero. As a bonus, Kruel voluntarily hands over the ECWA heavyweight belt to Daniels after “The Fallen Angel” beats him in a semifinal bout earlier in the evening.

April 12: The Great Goliath dies of heart failure at Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas. Goliath, best known for his long-running tag team with Black Gordman, began having health problems in the early-1990s, when he suffered the first of four heart attacks and was eventually diagnosed with diabetes. The Mexico native, whose opponents included El Santo, Mil Mascaras, and Chavo Guerrero Sr., was a consistent main-eventer in Southern California throughout the 1960s and ‘70s.

April 14: Nick Dinsmore loses the Ohio Valley Wrestling title to Matt Morgan. WWE executive John Laurinaitis, humiliated that his charge has lost such an important match, approves Dinsmore’s scheduled callup to WWE, but gains revenge by saddling him with the dim-witted Eugene character. As it turns out, Eugene fools Laurinaitis by being a genius at playing dumb, propelling himself to a higher level of stardom.

April 16: WWE announces that it has been unable to meet Steve Austin’s demands regarding a contract renewal and wishes him the best of luck in future endeavors. The sticking points include the former WWF World champion’s desire to have ownership of the “Stone-Cold” nickname and his continued clashes with Creative. Austin’s inability to perform in the ring, due to his deteriorating neck and spinal condition, and a much-publicized domestic abuse incident with ex-girlfriend Tess Broussard weakened his leverage during negotiations.

April 18: Chris Benoit successfully defends his WWE Raw title against Shawn Michaels and Triple-H at Backlash, held in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. Unlike the New York crowd at WrestleMania XX, the fans at Rexall Place are solidly behind Benoit—and Michaels, still tainted by the 1997 Survivor Series scandal in Montreal, is nearly as hated as Triple-H. They are thrilled when the Raw champion uses the sharpshooter to force “The Heartbreak Kid” into a clean submission, and are even more excited when referee Earl Hebner, who officiated Michaels’ infamous match against Bret Hart in 1997, calls for the bell. Also at the pay-per-view, Intercontinental champion Randy Orton defeats Mick Foley in a bloody no-holds-barred match.

April 19: Lance Storm’s career comes to an anticlimactic end in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, where he loses his final match to Steven Richards during a Sunday Night Heat taping. Storm cites agonizing back pain, caused by four bulging disks in his lower lumbar region and a chronic problem with his sciatic nerve, as the primary factor in his decision to retire. The 14-year veteran also admits that WWE Creative’s lack of interest in him made his decision that much easier. He accepts a position as a trainer with WWE’s developmental program in Ohio Valley.

April 21: A.J. Styles defeats Jeff Jarrett for his second NWA heavyweight title inside of a steel cage at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Nashville. TNA Director of Authority Vince Russo chooses Styles as a last-minute replacement for Chris Harris, who suffered an arm injury at the hands of Raven earlier in the evening. When Jarrett goes for his trademark guitar shot, Styles shatters the guitar with an enzuigiri and uses a crucifix to roll up the champ at the 13-minute mark.

April 23: Bryan Danielson defeats C.M. Punk in a 25-minute thriller at a Ring of Honor show in St. Paul, Minnesota. Punk assaults Danielson after the bout, and then attacks special referee Rick Steamboat. Colt Cabana joins Punk in the two-on-one beating until ROH tag team champs The Briscoe Brothers make the save. The former NWA World champion returns the favor by helping the Briscoes against Punk, Cabana, and Ace Steel later in the night.

May 2: The WWE Experience premieres at 10 a.m. Eastern on Spike TV. Marking a return to Sunday morning wrestling, WWE’s only Raw-Smackdown hybrid recap program is hosted by Todd Grisham and Ivory and emanates from New York’s Times Square—the first of many outside venues in coming weeks. The addition of Experience is part of an overall shakeup of WWE’s secondary shows that includes the cancellation of Confidential, a magazine program airing on Saturday nights. Experience scores a rating of 0.7 in its premiere, only a slight improvement over Confidential’s numbers.

May 6: Pepper Gomez, 77, dies of an abdominal infection at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, California. It is believed that Gomez’ many publicity stunts, such as allowing wrestlers to jump off 12-foot ladders onto his incredibly muscular abdomen and having people drive Volkswagen Bugs over his midsection, might have led in some part to his condition. He feuded with Pat Patterson and Ray Stevens throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and was one of Northern California’s most popular stars in the 1960s and ‘70s.

May 16: John Bradshaw Layfield beats WWE Smackdown champ Eddie Guerrero by disqualification at Judgment Day. The match is considered one of the bloodiest and most violent in recent WWE history. Guerrero becomes frustrated with Layfield’s dirty tactics and is disqualified when he hits his challenger with the Smackdown title belt. Guerrero loses so much blood that he goes into shock and is rushed to the hospital after the match, and the fans are shocked when they realize JBL has become a permanent main-eventer.

May 18: Chavo Guerrero Sr.—the older brother of Smackdown champion Eddie Guerrero—surprises the wrestling world by winning the WWE cruiserweight title more than 15 years after his prime. Spike Dudley plants defending cruiserweight champ Chavo Guerrero Jr. with a Dudley dog, and 55-year-old Chavo Classic accidentally falls on top of his son as the referee counts to three.

May 19: Jerry Jarrett suffers from chest pains and dizziness before TNA’s weekly pay-per-view and later undergoes triple-bypass heart surgery in Nashville … At that night’s event, Ron Killings captures his second NWA heavyweight title in a four-man “Deadly Draw” competition in which wrestlers enter the ring in five-minute intervals. Defending champ A.J. Styles begins the match against Chris Harris, with Raven and then Killings joining the fray. Jeff Jarrett interferes in the match by hitting Styles with his guitar, and Killings later capitalizes by leveling the champion with an ax kick from the top rope and scoring the three-count.

May 22: C.M. Punk commits the most heinous act of his career when he jumps off the top rope and rams a timekeeper’s bell into the throat of former NWA World champion Rick Steamboat in Philadelphia. Afterward, Punk continues to blame Steamboat for his loss to Bryan Danielson a month earlier and for Punk and Colt Cabana’s loss of the Ring of Honor tag team title to Dan Maff and B.J. Whitmer. Steamboat suffered a similar larynx injury at the hands of Randy Savage in 1987.

May 26: TNA airs the World X Cup, a point-based competition featuring the best in X division action, on pay-per-view. Team NWA, Team Canada, Team Mexico, and Team Japan compete in matches that were actually taped on three consecutive Wednesdays before the PPV airing. After a gauntlet match, two regulation tag team matches, and a four-way ladder match, Team NWA’s Chris Sabin, Team Canada’s Petey Williams, and Team Mexico’s Hector Garza battle in an “Ultimate X” match. In the end, Sabin scales the cables to grab the “X” and win the Cup for Team NWA.

June 4: TNA’s Impact premieres on Fox Sports Net at 3 p.m. Friday in most markets. A.J. Styles’ win over Chris Sabin, Michael Shane, and Elix Skipper to earn a shot at Frankie Kazarian’s X title headlines the 60-minute program, which is praised by both wrestling fans and Fox Sports Net executives. Nevertheless, FSN’s inconsistent schedule, controlled by regional operators, and the fact that TNA is paying for the air time, are considered serious drawbacks.

June 5: John Bradshaw Layfield gives “Heil Hitler” salutes and goose-steps around the ring like a Nazi soldier during a match against WWE Smackdown champion Eddie Guerrero in Munich, Germany. Such behavior is considered illegal in Germany, although Layfield later defends his actions as entertainment and not a political statement. WWE does not punish JBL, but CNBC terminates him from his job as a commentator on its financial news show, Bullseye.

June 11: Brock Lesnar is invited to a private workout with the Minnesota Vikings. Lesnar amazes scouts by running a 4.75 40-yard dash, an above-average showing for an NFL lineman. His performance is considered very impressive considering that he broke his jaw, fractured his left hand, severely pulled and bruised his groin, and suffered tissue damage in his lower abdomen in a motorcycle accident only two months earlier.

June 13: WWE Raw champion Chris Benoit defeats Kane at Bad Blood, held at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Benoit wears down Kane with a barrage of German suplexes before trying to apply the crossface. Kane tries to escape, giving Benoit the opening to roll him up for the pinfall after 18 minutes of action. Also at the pay-per-view, Triple-H defeats Shawn Michaels in the longest “Hell In A Cell” match ever—an incredible 47 minutes—to solidify his reputation as the toughest HIAC competitor in history.

June 23: The NWA heavyweight title is held up after a controversial match between defending champ Jeff Jarrett and Ron Killings at TNA’s second anniversary show. Despite TNA Director of Authority Vince Russo’s best efforts to find Jarrett’s hidden guitars before the match, Killings finds a guitar under the ring steps and smashes it over the champion’s head to score the tainted pinfall. Russo refuses to make a decision on the title’s fate until a week later, when he reluctantly gives the belt back to Jarrett. Also at the pay-per-view, free agent Jeff Hardy is a last-minute substitute for an injured Kid Kash against X champion A.J. Styles, but Kash and Dallas attack Styles, forcing the match to be ruled a no-contest.

June 27: John Bradshaw Layfield beats Eddie Guerrero in a bullrope match for the WWE Smackdown title at The Great American Bash, held at the Norfolk Scope. After both men simultaneously touch the first three corners, the champion lunges toward the fourth turnbuckle at the 21-minute mark, but unintentionally causes Layfield to fall backward into it just before Guerrero’s hand actually touches the turnbuckle. General Manager Kurt Angle overrules the referee and declares JBL the new champ. Also at the pay-per-view, Paul Heyman threatens to bury Paul Bearer in wet cement inside a glass case unless The Undertaker lays down for The Dudley Boyz in a handicap match. The Undertaker trounces the Dudleys, but pulls a lever to engulf his manager in wet cement anyway. Although the stunt is an apparent homicide, WWE issues an update the following day, stating Bearer survived with only “internal injuries.”

July 5: Vince McMahon returns as a backstage presence at Raw after being sidelined for more than a week with diverticulitis, an infection in a pocket-like opening in a weak part of the wall between the bowel and the colon. His symptoms included pain in his lower left abdomen. Triple-H, Stephanie McMahon, Jim Ross, and WWE Executive Producer Kevin Dunn pulled together to run The Great American Bash, Raw, and Smackdown in his absence the previous week.

July 6: Ric Flair’s long-awaited autobiography, To Be The Man, is released in bookstores nationwide. In the book, Flair reveals his suspicion that his wealthy parents likely purchased him from a baby-selling ring in Tennessee, accuses Bret Hart of exploiting the in-ring death of his brother Owen, and calls Mick Foley a “glorified stuntman.” Despite the controversial remarks about Hart and Foley, To Be The Man is considered by some to be the most important wrestling autobiography since Lou Thesz’ Hooker.

July 11: WWE Raw champion Chris Benoit beats Triple-H at Vengeance, held at the Hartford Civic Center. Eugene runs into the ring after the referee is knocked down. Torn between his old friendship with “The Rabid Wolverine” and his new alliance with Evolution, Eugene refuses to let Triple-H hit Benoit with a chair. In the confusion, Eugene accidentally smacks Helmsley with the chair, enabling Benoit to score the pinfall. Triple-H, who befriended Eugene as part of a scheme to regain the Raw title, vows revenge against the special superstar. Also at the pay-per-view, much of the crowd turns against Edge as he makes a successful bid to beat Randy Orton for the Intercontinental belt.

July 13: The supposedly injured Kurt Angle dons a Luchador mask and climbs over the top of a steel cage to help John Bradshaw Layfield retain the WWE Smackdown title against Eddie Guerrero. “Latino Heat” rips off the mask to reveal Angle underneath. A furious Vince McMahon orders Angle back to the active roster and appoints Theodore Long as Smackdown’s new general manager a week later.

July 17: Low-Ki makes a surprise return to Ring of Honor at the Rex Plex in Elizabeth, New Jersey. After the former ROH champion interrupts an in-ring confrontation between current champion Samoa Joe and Homicide, Low-Ki smashes Joe with the title belt and makes several unauthorized comments, ranging from the quality of the talent roster to the Rob Feinstein scandal. He joins Homicide and The Havana Pit Bulls in holding the ROH banner over a groggy Samoa Joe … Al Snow and Chris Candido brawl throughout Dunn Tire Park in the main event of Ballpark Brawl II in Buffalo. Snow uses Head, the mannequin head he first made famous in ECW, to hit Candido over the head and win the match. In other highlights, Davey Boy Smith’s son, Harry, wins a tournament to crown the first Natural heavyweight champion; Teddy Hart executes a moonsault from the top of a 15-foot-high backstop to flatten local wrestler Derek Wylde in the infield; and a much slimmer Roddy Piper reunites with ex-bodyguard Sean O’Haire.

July 19: WWE Raw champion Chris Benoit defeats Triple-H in a 60-minute “Ironman” match, scoring four falls to three. Eugene thwarts the interference of Evolution members Ric Flair and Batista in the closing minutes by running into the ring and hitting Triple-H over the head with a chair, allowing Benoit to score the match-winning pinfall. Raw’s rating drops to a 3.5 before jumping to a 4.2 in the overrun segment, proving that great wrestling doesn’t always equal great ratings.

July 21: Jeff Hardy signs with TNA, thanks to the persistent efforts of Dusty Rhodes, and is immediately awarded a shot at the NWA heavyweight title. NWA champion Jeff Jarrett and presumed top contender Monty Brown both complain that Hardy is receiving favorable treatment, and both get involved in a physical altercation with the enigmatic star inside the ring. Hardy vows to gain revenge by taking Jarrett’s belt.

July 22: Joanie Laurer (formerly known as Chyna) freely discusses private details of her relationship with Sean Waltman (formerly known as X-Pac) during an appearance on Howard Stern’s radio show. Laurer reveals that her former boyfriend had recently entered a drug treatment center at WWE’s expense. On his Web site, Waltman clarifies that Triple-H and Vince McMahon paid the costs with their own money—and goes on to profess his undying love for Laurer.

July 27: Booker T wins the vacant U.S. title in an eight-man elimination match to crown a new champion. The other participants in the match are John Cena, Rob Van Dam, Charlie Haas, Billy Gunn, Luther Reigns, Rene Dupree, and Kenzo Suzuki. For several weeks prior to the elimination match, then-General Manager Kurt Angle had inexplicably allowed Booker to have possession of the U.S. belt after Angle stripped Cena of the championship.

August 1: Ken Timbs dies after a long battle with congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy. He was 53. Timbs competed as a journeyman wrestler in several territories prior to forming The Hollywood Blondes with Eric Embry in 1983. They enjoyed a successful reign as Southwest tag team champions and feuded with The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. After making his Mexican debut as Fabuloso Blondy in 1988, the 235-pounder had two unlikely reigns as NWA light heavyweight champion.

August 7: Austin Aries defeats Bryan Danielson in a best-of-three-falls match in Boston. Each fall is allotted a one-hour time limit. Aries forces Danielson into submission to win the first fall at the 43-minute mark, Aries taps out to Danielson’s cattle mutilation hold after 21 minutes of action in the second fall, and Aries uses his 450 splash to pin Danielson in only 11 minutes to win the third and deciding fall. The 75-minute marathon is immediately hailed as perhaps the greatest Ring of Honor match of all-time.

August 14: Brock Lesnar runs onto the field as number 69 for the Minnesota Vikings in a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. At various points in the game, Lesnar is part of the kickoff coverage team and the field goal-blocking team, and takes a defensive nose tackle position late in the fourth quarter. Although Lesnar turns in a good performance, the Vikings cut him from the team later in the month, citing his inability to progress further as a defensive tackle … Members of the Hart family gather at the Dunn Tire Park in Buffalo for Ballpark Brawl III. Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jimmy Hart—the original Hart Foundation—address the fans in a special reunion, Teddy Hart beats cousin Harry Smith, son of Davey Boy Smith, for the Natural heavyweight title before losing the same championship to A.J. Styles in a tables, ladders, and chairs match also involving Sabu; and Nattie Neidhart defeats TNA diva Tracy Brooks.

August 15: Randy Orton defeats Chris Benoit for the WWE Raw title in the main event of SummerSlam, held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The third-generation superstar pins the champion cleanly at the 20-minute mark, and Benoit gives a tearful Orton a heartfelt handshake after the match. John Bradshaw Layfield retains the Smackdown championship by disqualification when The Undertaker power-bombs him through the moon roof of his limousine. Also at the pay-per-view, Ric Flair helps Triple-H score a victory over Eugene, Kurt Angle gained a clean submission victory over Eddie Guerrero, and Kane beat Matt Hardy in a “Till Death Do Us Part” match to win the right to marry Lita.

August 16: Triple-H gives new WWE Raw champion Randy Orton the thumbs down and kicks him out of Evolution. After Orton retains the title in a rematch against Chris Benoit, Triple-H gives the signal to Ric Flair and Batista, and all three men beat the “Legend-Killer” to a bloody pulp. Triple-H finishes the attack by executing a pedigree on Orton and vowing to retake the Raw championship.

August 23: Kane sports a white tuxedo and Lita wears black as they exchange wedding vows on Raw. Matt Hardy, who lost Lita in a “Till Death Do Us Part” match to Kane at SummerSlam, refuses to hold his peace and interrupts the ceremony. Kane greets Hardy with a big loafer to the face and, when the ceremony resumes, Lita reluctantly says, “I do.”

September 4: Raw’s Eugene joins Smackdown’s Basham Brothers to defeat John Laurinaitis’s stooges, OVW champion Matt Morgan and tag team champions Brent Albright and Chris Masters, at Fall Brawl II, held at the Davis Arena in Louisville. Nick Dinsmore appears as “Eugene,” his WWE alter-ego, in order to compete in Ohio Valley despite his ban from the territory. Former OVW standouts and current WWE superstars Shelton Benjamin and Victoria also appear at the event.

September 8: NWA champion Jeff Jarrett beats Jeff Hardy at TNA’s final weekly pay-per-view at the Nashville Fairgrounds. Vince Russo and Dusty Rhodes interfere in the match, which ends when Jarrett clocks Hardy with a guitar at the 12-minute mark. The bout fails to meet expectations because of the blatant interference, short length, and stale ending. Also at the pay-per-view, Chris Harris and Elix Skipper beat The Naturals for the NWA tag team title, Dusty Rhodes pins Scott D’Amore, and A.J. Styles defeats Kid Kash in a tables match.

September 12: Triple-H beats Randy Orton for the WWE Raw title at Unforgiven, held at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. It is his ninth world championship. Ric Flair, Batista, and Jonathan Coachman all interfere on Triple-H’s behalf after referee Earl Hebner is knocked down. In the end, Helmsley hits Orton with a steel chair, pedigrees him on top of it, and covers the third-generation star just as Batista rolls a dazed Hebner back into the ring to make the three-count. Also at the pay-per-view, Chris Jericho wins an unprecedented seventh Intercontinental title from Christian in a ladder match.

September 16: Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, and Mick Foley are guests on Smackdown’s fifth anniversary special. Although the appearances are only videotaped remembrances, having so many important personalities—none of which are on great terms with WWE—is considered a major coup. Creative head Stephanie McMahon, who hasn’t appeared in an on-air role since 2003, also reminisces about her time on Smackdown. The UPN program scores a respectable 3.2 against the other networks with new fall lineups.

September 18: Jim Barnett dies of pneumonia at age 80. His health had been in a steady decline since a battle with cancer a few years earlier. Barnett was one of the most enduring wrestling figures in the television era, from helping Fred Kohler produce his Chicago-based wrestling program for the Dumont Network in the 1950s, to serving as a WWE consultant at the time of his passing. He is credited with revitalizing the Australian wrestling scene in the 1960s and early-’70s, as well as launching the Georgia-based World Championship Wrestling on Superstation WTBS in the early-’80s.

September 20: Christy Hemme is declared the winner of the $250,000 Raw diva search. Former Playboy model Carmella DeCesare is the runner-up. Hemme was one of thousands of applicants who sent tapes to WWE. Fifty candidates appeared on a diva search special on Spike TV and celebrity judges-including Triple-H, Chris Jericho, and Edge-narrowed the field down to 10. During the two months of competition that ensued on Raw, the diva contestants participated in several activities, such as seducing Kamala and eating pie with The Rock. Fans voted one contestant out of the competition each week on wwe.com.

September 22: Ray Traylor dies of an apparent heart attack at his home in Georgia. He was 42. Traylor first gained prominence as “Big” Bubba Rogers, Jim Cornette’s bodyguard and The Midnight Express’ enforcer, in Jim Crockett Promotions, and went on to defeat One Man Gang for the UWF heavyweight title. He earned his greatest fame in the WWF, where—as Big Bossman–he feuded with World champion Hulk Hogan in the late-1980s and made a strong comeback as Vince McMahon’s bodyguard a decade later. Traylor competed in WCW under several identities between his two WWF runs.

September 26: Marianna Komlos dies after a long struggle with breast cancer at age 35. As Mrs. Cleavage, she personified the excess of the WWF’s “Attitude” era, often appearing in sexually suggestive vignettes with her supposed son, Beaver (Chaz Warrington). Soon thereafter, the WWF pulled back on that character and allowed her to appear under her real name of Marianna and serve as Shawn Stasiak’s valet. Komlos was also well known in the physical fitness world.

October 2: The Midnight Express reunites in Philadelphia. It marks the first occasion when the three most prominent members of the Express—”Loverboy” Dennis Condrey, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, and “Sweet” Stan Lane—share the same ring, alongside manager Jim Cornette. All have touching words for former bodyguard Ray Traylor, a.k.a. “Big” Bubba Rogers, who died only two weeks earlier. Rick Morton, their great rival from The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, makes a surprise appearance and confronts his old enemies at the event.

October 3: WWE Smackdown champion John Bradshaw Layfield beats The Undertaker in a “Last Ride” match at No Mercy, held at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Moments after The Undertaker power-bombs a bloody JBL on top of a hearse’s moonroof, a rampaging Heidenreich shoves Undertaker into the hearse, giving Layfield the victory, according to the stipulations of the match. Also at the pay-per-view, John Cena pins defending champ Booker T in the final bout of a best-of-five series for the U.S. title.

October 5: In his WWE television debut, Carlito Caribbean Cool—the son of former WWC universal champion Carlos Colon—upsets John Cena for the U.S. belt on Smackdown. He nails Cena with a steel chair to pin him after 15 minutes of action. In a related story, Cena suffers stab wounds during an attack at a Boston-area nightclub after the show. By the end of the month, Carlito and his bodyguard, Jesus, are prime suspects.

October 16: Chris Cage defeats Matt Morgan for the Ohio Valley title at the Davis Arena in Louisville. The champion misses a legdrop and Cage is able to capitalize with a flying bodypress to score the pinfall. Morgan, who issued an open challenge as part of his “Blueprint Invitational,” had vowed to leave OVW forever if he lost. Skeptics are doubtful that stipulation will ever stick … Samoa Joe, the 290-pound Ring of Honor champion, amazes fans by proving to have just as much stamina as the 210-pound C.M. Punk during a clash in Chicago Ridge, Illinois. They wrestle to a sensational 60-minute draw.

October 19: Triple-H retains the WWE Raw championship against Shawn Michaels at Taboo Tuesday, held at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Fans voting on wwe.com select Michaels over Chris Benoit and Edge to challenge “The Game” for the belt. Michaels grits through a torn meniscus ligament and overcomes the distraction of Batista, only to have Edge enter the ring and floor him with a spear. The champion drapes his arm over HBK for the victory. Also at the pay-per-view, Randy Orton kills another legend by defeating Ric Flair inside a steel cage; Shelton Benjamin, whom the fans choose out of a field of 15 contenders, beats Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental strap; and Chris Benoit single-handedly wins the Raw tag team title from La Resistance after his partner, Edge, leaves the building … Pat Patterson, credited with helping produce some of the greatest matches in WWE history, confirms his retirement at the end of Taboo Tuesday. Vince, Shane, and Stephanie McMahon pay tribute to the 63-year-old Hall of Famer, who ends his career singing a rendition of “My Way.”

October 23: Ex-Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura endorses Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry during a press conference at the Minnesota State Capitol in Minneapolis. Ventura confuses reporters by refusing to utter a word during the so-called endorsement, with former Maine Governor Angus King, another Kerry supporter, explaining, “He plans to vote for John Kerry. But he doesn’t want to subject himself to the tender mercies of the Minnesota press.”

November 2: Tough Enough contestant Daniel Puder snares Kurt Angle in a Kimura lock during an impromptu challenge, nearly humiliating the former Olympian on national television. Referee Jimmy Korderas saves Angle from the predicament by quickly counting to three when Puder accidentally allows his shoulders to touch the mat. WWE had sent Angle out to teach respect to the contestants, who had just endured several grueling physical challenges.

November 5: Jushin “Thunder” Liger makes a rare U.S. appearance at the Greater Boston Sports Complex in Revere, Massachusetts. His famed Liger bomb isn’t enough to defeat Bryan Danielson, but his brainbuster from the top rope is enough to do the job. The Ring of Honor crowd gives the former 11-time IWGP junior heavyweight champ a standing ovation. Liger hadn’t competed regularly in the U.S. since his time in WCW’s light heavyweight division a decade earlier.

November 7: TNA airs Victory Road, its first three-hour, Sunday night pay-per-view. NWA champion Jeff Jarrett beats Jeff Hardy in a ladder match that headlines the event, which emanates from Universal Studios in Orlando. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash blast Hardy with guitars, enabling Jarrett to grab the NWA title belt. Also at the pay-per-view, X champion Petey Williams beats A.J. Styles; B.G. James and Konnan defeat Bobby Rude and Eric Young for the NWA tag team championship; and Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Jacquelyn, and Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) are among the high-profile stars to appear. Hulk Hogan is backstage during the PPV.

November 10: On behalf of TNA, Ron Killings, B.G. James, Konnan, Shane Douglas, Abyss, and Tracy Brooks try to welcome a group of WWE superstars to Orlando’s Universal Studios with cookies and party balloons. Vince McMahon and others, who are on hand to shoot a commercial for the 2005 Royal Rumble, realize it is a publicity stunt when they learn TNA cameras are present. A WWE production assistant is sent to confront the strange welcoming committee, and TNA is later threatened with legal action.

November 14: Randy Orton leads Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven to victory over WWE Raw champion Triple-H, Batista, Edge, and Gene Snitsky at Survivor Series, held at the Gund Arena in Cleveland. Orton uses an RKO to secure the pinfall over Triple-H and, as a result, his team gains control over Raw for the next four weeks. Also at the pay-per-view, Smackdown champion John Bradshaw Layfield pins Booker T with the help of Orlando Jordan, women’s champion Trish Stratus beats Lita by disqualification, and The Undertaker pins Heidenreich.

November 21: Hardcore Holly brutally attacks Rene Dupree during a match pitting him and Charlie Haas against WWE Smackdown tag champs Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki in Syracuse, New York. Inside the ring, Holly refuses to release an excruciating front facelock and punishes Dupree with stiff punches and kicks. Outside the ring, he whacks the French-Canadian with a vicious chair shot and, as Dupree tries to flee, throws the chair at the back of his head and back. Although Dupree’s eyes begin to swell shut and bruises form on his body, he and Suzuki retain their tag team title. Later, Vince McMahon reportedly chastises Holly and punishes him with a heavy fine.

November 23: Dusty Rhodes is introduced to the TNA locker room as the company’s new booker. Minority co-owner Jerry Jarrett makes the announcement just prior to an Impact taping and confirms that his son, former booker Jeff Jarrett, will be surrendering those responsibilities to spend more time with his wife, who is fighting breast cancer. At various times, Rhodes served as booker for Championship Wrestling from Florida, Jim Crockett Promotions, and World Championship Wrestling.

November 29: There is no clear winner in a three-way WWE Raw title match that takes place at the Baltimore Arena. In an awkward position, Chris Benoit forces Edge to tap out to the crossface while a second referee counts the “Rabid Wolverine’s” own shoulders to the mat—as defending champ Triple-H recovers from a spill outside the ring. One week later, Vince McMahon declares the Raw championship vacant.

December 4: Ring of Honor champion Samoa Joe defeats C.M. Punk at the Rex-Plex in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Despite Punk being a freshly turned fan favorite and seemingly having momentum on his side, Samoa Joe forces him into submission at the 30-minute mark. It is the third acclaimed encounter between the two stars. Also at the event, Bryan Danielson defeats Homicide, and Jim Cornette debates Bobby Heenan in the first joint appearance of the two managerial greats.

December 5: Jeff Hardy, A.J. Styles, and Randy Savage defeat The Kings Of Wrestling—NWA champion Jeff Jarrett, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash—at Turning Point, held at Universal Studios in Orlando. Savage, who is kidnapped by the Kings midway through the event, returns just in time to storm the ring and roll up Jarrett for the victory. Also at the pay-per-view, Bobby Rude and Eric Young beat B.G. James and Ron Killings to regain the NWA tag team title, Dallas Page thwarts Erik Watts’ interference to pin old WCW rival Raven after a diamond cutter, and America’s Most Wanted defeats Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper in a “Six Sides Of Steel” match, forcing them to split permanently due to a pre-match stipulation.

December 12: WWE Smackdown champion John Bradshaw Layfield wins a four-way match also involving Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker, and Booker T at Armageddon, held in Atlanta. As The Undertaker prepares to execute a tombstone piledriver on Layfield, Heidenreich runs into the ring and drops ‘Taker with a spinning slam. Moments later, JBL clotheslines Booker T all the way from hell to gain the pinfall. Also at the pay-per-view, U.S. champion John Cena beats Jesus in a streetfight, and Funaki defeats Spike Dudley for the cruiserweight belt … Sabu is honored at a benefit Border City Wrestling show, held at the Diamondback Saloon in Belleville, Michigan. Promoter Scott D’Amore organized the event, which features stars such as Mick Foley, A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, Zach Gowen, D-Lo Brown, Jeff Hardy, Monty Brown, and Jimmy Hart. In a battle of former ECW champions, Shane Douglas defeats Raven when a feisty Sabu stuffs Mr. Socko down Raven’s throat to help Douglas score the victory. Nearly 20 years of masochistic escapades landed Sabu in the hospital in late-2004, and all proceeds from the Belleville show go toward his medical bills.

December 13: Muhammad Hassan and his manager, Khosrow Daivari, debut on Raw. The Arab-Americans trade verbal barbs with Mick Foley, who insists Hassan and Daivari are free to express their views “no matter how stupid they sound.” Hassan, formerly known as Mark Magnus in Ohio Valley, and Daivari, a full-blooded Iranian who rose to prominence in the Midwest and Ring of Honor, are regarded as very controversial because of their anti-American stance in the post-9/11 era. Backstage at the same show, Foley almost gets into a brawl with Ric Flair, who lands a soft punch on the hardcore legend. The bad feelings stem from Flair’s dismissal of Foley as a “glorified stuntman” in his autobiography, To Be The Man.

December 14: Daniel Puder is declared the winner of Tough Enough IV, as determined by fans voting on wwe.com. Tough Enough trainer Al Snow confirms Puder will receive a $1,000,000 contract over four years. Puder’s mixed martial arts background, his faceoff with The Big Show, his embarrassment of Kurt Angle during a live grappling session, and his defeat of finalist Mike Mizanin in a “Dixie Dogfight” boxing match at Armageddon are key factors in his win.

December 18: Elijah Burke defeats Chad Toland for the Ohio Valley championship at the Davis Arena in Louisville. The popular Burke overcomes the interference of Matt Morgan, Tank Toland, and even a pair of brass knuckles to claim the title. Observers tout the ex-police officer as a future WWE superstar.

December 23: Smackdown’s second annual “Christmas In Iraq” special airs on UPN. The program is taped at Camp Speicher, located in Tikrit—the hometown of Saddam Hussein. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Misterio Jr. defeat Kurt Angle and Luther Reigns in the main event. The special edition of Smackdown concludes a top-secret, whirlwind tour in which WWE superstars spread holiday cheer among scores of Coalition troops.

December 26: Austin Aries ends Samoa Joe’s amazing 21-month Ring of Honor title reign at Philadelphia’s National Guard Armory. Aries is the fourth man to hold ROH’s top prize. Joe, Bryan Danielson, and C.M. Punk immediately vie for shots at the new champion.

2005
January 3: Hector Garza is arrested for possession of controlled substances at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Custom officials find two bottles containing 28 grams of anabolic steroids, identified as Primobolan and Deca-Durabolin. Garza is detained at Harris County Jail in Texas and is later deported to Mexico. The bust happens at an inopportune time for the luchador, whose feud with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash was gaining momentum in TNA.

January 4: Carmella DeCesare is acquitted of assault charges in Cleveland Municipal Court. However, the 22-year-old “Diva Search” finalist is found guilty of violating a protective order for confronting Kristin Hine, 31, at the Tramp nightclub in Cleveland’s warehouse district. According to testimony, DeCesare accused Hine of having an affair with her boyfriend, Cleveland Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia, who admitted the accusation was true.

January 9: Triple-H pins Randy Orton, with the help of the previously eliminated Batista, to capture the vacant World championship inside the “Elimination Chamber” at New Year’s Revolution, airing from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Other participants include Chris Benoit, Edge, and Chris Jericho. In December, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff declared the title vacant following a controversial conclusion to a three-way match pitting Benoit vs. Edge vs. defending champ Triple-H. It is Helmsley’s 10th world championship. In separate incidents at the pay-per-view, Eugene and Lita suffered severe knee injuries and were expected to miss several months of action.

January 16: NWA champion Jeff Jarrett beats Monty Brown at Final Resolution. Jarrett pulls every dirty trick imaginable, striking Brown with the NWA title belt, smashing him with a chair, bashing him with guitars, and waylaying him with a low blow. In the end, Jarrett still needs to execute three strokes to pin the former football star. Earlier that night, Brown defeats Kevin Nash and Dallas Page in a three-way match to earn the title shot. Also at the pay-per-view, A.J. Styles wins an unprecedented fourth TNA X title in an “Ultimate X” match also involving Chris Sabin and defending champ Petey Williams, and Abyss returns to TNA after considering a defection to WWE.

January 18: “Pistol” Pez Whatley dies of a heart ailment at the Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Born Pezavan Peter Whatley, he was the first African-American to win a state wrestling championship in 1967. He went on to have a respectable career as a journeyman fan favorite, but gained his greatest fame as the bombastic “Shaska” Whatley during a long feud with Jimmy Valiant in Jim Crockett Promotions. His full-time career ended in the early-1990s.

January 20: Rob Black (Rob Zicari) and Lizzy Borden (Janet Romano) are acquitted in a landmark pornography case. Federal prosecutors had charged Zicari and Romano’s company, Extreme Associates, of breaking laws by sending pornographic videos depicting rape and murder through the U.S. Postal Service. The judge presiding over the case rules that restricting postal delivery of such materials is overreaching, and there are more effective ways to protect minors and the community at large without infringing upon the rights of those who wish to view violent hardcore material. Zicaro and Romano faced a maximum of 50 years in prison and $2.5-million in fines.

January 28: More than 80 veteran stars kick off WrestleReunion, a three-day event held at the Doubletree Hotel in Tampa. Promoters Sal Corrente and Rob Russen direct the festivities, including autograph signings, photo opportunities, question-and-answer sessions, and a wrestling show. Among the attendees are NWA heavyweight champion Jeff Jarrett, NWA tag team champions America’s Most Wanted, Mick Foley, Bruno Sammartino, Dory Funk Jr., Terry Funk, Harley Race, Jack Brisco, Dusty and Dustin Rhodes, Nick Bockwinkel, Rick Steamboat, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, and Baby Doll.

January 30: Batista eliminates John Cena to win the Royal Rumble and a World title shot at WrestleMania 21. Eddie Guerrero, the first entrant, is eliminated at the midway point, and Ric Flair enters at number 30. Batista, Cena, Edge, and Rey Misterio Jr. make the final four of the Rumble. Batista later chooses World champion Triple-H as his opponent at WrestleMania. Also at the pay-per-view, WWE champion John Bradshaw Layfield beats Kurt Angle and The Big Show in a three-way match.

February 10: James Bell, WWE’s former vice president of licensing, pleads guilty to a charge of mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bell received kickbacks in exchange for persuading WWE to retain Jakks Inc. as its video game licensee. An audit revealed that Jakks had made illegal payments totaling $100,000 to Bell and WWE’s licensing agent, Stanley Shenker & Associates in 1998. WWE opted to continue its business relationship with Jakks despite the ongoing legal matter.

February 13: NWA champion Jeff Jarrett beats Kevin Nash at Against All Odds. TNA Director of Authority Dusty Rhodes grants Nash the title shot to cause dissension within The Kings of Wrestling, a clique comprised of Jarrett, Nash, and Scott Hall. In addition, Rhodes decrees that Jarrett will lose the belt if he uses a guitar on Nash. Jarrett outsmarts Rhodes by using another weapon from the string family, a cello, to smash over Nash’s bad knees. After run-ins from the debuting Outlaw (Billy Gunn), Sean Waltman, and B.G. James, Jarrett catches Nash with a low blow, executes the stroke, and scores the three-count to retain the NWA championship. Also at the pay-per-view, X champion A.J. Styles defeats Christopher Daniels in sudden-death overtime of a 30-minute “Ironman” match, two falls to one.

February 20: WWE champion John Bradshaw Layfield defeats The Big Show in a barbed-wire steel cage match at No Way Out. The Basham Brothers interfere on Layfield’s behalf, and the ring collapses when Big Show suplexes JBL off the top of the cage. Thanks to a pair of wire cutters, Layfield is able to snip out a hole without the referee’s knowledge and escape to the floor to retain his title. Also at the pay-per-view, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Misterio Jr. defeat the Bashams for the Smackdown tag team straps, and Chavo Guerrero Jr. wins the cruiserweight title in a six-way bout.

February 21: Batista announces that he wants to wrestle his mentor, World champion Triple-H, at WrestleMania 21. His decision essentially dissolves Evolution, as Batista gives Triple-H a big thumbs-down and powerbombs him through a table. Batista’s announcement scores a 5.0 rating—a full point higher than most of Raw’s overrun segments.

February 23: Ultimate Pro Wrestling holds its biggest show of the year, “Homecoming Havoc,” an event featuring former, current, and future WWE superstars, at the Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana, California. Jesus Aguilera, Sean O’Haire, Chuck Palumbo, Daniel Puder, and Mike Mizanin all make appearances. Lil’ Nate defeats Frankie Kazarian for the UPW light heavyweight title in the main event.

February 25: Vince McMahon attends a Raw house show at Madison Square Garden, his first backstage appearance at a WWE card in several weeks. McMahon, with his legs wrapped and elevated, sits in a wheelchair and converses with wrestlers, agents, and other employees during the event. The WWE chairman suffered quadriceps tears in both legs in January and had been working from home since that time.

February 26: Legendary manager Bobby Heenan leads Colt Cabana and Nigel McGuinness to a win over Dan Maff and B.J. Whitmer, managed by Jim Cornette. Cornette accidentally hits Maff with his tennis racket, enabling Cabana to score a quick pinfall. During an in-ring debate in December, Cornette callously ridiculed Heenan, who was recovering from mouth and throat cancer.

March 4: The Rock’s latest movie, Be Cool, premieres in theaters nationwide. Be Cool, which earns $23.5-million on its opening weekend, places behind Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier, which garners $30.2-million during the first three days of its national release. Despite the lukewarm reaction to Be Cool, several critics point to The Rock’s portrayal of a gay bodyguard as the highlight of the movie.

March 13: Christopher Daniels captures the TNA X title in an “Ultimate X Challenge” match also involving Ron Killings, Elix Skipper, and defending champ A.J. Styles. According to the contest’s unique rules, the bout begins as a tag team encounter, turns into a three-way, and then becomes an “Ultimate X” ladder match. Styles and Skipper defeat Daniels and Killings when Skipper uses an impaler to pin Killings. With Killings eliminated, Daniels goes on to pin Skipper in the ensuing three-way. That leaves Styles to battle Daniels in the “Ultimate X” ladder match. Referee Andrew Thomas fails to see Styles grab the X title belt from the rafters and drop to the mat, but regains consciousness just after Daniels uses his angel wings finisher to plant Styles. Assuming that Daniels retrieved the belt first, Thomas declares the “Fallen Angel” the new X champion. Also at the pay-per-view, NWA champion Jeff Jarrett beats Dallas Page after an absurd amount of outside interference, and Abyss beats Jeff Hardy in a falls-count-anywhere match.

March 19: Shannon Moore is involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver while driving home from a Raw house show in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Moore’s Hummer is damaged in the accident, but the Smackdown cruiserweight emerges with only a concussion and a sore neck. Interestingly, Matt Hardy had been driving his Corvette in front of Moore’s Hummer before the two friends switched places a short time prior to the collision. Hardy acknowledges the last-minute switch might have saved his life. Moore chooses not to check into a hospital, instead opting to go to his home in nearby Whispering Pines, North Carolina.

March 28: World champion Triple-H sits across a table from Batista for an in-ring confrontation on Raw only six days before WrestleMania 21. Triple-H loses his temper, flips the table over, and slaps Batista across the face. Batista pounces on Helmsley, punches him repeatedly, and shoves Ric Flair back with one hand. Eight police officers swarm the ring to restore order.

April 2: Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Hart, Paul Orndorff, Nikolai Volkoff, The Iron Sheik, and Bob Orton Jr. are inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood. Sylvester Stallone inducts Hogan, his Rocky III co-star, prompting chants of “one more match” as “The Immortal One” approaches the podium.

April 3: Batista defeats Triple-H for the World title in the main event of WrestleMania 21, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. “The Animal” catapults “The Game” into a ringpost in the early going, drawing blood and maintaining the advantage throughout most of the match. Batista power-bombs Triple-H and pins him for the belt at the 22-minute mark. Likewise, John Cena executes the FU to pin John Bradshaw Layfield for WWE championship, ending JBL’s impressive nine-month title reign. Earning over 1 million pay-per-view buys, WrestleMania 21 is the most successful wrestling event of all-time.

April 9: Petey Williams uses his famed “Canadian Destroyer” flip piledriver to defeat Puma in Newark, Delaware, and becomes the first non-American to win the ECWA Super 8 tournament. Williams is only one member of Scott D’Amore’s Canadian contingent, which also includes Alex Shelley and Tyson Dux. Other participants in the tournament are J.J. Perez, Rory Fox, Andrew Ryker, and Eric Matlock.

April 24: A.J. Styles pins Abyss at TNA’s Lockdown, a pay-per-view featuring only steel cage matches. The bout takes a sick turn when Abyss pours thumbtacks onto the mat. But “The Phenomenal One” responds by dropping Abyss onto the tacks twice, first with a Styles clash and later with a power bomb off the top rope. With the victory, Styles earns a future shot at Jeff Jarrett’s NWA title.

April 28: Chris Candido dies suddenly of a blood clot at his home. Four days earlier, Candido injured his ankle when he teamed with Lance Hoyt against Sonny Siaki and Apolo at TNA’s Lockdown. Two steel plates and pins were used to repair his dislocated ankle, broken fibula, and broken tibia. Candido returned home on an airplane flight soon afterward, which is usually discouraged after such procedures. It is unknown whether that contributed to the blood clot that took his life. The grandson of “Popeye” Chuck Richards, Candido held the NWA heavyweight, WWF tag team, ECW tag team, and WCW cruiserweight titles during his 19-year career. He is also remembered for his long personal and professional relationship with his high-school sweetheart, Tammy Sytch.

May 1: World champion Batista defeats Triple-H at Backlash. Triple-H vows that his pedigree will outshine the Batista bomb on this night, but the champion blocks five pedigree attempts en route to executing the Batista bomb to retain his title. This high-profile rematch from WrestleMania 21 turns out to be Helmsley’s second consecutive pay-per-view loss to “The Animal.” Also at the pay-per-view, Hulk Hogan returns for “one more match,” teaming with Shawn Michaels to beat Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari.

May 7: Ring of Honor attracts a sellout crowd of 500 to the New Yorker Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, in the promotion’s first foray into Manhattan. Low-Ki and Homicide defeat Jay Lethal and Samoa Joe in a wild main event, and ROH champion Austin Aries uses a 450 splash to finish off Alex Shelley. Jimmy Rave beats C.M. Punk in a dog-collar match that turns out to be one of the most violent bouts in company history. Overall, the show is considered a critical success.
May 9: Chris Kreski dies of cancer at age 42. Kreski became the WWF’s head television writer after the creative team of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara defected to WCW in 1999. His logical storytelling and clever sense of humor led to the rise of Kurt Angle, Edge, and Christian, and his McMahon-Helmsley Era storyline drew the highest ratings in WWF history. Stephanie McMahon became the new creative supervisor after Kreski, citing burnout, resigned in 2002.

May 15: A.J. Styles beats Jeff Jarrett for his third NWA title at Hard Justice. Styles, who already defeated Jarrett for the NWA belt on two occasions, walks into Orlando’s Universal Studios as the heavy favorite. Special referee and celebrated UFC fighter Tito Ortiz prevents many of Jarrett’s typical cheating tactics, although Monty Brown manages to interfere on the champion’s behalf. In the end, Ortiz knocks out a disrespectful Jarrett with a right hand, giving Styles a chance to execute a corkscrew spinal tap and score the three-count to capture the championship.

May 16: Hounded by boos and catcalls for several weeks, Lita turns against Kane and joins her one-time beau, Edge, for the first time on Raw. Lita’s split from former boyfriend, Matt Hardy, and her brief affair with Edge, had made headlines on the Internet, prompting WWE Creative to work the real-life situation into a wrestling angle. Kane had been serving as a TV proxy of sorts for Hardy, who was released earlier in the year.

May 22: John Cena retains the WWE title against John Bradshaw Layfield in an “I quit” match at Judgment Day. Layfield, in the unusual role of challenger, is quite aggressive against Cena, who proves to have greater stamina than the 13-year veteran. Cena rips an exhaust pipe off a semi-truck, bashes Layfield with it, and threatens to do it again—but JBL says “I quit” after 22 minutes of violence. It is widely considered the best match of both men’s careers.

May 23: WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, former WCW President Eric Bischoff, and former ECW owner Paul Heyman stand in the same ring together for the first time ever. The three most influential promoters of the 1990s played off their real-life rivalries as a lead-in to ECW’s One Night Stand, produced by WWE. As part of the storyline, Raw General Manager Bischoff seeks to thwart Heyman’s attempt to resurrect ECW and holds a mock funeral, claiming to have been the man responsible for destroying the extreme promotion in the first place. McMahon, who reveals that he helped bankroll ECW at the height of the Monday Night War, says that he is financing One Night Stand.

June 6: In a major surprise, WWE champion John Cena is drafted to Raw. With Cena as the newest member of the Raw roster, the company seems to be in disarray with both world champions on the same program. Chris Jericho and Christian are among the first to challenge Cena for the WWE title. Cena’s appearance leads to only a 3.7 rating on this edition of Raw, but the show’s numbers rise by the end of the month.

June 11: “Hardcore Homecoming,” a reunion of ex-ECW wrestlers, is held at Viking Hall in Philadelphia, the site of the extreme promotion’s greatest events. Former ECW champion Shane Douglas helps organize the show, which is designed to one-up WWE’s One Night Stand the following evening. Although this independent card doesn’t have access to any ECW-turned-WWE stars, it does feature a number of former ECW wrestlers from TNA and the independent circuit. Terry Funk, who turned down an offer to appear at the WWE-produced pay-per-view, beats Douglas and Sabu in a three-way bout, promoted as the long-awaited sequel to the historic match that helped launch ECW more than a decade earlier.

June 12: Former ECW stars reunite for One Night Stand, a WWE-produced pay-per-view held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The Dudley Boyz beat Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman in the main event when Buh Buh Ray and D-Von use a double power-bomb to send “The Innovator Of Violence” through a flaming table. Eric Bischoff and Kurt Angle try to ruin the event by bringing in factions from Raw and Smackdown, respectively, but the night ends on a high note with Steve Austin sharing a beer with The Sandman. One Night Stand turns out to be one of WWE’s most profitable PPVs of the year.
June 19: Raven wins the NWA title in a five-way “King Of The Mountain” match also involving Abyss, Monty Brown, Sean Waltman, and defending champ A.J. Styles at Slammiversary, a pay-per-view celebrating TNA’s third year in the business. Under the unique rules of the match, pinfalls and submissions send participants to a penalty box for two-minute periods, and the winner must use a ladder to place the NWA title belt on a hook above the ring. Raven punishes his opponents with a staple gun in the early going, and goes on to tip Abyss off the ladder and place the belt on the hook. He joins Terry Funk, Sabu, and Steve Corino as the fourth man to hold the NWA and ECW championships. C.M. Punk defeats Austin Aries for the Ring of Honor championship in Morristown, New Jersey. Despite receiving overwhelming support from the fans during the match, Punk—after winning the belt—claims that he really hates all of them. He rejects Christopher Daniels’ last-minute challenge and jumps into a waiting car. His victory becomes a complicated political situation for ROH, considering that Punk has signed with WWE and is scheduled to begin training in Ohio Valley.

June 25: Jim Cornette makes his first appearance for Ohio Valley Wrestling after serving a five-week suspension. WWE had suspended OVW’s booker and color commentator after he threw a backstage tantrum against Kevin Fertig (Mordecai). On television, Cornette asserts that rotund manager Kenny Bolin had gone to WWE, Six Flags (the venue for OVW’s biggest events), and local sponsors and accused him of favoritism and incompetence. Sweating profusely, Bolin denies the charges, claiming that he only wanted to be Cornette’s assistant. “The Louisville Lip” punches him in the mouth and plants a kiss on Bolin’s valet, Ms. Blue.

June 26: World champion Batista defeats Triple-H in a “Hell In A Cell” match at Vengeance. Batista once again blocks the pedigree on several occasions, avoids Triple-H’s trusty sledgehammer, and uses a power bomb to hand “The Game” his first singles “Hell In A Cell” defeat. It is also Batista’s third consecutive victory over Helmsley. Also at the pay-per-view, WWE champion John Cena beats Chris Jericho and Christian in a three-way bout, and Shawn Michaels pins Kurt Angle in a rematch from WrestleMania 21.

June 27: Hulk Hogan makes a rare television appearance, teaming with Shawn Michaels and WWE champion John Cena to defeat Chris Jericho, Christian, and Tyson Tomko. Hogan hits Tomko with a big boot and legdrop and covers him for the winning pinfall. Cena graciously exits the ring, leaving the spotlight for his heroes, Hogan and Michaels. “The Immortal One” chose to make a WWE return in order to promote his new VH-1 reality series, Hogan Knows Best.

June 30: World champion Batista is the fourth and final superstar drafted to Smackdown. As a result, General Manager Theodore Long cancels plans to create a WWE Smackdown championship. John Bradshaw Layfield immediately emerges as the top contender to Batista’s World title. With the draft of Batista, the World and WWE champions essentially switch brands.
July 4: Shawn Michaels superkicks Hulk Hogan, sparking an “icon vs. legend” feud. The incident occurs during a post-match celebration of Hogan and Michaels’ victory over Kurt Angle and Carlito Caribbean Cool on Raw. Later, Hogan accepts Michaels’ challenge to face him at SummerSlam.

July 6: WWE releases 20 superstars in its most massive round of layoffs ever. Among the newly unemployed are Buh Buh Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Spike Dudley, Billy Kidman, Kenzo Suzuki, Hiroko, Charlie Haas, Jackie Gayda, Marty Jannetty, Mark Jindrak, Dawn Marie, Matt Morgan, Maven, Shannon Moore, Akio, Gangrel, Kevin Fertig (Mordecai), Ivory, Joy Giovanni, and Marc Loyd. The cuts radically alter the Raw and Smackdown rosters, only a few days after the annual talent draft lottery.

July 7: Muhammad Hassan sends four masked man to attack The Undertaker with a metal wire, as if to simulate a beheading. Khosrov Daivari, who is nearly destroyed by Undertaker in their match, is carried from the ring like a martyr. The incident, which is omitted from the U.K.’s version of Smackdown later in the week, airs in the U.S. less than 24 hours after terrorist bombings occur in London train cars and buses. Many pundits in the mainstream media criticize WWE’s crass storyline, and UPN network requests that the Hassan character be pulled from Smackdown.

July 10: Hogan Knows Best scores an overall rating of 1.9, the highest number of any premiere in VH-1 history. It is also the top-rated cable program for the coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic on this night. In the first episode of the reality series, Hogan places a GPS tracking device on a car belonging to his daughter, Brooke, who was going out on her first date, and even sends his stooges—Brian Knobbs and Jimmy Hart—to keep her under surveillance.

July 11: Shinya Hashimoto dies only two hours after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage at age 40. More than 16,000 people attend his funeral a few days later. Hashimoto was known for his trademark white headband, as well as his stiff in-ring style. As a main-eventer for All-Japan, he routinely drew 50,000 fans to the Tokyo Dome. He held the IWGP title and Triple Crown during his career and launched Zero-One in his home country of Japan. In the U.S., he is best remembered for his NWA title reign in 2001 and ’02 … Matt Hardy crashes Raw and gets in a few shots against Edge before and after the “Rated R Superstar’s” match against Kane. Hardy, who had been released by WWE earlier in the year, had re-signed with the company to exploit the real-life love triangle involving himself, Lita, and Edge.

July 17: NWA champion Raven beats Abyss in a dog collar match at No Surrender, his first title defense on pay-per-view. Cassidy Reilly interferes in the bout, sacrificing his body for Raven, enabling the champion to pin TNA’s resident monster. Afterward, former champ Jeff Jarrett arrives at ringside and distracts Raven to allow Rhino to gore him to the mat. Also at the pay-per-view, X champion Christopher Daniels beats Petey Williams, and A.J. Styles defeats Sean Waltman.

July 21: Lord Alfred Hayes dies at the age of 77 after suffering a series of strokes in a Texas nursing home. Best known to modern fans as Vince McMahon’s tuxedoed sidekick on Tuesday Night Titans in the 1980s, Hayes’ panache and sophisticated speaking style made him a star during the “Rock ’n’ Wrestling” era. Hayes enjoyed success in his native U.K. as a British Wrestling Association heavyweight and South Britain heavyweight champion in the 1950s and ’60s before arriving in the U.S. as a mid-carder and later a manager. He wrestled NWA champion Dory Funk Jr., as well as WWF champions Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund, during his in-ring career.

July 24: World champion Batista makes his first title defense on a Smackdown pay-per-view, against John Bradshaw Layfield at the Great American Bash. Orlando Jordan arrives at ringside to use a steel chair on Layfield’s behalf, but Batista grabs it and smashes Jordan with it instead. The referee disqualifies Batista for his use of the chair. Also at the pay-per-view, Road Warrior Animal and Heidenreich defeat M-N-M for the WWE Smackdown tag team title, Booker T pins Christian, and Rey Misterio Jr. beats Eddie Guerrero.

August 3: Johnny Jeter, with help from Ken Anderson and Tough Enough winner Daniel Puder, pins the hated Brent Albright for the Ohio Valley championship. When his tag team partner, Matt Cappotelli offers his congratulations after the match, Jeter smashes him with the title belt. Only a few days earlier, Cappotelli had suffered a broken leg—specifically, spinal fibulas fracture—at another live event. Cappotelli vowed to take Jeter’s OVW title as soon as he was healthy.

August 5: The Iron Sheik and Millennium Wrestling Federation Commissioner Dr. Brad Von Johnson are hit head-on by a drunk driver following a show in Blackstone, Massachusetts. The accident tops a very rocky “Iron Sheik Appreciation Night” in which the 66-year-old star allegedly refused to sign autographs or participate in the show in any meaningful way. Sheik and Von Johnson are treated at a hospital for their injuries. The former WWF champion claims he may never wrestle again.

August 12: James Gibson wins the Ring of Honor title in a four-way match also involving Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, and defending champ C.M. Punk. Daniels and Joe are eliminated first and second, and Gibson—who had actually been backstage for most of the match due to a head injury—re-enters the match and uses a sit-down power bomb to pin Punk. However, Gibson—like Punk—had already signed with WWE.

August 14: Samoa Joe defeats A.J. Styles in the final of the Super X Tournament during his most impressive TNA win to date. Joe executes a muscle buster and forces Styles—who was suffering from an injured leg—into submission with the kokina clutch to secure the victory … Also at the pay-per-view, Rhino and Jeff Jarrett beat Sabu and NWA champion Raven, and Jerry Lynn defeats Sean Waltman in a rematch from their classic early-1990s feud.

August 21: Hulk Hogan delivers the big boot and legdrop to pin Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam, solidifying Hogan’s reputation as a WWE legend and Michaels’ reputation as WWE icon who could carry limited performers to greatness. Hogan spills a significant amount of blood against Michaels, who is 12 years his junior. Also at SummerSlam, WWE champion John Cena uses the FU to defeat Chris Jericho, World champion Batista plants John Bradshaw Layfield with a sickening power bomb on the ring steps to score the pinfall in a no-holds-barred match, and Edge humiliates Matt Hardy when the referee has to stop the bout in less than five minutes due to Hardy’s bleeding.

August 27: Dallas Page hits Larry Zbyszko with the Diamond cutter and forces the so-called “Living Legend” to pin him at WrestleReunion II in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Zbyszko “wins” five minutes with the real “Living Legend,” Bruno Sammartino. The two-time WWWF champ punishes his former protege with a series of punches, kicks, and stomps. It is Sammartino’s first in-ring confrontation in nearly 20 years. Also at the event, Steve Williams—whose voice box was removed due to throat cancer in 2004—makes an incredible comeback by using his famed “Oklahoma Stampede” powerslam to score the pinfall over King Kaluha.

September 1: WWE announces that Dusty Rhodes has joined its creative staff. Reportedly, Stephanie McMahon is impressed by Rhodes’ creative accomplishments over the past 30 years and believes the three-time NWA champion will work effectively with Michael Hayes and Ted DiBiase to offer a wrestling perspective to WWE’s team of Hollywood writers. Only three months earlier, TNA President Dixie Carter had removed “The American Dream” as head booker of her company.

September 11: NWA champion Raven beats Rhino in a weapons match at Unbreakable. Fans chant, “We want pizza, we want pizza” as Raven uses a pizza cutter and a beer keg on his challenger. A snorting Rhino retaliates with a staple gun. Both Cassidy Reilly and Jeff Jarrett interfere in the bout before Raven drops Rhino with an evenflow DDT to score the pinfall. Also at the pay-per-view, A.J. Styles regains the TNA X title in a sensational three-way match also involving Samoa Joe and defending champ Christopher Daniels. Also, Chris Sabin defeats Petey Williams. Friends worry about the whereabouts of Sean Waltman, who fails to appear for the show.

September 15: Jeff Jarrett regains the NWA title from Raven at a Border City Wrestling show in Windsor, Ontario. America’s Most Wanted shocks the 400 fans in attendance by using their death sentence finisher on Raven, thereby helping Jarrett. It marks the first time the NWA belt changed hands in Canada since Lou Thesz defeated Buddy Rogers for the championship in 1963.

September 17: Bryan Danielson forces James Gibson into submission with a chicken wing to win the Ring of Honor title in Lake Grove, New York. Danielson’s return from a four-month hiatus is a feel-good moment for ROH fans, who had watched The American Dragon’s career develop since the promotion’s inception. Alluding to Gibson and former champ C.M. Punk, both of whom had left Ring of Honor for WWE, Danielson vowed he wouldn’t sign with another company as long as he was ROH champion.

September 18: Ric Flair defeats Carlito Caribbean Cool to win his first WWE Intercontinental title at Unforgiven. He secures a clean submission victory with his patented figure-four leglock. The 56-year-old Flair deems the victory to be one of the finest of his career, considering he beat an opponent more than 30 years his junior. Flair’s feud with Carlito Caribbean Cool’s father, then-WWC universal champ Carlos Colon, heated up the Caribbean in the mid-1980s. Also at the pay-per-view, Kurt Angle hears cheers en route to his disqualification victory over WWE champ John Cena, and Matt Hardy regains a measure of self-respect—thanks to a devastating legdrop from the top of a steel cage—when he defeats Edge.

September 22: “Mr. America” Gene Stanlee dies in Los Angeles. The platinum blond grappler capitalized on his bodybuilder’s physique immediately upon his debut in 1946, and defeated several top stars—including the Dusek brothers, Baron Michele Leone, Joe Savoldi, and Killer Kowalski—to become a main-eventer. Stanlee was also a regular partner of his real-life brother, Steve, and his faux brother, Bob. He later wrestled in the Midwest and California, finishing out his career in the early 1960s. After his retirement, Stanlee became a vegetarian guru and fitness instructor for Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Cheryl Tiegs.

September 27: WWE releases The Self-Destruction Of The Ultimate Warrior, an unapologetic burial of the early 1990s superstar. Vince McMahon, Triple-H, Hulk Hogan, and Bobby Heenan are among those who heavily criticize the Warrior on the DVD. The Warrior, known for his erratic behavior, later blasts his critics, with a particularly vicious diatribe aimed at Heenan, a recovering cancer patient.

October 1: TNA Impact replaces WWE Velocity in the 11 p.m. Eastern timeslot on Saturday nights. Impact earns an overall rating of 0.78—three-tenths of a point higher than Velocity’s average number in previous weeks. Former WWE stars Jeff Hardy and Rhino battle each other to a no-contest in the main event, and Team 3D puts America’s Most Wanted and Scott D’Amore through tables to end the show … Japanese star Kenta Kenta Kobashi invades America to defeat Samoa Joe in an incredible Ring of Honor match in Manhattan. Joe mounts several comebacks before falling prey to Kobashi’s simple, yet devastating move, the lariat.

October 3: Raw returns to the USA Network after a five-year absence. To celebrate its self-proclaimed “Homecoming,” WWE invites legends such as Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, and Kevin Von Erich to participate in various segments. The program scores a respectable 4.4, better than its previous average on Spike TV, but considerably lower than its glory years on USA.

October 8: In defiance of legal threats from WWE, Brock Lesnar participates in a match for New Japan Wrestling, winning the IWGP title in a three-way match also involving Masa Chono and defending champ Kazuyuki Fujita at the Tokyo Dome. Lesnar uses “the verdict,” formerly known as the F5, on Chono to score the victory. WWE attorneys maintained that Lesnar’s participation in the show was a violation of the no-compete clause he signed upon his exit from the company in 2004. Lesnar joins Hulk Hogan, Big Van Vader, Scott Norton, and Bob Sapp as the fifth American to hold the IWGP belt.

October 9: World champion Batista defeats his newfound friend, Eddie Guerrero, to retain his title at No Mercy. Guerrero actually shows mercy by resisting the temptation to hit Batista with a steel chair. While Guerrero earned Batista’s respect, he also earned a loss, falling victim to the champion’s spinebuster after 18 minutes of action. Also at the pay-per-view, the Ortons double-team The Undertaker to win a handicap casket match.

October 10: WWE CEO Linda McMahon kicks Jim Ross in the groin and says goodbye to wrestling’s most celebrated announcer, bringing an ignoble end to a fine career. Within a few days, fans discover that it isn’t just another wrestling angle when news breaks concerning WWE’s negotiations with UFC announcer Mike Goldberg to replace Ross. Ross undergoes colon surgery a few days later, prompting Vince McMahon to callously ridicule J.R.’s predicament on Raw.

October 18: Booker T beats Chris Benoit for the U.S. title on Smackdown. Sharmell, Booker’s wife, distracts Benoit to help her husband score the victory. The intense match, highlighted by Benoit taking a bad spill onto the announcers’ table, inspires WWE Creative to pit the two men against each other in a best-of-seven series, a sequel to their famous WCW series in 1998.

October 22: Reggie “The Crusher” Lisowski dies in his hometown of Milwaukee after a battle with a brain tumor and stomach cancer. The Crusher began his career in that city in 1949, but earned his big break while appearing for promoter Fred Kohler in Chicago. In the mid-1960s, Crusher beat Verne Gagne twice and Mad Dog Vachon once for the AWA World championship. He also enjoyed phenomenal tag team success, winning the NWA World and U.S. tag team titles with faux brother Stan Lisowski, and the AWA World tag team title with Dick the Bruiser. “The Wrestler Who Made Milwaukee Famous” wrestled his final match in 1989.

October 23: After scheduled challenger Kevin Nash is rushed to an Orlando hospital due to a cardiac problem, his replacement—Rhino—goes on to defeat Jeff Jarrett for the NWA title at Bound for Glory. Earlier in the evening, TNA Director of Authority Larry Zbyszko ordered an over-the-top-rope gauntlet to determine the challenger. Rhino gored Abyss to the arena floor to earn the title shot. Also at the pay-per-view, X champion A.J. Styles defeats Christopher Daniels in a 30-minute ironman match, and Samoa Joe forces Jushin Liger into submission.

November 1: WWE champion John Cena defeats Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels in a three-way match at Taboo Tuesday. Michaels wins his slot in the match by virtue of fan voting at wwe.com. After Michaels drops Angle with a suplex, Cena plants HBK with the FU to score the pinfall. Also at the pay-per-view, World champion Batista replaces Steve Austin, who reportedly injured himself while moving furniture at home, to destroy Jonathan Coachman, Big Van Vader, and Goldust.

November 4: Ring of Honor holds its first show in Detroit. ROH champion Bryan Danielson tortures Chris Sabin with 15 consecutive backbreakers, a suplex from the top rope, and a Boston crab to secure the submission victory. Also at the event, Austin Aries beats frequent partner Alex Shelley, and pure champion Nigel McGuinness beats Claudio Castagnoli by disqualification.

November 13: Eddie Guerrero dies of a heart attack at age 38 in a Minneapolis hotel room. Coming off the most successful period of his career, in which he captured the WWE title in 2004 and engaged in an exciting feud with Rey Misterio Jr. in 2005, Guerrero is considered a favorite to win the World title at the time of his death. Guerrero’s years of drug abuse were thought to be the cause, although he reportedly had been sober for four years. Coroners later pinpoint steroid abuse and his excessive workout regimen as other factors. He is survived by his wife, Vickie, and daughters Shaul, Sherilyn, and Kaylie Marie … Christian Cage debuts in TNA, delivering a promo at Genesis. When Cage’s WWE contract expired two weeks earlier, he opted to join TNA, which holds its matches only a short distance from his Florida home. Cage announces his intention to challenge NWA champion Jeff Jarrett. Also at the pay-per-view, X champion A.J. Styles pins Petey Williams, and Monty Brown beats Jeff Hardy to become the top contender to the NWA title.

November 23: Ric Flair is arrested after allegedly being involved in a road rage incident near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to police reports, Flair became enraged at another driver, kicked the man’s sports utility vehicle, and grabbed him by the neck, leaving several bruises. Four days later, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and the “Nature Boy” turned himself in to Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. His mug shot was flashed throughout the world via the Internet.

November 27: In an unprecedented feat, Randy Orton wins the Survivor Series for the third consecutive year. Orton executes the RKO on Shawn Michaels, who was distracted the previously eliminated John Bradshaw Layfield, to lead Team Smackdown to victory over Team Raw. Also at the pay-per-view, WWE champion John Cena endures “Cena sucks” chants to defeat Kurt Angle with the FU, and Triple-H beats Intercontinental champ Ric Flair in a bloody “Last Man Standing,” non-title bout.

December 6: Border patrol agents detain Lex Luger for five hours upon his arrival in Canada, due to an outstanding warrant issued by the state of Georgia for a drug charge. As a result, Luger is sent back to the U.S., where he is arrested at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. The two-time WCW champion is held without bail for two weeks in a Hennepin County jail. Luger, accompanied by Buff Bagwell, was headed for an Action Wrestling Entertainment show in Canada.

December 7: Raw superstars begin their whirlwind tour to entertain U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The highlight is a Raw taping at Bagram Air Base, where Shawn Michaels beats Triple-H in a boot camp match. MSNBC’s Rita Cosby accompanies the wrestlers, documenting their interaction with the troops and Afghan locals.

December 11: Samoa Joe continues his rampage through TNA, this time choking out the popular A.J. Styles at Turning Point. Considered an excellent match, their encounter is overshadowed only by Joe’s disturbing sadism. After the match, Christopher Daniels, a previous victim of Joe’s, saves Styles from a muscle buster onto a steel chair. Also at the pay-per-view, A.J. Pierzynski of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox helps Chris Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, and Dale Torborg beat Diamond in the Rough. In addition, NWA champion Jeff Jarrett—soon after his victory over Rhino—is stunned to learn that Sting would be returning to TNA.

December 18: WWE World tag team champions The Big Show and Kane humble the Smackdown tag team titleholders, Rey Misterio Jr. and World champ Batista, by handing them a loss at Armageddon. Misterio dives toward Kane, who floors him with a choke-slam to score the pinfall. Also at the pay-per-view, The Undertaker gives Randy Orton a tombstone piledriver to score a victory in a “Hell In A Cell” match and uses the same move to send Bob Orton Jr. to the hospital. In addition, Chris Benoit climbs back into the competition with a submission win over Booker T in the best-of-seven series for the vacant U.S. title.

December 27: One day after suffering a groin injury at a house show, Booker T is allowed to pick a substitute to represent him in the ongoing best-of-seven series with Chris Benoit for the U.S. title. Booker persuades Randy Orton to replace him during the Smackdown taping. Nevertheless, Sharmell hits Benoit with Booker’s crutch, just as Orton is about to tap out to the crossface. The disqualification loss narrows Booker’s lead over Benoit to 3-2 in the series.

2006
January 8: Triple-H is angered by a wwe.com report that he and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, are expecting the birth of their first child in the summer. The website goes on to congratulate the ecstatic couple and to send along its best wishes. While he does not care that the company released private information about his real-life marriage, he is reportedly infuriated with news that his real name, Paul Levesque, is revealed in the blurb.

January 9: One night after cashing in his money-in-the-bank briefcase and capturing the Raw World title from John Cena at New Year’s Revolution, Edge shocks the world when he and Lita participate in a controversial “Live Sex Celebration” segment on Raw. It is one of Raw’s highest-rated segments in years. Lita’s breast is also inadvertently exposed to the live audience in attendance.

January 10: On the same tearful night that Batista is forced to relinquish his Smackdown World title to General Manager Theodore Long in Philadelphia, Kurt Angle makes a surprising return to the brand he left seven months earlier. Long announces that Angle will be an entrant in that night’s battle royal to fill the vacant championship. After spending much of the match injured on the arena floor, Angle returns to the ring to eliminate Mark Henry and win the title.

January 15: Sting teams with Christian Cage to face NWA champion Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown at Final Resolution. Amidst fan chants of “You still got it,” Sting dominates the match and—after Cage clears Brown from the ring—smashes Jarrett’s guitar with his baseball bat. He then executes the scorpion deathdrop and pins the champion … At 74, “Rapid” Ricky Romero dies of complications due to diabetes. Romero had retired from wrestling in the early-1980s after a career that saw him face men such as Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George, and Jack Brisco. A top draw for Gory Guerrero in El Paso, Fritz Von Erich in Dallas, and Paul Boesch in Houston, Romero—donning a mask as “Mexico Grand”—was one of the first Americans to work for Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki in Japan.

January 22: Steve Corino drops the AWA heavyweight championship to Shinjiro Otani at a Zero-One Max show at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. The match ends with Otani converting a full-nelson into a suplex to pin “The King Of Old School.” He is officially the fourth Japanese wrestler to win the title and the 34th champion in the title’s history. Former champ Nick Bockwinkel presents Otani with a replica of his classic 1980s AWA title belt.

January 29: Emory Hale, a former WCW competitor and bodyguard for radio disc jockey Bubba the Love Sponge, passes away from kidney failure at 36. Jimmy Hart gave Hale the nickname “The Next Big Thing” long before Brock Lesnar used it in WWE and brought him to face then-World champion Hulk Hogan. Hale had also been a featured star for the X Wrestling Federation following his departure from WCW … In a match dedicated to his late friend, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr. enters the Royal Rumble at number two and outlasts all his peers, last eliminating Randy Orton and Triple-H. Later on the card, John Cena wrests the Raw World championship away from Edge, and Kurt Angle successfully defends his Smackdown World title against Mark Henry. The event closes with a return by The Undertaker, who appears ready to challenge Angle for his belt.

February 1: WWE Chairman Vince McMahon is accused of groping a 22-year-old female employee of the Tanzabar Salon in Boca Raton, Florida. McMahon, already a regular patron, checked in for a routine tanning bed session on the day of the Royal Rumble. According to the Palm Beach Post, McMahon allegedly asked her to take photos of him using his cell phone, then revealed naked pictures of himself to her before cornering and groping her. Ultimately, the charges are dropped.

February 6: Prior to a joint Raw-Smackdown show in Washington, D.C., WWE officials announce the launch of the company’s Wellness Program. Backstage, McMahon reveals that random drug testing will be conducted by the Aegis Sciences Corporation, testing most wrestlers an average of four times per year. Dr. David Black, head of the testing company, is in attendance to answer questions. McMahon makes it clear to his wrestlers that he wants no repeats of what happened to Eddie Guerrero in 2005.

February 8: Following an emotional 10-minute speech during an Ohio Valley television taping, heavyweight champion Matt Cappotelli relinquishes his title as he is about to undergo treatment for a malignant brain tumor. A co-winner of Tough Enough III, Cappotelli had expected to be brought up to WWE at some point. Fans chant, “We love you, Matt” after the speech.

February 12: Only months after jumping to TNA, Christian Cage pins Jeff Jarrett for the NWA title at Against All Odds. Despite Gail Kim’s interference and Jarrett’s assault on referee Mark Johnson, Cage executes the unprettier to score the pinfall in about 18 minutes. Cage then celebrates in the ring with his wife, longtime friend Rhino, and several other TNA wrestlers … Austin Starr (Austin Aries) and Roderick Strong arrive several hours late for their scheduled match at Against All Odds and receive a two-month suspension. The wrestlers defied company orders and defended their Ring of Honor tag team title in Long Island, New York, despite the impending arrival of a snowstorm in the northeastern U.S. Their airplane was delayed, causing them to be late for the pay-per-view.

February 16: At age 39, Johnny Grunge (whose real name was Michael Durham) is found dead in his Peachtree City, Georgia, home as a result of complications from sleep apnea. Grunge, as a member of Public Enemy, had been a former WCW World and ECW tag team champion. Following the death of his partner, “Flyboy” Rocco Rock, in 2002, Grunge teamed with Joey Grunge as The New Public Enemy.

February 19: Randy Orton steals Rey Mysterio Jr.’s WrestleMania title shot by holding the ropes to pin the Royal Rumble winner. The match follows weeks of a questionable storyline in which Orton badmouths deceased Smackdown star Eddie Guerrero. Due to the controversial nature of Orton’s victory, Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long later proclaims that Mysterio will be included in a three-way match also involving Orton and defending champ Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 22.

February 27: Shawn Michaels is made an impromptu member of Vince McMahon’s “Kiss My Ass Club” on Raw after he saves former Rockers partner Marty Jannetty from Chris Masters’ Masterlock. Shane McMahon attacks Michaels and forces him to do the deed.

March 2: Vince McMahon poses for the cover of the April 2006 issue of Muscle & Fitness. The photo session receives coverage on wwe.com, which states, “This isn’t any ordinary 60-year-old. This is Mr. McMahon, who’s training harder and looking fitter than most men half his age … The WWE chairman, who clearly has a body to match his ego, has been doing this for years and doesn’t understand those who lack his intensity and drive.”

March 5: Former WCW competitor Chris Kanyon goes public on his website, revealing that he is legitimately homosexual and that his disclosure is not part of a wrestling angle. Kanyon would go on to claim that his termination from WWE had been at least partially due to his sexual orientation. The announcement follows a February 4 statement that he had been merely portraying a gay character, an announcement he says he made to attract mainstream attention.

March 8: During an Ohio Valley TV taping, TV champion Aaron Stevens unexpectedly drops his title to Seth Skyfire just after naming Paul Birchall the number-one contender for his belt. During the match, Stevens’ valet, Beth Phoenix, attempts to interfere before being involved in a scuffle with Birchall and former partner Shelly Martinez. Mid-chaos, Birchall hits Stevens with a DDT, and then Skyfire delivers his B’ham bomb from the top rope to win the championship.

March 11: The ongoing rivalry between pure wrestling promotion Ring of Honor and its fringe counterpart, Combat Zone Wrestling, reaches new heights during a joint show at The New Alhambra Arena (formerly the ECW Arena) in South Philadelphia. After a portion of the show featuring ROH competitors, a group of CZW wrestlers maim B.J. Whitmer with a staple gun.

March 12: Scott Steiner—with a new stabbed-heart tattoo across his chest—makes his first appearance in TNA, attacking Sting at the conclusion of Christian Cage’s successful NWA title defense against Monty Brown at Destination X. Steiner rushes into the ring and grabs Sting, who had just saved Cage from Jeff Jarrett and his stooges, and tosses him with a fall-away slam. After taunting Sting with a few quick push-ups, “Big Poppa Pump” applies the Steiner recliner, allowing Jarrett to smash Sting’s head with a guitar.

March 18: Jim Ross returns to WWE announcing, replacing Joey Styles to call the matches for Saturday Night’s Main Event on NBC. Ross had been deposed from his Raw announce position publicly in an angle also involving the McMahons in October 2005. At the time, WWE had hoped to replace him with UFC commentator Mike Goldberg, however those negotiations fell through and WWE opted to go with Styles instead … Shawn Michaels is the victim of a double-cross in his Saturday Night’s Main Event match against Shane McMahon. During the match, Michaels receives a low blow by the younger McMahon, who then applies the sharpshooter. Vince McMahon signals for the bell and his son is declared the winner. Also on the show, Raw World champion John Cena and Triple-H defeat Smackdown World champion Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio Jr. in a handicap match.

April 1: WWE’s annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony marks the first television appearance by former star Bret “Hitman” Hart in more than 10 years. Hart—who speaks at length while choosing to remain positive—is inducted by Steve Austin, while the late Eddie Guerrero is inducted by nephew Chavo and friends Rey Mysterio Jr. and Chris Benoit. Also, during his presentation speech, Austin claims to have “a can of whoop ass” ready for Hogan.

April 2: Rey Mysterio Jr. pins Randy Orton to win the Smackdown World title in a triple-threat match also involving defending champ Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 22, held in Chicago, Illinois. Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Eddie Guerrero’s widow, Vickie, join him in a victory celebration. In other action at WrestleMania, Raw champ John Cena forces Triple-H to submit to his STFU hold, and Shawn Michaels beats Vince McMahon in a streetfight.

April 4: Randy Orton is suspended from WWE for 60 days due to unprofessional conduct. Rumors circulate that Orton engaged in excessive partying and womanizing, which led to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s decision. In an interview with wwe.com, Orton claims, “My conduct was unbecoming of a champion, which is what I will be again when I return.”

April 13: TNA Impact garners a 1.1 rating for its first weeknight edition. Debuting on Spike TV at 11 p.m. Eastern time, the show opens with a match in progress between Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe, who is pounding him into a bloody mess. Joe goes on to win his second X title. In the main event, Sting pins Eric Young while fending off interference from Alex Shelley.

April 20: Palmer Cannon, who had been featured as a network executive on Smackdown, arranges for his own flight home from a WWE tour of Italy, promptly tendering his notice to company officials. Cannon cites harassment from John Bradshaw Layfield as the reason for his resignation. Cannon is granted his official release seven days later. Palmer had never wrestled a televised match on the show, despite having been trained to compete.

April 27: Kay Noble passes away due to inoperable stomach cancer at her home in Amarillo, Texas. Noble’s career spanned from the 1950s through the 1980s. While competing in the U.S., Noble was a former holder of both the Texas women’s championship and the Central States women’s championship. Noble was also an honorary member of the Cauliflower Alley Club.

April 30: Raw World champion John Cena pins Triple-H again, this time at Backlash in a triple-threat match also involving Edge. The show also marks a controversial angle in which “God” is advertised to appear as Shawn Michaels’ partner in a tag team match against Vince and Shane McMahon. “God” no-shows the event, but is not suspended.

May 1: After getting into a physical altercation with announce partner Jerry Lawler, Joey Styles walks off as host of Raw, declaring he is “sick of sports entertainment.” Before leaving, Styles grabs the microphone and delivers a scathing promo that condemns both WWE officials and WWE fans for the company’s brand of entertainment. The promo helps provide the rationale for Jim Ross’ return to Raw as full-time announcer and the rebirth of ECW.

May 2: Sam Steamboat dies from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Although he is not related to Rick “The Dragon” Steamboat, the two had been once billed as father and son. Steamboat—whose real name is Sam Mokuahi Jr.—had been discovered and trained by Lou Thesz. His career, which spanned from the 1950s through the 1970s, saw him compete primarily in Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, and Toronto.

May 12: Batista and Booker T become embroiled in backstage brawl while they are filming a commercial for the upcoming SummerSlam. Allegedly, the fight—which leaves both men bruised—occurs because Booker accuses Batista of lacking respect for veterans in the wrestling business. On wwe.com, Batista responds, “Some guys say I’ve been running around claiming to be the top-money draw in the company—that I’m carrying WWE on my back. I never said anything like this.”

May 14: Samoa Joe makes his case for being a main-eventer in TNA, teaming with Sting to defeat Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner at Sacrifice. During the match, Joe pie-faces Steiner before executing a muscle buster and pinning former NWA champion Jarrett. Prior to the event, Sting considered teaming with Rick Steiner, Lex Luger, or Buff Bagwell before choosing Joe.

May 19: Remember this date? Kane’s new horror movie, See No Evil, premieres in theaters. Directed by Gregory Dark, WWE Films’ first release earns an estimated $4.35-million in box office sales during its opening weekend. Final worldwide gross profits from the film are just below $15.5-million.

May 21: In a match many expected him to lose, Smackdown World champion Rey Mysterio Jr. defeats John Bradshaw Layfield at Judgment Day. During a subsequent taping of Smackdown, Layfield would again challenge Mysterio for the World title, this time claiming he would retire if unsuccessful. JBL is pinned in the rematch and joins Michael Cole at the announcers’ table. In later interviews, Layfield also attributes his retirement to a back injury.

May 27: “Apache” Bull Ramos dies at 71 due to a massive shoulder infection. The 6’, 300-pound Ramos debuted in 1956, and went on to cause near-riots while competing in the Pacific Northwest. Ramos was WWWF champion Bruno Sammartino’s challenger at the first show held in the new Madison Square Garden in 1968. He also feuded with Dutch Savage, Jimmy Snuka, Terry Funk, and Mil Mascaras.

June 1: Calvin “Prince” Pullins dies of natural causes at 74. Pullins was a trainee of Dick the Bruiser and competed primarily for the Indianapolis-based World Wrestling Association in the 1960s and ’70s, gaining fame in the area for his feuds with The Blackjacks, Baron Von Raschke, Bobby Heenan, and Jimmy Valiant.

June 7: John Tenta, known to the wrestling world as Earthquake in WWE and Avalanche and Shark in WCW, dies of bladder cancer at age 42. Tenta’s last high-profile appearance occurred at WrestleMania X-7, when he—along with several other WWE legends—participated in a gimmick battle royal. Tenta is best remembered for his 1990 feud with Hulk Hogan, whom he wrestled at both SummerSlam and Survivor Series that year.

June 9: TNA invades the current New Alhambra (former ECW) Arena in Philadelphia with a show billed as Hardcore War. The event marks the return of several ECW alumni to South Philly, notably Team 3D and Rhino. Both Brother Runt (Spike Dudley) and Rhino harshly criticize WWE for offering them contracts with the new ECW brand. Runt goes so far as to tear up the contract faxed to him in the middle of the ring.

June 11: Surrounded by fans threatening to riot should he win, John Cena is pinned by Rob Van Dam for the Raw World title at ECW One Night Stand. Two nights later, during ECW’s premiere on the Sci Fi Channel, Paul Heyman declares Van Dam the first ECW champion in more than five years. Van Dam goes on to headline Raw and ECW for the next few weeks.

June 12: Shawn Michaels and Triple-H reunite as DeGeneration X on Raw. This occurs when Vince McMahon orders Triple-H to face all five members of The Spirit Squad in a gauntlet match. Michaels, who had suffered a knee injury at the hands of The Spirit Squad, returns to Raw to help his longtime friend. The pair clears the ring and crotch-chop at an angry McMahon as the show goes off the air.

June 18: Jeff Jarrett defeats NWA champion Christian Cage, Sting, Abyss, and Ron Killings in a “King Of The Mountain” match at Slammiversary. The match ends in controversial fashion when referee Earl Hebner tips over the ladder as Sting and Cage fight over the belt from atop. Hebner’s interference enables Jarrett to retrieve the title and hang it above to secure the victory. TNA executive Jim Cornette rules that Jarrett should remain champion, although he is considered “on thin ice.”

June 23: “Crazy” Luke Graham dies of heart failure at age 66. A member of the legendary Graham family of wrestlers that also includes “Superstar” Billy, Dr. Jerry, Eddie, Mike, and Luke Jr., Luke is a two-time NWA tag team champion and one-time WWWF tag team champion. Graham is also a former heavyweight champion of the WWC and WWA.

June 27: Pro Wrestling Illustrated grants world title status to the National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight and tag team titles, which are defended on TNA shows. The NWA was founded in 1948 and its champions were widely regarded as the only legitimate world titleholders until the formation of the American Wrestling Association (1960) and the World Wide Wrestling Federation (1963). PWI stopped recognizing the NWA title as a world title after World Championship Wrestling withdrew from the organization in 1991.

June 29: TNA executive Jim Cornette orders the members of Team Canada to disband, although he provides them the opportunity to reunite if they win an “All-Or-Nothing” eight-man tag team match against Rhino, Jay Lethal, and Team 3D in July. Lethal pins A-1 Ralphz in the match, forcing them to no longer be allowed to team with one another.

July 2: Raw World and ECW champion Rob Van Dam and running buddy Sabu are pulled over and arrested by a state trooper in Hanging Rock, Ohio, when a police officer discovers Van Dam is in possession of 18 grams of marijuana and five Vicodin pills, and Sabu is carrying drug paraphernalia and nine tablets of testolactone. Van Dam is suspended for 30 days under WWE’s Wellness Policy while Sabu is fined $1,000.

July 3: Prior to beginning his suspension, Rob Van Dam loses the Raw World title to Edge in a triple-threat match also involving John Cena. The match occurs during a live Raw in Philadelphia. One night later in the same arena, The Big Show pins Van Dam for the ECW title. Van Dam is taken off the road immediately following the two title losses.

July 15: The ongoing feud between Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling ends with a “Cage Of Death” match at ROH’s Death Before Dishonor IV, which is held at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia. ROH’s Samoa Joe, Adam Pierce, B.J. Whitmer, Ace Steel, and Homicide defeat CZW’s Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Necro Butcher, Nate Webb, and Eddie Kingston. Bryan Danielson attacks Samoa Joe during the match … The feud between Hulk Hogan and Randy Orton hits full throttle at Saturday Night’s Main Event. As Hogan helps his daughter, Brooke, into a car, Orton hits the WWE Hall of Famer with his RKO, knocking him out. Orton had instigated the feud on the July 3 edition of Raw by flirting with budding pop star Brooke.

July 16: Randy Orton’s grandfather, Bob Orton Sr., dies at 76 after suffering several heart attacks. A good friend of Andre the Giant and a charter member of the Cauliflower Alley Club, Orton is survived by sons “Cowboy” Bob Jr. and Barry O, daughter Rhonda, and grandson Randy. Orton had competed primarily in the NWA, but also appeared in the AWA and WWWF.

July 21: Tests reveal unusually high liver enzyme levels for Bobby Lashley and The Great Khali, who are subsequently removed from the following Sunday’s Great American Bash. As a result, Lashley’s three-way match for the U.S. championship is changed to a head-to-head match between U.S. champion Finlay and William Regal, while ECW champion The Big Show replaces Khali in his “Punjabi Prison” match against The Undertaker. Lashley returns to action the next week, and Khali returns shortly thereafter. Both wrestlers’ conditions were detected as a result of the Wellness Program instituted by WWE earlier in the year.

July 23: Chavo Guerrero Jr. interferes in Rey Mysterio Jr.’s title defense against King Booker at The Great American Bash, costing his friend the Smackdown World championship. In the immediate aftermath of the match, Mysterio is propelled into a controversial feud with Guerrero regarding the legacy of the Guerrero family name, while King Booker takes on Bobby Lashley and Batista in the Smackdown main event picture.

July 24: Aurora Rose Levesque—the daughter of Triple-H and Stephanie (McMahon) Levesque and the third grandchild of Vince and Linda McMahon—is born. A congratulatory announcement for the couple is posted on wwe.com, although it doesn’t mention Triple-H’s real name in the statement.

August 4: Former TNA wrestler Jeff Hardy re-signs with WWE and goes on to confront Edge on the August 21 edition of Raw. He also issues a challenge to Intercontinental champion Johnny Nitro. Hardy’s three years spent wrestling for TNA were labeled by wwe.com as time spent “battling personal demons.”

August 12: Ring of Honor champion Bryan Danielson upends Pure champion Nigel McGuinness in Liverpool, England, in a match in which both titles are on the line and contested under Pure rules. Two weeks later in St. Paul, Minnesota, Danielson and McGuinness reach a time-limit draw in a best-of-three-falls match. Immediately afterward, Danielson, who suffered a separated shoulder during the match, retired the two-year-old championship and handed the belt to McGuiness.

August 13: Fire breaks out in the rafters of the Impact Zone following a botched pyrotechnics display in the opening match at Hard Justice, leading to the evacuation of the building and casting doubt on whether the show will continue. Later in the night, Christian Cage thwarts Sting’s attempt to wrest the NWA World title from Jeff Jarrett when he slams “The Stinger” with Jarrett’s guitar. It is the beginning of Cage’s heel run in TNA … Karl Von Stroheim dies of a heart attack at age 78. A former player with a Boston Bruins affiliate, the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen, he had been forced into wrestling after an ankle injury ended his hockey career. Von Stroheim worked as a singles and tag team wrestler (with Kurt Von Stroheim and Frank Martinez) prior to his retirement in 1985. He was known as “Dynamite” Joe Cox during a stint in the WWWF.

August 16: Layla El wins the 2006 Diva Search during a Wednesday night prime time special on the USA Network, with fans choosing her over second-place finalist Jen England. She is subsequently assigned to the Smackdown brand, where she begins feuding with a jealous Kristal Marshall.

August 20: Raw World champion Edge, Smackdown World champion King Booker, and ECW champion The Big Show retain their respective titles at SummerSlam after facing John Cena, Batista, and Sabu, respectively. In other PPV action, DeGeneration X members Triple-H and Shawn Michaels overcome interference by several Raw, Smackdown, and ECW performers to defeat Vince and Shane McMahon in a tag team match. Also, Hulk Hogan legdrops and pins Randy Orton.

August 21: One night after sacrificing his SummerSlam “I Quit” match against Ric Flair to protect Melina from assault, Mick Foley attempts to save her from being fired by Mr. McMahon on Raw. Foley—agreeing to join the “Kiss My Ass Club”—willingly does the deed, but Melina hits Foley with a low blow from behind. Melina then grabs the microphone and tells Foley he is fired as McMahon looks on and laughs.

August 25: Kurt Angle is released from his WWE contract to allow him to focus on healing from several in-ring injuries, spend more time with his family, and battle some personal problems. Although initial reports on wwe.com claim the release is a mutual “best-case” agreement by both parties, this report is later changed to say that Angle and WWE officials had a heated confrontation and that Angle had been unwilling to take time off.

August 29: Chris Jericho is the first celebrity eliminated on the premiere episode of Celebrity Duets. The former Y2J catches attention with his performances alongside Lee Ann Womack and Peter Frampton, but is unable to impress the panel. Jericho jokes about the elimination by telling host Wayne Brady that he plans to participate in the first edition of Bad Celebrity Robot Dancing.

September 15: Ricky Gibson—a regional wrestler who competed primarily in NWA territories in Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, and California—dies at age 53. Gibson, the older brother of Robert Gibson (of Rock ’n’ Roll Express fame), had been forced into retirement after being involved in a life-threatening car accident in the 1970s.

September 16: Former WWWF champion Bruno Sammartino highlights the second night of Ring of Honor’s Glory By Honor 5 as it debuts in the Manhattan Center in New York City. During the show, Sammartino voices his displeasure with the current state of the industry, blasting WWE’s emphasis on sports entertainment and praising ROH. Also on the show, Bryan Danielson successfully defends his ROH title against KENTA while Naomichi Marufuji beats Nigel McGuinness to retain his Global Honored Crown.

September 17: John Cena defeats Edge in a TLC match to win the Raw World title at Unforgiven. The match takes place in Edge’s hometown of Toronto, Ontario. Hometown heroine Trish Stratus makes Lita submit to a sharpshooter to win her seventh women’s championship. The 30-year-old Diva retires following the match. Also on the show, DeGeneration X defeats Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, and ECW champion The Big Show in a handicap “Hell In A Cell” match.

September 22: King Booker defends his Smackdown World championship against The Undertaker as Smackdown makes its debut on the new CW Network. WWE executives are relieved that the official launch of the CW has taken place, considering that Smackdown had been pre-empted in some major markets due to the merger between UPN and the WB to create the CW.

September 24: Nearly one month to the day of his WWE release, Kurt Angle becomes the latest star to sign with TNA. The announcement takes place at the end of the No Surrender PPV. The fans in attendance are caught off-guard, as is much of the talent backstage. Also on the show, Samoa Joe beats Jeff Jarrett in a non-title “Fan’s Revenge” lumberjack match in which members of the audience are given leather straps with which they can whip the NWA champion.

September 26: One of WWE’s more gruesome televised injuries occurs during an ECW match between Rob Van Dam and Hardcore Holly. Van Dam splashes Holly through a table, severely lacerating the Alabama native’s back. Holly continues the match, ultimately losing. Prior to being stitched up, Holly receives a standing ovation from the audience.

October 5: Antonio Pena, age 58, dies of a massive heart attack. Pena—the founder of AAA—helped transform the way matches had been presented in Mexico. His promotion had also been responsible for bringing lucha-style wrestling to the U.S. and propelling Rey Mysterio Jr., Psicosis, La Parka, and Konnan to stardom. Pena was also a former official with EMLL in Mexico.

October 8: King Booker retains his Smackdown World championship against Bobby Lashley, Batista, and Finlay at No Mercy. Batista and Finlay are added to the match only two days before the event in an attempt to increase the buy rate for the PPV. Booker pulls out the win after Bobby Lashley takes out a distracted Batista, who has just planted Finlay with a Batista bomb.

October 9: WWE commemorates the one-year anniversary of its return to USA Network with a three-hour “Family Reunion” episode. The show marks the debut of Britney Spears’ husband, Kevin Federline, who receives an FU from Raw World champion John Cena following a heated confrontation. The show is also memorable because it features a face-to-face-to-face showdown involving Cena, Smackdown World champion King Booker, and ECW champion The Big Show.

October 13: For the first time since the 2002 brand extension, Kane begins wrestling regularly on Smackdown, defeating Montel Vontavious Porter by countout. This comes only days after Kane dropped a loser-leaves-Raw match to Umaga at the Raw “Family Reunion” show. Within weeks, Kane is reunited with The Undertaker as “The Brothers Of Destruction,” taking on MVP and Ken Kennedy. Until that point, Kane had been the only wrestler who had remained exclusively with one brand (Raw) since the time of the first draft lottery … Raw World champ John Cena makes his big-screen debut as John Triton in The Marine. The 20th Century Fox film is the second movie produced under the WWE Films banner. Ironically, the movie, which was shot in Queensland, Australia, wasn’t scheduled to premiere in Australia until February 22, 2007. In the U.S., The Marine pulls in $7-million in domestic sales on its opening weekend, placing third.

October 15: Pat Patterson is released from the hospital after undergoing life-threatening, emergency heart surgery in August. Shortly after, Patterson emerges from retirement to re-sign with WWE as a producer. Patterson—who had retired from WWE in October 2004 after a creative dispute—agrees to work as a creative consultant … Former WCW preliminary wrestler “Jumpin’” Joey Maggs dies. The 37-year-old Maggs (whose real name was Joseph Magliano) also wrestled as The Magnificent Magliano on the independent circuit. No cause of death is named, although it is largely speculated that he died of a heart attack.

October 20: Rey Mysterio Jr. is forced to undergo knee surgery following his “I Quit” match loss to Chavo Guerrero Jr. on the main event of an episode of Smackdown. At the end of the match, Mysterio is hung upside down from a ladder as Guerrero smashes Mysterio’s already injured knee repeatedly with a steel chair. According to a prematch stipulation, Mysterio agrees to walk away from Smackdown permanently.

October 22: TNA takes to the road with Bound for Glory, aired live from the CompuWare Sports Arena in Detroit, Michigan. On the show, Sting becomes the new NWA World champion after making Jeff Jarrett submit to his scorpion deathlock. Heading into the match, Sting had promised Jarrett he would retire from wrestling if he were unsuccessful in the match. To many fans’ surprise, Jarrett responds to the loss by taking an extended leave of absence.
October 26: Tracy Smothers, 44, faces a pair of criminal harassment charges related to alleged threats he made against his then-girlfriend, Melba Renee Payne. According to Payne, “[He] called me at work and told me that he was going to bash my head in with a baseball bat. [He] called me nine times and left multiple messages. I told [him] not to call me anymore.” No decision has been rendered in the case.

November 3: Sputnik Monroe dies in his sleep at 77. Monroe, whose career spanned from the mid-1940s until the early-1970s, had been a headliner in several territories. His feud with Billy Wicks helped to set an attendance record in Memphis that lasted until the late-1990s. Monroe was a heel for most of his career.

November 5: After fans determine that King Booker will have to defend the Smackdown World title against Raw World champ John Cena and ECW champ The Big Show, Booker emerges victorious as WWE’s “Champion of Champions” at Cyber Sunday. Kevin Federline interferes in the match, enabling Booker to pin Cena. Also on the show, Lita defeats Mickie James to win the vacant WWE women’s championship.

November 13: Tiger Conway Sr., age 74, dies of a massive stroke and aneurysm in Houston. The former Texas Negro champion was a pioneer in helping fight racism in the sport. He also formed a successful tag team with his son, Tiger Conway Jr. Conway had notable feuds with Danny McShain, Duke Keomuka, Tony Borne, Karl Kox, and Willie Love.

November 14: Former Smackdown competitor Bobby Lashley makes his first appearance in ECW, and immediately signs on to participate in an upcoming “Extreme Elimination Chamber” match for the ECW title. Lashley assaults Hardcore Holly, Heyman’s choice to take the final slot, in the backstage area. The former U.S. Army sergeant goes on to spear ECW champ The Big Show and sign the open contract inside the ring.

November 16: TNA Impact is bumped forward by two hours, marking the show’s prime time debut on Thursday nights. The new time slot provides TNA an opportunity to showcase its talent with a special two-hour episode that includes a bloody steel cage match between former friends Christian Cage and Rhino. Christopher Daniels captures the X title from Chris Sabin in a three-way match that also features A.J. Styles … WWE confirms that former TNA main-eventer Monty Brown has signed with the company. Brown is held off from debuting until January 2007 in order to rehabilitate several nagging injuries. He is eventually added to the ECW brand and renamed Marcus Cor Von.

November 19: Abyss wins his first NWA World heavyweight championship with his disqualification victory over Sting at Genesis. The show also features Kurt Angle’s in-ring debut in TNA. Angle goes on to end Samoa Joe’s 17-month winning streak in head-to-head matches, making him submit. Also, the newly re-christened Voodoo Kin Mafia (formerly WWE’s New Age Outlaws and TNA’s James Gang) promise to escalate their verbal assaults on Vince McMahon and WWE, despite WWE’s non-responsiveness.

November 26: After trying unsuccessfully for several months, Batista finally pins King Booker for the Smackdown World title at Survivor Series in Philadelphia. Earlier in the evening, Lita loses her final WWE match, dropping her women’s title to Mickie James while Matt and Jeff Hardy reunite as part of a DeGeneration X-led team (also consisting of C.M. Punk) that sweeps a team led by new Raw World tag team champions Edge and Randy Orton.

November 27: WWE confirms rumors that recent Raw tag team champ and Hall of Famer “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. Piper immediately begins radiation therapy treatments.

December 3: Bobby Lashley spears and pins The Big Show to become the third ECW champion since the re-launch of the brand. This occurs as part of the December to Dismember main event, the “Extreme Elimination Chamber” match, which also includes Rob Van Dam, Hardcore Holly (substituting for Sabu), C.M. Punk, and Test. Strangely enough, the show concludes 25 minutes early, prompting fans to chant “TNA, TNA!”

December 4: WWE announces that both Paul Heyman and The Big Show are leaving ECW. Reportedly, Heyman requests a release after a heated disagreement with Vince McMahon, while The Big Show plans to take an indefinite leave of absence due to a back injury. The next night, Show fails to beat Lashley in his final televised match.

December 10: Samoa Joe gains revenge on Kurt Angle, making him submit to a kokina clutch in their rematch at Turning Point. Also on the card, Abyss successfully defends his NWA World title against Sting and Christian Cage, pinning Sting following a black-hole slam. Meanwhile, America’s Most Wanted becomes the first team to lose a flag match on U.S. soil, losing to The Latin American Exchange. James Storm immediately blames Chris Harris for the loss.

December 14: America’s Most Wanted disbands after again losing to LAX. This time, AMW loses a “Titles vs. Team” match on Impact in which the team that loses the match is forced to break up. The match ends after Storm deliberately smashes a beer bottle over the head of “The Wildcat.”

December 16: Masked wrestler The Spoiler (Don Jardine) dies at 66 after a massive heart attack. After lengthy tenures in the NWA, AWA, and WWWF, The Spoiler first gained national exposure as a member of the original Legion of Doom alongside Jake Roberts, King Kong Bundy, and The Road Warriors. He was the first wrestler to walk along the top rope, a technique he went on to teach Mark Callaway (The Undertaker) in the mid-1980s.

December 17: Raw World champion John Cena makes a special appearance at Smackdown’s Armageddon, teaming with Smackdown World champ Batista against King Booker and Finlay. The match ends with a Batista bomb and pinfall over Booker. The show also includes a four-way ladder match pitting Smackdown World tag team champions Paul London and Brian Kendrick vs. William Regal and Dave Taylor vs. M-N-M vs. Matt and Jeff Hardy. Joey Mercury suffers facial injuries when he collides with a ladder, and London and Kendrick win the match.

December 23: At Final Battle, Homicide uses a lariat to pin longtime champion Bryan Danielson for the Ring of Honor title. Homicide had vowed to leave ROH forever if he did not win the belt.

December 25: Someone finally wins Chris Masters’ “Masterlock Challenge,” but he is not a member of the Raw roster. During WWE’s 2006 Tribute to the Troops, Staff Sgt. Jose Avila breaks free from the hold following some timely interference by Santa Claus (who reveals himself to be John Bradshaw Layfield). Within weeks of the occurrence, Masters goes on to claim the win is not official and that his undefeated “Masterlock Challenge” streak remains intact.

2007

January 1: Raw World champion John Cena suffers his first pinfall loss of the new year at the hands of Kevin Federline. The soon-to-be former Mr. Britney Spears had appeared infrequently on Raw since the prior October, as a crowd antagonist who found himself in an immediate feud with the champion. Accompanied to the ring by his "trainer," Johnny Nitro, Federline benefits from interference by Nitro and Umaga to win the no-disqualification match.

January 4: Midget wrestler Cowboy Lang passes away at 56 in Portland, Oregon. Lang had fought for more than 30 years in rings throughout the U.S., Asia, Africa, Europe, and his native Canada. With his trademark cowboy hat and boots, the 4’, 109-pounder was primarily known as the tag team partner of Little Eagle, The Haiti Kid, Coconut Willie, and Lord Littlebrook, a man who also contributed to his training as a wrestler.

January 7: At New Year's Revolution, Triple-H experiences a freak, career-threatening in-ring injury reminiscent of the torn left quadriceps he suffered in 2001. This time, Triple-H tears his right quadriceps, an injury that would leave him on the sidelines for more than seven months. Hunter was teaming with Shawn Michaels against Raw World tag team champions Rated RKO, and, upon trying to deliver a pedigree to Randy Orton, fell to the mat in agony.

January 8: Vince McMahon is seated at ringside on Raw for his own self-made match: a comedic battle between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell impostors. Attempting to capitalize on the ongoing and well-publicized feud between the pair (all the while promoting plans for an upcoming "Battle Of The Billionaires" with Trump at the upcoming WrestleMania), McMahon is instead met with a 10-minute chorus of "We want wrestling" and "T-N-A" by the St. Louis crowd.

January 14: Christian Cage becomes a two-time NWA World champion after defeating Sting and Abyss in a three-way elimination match at Final Resolution. Cage wins the title with some assistance from ally Travis Tomko, who helps him pin Abyss to score the win. The match also leads to the launch of Christian's Coalition in TNA. The card also sees Kurt Angle defeat Samoa Joe in an ironman match to win a shot at Cage's newly won title at Against All Odds in February.

January 19: Bam Bam Bigelow dies unexpectedly in his Hudson, Florida, home at age 45. A main-eventer in every promotion in which he competed, Bigelow gained mainstream recognition in 1995 when he wrestled NFL legend Lawrence Taylor at WrestleMania XI. His autopsy would reveal that he had toxic levels of cocaine and the anti-anxiety drug benzodiazepine at the time of his death.

January 28: The Undertaker wins his first Royal Rumble in San Antonio, Texas, entering the ring with the coveted 30th spot and last eliminating Shawn Michaels. His victory would allow him to wrestle the Raw World, Smackdown World, or ECW champion at WrestleMania 23. The card also sees all three brands' champions retain their titles, with ECW champion Bobby Lashley beating Test by countout, Smackdown World champion Batista pinning Ken Kennedy, and Raw World champion John Cena beating Umaga in a last-man-standing match.

January 30: Wrestling Society X makes its long-awaited debut for MTV, reintroducing a mainstream audience to familiar names such as Vampiro and Sean "6-Pac" Waltman, while also introducing the nation to stars such as Teddy Hart, Matt Sydal, and Ricky Banderas (TNA's Judas Mesias). The controversial promotion, which would air only nine of its originally taped 10 episodes, actually saw one episode pulled from TV due to graphic violence. Vampiro would be crowned as its first champion after he and 6-Pac won a battle royal to earn a right to face one another for the title.

February 6: The New Breed is officially unleashed in ECW as part of a plot by Vince McMahon to eradicate the few ECW Originals that remain on his talent roster. On this night of Sci Fi Network action, Matt Striker—serving as the referee—costs Tommy Dreamer in his match with Kevin Thorn, then stands in as ringside timekeeper as Marcus Cor Von defeats Mahoney, and, finally, works with Thorn and Cor Von to help Elijah Burke pin Rob Van Dam in the main event.

February 11: Christian Cage successfully defends his NWA World title against Kurt Angle at TNA's Against All Odds pay-per-view. Despite Samoa Joe serving as an outside enforcer at ringside, the contest is marred by the interference of both Travis Tomko and Scott Steiner.

February 12: With Raw pre-empted on USA Network due to the annual Westminster Dog Show, TNA takes advantage by airing its first Monday night special—This Is TNA—on Spike TV. Four nights later, WWE would go head to head with TNA for the first time, with Raw garnering five times Impact’s 0.6 Nielsen rating.

February 17: Former ECW champion Mike Awesome commits suicide by hanging himself in his home near Tampa, Florida. Awesome had been retired from the mainstream wrestling scene since winning his 2005 match against longtime rival Masato Tanaka at WWE's ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view. During his career, he spent time in Japan's FMW, ECW, WCW, and WWE … Takeshi Morishima pins Homicide to win the Ring of Honor championship in Philadelphia.

February 18: At No Way Out, Raw World champion John Cena and his WrestleMania challenger, Shawn Michaels, team up against Smackdown World champion Batista and his WrestleMania challenger, The Undertaker. Batista turns against The Undertaker during the match, causing him to get pinned. This is also the first non-"Big Four" show since 2003 to allow competitors from all three brands to appear at every pay-per-view.

February 26: In an interview with Financial Week, WWE Chief Financial Officer Michael Selick announces that WWE has plans for an expansion that could lead to several different international WWE brands, each with its own independent regional touring schedule, programming, and—ideally—pay-per-views. The concept also sparks rumors that WWE is considering the recruitment of Mistico for use in a WWE Mexico brand.

February 27: Andrew "Test" Martin is released from WWE for the second time in his career. Fresh off a stint in ECW in which he challenged Bobby Lashley for the ECW title, Martin had received a 30-day suspension for violation of WWE’s Wellness Policy. Shortly after this suspension, Martin is involved in an automobile accident that sparks rumors he is continuing to violate the program.

March 6: Allen Coage, also known as Bad News Allen and Bad News Brown, dies at age 63 after being hospitalized with chest pains in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta. Coage won a bronze medal in judo at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal before training under Antonio Inoki to become a pro wrestler. He was a main-eventer for Stampede Wrestling for many years and jumped to the WWF in 1988. His career highlights included winning a 20-man battle royal at WrestleMania IV and battling Hulk Hogan in a top match on Saturday Night’s Main Event.

March 10: Ernie Ladd, a top lineman in the American Football League who became a main-event wrestler in the 1960s, dies at age 68 after a long bout with cancer. Cast in the unusual role of an African-American heel, the self-proclaimed “King Of Wrestling” spent much of his career in Los Angeles and the WWWF, where he feuded with Andre the Giant as well as champions Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, and Bob Backlund. He was also regarded as an innovative booker, particularly in the Mid-South.

March 11: Christian Cage finds a way to retain his NWA World championship against the red-hot Samoa Joe at Destination X. With chants from the crowd such as "Joe's gonna kill you," Cage leaves the ring to get counted out and salvage his title, however Joe is rescued by several X stars who emerge from the backstage area and toss the champion back into the ring. After nearly 20 minutes of action, Cage pins the challenger by putting his feet on the ropes for leverage.

March 12: Ashley Massaro's Playboy pictorial makes the newsstands in time for WrestleMania 23. As of the April 2007 issue, Massaro is just the latest in a long line of Divas to pose for the publication (following Sable, Chyna, Torrie Wilson, Christy Hemme, and Candice Michelle). WWE uses the exposure to push Massaro into a "Lumberjill" match against women’s champion Melina at WrestleMania. Nevertheless, she is pinned for her efforts.

March 13: Following nearly a year of preparation, hype, and anticipation, MTV officially cancels Wrestling Society X after airing just four of its initial 10 episodes. MTV airs a marathon of episodes five through nine before officially dropping the series from its schedule one week later, citing a decline in ratings. The 10th and final episode is never aired on television and is relegated to DVD … Arnold Skoaland, best remembered for being the manager of Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund, dies at age 82. The “Golden Boy” began his career in 1946, went on to feud with stars such as Buddy Rogers and Pat O’Connor, and held the WWWF U.S. tag team title with Spiros Arion in 1967. Later, he became Vince McMahon Sr.’s business partner behind the scenes.

March 19: Sports Illustrated publishes a story detailing a New York district attorney's investigation into an illegal mail-order steroid distribution network that fingers 12 active wrestlers and several other athletes. Among the big names mentioned in the report are Edge, Rey Mysterio Jr., Randy Orton, Gregory Helms, and Kurt Angle. Each of the men deny any wrongdoing.

March 30: Steve Austin's The Condemned, a film about a reality TV show in which prison inmates battle to the death, premieres at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. The film, which had a $20-million budget, would generate less money than either of WWE Films' previous two releases, Kane's See No Evil and John Cena's The Marine, prompting Vince McMahon to accuse its distributor of sabotage for failing to adequately promote it.

March 31: The 2007 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony takes place at Detroit's Fox Theatre. The class includes The Wild Samoans, Nick Bockwinkel, The Iron Sheik, Curt Hennig, Mr. Fuji, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, and Dusty Rhodes. Actor William Shatner makes a special appearance to induct Lawler, whom he monkey-flipped during a 1995 edition of Monday Night Raw.

April 1: Vince McMahon has his head shaved in the "Battle Of The Billionaires" showdown at WrestleMania 23 when ECW champion Bobby Lashley, representing Donald Trump, defeats Intercontinental champion Umaga, representing the WWE chairman. Also at WrestleMania, Ken Kennedy wins an eight-man “Money In The Bank” ladder match, John Cena retains his Raw World title with a submission victory over Shawn Michaels, and The Undertaker ups his WrestleMania undefeated streak to 15 by taking Batista's Smackdown World title.

April 2: Mick Foley's third autobiography, The Hardcore Diaries, makes the New York Times Best Seller List. Some consider the book to be controversial because of Foley’s criticisms of Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, Terry Funk, and WWE’s product in general. Foley claims the book will be the last of his non-fiction works, which include Have A Nice Day and Foley Is Good.

April 15: Jeff Jarrett returns to TNA at the Lockdown pay-per-view as a member of Kurt Angle's team in a “Lethal Lockdown” match against Christian’s Coalition. Six months earlier, Jarrett had abandoned his role as an on-air talent after his NWA World title loss to Sting at Bound for Glory 2006. During the match, Jarrett sacrifices a potential title shot by stepping aside and letting Sting pin Abyss.

April 23: Randy Orton is dismissed from a WWE tour of Europe, a punishment that causes him to miss a taping of Raw in London, England. Orton is sent home because he allegedly caused thousands of dollars of damage to his hotel room in the U.K. To the surprise of Orton's co-workers, he would never officially be suspended for the incident. A short time later, Orton would go on record as apologizing and saying that he will get his career "back on track."

April 27: FedExForum in Memphis hosts a “Clash Of Legends” show where Hulk Hogan bodyslams and pins Paul Wight, formerly known as The Big Show. The match had originally been slated to feature Hogan against Memphis' own Jerry Lawler, however WWE officials puledl him and several other WWE talents from the event. Other stars present at the show include Brutus Beefcake, Koko B. Ware, Bobby Eaton, Greg Valentine, Abdullah the Butcher, and Buff Bagwell.

April 28: At “Good Times, Great Memories,” Christopher Daniels turns on the Ring of Honor faithful and abruptly quits the promotion due to his involvement in TNA. Daniels—considered one of Ring of Honor's "founding fathers" because of his participation in the company's first show—wrestles to a 15-minute draw against Erick Stevens in his final match. The TNA-mandated move followed similar announcements by both Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles.

April 29: In a scene that is unsettling for traditional ECW loyalists, Vince McMahon gets revenge on Bobby Lashley by cheating him out of his ECW championship at Backlash. McMahon teams with his son Shane and Umaga to get the pinfall victory. After winning the title, McMahon mocks the once-proud organization and its WWE-employed Originals such as Sabu, The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and Rob Van Dam.

May 1: Former Ohio Valley Wrestling heavyweight champion and Tough Enough contestant Matt Cappotelli has successful surgery to remove a tumor from his brain. Cappotelli had surrendered his championship in February 2006 after announcing that his tumor had been found to be cancerous.

May 5: Mephisto LePhanto, whose real name is Antonio Omar, dies unexpectedly in the ring during an IWA Puerto Rico show. The 31-year-old, who was teaming with Mikael Judas against Mr. Big and Blitz, tagged into the match, lost his breath, and collapsed. He was taken away on a stretcher and later pronounced dead.

May 7: Edge goads an injured Ken Kennedy into putting his “Money In The Bank” title shot on the line in a match on Raw. The "Rated R Superstar" then attacks Kennedy before the match, softening him up and allowing him to pick up the easy win and guaranteed championship match. The first phase of Edge's plan to steal a world title is complete.

May 8: Batista challenges World champion The Undertaker to a steel cage match on Smackdown. After battling to a draw when both men's feet hit the floor at the exact same instant, Mark Henry storms out from the locker room and injures The Undertaker. Moments later, Raw competitor Edge emerges from the back and cashes in his “Money In The Bank” title shot. The Undertaker falls prey to a pair of spears and loses the Smackdown championship.

May 13: Kurt Angle seemingly wins Christian Cage's NWA World championship in a three-way match at Sacrifice by applying an anklelock on Sting as “The Stinger” is pinning Cage. Before Sting gains the three-count, he taps out from the pain of Angle's submission hold in the plain sight of a second referee. Nevertheless, Angle would be stripped of the World title only days later on Impact due to the controversial outcome of the match … TNA officially withdraws from its five-year affiliation with the NWA. As a result, the company makes plans to crown a new TNA World heavyweight champion, while Team 3D is automatically granted the TNA World tag team title.

May 16: Sabu is released from his WWE contract after a series of disputes with management, ending his year-long stint with the company. The ECW Original had been signed to give the ECW brand more of an extreme feel upon its inception. Sabu's WWE tenure was marked by a series of infractions, such as his infamous traffic stop with buddy Rob Van Dam and showing up late for shows sans his ring gear.

May 20: Bobby Lashley pins Shane McMahon in a three-on-one handicap match at Judgment Day, seemingly to win Vince McMahon’s ECW title. Because Lashley does not pin the chairman, however, Vince announces that Lashley has not won the championship. Also at Judgment Day, Raw World champion John Cena makes The Great Khali submit to the STFU.

May 23: Jill Jarrett, the wife of Jeff Jarrett, succumbs to a long battle with cancer at age 37. The multiple-time champion, who had spent nearly all of his time by her side, is devastated by the loss. After a brief in-ring comeback to TNA, Jarrett would take another sabbatical from the ring to grieve and spend time with his daughters.

June 3: Scott Steiner nearly dies after suffering a tracheal injury during a TNA live event in Puerto Rico. Steiner, teaming with James Storm against Jeff Jarrett and Apolo, is kicked in the throat by Apolo, tearing his trachea and preventing him from breathing. He would undergoe emergency surgery and remain on the island for several weeks to recuperate.

June 4: Rob Van Dam leaves WWE one night after gaining revenge against Randy Orton at One Night Stand. Van Dam, who was thinking about ending his six-year run with WWE, had been kicked in the head by Orton on the May 28 edition of Raw. Later in the evening, Bobby Lashley regains the ECW championship in a no-disqualification match against Vince McMahon.

June 11: WWE holds another talent draft to move some of its wrestlers to different brands. Bobby Lashley is drafted to Raw, alongside Ken Kennedy and King Booker, and is stripped of his ECW championship as a result. Smackdown acquires The Great Khali and Ric Flair, among others. To end the night, Vince McMahon stages his own death when his limousine explodes.

June 15: "Sensational" Sherri Martel dies at her mother's home in Birmingham, Alabama. Reports indicate that Martel—a former WWF and AWA women's champion—has six different types of drugs in her system at the time of her death. Martel had been inducted into WWE's Hall of Fame in 2006.

June 17: Kurt Angle defeats Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles, Christian Cage, and Chris Harris in a “King Of The Mountain” match at Slammiversary to become the first official TNA World heavyweight champion one month after his NWA World title victory had been declared null and void. The other man who laid claim to the championship, Sting, had been eliminated in a qualifying match on Impact due to interference by Christopher Daniels. Sting defeats Daniels in a grudge match at Slammiversary.

June 19: Konnan and Ron Killings request their releases from TNA. Konnan, who needed hip replacement surgery and a kidney transplant, departs over a dispute with management. TNA refuses to grant Killings’ request, denying him the opportunity to compete for AAA in Mexico. Killings would return to the company for a brief stint in August.

June 24: Standing in for no-show Chris Benoit, Johnny Nitro steps into Vengeance and pins C.M. Punk to win the vacant ECW championship.  The match is one of several in what is billed as a "Night Of Champions." Of the nine WWE championships contested on this night, only one other title changes hands, with Candice Michelle defeating Melina to win the women's championship.

June 25: The bodies of Chris Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and their seven-year-old son, Daniel, are discovered at their home in suburban Atlanta. In the days that follow, the victims' families, friends, and fans are shocked to learn that the multiple-time champion is responsible. Many speculate as to whether drugs or some sort of personality disorder played a part in the tragedy, but the real cause of Benoit's disturbing acts remains a mystery.

July 15: TNA X division champion Samoa Joe, teaming with World heavyweight champion Kurt Angle, pins Brother Ray at Victory Road to win Team 3D’s World tag team title after Scott Steiner hits Ray with a lead pipe. According to a pre-match stipulation, the wrestler who scores the winning pinfall receives the title held by the wrestler who gets pinned. Samoa Joe’s championship partner would be determined at a later date.

July 17: Edge vacates the Smackdown World title after suffering a pectoral tear during an attack at the hands of Kane. Following this announcement, General Manager Theodore Long announces a 20-man battle royal that night to crown a new champion for the brand. With fans at the arena and sitting at home rooting for Batista or Kane to win the championship, The Great Khali surprises all to take the title.

July 18: Former ECW, USWA, and XPW competitor John Kronus is found dead at age 38 in his fiancée's New Hampshire home due to complications from an enlarged heart. Kronus, whose real name is George Caiazzo, had been known primarily as the tag team partner of Perry Saturn (as The Eliminators) and New Jack (as The Gangstanators). He last appeared before U.S. fans in 2005 at “Hardcore Homecoming” in Philadelphia.

July 22: WWE presents the Great American Bash, which is headlined by John Cena retaining the Raw World title against Bobby Lashley and The Great Khali's successful Smackdown World title defense against Batista and Kane in a three-way match. The show marks the last appearance by Jeff Hardy on a WWE pay-per-view for nearly two months, as he is taken off the road due to what is believed to be a Wellness Policy violation.

July 23: Tor Kamata dies of heart disease at age 70. During his long stay in Stampede Wrestling, Kamata won the North American title three times, had a bloody feud with Abdullah the Butcher, and participated in ladder matches more than two decades before they became popular. He also battled a young Bob Backlund in a memorable Texas death match in the WWWF … Former Memphis manager Ronnie P. Gossett dies of colon cancer. He was 64 years old. In hindsight, Gossett is best known for his 1989 stint as The Master of Pain, who would later become The Undertaker.

July 24: Konnan undergoes successful kidney transplant surgery in Tijuana, Mexico. Thanks to the Internet, Konnan collects about $14,000 from wrestling fans to cover a portion of the costs associated with the surgery. Konnan's former employer, TNA, contends it had lent the former LAX member money for the surgery and that it expected to be repaid.

July 28: Hall of Fame wrestler and trainer Karl Gotch dies of natural causes at age 82. Gotch is credited with popularizing the German suplex, the cradle piledriver, and the Gotch special, a chicken wing/headscissors combination submission hold. He was revered as a performer in Japan, and his highest-profile run in the U.S. took place in late-1971 and early-1972, when he held the WWWF tag team title with Rene Goulet.

July 31: Only three days after the Associated Press breaks a story that Congress plans to investigate WWE as part of an ongoing illegal steroid probe, Vince McMahon receives a letter from U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) in which he seeks a detailed description of both the company's steroid policy and the measures the company actively takes to prevent the abuse of such drugs. WWE is given a deadline of August 24, but complies in advance with the request.

August 13: Former WWF and WCW star Brian Adams, 43, is found dead in his home in Tampa, Florida, from what was believed to be a drug overdose. The Hawaiian star, who was known as Crush for much of his career, is best remembered for his involvement in Demolition, The Nation of Domination, The Disciples of Apocalypse, and Kronic. Adams last appeared on WWE TV in 2001 at Unforgiven, where he and Kronic partner Bryan Clark lost to WCW World tag team champions The Undertaker and Kane.

August 16: After a struggle with cancer, 68-year-old Dewey Robertson passes away. A former bodybuilder, Robertson became a wrestler in the 1960s. Twenty years later, he morphed into The Missing Link for runs in World Class, the Mid-South territory, and the WWF, prior to his retirement in the early-1990s. In 2006, Robertson penned his autobiography, Bang Your Head: The Real Story Of The Missing Link.

August 18: Matt Hardy battles former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield to a no-contest when U.S. champ Montel Vontavious Porter interferes in their boxing match on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Originally, Hardy was to have fought Porter for the U.S. title in the latest installment of their ongoing game of one-upsmanship, however MVP is forced to bow out of the match because a routine Wellness Program exam reveals he has Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a dangerous heart condition.

August 25: Ring of Honor champion Takeshi Morishima defeats Bryan Danielson at “Manhattan Mayhem II.” The match is presented as the first real test for Morishima, who had steamrolled through challengers such as KENTA, Shingo, Jimmy Rave, and Nigel McGuinness since winning the Ring of Honor title from Homicide in February. Morishima pins Danielson following a backdrop driver, which causes the former champ to suffer a detached retina and a fractured orbital bone.

August 26: Hulk Hogan’s 17-year-old son, Nick Bollea, is involved in a high-speed car wreck that leaves his passenger, John Graziano, with severe brain damage. Bollea would be released from the hospital one day later … Former world champions Triple-H and Rey Mysterio Jr. make their WWE returns from injury at SummerSlam after weeks of promotional videos. Triple-H receives a king’s welcome and easily pins King Booker to stake his claim as Raw’s only “King Of Kings.” Meanwhile, Mysterio gains revenge against Chavo Guerrero Jr., the man who injured and beat him in an “I Quit” match nearly a year earlier.

August 31: After meeting with prosecutors from the Albany, New York, District Attorney’s office, WWE announces the suspension of 11 active performers for allegedly purchasing performance-enhancing drugs from Signature Pharmacy, an online pharmaceutical site. The 30-day suspensions include top stars across all three brands, with two wrestlers receiving additional 30-day suspensions due to previous Wellness Policy infringements.

September 1: WWE releases Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) and Simon Dean (Mike Bucci), reportedly for Wellness Policy violations. WWE also cuts ties with The Sandman and Cryme Tyme … Adam Pearce defeats Brent Albright (replacing Bryan Danielson) in the tournament final in Puerto Rico to crown a new NWA champion.

September 4: Heading into a 30-day suspension for his role in the Signature Pharmacy scandal in late-August, John Morrison loses the ECW title to C.M. Punk after falling prey to Punk’s go to sleep finisher on ECW’s weekly program.

September 5: A post-mortem examination reveals that Chris Benoit’s brain had suffered extensive damage due to a series of concussions stemming from his career as a wrestler. Chris’ father, Michael Benoit, had allowed medical researchers with the Sports Legacy Institute—a group co-founded by former WWE star Christopher Nowinski—to study his son’s brain to research the neuro-pathological effects of repeated concussions on pro athletes’ behavior. WWE responds by calling the research “speculative.”

September 9: One month after taking Samoa Joe’s TNA X and World tag team titles at Hard Justice, World heavyweight champion Kurt Angle loses both titles at No Surrender. Early in the night, Angle teams with Sting to lose to Ron Killings and Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam Jones in a match in which “Pacman” cannot legally participate physically. Later in the night, Angle drops his X title in a clean upset to Jay Lethal. Angle retains his heavyweight title against Abyss in the main event.

September 10: After weeks of hints seemingly leading to Ken Kennedy being Vince McMahon’s son, Finlay’s leprechaun friend, Hornswoggle, is announced as McMahon’s lovechild on Raw. After the entire roster is stationed at ringside, it is teased that McMahon’s off-screen son-in-law, Triple-H, is actually his spawn. The show goes off the air with an elated “Game” and Hornswoggle dancing around a despondent McMahon.

September 16: Batista wins the Smackdown World title from The Great Khali at Unforgiven in a triple-threat match also involving Rey Mysterio Jr. Originally, Mysterio was supposed to receive the one-on-one title shot until General Manager Theodore Long added Batista to the match. The card also sees Randy Orton defeat Raw World champion John Cena by disqualification after Orton goes after Cena’s father at ringside. In addition, The Undertaker returns to action, gaining revenge against Mark Henry for injuring him earlier in the year.

October 1: Heading into his Raw World title defense against Randy Orton at No Mercy, John Cena is injured in a televised match against Ken Kennedy and a post-match attack by Orton. Cena, who suffers a torn pectoral muscle on that night, would require surgery and is told he could miss up to a year of action. Less than 24 hours after the injury, Vince McMahon strips Cena of the championship.

October 4: TNA stages its first card since Impact is extended to two hours each week on Spike TV. The show is highlighted by an eight-man tag team main event with several competitors from the X division. The show earns a Nielsen TV rating of 1.1, which is comparable to the numbers it received under its old format.

October 7: WWE fans are treated to three Raw World title changes in a single night at No Mercy. The pay-per-view kicks off with Vince McMahon naming Randy Orton the new titleholder, however Orton is then immediately goaded into defending his title against Triple-H, who wins the championship. Later in the night, Triple-H is forced to defend his newly won title against his previously scheduled opponent, Umaga. Then, in the main event, Orton reclaims the Raw strap from Triple-H in a last-man-standing match.

October 8: Shawn Michaels makes his surprising return to Raw to attack the man who had put him out of action at Judgment Day, Randy Orton. Michaels, who was essentially filling the main-event void left by the injured John Cena one week earlier, would shortly thereafter be granted a match for Orton’s Raw World title at Survivor Series.

October 14: Capping off weeks of feuding, Sting overcomes interference from Kevin Nash to beat Kurt Angle for the TNA World championship at Bound for Glory. In the end, Sting uses the scorpion deathdrop to pin Sting. Two days later, Sting would grant a title rematch to Angle at TNA’s Impact tapings and lose the championship back to Angle after Nash again interfered.

October 19: Former WCW and WWF star Lex Luger is left temporarily paralyzed after suffering a spinal stroke at WrestleFanFest in San Francisco, California. The weekend also features a wrestling show dubbed “Malice In The Palace,” which is filmed for DVD release by Big Vision Entertainment. The Great Muta defeats The Sandman and Steve Corino in the three-way main event.

October 25: Heading into his return to Raw in November, Chris Jericho releases his autobiography, A Lion’s Tale: Around The World In Spandex. The book would reache number 22 on the New York Times Best Seller List and lead to speculation that Jericho may be considering a return to wrestling after a two-year hiatus. Coinciding with the release of Jericho’s book is the appearance of several short, cryptic videos featuring coded letters, numbers, and clues on Raw.

October 27: Booker T and his wife, Sharmell, are released from their WWE contracts. For Booker, the release caps nearly eight weeks of speculation as to whether he had actually been guilty of steroid abuse, considering that he had been linked to Signature Pharmacy, an online pharmacy under investigation. He maintained his innocence in the matter. It is reported that Booker asked for his release immediately after the suspension was issued in late-August, but had been asked to reconsider.

October 28: Cyber Sunday hits pay-per-view again, allowing fans to vote on some matches and stipulations. Among fans’ popular choices are: Shawn Michaels as the challenger for Randy Orton’s Raw World title, The Miz as the challenger for C.M. Punk’s ECW title, and Steve Austin as the special referee for the Smackdown World title match between Batista and The Undertaker. This match sees Batista cleanly pin The Undertaker for the first time after a pair of Batista bombs.

November 2: Lillian Ellison, better known to the wrestling world as The Fabulous Moolah, dies at age 84. It is believed Moolah suffered a heart attack or a blood clot related to shoulder replacement surgery she had recently undergone. Arguably the top women’s wrestler of all-time, Moolah enjoyed a world women’s title reign recognized by promotions worldwide between 1956 and 1984.

November 7: In light of the controversial CNN special “Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling,” WWE executives accuse the network of sensationalizing the story by deleting key excerpts of its interview with John Cena. The full context of the interview reveals that one of his answers was shortened to imply that he had been guilty of taking steroids. The 60-minute documentary also features interviews with stars such as ECW champion C.M. Punk, The Dynamite Kid, and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.

November 8: Scott Hall returns to TNA, aligning with former Outsiders partner Kevin Nash to verbally abuse Kurt Angle. In his opening promo, however, Hall accuses Nash of not being there for him through a lot of personal problems. Hall and Nash are subsequently booked to team with Samoa Joe in a tag team match against Angle, A.J. Styles, and Travis Tomko at December’s Turning Point.

November 11: Former WWE and WCW star Booker T makes his TNA debut at Genesis, a pay-per-view headlined by a tag team match in which Kurt Angle’s TNA World title would be on the line. Angle teams with Kevin Nash to defeat Sting and his “mystery partner,” Booker T, when Angle sneaks in a pinfall over Sting. Booker is joined at ringside by his wife, Sharmell. A few days later, Booker vows he will be known as “Booker T-NA.”

November 18: Edge makes his return at Survivor Series, costing The Undertaker his “Hell In A Cell” match against Smackdown World champion Batista. Nevertheless, Acting General Manager Vickie Guerrero books Edge for a World title match against Batista at Armageddon. It is revealed that Edge and Vickie had been secretly dating and that Guerrero had been instrumental in helping Edge return. Survivor Series also sees Shawn Michaels fall short in his bid to defeat Randy Orton for the Raw World title.

November 19: Chris Jericho returns to Raw after a two-year hiatus, confronting Randy Orton in the middle of a promo after a cryptic “Second Coming” and  “Save_Us_Y2J” video is played on the big screen. The debut, which is reminiscent of Jericho’s 1999 introduction in which he interrupted a Rock promo, makes it clear that he is a threat to Orton’s Raw World title reign. Jericho would go on to challenge Orton at Armageddon.

November 20: Hulk Hogan’s wife, Linda, files for divorce, further dramatizing the Hogans’ personal lives before the entire world. Linda, who had been Hogan’s wife for 24 years, was seeking child alimony for their 17-year-old son, Nick. Hogan claims to learn of the news for the first time when approached by a St. Petersburg Times reporter. The story follows news that Nick Hogan had surrendered to police in Clearwater, Florida, on charges of reckless driving stemming from a car crash that caused severe brain damage to his friend, John Graziano.

November 26: At an edition of Raw in Ric Flair’s hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, the 16-time world champion dismisses rumors of his pending retirements, declaring that he “will not retire until his death.” Vince McMahon, however, tells Flair that his career will be over when he loses his next match. That same night, Flair benefits from interference by Chris Jericho to defeat Raw World champion Randy Orton in a non-title bout.

December 2: Scott Hall, who is to have appeared in the main event teaming with Kevin Nash and Samoa Joe, cites food poisoning and does not show at Turning Point. With Eric Young selected as Hall’s replacement, the trio goes on to defeat the team of Kurt Angle, A.J. Styles, and Travis Tomko. After the match, Joe cuts a promo in which he blasts Hall and, by inference, Nash. Nash is upset by Joe’s words and the two become involved in an altercation backstage.

December 10: WWE celebrates the 15th anniversary of Raw, marking the surprise returns of several stars, including Steve Austin, Sunny (Tammy Sytch), Trish Stratus, Lita, Mankind, Ted DiBiase, and Irwin R. Schyster. The show ends with McMahon himself the “Raw Superstar Of The Decade,” a distinction that earns him beatings at the hands of Mick Foley, The Undertaker, and Steve Austin.

December 16: Batista loses the Smackdown World title to Edge in a triple-threat match also involving The Undertaker at Armageddon. The night also sees Chris Jericho fail in his bid to unseat Raw World champion Randy Orton after costly interference by Smackdown announcer John Bradshaw Layfield. Also, Intercontinental champion Jeff Hardy upsets Triple-H to become the new number-one contender for the Raw World title.

December 24: WWE offers its latest “Tribute To The Troops” Raw special from a former soccer stadium in Tikrit, Iraq. The show kicks off with an Armageddon rematch between Raw World champion Randy Orton and Chris Jericho, which again features interference by John Bradshaw Layfield. At the end of the night, Shawn Michaels and Triple-H reunite as DeGeneration X to defeat Ken Kennedy and Umaga.

2008
January 6: A.J. Styles aligns himself with Kurt Angle instead of Christian Cage, turns on his former partner, and helps Angle retain the TNA World title at Final Resolution. Earlier in the evening, Styles defended his world tag team championship, alongside partner Travis Tomko, against Samoa Joe and Kevin Nash. The relationship between Joe and Nash had been strained since Joe’s infamous promo about Nash’s close friend Scott Hall one month prior at Turning Point.

January 10: Only days after being narrowly defeated by Gail Kim at Final Resolution, Awesome Kong decimates the champion, winning her first Knockouts championship during the main event of TNA Impact. The match follows several weeks in which Impact’s women’s matches had been among TNA’s highest-rated segments. Kong goes on to dominate TNA’s female roster for several months.

January 17: As part of a joint Tokyo Dome supershow featuring the stars of both New Japan Pro Wrestling and TNA—portions of which were broadcast in the U.S. as TNA Global Impact—Kurt Angle successfully defends his IWGP 3rd belt against Yuji Nagata. The show also features Shinsuke Nakamura defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi to win his second IWGP championship, NJPW tag champions Travis Tomko and Giant Bernard overcoming The Steiner Brothers, and IWGP junior heavyweight champion Wataru Inoue defeating Christopher Daniels.

January 22: ECW champion C.M. Punk is upset by Chavo Guerrero Jr. in a no-disqualification match, losing the title after some timely interference by Guerrero’s La Familia stablemate Edge. Even though he never reclaims the championship, Punk goes on to embarrass Guerrero in ensuing weeks, attacking him after dressing as a serenading mariachi musician and even dumping him into the Gulf of Mexico.

January 26: At Ring of Honor’s Without Remorse show in Chicago, The No Remorse Corps (Davey Richards and Rocky Romero) wins the promotion’s tag team championship from Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black (The Age of the Fall). The elimination match—dubbed “Ultimate Endurance” and also featuring The Hangmen Three and the team of Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson—includes three parts: a scramble match, an “I Quit” match, and a traditional match.

January 27: John Cena returns four months early from a torn pectoral muscle to win the Royal Rumble, surprising fans and fellow wrestlers alike. Cena, who draws spot number 30, last eliminates Triple-H to presumably secure his spot in the WrestleMania main event. Earlier in the evening, WWE champion Randy Orton successfully defends his title against Jeff Hardy, while WWE World champion Edge fends off Rey Mysterio Jr.

January 31: Negotiations falter between WWE and the CW Network, ensuring that Smackdown would be moving to a another network at the start of the 2008 fall television season. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, CW projected losses of about $50-million in 2008, thus preventing it from making a competitive offer to WWE to keep the show on its home of more than nine years.

February 2: Brock Lesnar makes his UFC debut with a submission loss to former heavyweight champion Frank Mir at UFC 81. Lesnar—who entered the Octagon amidst massive fanfare due to his reputation from WWE—dominated the early part of his match before being tripped up in an anklelock submission hold. Lesnar’s former wrestling colleagues “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, and The Undertaker were seated at ringside.

February 4: WWE.com confirms the release of former ECW champion Bobby Lashley. With the reason for his release shrouded in mystery, fans speculate that potential issues with management, his feelings on the release of his close friend (and former Diva) Krystal Marshall, or his own desire to compete in mixed martial arts could have contributed to his release.

February 12: The Fayette County, Georgia, sheriff’s department concludes its eight-month investigation into the Benoit family tragedy, determining that Chris Benoit acted alone in killing his wife, Nancy, and son, Daniel, before taking his own life. Friends and neighbors claimed the couple had a strained relationship, complicated by suspicions of infidelity, physical abuse, and steroid use, as well as Benoit reportedly taking out a secret life insurance policy to benefit his children.

February 14: WWE chairman Vince McMahon opts not to attend a scheduled Congressional hearing dealing with the use of steroids and other drugs in sports after his attorney, Jerry McDevitt, is unable to attend. The hearing—conducted by the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection—was to have been the culmination of a six-month probe. McMahon is criticized for being the only witness to decline. Other witnesses include officials from the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL.

February 15: Mid-Atlantic legend Johnny Weaver is found dead in his Charlotte, North Carolina, home at the age of 72. Weaver’s wrestling career spanned more than 40 years and—alongside partner George Becker—included rivalries with teams such as Gene and Ole Anderson and Swede Hanson and Rip Hawk. Weaver was also instrumental in helping train stars such as Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, and Greg Valentine. He worked as a deputy sheriff at the time of his death.

February 16: Kurt Angle loses his IWGP 3rd championship in a title unification match against IWGP heavyweight champion Shinsuke Nakamura.

February 17: Boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather makes a surprise run-in to save friend Rey Mysterio Jr. from an attack at the hands of the returning Big Show at No Way Out. During the confrontation, Mayweather breaks Show’s nose after the big man had gotten down on his knees to taunt the world-renowned fighter. Also on the show, John Cena cashes in his Royal Rumble title shot early, defeating Randy Orton by disqualification. Meanwhile, Triple-H and The Undertaker each win an “Elimination Chamber” match to become the top contenders on Raw and Smackdown, respectively.

February 26: Ring of Honor’s Larry Sweeney, Allison Danger, and Bobby Dempsey are involved in a controversial simulated rape angle at the company’s sixth anniversary show at the Manhattan Center in New York City. During an interview segment, Sweeney knocks out both Danger and Dempsey, throwing him on top of her and encouraging him to “be a man.” Then-booker Gabe Sapolsky issues an apology for the incident; still, officials kept the segment as part of the event’s DVD release.

March 3: Jeff Hardy loses his Intercontinental championship to Chris Jericho on Raw, about a week before WWE announces he is suspended for 60 days for a WWE Wellness Policy violation. Only four days after the suspension is announced—his second strike since re-signing with the company in 2007—Hardy suffers more personal tragedy as his uninsured Cameron, North Carolina, home burns to the ground, taking with it the life of his dog, Jack.

March 6: Eighty-year-old former NWA star Don Curtis dies after suffering a massive stroke in February. Curtis was best known for his rivalries with men such as Gorgeous George and Dick the Bruiser in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as his partnership with Mark Lewin. Curtis and Lewin were the first to hold the United States tag team championship, considered a forerunner to the WWF World tag team title.

March 9: Samoa Joe teams with Kevin Nash and Christian Cage to defeat TNA World champion Kurt Angle, A.J. Styles, and Travis Tomko at Destination X. The event, held at the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, also sees Rhino defeat James Storm in an Elevation X match and Robert Roode (with Jacqueline) defeat Booker T (with Traci Brooks, substituting for an injured Sharmell) in a “Stand By Your Man” strap match.

March 14: With his wife Linda, son Shane, and son-in-law Triple-H in attendance, Vince McMahon is given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

March 16: Legendary wrestler, manager, and booker Gary Hart—probably best known for his time spent in Texas with World Class Championship Wrestling—dies of a heart attack at 66. After surviving an airplane crash in 1975, Hart went on to guide the careers of The Great Kabuki, Keiji Muto, Don Kernodle, and “Cowboy” Bob Orton, among others, and also served as an adviser to Chris Adams.

March 27: TNA airs its first live edition of Impact in Orlando. The show marks the TNA return of Sting, who teams with Christian Cage, Rhino, and Kevin Nash to defeat A.J. Styles, Travis Tomko, and Team 3-D.

March 28: In honor of WWE’s massive presence in the city for WrestleMania, Ring of Honor presents Dragon Gate Challenge II in downtown Orlando. The show features a six-man tag match pitting CIMA, Go Shiozaki, and Erick Stevens against the No Remorse Corps., as well as four special interpromotional matchups. Tammy Lynn Sytch also makes an appearance as a special guest.

March 29: Ric Flair is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame following a fitting, teary-eyed induction speech by Triple-H. Flair tells his fans that, regardless of the outcome of the next night’s match, he is honored by the respect he has been shown in his four-decade career. Other inductees include: Peter Maivia, Rocky Johnson, Gordon Solie, Eddie Graham, The Brisco Brothers, and Mae Young.

March 30: Ric Flair retires from the ring after losing his WrestleMania 24 match to a visibly upset Shawn Michaels. The match followed months of speculation about who would actually be the one to retire Flair after Vince McMahon informed the “Nature Boy” that his next loss would be his final match. In other action from the card, The Big Show loses a match to boxer Floyd Mayweather, Randy Orton retains his WWE title against Triple-H and John Cena, The Undertaker defeats Edge for the WWE World championship, and C.M. Punk wins the “Money In The Bank” ladder match.

April 5: Sara Lee (Sarah Eugene Miquet) dies due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The former wife of Corsica Joe, Lee had wrestled throughout the 1950s and ’60s and had continued to remain involved in the Tennessee wrestling scene through 2002. Lee also played a part in the earliest years of TNA. 

April 9: Former Voodoo Murders stable member Suwama defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi after a frog splash in the finals of All Japan Pro Wrestling’s Champion Carnival tournament, positioning himself for a championship match for the Triple Crown on April 29.

April 13: Samoa Joe puts his TNA career on the line at Lockdown to entice Kurt Angle into defending the TNA World title, then defeats him in a MMA-style steel cage match to win the championship. Joe, who competed in the match after weeks of training with UFC fighter Marcus Davis, overcame Angle’s technical grappling advantage (and the presence of MMA competitor Frank Trigg) to win the championship.

April 15: Longtime ECW announcer Joey Styles calls his final match for the brand and announces he is accepting a role as the director of digital media content for wwe.com. Styles announces that his replacement will be relative newcomer—and former American Gladiators announcer—Mike Adamle.

April 17: Jim Cornette strips Kaz and Eric Young of the TNA World tag team championship they had won days earlier at Lockdown after Young refused to admit he is the masked Super Eric (who scored the title-winning pinfall). Cornette, after listening to the protests of former champions A.J. Styles and Travis Tomko, decides to hold a tag team title tournament in the ensuing weeks. Tomko walks out on TNA in protest. That same night, Petey Williams cashes in his “Feast Or Fired” briefcase and wins TNA’s X division title from Jay Lethal.

April 19: Warrior—formerly known as the Ultimate Warrior or Jim Hellwig—appears at a Nu Wrestling Evolution card in Madrid, Spain. The controversial star is honored before 15,000 fans and is presented with an award to commemorate his career achievements. Warrior appears touched by the ceremony until he is challenged by NWE champion—and former Smackdown star—Orlando Jordan. Warrior accepts a match with Jordan for June.

April 21: During an episode of Raw, WWE brings back its King of the Ring single-elimination tournament. The brand’s general manager William Regal is coronated after defeating Hornswoggle, Finlay, and C.M. Punk. Other competitors in the 2008 tournament include: Matt Hardy, Chris Jericho, The Great Khali, and Montel Vontavious Porter. WWE also presents pre-taped vignettes featuring all three presidential candidates, followed by a special attraction match between wrestlers portraying Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

April 27: Despite his failed attempt at taking Randy Orton’s WWE title one month earlier, Triple-H wins his rematch, and the championship, at Backlash. Meanwhile, on the Smackdown side, The Undertaker retains his WWE World championship by pinning Edge. On the undercard, Shawn Michaels feigns an injury to defeat Batista in a grudge match fueled by resentment over Michaels’ retiring of Ric Flair at WrestleMania … In Japan, Keiji Muto defeats Shinsuke Nakamura to win his fourth IWGP championship.

April 29: Announcer Mike Adamle inexplicably walks off prior to the main event of an ECW telecast. Minutes later, his broadcast partner Tazz does the same, leaving nobody at the booth for the night’s final match. Adamle would later apologize, claiming he had become upset about the criticism lodged at him by fans.

May 2: Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero strips The Undertaker of his WWE World championship after he uses his Hell’s Gate—a gogoplata chokehold—submission move, which had been banned by Guerrero earlier in the evening. The Undertaker is later presented with the opportunity to reclaim the championship at Judgment Day, where he would face the winner of an 18-man battle royal.

May 3: Ashley Massaro is fingered in a Rolling Stone article for her alleged participation in a high-end celebrity escort service several years prior.

May 5: Kurt Angle is sidelined after sustaining a neck injury in a South Korea match against All Japan Pro Wrestling’s Osamu Nishimura and Yeok Bal San for the NKPW heavyweight title. Angle was dropped on his head after a botched attempt at a bodyslam. Angle was advised by doctors against challenging Samoa Joe (in a three-way match with Scott Steiner) in a rematch for the TNA World title at Sacrifice.

May 9: Hulk Hogan’s 17-year-old son, Nick Bollea, is sentenced to eight months in Pinellas County, Florida, prison for his role in the severe injuries sustained by friend John Graziano in August 2007. Bollea plead no contest to a count of reckless driving.

May 10: Jay and Mark Briscoe retain their Ring of Honor tag team title against The Age of the Fall. Heading into the brothers’ title defense at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Mark Briscoe was forced out of action when Jimmy Jacobs digs a spike into his wrist. Austin Aries lent his services to keep the titles around the brothers’ waists.

May 11: Samoa Joe successfully defends his TNA World title at Sacrifice against Scott Steiner and Kaz (substituting for Kurt Angle) in a three-way match after pinning Steiner. On the same card, The Latin American Xchange wins the TNA World tag title at the conclusion of the “Deuces Wild” tag team tournament with a win over Team 3-D.

May 18: Triple-H defeats Randy Orton in a steel cage match at Judgment Day to retain the WWE World title, while The Undertaker seemingly again wins the heavyweight championship after a countout victory over Edge. Unfortunately, The Undertaker soon learns that the title remains vacant because it is only a countout win.

May 20: William Regal is suspended 60 days for a second violation of WWE’s Wellness Policy. The announcement comes one day after his losing a match to Ken Kennedy whereby he would be “fired.” Much of the previous month was marked by royal abuses on the GM’s part, including: blacking out the arena during matches on consecutive weeks, ordering Triple-H and Kennedy to take on 14 men in a handicap match, and throwing Mickie James’ brother out of his ringside seat.

May 26: Vince McMahon makes a pair of announcements to close an episode of Raw. First, McMahon makes his annual decree that “it’s time to shake things up” with a brand draft, to be hosted in four weeks time. McMahon then also announces “Million-Dollar Mania,” a promotion through which he will give away a total of $1-million each week to a Raw viewer chosen at random.

June 1: Randy Orton breaks his collarbone in a hardcore match with Triple-H at One Night Stand. Orton, who continues to battle for the WWE championship despite the painful injury, falls victim to a Pedigree. Meanwhile, Edge forces The Undertaker into retirement—per a pre-match stipulation—after defeating him in a TLC match marred by interference by La Familia.

June 7: Ric Flair—still technically under contract with WWE—pulls out of a scheduled appearance for the NWA’s 60th anniversary show in which he was to be inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame. On this same show, The Rock ’n’ Roll Express defeat The Midnight Express, Tommy Rich brawls with Abdullah the Butcher, and Sid Vicious wins a handicap match.

June 8: Samoa Joe becomes the first man to win a “King Of The Mountain” match to retain his TNA World title at Slammiversary against Christian Cage, Rhino, Booker T, and Robert Roode. Joe executes a musclebuster on Roode, climbs the ladder, and places his title on the overhead hook. Sadly, at the end of the night, TNA stage worker Kevin Sinex, 45, is killed while disassembling the Slammiversary set, after falling more than 25 feet to the floor.

June 21: Japanese legend Masatake “The Great” Kusatsu dies of cancer at 66.
June 23: WWE holds its annual draft, which sees WWE champion Triple-H, Jeff Hardy, Ken Kennedy, Umaga, and announcer Jim Ross join Smackdown; Batista, Rey Mysterio Jr., C.M. Punk, Kane, and Michael Cole join Raw; and Matt Hardy join ECW. The show also marks the conclusion of the Million-Dollar Mania promotion, where, after giving away the final cash prize, part of the Raw set collapses and falls on top of McMahon.

June 27: NWA champion Adam Pearce defeats Ring of Honor champion Nigel McGuinness by disqualification at a small show in Dayton, Ohio. McGuinness is also forced to contend with Pearce’s Sweet ’n’ Sour stablemates at ringside, prompting several members of ROH’s roster to come out to try to even the sides.

June 28: Bret Hart trashes wrestling writer Greg Oliver, on hand to receive the James C. Melby award for wrestling journalism, at the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Waterloo, Iowa. Oliver had ranked Hart as just the 14th greatest Canadian wrestler in his book Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians. After issuing an ultimatum that Oliver leave or he would, Hart walks out.

June 29: Smackdown’s Triple-H successfully defends his WWE championship against Raw’s John Cena, while Raw’s Batista falls short in his attempt to defeat Smackdown’s Edge for the WWE World title at Night of Champions. Meanwhile, ECW’s Mark Henry defeats ECW champion Kane (a member of the Raw brand) and Smackdown’s Big Show in a three-way match.

June30: C.M. Punk withdraws his “Money In The Bank” and defeats Edge for the World title on Raw. Edge was making a special Monday night appearance to gloat that Raw was left without a world title after Triple-H is drafted to Smackdown. Moments later, Batista stormed the ring and decimated Edge in revenge for being screwed in a match the night before. In the aftermath, Punk delivers his GTS against Edge to win the title.

July 6: New TNA competitor Mickie “Moose” Knuckles suffers a severe break in her leg while competing at an IWA: Mid-South show against Sara Del Rey.

July 13: Booker T steals Samoa Joe’s TNA World title at the conclusion of their Victory Road match in Booker’s hometown of Houston. Joe had thrashed Booker during the match, despite pleas for mercy from the challenger’s wife, Sharmell, and Sting. Soon, Sting hit Joe over the head with his bat while Sharmell registered the three-count in lieu of a referee. Also on the show, Team Mexico wins TNA’s World X Cup. TNA’s team captain—Frank Kazarian—would quit TNA days later.

July 14: John Bradshaw Layfield attempts to run over John Cena as the two brawl in a parking lot at the conclusion of Raw. Layfield leaves Cena leaning on a car, only to climb into his own vehicle and apparently sandwich him between the two cars. Raw goes off the air without an answer as to what happened to Cena.

July 17: After several weeks as a “fan” who gets the better of TNA Knockouts champion Awesome Kong, Taylor Wilde defeats the champion on an episode of Impact, not just winning her Knockouts title, but $25,000 of Kong’s cash. Only two weeks earlier, Wilde had been given a TNA contract by virtue of her win over Kong’s manager, Raisha Saeed.

July 18: Edge and Vickie Guerrero are married on an episode of Smackdown, only for Triple-H to crash the wedding and reveal Edge had cheated with the couple’s wedding coordinator, Alicia Fox. This news would not sit well with Edge, who was set to challenge Triple-H for the WWE World title 48 hours later at the Great American Bash.

July 20: Triple-H retains Smackdown’s top title against Edge on the same night in which Smackdown crowns Michelle McCool as its first-ever Diva’s champion with a win over Natalya Neidhart. The Great American Bash card also features a double disqualification between World champion C.M. Punk and Batista; a grudge match between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels that is ended when Michaels cannot continue; and a victory by John Bradshaw Layfield over John Cena in a New York City parking lot brawl.

July 24: Raven, Chris Kanyon, and Mike Sanders file a federal suit against WWE, contending that wrestlers—because they are unfairly classified as independent contractors—are deprived of necessary health benefits while also depriving the IRS of taxes.

July 28: With a stunned John Cena and Batista looking on, Mike Adamle announces that Shane McMahon has named him Raw’s newest general manager. That same day, in a non-televised event, Stephanie McMahon and Triple-H welcome the birth of their second daughter, Murphy Claire Levesque.

July 29: Former ECW star The Sandman is arrested in New York City after instigating a brawl while out celebrating the 75th birthday of Capt. Lou Albano.

August 2: Ring of Honor’s Brent Albright defeats Adam Pearce to win the NWA title at a ROH card in New York City … WWE announces that celebrity Freddie Prinze Jr. will join its creative team as a contributor for the Smackdown brand.

August 3: Just four months after losing his final wrestling match to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania, Ric Flair and WWE amicably part ways, paving the way for the “Nature Boy” to start participating in non-WWE events. Flair had been with the company for nearly seven years, most recently serving as a public relations ambassador.

August 7: WWE begins a series of talent cuts that lasts for several days and includes Shannon Moore, Nunzio, Stevie Richards, Big Daddy V, James Curtis, Domino, Cherry, Chris “Braden Walker” Harris, Colin Delaney, The Highlanders, and referees Wes Adams and Nick Patrick.

August 8: Former WWE announcer and personality Jonathan “Coach” Coachman appears as a broadcaster with ESPN for the first time since receiving his WWE release weeks earlier. The appearance marks the end of an 81⁄2-year stint with the company in which he had served as an announcer, wrestler, and on-air executive.

August 9: Former WWE star Brock Lesnar defeats Heath Herring at UFC 87, his first win since joining the MMA promotion.

August 10: Sting returns to TNA at the conclusion of the A.J. Styles-Kurt Angle last-man-standing match at Hard Justice, slamming the back of Styles’ head on the entrance ramp. Later in the night, TNA also teases the return of Jeff Jarrett when—after the arena lights go out—Samoa Joe uses a guitar to defeat Booker T in a hardcore six sides of steel match to retain his TNA World title.

August 17: Chris Jericho inadvertently strikes Shawn Michaels’ wife, Rebecca, at SummerSlam, as the couple made an appearance to announce Michaels would be retiring due to injuries. Also at SummerSlam, The Undertaker defeats Edge in a Hell in a Cell match, choke-slamming him off of a ladder and through the ring; Batista pins John Cena; WWE World champion Triple-H pins The Great Khali to retain his championship; and C.M. Punk defeats John Bradshaw Layfield to hold on to his World title.

August 20: Gail Kim’s TNA contract expires as rumors flair she will soon return to WWE. In spite of its inability to re-sign Kim to a longer deal, TNA goes through with airing her final match—a losing effort in a streetfight with Awesome Kong—a day later.

August 25: John Cena undergoes surgery in Pittsburgh to repair a herniated disk in his neck. At the time, renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon tells Cena he should be able to return to the ring in two to four months. Hours later, Cena shows up backstage at a Smackdown taping to visit with friends.

August 30: The wrestling world mourns the loss of Walter “Killer” Kowalski, who had been hospitalized following a heart attack a few weeks before. The 81-year-old wrestler was one of wrestling’s top villains for the AWA, NWA, and WWWF, and later the trainer of several top wrestlers, including Triple-H, Chyna, Frank Kazarian, and Perry Saturn.

September 5: Mick Foley makes his TNA debut at a house show in Long Island, New York. Foley, who had last been seen as a Smackdown announcer under attack by Edge a few weeks prior, speaks of his eagerness to try something new and give the relatively young promotion a boost … Ric Flair’s daughter Ashley is arrested for assaulting a police officer after he investigates an alleged case of domestic violence at her apartment. Flair is found inside the home, sporting a swollen black eye.

September 7: Chris Jericho and Matt Hardy become the lucky beneficiaries of Mike Adamle’s five-man championship scramble match concept at Unforgiven, winning the World and ECW titles, respectively. Jericho—who lost earlier to Shawn Michaels—replaced C.M. Punk in Raw’s portion of the main event after Punk was punted in the head by Randy Orton. Triple-H retains his WWE World title in the Smackdown scramble.

September 9: Kurt Angle is acquitted of charges that he drove under the influence of alcohol near his home in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, one year prior. Officials had claimed Angle failed a field sobriety test when the police came to his house.

September 14: In spite of a ringside brawl with Sting, Samoa Joe retains his TNA World title in a three-way No Surrender match with Kurt Angle and Christian Cage after Jeff Jarrett returns to smash a guitar over Angle’s head. Booker T was also scheduled to compete in the match, but was unable to attend the show due to Hurricane Ike hitting his native city of Houston … Former ECW valet and WWE Diva Dawn Marie holds a fund-raising event in Piscataway, New Jersey, for her newly formed “Wrestler’s Rescue” charity organization, designed to look after the needs of retired wrestlers.

September 17: Jeff Hardy is escorted from his flight at Nashville International Airport after he is deemed by flight attendants as too intoxicated to fly back to North Carolina. Hardy, who is on the flight with his brother, Matt, and friend Gregory Helms, quietly makes other arrangements. Fans of Hardy fear he is at risk for a third—and final—strike under WWE’s Wellness Policy.

September 18: Amid chants of “Welcome back,” Jeff Jarrett takes the microphone in the center of the ring at the Impact Zone. The TNA founder criticizes Sting for his recent actions against TNA’s originals, stating, “This isn’t WCW, it’s TNA. And I’m not going to stand for it.” After Jarrett is challenged to a match by Kurt Angle, Mick Foley makes his televised TNA debut on the big screen, coming to Jarrett’s defense.

October 4: WWE Smackdown debuts for MyNetworkTV in its usual time slot. During the show, Russian Vladimir Kozlov attacks and lays out both Jeff Hardy and Triple-H. The episode attracts 3.2 million viewers, enabling MyNetworkTV to pull ahead of The CW for fifth place among cable networks.

October 10: Scott Hall incites violence during a roast for The Iron Sheik in Monroe, New Jersey. According to reports, Hall is angered when comedian Jimmy Graham makes a joke about the late Owen Hart. Hall charges Graham, knocking over the podium and going off on a tirade of obscene words and gestures.

October 12: Sting pins Samoa Joe to win the TNA World title at Bound For Glory IV in Hoffman Estates, just outside of Chicago. Meanwhile, Jeff Jarrett defeats Kurt Angle with some help from specially appointed ringside enforcer Mick Foley. Booker T defeats A.J. Styles and Christian Cage in a three-way match.

October 14: Lance Cade is released from his WWE contract after suffering a presumably drug-related seizure on a flight. Jim Ross refers to Cade’s situation as a case of bad judgment.

October 18: Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling program debuts on Country Music Television. The show features guest judges Eric Bischoff and Jimmy Hart, trainers Brian Knobbs and Brutus Beefcake, and special guest instructors Rob Van Dam and Bill Goldberg.

October 19: Former promoter Lia Maivia, wife of the late Peter Maivia and grandmother of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, dies of a heart attack at 77 in her Davie, Florida, home.

October 23: On the same night in which TNA debuts its new, high-definition set at an Impact taping in Las Vegas, TNA World champion Sting, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, and Booker T align to form a stable of former world champions. The Main Event Mafia goes on to wage war against the TNA talent they claim lacks respect for the business. Scott Steiner is added to the group one week later.

October 24: Sixty-three-year-old Conrad Efraim, better known to WWF fans as Special Delivery Jones, suffers a severe stroke that ultimately takes his life. Jones battled King Kong Bundy in a losing effort at the first WrestleMania.

October 25: Gabe Sapolsky is relieved of his duties as Ring of Honor booker after serving in that capacity for all six years of the company’s history. He is replaced by Adam Pearce … In Newark, Delaware, the ECWA crowns its 12th Super 8 tournament champion, coincidentally just the second since 1998 to be an active member of the ECWA roster. Aden Chambers pins AAA (and former CMLL) competitor Alex Koslov in the final match of the evening to win the coveted trophy. The tournament also features recently released WWE wrestler Shannon Moore.

October 26: Batista wins Chris Jericho’s World title at Cyber Sunday in a match in which the fans voted in Steve Austin as the referee. The match is marred by the interference of Shawn Michaels, John Bradshaw Layfield, and Randy Orton. In other action, Triple-H pins Jeff Hardy to retain his WWE title, ECW champion Matt Hardy defeats Evan Bourne, and The Undertaker beats The Big Show in a last-man-standing match.

October 31: ECW wrestler The Miz makes a special appearance on The Sci-Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters program.

November 3: Chris Jericho regains the World championship from Batista in a steel cage match that headlines a Raw commemorating the program’s 800th episode. The title is the fifth major title of Jericho’s career, and the second he held in the course of a week. On the same show, Mike Adamle resigns from his position as Raw general manager, claiming he “lost his cool” by slapping Randy Orton the week prior. Within days, Adamle is gone from WWE altogether.

November 7: In another round of cost-cutting moves that take place over several days, WWE begins releasing several wrestlers. Those to lose their jobs include Elijah Burke, Chuck Palumbo, Paul London, Kenny Dykstra, Armando Estrada, and Lena Yada.

November 9: The Main Event Mafia sweeps all of its matches at Turning Point, including Sting’s successful defense of the TNA World title against A.J. Styles; Kurt Angle’s win in a falls-count-anywhere match against Abyss; Booker T’s retaining of the new TNA legend’s championship by pinning Christian Cage; and Kevin Nash’s defeat of Samoa Joe after a low blow.

November 13: Christian Cage makes his final appearance on TNA Impact, suffering a beatdown at the hands of all five Main Event Mafia members. Within days, it becomes clear that the company has been unable to resign the former TNA World champion before his three-year contract expired.

November 15: Brock Lesnar defeats legendary UFC competitor Randy Couture to win the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 91 in Las Vegas. Despite being an underdog in the match, Lesnar wins by technical knockout in the second round.

November 22: TNA star Samoa Joe returns to Ring of Honor for the promotion’s Rising Above event in Chicago, where he defeats Tyler Black with a musclebuster and chokehold submission. The event—taped for pay-per-view—also features ROH champion Nigel McGuinness’ successful defense against Bryan Danielson.

November 23: Before his hometown Boston fans, John Cena returns from a neck injury to win the World title from Chris Jericho in the main event at Survivor Series. On the same show, Edge makes a surprise return as well, replacing Jeff Hardy to win the WWE title from Triple-H in a three-way match also involving Vladamir Kozlov. Hours prior to the show, WWE.com reported that Jeff Hardy was found unconscious in the stairwell of his hotel. Fans were immediately concerned that Hardy was again battling personal demons until it became clear he had been attacked as part of an angle.

December 4: Former WWE developmental star and ECWA Super 8 winner Steve Bradley is found dead in his parked car just outside his former wrestling school in Manchester, New Hampshire. Even though no cause of death was established, the 32-year-old was known to have had a history of drug abuse.

December 6: Former NBA star and NWO member Dennis Rodman wins the first Celebrity Championship Wrestling belt, outlasting Dustin “Screech” Diamond and Todd Bridges on the show’s finale … That same night, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair appear at a show at Vance High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, participating in the professional debut of Flair’s son Reid.

December 7: Sting holds on to his TNA World title with a win by his team in an eight-man tag team match. Sting teams with Booker T, Kevin Nash, and Scott Steiner in a match where his title is at stake against an A.J. Styles-led team. Sting pins Samoa Joe to keep his belt.

December 13: Former ECW champion Bobby Lashley wins his debut match for the Mixed Fighting Alliance’s There Will Be Blood event at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. Lashley defeats fellow newcomer Joshua Franklin when the referee calls for the bell after just 41 seconds.

December 14: Jeff Hardy surprises WWE fans by winning the WWE title from Edge at Armageddon in a three-way match also featuring Triple-H. Hardy’s brother, Matt, comes to his aid after Vladimir Kozlov comes down to interfere. That same night, John Cena defeats Chris Jericho once again to retain the World title.

December 15: After tearing his hamstring and falling victim to an attack by Randy Orton and new allies Cody Rhodes and Manu, Batista is sidelined indefinitely. Doctors inform the former champion that he will miss an estimated 6-8 months of action, taking him out of all plans for the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 25. WWE claims Batista’s hamstring had been bothering him since his SummerSlam match with John Cena.

December 19: Darren Aronofsky’s movie The Wrestler opens in select cities to extremely positive reviews. The fictional film chronicles the life of aging wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) and the extreme difficulties he experiences in his life and career after his health begins to fade. Ernest Miller, Ron Killings, and Romeo Roselli are among the wrestlers with roles … WWE announces an agreement with WGN America to relaunch its one-hour Superstars program in April 2009.

December 20: NBC airs WWE’s Tribute To The Troops special, taped at the Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq. The show features a six-man tag match with John Cena, Batista, and Rey Mysterio Jr. facing Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and The Big Show, as well as footage from the wrestlers’ visit with the personnel serving overseas.

December 22: Trish Stratus makes a surprise in-ring return for Raw in Toronto, teaming with John Cena to defeat Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella.

2009

January 2: Henry Waxman, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives, releases the transcripts of interviews with Vince, Linda, and Stephanie McMahon, and Dixie Carter. Waxman also publishes results of several WWE Wellness tests, as well as an extremely critical letter of wrestling to John Walters, National Drug Control Policy director.

January 4: Wrestlers from TNA, All Japan, NOAH, Zero-1, and CMLL participate in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual Tokyo Dome show, competing before 40,000 fans. The card sees The Motor City Machine Guns defeat No Limit for the IWGP International junior tag title, Team 3-D win the International heavyweight tag belts in a hardcore match against Togi Makabe and Toru Yano, and Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Masa Chono, and Riki Choshu defeat Karl Anderson, Giant Bernard, Takashi Iizuka, and Tomohiro Ishii. These matches are taped to air in October, on a special episode of Global Impact on Spike TV.

January 9: WWE announces it will lay off 10 percent of its staff, as part of a bid to save the company approximately $8-million in annual compensation and benefits. While most of the cuts affect office staff, a number of television personalities are also impacted, including Bob Holly, Val Venis, D-Lo Brown, and longtime referees Jimmy Korderas and Tim White.

January 11: At Genesis, Mick Foley wins his TNA debut match, teaming with Frontline members A.J. Styles and Brother Devon against a Main Event Mafia team comprised of Booker T, Scott Steiner, and Kip James (substituting for Kevin Nash).

January 12: The still-undefeated Jack Swagger wins the ECW title from Matt Hardy during an ECW television taping in Sioux City, Iowa. The Perry, Oklahoma, native would go on to hold the belt for 104 days, before finally losing the belt to Christian at Backlash.

January 13: Forty-eight-year-old Larry Kean Jr.—who is best known as Moondog Cujo and Cousin Junior throughout Memphis, the AWA, and the WWF—dies of a heart attack, in Franklin, Indiana. Kean wrestled from 1983 to 1995, and, after briefly retiring, returned to the ring in 2007 to reprise his role as Moondog Cujo.

January 16: On an episode of Smackdown, Victoria wrestles what is believed to be her last match in a losing effort to Michelle McCool … Thirty-three-year-old independent wrestler Paul E. Normous is found dead. Ironically, the former Ring of Honor talent and WWE developmental wrestler is as visible as ever at the time of his death for his cameo in the film The Wrestler.

January 25: Randy Orton wins the Royal Rumble, last tossing Triple-H to win the match and a WrestleMania title shot. Also on the card, Matt Hardy’s interference costs his brother Jeff the WWE title in a match against Edge.

January 26: Ring of Honor secures a television contract with HDNet to air a weekly program.

February 2: Controversial wrestling whistle-blower Jim Wilson dies from cancer at 67. A former NFL player, Wilson became a full-time wrestler in the 1970s. Unfortunately, his career took a negative turn after he allegedly turned down the sexual advances of NWA promoter Jim Barnett, and was believed to be blackballed by most wrestling promoters of the time. In response, Wilson took his campaign to the public eye, accusing the wrestling community of a tradition of political blacklisting, racism, sexism, and exploitation.

February 5: Former wrestler and Mexican film star Renato “The Hippie” Torres (Adolfo Contreras) dies of a heart attack.

February 7: Chris Jericho is involved in a parking lot confrontation with fans after a house show in Victoria, British Columbia. While trying to leave the arena, Jericho reportedly shoves a 20-year-old woman, who spits in his face, after he gets out of his car. The rowdy fans are soon forced to leave by security. The incident receives national coverage, with portions of it posted TMZ and YouTube. Jericho is not punished for the incident.

February 8: TNA’s Against All Odds sees Sting pin Team 3-D’s Brother Ray to successfully defend his World title. Sting is also forced to contend with Brother Devon and fellow Main Event Mafia member Kurt Angle, in the four-way main event.

February 9: MyNetworkTV announces it will change formats, and that Friday Night Smackdown will be the only original programming it will offer. The announcement raises a lot of questions about the future viability of Smackdown.

February 15: On the same night he loses his WWE championship title in an Elimination Chamber, Edge capitalizes on his relationship with Vickie Guerrero to win the WWE World title in a second Elimination Chamber later in the night at No Way Out. With Guerrero serving as interim GM for Raw, Edge attacks Kofi Kingston and takes his place in the chamber, defeating champion John Cena, Kane, Rey Mysterio Jr., Chris Jericho, and Mike Knox.

February 17: Christian makes his surprising return to WWE during an episode of ECW On Syfy. The appearance is the first for the former NWA World champion since being attacked by the Main Event Mafia after TNA’s Turning Point pay-per-view.

February 19: Sting and Kurt Angle battle in an empty arena match, in Orlando, Florida, on an episode of Impact. After fighting throughout the arena, Sting appears poised to hit his Main Event Mafia partner with a steel chair, but Kevin Nash intervenes to make the save. Nash implores both men to stop their feud for the sake of the group. Both men shake hands and appear to make peace, before Angle spits in Sting’s face.

February 24: Vince McMahon officially announces Glendale, Arizona, as the host city for WrestleMania 26, to be held on March 28, 2010, in the 74,000-seat University of Phoenix Stadium. At a press conference to mark the announcement, McMahon and several wrestlers are joined by Mayor Elaine Scruggs and Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

March 9: John Cena blackmails his way into the WrestleMania 25 World title match between Edge and The Big Show. On an episode of Raw, Cena threatens to reveal a secret that includes compromising footage of Raw GM Vickie Guerrero. Guerrero adds Cena to the match, but he still reveals that Guerrero has been cheating on her husband, Edge, with Show. Meanwhile, WWE heavyweight champion Triple-H invades Randy Orton’s St. Louis home and assaults him. The attack, which is broadcast via satellite, shows Triple-H throw Orton through a glass window before being hauled off by local police.

March 12: Survivor: The Amazon alumna Jenna Morasca makes her debut with TNA on an episode of Impact. Morasca is shown in an interview segment with Mick Foley, and then later makes several appearances alongside Kevin Nash and other Main Event Mafia members.

March 13: Andrew “Test” Martin is found dead in his Tampa apartment after a neighbor notices he had been sitting motionless for several hours. Authorities would later reveal that both painkillers and anabolic steroids were found in his residence. The cause of death is later listed as an accidental overdose of Oxycontin. The 6’8”, 300-pounder competed for WWE from 1999 until 2004, then again in 2006 and 2007 before a short stint in TNA as The Punisher.

March 21: Ring of Honor makes its debut on HDNet, at 11 p.m. EDT. The show features matches that had been taped at The Arena in South Philadelphia three weeks earlier. Headlined by a grudge match between Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs, the show received a lot of buzz thanks to Ric Flair praising ROH for having some of the brightest stars of the future.

March 15: Sting capitalizes on interference from Jeff Jarrett and Mick Foley to vanquish Kurt Angle at Destination X. Jarrett, who is scheduled to be guest referee for the match, is knocked out and replaced by Foley. After Angle hits Foley with a low blow, Foley inadvertently hits Sting with a steel chair. Soon, Jarrett recovers to attack Angle, who Sting then defeats with a Scorpion Deathdrop.

March 22: Mexican lucha libre wrestler Abismo Negro (Andres Alejandro Palomeque Gonzalez) is found floating in a river in El Rosario, Mexico. According to reports, the 37-year-old masked star was riding a bus to Mexico City when he became extremely anxious and asked the driver to drop him off. Negro would later call his wife to tell her he was lost on a dark hillside, which prompted her to contact promoter Vincente Martinez, who organized a search party. An autopsy is never conducted. Negro began wrestling in 1987, at 16, and had worked for CMLL, AAA, WWF, and TNA.

March 27: John Cena’s second film, 12 Rounds, makes its theater debut earning a lackluster $5.3-million in its opening weekend. In the film, Cena plays police officer Danny Fisher, who is in pursuit of a criminal that had kidnapped his girlfriend. The film ultimately pulls in $17-million worldwide. 

April 3: Jerry Lynn, 46, pins Nigel McGuinness after a cradle piledriver to win the Ring of Honor title at Supercard of Honor IV in Houston, Texas. The fans were not aware that, despite a torn biceps muscle, McGuinness had refused to back out of the match.

April 4: Steve Austin headlines the WWE Hall of Fame class, and is inducted by longtime nemesis Vince McMahon. The ceremony, which is televised on USA Network, also includes the inductions of Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr., Rick Steamboat, Koko B. Ware, the Von Erichs, and longtime ring announcer Howard Finkel.

April 5: At WrestleMania 25, The Undertaker defeats Shawn Michaels to extend his WrestleMania winning streak one more year. The match, which lasts more than a half-hour and leaves ringside fans standing after dozens of near-falls, ends when ’Taker catches Michaels during an attempted moonsault and delivers his Tombstone piledriver. In other action, Triple-H retains his WWE title in a no-holds-barred match with Randy Orton, John Cena defeats World champion Edge in a triple-threat match that also involves The Big Show to win the title, and C.M. Punk wins his second consecutive Money in the Bank ladder match.

April 13: WWE conducts its 2009 draft, moving Intercontinental champion Rey Mysterio Jr. and Women’s champion Melina to Smackdown and U.S. champion MVP and Divas champion Maryse to Raw. Raw also acquires Triple-H, The Big Show, Matt Hardy, and The Miz, while Smackdown wins the services C.M. Punk, Chris Jericho, and Kane. As for ECW, despite the loss of several wrestlers, it is awarded only Smackdown’s Vladimir Kozlov.

April 14: Former Ring of Honor booker Gabe Sapolsky announces the opening of Dragon Gate USA, a sister promotion of Japan’s Dragon Gate. Sapolsky, who had maintained a business relationship with the company since 2005, would serve as vice president.

April 16: WWE Superstars makes its return to WWE programming for the first time since 2001, with a debut show on WGN America. The show, which draws a 0.9 rating, is headlined by a match between The Undertaker and Jeff Hardy—a countout victory for The Undertaker.

April 19: Mick Foley, channeling some of his more savage Cactus Jack days in WCW, wins the TNA World title from Sting in a steel cage match at Lockdown. Meanwhile, in a Lethal Lockdown match, Jeff Jarrett’s team, which includes A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, and Daniels defeats a Main Event Mafia team comprised of Kurt Angle, Scott Steiner, Booker T, and Kevin Nash. The show also marks the TNA introduction of former ECW champion and current MMA competitor Bobby Lashley.

April 26: WWE’s three primary titles change hands at Backlash, as Edge regains the World title from John Cena in a last-man-standing match that is marred with interference from The Big Show. Christian wins the ECW title from Jack Swagger, and Randy Orton pins Triple-H in a six-man tag team match in which Triple-H’s WWE title is on the line.

April 28: “Playboy” Buddy Rose is found dead in his home in Vancouver, Washington, of diabetes complications. He was 56. Rose, who first began wrestling in 1973, had made a name for himself in the AWA and the WWF, as well as Pacific Northwest Wrestling. Despite the success of his tag team with Doug Somers in the AWA, Rose is best known for his comedy “Blow Away Diet” vignettes in the WWF in the early-1990s.

May 6: Hiroshi Tanahashi is defeated by his mentor, 41-year-old Manabu Nakanishi for the IWGP championship in a match at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

May 12: Dr. Phil Astin III, the physician accused of illegally prescribing drugs to Chris Benoit, is sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after a hearing in the Northern District of Georgia. Astin pleads guilty to 175 counts against him and admits to illegally distributing to 19 patients—even filling prescriptions in the names of two patients without their knowledge.

May 15: In his MMA debut for the Maximum Fighting Championship League, Bobby Lashley beats Mike Cook with a guillotine choke just 24 seconds into the match.

May 17: Randy Orton fends off a returning Batista to retain his WWE title at Judgment Day by slapping the referee to get himself disqualified. Batista faces an assault by Orton’s Legacy teammates, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr., but is saved by a returning Ric Flair.

May 19: Vince McMahon announces that the May 25 edition of Raw will take place at the Staples Center, the home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The announcement ends much speculation as to what McMahon would do after E. Stan Kroenke, the owner the Denver Nuggets and their home arena, the Pepsi Center, contacted WWE to inform them that his facility would be unable to host Raw because of the Nuggets’ upcoming playoff game against the Lakers. The McMahon/Kroenke dispute garners national headlines, mostly in favor of McMahon for what is deemed as unfair treatment and poor planning on the part of Kroenke’s staff. At the Los Angeles show, McMahon ridicules and assaults a Kroenke look-alike; in Denver, the Nuggets win the game, but eventually lose the series.

May 24: Per pre-match stipulation, Sting becomes the new leader of the Main Event Mafia after pinning Kurt Angle in a four-way title match at TNA Sacrifice. The match also features champion Mick Foley and Jeff Jarrett.

May 29: Former wrestler and manager John Tolos dies at 78 following a series of strokes and heart attacks … Ken Anderson (Kennedy) is released from his WWE contract just a few days after a backstage confrontation with Randy Orton. Anderson, who had made his surprise return on the May 26 Raw, had injured Orton’s wrist and nearly re-injured Orton’s shoulder after an awkward dropm … Ric Flair makes an appearance for Ring of Honor during TV tapings at The Arena in South Philadelphia and announces he will step down from his position as ROH ambassador to rejoin WWE.

June 7: Only moments after Jeff Hardy wins his second WWE World title from Edge at Extreme Rules, he falls victim to C.M. Punk’s Money in the Bank title shot. Punk is criticized by fans and wrestlers alike for taking a shortcut to the championship. In other matches: Batista wins the WWE title in a steel cage match against Randy Orton, and Tommy Dreamer wins his second ECW title with a win over champion Christian and Jack Swagger in a triple-threat match.

June 8: Batista is forced to vacate his newly won WWE heavyweight title due to yet another injury when Legacy attacks his arm by putting it in a chair and stomping on it … Umaga is released after violating the WWE Wellness Policy for a second time and refusing to enter a rehab program.

June 10: Austin Aries wins the Ring of Honor title from Jerry Lynn in a three-way elimination match also featuring Tyler Black at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Aries becomes the first two-time ROH champion … The family of Nancy Benoit files a wrongful death suit against Dr. Phil Astin III, the physician who prescribed anabolic steroids and other medications to Chris Benoit.

June 13: Mitsuharu Misawa dies after absorbing a blow to the head in his match in which he teamed with Go Shiozaki against Bison Smith and Akitoshi Saito. After absorbing a Saito suplex, Misawa goes into cardiac arrest and cannot be resuscitated. After starting his career as the second Tiger Mask, Misawa went on to achieve a reputation as one of the finest wrestlers in the world. He was a five-time All Japan Triple-Crown champion and a former holder of NOAH’s GHC title.

June 15: Donald Trump buys the Raw brand from Vince McMahon, in a memorable edition of the Monday night show. Trump would sell Raw back to McMahon for twice the price just a week later, but not without leaving his mark on the brand: First, he refunds all of the fans in Green Bay, Wisconsin, their money, essentially making it a free Raw. Second, he negotiates with the USA Network to air the June 22 show commercial-free. Finally and most lasting, Trump announces that rather than naming a new general manager to replace the departed Vickie Guerrero, Raw will feature a special celebrity guest host each week. Also on the show, Randy Orton recaptures the vacant WWE heavyweight championship in a four-way match.

June 21: Behind the back of Main Event Mafia leader Sting, Samoa Joe joins the faction, aiding arch-rival Kurt Angle in winning King of the Mountain—and Mick Foley’s TNA World title—at Slammiversary. Also on the card: Suicide wins an X division King of the Mountain match. Angelina Love regains her Knockouts championship from Tara, and Beer Money Inc. wins back the World tag team championship from Team-3D.

June 27: Former ECW valet Francine Fournier-Meeks promotes an ECW reunion show at The Arena. Many ECW alumni—including Terry Funk, The Sandman, Raven, Justin Credible, Al Snow, Jerry Lynn, and Rhino—make an appearance at Legends of the Arena, raising more than $6,000 for cancer research. The effects of cancer had profoundly impacted Fournier, as she lost both her father and one of her sisters to the disease in the course of just one week in 2008.

July 5: Waldo Von Erich (Walter Sieber) and Karl Von Brauner die in Kitchener, Ontario, and northern California, respectively. Sieber wrestled primarily in Toronto and Calgary before moving to the U.S. and repackaging himself as a German villain. Von Erich, together with his storyline brother, Fritz, won several NWA Southern and American tag team championships. He also feuded with Bruno Sammartino over the WWWF title. Von Brauner, who had his name legally changed from Doug Donnan, was one of four storyline Von Brauner brothers. 

July 8: Jerry Lawler announces he will once again run for mayor of Memphis, Tennessee. A few months later, Lawler places fifth among the candidates, garnering just four percent of the vote.

July 11: Brock Lesnar knocks out Frank Mir at UFC 100 to become UFC heavyweight champion. Following the match, Lesnar finds himself embroiled in controversy for his post-match rant, during which he flips off the fans in attendance and trashes UFC sponsor Bud Light in favor of Coors Light.

July 19: The Main Event Mafia reigns supreme at Victory Road as Kurt Angle retains the TNA World title against Mick Foley, Kevin Nash captures the Legends title from A.J. Styles, and Booker T and Scott Steiner defeat Beer Money Inc. to win the World tag title. Also, former WWE announcer Taz makes his TNA debut as Samoa Joe’s mystery mentor.

July 21: An anonymous caller to the Bubba The Love Sponge radio show reveals that Kurt Angle’s ex-wife, Karen, has been secretly having an affair with Jeff Jarrett for several months. Apparently, the report has some validity to it, as TNA President Dixie Carter is quick to send Jarrett home in what appears to be an attempt to diffuse the situation. Jarrett misses several months with the company.

July 25: Dragon Gate USA makes its American debut with a show at The Arena in Philadelphia. The tapings—which include matches that will be featured on pay-per-view at a later date—are entitled Open the Historic Gate and feature internationally recognized names such as Yamato, BXB Hulk, and Dragon Kid … In Toronto, retired ECW, WCW, and WWF star Lance Storm makes his return and Ring of Honor debut, teaming with Kevin Steen to defeat Chris Hero and Davey Richards.

July 26: Jeff Hardy recaptures theWWE World title from C.M. Punk at Night of Champions. In other results: Christian beats Tommy Dreamer to reclaim the ECW championship, and Chris Jericho names The Big Show as his new tag team partner in place of Edge, who was forced to abdicate his portion of the Unified title due to an Achilles tendon injury. Jeri-Show defeats Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. to retain the Unified tag team title.

July 27: Serving a guest host of Raw, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal stands face-to-face with The Big Show. Later in the evening, Shaq, as special referee in a Jeri-Show-Cryme Tyme tag match, sends Show tumbling from the ring, which prompts wrestling fans to wonder if the two will eventually have a match.

August 12: Karl Von Hess (Frank Faketty) dies at what is believed to be the age of 80. Faketty—who portrayed a German Nazi in the 1950s and 1960s—first gained notoriety in the Pacific Northwest before moving on to work for the WWWF under Vince McMahon Sr.

August 15: Kurt Angle is arrested after his former girlfriend, Rhaka Khan (Trenesha Biggers), files a protection order from abuse. Angle is arrested and incarcerated for nine hours on charges of driving with a suspended license, drug possession, and harassment. Angle is subsequently exonerated of all charges after a hearing.

August 16: Kurt Angle retains his TNA World title in a three-way match against Sting and Matt Morgan at Hard Justice, while Samoa Joe wins the X title with a victory over Homicide.

August 23: WWE SummerSlam sees the return of The Undertaker, who chokeslams new World champion C.M. Punk after Punk defeats Jeff Hardy in a ladder match.

August 24: Boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather makes his return to WWE as a guest host for Raw, interfering in a tag team match that involves his WrestleMania 24 opponent The Big Show. During a non-title tag match pitting Show and Chris Jericho against MVP and Mark Henry, Mayweather slides a pair of brass knuckles into the ring for MVP to use against his opponents.

September 2: Rey Mysterio Jr. is suspended for 30 days for violating WWE’s Wellness Program, and subsequently draws the ire of WWE officials for an unauthorized interview in Mexico in which he claims he was never given due process by WWE. In reality, WWE has a policy whereby the suspected wrestler has a certain period of time in which to produce evidence of a prescription that explains the test results. Mysterio fails to meet this deadline and subsequently drops his Intercontinental title to John Morrison on Smackdown.

September 3: Angelina Love is released from her TNA contract due to issues with her U.S. visa. The Toronto-born Love reportedly never had her work visa renewed after leaving WWE’s developmental system. The former Knockouts champion is quickly replaced in The Beautiful People by newcomer Lacey Von Erich.

September 11: According to police, a raid at the home of Jeff Hardy uncovers 262 Vicodin prescription pills, 180 Soma prescription pills, 555 milliliters of anabolic steroids, trace amounts of cocaine, and drug paraphernalia. Hardy is immediately taken into custody. The news surfaces just days after Hardy wrestles his final match with WWE … Kerry Brown, a former wrestler in the U.S. Midwest and for Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, dies at 51.

September 13: John Cena defeats Randy Orton for the WWE heavyweight title at Breaking Point in an “I Quit” match. Cena is handcuffed to the ring railing and beaten with a kendo stick during the match, but does not give up.

September 16: WWE CEO Linda McMahon announces she will run for a Republican Senate seat, representing her home state of Connecticut. McMahon is criticized for her participation in some of WWE’s past storylines. Vince McMahon announces he will fill the CEO position vacated by his wife on an interim basis.

September 20: A.J. Styles wins the TNA World title by defeating champion Kurt Angle, Sting, Matt Morgan, and Hernandez at No Surrender. The controversial ending sees Sting and Styles both standing atop a downed Angle, with Sting opting to leap out of the ring to take out Morgan, allowing Styles to claim the pinfall victory for himself. Meanwhile, Bobby Lashley defeats Rhino in his TNA debut match, and Sarita and Taylor Wilde become the first Knockouts tag team champions, defeating Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne in a tournament final.

September 26: Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness work their final date with Ring of Honor, and are believed to be headed to WWE. Their match at the Manhattan Center in New York City is met with a standing ovation from the crowd. That same night, deposed TNA official Jim Cornette makes his ROH return, coming out to the surprise of the crowd and offering up some choice words for former colleagues such as Vince Russo and Dixie Carter.

October 2: WWE Smackdown celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a memorable show, highlighted by a special, pre-recorded message from The Rock, as well as clips from historic moments from Smackdown’s past, including videos featuring Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, and Eddie Guerrero.

October 4: WWE presents Hell in a Cell, a pay-per-view headlined by three HIAC matches. The card sees The Undertaker open the show by winning the World title from C.M. Punk, John Cena recapture the WWE title from Randy Orton, and D-X defeat Legacy.

October 9: Beverly “B.J.” Race, the wife of Harley Race, dies after several days in the hospital with fever and flu-like symptoms. B.J., who was instrumental in the running of her husband’s promotion and wrestling school, was 60.

October 10: Nick Logan wins the ECWA’s annual Super 8 tournament, defeating Prince Nana and Quiet Storm en route to the final, where he forced former WWE developmental prospect Tomasso Ciampa to submit. Remarkably, Nick’s brothers Matt and Bryan win ECWA’s tag team title on the same night, after winning a Summit battle royal for a title shot, then defeating The Arion Brothers.

October 14: Famous wrestling and mainstream personality Capt. Lou Albano dies at 76. Albano, who began his career as one-half of The Sicilians tag team with Tony Altimore, would achieve greater recognition as a manager in the (W)WWF. In addition to leading the charge for Ivan Koloff in his upset win over Bruno Sammartino for the World title, Albano also led numerous teams, including The British Bulldogs, The Valiants, and the Samoans, to tag team gold. In the 1980s, Albano gained greater fame as “Dad” in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” music video, helping usher in the WWF’s Rock ’n’ Wrestling era.

October 16: Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon’s only son, announces he is resigning from WWE, effective January 1, 2010. “Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn,” Shane says in a news release on wwe.com. “While it is the most difficult decision I have ever made, it is time for me to move on. I will always love this business and will remain a fan forever.”

October 18: A.J. Styles defeats Sting in what is billed as potentially Sting’s final TNA match at Bound for Glory in Irvine, California. Following the match, Styles invites Sting back to the ring to talk to the fans. He does not fill them in as to whether he will ever again wrestle.

October 22: Former Ring of Honor star Nigel McGuinness makes his TNA debut on an episode of Impact, attacking Kurt Angle during a backstage interview segment with Jeremy Borash. McGuinness quickly rechristens himself Desmond Wolfe. After Angle challenges Wolfe to a fight, he responds with a jawbreaker lariat, after which Angle has to be stretchered out of the arena. The news surprises a number of wrestling fans, after rumors had leaked the month before that McGuinness would be headed to WWE, along with Bryan Danielson.

October 25: A Raw team, captained by D-X members Shawn Michaels and Triple-H loses to a Smackdown team, headed by Chris Jericho and Kane, at Bragging Rights. During the match, Jericho’s partner The Big Show, who is actually a part of the Raw team, turns on Kofi Kingston to allow his partner to pick up the win.

October 29: On Impact, TNA airs footage from a recent press conference at Madison Square Garden in New York City, touting the signing of Hulk Hogan with the company. The press conference, which includes Hogan, TNA President Dixie Carter, and longtime Hogan business partner Eric Bischoff, generates buzz throughout the wrestling world, which immediately speculates on how long it will be before Hogan is appearing on Thursday nights.

November 6: Dixie Carter issues a speech to TNA’s entire roster on Impact during which she chides TNA talent who are not 100 percent behind her bringing in Hulk Hogan.

November 13: Ring of Honor establishes a “Pick 6” tournament to decide who can challenge Austin Aries for his ROH title. Under this format, six wrestlers—seeded 1-6—can challenge for the championship, with higher-ranking wrestlers receiving preference. Consequently, other wrestlers can earn a title shot by defeating one of those six men, in essence taking their position.

November 15: TNA Turning Point is headlined by a three-way match between TNA World champion A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, and Daniels—a rematch of the 2005 encounter that is widely regarded as one of TNA’s best matches of all-time. Meanwhile, Kurt Angle is able to squeeze out a win over newcomer Desmond Wolfe, forcing him to submit to a triangle chokehold.

November 16: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper eliminates rumors that he is on death’s door, hosting a special edition of Raw from Madison Square Garden. The show features an appearance by The Iron Sheik, and is headlined by a special, three-way tag match involving D-X, Chris Jericho and The Big Show, and World and WWE heavyweight champions The Undertaker and John Cena, respectively.

November 17: Ric Flair bloodies Hulk Hogan at a press conference for Hogan’s “Hulkamania” tour of Australia. Flair goes on to make his return to the wrestling ring, headlining the Australian tour with a series of matches against Hogan himself. The “Nature Boy” goes 0-for-4 against Hogan on the tour, which includes stops in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne.

November 22: At Survivor Series, John Cena defeats Shawn Michaels and Triple-H to retain his WWE heavyweight title, while The Undertaker overcomes Chris Jericho and The Big Show to keep his World title. The night also serves as the genesis for a strong youth movement in WWE, with men such as Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, and The Miz all stepping up to defeat a team headed by John Morrison. In another elimination match, Kofi Kingston pins both C.M. Punk and Randy Orton in a matter of 11 seconds, to gain victory for his team.

November 23: Jesse Ventura returns to WWE to host a special edition of Raw. The show is historic for a number of reasons, including that Sheamus’ performance in a qualifying match and battle royal earns him a future title match with John Cena at TLC. Ventura also forces Vince McMahon to dress up in his old, trademark tuxedo, as the duo team to offer commentary for the main event battle royal. It is the first time McMahon and Ventura have joined forces at the announcers’ desk since early-1990.

November 25: Dragon Gate USA frontman Gabe Sapolsky launches EVOLVE wrestling with Ring of Honor’s Davey Richards and Full Impact Pro Wrestling founder Sal Hamaoui. Sapolsky announces that the promotion will host its first show, in Rahway, New Jersey, in January 2010.

December 4: Fresh off of his performances at Australia’s “Hulkamania” tour, former WWE wrestler Edward “Umaga” Fatu is rushed to the hospital, where the former Intercontinental champion is pronounced dead hours later. Umaga, who was discovered by his wife in an unresponsive state, was rushed to the hospital, where it was believed he had a series of heart attacks. Fatu was 36.

December 13: Less than six months after making his WWE debut, Sheamus upsets John Cena for the WWE heavyweight title in a tables match at TLC. The match is one of four themed title matches, with The Undertaker defeating Batista in a chairs match to retain his World title, ECW champion Christian defeating Shelton Benjamin in a ladder match, and D-X winning the WWE Unified tag team title from Chris Jericho and The Big Show in a TLC match.

December 14: WWE presents its special Slammy episode of Raw, which sees John Cena win a mini tournament to be named the Superstar of the Year, prompting him to challenge Sheamus to a rematch for the WWE heavyweight title. Of note is that Dennis Miller—the comedian who is serving as guest host—tells Vince McMahon that he would like to see Bret Hart host a future Raw, to the delight of the audience. The proclamation immediately sparks rumors that Hart could soon be making his WWE return.

December 20: A.J. Styles retains his TNA World title in a grudge match against former friend Daniels at Final Resolution. Meanwhile, Kurt Angle vanquishes Desmond Wolfe after defeating him in a special 2/3 falls match. Wolfe is awarded the first pinfall-only fall, but then loses to Angle in both a submissions-only fall and steel cage match.

December 28: Vince McMahon, at the urging of Shawn Michaels, confirms that Bret Hart will host the Raw episode on January 4, which will go head-to-head with a live TNA Impact, featuring Hulk Hogan … Ring of Honor presents its year-end show on HDNet, airing footage from Bryan Danielson’s and Nigel McGuinness’ final ROH match and post-match celebrations from September.

December 29: “Dr. Death” Steve Williams dies after a lengthy bout with throat cancer at age 49. Williams was a former football and wrestling star at the University of Oklahoma, as well as a good friend of WWE announcer Jim Ross. Even though his time with WWE was brief—in fact mostly limited to his participation in the ill-fated Brawl for All shoot tournament—Williams made a name for himself in Japan, as well as in the Mid-South and WCW. He is perhaps best known for the team he once formed with the late Terry Gordy.

December 31: TNA presents a four-hour, New Year’s Eve Impact special, featuring a tournament to crown a top contender for Tara’s Knockouts title at the company’s planned January 4 Impact super show. The tournament is ultimately won by ODB.

2010

January 4: Two of wrestling’s biggest all-time stars return to TV on the same night as TNA presents a special Monday night edition of Impact, featuring the return of Hulk Hogan and surprise appearances by Jeff Hardy and Ric Flair. The show goes head-to-head with Raw, which features Bret Hart’s first WWE appearance since 1997 … New Japan presents its annual Tokyo Dome super-show in Japan, highlighted by inter-promotional matches between NJPW and Pro Wrestling NOAH.

January 8: Randy Orton exchanges words with a 15-year-old fan and his mother while attempting to leave a Saugus, Massachusetts, restaurant with another wrestler. According to police reports, Orton gets visibly irritated when the boy snaps his picture, then spits his gum and swears at him when asked for a photograph together. When the child’s mother intervenes, eyewitnesses claim Orton exclaims, “So sue me.” … Former NJPW headliner Tony Halme—best known for his early-1990s WWF stint as Ludvig Borga—commits suicide in Finland at age 47.

January 11: Famed boxer “Iron” Mike Tyson makes his return to WWE, guest-hosting an edition of Raw. Tyson caps the evening by knocking out tag team partner Chris Jericho.

January 13: Twenty-three-year-old Mexican wrestler Mini Cibernetico (Damian Moreno Quiroz) is arrested for allegedly stabbing his girlfriend, Juana Hernandez, and a male companion, Marco Antonio Solano, in Chimalhuacan, Mexico.

January 16: New independent promotion EVOLVE debuts in Rahway, New Jersey. It is headlined by Davey Richards defeating Kota Ibushi in a 20-minute match, as well as a surprise appearance by former WWE star Tommy Dreamer … Former New Japan star Katsuhisa Shibata—the father of Katuyori Shibata—dies after a heart attack.

January 17: TNA airs Genesis, its first pay-per-view to feature Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, as well as its first in years to showcase a four-sided ring. Kurt Angle challenging TNA World champion AJ Styles, with Ric Flair in his corner headlines the show.

January 18: Awesome Kong attacks new TNA announcer (and Hulk Hogan ally) Bubba the Love Sponge backstage at Impact television tapings. Kong was reportedly infuriated by disparaging remarks Bubba made about earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. The two would exchange threats in the media for more than a month.

January 22: Dragon Gate USA airs on pay-per-view, featuring a series of matches to determine the first Open the Freedom Gate champion. The show—taped two months earlier at The Arena in Philadelphia—saw the popular BxB Hulk defeat CIMA, Gran Akuma, and Yamato in an elimination match to win the belt.

January 27: Gregory “Hurricane” Helms and Chris Jericho are picked up by Crescent Springs, Kentucky, police and placed under arrest for public intoxication at a Shell gas station at 5:41 a.m. According to reports, the two were kicked out of the taxi they are sharing with Matt Hardy and two non-wrestlers for getting too rowdy.

January 28: Ring of Honor files a lawsuit against Ric Flair in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, alleging he owes them more than $41,000 for failing to make several 2009 appearances.

January 31: Edge makes a surprise return to WWE at the Royal Rumble in Atlanta, winning the Rumble match after playing a part in eliminating heavy favorites Shawn Michaels, Batista, John Cena, and Chris Jericho. Edge—who tore his Achilles tendon in 2009—had been questionable to even make it back in time for WrestleMania.

February 1: Former two-time NWA World champion Jack Brisco dies at 68. The sad news comes less than a month after Brisco—once widely regarded as the top wrestler in the world—underwent triple-bypass surgery.

February 2: Vince McMahon appears on ECW On Syfy, announcing the brand will be eliminated and replaced by a new program to be named NXT. ECW wrestlers are quickly circulated into Raw and Smackdown, or are released. On the final episode, Ezekiel Jackson pins Christian to become the last ECW champion.

February 13: After months of pursuit, Tyler Black pins Austin Aries to claim the ROH heavyweight title. The match takes place in New York City’s Manhattan Center for the promotion’s eighth anniversary show.

February 14: TNA’s Against All Odds features an “Eight-Card Stud” tournament in which the winner would receive a TNA World title shot at April’s Lockdown. D’Angelo Dinero, who pins Desmond Wolfe, Matt Morgan, and Mr. Anderson, wins the tournament … Negro Casas wins the CMLL middleweight title, defeating El Hijo del Fantasmo at Arena Mexico.

February 19: Hulk Hogan reaches a private settlement with the family of John Graziano, the friend of Nick Hogan who had been severely injured in a 2007 car wreck.

February 21: Both John Cena and Chris Jericho win their respective brand matches—and titles—at the Elimination Chamber PPV in St. Louis, but only Jericho comes home with a belt. In the Smackdown match, Jericho defeats World champion The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio Jr., John Morrison, R-Truth, and CM Punk. In the Raw match, Cena outlasts Randy Orton, Sheamus, Triple-H, Kofi Kingston, and Ted DiBiase Jr. to win the WWE championship, but Vince McMahon immediately orders him to defend it against Batista, who defeats Cena for the title.

February 22: Shawn Michaels agrees to put up his career to entice The Undertaker into accepting a rematch at WrestleMania 26 in Phoenix. During a Raw confrontation, Michaels utters his now-famous line, “If I can’t beat you, then I have no career” … Ric Flair’s wife, Jacqueline Beems, is released from custody after assaulting her husband following a fight at a bar the night before.

February 23: WWE’s new NXT program debuts, replacing ECW On Syfy. The show—a competition among aspiring developmental talent—introduces the world to future stars such as Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, and David Otunga.

February 26: WWE announces the releases of Gregory “Hurricane” Helms, Maria Kanellis, Paul Burchill, Charlie Haas, and referee Scott Armstrong.

March 4: Angelo Poffo, the father of Randy “Macho Man” Savage and “Leapin’” Lanny Poffo passes away at 84 … TNA releases Traci Brooks, Sean Morley, and Roxxi … In Atlanta, The Iron Sheik is detained following an altercation on a flight from Las Vegas.

March 6: Eddie Edwards defeats American Wolves tag team partner Davey Richards in Philadelphia to become Ring of Honor’s first TV champion. The match—taped for the promotion’s HDNet program—is the culmination of a month-long tournament.

March 8: TNA moves Impact to Monday nights, putting it opposite Raw and alternating between live and taped editions. The main event sees Hulk Hogan (teaming with Abyss) and Ric Flair (teaming with AJ Styles) return to the ring. Rob Van Dam also makes a surprise appearance, pinning Sting … TNA releases Awesome Kong.

March 12: AAA presents its annual Rey de Reyes show, in Queretaro, Mexico, featuring appearances by TNA’s Mr. Anderson and Hernandez. Electroshock captures the AAA SuperMega title in a three-way with Mesias and Anderson, and an angle is begun in which the former La Parka—LA Park—will challenge a new version of the masked star portrayed by Jesus Escobedo … WWE returns to the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, for a Raw house show, the first in the building since Vince McMahon’s nasty public dispute with the building’s owner, Stan Kroenke.

March 15: Steve Austin makes his return to WWE for the first time in nearly a year, guest-hosting an edition of Raw. The show is highlighted by a WrestleMania 26 contract signing for a streetfight between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon, who is believed to be responsible for an automobile accident that had broken Hart’s leg. Austin laughs as Hart—upon seeing McMahon sign the contract—takes off his leg cast, places it on the table, and attacks the WWE chairman.

March 21: TNA’s Destination X pay-per-view features TNA World champion AJ Styles battling Abyss to a no-contest, Kurt Angle defeating Mr. Anderson, The Motor City Machine Guns defeating Generation Me in an Ultimate X match, and Kevin Nash turning on partner Eric Young to allow his friends Scott Hall and Sean Waltman to win TNA contracts … In Japan, Ryota Hama defeats Satoshi Kojima to win All Japan’s Triple Crown title.

March 26: Former WWE and ECW performer Tajiri launches his new SMASH promotion in Tokyo. Its debut show features Tajiri taking on Tommy Dreamer, and former Pride fighter Akira Shoji vs. Leatherface.

March 27: Stu Hart, Gorgeous George, “The Million-Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Antonio Inoki, Wendi Richter, Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon, and baseball personality Bob Uecker are inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame.

March 28: WWE’s WrestleMania 26 is held in Glendale, Arizona, and is headlined by a career-vs.-streak match in which Shawn Michaels is forced into retirement by The Undertaker, who delivers a jumping Tombstone piledriver to win. In other action, Bret Hart defeats Vince McMahon in a streetfight, John Cena wins back the WWE heavyweight title from Batista by submission, Chris Jericho retains his World title with a win over Edge, and Jack Swagger wins a Money in the Bank title shot.

March 31: Jack Swagger trades his Money in the Bank briefcase for s shot at World champion Chris Jericho and pulls the upset on Smackdown.

April 2: Forty-year-old former WCW and WWE star Chris Kanyon (Chris Klucsaritis) commits suicide by overdosing on Seroquel in his apartment in Queens, New York.

April 3: Recently released TNA wrestler Christopher Daniels returns to Ring of Honor and challenges Davey Richards to a future match at ROH’s second Internet pay-per-view, to be held in Charlotte. Also that night, Tyler Black defends the ROH title against Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, pinning Aries … In Japan, Minoru Suzuki wins the Champion Carnival Tournament.

April 12: WWE announces a $30-million-per-year agreement to move Smackdown from MyNetworkTV to Syfy. It is reported Smackdown will continue to air in its Friday night time slot. WWE also announces that NXT is to be removed from Syfy programming to wwe.com.

April 14: Former NWA and AWA World champion Gene Kiniski passes away after a lengthy battle with cancer. He is 81. Kiniski won the AWA title from Verne Gagne in 1961 and the NWA title from Lou Thesz 1966.

April 15: A volcano eruption in Iceland makes its mark on the U.S. wrestling scene, disrupting the flights of several WWE and TNA wrestlers. In TNA, Douglas Williams is stripped of the X division title when he is unable to fly to the U.S. for Lockdown. On April 19, WWE is forced to use several members of the Smackdown roster in order to produce Raw, as several Raw roster members are stranded in Europe.

April 18: Team Hogan (Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Abyss, and Jeff Jarrett) defeat Team Flair (Sting, Desmond Wolfe, and Beer Money) in a Lethal Lockdown match at Lockdown in St. Charles, Missouri. In other action, AJ Styles retains his TNA World title with a win over D’Angelo Dinero, and Kurt Angle beats Mr. Anderson.

April 19: Rob Van Dam defeats Jeff Hardy in a numbers-one contender’s match on Impact, then pins TNA World champion AJ Styles less than an hour later to win the title.

April 20: Sixty-seven-year-old Mr. Hito (Katsuji Adachi) loses his lengthy battle with diabetes. The Osaka native gained a reputation wrestling throughout his native Japan, as well as the U.S. and Canada, and is credited with helping train Bret Hart.

April 22: WWE releases seven wrestlers, including Mickie James and Shelton Benjamin. James goes on to sign with TNA; Benjamin teams with his former partner Charlie Haas in Ring of Honor.

April 25: At Extreme Rules, John Cena retains the WWE heavyweight title when he defeats Batista in a last-man-standing match after duct-taping him to a corner post so he cannot answer the referee’s 10 count. Also, Sheamus puts Triple-H out of full-time action for the rest of the year due to injuries he sustains in their streetfight.

April 26: WWE holds its annual draft lottery during a three-hour episode of Raw. Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, and R-Truth move to Raw while Kofi Kingston, Big Show, Christian, and Kelly Kelly are among those drafted to Smackdown.

May 2: Minoru Suzuki captures his second AJPW Triple Crown championship, defeating Ryota Hama in Nagoya, Japan.

May 3: TNA announces it will move Impact back to Thursday nights. President Dixie Carter says of the move, “Our fans made it clear that they preferred the Thursday night time period. By moving, this is a win/win opportunity for both TNA and the fans.”

May 12: Jet Monroe (Gary Brumbaugh)—the manager and real-life brother of Sputnik Monroe—passes away. Jet and his brothers, Sputnik and Rocket, had their greatest successes in the New York, Atlanta, and Phoenix territories.

May 14: WWE denies claims that executive VP and general counsel Jared Bartie had been forced to step down because of a sexual harassment claim. According to reports, a female co-worker from the WWE sales department accused Bartie of making unwanted advances toward her … Scott Hall is arrested on charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest in Chuluota, Florida.

May 15: Dragon Gate USA airs its Mercury pay-per-view, featuring matches that had been taped during WrestleMania weekend in Phoenix. Yamato defended his Open the Dream Gate title beating Susumu Yokosuka. Also, CIMA, Gamma, and Dragon Kid faced Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, and BxB Hulk in six-man action.

May 16: Rob Van Dam pins AJ Styles to retain the TNA title at Sacrifice. Earlier, Madison Rayne successfully defends her Knockouts title against Tara in what is billed as Tara’s potential retirement match. Sting defeats Jeff Jarrett, and Jeff Hardy pins Mr. Anderson.

May 17: Bret Hart shocks The Miz by winning his U.S. championship on a commercial-free episode of Raw. Hart quickly acknowledges that he can no longer regularly defend a title, but says winning it “was a beautiful moment all the same”… Carlito is sent home from Raw after reportedly arriving in an impaired condition. He is released four days later.

May 18: Beth Phoenix undergoes surgery to repair a sprained MCL, torn ACL, and displaced meniscus.

May 24: Batista wrestles what could be his final match with WWE, an “I Quit” match against John Cena at Breaking Point. Batista quits as he is positioned to absorb an Attitude Adjustment off the roof of a car. Also, Rey Mysterio Jr. defeats CM Punk in a mask-vs.-hair match, and Edge and Randy Orton wrestle to a double-countout … Japanese legend Masao “Rusher” Kimura dies of pneumonia at 68.

May 28: Hulk Hogan files a lawsuit against Post Foods, the maker of Cocoa Pebbles cereal, for its portrayal of a commercial character with his likeness, known as “Bulk Boulder.”

June 1: Wade Barrett wins the first season of NXT, outlasting David Otunga and Justin Gabriel. That night, the wrestling world is introduced to NXT’s Season Two roster, including Alex Riley and second-generation stars Michael McGillicutty (Joe Hennig) and Husky Harris (Windham Rotundo).

June 4: Kane claims on Smackdown that The Undertaker was attacked and left in a vegetative state, and thus is unable to compete at Fatal 4-Way. ’Taker is replaced by Rey Mysterio Jr., whom Kane immediately blames for the attack. Behind the scenes, ’Taker undergoes surgery to repair a broken orbital bone, and marries Michelle McCool.

June 5: Raw announcer and Memphis legend Jerry Lawler launches Jerry Lawler’s Memphis Wrestling, regionally, on Saturday morning television. The show also features Koko B. Ware and Lawler’s son, Brian Christopher.

June 6: Rivals AAA and CMLL go head to head with shows in Mexico, drawing more than 29,000 fans between both promotions. AAA TripleMania features LA Park—the original La Parka—defeating his former namesake, plus appearances by TNA stars Abyss and Beer Money Inc. CMLL counters with Sin Salida at Arena Mexico, featuring a group of invaders from independent promotions taking on CMLL regulars … In the U.S., MTV2 tapes Lucha Libre: USA Masked Warriors, showcasing the likes of Marco Corleone, Aaron Aguilera, Lizmark Jr., and Mascara Dorada.

June 7: The Nexus is born on Raw, as Wade Barrett leads all eight members of NXT Season One in an assault on John Cena, Jerry “The King” Lawler, ring announcer Justin Roberts, and other WWE personnel. Daniel Bryan draws the ire of WWE executives for choking Roberts with his necktie and spitting on Cena. Within four days Bryan is released … Sputnik Monroe’s storyline brother and tag partner Rocket (Maury High) passes away after battling a blood infection in the hospital.

June 12: Former wrestler and backstage official Aurelian “Grizzly” Smith dies in Amarillo, Texas, at 77. His passing is attributed to complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Smith is the father of Jake Roberts, Sam Houston, and Rockin’ Robin.

June 13: Rob Van Dam pins Sting in the main event of Slammiversary. Other matches include Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson defeating Beer Money Inc., Jay Lethal stunning former champion AJ Styles, and Knockouts champion Madison Rayne defeating Roxxi, forcing the challenger to leave TNA.

June 19: Despite fans at ringside taunting ROH heavyweight champion Tyler Black with chants of “You can’t beat him!” Black pins Davey Richards to retain his championship at the promotion’s iPPV in Toronto, Ontario.

June 20: Both the WWE heavyweight and World titles change hands at Fatal 4-Way in Uniondale, New York. Rey Mysterio Jr. pins World champion Jack Swagger in a match also involving CM Punk and The Big Show. Later, Sheamus reclaims the WWE heavyweight title in a four-way match over John Cena, Randy Orton, and Edge.

June 22: Owen Hart’s widow, Martha, sues WWE, Vince McMahon, and Linda McMahon in an attempt to prevent WWE from using footage of her late husband on future TV programs or DVD releases. The suit also seeks royalties for the use of Owen’s matches on DVDs … The game show Downfall, hosted by Chris Jericho, makes its debut on ABC.

June 30: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat is rushed to a Tampa hospital and listed in critical condition, just two days after he is one of several veterans to sustain a beating at the hands of The Nexus on Raw. Steamboat is diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Doctors believe the burst capillary had nothing to do with the attack.

July 10: The East Coast Wrestling Association hosts its 14th annual Super 8 tournament, which is won by former TNA star Austin “Consequences” Creed. Creed defeats Chase Del Monte and U-Gene en route to beating Tommaso Ciampa in the final round … Combat Zone Wrestling holds the Acid-Fest Memorial Show at the ECW Arena in honor of Michael “Trent Acid” Verdi, who died of an overdose on June 18.

July 11: TNA World champion Rob Van Dam successfully defends his title in a four-way match against Jeff Hardy, Abyss, and Mr. Anderson at Victory Road, pinning Anderson. Following the match, RVD is attacked by Abyss … World Wrestling Council’s Aniversario show, the 37th anniversary of the promotion, is headlined by a returning Carlito Colon, who defeats Booker T … Florida indy wrestler Chasyn Rance is charged with lewd battery against a 15-year-old California girl.

July 12: AAA SuperMega heavyweight champion Dr. Wagner Jr. appears at a rival CMLL show in Nuevo Laredo, wearing the championship belt he had won from Electroshock a month earlier at TripleMania … Scott Hall (double pneumonia), Bobby Eaton (fluid in the heart and lungs), and Chris Hamrick (overdose) are all hospitalized.

July 15: A contingent of former ECW wrestlers make its presence felt on Impact when Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Stevie Richards, Rhino, Brother Devon, and backstage agents Pat “Simon Diamond” Kenny and Al Snow align with Rob Van Dam to attack Abyss and other members of the TNA roster. One week later, Dixie Carter announces that she invited the group—now known as EV2.0—to Impact, and will allow it to host its own pay-per-view event in August.

July 18: The Miz (Raw) and Kane (Smackdown) win Money in the Bank ladder matches at WWE’s first Money in the Bank pay-per-view in Kansas City. Kane cashes in his briefcase that night to take Rey Mysterio Jr.’s World title after the luchadore defeats Jack Swagger.

July 24: Bryan Danielson defeats Shingo by submission in the dark match main event of a Dragon Gate USA taping in Philadelphia. The match is not allowed to air on PPV because of the 90-day no-compete clause in Danielson’s WWE contract … Bret Hart marries girlfriend Stephanie Washington in Calgary.

August 3: Shane McMahon is announced as the new CEO of China Broadband, a provider of cable broadband, digital, and analog services. The company is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.

August 8: TNA allows several of its wrestlers formerly associated with ECW to take over its annual Hard Justice pay-per-view, renaming it Hardcore Justice: The Last Stand. TNA World champion Rob Van Dam pins Sabu in the main event. The show also features a bloody falls-count-anywhere match between Tommy Dreamer and Raven, with Mick Foley as guest referee … John “Mr. Wrestling II” Walker suffers a heart attack at the NWA Wrestling Legends Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ten days later, he undergoes successful open-heart surgery.

August 9: WWE announces it has signed Tyler Black, the reigning Ring of Honor champion, to a developmental deal.

August 10: Due to injuries sustained at the hands of Abyss one week earlier on Impact, TNA officially strips Rob Van Dam of the World title, and announces that a tournament will be held to crown a new champion.

August 13: Former WWE tag team champion Lance Cade (Lance McNaught) dies of heart failure at the age of 29. Cade—who first broke into the business at 18 training under Shawn Michaels—had been released and rehired by the company months earlier.

August 14: Longtime ECWA promoter Jim Kettner retires from the promotion, handing it over to Mike Tartaglia and Joe Zanolle of the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance. Kettner’s career spanned 43 years as a wrestler and promoter.

August 15: Daniel Bryan makes a surprising return to WWE at SummerSlam in Los Angeles, joining John Cena to take on his former Nexus brethren in a seven-on-seven elimination match. Cena’s victorious team also includes Bret Hart, R-Truth, John Morrison, Edge, and Chris Jericho. Also on the card, after defeating Rey Mysterio Jr., World champion Kane attacks a returning Undertaker, who had been hiding in a ringside casket during the bout … Ring of Honor booker Adam Pearce is relieved of his duties by owner Cary Silkin. Pearce is replaced by Hunter “Delirious” Johnston … Hulk Hogan joins Pamela Anderson, George Hamilton, and Jerry Springer for Comedy Central’s The Roast Of David Hasselhoff.

August 19: Longtime wrestler, manager, referee, and promoter Skandor Akbar (Jimmy Wehba) passes away in his sleep. Akbar spent years wrestling and later guided the careers of men such as Abdullah the Butcher, Dick Murdoch, and Cactus Jack … “Nightmare” Ted Allen (Ted Lipscomb) suffers a heart attack and dies at the age of 54. Allen began wrestling in 1975. His career included stints with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling and Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling.

August 21: TNA co-founder Jeff Jarrett marries Karen Angle, Kurt Angle’s ex-wife … Mahoney is arrested on charges of disorderly conduct in South Brunswick, New Jersey, after a bar fight with The Outpatient. It is believed the two staged the fight to hype up an upcoming match.

August 23: WWE holds a landmark show in Shanghai, China, with John Cena defeating The Big Show, Sheamus pinning Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio Jr. beating Chris Jericho. This is WWE’s first show in China.

August 27: Luna Vachon, 48, is found dead of a drug overdose by her mother in her Port Richey, Florida, home. Vachon’s ashes are later scattered on the grounds of the North Carolina ranch owned by the estate of her late godfather, Andre the Giant.

September 5: Jeff Hardy takes on Kurt Angle at No Surrender in a semifinal match in the TNA World title tournament, wrestling to a 30-minute draw. The match is later restarted, but stopped when Angle sustains a cut on his head … Joey Ryan wins Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s Battle of Los Angeles tournament … Former Hart Foundation member Jim Neidhart is arrested in Thonotosassa, Florida, for allegedly stealing prescription pills from a friend’s house.

September 10: Mike Shaw, best known as Norman the Lunatic (WCW) and Bastion Booger (WWF) dies at home from complications following a heart attack … John Cena’s movie Legendary—which co-stars Danny Glover—begins what proves to be a short run in theaters.

September 11: Recent WWE signee and ROH champion Tyler Black drops the title to Roderick Strong at an iPPV at the Manhattan Center in New York City … Mexican 1980s star La Fiera (Arturo Casco) is mugged, assaulted, and stabbed five times while walking the streets in Mexico City. He is pronounced dead before he arrives at the hospital.

September 12: Matt Hardy is sent home early from a Smackdown tour of the U.K., kicking off several weeks of bizarre behavior. Starting that night in his hotel room, Hardy begins to post a series of videos criticizing WWE officials and wrestlers. He asks for his release so he can join his brother in TNA.

September 17: Volador Jr. pins Mistico after a backstabber to win two of three falls in the final match of CMLL’s Bicentario Cup.

September 19: At WWE’s Night of Champions pay-per-view, Randy Orton win his sixth WWE championship, pinning Sheamus in a Six-Pack Challenge match that also includes John Cena, Chris Jericho, Edge, and Wade Barrett. Also on the show, Michelle McCool defeats Divas champion Melina to unify the Women’s and Divas championships … Former WWF and WCW wrestler Giant Gonzalez (Jorge Gonzalez) dies as a result of ongoing health issues, including kidney failure at age 44.

September 25: Bret Hart returns to Madison Square Garden in New York City for a house show honoring him. He teams with The Hart Dynasty against Nexus members David Otunga, Heath Slater, and Justin Gabriel.

September 28: Kaval—better known in the indie world as Low-Ki—wins the second season of NXT, outlasting Alex Riley and Michael McGillicutty.

October 1: Mick Foley’s newest book, Countdown To Lockdown, is released. The autobiography details Foley’s final months as an announcer with WWE, his jump to TNA, and the buildup to winning the TNA World title from Sting at Lockdown 2009. Surprisingly, WWE announcer Michael Cole hypes the book on Raw.

October 2: Pro Wrestling NOAH and AJPW legend Kenta Kobashi marries his longtime girlfriend, singer Mai Mizuki in a private ceremony.

October 3: John Cena is forced to join Nexus against his will after losing a Hell in a Cell match to Wade Barrett at WWE’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. In other matches, World champion Kane defeats The Undertaker and WWE champion Randy Orton beats Sheamus.

October 10: Hulk Hogan makes his return to TNA at Bound for Glory, assisting Jeff Hardy in defeating Mr. Anderson and Kurt Angle, and helping him win the vacant TNA World title in the process. He quickly forms the group Immortal, alongside Hardy, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Jarrett, and Abyss. A few days later on Impact, Ric Flair’s Fortune group joins Immortal as well.

October 14: WWE announces that Matt Hardy has been granted his release.

October 18: WWE launches a media campaign encouraging fans to “Stand Up For WWE.” The campaign calls on WWE fanatics to publicly support the company as it faces “unfair and biased attacks from certain politicians and media outlets.”

October 23: Former WWE champion and reigning UFC champion Brock Lesnar is soundly defeated by Cain Velasquez, losing his title at UFC 121. After the fight, The Undertaker, who is interviewed from his seat at ringside, confronts Lesnar, sparking talk of a WM27 showdown.

October 24: John Cena seconds new Nexus “ally” Wade Barrett as Barrett challenges Randy Orton for the WWE heavyweight title at Bragging Rights in Minneapolis. Cena deliberately costs Barrett the opportunity when he attacks him, causing Orton to lose the match—but not the title—by disqualification.

October 30: Famed Quebec wrestler “The Flying Frenchman” Edouard Carpentier suffers a heart attack and dies at the age of 84, at his home in Montreal. The Hall of Famer dominated the Canadian wrestling scene after emigrating from France, and is listed as a four-time International champion.

November 2: Linda McMahon loses in her bid to become a U.S. Senator in the state of Connecticut. She garners 44 percent of the vote, compared to incumbent Richard Blumenthal’s 54 percent. In her concession speech, McMahon hints at possibly running for public office in the future.

November 7: TNA Turning Point sees Jeff Hardy successfully defend the TNA World title against Matt Morgan, who is substituting for the injured Mr. Anderson. In other action, The Motor City Machine Guns defeat Team 3-D to retain their TNA World tag title in what is billed as Team 3-D’s retirement match. After the bout, Brother Ray attacks Brother Devon.

November 15: WWE airs a special, “Old School Raw,” featuring stars from the company’s past mixing with members of today’s WWE roster. In a memorable segment, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper confronts John Cena and begs him not to cheat Randy Orton out of the WWE title at Survivor Series.

November 16: Cable network A&E airs a biography entitled Finding Hulk Hogan. It portrays many of the personal, physical, and legal struggles Hogan and his family have overcome, as well as Hogan’s decision to join TNA … Alex Riley is arrested on DUI charges in Tampa.

November 19: WWE releases several wrestlers, including Luke Gallows, Shad Gaspard, Jillian Hall, Tiffany, Vance Archer, and Caylen Croft. The company also announces that writer Christopher DeJoseph, who portrayed “Big” Dick Johnson, is let go.

November 21: Despite the pre-match stipulation he would be fired from WWE should Wade Barrett lose, special guest referee John Cena counts Barrett down for a three-count in his match with WWE champion Randy Orton at Survivor Series in Miami. Earlier that evening, a team captained by Rey Mysterio Jr. defeats Team Alberto Del Rio in an elimination match … Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors wrestler Chris “Solid” Long is murdered at the Dekalb County, Georgia, bar where he works, after an argument with a patron.

November 22: The Miz cashes in his money-in-the-bank briefcase and pins Randy Orton to win the WWE heavyweight title on Raw. Miz catches Orton off-guard following a title defense against Wade Barrett, a match in which both John Cena and The Nexus interfere.

November 25: Longtime New Japan Pro Wrestling wrestler, promoter, and manager Kantaro Hoshino passes away at a Tokyo hospital at the age of 67 while battling pneumonia and the effects of a 2008 stroke.

November 28: Mexican indy wrestler El Hijo del Cien Caras (Ignacio Jiminez) is shot and killed along with a female companion in Mexico City.

November 29: Sheamus wins the 2010 WWE King of the Ring tournament on Raw, last pinning John Morrison. Also, Jerry Lawler challenges The Miz for the WWE title in a TLC match ruined by interference from Alex Riley and Lawler’s broadcast colleague Michael Cole.

November 30: Vickie Guerrero’s rookie Kaitlyn wins an all-Divas version of NXT on wwe.com, beating out Florida Championship Wrestling standout Naomi Night … 54-year-old Japanese wrestling star Yoshiaki Yatsu announces his retirement.

December 2: Montel Vontavious Porter is granted his release by WWE.

December 4: Hawaiian wrestling legend King Curtis Iaukea passes away at his home in Papakolea, Hawaii, after complications from a virus. Iaukea, 73, was a main-eventer in every territory in which he appeared, and was also a former manager in the WWF and WCW.

December 5: At Final Resolution, Jeff Hardy successfully defends his TNA title against Matt Morgan, with Mr. Anderson serving as special guest referee.

December 9: On Impact, Mickie James takes a scary dive from the top of a steel cage and delivers a Lou Thesz press to arch-rival Tara, downing her to win the match.

December 13: WWE holds its Slammy Awards ceremony on Raw. It features the return to action of actor and former WCW champion David Arquette, who teams with Alex Riley to take on Randy Orton.

December 18: ROH champion Roderick Strong defeats Davey Richards in a 30-minute match at the Final Battle iPPV in New York City. In other action, El Generico forces former partner Kevin Steen out of the company by defeating him in a match in which Generico’s mask is also on the line.

December 19: John Cena defeats Wade Barrett in a chairs match at WWE’s TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs pay-per-view. Cena, who had been rehired to WWE by Barrett after pressure from Nexus members afraid of being attacked—lays out the faction’s leader and has more than a dozen chairs dropped on him from above. Also, The Miz defeats Randy Orton in a tables match to retain his WWE heavyweight title, and World champion Edge beats Kane, Alberto Del Rio, and Rey Mysterio Jr. in a TLC match.

December 20: Vampiro quits AAA. The former WCW star had a difficult couple of years, having been severely injured while attempting to escape from an alleged home invasion in July 2009, and had not wrestled for several months.

December 22: A two-hour version of WWE’s Tribute To The Troops show airs on USA. Taken from footage recorded earlier in the month at Fort Hood, Texas, the show includes appearances by several celebrities, and video of wrestlers visiting troops overseas. Off-air, Triple-H and Shawn Michaels make a special appearance as DeGeneration-X. A truncated version of the show aired days earlier on NBC.

December 23: Former NXT winner Kaval is released from WWE.

December 27: After more than a year of postponements, The District Attorney’s office of Moore County, North Carolina, reports that Jeff Hardy will plead guilty on January 20, 2011, to some of the drug-related charges he faces … Spike TV cancels TNA Reaction, a documentary-style show that had been airing immediately after episodes of Impact on Thursday nights.

2011

January 4: New Japan Pro Wrestling presents its annual Tokyo Dome show, a 13-match card that includes Jeff Hardy pinning Tetsuya Naito after a Swanton bomb and Hiroshi Tanahashi winning the IWGP heavyweight title from Satoshi Kojima. Also on the show, Rob Van Dam defeats Toru Yano and Robert Roode and James Storm fail to capture the IWGP tag title from Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson.

January 9: Mr. Anderson wins the TNA World title at Genesis, pinning Immortal member Jeff Hardy only minutes after defeating Matt Morgan in a number-one contender’s match. Even though it was assumed Anderson would receive his title shot on a future show, Immortal leader Eric Bischoff instead forced an immediate title match, believing Anderson would be too spent to defeat Hardy in a second match.

January 11: Ring of Honor announces that its two-year television deal with HDNet would not be renewed when the contract expired in April. A final set of TV tapings is held 10 days later in Philadelphia.

January 16: CM Punk is involved in an altercation with a young fan and his family during a WWE house show in Shreveport, Louisiana. According to eyewitnesses, Punk goaded the boy into hitting him, and then grabbed the boy’s shirt to scare him.

January 21: Former WCW and WWE champion Sid Vicious is arrested in South Memphis, Tennessee, after officers find marijuana in his possession. Sid is released on a $1,000 bond.

January 23: TNA finalizes a new U.K. television deal with Challenge TV, and announces the free-to-air channel will stream all TNA Impact, Xplosion, and pay-per-view.

January 24: After reportedly being denied an advance in pay, Ric Flair walks out on TNA during the promotion’s Ric Flair Whoo! Tour of Europe. Flair refuses to get on a bus to the Dublin airport, and misses a show the next day in Berlin, Germany. Flair would later rejoin the tour, only to tear a rotator cuff in a match with Douglas Williams in London.

January 29: Legendary WWE star Jake “The Snake” Roberts, 55, defeats former protégé Sinn Bodhi (WWE’s Kizarny) in what is billed as Roberts’ retirement match on a Pro Wrestling Guerrilla show in Los Angeles. The match is especially emotional for Bodhi considering it comes just three days after the death of his close friend—and fellow wrestler—“Bad Seed” Shawn Osbourne.

January 30: Alberto Del Rio wins WWE’s first-ever 40-man Royal Rumble, in Boston, last eliminating Santino Marella. The battle royal also marks the return of both Kevin Nash (wrestling as Diesel) and Booker T. In other action, Edge retains his World heavyweight title against Dolph Ziggler and WWE champion The Miz defeats Randy Orton.

February 3: After weeks of build-up and suspense, “They” make a somewhat anti-climactic TNA debut. While most TNA fans expected an invading presence from outside the company, the faction consists of Fortune members who stepped up to feud with Immortal on Impact.

February 11: Mexico’s Viva La Lucha group airs Perros Del Mal-themed pay-per-view, with matches taped several months before in California and Mexico City. The show includes Blue Demon Jr., Booker T, and Mesias taking on Shelton Benjamin, King V, and TNA’s Hernandez.

February 13: TNA Against All Odds sees Jeff Hardy win back his TNA World title by beating Mr. Anderson in a ladder match. In other action, Jeff Jarrett defeats Kurt Angle in a grudge match with the stipulation that should Angle lose, he would be forced to escort his ex-wife, Karen Jarrett, down the aisle when the Jarretts renew their wedding vows in March.

February 14: On Raw, Vince McMahon announces The Rock’s return as the special guest host for WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta. The Rock immediately targets John Cena for disparaging remarks Cena made about him while The Rock was away from WWE … Jerry Lawler misses the show due to the death of his 90-year-old mother, Hazel, who was a fixture at wrestling shows held at the Mid-South Coliseum in the 1970s and 1980s.

February 16: Chris Jericho’s Undisputed: How To Become The World Champion In 1,372 Easy Steps is published. The former Unified champ’s second tell-all autobiography documents his first six years with WWE.

February 20: At WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Edge retains his World heavyweight title in a Smackdown Elimination Chamber match and The Miz defeats Raw announcer Jerry “The King” Lawler to hold on to his WWE championship. Also, John Cena wins a Raw Elimination Chamber match to earn a shot at Miz’ WWE title at WrestleMania 27 … Japanese wrestler Kazushige Nosawa is arrested for commandeering a taxicab following an altercation with the driver.

February 21: Making their returns to WWE on Raw, Triple-H and The Undertaker get into a tense staredown, but stop short of engaging in a physical confrontation. This is the first step in the build-up to their epic match at WM 27.

February 24: WWE holds a press conference in Mexico City to introduce Ignacio Almanza (formerly Mistico) to WWE fans as Sin Cara … TNA tapes two episodes of Impact in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After a brief absence, Sting returns to TNA at this show and defeats Jeff Hardy to win his fourth TNA World title.

February 26: ROH streams its ninth anniversary show on iPPV, live from Chicago Ridge, Illinois. The show includes a successful heavyweight title defense by Roderick Strong against Homicide, as well as Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin defeating Jay and Mark Briscoe to earn a future shot at the ROH tag team title.

February 28: WWE Chief Operating Officer, board member, and Executive Committee member Donna Goldsmith resigns from the company. In 2009, Forbes named Goldsmith the second most powerful woman in sports.

March 4: Former Ladies Pro Wrestling Association promoter John Thurston Berg passes away due to gastrointestinal complications at 72.

March 5: Former WWE wrestler Shad Gaspard is arrested in Columbus, Ohio, while attending the Arnold Fitness Expo. The former Cryme Tyme member was originally confronted by police for jaywalking, but was arrested when he allegedly verbally abused the officers.

March 6: Colt Cabana defeats Adam Pearce at an NWA Hollywood show to become the new NWA heavyweight champion … Daichi Hashimoto, the 18-year-old son of the late Shinya Hashimoto, makes his Sumo Hall, Tokyo, debut for Zero-1, the promotion his father founded. Hashimoto wrestles one of his father’s biggest New Japan rivals, Masa Chono, but loses.

March 11: Masato Yoshino and PAC defeat Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano in the finals of the Open The Freedom Gate tag title tournament at Dragon Gate USA’s United We Stand pay-per-view, taped in Union City, New Jersey.

March 13: Jeff Hardy commits an all-time wrestling taboo by showing up for his main-event TNA World title match against Sting at Victory Road in an impaired state. An irritated Sting pins Hardy in less than 90 seconds to conclude the show. The travesty brings sharp criticism on TNA decision-makers for letting Hardy wrestle when he was in no condition to compete.

March 18: AAA and CMLL hold their annual Rey de Reyes and El Homenaje a Dos Leyendas shows, respectively. AAA pulls in 17,000 Aguascalientes fans, with Extreme Tiger winning a four-way match against Carlito, LA Park, and Mesias in the main event. In Mexico City, CMLL hosts more than 10,000 with the main event of El Terrible and El Texano winning a double-hair-vs.-hair match over the father and son team of Super Porky and Maximo … Former CMLL wrestler Fabian El Gitano (Emilion Fabian Fernandez de Leon) is found dead in his home from a pancreatic hemorrhage. Authorities cannot determine whether the hemorrhage occurred naturally or as the result of trauma, and do not rule out the possibility that El Gitano was murdered.

March 19: Eddie Edwards wins the ROH heavyweight title from Roderick Strong at Manhattan Mayhem IV in New York City, making him Ring of Honor’s first triple-crown winner … Legendary manager Sir Oliver Humperdink (John Sutton) passes away from complications from pneumonia while battling bladder cancer. Humperdink was too weak at the time to undergo surgery or extensive chemotherapy. He was 62.

March 21: Chris Jericho makes his debut on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, eventually tying for fifth place out of 11 teams alongside partner Cheryl Burke … All Japan Pro-Wrestling holds the first wrestling card in Tokyo just 10 days after an earthquake/tsunami ravaged part of the country. In the main event, Suwama successfully defends his Triple Crown title against KENSO.

March 25: WWE fires Dave “Fit” Finlay from his agent role following his controversial decision to allow the National Anthem to be interrupted at a house show in Champaign, Illinois. Several members of the Army National Guard—a major WWE sponsor—reacted negatively to the interruption … Kurt Angle is arrested in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on charges of driving while intoxicated.

March 31: Christopher Daniels makes his TNA return by aiding Fortune members as they fend off an Immortal attack on Impact. Daniels had been wrestling for Ring of Honor since being released from TNA one year earlier.

April 2: Triple-H inducts close friend Shawn Michaels into the WWE Hall of Fame. Other inductees include”Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, The Road Warriors, Tammy “Sunny” Sytch, Abdullah the Butcher, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, and comedian Drew Carey.

April 3: At WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta, Georgia, WWE champion Miz defeats John Cena with help from The Rock, who lays out Cena with a Rock Bottom, enabling Miz to score the pin. World champion Edge turns back the challenge of Alberto Del Rio. Also at ’Mania, Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi pins Michelle McCool in a mixed-tag match to give her team the victory.

April 4: WWE Tough Enough returns to the airwaves, featuring “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin as host and judge, and Booker T, Trish Stratus, and Bill DeMott as coaches. The show also introduces WWE fans to new characters such as Luke Robinson, Jeremiah Riggs, and eventual winner “Big” Andy Leavine … John Cena and The Rock have their first post-’Mania face-to-face confrontation on Raw, agreeing to settle their differences at WrestleMania 28 in Miami.

April 5: HDNet airs the final Ring of Honor show. The program features a one-hour match with Roderick Strong, Claudio Castagnoli, and Chris Hero battling Davey Richards, Jay Briscoe, and Mark Briscoe.

April 9: Adam Cole defeats Sami Callihan to win Combat Zone Wrestling’s Best of the Best Tournament in Philadelphia.

April 11: Edge, 37, retires from active competition during an emotional speech on Raw. “The Rated R Superstar” is moved to tears as he discusses his spinal stenosis diagnosis. Edge would deliver a similar farewell to fans the next night at the Smackdown tapings … Well-regarded independent wrestler and manager Larry Sweeney (Alex Whybrow) is found dead after committing suicide at age 30 … Heartland Wrestling competitor Andre Heart (Andre Davis) is arrested and charged with battery for having sexual relations with several women without informing them he is HIV positive, a felony in Ohio.

April 17: TNA Lockdown airs live from Cincinnati, Ohio, with a successful World title defense by Sting against Mr. Anderson and Rob Van Dam, a grudge match in which Jeff Jarrett beats Kurt Angle, and a four-on-four Lethal Lockdown elimination match between Fortune and Immortal … Jay Lethal is released from TNA … The Colony wins CHIKARA’s annual King of Trios Tournament in Philadelphia, with a victory over the team of Icarus, Chuck Taylor, and Johnny Gargano.

April 23: The Sheik pins Colt Cabana to win the NWA heavyweight title in Jacksonville, Florida.

April 24: AAA competitor Charly Manson (Jesus Luna Pozos) is arrested and charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice, following a fight that landed several police officers in the hospital.

April 25: Randy Orton, Mark Henry, and Sin Cara jump to Smackdown, while Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio Jr., and The Big Show come to Raw, during a special three-hour 2011 Draft edition of Raw. In the most intriguing development of the night, John Cena is drafted to the blue brand, only to be drafted back to Raw before the show ends.

April 30: The third time is indeed a charm for Tommaso Ciampa, who wins the 15th annual ECWA Super 8 tournament in Voorhees, New Jersey, by eliminating Rich Swann, Shiima Xion, and Adam Cole in successive rounds. In the previous two years, Ciampa was defeated in the final round of the tourney.

May 1: Christian shocks the wrestling world by defeating Alberto Del Rio in a ladder match at Extreme Rules to win the vacant WWE World title—his first singles world championship in WWE. In the other matches, John Cena defeats The Miz and John Morrison in a steel cage match to win the WWE title. Also, Kharma (TNA’s Awesome Kong) makes her WWE debut, attacking Michelle McCool after McCool dropped a loser-leaves-WWE match to Layla.

May 3: Just two days into Christian’s World title reign, Randy Orton overwhelms “Captain Charisma” to win the championship at a Smackdown taping. Orton’s victory precipitates a backlash from Christian’s fans, who felt a lengthy world title reign was overdue.

May 5: Gregory Helms (WWE’s Hurricane) and his girlfriend, Karen, are seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in Smithfield, North Carolina. Helms, who, according to reports, ran a stop sign before hitting a nearby fence, suffered a broken ankle, jaw, and nose, and required more than 200 stitches, plus surgery. Karen suffered a broken neck, though with no spinal-cord damage.

May 12: Mick Foley appears on TNA Impact as a network executive with Spike TV, announcing the company would rebrand its shows as Impact Wrestling. Foley also announces the debut of Chyna, who would team with Kurt Angle at Sacrifice against Jeff and Karen Jarrett.

May 13: New Japan Pro Wrestling’s tour of the U.S.—held in conjunction with Jersey All-Pro Wrestling—kicks off in Rahway, New Jersey, before coming to New York City and Philadelphia. In New York, Hiroshi Tanahashi successfully defends his IWGP title against Charlie Haas. In Philly, MVP wins a tournament to become IWGP’s inaugural Intercontinental champion.

May 15: Rob Van Dam unsuccessfully challenges Sting for the TNA World title at Sacrifice in Orlando, falling to a Scorpion Death Drop and subsequent pin. That same night, Chyna makes her return to televised wrestling, teaming with Kurt Angle to defeat Jeff and Karen Jarrett … Keiji Muto and KENSO team for the first time in All-Japan Pro Wrestling.

May 19: Ring of Honor announces its acquisition by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns and operates TV stations in 35 secondary markets across the country. Sinclair installs Joe Koff as ROH’s COO and names former owner Cary Silkin “special advisor.”

May 20: “Macho Man” Randy Savage, one of wrestling’s all-time most recognizable personalities, and a former WWF and WCW heavyweight champion, dies behind the wheel of his 2009 Jeep Wrangler along State Route 694 in Seminole, Florida. Savage suffered a heart attack while driving. His wife, Barbara, navigated the car to keep it from hitting oncoming traffic after it crossed the raised median, but the jeep hit a tree … Terry Taylor is fired as TNA’s Head of Talent Relations.

May 21: Seventy-one-year-old Tinieblas (Manuel Leal) announces his retirement from wrestling following an independent match in Tehuacan, Mexico. Tinieblas wrestled throughout Mexico for more than four decades without ever losing his mask.

June 5: Scott Hall begins serving eight days of jail time after being convicted of disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest a year earlier in Chuluota, Florida.

June 7: Embarrassed by the scandal that occurred on his watch, during which Super Hate suffered a stroke after receiving a backstage beating from Taru, Keiji Muto resigns as president of All Japan Pro-Wrestling. Board member Masayuki Uchida replaces him.

June 10: DDT’s Kota Ibushi defeats Ring of Honor’s Davey Richards and New Japan’s Ryusuke Taguchi to win the New Japan Best of the Super Junior Tournament.

June 12: Thanks to some help from new Immortal cohort Eric Bischoff, Mr. Anderson defeats Sting at Slammiversary to regain the TNA World title. Also at Slammiversary, Kurt Angle defeats Jeff Jarrett to win a number-one contender’s match.

June 17: Former CMLL wrestler Tony Rivera organizes a group of unionized protestors outside of a CMLL show at Arena Mexico, citing Rivera’s lawsuit for wrongful termination. CMLL, which says it never fired Rivera, reaches an agreement before bell time to save the show … A Georgia judge reduced a jury award from $20-million to $375,000 to the family of the late Nancy Benoit in its suit against Hustler, which published unauthorized nude photos of her after her death.

June 18: AAA’s TripleMania supershow features a number of inter-promotional battles with TNA stars, culminating in Jeff Jarrett winning the AAA Super Mega heavyweight championship from El Zorro. More than 17,900 fans pack Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City to see Jarrett vs. Zorro, as well as L.A. Park retain his mask in a mask-vs.-hair match with Mesias … Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson become the first team to hold New Japan’s IWGP tag titles and NOAH’s GHC titles after beating NOAH’s Yoshihiro Takayama and Takuma Sano.

June 19: John Cena successfully defends his WWE title against R-Truth at the Capitol Punishment pay-per-view in Washington, D.C. In other action, Randy Orton retains the World title by once again pinning a visibly frustrated Christian.

June 20: A special Power to the People edition of Raw leaves fans scratching their heads after a glitch in the text-based voting system resulted in a few questionable fan-vote winners. On the show, Kelly Kelly wins the Divas championship from Brie Bella.

June 26: Davey Richards defeats his American Wolves tag partner, Eddie Edwards, to win the ROH heavyweight title at Best in the World in New York City … The Urban Wrestling Federation debuts on pay-per-view.

June 27: With just a few weeks left on his WWE contract and a Money in the Bank title match with John Cena coming up, CM Punk cuts a scathing promo on Raw. During the monologue, Punk trashes Vince McMahon, John Cena, Triple-H, and several other WWE officials. Punk also gives shout-outs to Paul Heyman and Colt Cabana, and promises to take the WWE title with him to New Japan or Ring of Honor after he defeats Cena at MITB.

July 2: Florida indy wrestler “The Korean Monster” Ryze Woo (Justin Honeycutt), 30, suffers a fatal accident while working his side-job at the Magical Midway Thrill Park in Orlando, Florida.

July 3: NWA champion The Sheik wins the Zero-1 title from Ryougi Sai, at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Days later, Sheik is stripped of the NWA heavyweight championship for allegedly refusing to defend it against Adam Pearce at an upcoming card in Columbus, Ohio. NWA junior heavyweight champion Craig Classic vacates his title in protest against the NWA’s decision to strip Sheik.

July 10: TNA showcases its X division at Destination X. The show includes the pay-per-view return of Austin Aries, who wins a contract with the company in a four-way Match of the Year runner-up over Zema Ion, Low-Ki, and Jack Evans, AJ Styles pinning Christopher Daniels, and Brian Kendrick winning the X division title from Abyss … Go Shiozaki defeats GHC heavyweight champion Takashi Sugiura for the title.

July 13: Japanese wrestler Rikimaru (Takaai Inoue), 38, passes away less than two months after beginning his training.

July 17: On his last night under contract, CM Punk wins the WWE championship from John Cena at Money in the Bank (Match of the Year), then escapes into the streets of his hometown of Chicago with the title belt. Earlier in the evening, Daniel Bryan wins a Smackdown Money in the Bank match for a future shot at the World title … An IWA invasion of WWC in Puerto Rico takes place, as Savio Vega and several allies show up at WWC’s annual Anniversario show.

July 18: Vince McMahon is relieved of his duties as Chairman of the Board on Raw … Triple-H, his son-in-law, is named WWE Chief Operating Officer. A WWE tournament is held for the title vacated by CM Punk, and a final match between The Miz and Rey Mysterio Jr. announced for the following week’s Raw … Sin Cara is suspended 30 days for violating WWE’s Wellness Policy.

July 23: Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s 8th Anniversary show in Reseda, California, sees heavyweight champion Claudio Castagnoli defend his title against tag team partner Chris Hero.

July 25: Rey Mysterio Jr. pins The Miz to win the WWE title tournament on Raw, and is ordered by Triple-H to defend the championship against John Cena later in the show. Cena easily defeats a worn-out Mysterio. As Cena turns to face the ring entrance with the belt held high, CM Punk emerges with his version of the WWE heavyweight title, eight days after walking out.

July 31: Jeff Jarrett retains the AAA Super Mega heavyweight title in a three-way match against Dr. Wagner Jr. and L.A. Park, at Verano de Escandalo in Guadelajara, Mexico.

August 4: Ohio independent wrestler and promoter J.T. Lightning (James Haase) succumbs to cancer at the age of 41. Lightning remained involved in Cleveland All Pro Wrestling until his passing.

August 5: WWE announces the release of Melina Perez, Chris Masters, Vladimir Kozlov, and D.H. Smith. It also confirms that Gail Kim quit the company a few days earlier.

August 7: Kurt Angle pins Sting at Hardcore Justice to win his fifth TNA World title. Angle turned on Sting and the fans during the match, hitting “The Icon” with a steel chair … Former Ontario wrestler and referee Terry Yorkston dies at 78.

August 9: Seventy-four-year-old former New Brunswick wrestler and referee Malcolm Cormier passes away due to diabetes and Alzheimer’s complications. Cormier was part of a famous family of wrestling brothers that also included The Beast, Rudy Kay, Leo Burke, and Bobby Martin.

August 12: WWE wrestler Heath Slater finds himself under investigation by Atlanta police on allegations he choked a female security guard at the Hyatt Regency Hotel over WrestleMania weekend.

August 13: Ring of Honor begins television tapings under the Sinclair banner, in Chicago Ridge, Illinois. On the card, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin retain their tag title against The Kings of Wrestling … Bobby Fields (Luther Hatfield) dies at 77. Hatfield was a main-eventer in the Gulf Coast Wrestling Territory from the 1950s through the 1970s.

August 14: CM Punk unifies his and John Cena’s WWE titles at SummerSlam, in a match officiated by Triple-H, who fails to notice Cena’s leg on the bottom rope when Punk pins him. After the pin, Kevin Nash crashes the ring from his ringside seat and power-bombs Punk, which brings out Alberto Del Rio, who cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase and pins a depleted Punk for the title … Shinsuke Nakamura wins the G-1 Climax Tournament at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

August 15: Rey Mysterio Jr. blows out his knee in a WWE title match with Alberto Del Rio on Raw. The injury requires ACL and PCL surgery, and sidelines Mysterio for the remainder of the year.

August 16: PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED announces the selection of The Miz as number one in the “PWI 500,” with the release of its October 2011 issue.

August 20: TNA releases Matt Hardy from his TNA contract just hours after Hardy is arrested for DWI … El Generico wins Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s 2011 Battle of Los Angeles Tournament, pinning arch-rival Kevin Steen in the final round.

August 23: Former women’s wrestler Donna Christiantello dies of a heart attack. She was 69.

August 28: AJPW, NJPW, and NOAH promote the All Together Now joint show to raise money for earthquake and tsunami victims, pulling in 17,000 fans at Budokan Hall. The show is headlined by a six-man tag match featuring the team of IWGP champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, AJPW Triple-Crown champion Suwama, and GHC heavyweight champion Go Shiozaki.

September 3: Kurt Angle is again arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated, this time in Woodstock, Virginia. Angle, who was pulled over by Virginia State troopers after seen swerving between lanes, posted bond and was released early in the morning. His blood-alcohol level, taken roadside, was later deemed inadmissible.

September 6: Midget wrestler Little Tokyo suffers a massive heart attack and dies in St. Joseph, Missouri, at the age of 70.

September 8: Jeff Hardy pleads guilty to three felony counts—two of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and one of conspiracy to traffic—almost two full years after his arrest for drug trafficking. Hardy, 34, agrees to 10 days in jail, a $100,000 fine, and 30 months probation. He would receive a further sentence of 20-33 months if he failed to attend outpatient drug counseling, court-mandated drug testing, or was arrested … Frank Talent, the longtime Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission member and a fixture at independent Philadelphia shows, succumbs to brain cancer at the age of 75.

September 11: At No Surrender, Beer Money’s Bobby Roode beats Bully Ray to win TNA’s Bound For Glory Series, thus earning a shot at Kurt Angle’s TNA World title the following month at the Bound For Glory PPV. Angle, meanwhile, retains his championship in a three-way match with Sting and Mr. Anderson. Also, Austin Aries wins the X title from Brian Kendrick.

September 12: Legend Roddy Piper undergoes 6½ hours of surgery for a broken neck, sustained during a match taped for MTV’s Rob Dyrdek Fantasy Factory … Matt Hardy is arrested for the third time in four weeks on DUI charges. He is sentenced to mandatory rehab.

September 14: Hulk Hogan’s short-lived Micro Championship Wrestling program debuts on Tru TV. The show is frequently criticized for its similarities to Spike TV’s prior Half-Pint Brawlers show.

September 15: The former Claudio Castagnoli debuts in WWE’s Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory as Antonio Cesaro.

September 17: At ROH’s Death Before Dishonor iPPV, Eddie Edwards defeats Roderick Strong in a three-fall (pinfall, submission, and Iron Man) match, and The All Night Express earns a tag title shot with a ladder match victory over Jay and Mark Briscoe.

September 18: At Night of Champions in Buffalo, John Cena and Mark Henry surprise WWE fans when they win the WWE and World titles from Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton, respectively. Triple-H defeats CM Punk in a match in which his COO position was at stake.

September 19: Hiroshi Tanahashi retains the IWGP heavyweight title, pinning G-1 Climax winner Shinsuke Nakamura in Kobe, Japan.

September 20: Vince McMahon’s wife and former WWE CEO, Linda McMahon, announces she will again run for U.S. Senate in 2012.

October 2: Alberto Del Rio defeats WWE champion John Cena and CM Punk in a triple-threat, Hell in a Cell match at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view to regain the title. In the World title match, champion Mark Henry pins Randy Orton … Cheerleader Melissa defeats Madison Eagles to win the SHIMMER Women’s title, in Berwyn, Illinois.

October 3: At the Raw Supershow in Lafayette, Louisiana, WWE’s wrestlers and staff members vote nearly unanimously in favor of “No Confidence” in Triple-H, and walk out on the COO to close the show. Only John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk, and Sheamus refused to vote against him.

October 8: AAA’s Heroes Immortales show at Arena Monterrey is headlined by the Mexican debut of Sting, taking on Mesias, and Octogon and La Parka both turning on Dr. Wagner Jr. in his match with Perro Aguayo Jr., to join Konnan’s La Sociedad.

October 9: Triple-H is replaced as the head of Raw, on an interim basis, by VP of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis … Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff renew their contracts with TNA, just days before Bound For Glory … Former WWE, TNA, and NJPW star Travis Tomko is arrested on charges of armed robbery when he allegedly threatens a CVS pharmacist to receive Oxycodone pills … Former CMLL wrestler Dr. X (Clemente Marcelino Valencia) is killed in Mexico City by a stray bullet.

October 13: Bruce Pritchard is appointed TNA’s senior vice president of programming, in addition to continuing to serve as head of talent relations.

October 16: TNA Bound For Glory airs live from Philadelphia with Kurt Angle successfully retaining his TNA World title with a pinfall win over Bobby Roode. Also, Hulk Hogan loses by submission to Sting, but aids Sting in fending off Immortal after the match. In losing, Hogan is forced to hand over control of TNA back to Dixie Carter.

October 17: WWE tapes its weekly shows live in Mexico City for the first time. Ironically, WWE’s English announcers, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, are featured in the Raw main event. In addition, WWE conducts several interview segments in Spanish for the live crowd.

October 19: ESPN airs a sobering edition of E:60 that features a 20-minute segment on Scott Hall and his health and drug dependency issues. A visibly upset Hall looks into the camera and talks about expecting to die soon.

October 20: Substituting for Bobby Roode, James Storm shocks Kurt Angle on Impact Wrestling by pinning him in under two minutes to win his first TNA World title.

October 23: WWE champion Alberto Del Rio defeats John Cena in a last-man-standing match, while World heavyweight champion Mark Henry and The Big Show wrestle to a no-contest at Vengeance … All Japan’s Jun Akiyama wins the Triple-Crown championship, pinning Suwama at Sumo Hall.

October 25: Former Four Horsemen member Barry Windham suffers a massive heart attack and is found collapsed in his home by brother-in-law Mike Rotundo. Windham would remain hospitalized in Florida into November.
October 28: Former Divas champion Maryse Oullette is released from her WWE contract, at her request.

October 29: Bobby Roode turns on his former Beer Money partner James Storm to win the TNA World title at that week’s Impact Wrestling tapings.

November 1: WWE suspends WWE tag champion Evan Bourne for a Wellness Policy violation. Bourne later reveals that he and R-Truth had ingested synthetic marijuana at a party.

November 7: Kamala (James Harris) has part of his leg amputated due to complications from diabetes.

November 9: Mark Canterbury—the former Shanghai Pierce and Henry Godwinn—is involved in an automobile accident in West Virginia that nearly takes his life. Canterbury, who drove off a West Virginia overpass, suffered 13 broken ribs, two fractured legs, and lapsed into a coma for several days.

November 10: Killer Karl Kox passes away at the age of 80. Kox—a villain throughout his career, which spanned from the 1950s through the 1980s—had suffered a heart attack in October. A headliner in a multitude of territories over the years, Kox was considered by colleagues to be a dependable hand in the ring and a good idea man behind the scenes.

November 11: CMLL heavyweight champion Hector Garza vacates the title upon quitting the company to join rival promotion AAA as a member of the rule-breaking Los Perros Del Mal group.

November 13: Despite wrestling on a sprained ankle, AJ Styles pushes new TNA World champ Bobby Roode for 18 minutes before being pinned at Turning Point … Johnny Gargano beats Yamato to win Dragon Gate USA’s Open the Freedom Gate title.

November 17: Matt Hardy is booted from court-appointed rehab after officials at the treatment facility smell alcohol on his breath. Hardy is immediately sent to the Moore County, North Carolina, Detention Center. Hardy spend 11 days in prison before posting bond, then is ordered to complete the program.

November 19: The East Coast Wrestling Association holds it first annual K-Cup Tag Tournament, with Matt and Nick Logan beating The Flatliners in the final round.

November 21: Mick Foley makes a surprise appearance on a three-hour edition of Raw that is centered on The Rock’s on-air return. During the show, Foley attempts another “This Is Your Life” segment—this time with John Cena—but receives a Rock Bottom for his efforts.

November 22: Mark “Bison” Smith, a top independent and international wrestler, suffers a massive heart attack and dies at age 38 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Smith, a Pro Wrestling NOAH, NWA, and Ring of Honor alum, was scheduled to take on WWE’s Primo Colon for the World Wrestling Council at the time of his death … All-Japan’s Yoshikazu Taru and Mazada are arrested for their roles in the May backstage beating of Super Hate that led to his stroke … The new WWE 12 video game is released by THQ.

November 24: Dave “Fit” Finlay wins the SMASH heavyweight title at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo by pinning Starbuck following a Tombstone piledriver.

November 25: PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED launches its digital edition for tablets, smart phones, and computers in conjunction with Zinio.

November 27: The Rock makes his in-ring return at Survivor Series, teaming with John Cena to defeat The Miz and R-Truth in a tag match. The union is short-lived, however, as Rock lays out Cena with a Rock Bottom after the bell. Other matches from the show include CM Punk regaining the WWE title from Alberto Del Rio, and Mark Henry retaining his World title when he was disqualified against The Big Show … R-Truth is suspended for 30 days for a Wellness Policy violation.

November 28: In John Morrison’s final WWE match, The Miz lays out his former partner with a Skull-Crushing Finale on the entrance ramp.

December 11: AJ Styles nearly unseats Bobby Roode as TNA World champion in a 30-minute Iron Man match at Final Resolution. Tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, the bout is declared a draw. Earlier on the show, Jeff Hardy becomes number-one contender for Roode’s title when he pins Jeff Jarrett in a steel cage match.

December 12: WWE airs The 2011 Slammy Awards on a three-hour edition of Raw. CM Punk wins Superstar of the Year. The episode is also remarkable for the return of past stars Jessie James and Lita, as well as the return of Kane, who targets John Cena for his Rise Above Hate anti-bullying campaign.

December 13: WWE Tribute To The Troops airs on the USA Network, then again on NBC on December 17. The show is taped in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg. In addition to several matches, the special includes appearances by musicians Mary J. Blige and Nickelback, as well as Extra and Access Hollywood’s Maria Menounos.

December 16: Sean Waltman is arrested in Hillsborough, Florida, on three counts of drug possession, and released on a $2,150 bond … Twenty-one-year-old female wrestling prospect Miwako Nomura collapses in the ring while training under Hikaru for the new Happy Hour Women’s Wrestling promotion. Nomura’s death was later attributed to an aneurysm or stroke.

December 18: At a John Cena-less WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs pay-per-view in Baltimore, Maryland, CM Punk defeats The Miz and Alberto Del Rio in a three-way TLC match to keep his WWE title. Earlier in the show, Daniel Bryan cashes in his Smackdown Money in the Bank briefcase to pin new World champion The Big Show. Show had defeated Mark Henry for the title, but was left unconscious after a post-match attack from the “World’s Strongest Man.”

December 21: New management for the Asylum Arena (formerly the ECW Arena) in South Philadelphia holds a closed-door meeting with local wrestling promoters, informing them that the venue would be undergoing extensive renovations in 2012 and would most likely cease hosting wrestling events. The final wrestling card scheduled there would be a CZW/EVOLVE double-header on January 14, 2012.

December 23: Ring of Honor Final Battle airs on iPPV, with ROH heavyweight champion Davey Richards pinning Eddie Edwards in a 41-minute match. Edwards has former MMA, WWE, and NWA competitor Dan Severn in his corner. Also on the show, Jay and Mark Briscoe defeat Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin to win their seventh ROH tag team title, Matt and Nick Jackson earn a future tag title shot by surviving a five-team gauntlet match, and Kevin Steen earns official reinstatement in ROH by defeating Steve Corino … In a curious attempt to placate some vocal critics, WWE begins selling “Cena Sucks” T-shirts at house shows.

December 30: PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED releases the March 2012 Year-End Awards issue in digital format. PWI readers made CM Punk a four-time winner: Wrestler of the Year, Most Popular, Match of the Year (MITB, vs. John Cena), and Feud of the Year (vs. Cena).

2012

January 1: El Terrible wins the vacant CMLL championship, defeating Rush in a two-out-of-three falls match in Mexico City.

January 2: Chris Jericho makes his return to WWE, revealing himself as the man behind the mysterious vignettes that had aired on WWE television for several weeks. While Jericho does embrace the crowd, he does not say a word on the microphone.

January 4: Both the IWGP tag team and junior heavyweight tag team titles change hands at New Japan's annual Tokyo Dome show, as Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt & Ricky Martin) defeats junior heavyweight champs the No Remorse Corps (Davey Richards & Rocky Romero), and Hiroshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima unseat tag team champions Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson.

January 8: Bobby Roode retains his TNA World title against Jeff Hardy at Genesis, but only after low-blowing referee Brian Hebner to get intentionally disqualified. In the co-headliner, James Storm pins Kurt Angle.

January 12: Former CMLL star MS-1 (Pablo Reyna), 57, dies in an auto accident in his hometown of Huamantla.

January 14: The former ECW Arena closes its doors to wrestling after a joint EVOLVE-Combat Zone Wrestling show featuring the return of several names from ECW's past, including Sabu, Justin Credible, and Joey Styles. The show controversially ends with Sami Callihan laying out the former ECW stars, proclaiming that era as officially dead.

January 17: WWE star Evan Bourne is suspended from the company for 60 days for failing his second drug test since November. Although the details regarding this suspension are not revealed, it does come just two days after Bourne and Kofi Kingston lose the WWE tag title to Primo and Epico … Former UWF and Mid-South wrestler Savannah Jack (Savannah Russell) dies at 63 after more than two decades of heart problems.

January 20: Led by Mike Quackenbush, a contingent of CHIKARA wrestlers invade Ring of Honor's Homecoming in Philadelphia show and attack tag team champions Jay and Mark Briscoe. Also on the card, heavyweight champion Davey Richards successfully defends his title against TV champ Jay Lethal with a pinfall victory at 25:00 … Aspiring pro wrestler Quentin Washington, 25, dies after injuries sustained to his head and neck while training at Duane Gill's wrestling school in Severn, Maryland.

January 22: AtPro Wrestling NOAH'sGreat Voyage '12 show in Osaka, Japan, Takeshi Morishima wins the GHC heavyweight title from Go Shiozaki. Also, Jun Akiyama and Akitoshi Saito beat GHC tag team champions Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson for the title.

January 23: Ohio independent Andre Davis is sentenced to 32 years in prison for having sex with 11 women, even though he knew he was HIV-positive.

January 29: Sheamus wins the 2012 Royal Rumble, last eliminating Chris Jericho. In title matches on the show, WWE champion CM Punk defeats Dolph Ziggler and World champion Daniel Bryan defeats both The Big Show and a visibly hobbled Mark Henry in a steel cage match. Henry had suffered groin and knee injuries in recent months.

February 1: New Japan Pro Wrestling is sold by Yuke to Bushiroad Group Publishing for more than $6.5-million.

February 4: World Wrestling Fans Experience (WWFX) debuts in the Philippines with a show featuring 14 ex-WWE stars, including Shane “Hurricane” Helms (in his first match back after his May 2011 motorcycle accident), plus John Morrison and his girlfriend, Melina Perez. Morrison becomes the first-ever WWFX champion, pinning Shelton Benjamin.

February 12: TNA X division star Jesse Sorensen breaks the C-1 vertebra in his neck in a match against Zema Ion at Against All Odds. Also on the card, World champion Bobby Roode defeats Jeff Hardy, James Storm, and Bully Ray in a four-way match with Sting serving as a ringside enforcer … Kazuchika Okada shockingly ends the 13-month IWGP title reign of Hiroshi Tanahashi at New Japan's New Beginnings pay-per-view, its first under new ownership.

February 13: TNA announces that head creative writer Vince Russo has been fired … On a memorable edition of Raw, Kane pushes Zack Ryder off the stage while in a wheelchair, as a horrified Eve Torres looks on.

February 16: WWE holds a press conference to announce that WrestleMania 29–April 7, 2013–would be held in East Rutherford, New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, the home of the NFL's New York Giants and Jets. This would mark the first time a WrestleMania would be held in an open-air stadium in the Northeast portion of the U.S.

February 18: WWE developmental prospect Bo Rotundo (Taylor Rotunda), the son of WWE and WCW legend Mike “IRS” Rotundo, is arrested on charges of drunk driving in Tampa, Florida.

February 19: Both WWE champion CM Punk and World champion Daniel Bryan successfully defend their titles in Elimination Chamber matches at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. Also, John Cena defeats Kane in an ambulance match … All Japan, Pro Wrestling NOAH, and New Japan hold a joint inter-promotional show– “All Together Now”–in Sendai, Japan. The event is established to raise money for Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami victims. Japanese legend Kenta Kobashi damages his MCL and breaks his right tibia during the show, taking him out of action for two months.

February 22: WWE champion CM Punk launches a war of words with singer Chris Brown on Twitter, ultimately challenging him to a fight over Brown's reputation for assaulting women.

February 23: AAA wrestler Charly Manson (Jesus Pozos) is sentenced to 15 years in Mexican prison for seriously injuring two police officers during a fight in April 2011.

February 27: The Rock makes his return to Raw to talk about his upcoming WrestleMania 28 match with John Cena in Miami. The two argue in the ring for over 16 minutes.

March 2: CMLL's El Homenaje de Dos Leyendes ends with both Negro Casas and Blue Panther getting their heads shaved after a double pinfall … 1970s and 1980s preliminary WWF wrestler Paul Figueroa (Hipolito Figueroa) dies at 70.

March 3: Former ECW, All Japan, WCW, and WWE tag competitor Doug Furnas is found dead in his home in Tucson, Arizona, at 52. Furnas had suffered from both heart issues and Parkinson's disease. Furnas was a record-breaking powerlifter while attending the University of Tennessee.

March 4: Ring of Honor hosts its 10th Anniversary Show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. In the main event, Adam Cole, teaming with Eddie Edwards, pins ROH champion Davey Richards, seconded by Kyle O'Reilly. Up in the balcony, Kevin Steen delivers a scathing anti-ROH promo to end the show … New Japan's 40th Anniversary show at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo sees champion Kazuchika Okada retain his belt against Tetsuya Naito.

March 5: The Rock throws John Cena merchandise into the Boston Harbor during an edition of Raw.

March 7: Kharma (Kia Stevens), formerly TNA's Awesome Kong, admits that her claims of delivering a baby late in 2011 were untrue, and that she miscarried the pregnancy … Gawker.com leaks a sex tape featuring Hulk Hogan and an unknown female partner.

March 12: Longtime referee Dick Woerhle– a longtime fixture of WWF houseand TV shows in the 1970s and 1980s–dies after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. He was just a few weeks shy of his 82nd birthday.

March 13: Former NWA junior heavyweight champion Joe McCarthy (Tommy Criswell) dies of a stroke at 82.

March 17: Kevin Steen wins the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla title, defeating Eddie Edwards and champion El Generico in a three-way.

March 18: Sting unsuccessfully challenges TNA World champion Bobby Roode in a no-holds-barred match at Victory Road. Kurt Angle beats Jeff Hardy earlier in the night … After interference by LA Park,
Mesias defeats Jeff Jarrett to win the AAA heavyweight title at the annual Rey de Reyes show in Guadalajara, Mexico.

March 19: Rumors surface that Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE's talent developmental program, is closing its doors. The story comes just 10 days after Ty Bailey–who was put in charge of the program by then-Talent Relations Senior Vice President John Laurinaitis–was relieved of his duties … Former ECW, WWE, WCW, and TNA star Jerry Lynn announces his retirement will take place at year's end … John Cena is involved in an auto accident in Philadelphia when his car is struck from behind. Despite being banged up, he still makes it to Raw that night to defeat Mark Henry.

March 20: All Japan Pro Wrestling's Triple-Crown champion Jun Akiyama defeats Keiji Muto at Tokyo Sumo Hall.

March 22: Former Texas wrestler/promoter Joe Blanchard, the father of NWA and WWF star Tully Blanchard, dies of cancer at 83.

March 24: Former Hart Foundation member Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart is sentenced to five months and 29 days in jail for his 2010 conviction for breaking into a neighbor's house to steal prescription pills.

March 30/31: Ring of Honor holds WrestleMania-weekend iPPVs in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with ROH champion Davey Richards successfully defending against Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong in a three-way bout, and then pinning Michael Elgin.

March 31: WWE inducts both Edge and The Four Horsemen into its Hall of Fame. Edge was forced to retire just one year earlier after sustaining a serious neck injury that could have left him paralyzed. He is inducted by his best friend, Christian. Of all the Four Horsemen throughout history, recognized on-stage are Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, manager James J. Dillon, and, surprisingly, then-TNA star Ric Flair. Other inductees include Ron Simmons, Yokozuna, Mike Tyson, and Mil Mascaras … Dragon Gate USA holds an iPPV in Miami, with Low-Ki, Tozawa, and BxB Hulk defeating PAC, Ricochet, and Mochizuki.

April 1: The Rock pins John Cena at WrestleMania 28 in Miami Gardens, Florida, to end their year-long feud. In other action, The Undertaker extends his WrestleMania undefeated streak to 20-0 after defeating Triple-H in a Hell in a Cell match, with Shawn Michaels as guest referee. CM Punk retains the WWE title by beating Chris Jericho, while Sheamus takes the World title from Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds.

April 2: Former UFC and three-time WWE champion Brock Lesnar makes his return to WWE, laying out John Cena on Raw with an F5 … First-ever WWE Tough Enough winner Maven Huffman is arrested in Florida for obtaining multiple prescriptions from different doctors.

April 3: Longtime fan favorite and backstage WWE official Chief Jay Strongbow (Joe Scarpa) dies at 83. The four-time WWF tag team champion was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1994  … Randy Orton is dropped from his announced starring role in the movie The Marine: Homefront in favor of The Miz after complaints are registered about Orton's spotty military background.

April 5: Wrestling legend Kamala (James Harris) has his right foot amputated following complications from diabetes. His left leg had been amputated in 2011.

April 6: Legendary announcer Miguel Alonso dies at the age of 89, just months after making his final appearance at a wrestling convention in Los Angeles.

April 7: Papadon becomes the first reigning ECWA heavyweight champion to win the Super 8 Tournament.

April 8: Colt Cabana wins the NWA title from Adam Pearce in Glendale, California. It is announced the two will begin a best-of-seven series for the belt.

April 15: Bobby Roode again barely escapes a TNA pay-per-view with his World title, this time defeating former champion James Storm at Lockdown in Nashville.

April 23: Former WCW star Buff Bagwell is placed in intensive care in a Georgia hospital after suffering two broken bones in his neck, a shattered nose, and a broken leg. It was determined that Bagwell suffered a seizure before his vehicle flipped off the road.

April 26: TNA debuts its Open Fight Night concept on Impact, which allows wrestlers to challenge one another during the show … Rey Mysterio Jr. is suspended 60 days for his second WWE Wellness Program violation.

April 28: Shane Douglas' Extreme Reunion makes its debut at the National Guard Armory in Philadelphia, with stars such as Douglas, Jerry Lynn, Stevie Richards, Scorpio, The Blue Meanie, and Little Guido … Independent wrestler Prince Malik (Frank Etienne) is found dead at 31.

April 29: John Cena pins Brock Lesnar after hitting him with a chain in a hardcore match main-eventing WWE Extreme Rules. In other matches, WWE champion CM Punk beats Chris Jericho in a streetfight, World champion Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan in a two-out-of-three-fall match, and Layla wins the Divas title from Nikki Bella.

April 30: The Bella Twins leave WWE after their contracts expire. Both Brie and Nikki enjoyed a run as Divas champion during their tenure.

May 3: Former All Japan star Kosuke Takeuchi passes away at 65.

May 7: Paul Heyman returns to WWE television as the legal representative for Brock Lesnar.

May 10: TNA announces an agreement that will bring mixed martial arts star King Mo (Muhammed Lawal) into the company … TNA Knockouts champion Gail Kim marries celebrity chef Robert Irvine in a private ceremony.

May 11: A lawsuit brought by musician Anthony Dash against WWE and Floyd Mayweather, claiming the would-be defendants had illegally profited from the use of one of his songs for Mayweather's entrance prior to his WrestleMania 24 match with The Big Show, is thrown out in U.S. District Court.

May 12: Kevin Steen defeats Davey Richards for the Ring of Honor title at Border Wars, its iPPV out of Toronto … Cancer claims the life of Gorgeous George Jr., born Charles Phelps. He was 74.

May 13: At Sacrifice, TNA World champion Bobby Roode defeats Rob Van Dam in a ladder match after RVD falls off the ladder and twists his knee.

May 16: El Hijo de Rey Misterio (Miguel Lopez Hernandez) and his brother Esteban are arrested in Rosarito Beach, California, on charges of possessing methamphetamines. Hernandez gained a reputation for his similar look and style to WWE's Rey Mysterio Jr.

May 17: TNA announces that Hulk Hogan's daughter, Brooke, is joining its Knockouts roster. Brooke was later named an executive for the division.

May 20: Interim Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis defeats John Cena in a match at WWE Over the Limit, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Had Laurinaitis lost, he would have been fired from WWE. Laurinaitis benefits from interference by The Big Show, who had been let go one week earlier by Laurinaitis, only to secretly sign an “iron-clad contract” with the executive. Also, WWE champion CM Punk pins Daniel Bryan.

May 24: Chris Jericho is sent home from a South American tour and suspended 30 days after kicking a Brazilian flag in the ring during a show in Sao Paulo, a criminal offense in that country.

May 25: TNA sues WWE over allegations one of its former writers, Brian Wittenstein, leaked information to WWE regarding the contract statuses of several TNA wrestlers. Though WWE brought the incident to TNA©s attention, TNA alleged that WWE still benefited from the information and took three weeks to take action.

May 26: Montreal pro wrestler Hans Schmidt (Guy Larose) dies in Joliette, Quebec, at age 87. During his heyday, the Wresting Observer Hall of Famer, was a frequent challenger for the NWA World title.

May 28: Longtime TNA pitchman, salesman, and commentator Don West announces he is leaving the company to pursue other interests.

May 30: Randy Orton is suspended 60 days by WWE for a second Wellness Program violation after reportedly testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone.

May 31: TNA Impact begins airing live on Thursday nights.

June 7: WWE's Florida Championship Wrestling developmental program runs its final show in Tampa, prior to becoming rebranded as NXT and beginning taping at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

June 9: WWE reaches an agreement with Ene Watts–the ex-wife of Cowboy Bill Watts–to buy the library of Mid-South Wrestling, one of the last major remaining sets of wrestling footage it did not own … Steve Austin's Redneck Island reality show debuts on CMT.

June 10: At Slammiversary in Arlington, Texas, TNA World champion Bobby Roode retains his title against Sting, this time smashing a beer bottle over his head. That same night, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles win the TNA tag title from Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, and Miss Tessmacher wins the Knockouts title from Gail Kim … Ryusuke Taguchi pins IWGP junior heavyweight champion Low-Ki to win New Japan's Best of the Super Junior tournament.

June 11: Vader is one of several stars to make his return to Raw, taking on and beating Heath Slater as the company prepares for its special 1,000th edition of the program in July. Other stars to return in the ensuing weeks include Roddy Piper, Mick Foley, Sid, Doink the Clown, and “Diamond” Dallas Page.

June 14: Triple-H replaces John Laurinaitis as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations behind the scenes … TNA star Chris Sabin tears his ACL only weeks after returning from the same injury that had sidelined him for the previous year. The injury is sustained during a three-way Ultimate X match with Austin Aries and Zema Ion on Impact.

June 15: CMLL introduces its new version of Mistico, the former identity of the man who left for WWE to become Sin Cara. The new Mistico is Dragon Lee.

June 16: Hiroshi Tanahashi wins his sixth IWGP heavyweight title in Osaka, defeating Kazuchika Okada at NJPW's Dominion pay-per-view. This win ties the all-time record set by Tatsumi Fujinami.

June 17: John Cena defeats The Big Show in a steel cage match at No Way Out, as Vince McMahon and interim General Manager John Laurinaitis look on. As a result, Laurinaitis is fired from his on-air role running both Raw and Smackdown. He also takes an Attitude Adjustment from Cena through the Spanish announcer table … Former WWE champion John Bradshaw Layfield announces he is training to climb the seven highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest, to raise money for needy children in Bermuda. WWE pledges $250,000 toward the cause.

June 18: TNA files a breach of contract suit against Scott Steiner over a number of disparaging Twitter remarks he had made about former co-workers such as Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Steiner would later countersue, saying the company breached his contract by providing an unsafe working environment.

June 23: Mexican lucha legend “Adorable” Rubi Ruvalcaba (Silvestre Carbajal) dies after complications from a kidney infection. He was 71.

June 24: Kevin Steen retains his Ring of Honor title in a hard-fought match with Davey Richards at Best in the World. The show is perhaps best remembered for the violent bout between former partners Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly in which Cole's mouth is busted open. Cole wins by submission.

June 25: Police are called to the home of Ric Flair following reports he was assaulted by then-wife Jacqueline Beems.

June 29: Former Mexican wrestler Enfermero II (Martin Herrera) dies of cancer at 63.

June 30: Puerto Rico's WWC holds its 39th Anniversary show, main-evented by Carlito and Rey Gonzalez, who defeat Thunder and Lightning in a hair vs. mask match.

July 1: New Japan and All Japan Pro Wrestling hold a joint show with several cross-promotional matches at Tokyo's Sumo Hall. Jun Akiyama pins Taiyo Kea to hold on to the Triple Crown; Tanahashi pins Togi Makabe to retain the IWGP title.

July 2: TNA releases both Shannon Moore and five-time Knockouts champion Angelina Love.

July 5: Ring of Honor tag champion Kenny King surprises many with his debut on TNA Impact. The move prompts ROH to strip him of his title and declare a future eight-team tag title tournament.

July 8: Austin Aries hands over his X division championship for a TNA World title shot against Bobby Roode at Destination X. He promptly wins the belt in what is regarded at the time as an upset. That same night, Zema Ion is crowned the new X titleholder after winning an Ultimate X match … Former WWE Diva and Straight-Edge Society member Serena Deeb is arrested on charges of boating under the influence.

July 9: In the course of just a few days, WWE offers contracts to Sara Del Rey (developmental wrestler/trainer), Dragon Gate's PAC (wrestler), and Dave “Fit” Finlay (backstage official).

July 11: DirecTV and Viacom fail to reach an agreement, resulting in 17 channels–including TNA's home network Spike TV–being pulled from the DirecTV lineup. The news affects 19.9 million subscribers, more than 20 percent of Spike's audience. The companies would remain at an impasse for nine days … WWE announces a $13.4-million strategic partnership with social video platform Tout.

July 12: Legendary wrestler and Indian actor Dara Singh, 83, passes away following a stroke. He is best remembered as an opponent of Lou Thesz during his NWA heyday.

July 13: WWE releases Kharma (Kia Stevens, formerly TNA's Awesome Kong) to the shock and disappointment of her fans who had been clamoring for her return to television.

July 15: John Cena and Dolph Ziggler win the Money in the Bank briefcases for the WWE and World titles, respectively, at WWE Money in the Bank in Phoenix. CM Punk also defeats Daniel Bryan to retain the WWE title in a match in which AJ Lee serves as guest referee, while World Champion Sheamus pins Alberto Del Rio.

July 20: An all-women's promotion–SHINE–makes its debut as the sister company to EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA. Its initial iPPV is held in Ybor City, Florida, and features competitors such as Sara Del Rey, Jazz, Nikki Roxx, and Mercedes Martinez … 62-year-old Goldie Rogers (Dave Sherwin) passes away after suffering a stroke. Rogers was a wrestler for several U.S. and Canadian territories in the 1970s and 1980s.

July 22: TNA stars Samoa Joe and Magnus capture the Global Honored tag championship from Akitoshi Saito and Jun Akiyama in Pro Wrestling NOAH.

July 23: WWE presents its live 1,000th episode of Raw in St. Louis to more than six million viewers. The show marks the first regular occasion in which Raw is three hours. The Rock and Brock Lesnar return for heated confrontations with CM Punk and Triple-H, respectively. D-Generation X members Triple-H, Shawn Michaels, X-Pac, and The New Age Outlaws also return, and AJ Lee spoils her planned in-ring wedding with Daniel Bryan to announce she is the new general manager of Raw. In addition, John Cena becomes the first man to cash in a Money in the Bank briefcase and fail, when WWE champion CM Punk is disqualified in their match.

July 24: The International Wrestling Corporation, a group led by attorney R. Bruce Tharpe, gains ownership of the National Wrestling Alliance as part of a lawsuit settlement with Pro Wrestling Organization LLC.

July 27: Famed women's wrestler, and trainee of The Fabulous Moolah, Rita Lee Cortez (Yolanda Gutierrez) dies at 73.

August 5: AAA's 20th TripleMania is held in the new Arena Ciudad de Mexico. The show includes Mesias defeating Perro Aguayo in defense of the heavyweight title and Electroshock and LA Park beating TNA's Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett … WWE's Rosa Mendes files a report she was beaten by ex-boyfriend Jackson Andrews (Steven Slocum), formerly of WWE. It quickly surfaces that Jackson has a wife in Houston, unbeknownst to Mendes.

August 11: In a rare inter-promotional battle, Ring of Honor champion Kevin Steen pins CHIKARA champion Eddie Kingston at ROH's Boiling Point iPPV in Providence, Rhode Island … Legendary high-flying wrestler Red Bastien dies as a result of complications from Alzheimer's at age 81.

August 12: Austin Aries continues to gain momentum as TNA World champion, pinning Bobby Roode at Hardcore Justice in Orlando. Earlier in the night, AJ Styles wins a four-way ladder match against Christopher Daniels, Kurt Angle, and Samoa Joe to earn 20 points in the Bound For Glory Series tournament … At 24, Kazuchika Okada becomes the youngest man to win New Japan's G-1 Climax tournament, last defeating Karl Anderson.

August 14: Linda McMahon wins the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut.

August 16: Taryn Terrell (formerly WWE's Tiffany) makes her debut as a Knockout division referee on TNA Impact.

August 19: Brock Lesnar uses a Kimura Lock to gain a submission victory over Triple-H at WWE SummerSlam in Los Angeles. In other action, WWE champion CM Punk defeats John Cena and The Big Show in a triple-threat match.

August 20: Brock Lesnar issues a retirement statement via Tout … Masakatsu Funaki uses a Tombstone piledriver to win the AJPW Triple Crown from Jun Akiyama … Former TNA and WCW wrestler Daffney (Shannon Spruill) is involved in a serious automobile accident in which her car hydroplanes and flips while going 70 miles per hour.

August 23: CM Punk is announced as the number-one wrestler in the “PWI 500” with the release of the digital edition of the November 2012 issue.

August 25: WWE debuts Saturday Morning Slam, a new 30-minute program geared toward children that airs Saturday mornings on the CW Network.

August 31: TV champion Devon leaves TNA, forfeiting his title when his contract expires … CMLL champion El Terrible defeats IWGP champion Hiroshi Tanahashi in the finals of the Champion of Champions Universal title tournament at Arena Mexico … Brodus Clay's backup dancer–and former Tough Enough competitor–Cameron (Ariane Andrew) is suspended 15 days for not telling WWE officials of a DUI arrest weeks earlier.

September 2: Adam Cole wins Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's Battle of Los Angeles tournament, last defeating Michael Elgin.

September 3: Paul Heyman begins accompanying CM Punk at ringside … WWE Diva Eve Torres wins NBC reality show Stars Earn Stripes, in which various celebrities are paired with Armed Forces and law enforcement officials. Other celebrities include Dean Cain, Laila Ali, and Nick Lachey.

September 4: New England independent wrestler and trainer Richard Byrne dies at 62. Byrne wrestled briefly for New Japan in the 1980s.

September 9: Jeff Hardy wins TNA's Bound For Glory Series tournament at No Surrender, pinning Samoa Joe and, later, Bully Ray to secure the number-one contender position to the World title. That same show, TNA World champion Austin Aries defeats an unknown member of the Aces & Eights by disqualification  … The NWA announces that both Championship Wrestling From Hollywood (formerly NWA Hollywood) and Pro Wrestling Revolution have left the NWA banner.

September 10: Jerry “The King” Lawler suffers a massive heart attack while doing commentary on Raw in Montreal. Lawler, who wrestled in a tag match earlier in the evening, is attended to by medical personnel for about 20 minutes at ringside and backstage before being taken to a nearby hospital.

September 11: Former 1970s preliminary WWE wrestler Manuel Miranda passes away at age 60.

September 16: WWE champ CM Punk and John Cena wrestle to a draw at Night of Champions when both men's shoulders are down for the three-count. The match occurs in Cena's hometown of Boston … The Special Envoy (UltraMantis Black, Hallowicked, and Frightmare) defeat Team ROH (The Young Bucks and Mike Bennett) in CHIKARA's annual three-night King of Trios tournament.

September 18: John Cena has surgery to remove bone chips and loose cartilage in his elbow. Following his meeting with Dr. James Andrews' knife, he is out of action for more than a month.

September 23: New Japan's Destruction pay-per-view in Kobe, Japan, sees the return of Kazushi Sakuraba, who had not been in an NJPW ring since 1996, plus a successful title defense by Tanahashi against Naomichi Marufuji.

September 25: WWE inks an agreement with online streaming site Hulu to bring its content to the Hulu Plus premium monthly TV service. The WWE package includes all of WWE's TV shows, plus Hulu-exclusive content in the U.S. such as NXT and Superstars.

September 27: Former WWE and TNA star Shawn Daivari chokes out a man on a train in Minneapolis who is threatening other passengers before throwing him out at the next stop.

September 28: Popular WWE Diva Kelly Kelly leaves the company to pursue other projects.

September 30: “Hangman” Bobby Jaggers (Robert Jeaudoin) passes away at the age of 64. Jaggers wrestled in territories throughout the U.S., and is often remembered for his tag team alliance with Dutch Mantell.

October 5: Brian Gewirtz, the head writer for Raw for nearly 10 years, is removed from WWE's creative team.

October 6: Ring of Honor announces it will again use Hunter Johnston–the performer known as Delirious–as booker, replacing Jim Cornette … Tommy Dreamer launches his new House of Hardcore promotion in Poughkeepsie, New York.

October 8: CM Punk hits a fan he mistakenly believes jostled from behind as he stood in the crowd during an episode of Raw in Sacramento, California. Both Punk and WWE would apologize for the misunderstanding … New Japan makes its iPPV debut in the U.S. with The King of Pro Wrestling show from Tokyo. Tanahashi defeats Minoru Suzuki to retain his IWGP title in the main event … Tammy “Sunny” Sytch is arrested for the fourth and fifth time in one month on charges she violated a restraining order by going to the home of her boyfriend, wrestler Damien Darling. She agrees to seek counseling and rehab.

October 9: Hulk Hogan files a police report in response to the leaking of portions of the sex tape he claims was filmed without his knowledge. This tape reveals that Hogan's partner is actually Heather Clem, the ex-wife of good friend and radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge. Hogan later files lawsuits against both Bubba and Heather, as well as the website gawker.com, which made the video available … Midnight Express member Bobby Eaton is hospitalized in Arkansas for pneumonia, fluid buildup, and heart problems.

October 13: Ring of Honor champion Kevin Steen pins Michael Elgin to retain his championship at Glory by Honor, in Mississauga, Ontario … TNA formally inducts Sting as the first member of its Hall of Fame.

October 14: At TNA's Bound For Glory pay-per-view, Jeff Hardy pins Austin Aries to reclaim the TNA World title. In other action, Devon makes his return to the company, revealing himself to be part of the masked Aces & Eights group, and former MMA star King Mo referees a streetfight between Bobby Roode and James Storm.

October 17: WWE reaches a settlement with the state of Connecticut regarding $4.4-million in back taxes owed between April 2005 and December 2007.

October 18: The wrestling world is saddened to learn of the suicide death of Mike Graham (Edward Gossett), a former promoter and wrestler who was a fixture of Championship Wrestling From Florida in the 1970s and 1980s. Graham also worked backstage with WCW. He was 61 … Former Combat Zone Wrestling wrestler Brain Damage (Marvin Lambert) also commits suicide at age 34 … TNA Knockout Gail Kim is declared number one in the “PWI Female 50” in the digital version of PWI’s January 2013 issue.

October 28: Ryback is handed his first loss in a WWE ring at the hands of WWE champion CM Punk at Hell in a Cell. Ryback appears to have the match won until he is dealt a low blow by referee Brad Maddox. Maddox would go on to justify the attack by saying he wanted a chance to be a wrestler himself. That same night, The Big Show beats Sheamus for the World title.

October 29: Bubba the Love Sponge settles the suit brought against him by Hulk Hogan. The terms are not released.

October 30: The WWE 13 video game is released internationally, to the thrill of wrestling video game enthusiasts.

November 1: Brad Armstrong (Robert Bradley James), the son of WWE Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bob Armstrong and brother to Brian “Road Dogg” and WWE referee Scott Armstrong, is found dead at just 50 years old. No cause of death is announced.

November 2: One week after the NWA title is vacated by Adam Pearce, it is won by “The Tokyo Monster” Kahagas at a NWA Dawg show in Clayton, New Jersey. Kahagas last pins Damien Wayne in a nine-man elimination match.

November 6: Despite spending nearly $44-million on her campaign, Linda McMahon falls short of winning the Connecticut Senate seat, losing to Democrat Christopher Murphy.

November 7: Ultimo Dragon holds his 25th Anniversary show at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. He teams with Rayo de Jalisco Jr. and The Great Sasuke to defeat Ultimo Guerrero, Hajime Ohara, and Black Tiger.

November 8: John Bradshaw Layfield signs on to remain a full-time commentator with WWE. The former WWE champion had originally agreed to help out during Lawler's absence as he recuperated from a heart attack. He would begin providing color analysis immediately on Smackdown.

November 11: Jeff Hardy escapes Turning Point with his TNA World title after a breathtaking ladder match against Austin Aries. That same night, James Storm defeats Bobby Roode and AJ Styles to become the next top contender for the TNA belt.

November 12: Jerry “The King” Lawler makes his emotional return to the broadcast booth on Raw, in Columbus, Ohio. The moment is nearly spoiled by CM Punk, who berates Lawler … Wrestling Observer Newsletter announces its 2012 Hall of Fame inductees: British wrestler Mick McManus, Mexican announcer Dr. Alfonso Morales, John Cena, Hans Schmidt, and Capt. Lou Albano.

November 18: At Survivor Series in Indianapolis, WWE champion CM Punk retains his title against both Ryback and John Cena in a triple-threat match after Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns–collectively known as The Shield–interfere and put Ryback through a table at ringside.

November 23: KENTA wins the Pro Wrestling NOAH Global League tournament, pinning Takashi Sugiura at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

November 28: Jim Cornette goes on sabbatical from Ring of Honor.

November 29: Fabulous Freebird Buddy Roberts (Dale Hey) dies of pneumonia. The 65-year-old Canadian wrestler's career included stints with Texas' WCCW, plus WWE, the UWF, and the AWA.

December 2: Tony Mamaluke of FBI fame in ECW, WCW, WWE, and TNA,  announces his retirement from wrestling after a 15-year career plagued by concussions. Mamaluke's final match takes place against Papadon for the East Coast Wrestling Association.

December 4: CM Punk undergoes arthroscopic surgery to repair his left meniscus. The operation forces Punk to pull out of his scheduled WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs pay-per-view title defense against Ryback … Japanese legend Kenta Kobashi is fired from Pro Wrestling NOAH over a dispute with company business executive Ryu Nakata. He announces his retirement days later, due to injuries.

December 6: “The California Hippie” Mike Boyette (Mike Bowyer) passes away after being hospitalized a few weeks earlier with a broken hip. He was 71.

December 9: At Final Resolution in Orlando, Jeff Hardy successfully defends his TNA World title against Bobby Roode. Roode attempts to pay off Aces & Eights to interfere on his behalf, only to be thwarted when Austin Aries pays them more not to get involved. Earlier in the night, Christopher Daniels pins AJ Styles in what is billed as their final match ever.

December 15: Former CMLL wrestler El Faisan (Gilberto Menses) loses his battle with cancer at 52.

December 16: WWE makes its debut at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, with its TLC pay-per-view. In the main event, AJ Lee shocks John Cena when she knocks him off the ladder during his one-on-one Money in the Bank ladder match with Dolph Ziggler for Ziggler's briefcase … Kevin Steen pins his former tag partner, El Generico, after a low blow and package piledriver to successfully defend his ROH heavyweight title at Final Battle in New York.

December 17: Ric Flair makes his long-awaited return to WWE, presenting John Cena with a trophy for “Superstar Of The Year” at the 2012 Slammy Awards on Raw. Cena turns the tables on Flair by honoring him with the trophy, only for Flair to be forced to physically defend himself against CM Punk and, later, The Shield.

December 19: WWE's Tribute to the Troops from Naval Station Norfolk (Virginia) airs on USA Network. Aside from spotlighting a tag match with Sheamus and Randy Orton taking on Dolph Ziggler and The Big Show, Tribute to the Troops also touts performances from Flo Rida, Kid Rock, and The Muppets … WWE video game developer THQ files for bankruptcy.

December 20: CM Punk receives PWI readers' vote as Wrestler of the Year for the second straight time, the magazine announces in the digital edition of its March 2013 issue.

December 22: St. Louis and Carolinas wrestling star Rip Hawk (Harvey Evers), 82, passes away from heart issues. Hawk's 33-year career, which spanned the 1960s-1980s, included matches with all-time legends Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino, Andre the Giant, and Harley Race.

2013

January 4: Hiroshi Tanahashi successfully defends his IWGP heavyweight title in 33:34 in front of 29,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome.

January 5: New Japan Pro Wrestling Chairman Takaaki Kidani resigns over creative differences with ownership.

January 7: Tammy Sytch and Damien Darling announce their engagement via Facebook. Sytch had been arrested five times in 2012 for defying a court order of protection forbidding her to see Darling, who alleged she was responsible for domestic violence.

January 8: Alberto Del Rio upsets The Big Show in a Last-Man-Standing match for the WWE World title at a Smackdown taping in Miami, Florida.

January 9: Dolph Ziggler teams with Brad Maddox against Ziggler’s kid brother, Briley Pierce, and Trent Barreta. Ziggler and Pierce wrestled evenly against each other, and Dolph scores the pin over Barreta after interference by AJ Lee and Big E Langston.

January 12: Hulk Hogan files a $50-million lawsuit against Laser Spine Institute of Tampa, Florida, claiming “negligent conduct … resulted in a provable loss of past and future income.” As part of the suit, Hogan also claims the Spine Institute used an endorsement from Hogan without permission or payment.

January 13: Jeff Hardy turns back the challenges of his two TNA World title predecessors, Bobby Roode and Austin Aries, at Genesis in Orlando, Florida, in an elimination match.

January 14: WWE celebrates the 20th anniversary of Monday Night Raw. The show pales in comparison to the 1,000th episode six months earlier, but does feature a title change, as Kaitlyn defeats Eve Torres for the Divas title in front of her hometown fans in Houston. Torres resigns from WWE to pursue other interests.

January 17: The nationally televised wedding between Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan is interrupted by a member of the wedding party, Taz, who reveals himself to be part of the Aces & Eights faction and proceeds to lead an assault on Ray and father of the bride, Hulk Hogan.

January 25: Tammy Sytch files assault charges against Damien Darling, alleging that her fiancée broke four of her ribs in the latest in a string of domestic disputes. Sytch is arrested a sixth time for violating a protective order.

January 26: Ric Flair pulls out of what would have been in first match in 16 months when All Japan Pro-Wrestling doctors determine he has a blood clot in his left leg. Flair is on hand at the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo as his replacement, youngest son Reid, teams with Keiji Muto in a loss to Tatsumi Fujinami and Seiya Sanada.

January 27: The Rock pins CM Punk at The Royal Rumble at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona, to win his first WWE title since 2002 and end Punk’s reign at 434 days. Also on the card,
John Cena wins the Royal Rumble match (last eliminating Rybck) to earn a world title match at WrestleMania 29 … Kenta beats Takeshi Morishima for the GHC heavyweight title at Great Voyage ’13 in Osaka, Japan.

January 28: Brock Lesnar executes an F-5 against 67-year-old Vince McMahaon just as the WWE chairman is on the verge of firing Lesnar’s advisor, Paul Heyman, for using The Shield as hired enforcers. McMahon suffers a broken pelvis.

January 31: TNA President Dixie Carter announces during Impact that the company will be taking its TV tapings on the road beginning March 14 in Chicago after taping at Orlando’s Universal Studios for the past nine years.

February 4: Bruno Sammartino, whose omission from the WWE Hall of Fame was likened to what the MLB Hall of Fame would be without Babe Ruth, reaches an agreement with WWE to be inducted at the April ceremony at Madison Square Garden. Long at odds with the company for moral reasons, Bruno attributes his change of heart to Triple-H personally meeting with him to outline the philosophical changes that have taken place within WWE over the past few years.

February 5: WWE reaches 1 million YouTube subscribers.

February 7: TNA President Dixie Carter announces that reigning World champion Jeff Hardy has inked a long-term deal with the company. Earlier in the day, Hardy’s profile was added to the Alumni section at wwe.com.

February 10: New Japan’s New Beginnings pay-per-view, originating from the Hiroshima Sun Plaza, sees four successful IWGP title defenses, as junior heavyweight tag team champions Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA defeat Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero, junior heavyweight champion Prince Devitt pins Ryusuke Taguchi, heavyweight tag team champions Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojiuma, and heavyweight champion Hiroshi Tanahashi pins Karl Anderson.

February 11: The International Olympic Committee votes to drop wrestling from its schedule for the 2020 Olympic Games. Wrestling had been a part of the Olympics since 708 B.C. Pro wrestlers, most notably 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, join a global campaign to get the sport reinstated.

February 17: The Rock takes care of the final obstacle for a WrestleMania rematch with John Cena by pinning CM Punk at Elimination Chamber at the New Orleans Arena. Earlier, Jack Swagger bests Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Mark Henry, and Randy Orton in an Elimination Chamber match to earn a WrestleMania title shot at World champion Alberto Del Rio.

February 18: WWE holds a press conference at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans to announce that WrestleMania 30 would take place at that venue on April 6, 2014 … Ric Flair seeks an order of protection against his estranged fourth wife, Jackie, who he claims had physically attacked him on numerous occasions in fits of drunken rage.

February 19: Jack Swagger is arrested by Biloxi, Mississippi, after a Smackdown taping and charged with driving under the influence of marijuana and speeding.

February 21: The Miz and Marsye Ouellet get engaged.

Febuary 26: All Japan Pro-Wrestling is purchased by Speed Partners, a Japanese IT company, for $2.5-million.

March 2: Venezuelan Cyclone Negro, a major star who won numerous regional titles in Texas, Florida, and California, dies at age 80.

March 4: Eric Pankowski is removed from his position as WWE’s head creative writer. Sources say that he was unable—or unwilling—to adapt his Hollywood writing style to the professional wrestling.

March 5: William Moody, who performed as manager Percy Pringle and Paul Bearer, dies at 58 due to multiple health issues. Though he most famously managed The Undertaker, the list also includes Mankind, Kane, Rick Rude, Vader, and Lex Luger, The Ultimate Warrior, and Steve Austin.

March 10: With a major assist from Devon, Bully Ray wins the TNA World title from Jeff Hardy in a cage at Lockdown at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Devon immediately reveals that he has been president of Aces & Eights all along.

March 16: Rob Conway wins the NWA heavyweight title from Kahagas at NWA DAWG’S Wrath of Champions card in Clayton, New Jersey.

March 17: Suwama wins the All Japan Triple Crown title a third time, beating Masakatsu Funaki in Tokyo.

March 19: Chris Masters rips a tree from the ground as uses it to break a window of his mother’s home and save her from a raging fire. Masters had received a call from his uncle saying that a neighbor had “gone crazy” and barricaded himself and Masters’ mother inside the house, threatening to burn the house if anyone tried to interfere.

March 23: Sean Waltman suffers a torn anus while attempting a Bronco Buster against Jerry Lynn in Lynn’s retirement match in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Waltman attends the after-match party, but when the bleeding doesn’t stop, he is taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he would undergo surgery.

March 25: Ric Flair is hospitalized in Philadelphia prior to a scheduled appearance on Raw with a blood clot in his leg. After being examined, he returns home to Charlotte, North Carolina, for further treatment.

March 28: Evan Bourne returns to action after a 14-month absence to defeat Sammy Zane at an NXT event. Bourne received a 60-day WWE Wellness Program suspension in January 2012 and broke his right foot in four places and dislocated it in five places as the result of an auto accident the following March.

March 29: Reid Flair, 25, is found dead at a North Carolina hotel after what would later be attributed to a heroin overdose. The youngest son of Ric Flair had a history of drug and legal problems. He wrestled his final match on an All Japan card 12 days earlier.

April 3: WWE and Martha Hart settle a lawsuit over royalties and the use of the late Owen Hart’s image almost 14 years after Owen died at age 34 during a wrestling stunt during the Over the Edge pay-per-view at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri.

April 5: Three-time ECW tag team champion New Jack retires after defeating Necro Butcher on a Pro Wrestling Syndicate card in Metuchen, New Jersey. The 21-year veteran planned to pursue an acting career.

April 6: WWE inducts Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Trish Stratus, Mick Foley, Booker T, and Donald Trump into its Hall of Fame at a ceremony at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The evening’s festivities are highlighted by Sammartino’s official WWE return after a years-long estrangement from the federation he dominated in the 1960s and 1970s … WWE legal representatives seize bootleg WWE merchandise at Wrestlecon, staged in the vicinity of WWE WrestleMania Weekend events. Accused vendors would receive a court date to defend themselves.

April 7: John Cena’s return-match victory over The Rock highlights the largest-grossing WrestleMania in history. Also on the WrestleMania 29 card, which drew 80,676 fans (a record $12.3-million in gross ticket sales) to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, The Undertaker extends his ’Mania record to 21-0 with a win over CM Punk, Triple-H pins Brock Lesnar, and Alberto Del Rio successfully defends the World title against Jack Swagger. The event draws a worldwide PPV audience of 1.04 million and the full weekend of activities grosses a record $72-million … Kazuchika Okada wins New Japan’s IWGP title from Hiroshi Tanahashi in Tokyo.

April 8: Dolph Ziggler successfully redeems his 268-day-old Money in the Bank World title match contract by taking advantage of an injured Alberto Del Rio following his match with Jack Swagger on Raw at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

April 13: Wrestling his final series of matches before retirement, Damian Dragon beats Chris Wydle, Mike Mondo, and “Greek God” Papadon to win the 17th annual Super 8 Tournament in Newark, Delaware.

April 14: Allison Danger, 36, announces her retirement at a SHIMMER event in Berwyn, Illinois. The mother of a four-year-old girl suffered a stroke in
January, leaving her with lesions on her brain that made it too risky to continue her 12-year career.

April 15: WWE announces that Superstars For Sandy Relief, an online auction to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New York and New Jersey, raised $524,742.

April 23: The Rock undergoes surgery to repair three abdomen muscle tears that occurred during his unsuccessful WrestleMania 29 WWE title defense against John Cena. Rock says he “wouldn’t rule out” never wrestling again.

April 24: A Pinellas County (Florida) circuit court judge grants Hulk Hogan’s request for a temporary restraining order and demands that gawker.com remove the sex video of Hulk Hogan and Heather Cole, former wife of Bubba the Love Sponge, along with the accompanying article. Gawker refuses to take down the 1,400-word narrative, citing its rights under the First Amendment.

April 29: A Florida appeals court overrules a circuit court judge, allowing gawker.com to run the news story reporting the sex tape involving Hulk Hogan and Heather Cole, but not the video … WWE announces an agreement to make Yahoo its premier global video distribution partner, replacing YouTube.
May 3: Justin Credible (Peter Polaco) is arrested in Waterbury, Connecticut, on charges of third degree forgery and sixth degree larceny,

May 7: WWE World champion Dolph Ziggler suffers a severe concussion during a taping of Smackdown, resulting in retrograde amnesia. Ziggler says he has no memory of the previous night’s Raw, nor traveling to Smackdown.

May 8: Jay Briscoe is forced to make a public apology after posting a caustic tweet about gay marriage. His Twitter account is taken down.

May 9: Austin Aries is fined by TNA after reacting to a botched ring announcement made by Christy Hemme by corning her, and climbing to the middle turnbuckle so that her face is inches from his genitals.

May 10: Adam Rudman is fired by Stephanie McMahon from his position of WWE’s head TV writer just six weeks into the job. Sources say Rudmun, a Hollywood writer, did not adjust quickly enough to writing for sports entertainment.

May 11: Kenta Kobashi, winner of eight Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Wrestler of the Year awards and a three-time top-five selection in the “PWI 500,” wrestles his retirement match, pinning Kanemaru in an eight-man tag team match. The Final Burning card, promoted by Pro Wresting NOAH, sells out Budokan Hall in Japan and many theaters showing the event on closed-circuit TV throughout Japan.

May 12: Jay Briscoe wins the Ring of Honor heavyweight title from Kevin Steen at Border Wars, staged at the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto.

May 16: Zema Ion has an emergency appendectomy before which a CATscan determines he has a tumor on his colon. He would need a second surgery to remove that.

May 17: WWE releases Briley Pierce, Percy Watson, Derrick Bateman, Sakamoto, Audrey Marie, Brandon Traven, and Anya from their developmental contracts … The Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy announces the launch of a new research program aimed at developing a treatment for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy that will be funded in part over a three-year period by a $1.2-million gift from WWE.

May 18: Sandor Szabo, Dick Shikat, Bill Watts, Baron Von Raschke, Tito Santana, Dick Murdoch, The Assassins, J.J. Dillon, Joyce Grable, and El Santo are inducted in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York … Upon her release from prison, Tammy Sytch reveals that she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer while incarcerated, but was now cancer-free after undergoing a hysterectomy.

May 19: The Shield comes out the big winners at WWE’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins beating Kane and Daniel Bryan for the WWE tag team title and Dean Ambrose
beating Kofi Kingston for the U.S. title. Also on the card, Brock Lesnar defeats Triple-H in a cage match and WWE champion John Cena wrestles to a no-contest against Ryback in a Last-Man-Standing match.

May 22: Wrestling Observer Hall of Famer Mick McManus, among the greatest British wrestlers of all-time, dies at age 93. The diminutive “Man You Love To Hate” was a headliner in the 1950s and ’60s.

May 26: Mexican star Hector Garza dies from lung cancer at the age of 43. The former CMLL champion competed in the WWF, WCW, TNA, and just about every international promotion of note. He was in his second reign as AAA National champion at the time of his dearth.

May 28: Buck Robley, a mid-card wrestler best known for his work as a booker in Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling promotion at the height of the company’s popularity in the late-’70s and early-’80s, dies of congenital heart disease at age 71.

June 1: Keiji Muto leaves All Japan when Speed Partners owner Nobuo Shiraishi ousts Masayuki Uchida and takes over as All Japan president.

June 2: TNA World champion Bully Ray turns back the challenge of Sting at Slammiversary at the Agganis Arena in Boston, but Kenny King loses the X division title to Chris Sabin in an Ultimate X match that also includes Suicide, Abyss wins the TV title from Devon, and James Storm and Gunner win the World tag team title in a four-way involving defending champions Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Hernandez, Bobby Roode and Kazarian, and Christopher Daniels and Kazarian.

June 4: MMA and action movie star Rampage Jackson co-signs a deal with TNA, Bellator, and Spike TV.

June 10: WWE announces that Fandango is being pulled from the upcoming Payback pay-per-view due to a concussion.

June 16: Three titles change hands at WWE’s Payback pay-view in Rosemont, Illinois, as Alberto Del Rio regains the World title from Dolph Ziggler, Curtis Axel beats Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett and The Miz in a triple-threat, and AJ Lee dethrones Divas champion Kaitlyn. Also on the card, WWE champion John Cena defeats Ryback, 2-1, in a Three Stages of Hell match. It is also announced that former WWE champion Rob Van Dam would make his return to WWE at the Money in the Bank PPV after a six-year absence … Cibernetico has his head shaved after being pinned by Perro Aguayo Jr. at the 21st TripleMania show at the Arena Ciudad in Mexico City. Also on the card, El Texano Jr. retains the AAA title with a pin of Heavy Metal and Jeff Jarrett makes his return, teaming with Matt Morgan and Monster Pain in a win over The Psycho Circus.

June 20: Randy Orton and his wife of 5½ years Samantha are divorced. TMZ later reports that court members declare Orton’s salary at $291,666 a month and that the WWE wrestler retains 100 percent rights to his WWE contract, several six-figure bank accounts, two cars, a motorcycle, a gun collection and jewelry. Samantha receives $654,317, a car, jewelry, plus sole custody of their five-year-old daughter and $4,500 a month in child support.

June 24: Memphis legend and Jerry Lawler mentor Jackie Fargo dies of congenital heart disease at age 82.

June 26: WWE stars Natalya and Tyson Kidd get married.

June 28: Matt Borne, better known to wrestling fans as Doink the Clown, dies of an accidental drug overdose at age 55.

June 29: In the midst of her troubled storyline marriage to Bully Ray, Brooke Hogan gets engaged to Dallas Cowboy Phil Costa in Las Vegas.

July 2: WWE suspends Ricardo Rodriguez 30 days for an undisclosed violation of its Wellness Program.

July 3: Jay Briscoe is stripped of the Ring of Honor heavyweight title, ostensibly because of ring injuries. According to ROH matchmaker Nigel McGuinness, the title will be remain vacant until it is filled by the winner of a tournament.

July 11: WWE holds a gala ceremony marking the opening of its new Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. The 26,000-square-foot facility features seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program, and cutting-edge edit and production facilities.

July 14: Randy Orton and Damien Sandow earn WWE and World shots, respectively, with Money in the Bank ladder match wins at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. Also on the card, John Cena successfully defends the WWE title with a win over Mark Henry and World champion Alberto Del Rio beats Dolph Ziggler by DQ. Sheamus tears the labrum in his left shoulder after taking a spill during the WWE MITB, and would have to undergo surgery.

July 16: A warrant is issued for the arrest or Ric Flair for failure to pay $32,000 in spousal support to estranged wife Jacqueline Beems, who is also arrested for making harassing phone calls to Flair’s girlfriend, Wendy Barlow Kidder … Forbes magazine reports that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made approximately $46-million between June 2012 and June 2013.

July 17: TNA releases Senior Vice President of Programming and Talent Relations Bruce Prichard after he declines to restructure his contract.

July 18: Chris Sabin wins the TNA World title from Bully Ray on a live Impact Wrestling: Destination X event in Louisville, Kentucky.

July 19: Three time former WWWF International tag team title co-holder Gito Mongol (real name Newton Tattrie) dies at age 82. Gito held the title twice with Bepo Mongol (a.k.a. Nikolai Volkoff) and once with Johnny DeFazio.

July 23: Jesse Sorensen, who broke his neck in a February 2012 match and claims he was assured by TNA President Dixie Carter that he “would always have a place in the company,” is released.

July 25: Former pro wrestler Brian McGhee, who competed independently as Donovan Ruddick and in WWE developmental as DT Porter, is charged with first-degree murder after the stabbing death of his 25-year-old girlfriend, Bianca McGaughey, in Hillsborough County, Florida.

July 28: WWE reality series Total Divas debuts on the E! network to a successful Nielsen rating of 1.1 and 1.34 million viewers. Including replays, the show is viewed by 3.5 million.

July 30: Randy Orton is punched in the groin by a fan in Cape Town, South Africa, while on the turnbuckles with his back to the assailant The fan is seized by security and later arrested. Orton was able to complete his match against Big E Langston … Memphis announcer and promoter Corey Maclin, 43, is killed when his car rolls over on I-55 in Sardie, Mississippi. Maclin was involved in a lawsuit with Jerry Lawler over the rights Memphis wrestling tape library at the time of his death.

August 2: Kurt Angle is arrested and charged with DWI in Decatur, Texas, after the Texas Department of Public Safety received a call notifying them of an erratic driver. It is the fourth time Angle has been charged with the offense. He would report to a rehab facility three days later.

August 3: Oregon legend Dutch Savage (real name Frank Lionel Stewart) dies at age 78 after suffering a series of strokes in April. Savage worked all over the world, but was a big favorite in the Pacific Northwest, where he held the heavyweight title seven times … B.J. Whitmer is left with spinal stenosis and two bruised vertebrae after taking a piledriver from Michael Bennett in the opening round of the Ring of Honor championship tournament in Toronto.

August 7: WWE purchases a new private jet at a cost of $31.5-million. It’s a safe bet Daniel Bryan will never occupy one of the Bombardier Global 5000’s 15 seats.

August 15: Darren Young comes out as the first active WWE wrestler to admit he’s gay. Asked by TMZ whether an openly gay wrestler could succeed in the WWE. “Absolutely,” he replies. “Look at me. I’m a WWE superstar and to be honest with you, right now, I’ll tell you I’m gay and I’m happy. Very happy.” … Bully Ray regains the TNA World title from Chris Sabin in a cage match during an Impact Wrestling showing of Hardcore Justice.

August 18: With Triple-H serving a special referee at SummerSlam at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, Daniel Bryan pins John Cena to win his first WWE heavyweight championship. Afterward, HHH hits Bryan with a Pedigree, paving the way for Randy Orton to redeem his Money in the Bank title contract and score the pin.

August 21: John Cena undergoes surgery to repair a partially torn left triceps that was expected to sideline him for six months.

August 25: A mass exodus of talent and dwindling attendance lead Nobuo Shiraishi to resign as All Japan president, to be replaced by Hirota Inoue.

September 8: Keiji Muto’s new promotion, Wrestle-1, debuts in front of a sellout 3,200 fans at Tokyo Dome City Hall. Muto teams with Bob Sapp to defeat Rene Dupree and Zodiac in the feature event … After facing as huge backlash from eliminating wrestling from the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee votes to reinstate wrestling for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

September 11: Jim Ross announces retirement from WWE amid speculation that he fell out of favor with WWE for failing to rein in Ric Flair while hosting a 2K Sports symposium before SummerSlam. Flair, who brought up his late son Reid, mentioned TNA, and claimed John Cena had become a heavy beer-drinker, was released.

September 13: Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), the longest lasting promotion in the sport’s history, celebrates its 80th year, headlined by La Sombra beating Volador Jr. in the mask-vs.-mask match.

September 15: Daniel Bryan pins Randy Orton at Night of Champions at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, claiming the WWE title for the second time within four weeks. Also on the card, Alberto Del Rio retaines the World title when he is disqualified against Rob Van Dam.

September 16: Daniel Bryan is stripped of the WWE heavyweight title by COO Triple-H, who submits video proof that the three-count issued by referee Scott Armstrong was too fast. HHH orders the title to be vacated, pending an investigation as to possible collusion between Bryan and Armstrong.

September 17: John Cena becomes the first wrestler to be named number one in the “PWI 500” three times. Bret Hart, Steve Austin, and Triple-H each received the honor twice.

September 20: Adam Cole defeats Tommaso Ciampa in semifinals of the Ring of Honor heavyweight title tournament and, later, Michael Elgin in the finals, to capture the vacant title at Death Before Dishonor, held at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Philadelphia. Afterward, Cole shocks the fans by superkicking Jay Briscoe from behind after the former champion presents him with the title belt.

September 27: Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella announce their engagement.

September 29: AAA champion El Texano Jr., Cibernetico, La Parka, and Escarlata are robbed at gunpoint while traveling on a charter bus en route to Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.

October 1: Hulk Hogan declares he is “straddling the fence” between resigning with TNA or returning to WWE after his TNA contract expires.

October 5: Matt Hardy marries longtime girlfriend and fellow wrestler Reby Sky. Brother Jeff serves as best man.

October 6: Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton wrestle to a no-contest at Battleground at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. With Big Show disrupting main event, the WWE title remained vacant. Also on the card, Alberto successfully defendsthe World title with a win over Rob Van Dam and Cody and Dustin Rhodes save their jobs, and that of their father, Dusty, with a non-title victory over tag team champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.

October 8: Dr. Wagner Jr., who twice ranked in top 20 of the “PWI 500,” is stabbed in the wrist by an unknown assailant.

October 14: Low-Ki, 34, announces his retirement, claiming via Twitter that All Japan reneged on its obligation to cover the cost of ACL surgery.

October 20: Four TNA titles change hands at the Bound For Glory event at the Viejas Arena in San Diego, California. AJ Styles beats Bully Ray for the World title, while The Bro-Mans (Jessie Godderz and Robbie E.) dethrone tag team champs James Storm and Gunner, Gail Kim beats Knockouts champ ODB in a three-way that also includes Brooke Tessmacher, and Chris Sabin unseats X division champ Manik in an Ultimate X match that also features Austin Aries, Jeff Hardy, and Samoa Joe.

October 21: Tammy Sytch announces via Facebook that her cervical cancer has returned and the “diagnosis and prognosis are not good.”

October 27: Taking advantage of a distraction by Triple-H and a superkick by special referee Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton pins Daniel Bryan to fill the vacant WWE title at Hell in a Cell at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Also on the card, John Cena makes his return after being sidelined for two months and beats Alberto Del Rio and claims the World title for the first time since April 2009 … Akebono beats Suwama for the All Japan Triple Crown title in Tokyo.

October 29: TNA President Dixie Carter announces that the company has been unable to come to contract terms with reigning World champion AJ Styles and that he is being stripped of the title.

November 2: TNA ends its formal relationship with Ohio Valley Wrestling as its developmental and training promotion after two years.

November 5: Roland Alexander, owner of the All Pro Wrestling promotion and gym in Hayward, California, dies at age 59. Alexander suffered with diabetes and had heart problems.

November 11: Takashi Matsunaga, Dr. Wagner Sr., Kensuke Sasaki, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Atlantis are inducted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (the only HOF endorsed by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

November 18: In two moves that indicate the WWE Network will soon become a reality, WWE hires Matthew Singerman as executive vice president of programming and informs cable and satellite carriers that it is canceling the WWE 24/7 Classics on Demand channel.

November 19: SHIMMER champion Cheerleader Melissa is named to the top spot in the “PWI Female 50.” Melissa had been ranked third, sixth, and fourth in the previous three rankings.

November 21: Wrestling Observer and WWE Hall of Famer Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon dies at age 84. Vachon, who represented Canada at the 1948 Olympics, was a five-time AWA World champion and two-time AWA World tag team champion … In a cost-cutting move, TNA takes Impact Wrestling off the road, returning to Universal Studios as the single site of its weekly television show.

November 23: Tom Billington, best known as Dynamite Kid, suffers a stroke. Already wheelchair-bound, the 55-year-old former co-holder of the WWF World tag team title with Davey Boy Smith as The British Bulldogs, was reported by his daughter, Bronwyne, to be “on his way back to his normal self” a day later.

November 24: WWE champion Randy Orton and World champion John Cena make successful defenses of their titles, beating Big Show and Alberto Del Rio, respectively, at Survivor Series at TD Garden in Boston.

December 3: Magnus defeats Jeff Hardy in the final round of a tournament to fill the vacant World title at Universal Studios in Orlando.

December 15: The WWE heavyweight and World titles are unified as the WWE World heavyweight title following Randy Orton’s 25-minutes ladder match victory over John Cena at the Tables, Ladders, & Chairs event at the Toyota Center in Houston.

December 22: TNA co-founder Jeff Jarrett announces via twitter that he is resigning from the company, effective January 6, 2014.

December 26: Daniel Bryan is voted four Achievement Awards by readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated: Wrestler of the Year, Most Popular Wrestler of the Year, Feud of the Year (vs. The Authority), and Match of the Year (vs. John Cena, SummerSlam).

December 30: Tammy Sytch announces that she is cancer free.