This Day In Wrestling History – December 15th
1977 – The Funks (Dory Jr & Terry) win the All Japan World’s Strongest Tag Team League
1978 – Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta win the All Japan World’s Strongest Tag Team League
In 1996, WWF In Your House 12: It’s Time was held in West Palm Beach, Florida
– Owen Hart & The British Bulldog defeat Fake Diesel & Fake Razor Ramon to retain the WWF Tag Team Titles
– Marc Mero defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley by countout (Helmsley retains the WWF Intercontinental Title)
– The Undertaker defeats The Executioner in an Armageddon Rules (Last Man Standing) Match
– Sycho Sid defeats Bret Hart to retain the WWF Title
In 2002, WWE Armageddon was held in Sunrise, Florida
– Booker T & Goldust defeat Lance Storm & William Regal, Chris Jericho & Christian and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) in a Fatal Four Way Elimination Match to win the World Tag Team Titles
– Victoria defeats Trish Stratus & Jacqueline in a Triple Threat Match to retain the WWE Womens Title
– Kurt Angle defeats The Big Show to win the WWE Title
– Triple H defeats Shawn Michaels in a 3 Stages of Hell Match to win the World Heavyweight Title
1970 – Tim Woods & George Scott defeat The Outlaws (Dusty Rhodes & Dick Murdoch) to win the WCCW American Tag Team Titles
1976 – Blackjack Mulligan defeats Paul Jones to win the NWA Mid-Atlantic United States Title
1984 – Buddy Landel defeats Bill Dundee to win the MSW Television Title
1994 – Los Cowboys (Silver King & El Texano) defeat El Satanico & Emilio Charles Jr in the final of a tournament to win the vacant CMLL Tag Team Titles
1998 – Road Dogg defeats The Big Boss Man to win the WWF Hardcore Title
2001 – Shinya Hashimoto defeats Steve Corino, Dylan Knight & Gary Steele in a 4-Way Iron Man Match to win the vacant NWA World Title
Happy birthday to former TNA wrestler Bruno Sassi (42), former WCW Cruiserweight Champion Elix Skipper (45), former WWE and World Tag Team Champion Rene Dupree (29) and current TNA Knockouts Tag Champion Eric Young (33)
Also, some sources put today as the birthday of one-time WCW Tag Team Champion Kendall Windham (46)
The wrestling world has lost three personalities on this date.
Firstly, in 1963, Japanese pioneer Rikidozan was murdered aged just 39. Despite his legendary status in Japan, Rikidozan is actually Korean, though the country was under Japanese control when he was born. I am unsure of the details of his early childhood, but he ended up being adopted by a family from Nagasaki. As a youngster, he trained as a sumo wrestler and was given the ring name ‘Rikidozan’ upon turning professional. He found success as a sumo, though did not win any major tournaments before quitting the sport in 1950, having achieved the third-highest rank possible (sekiwake for those in the know). In 1951, he made his professional wrestling debut, wrestling Bobby Bruns to a 10-minute draw. He soon became the biggest star in Japan; having founded the JWA promotion in 1953, he attracted and defeated several high profile American wrestlers. In return, Rikidozan would play the heel when he toured America, allowing the American wrestlers to go over. In 1958, he gained worldwide acclaim by defeating Lou Thesz to win the NWA International Heavyweight Title. He would go on to win several NWA championships, primarily in Japan, but also a few in America. By the 1960’s, he had also become an accomplished trainer, counting Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba and Kintaro Ohki amongst his students. In May 1963, he wrestled The Destroyer to a 60-minute draw, a match which gained the highest recorded television audience in Japanese history, with another match against Lou Thesz also in the top 5 audiences. On December 8, just as Rikidozan was beginning to wind down his career, he was stabbed in a nightclub by a yakuza wielding a urine-soaked blade. Reports vary as to what happened immediately after the incident, but what is known is that he died of peritonitis a week later.
Secondly, in 1998, former PNW star Dean Peters, better known as Brady Boone or BattleKat died aged just 40. Peters began his career under Don Owens in the northwest. He was initially billed as the cousin of Billy Jack Haynes, with the two forming a fairly popular tag team. In 1986, Haynes & Peters (as Boone) began appearing as a jobber tag team for the WWF. Despite his jobber status, Peters did challenge The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Title twice, both on WWF Superstars. In September 1990, Peters debuted the BattleKat gimmick, but it failed to get over and despite remaining unbeaten, he was released in November that same year. Over the next two years, Peters infrequently competed on the indies and in Japan as Fire Cat, a spin-off of the BattleKat gimmick, before signing with WCW in 1993, where he would compete for six months before retiring. In retirement, Peters worked as a referee and trainer for WCW, with his most notable student being Rob Van Dam. Peters died in a car accident on his way home from a WCW television taping. Interestingly, he attended high school alongside fellow future wrestlers Curt Hennig, Tom Zenk and Rick Rude, while John ‘The Berzerker’ Nord, Nikita Koloff and Barry Darsow were also there, but were up to two years below.
Finally, in 2001, former WWF developmental talent Russ Haas died aged just 27. Haas was an accomplished amateur wrestler, competing for Seton Hall University. He and brother Charlie became a notable force on the indy tag team scene in the late 1990s, winning championships in JAPW, CZW and ECWA. The pair wrestled a WWF tryout match at Madison Square Garden in August 2000 and were signed to developmental contracts the very next day. Whilst under their developmental deal, the Haas brothers competed primarily in the WWF’s Memphis territory, where they became 3-time Tag Team Champions. Sadly, just as a full call-up seemed imminent, Russ died of a heart attack in his sleep. A post-mortem revealed a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Tributes poured in from across the wrestling community; his brother Charlie changed his ringname to RC Haas and still competes with the word ‘RUSS’ on his wrist tape, CZW held a ten bell salute at their next major show, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler made a small on-air tribute on Raw and Low Ki dedicated his ROH Title win to Haas. He has since been inducted into the JAPW and ECWA Halls of Fame.