This Day In Wrestling History – January 18th
In 1998, WWF Royal Rumble, held in San Jose, California, saw Shawn Michaels suffer the back injury that would force his original retirement
– The Rock defeats Ken Shamrock by DQ to retain the WWF Intercontinental Title
– The Legion Of Doom (Hawk & Animal) defeat The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) by DQ (The Outlaws retain the WWF Tag Team Titles)
– Steve Austin wins the Royal Rumble, last eliminating The Rock
– Shawn Michaels defeats The Undertaker in a Casket Match to retain the WWF Title
1971 – Ivan Koloff defeats Bruno Sammartino to win the WWWF Title, ending Sammartino’s near 8 year reign
1980 – Ernie Ladd defeats Mike Sharpe Jr to win the MSW Louisiana Title
1988 – Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami defeat Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara to win the IWGP Tag Team Titles
2003 – Brother Love defeats Jimmy Rave to win the NWA Junior Heavyweight Title
2004 – Kaz Hayashi & Satoshi Kojima defeat Arashi & Keiji Mutoh to win the AJPW Unified World Tag Team Titles
Happy birthday to 6-time World Champion Dave Batista (44), one-time IWGP and GHC Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson (33), WWE Hall of Famer ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase (59) and one-time Mexican National Heavyweight Champion Perro Aguayo (67)
Also, today would have been the birthday of WWWF co-founder Toots Mondt (118)
The wrestling world has lost two personalities on this date.
Firstly, in 2003, WWE Hall of Famer The (Original) Sheik died at the age of 76. Sheik made his debut in 1949, wrestling primarily in Texas and the Midwest at the start of his career, before branching out to New York with the upstart WWWF. This national exposure earned him such fame that he began wrestling in Canada and Japan as well, using his innovative hardcore style. Sheik became renowned for his use of a sharp pencil to cut his opponents, as well as being one of the first to use the fireball technique in the US. The height of his fame came in the late 60s and early 70s, where he went 127 matches unbeaten in Toronto, as well as selling out venues all over the US. By the later stages of his career, Sheik had begun working exclusively as a hardcore wrestler, often teaming with his nephew Sabu. Interestingly, in 1992, he was working a fire deathmatch (the ring ropes were replaced with flaming barbed wire) with Sabu against Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Goto, when he suffered such severe burns that he fell into a coma. Fortunately he recovered, though he quickly wound down his career, wrestling his final match in 1998. He retired to his Michigan estate, where he died of heart failure. 4 years after his death, Sabu and Rob Van Dam inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame
Secondly, in 2005, former WWF and JCP performer ‘Pistol’ Pez Whatley died aged 54. Whatley first competed in wrestling at the University of Chattanooga, the first African-American to do so. He initially engaged in a professional bodybuilding and powerlifting career, but turned to wrestling in 1975. He initially competed for The Sheik’s Big Time Wrestling, but was soon a regular in several southern promotions, finding most success in Angelo Poffo’s ICW promotion in Kentucky. In 1985, he began competing for JCP where he initially aligned with Jimmy Valiant, before turning on him and joining Paul Jones’ Army. During this time, he also lost a hair vs. hair match to Valiant. In 1987, he formed a tag team with Tiger Conway Jr, known as ‘The Jive Tones’, but left JCP to return to Florida the following year. At the turn of the decade, his career was beginning to fizzle out. He worked regularly for Japan’s UWFi aswell as jobbing in the WWF before hanging up the boots in 1995, upon which he became an assistant trainer at the WCW Power Plant. By the 2000’s, his health was beginning to falter and he had been placed on the transplant list for a new heart. Sadly, he wouldn’t live long enough to receive one, as he passed of a heart attack at a hospital in his native Chattanooga.