This Day In Wrestling History – April 28th
In 1996, WWF In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies was held in Omaha, Nebraska and saw the final televised matches for Diesel and Razor Ramon in the WWF
– The Ultimate Warrior defeats Goldust by countout (Goldust retains the WWF Intercontinental Title)
– Vader defeats Razor Ramon
– The Bodydonnas (Skip & Zip) defeat The Godwinns (Henry & Phineas) to retain the WWF Tag Team Titles
– Shawn Michaels defeats Diesel in a No Holds Barred Match to retain the WWF Title
1947 – Marshall Esteppe defeats Ray Steele to win the NWA Junior Heavyweight Title
1976 – Ted DiBiase & Dick Murdoch defeat Buck Robley & Bob Slaughter to win the TSW United States Tag Team Titles
1980 – Kevin von Erich defeats Toru Tanaka to win the WCCW American Heavyweight Title
1985 – Tully Blanchard defeats Dusty Rhodes to win the NWA Television Title
1989 – Steve & Shaun Simpson defeat Beauty & The Beast (Terrance M Garvin & The Beast 2nd) to win the WCCW Texas Tag Team Titles. This was the final reign before the belts were abandoned later in the year
1990 – Jimmy Valiant defeats Jerry Lawler to win the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Title
1997 – on Raw, Owen Hart defeats Rocky Maivia to win the WWF Intercontinental Title
2007 – Mushiking Terry defeats Tatsuhito Takaiwa to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title
Happy birthday to former WWF wrestler Sivi Afi (64), CZW regular Drew Gulak (26), UK indy star Sam Bailey (25), ICP member Violent J (41) and current WWE superstar Alex Riley (32)
The wrestling world has lost three personalities on this day.
Firstly, in 2002, the longest-reigning NWA World Champion Lou Thesz died aged 86. Thesz was born in Michigan to Austro-Hungarian immigrants, but moved to St Louis at a young age. His father trained him in Greco-Roman wrestling and he later starred on his high school freestyle team. He turned professional in 1932 and became one of the biggest stars of the St Louis territory within 5 years. Indeed, in 1937, he defeated Everett Marshall to win his first of many World Heavyweight Titles, becoming the youngest champion at just 21 years old. In 1948, the NWA was formed and Thesz instantly became one of it’s top competitors. He was awarded the NWA World Title when challenger Orville Brown suffered career-ending injuries in a car accident. By 1952, Thesz had unified most of the top American wrestling titles into the NWA World Championship, thus becoming the first ‘undisputed’ world champion since the 1920’s. Thesz would hold the NWA World Title for around 8 years, dropping it to Whipper Billy Watson in 1956, but would regain it less than a year later. In 1957, Thesz toured Japan, playing a major part in the ‘mainstreaming’ of professional wrestling in the country. He was the first American to realise the potential market for wrestling in Japan; he petitioned the NWA to sanction more championship matches in the country, but was turned down and opted to drop the NWA World Title, touring Japan of his own accord, billing himself as the ‘NWA International Champion’, a title which lives on as part of All Japan’s Triple Crown Title. Around the turn of the decade, Thesz became semi-retired, but came out of retirement to defeat Buddy Rogers for his sixth World Heavyweight Title, at the age of 46. He would hold the title for a further three years before losing it to Gene Kiniski. Following this defeat, Thesz began to compete on a part-time basis, though continued to win championships well into his 60’s. He wrestled his final match in December 1990 at the age of 74, thus making him the only man to compete in seven different decades. Thesz remained active in the wrestling business following his retirement, working in many different roles for many different organisations, including serving as President of the Cauliflower Alley Club. Thesz was admitted to hospital on April 9 for a triple bypass operation, but died from complications. He has a lasting legacy in the wrestling business, credited as he is with the invention of the Thesz Press, STF, Powerbomb and German Suplex techniques.
Secondly, in 2005, former ECW and WWF Tag Team Champion Chris Candido died aged just 33. Candido began his professional wrestling training whilst still in high school, the same school where he would meet Tammy Lynn Sytch, with whom he would share a lifelong relationship. Candido received his first major exposure in the-then Eastern Championship Wrestling, competing as one of the ‘Suicide Blonds’. The trio gained two Tag Team Title reigns before disbanding when Candido left the promotion in 1993. He moved to SMW, where he became one of their top talents, winning all four of their championships at least once. During this time, Candido also won the NWA World Title, which had been famously vacated by Shane Douglas just months previously. Candido joined the WWF in 1995, alongside Sytch, who had started working as his valet. The duo were renamed ‘Skip’ and ‘Sunny’ for the duration of the run, which, aside from a brief Tag Team Title reign, was unsuccessful for Candido. He left to rejoin ECW in 1996, becoming part of Shane Douglas’ Triple Threat stable, earning a third ECW Tag Team Title reign alongside Lance Storm. He had a brief stint in WCW in 2000, but never settled in the promotion and left for the indies. After close to 5 years on the indies, Candido made a surprise return to television, competing for TNA. Here he juggled his wrestling duties with managing The Naturals. Sadly, this promising run would not last. Candido badly broke his leg at Lockdown 2005 and despite undergoing seemingly successful surgery (he appeared in a wheelchair at the Impact tapings following Lockdown) died of a blood clot 4 days later. Candido actually appeared on Impact after his passing, as the show had already been taped. TNA held the Chris Candido Memorial Tag Team Tournament later in the year in his honour, which was won by Sean Waltman & Alex Shelley
Finally, in 2009, one-time AWA Tag Team Champion ‘Playboy’ Buddy Rose died aged 56. Rose debuted in 1973 and worked for several promotions throughout the decade, primarily the AWA, WWF and PNW. It was in PNW where he made his name, engaging in a legendary feud with Roddy Piper. By the early 80’s, he was competing for the WWF on a regular basis. It is said that he often worked 90 days in a row for the WWF and on his rare day off, flew back to the west coast to wrestle there aswell! He challenged Bruno Sammartino several times for the WWF Title, but never managed to defeat him. By the late 80’s, Rose had put on a great deal of weight and had lost his main event status. He was still a popular heel though, incorporating his weight gain into his quasi-comedic gimmick by challenging more muscular wrestlers to a pose-down and repeatedly (and wrongly) correcting ring announcers when they listed his weight. He left the WWF in the late 80’s, returning for a brief comedy run in 1990-91. Following this run, he made sporadic independent appearances, but was considered largely retired. He wrestled his final match at WrestleReunion 2005, competing in a 6-Man Tag Team Match. He also operated a wrestling school in Portland alongside Ed ‘Colonel DeBeers’ Wiskoski. Rose continued to struggle with his weight and at the time of his death (from complications of diabetes) he was classed as morbidly obese.