This Day In Wrestling History – June 2nd
1983 – Hulk Hogan wins the NJPW IWGP League, defeating Antonio Inoki in the final
1989 – The WWF-produced film ‘No Holds Barred’ starring Hulk Hogan is released. The movie was a critical and commercial flop, only just breaking even when distribution fees are factored in
1960 – Dan Miller & Frank Valois defeat Rikidozan & Michiaki Yoshimura to win the vacant JWA All Asia Tag Team Titles
1979 – The WCCW American Heavyweight Title is awarded to The Spoiler after Wahoo McDaniel is forced to vacate it through injury
1983 – Tiger Mask defeats Kuniaki Kobayashi to win the vacant NWA Junior Heavyweight Title
1987 – The Honky Tonk Man defeats Ricky Steamboat to win the WWF Intercontinental Title
1993 – The Eagle & The Patriot defeat Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kenta Kobashi to win the AJPW All Asia Tag Team Titles
2002 – The WWF Hardcore Title 24/7 Rule sees the belt pass from Steven Richards to Tommy Dreamer, to Raven and back to Richards
2004 – Jeff Jarrett defeats AJ Styles, Raven & Chris Harris in a King Of The Mountain Match to win the NWA World Title
Happy birthday to 2-time WCW World Champion Lex Luger (55), the first TNA Grand Slam Champion AJ Styles (36), one-time TNA Knockouts Champion Velvet Sky (32), 3-time AAA Tag Team Champion Joe Lider (35) and former TNA wrestler/manager Desire (40)
The wrestling world has lost three personalities on this day.
Firstly, in 1998, WWE Hall of Famer The Junkyard Dog died aged just 45. He began his career in Jerry Jarrett’s Tennessee promotion, before moving to Jarrett’s rival Nick Gulas’ company, then to Stampede in Canada before finally settling in Mid-South, where Bill Watts would give him the Junkyard Dog gimmick. He won a total of 15 championships in Mid-South, as well as contesting now legendary feuds with The Freebirds, Ted DiBiase and Butch Reed. In late-1984, JYD moved to the WWF, where he became a hugely popular fan-favourite. He was one of the first to interact with youngsters at ringside, often inviting them into the ring to dance with him, much like Brodus Clay does today. In November 1985, he won the WWF’s Wrestling Classic tournament, the promotion’s first PPV event (WrestleMania I in March was aired on closed-circuit television). JYD’s popularity quickly waned and he left the WWF in 1988, returning to the NWA territories, including a brief run in WCW. His last major appearance came barely a month before his death, being honoured on ECW’s Wrestlepalooza as a ‘hardcore legend’. JYD died in a single-car road accident after apparently falling asleep at the wheel. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
Secondly, in 2003, fellow WWE Hall of Famer ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie died at the age of 85. Blassie dabbled in the wrestling industry in the pre-war years, but it was only in the 1950’s when his career began to flourish. In that decade, he competed primarily in Georgia, amassing 23 title reigns during his time in the promotion, including one NWA Georgia Heavyweight Title. In 1960, he left Georgia to compete in Los Angeles for WWA. Blassie became so hated in the territory that uniformed police officers often had to accompany him to and from the ring. In one notable incident, Blassie was forced to abandon a match when a fan threw acid on his back. Stints in Japan and the WWF preceded a return to WWA, where he would retire in 1974, due to a state law that prevented anyone over 55 years old from holding a wrestling license. He returned to the WWF, becoming a renowned manager, a position that he held until his full retirement in 1986. Despite retiring, Blassie would continue to make sporadic appearances on WWF programming right up to his death, with his last appearance coming just three weeks before he died. Blassie appeared alongside Steve Austin and The Dudley Boyz, performing Bubba Ray’s signature catchphrase ‘D-Von! Get the tables!’. Blassie died of combined heart and kidney failure.
Finally, in 2007, famed Oregon promoter Sandy Barr died aged 69. He began his career as a wrestler, but soon decided that he preferred inactive roles and initially performed as a referee for Don Owen’s PNW promotion before assuming control of the company in 1992. The Dynamite Kid paid tribute to Barr as a promoter, saying that ‘the only time he made any money was when the big names came in once a year….he would be so excited about making all this money that when he’d paid the big names, he gave the rest to the wrestlers who were there every week’. Barr also gained a reputation as a trainer, with wrestlers such as Matt Borne, Velvet McIntyre and his sons Art & Jesse among his students. Barr died of a heart attack at his flea market, having wrestled his final match just days earlier. His son Josh took over the Portland promotion, but folded and liquidated it upon it’s license expiry later in the year.