This Day In Wrestling History – January 4th
1986 – Arn Anderson defeats Wahoo McDaniel, to win the NWA World Television Championship.
1992 – Riki Chosu defeats Tatsumi Fujinami, to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
1993 – New Japan Pro Wrestling presents Fantastic Story in Tokyo Dome in front of 63,500 fans. Jushin Thunder Liger wins the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the 6th time, defeating Ultimo Dragon. And The Great Muta defeats Masahiro Chono, to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship AND win Chono’s NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
1996 – In front of 54,000 fans at the Tokyo Kome for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestling World 1996, Nobuhiko Takada defeats Keiji Mutoh, to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. And Jushin Thunder Liger wins the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the 7th time, defeating Koji Kanemoto.
1997 – In front of 62,500 fans at the Tokyo Dome for NJPW’s Wrestling World 1997, Jushin Thunder Liger defeats Ultimo Dragon, to win the J-Crown Championship.
1999 – The WCW World Tag Team Championship is vacated due to an injury sustained by titleholder Rick Steiner. Steiner and Kenny Kaos had been tag team champions since Halloween Havoc on October 25, 1998.
1999 – In the Monday Night Wars, WWF RAW IS WAR (5.7 TV rating) beats WCW Monday Nitro (5.0 rating). Nitro could have won in the ratings, had it not been for Eric Bischoff. In the past, Bischoff would reveal results from an episode RAW, airing on tape delay, during live Nitro broadcasts. January 4th’s RAW had been taped the week before in Worcester, Massachusetts. Bischoff had commentator Tony Schiavone make the following statement, in the second hour of the three-hour Nitro:
The plan backfired, as a reported 600,000 viewers changed channels to watch Mick Foley (Mankind) defeat The Rock, to become the new WWF Champion. Here’s the video of the title change (NOTE Jim Ross wasn’t on commentary for this one due to health reasons).
On the same night as Foley’s title change, Nitro airs live from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with 38,809 fans in attendance. The main event is scheduled to be Goldberg challenging Kevin Nash for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Goldberg, however, is arrested halfway through the show, accused by Miss Elizabeth of “aggravated stalking.” In Goldberg’s place, Nash offers the title shot to Hollywood Hogan, who declared retirement one month earlier. Goldberg is released by police after Elizabeth can’t keep her story straight. However he can’t make it back to the Georgia Dome in time for his match with Nash. Hogan, in street clothes, executes what would be known as the “Fingerpoke of Doom.” Hogan pokes Nash in the chest. Nash falls to the mat and allows Hogan to get the pin, to become the new WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
After the title match, nWo Wolfpac & nWo Hollywood members jump in the ring to celebrate not only Hogan’s win; they had also opted to reunite the two factions. Fans in attendance were furious, as they threw food and debris towards the ring.
2008 – Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi, to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
2009 – One year later, Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Keiji Mutoh, to with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the 3rd time.
2010 – Bret Hart makes his first appearance on WWE RAW, since the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series in 1997. RAW emanates from Dayton, Ohio, where Bret won the King of the Ring, in the first pay-per-view of the same name, in 1993 . Hart, serving as RAW “guest host,” buries the hatchet with Shawn Michaels; the two had been enemies in the ring and backstage. Michaels also had a hand in the Montreal Screwjob, that allowed him to defeat Hart for the WWF Championship.
Bret Hart also hashes things out with Vince McMahon in the middle of the ring to close out the show. The two seem to patch things up; Vince even announces that Stu Hart, Bret’s father, would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame a few months later. At the end of the show, after raising arms with Bret, Vince stops, hits Bret with a low-blow, and leaves the ring. Below is the 3-part video of Hart’s WWE return.
2010 – On the same night Bret Hart returns to WWE, TNA airs a special 3-hour live Monday edition of Impact! The show emanates from the Impact! Zone in Orlando. The plan was to go head-to-head with RAW on Mondays, depending on how ratings were for this evening’s episode. Monday Night Impact! featured the much-advertised TNA debut of Hulk Hogan. Video is below.
Also making TNA debuts on this episode were Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags), Orlando Jordan, Shannon Moore, Bubba the Love Sponge (for interviews), and Sean Morley, aka Val Venis. The show also marked the TNA return for Jeff Hardy. Hardy, who left WWE in the summer 0f 2009, had wrestled in TNA from 2004-2006. Video of his TNA return, climbing the Steel Asylum, is below.
There were also two title changes on Monday Night Impact! ODB defeats Tara, to win the TNA Knockouts Championship. And the team of Awesome Kong and Hamada defeat the team of Sarita and Taylor Wilde, to win the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship.
***In the final ratings, WWE RAW, with Bret Hart’s return, earned a 3.6 TV rating (5.6 million viewers). TNA Impact!, with the Hulk Hogan debut, scores a 1.45 TV rating and sets a new viewership record for the program, with an average of 2.2 million viewers. Impact! would begin airing on Mondays on a weekly basis in March 2010.
2016 – On Monday Night RAW, Roman Reigns is able to defeat Sheamus, to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This despite Vince McMahon serving as special guest referee, and referee Scott Armstrong interfering on Sheamus’ behalf. After the match, Vince announces that Reigns will be defending the title at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, in the 30-man Royal Rumble Match. It’ll be the first time since 1992 the WWF/E Championship is defended in the Royal Rumble Match.