This Day In Wrestling History – January 7th
1966 – Gene Kiniski defeats Lou Thesz, to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Thesz’s title reign ends at 1,079 days.
1971 – Pedro Morales defeats Freddie Blassie, to win the vacant WWWF United States Heavyweight Championship.
1979 – The Spoiler wins a championship battle royal, to become the inaugural WCCW Television Champion.
1985 – Billy Jack Haynes defeats Gino Hernandez, to win the WCCW Television Championship. Hernandez subbed for incumbent titleholder Chris Adams, as Adams was absent for the event in Fort Worth, Texas.
1995 – In Smoky Mountain Wrestling, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton) win the SMW Tag Team Championship for the 10th time, defeating The Gangstas (New Jack & Mustafa Saed).
1999 – Jun Akiyama and Kenta Kobashi defeat The Holy Demon Army (Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue), to win the AJPW World Tag Team Championship.
2001 – ECW Guilty As Charged is held at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom in front of 2,500 fans. This is the final pay-per-view produced by Extreme Championship Wrestling, before filing for bankruptcy a few months later. The Sandman becomes the new ECW World Heavyweight Champion after winning a 3-Way Tables, Ladders, Chairs, and Canes Match. The other participants were previous champion Steve Corino and Justin Credible. After the match, The Sandman is attacked by Rhino, who challenges Sandman to a title match. Sandman accepts, but Rhino beats him in one minute, to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
2002 – In a Hardcore Tag Team Match on RAW, Spike Dudley and Tazz defeat The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & Devon) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. Also, Triple H makes his return; he had been out of action since tearing a quadriceps muscle on the May 21, 2001 episode of RAW. Video of his return, to announce he would be in the 2002 Royal Rumble Match, is below.
2004 – On TNA’s weekly pay-per-view, Chris Sabin wins a 4-Way Ultimate X Match, to become the new TNA X Division Champion. The other competitors were previous champion Michael Shane, Low Ki, and Christopher Daniels.
2006 – In Ohio Valley Wrestling, Aaron Stevens defeats CM Punk and Brent Albright, in a Three-Way Match, to win the OVW Television Championship.
2007 – The third and final WWE-produced New Year’s Revolution pay-per-view is held in Kansas City, in front of 10,000 fans. Jeff Hardy retains the Intercontinental Championship, after defeating Johnny Nitro in a Steel Cage Match. Cryme Tyme (Shad Gaspard & JTG) win a Tag Team Turmoil Match, to become #1 contenders for the World Tag Team Championship. In the main event, John Cena defeats Umaga, to retain the WWE Championship.
2007 – At Day 1 of Pro Wrestling NOAH’s First Navigation ’07, The Briscoe Brothers (Jay and Mark) defeat Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Takashi Sugiura, to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
2011 – On Friday Night SmackDown, Kofi Kingston defeats Dolph Ziggler, to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. His celebration is short-lived; Ziggler attacks Kingston after the match and Vickie Guerrero, subbing for Teddy Long as SmackDown General Manager, orders an immediate rematch for Ziggler. Kingston is able to regroup, and pins Ziggler a second time, to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
2013 – On Monday Night RAW, CM Punk (with help from The Shield) defeats Ryback, in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match, to retain the WWE Championship.
2015 – TNA Impact Wrestling makes it’s debut on Destination America, after spending over nine years on Spike TV. This evening’s episode airs live from New York City’s Manhattan Center. Though the first episode airs on a Wednesday, Impact would move to Fridays the following week (January 16th). The first Impact on Destination America only receives a 0.46 TV rating (an average 0f 359,000 viewers). This is way down from Impact’s final first-run episode on Spike (0.83 TV rating and 980,000 viewers on 11/19/2014). Part of the ratings plunge was the lack of availability nationwide for Destination America. As of February 2015 the network was available in 57,238,000 American households (49.2% of households with television). By comparison, Spike TV was available in approximately 93.4 million households in the U.S. (80% of those with television). Josh Matthews made his debut as TNA lead commentator, taking over for Mike Tenay. Tenay had been the lead announcer since TNA’s launch in 2002.
Two titles change hands on Impact’s first episode on Destination America. Austin Aries defeats Low Ki, to win the TNA X Division Championship for the 6th time. In the main event, Lashley defeats Bobby Roode, to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship for the 2nd time (full-length match video for your viewing pleasure is below).
2015 – In Lucha Underground, Prince Puma becomes the inaugural Lucha Underground Champion after winning a 20-Man Elimination “Aztec Warfare” Match. Puma last eliminates Johnny Mundo to win the match and the championship.
2016 – WWE SmackDown begins airing on a new network; after airing on Syfy since October 2010, the program moves to USA Network. This evening’s episode is the WWE debut for lead commentator Mauro Ranallo.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO: 2-time Chaotic Wrestling Women’s Champion & 3-time World Women’s Wrestling Champion Alexxis Nevaeh (30 years old); former ECW wrestler C.W. Anderson (46 years old); and former WWE Cruiserweight Champion & 15-time NWA Americas Heavyweight Champion Chavo Guerrero, Sr. (68 years old).