Today In Wrestling History April 25th
36 years ago today the WWF and NWA world heavyweight championships were defended in the same building. WWF Champion Bob Backlund defeated Bulldog Bob Brown to retain his championship, and NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race successfully defended against Ric Flair. On the same show, Ken Patera defeated Kevin Von Erich to win the NWA Missouri Championship.
33 years ago today in New York City, Jimmy Snuka defeated Superstar Billy Graham. This was Graham’s last major appearance for the WWF. A few days earlier, he was rushed to a hospital following an overdose of pills. Graham left for the AWA a few weeks later, and would not return to the WWF until 1987.
16 years ago today at a WCW Thunder taping in Syracuse, New York, David Arquette defeated Eric Bischoff to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
No, Bischoff wasn’t the champion (nor the legal man in the match), but the belt was on the line in a tag team match between Diamond Dallas Page (the champion) and Arquette versus Jeff Jarrett and Bischoff. Kimberly Page was the special referee. As Arquette got the deciding fall in the match, he won the belt.
The title change was seen by many as a mortal wound for WCW and its championship’s credibility, as they had put their top championship on an actor. Arquette to his credit donated his earnings from his brief run as WCW champion to the families of the late Brian Pillman, the late Owen Hart, and Darren Drozdov.
24 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka defeated Sal Bellomo to become the first ECW heavyweight champion. The promotion at the time was known as Eastern Championship Wrestling and would be a part of the NWA until their very public breakup in August of 1994.
2 years ago today WWE superfan Connor Michalek died of complications from brain and spinal cancer. He was just eight years old.
Battling cancer for most of his life (at age four, his parents were told he would have just a year to live following surgery), Michalek received considerable media attention after a social media campaign was launched for Connor to meet his favorite wrestler, Daniel Bryan. The video, first posted on Youtube in October 2012, quickly got the attention of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Connor finally got to meet Daniel Bryan in late December. They met again in October 2013 and at the 2014 Royal Rumble. Connor got his own entrance a few hours before RAW just before Wrestlemania XXX, and knocked out Triple H with one punch. At Wrestlemania XXX, Connor and his family were in the front row to see his hero Daniel Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Posthumously, a video released in his memory quickly went viral. That summer, WWE launched Connor’s Cure, a nonprofit organization launched through the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh dedicated to curing children’s cancer. In March 2015, just under a year to the date of his passing, Michalek was the first recipient of the Warrior Award, an honor given to one person who best embodies the spirit, courage, compassion, and strength of the Ultimate Warrior. His father Steve and brother Jackson accepted on Connor’s behalf. The award makes Connor the youngest WWE Hall of Famer ever.