Historical Dates

1878 – Frank Gotch is born in Homboldt, Iowa.

1873 – The first masked wrestler, appropriately named “The Masked Wrestler,”
debuts in Paris.

September 26, 1885 – Australia’s first professional wrestling bout, William
Miller vs. Clarence Whistler, is staged at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal. Whistler
won, but died afterward. The cause of death was internal bleeding caused
by eating a champagne glass after the match.

September 1896 – George Hackenschmidt, 18, makes his wrestling debut.

April 2, 1899 – Gotch, trained by Martin Burns, makes his wrestling debut
by defeating Marshall Green.

1901 – San Francisco hosts wrestling’s first tag team matches.

February 22, 1903 – Tom Jenkins defeats Frank Gotch in Cleveland in the first
meeting of the dominant American wrestlers of the era.

May 5, 1905 – Hackenschmidt defeats Tom Jenkins for the Catch-as-Catch-Can
championship. The title is later re-named the NWA World Heavyweight title.

April 3, 1908 – Hackenschmidt and Gotch do battle at Chicago’s Dexter Park.
The match ended when a frustrated Hackenschmidt leaves the ring, leaving
Gotch with the World title.

1911 – The Hackenschmidt/Gotch rematch draws 33,000 fans to Comiskey Park,
drawing a $87,000 gate.

April 1, 1913 – Gotch announces his retirement from wrestling in Kansas City,

1916 – A battle between Ed “Stranger” Lewis and Joe Stecher ends in a five-hour

July 18, 1916 – Gotch returns to wrestling and fractures his leg in an exhibition
match against Bob Managoff, Sr. in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Gotch would never
wrestle again.

1917 – Gotch passes away.

December 13, 1920 – “Stranger” Lewis becomes World champion by beating Stetcher.

1925 – Jess McMahon, grandfather of Vince McMahon Jr., promotes his first
boxing card in the “old” Madison Square Garden in New York City.

October 25, 1932 – Paul Boesch makes his professional wrestling debut against
Benny Ginsburg in Staten Island, New York.

September 20, 1934 – A match between Jim Londos and “Stranger” Lewis at Wrigley
Field is refereed by former Boxing champion Jack Dempsey.

1935 – Jim Crockett Sr. forms Jim Crockett Promotions. In the same year,
Vince McMahon Sr. promotes his first wrestling card.

September 14, 1938 – Everett Marshall is awarded the National Wrestling
Association’s version of the World Title.

May 19, 1946 – Andre The Giant is born in Grenoble, France.

1947 – A New York match between Buddy Rogers and Billy Darnell is such a
wild brawl, a ringside fan dies of a heart attack. Both wrestlers are
disqualified from New York competition for two years.

Fred Blassie suffers a head injury that places him on the verge of retirement
when he is bounced out of the ring by Rudy Dusek.

1948 – The National Wrestling Alliance is first formed in Waterloo, Iowa.
The first NWA President was P.L. “Pinkie” George.

July 30, 1948 – Pro wrestling debuts on the Dumont Network.

February 22, 1949 – Gorgeous George headlines the first Madison Square Garden
wrestling card in 12 years, against Ernie Dusek. Gorgeous George won the
match in front of 4,197 fans.

October 4, 1949 – Lillian Ellison (later known as Fabulous Moolah) defeated
Cecilia Blevins in Kansas City, Missouri.

November 25, 1949 – Lou Thesz is awarded his first of six NWA World titles
after Orville Brown’s career is ending by a car accident.

1951 – Japan’s first post-war professional wrestling card is held … Verne
Gagne moves up to the heavyweight division.

1952 – The Sheik makes his professional wrestling debut.

1953 – Captain Lou Albano makes his professional wrestling debut by defeating
Bob Lazaro in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

April 1, 1957 – Wrestler Danny Hodge appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated

1959 – Bruno Sammartino makes his professional wrestling debut.

August 1960 – The American Wrestling Association (AWA) is formed.

1962 – Gorgeous George loses his hair, after dropping his match with the
Destroyer in L.A.

April 1963 – The World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) recognizes its first
champion, Buddy Rogers.

1964 – Andre Rene Rousimoff (later known as Andre the Giant) debuts at the

May 17, 1964 – Sammartino defeats Buddy Rogers for the WWWF title. He retains
the title until January 1971 when Ivan Koloff relieves him of the gold.

March 1972 – New Japan Pro Wrestling is formed.

October 1972 – Shohei “Giant” Baba forms All Japan Pro Wrestling.

1973 – Jim Crockett Jr. takes over Crockett promotions.

May 9, 1975 – WWWF champion Sammartino defends the title against PWF Giant
Baba in Japan. The match ends in a no decision.

October 4, 1975 – Ric Flair is involved in a plane crash in Wilmington, North
Carolina. “The Nature Boy” breaks his back in three different places.

November 8, 1975 – Nick Bockwinkel ends Verne Gagne’s seven year plus AWA
title reign.

April 1979 – Vince McMahon Sr. renames the WWWF the World Wrestling Federation

July 18, 1980 – Verne Gagne wins his tenth AWA title by defeating Nick Bockwinkel
in Chicago, IL. Bockwinkel had been champion since 1975.

August 2, 1980 – Hulk Hogan wrestles Andre the Giant to a time limit draw
before 26,000 fans on a Bill Watts’ show at the Superdome in New Orleans,

August 9, 1980 – Bruno Sammartino defeats his protege Larry Zbyszko in a
steel cage match at Shea Stadium in New York. The semi-main event saw Andre
the Giant beat Hulk Hogan.

September 17, 1981 – Flair captures his first World title from Dusty Rhodes.

June 1982 – Vince McMahon Jr. purchases the WWF from his father.

November 24, 1983 – The first Starrcade is staged in Greensboro, North Carolina.

1984 – McMahon purchases Georgia Championship Wrestling for $1,000,000 and
closes the promotion.

January 24, 1984 – Hulk Hogan pins The Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden
for the WWF title. Hogan begins a four year title reign.

February 21, 1985 – ABC airs an installment of “20/20” during which Dr. D
David Shultz hits reporter John Stossel in the ears; Stossel later sued and
received a $280,000 settlement from the WWF.

March 31, 1985 – Vince McMahon Jr. stages the first WrestleMania on closed
circuit television.

May 10, 1985 – NBC airs the first episode of “Saturday Night’s Main Event.”
The show features Hogan defeating “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. to retain the WWF

May 1986 – The Four Horsemen are formed, a quartet consisting of Ric Flair,
Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson and Ole Anderson, with management by James
J. Dillon.

1987 – Jim Crockett purchases Mid South Sports (UWF) from Bill Watts for
$4 million.

March 29, 1987 – Wrestlemania III is hosted by the Pontiac Silverdome in
Pontiac, Michigan. A crowd of over 78,000 fans witnesses Hogan successfully
defending the WWF title against Andre the Giant in the main event.

May 26, 1987 – “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and The Iron Sheik are arrested by New
Jersey state police. Duggan is charged with possession of marijuana and drinking
alcohol while driving; Sheik is charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana.
Duggan receives a conditional discharge; Sheik receives a year probation.

January 24, 1988 – WWF airs its first “Royal Rumble” on the USA Network.

February 5, 1988 – Andre the Giant ends Hulk Hogan’s four year WWF title
reign. He later gives the title to the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase,
until the title is held up by WWF President Jack Tunney.

March 27, 1988 – The first “Clash of the Champions” air on WTBS, airing head
to head with Wrestlemania IV. In the main event, Ric Flair and Sting wrestled
to a 45 minute time limit draw.

November 1988 – Ted Turner buys out Jim Crockett Jr. for $9 million, and
later renames his promotion World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

January 1993 – “Raw” debuts on the USA Network.

November 1993 – Vince McMahon is charged with steroid possession.

June 11, 1994 – Hogan signs with World Championship Wrestling.

July 22, 1994 – The Ultimate Warrior wrestles his first match in more than
two years before 2,000 fans in Las Vegas. He defeats the Honky Tonk Man.

August 27, 1994 – Shane Douglas defeats 2 Cold Scorpio for the NWA World
Heavyweight Title, but then dumps the belt and proclaims himself the first
Extreme Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion.

May 13, 1995 – Big Van Vader beats El Canek in Mexico City to win the UWA
heavyweight title. With the win, Vader simultaneously holds major titles
in Asia (New Japan’s IWGP title), Europe (CWA title) and North America (UWA

September 4, 1995 – “Nitro” debuts on TNT.

1996 – Paul Heyman purchases ECW from Tod Gordon.

1996 – The WWF lost a state supreme court appeal of a court’s decision that
awarded Jesse “The Body” Ventura $800,000 in past royalties.

May 19, 1996 – After a steel cage match between Shawn Michaels and Diesel
(Kevin Nash) at Madison Square Garden, “The Kliq” (Hall, Nash, HBK, and Triple
H) embrace, breaking tradition “kayfabe.” Hall and Nash had already signed
with WCW.

June 23, 1996 – Austin wins the King of the Ring tournament, and starts his
Austin 3:16 gimmick.

July 7, 1996 – Hogan turns heel at Bash at the Beach, joining Hall and Nash
in the New World Order (NWO).

November 17, 1996 – Rocky Maivia (The Rock) debuts at the Survivor Series.

November 9, 1997 – McMahon cheats Bret Hart out of the WWF title at the Survivor
Series in Montreal.

November 1997 – Rick Rude becomes the only wrestler to appear on “Raw” and
“Nitro” on the same night.

1998 – WCW earns $55 million in profits.

April 13, 1998 – “Raw” ends “Nitro’s” 83 week winning streak.

November 1998 – Former wrestler and announcer Jesse “The Body” Ventura is
elected Governor of Minnesota.

May 23, 1999 – Owen Hart, 34, dressed as the Blue Blazer, falls to his death
during the Over the Edge PPV in Kansas City, Missouri. The Hart family filed
a wrongful death lawsuit against the WWF, and settled out of court for $18
million in November 2000.

September 1999 – WCW hires WWF writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara.

2000 – WCW loses $62 million.

September 25, 2000 – The WWF moves “Raw” to TNN.

March 23, 2001 – The WWF purchases World Championship Wrestling (WCW) for
a mere $4.3 million.

March 26, 2001 – The final “Nitro” airs on TNT.

April 4, 2001 – HHG Corporation, the owners of Extreme Championship Wrestling,
filed for bankruptcy. In their filing, HHG Corp. claimed assets of $1,385,500
and listed debts of $8,881,435, leaving them with about $7.5 million in debt
when they ceased operations.