Today In Wrestling History 6/2: Hulk Hogan's "No Holds Barred" Opens, Honky Tonk Man Title Win, More

* 32 years ago in 1983, Hulk Hogan defeated Antonio Inoki by knockout to win New Japan Pro Wrestling's International Wrestling Grand Prix League tournament. This has become one of the most famous matches in Japanese wrestling history for the finish: Inoki was on the apron, Hogan hit him with the Axe Bomber clothesline, Inoki hit the floor hard, and he started going into convulsions. It was all a work designed to Inoki could take time off to deal with complications from diabetes, but it was incredibly believable for the era.

* 28 years ago in 1987, the WWF ran the usual marathon Superstars of Wrestling taping at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York. Notable segments taped that night (or aired on the shows sourced from that night's taping) include:

The Honky Tonk Man defeating Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat to start his record breaking 15 month long reign as WWF Intercontinental Champion by holding the ropes during a cradle. Steamboat was set for a much longer reign than he got, asked for enough time off to be with his wife around the birth of their son, and, well, this happened. The urban legend that Butch Reed was scheduled to get the win and no-showed is, as far as anyone can tell, not true.

Hulk Hogan was Jake Roberts' guest on The Snake Pit, where Killer Khan ambushed him by spraying green mist in his eyes. This only aired in markets that were getting the Hogan-Khan house show matches. Elsewhere, viewers saw a Snake Pit with Outback Jack.

The final preparation for the return of Superstar Billy Graham, as Butch Reed started calling him out. There had been several weeks of vignettes about Graham's medical issues.

* That same day in 1987, Jim Crockett Promotions held a TV taping for the following weekend's editions of the NWA World Wide Wrestling and NWA Pro Wrestling syndicated shows at the Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Most notably, it was announced that the Rock 'n' Roll Express had regained the NWA World Tag Team Titles from Ragin' n' Ravishing (Manny Fernandez and Rick Rude). The way this was all handled was a sign of how sloppy the promotion was getting:

Rude had given his notice and was jumping to the WWF. Initially, it was announced that Ivan Koloff was replacing him in the championship team and all was good. Shortly thereafter, Fernandez decided to leave, as well, so they went with announcing a phantom title change on TV. Unlike most phantom switches, this one had footage to back it up: A non-title match between the teams had been taped to air in Japan, so with careful editing, it was passed off as a title change.

Also at the taping, Kendall Windham made his JCP debut and Jim Crockett Jr. announce that Wargames: The Match Beyond would be making its debut in the main event of the Great American Bash tour stop at the Omni in Atlanta on July 4th. This led to an onslaught of promo videos ominously stating that "THEY'RE BUILDING A DOME OF STEEL IN ATLANTA!"

* 26 years ago in 1989, Hulk Hogan's first star vehicle as an actor, "No Holds Barred," was released in theaters. Hogan plays himself, more or less, but with some action movie flourishes: He's the WWF Champion, but his name is Rip, he's cornered by his trainer, and his brother is in the picture solely so he can be maimed later in the movie. Kurt Fuller plays Brell, the head of a rival TV network to the one Rip is on, who starts his own wrestling show (essentially trashy bar fights with ridiculous rural/southern stereotypes) when Rip won't sign with him. Take a moment to think about what this is an allegory for, at least in Vince McMahon's head.

Anyway, Tiny Lister's character, Zeus (a former pupil of Rip's trainer) shows up on Brell's show, wrecks everyone, challenges Rip, and he refuses can guess if you read the part about his brother. It's an utterly insane movie that you need to see if you're a wrestling fan. Meanwhile, Zeus (using that name, with the idea he got too into fight scenes in the movie) was introduced as a television character aligned with Randy Savage and Sherri Martel to feud with Hogan.

The late, great Gene Siskel said in his review that "The film is utterly lacking in the campy quality of the World Wrestling Federation telecasts." Which isn't to say it's not campy; it's B-level action movie campy. Also, for some reason, a common program guide description for the movie since it reappeared on TV a few years ago has been this: "A TV-network boss (Kurt Fuller) pits a wrestler called Zeus against a wrestler called Rip (Hulk Hogan) in a racial match."

* 18 years ago in 1997, Raw aired live from the Huntington Civic Center in Huntington West Virginia. Historically speaking, the most significant thing about the show was that Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels defended their newly won tag team titles against the Road Warriors and lost by count-out when they started fighting. At one point during the show, Michaels hits Austin too hard with a baseball slide kick to the back of the head, which started the neck problems that got much, much worse at SummerSlam when Owen Hart dropped him on his head.

Also on the show, Mankind defeated Savio Vega in a King of the Ring quarterfinal match. For whatever reason, Savio was really into the match and working in a way he never had before in the WWF, throwing himself all over the place and hitting moves like a top rope plancha that would be incredibly high risk even if he wasn't a large heavyweight.


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