Today In Wrestling History 8/25: Brock Lesnar Wins First WWE Title, Arn Anderson Retirement, & More

* 18 years ago during a live Monday Nitro at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina,, Arn Anderson announced his retirement. Between Anderson's great prom and the show being in Four Horsemen country,it still stands as one of the most famous promos/segments in the five and a half years of the Monday Night War.


While he was one of those guys who always had an "old" look to him, Marty Lunde was just 38 years old when he retired and was in his mid-20s when he first started using the Arn Anderson nam/gimmick in Alabama. It was there that he befriended "Mr. Olympia" Jerry Stubbs, one of the all-time great underrated wrestlers. They quickly became one of the best tag teams in the country (which shows how much of a wrestling prodigy Arn was), though they didn't get as much recognition as they deserved because Southeastern Championship Wrestling was one of the smaller territories. Eventually, Ric Flair came through for a NWA title defense, saw Arn, and got him booked in Jim Crockett Promotions as Ole Anderson's nephew/cousin/brother/tag team partner. The rest was history.


He had been off TV for months when he cut the retirement promo, having undergone neck surgery. His hand had been weakened to the point he couldn't button his shirt or hold some objects, so he had to retire. Always a great promo, he cut one of his best here, downplaying his skills and portraying himself as more of a hard worker than anything else. It was an incredibly emotional moment that then pivoted into an angle: Arn offering Curt Hennig "not just any spot, but my spot" in the Four Horsemen. Hennig accepted, making him the new "Enforcer," and that led to Hennig double crossing the Horsemen in Wargames at Fall Brawl.

With Raw preempted by U.S. Open tennis and the Anderson retirement promo, this episode of Nitro was an incredible, record breaking success. The show drew a 4.97 rating (4.33 in hour one; 5.48 in hour two), a 8.19 share, and an average of 3,549,000 homes watching the show. That means they set the new record for the most-watched wrestling show in the history of cable television. The peak quarter hour, which started right after the Anderson segment, drew a 5.8 rating and 4,153,000 viewers, making it the most watched quarter in in the history of cable wrestling up to that point. So, what was the new most watched match in the history of cable television? Steve "Mongo" McMichael vs. Eddie Guerrero, breaking the record set by the Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair match that was discussed in this space yesterday.


* 15 yaars ago in 2000, ECW ran their first TV taping at the Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, New York. While the One Night Stand pay-per-view events made the building synonymous with ECW, they did not run many shows there. This was the first of two nights of tapings, and ECW managed to get great local media coverage, including a New York Daily news cover story. ECW had been stagnant for a while, but this set of tapings, with the first night being built around a tournament for the tag team titles, got rave reviews and helped renew interest in the promotion. The team of Tajiri and Mikey Whipwreck both defeated Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lynn as well as Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger in a three-way match to win the titles in the finals.

* 13 years ago in 2002, WWE ran one of the greatest pay-per-views in company history, that year's SummerSlam at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. PPVs at the Coliseum were rare, most likely due t its proximity to better arenas and reputation for dead crowds, but the latter was not an issue here. It was a loaded card that featured:

Brock Lesnar's first world title win, defeating The Rock to win the WWE Championship. This was both Brock's first really great match and one of the last great bouts The Rock had. They had incredible chemistry and as impressive as Brock was, it makes you wonder what would have happened with The Rock if he didn't go into film acting. Previously, he was a great athlete with amazing charisma and ring smarts who, for some strange reason, had terrible execution. He was noticeable smoother during the 2002 run, but it was the last time he was ever a full-time pro wrestler.


Shawn Michaels' return from his back injury to defeat Triple H in a street fight. After s many years ut, nobody knew what to expect, but Michaels looked close to his old self. It's a match you either love or hate, but it's absolutely an incredibly gutsy effort from Michaels regardless.The build to the match was actually fairly poor, with some unbelievably bad acting, but they made it work well enough in the ring.

The first in the long line of great matches between Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio. Most than anyone else, Mysterio had the best chemistry any WWE performer had with Angle. It's a feud that really shows how good Angle was, as he seamlessly adjusted to working like one of the rudos Rey worked with coming up in Mexico, like Vulcano or Mr. Condor. It's a really disciplined cool performance that stands out as some of the best work of both wrestlers' careers.

And that's not even getting into the Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Benoit or Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero matches...