Today In History 9/12: WWE Sends Matt Hardy Home, Terry Funk Tries To Smother Ric Flair On Live TV

* 26 years ago in 1989, WCW had Clash of the Champions VIII as a live special on Superstation TBS, emanating from the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina. While one of many good in-ring shows that the promotion put on in 1989, all of the post-show attention was on the angle that went on after the main event.

Ric Flair and Sting defeated J-Tex Corporation representatives Dick Slater and The Great Muta just short of 20 minutes in when Terry Funk ran in to help his J-Tex stablemates. Slater had replaced Funk around the horn when he neglected a brutal staph infection (referred to as "a sack of poison") and had to be hospitalized. Here, the Funker showed up in a tuxedo with the right sleeve cut off and his cast exposed...and he was carrying a plastic bag. Yes, he straight up tried to kill Ric Flair on live television, putting the bag over his head and tying it off. Sting was helpless and unable to save his partner, having been sprayed by Muta's deadly yellow mist in its one and only television appearance (well, sort of: the camera missed it).

The good news: The show did a great rating, with viewership increasing throughout the show. It averaged out to a 4.7 rating with a 7.6 share in 2.4 million homes. TBS brass was hoping for a 7.0 share or better, so they were thrilled on that count. The bad news: TBS's phone bank got a ton of complaints about the plastic bag angle. In terms of getting heat on Funk, it was a great idea, but times were changing in terms of what you could get away with doing on TV, and easily imitable attempted murder was something that parents wouldn't tolerate on pro wrestling shows. Funk ended up having to kind of sort of apologize on TV.

Meanwhile, in the tag team division, the Steiner Brothers lost to the Fabulous Freebirds thanks to a finish that forwarded the transformation of the Robin Green character. Formerly the geeky girl with a crush on Rick Steiner, she had been made over as a bombshell and had started joining the brothers at ringside next to their existing manager, Missy Hyatt. Here, everything looked to be going the Steiners' way when Scott hit the ropes...and tripped. Or someone tripped him. The cameras deliberately (for once in WCW) missed it. The idea was that either Missy or Robin tripped him, but we had no idea which and the announcers' couldn't see. The fans could (it was Robin), which was covered for by Jim Ross saying that the fans just said "she tripped him." Anyway, Green's turn and transformation into "Woman" was completed on TV after this:She told Scott she was scheduling a meeting about what happened, but actually baited him into an attack by her new team, Doom.

The sleeper match of the night saw Brian Pillman defeated Norman the Lunatic. Norman was Mike Shaw, who was previously best known as Makhan Singh in Stampede Wrestling and would eventually go on to be Bastion Booger in the WWF. He was a talented, agile big man at the time, and had really made a name for himself with his matches against Owen Hart in Stampede, but he hadn't really impressed as Norman so far. Norman was the type of old-school character that would never come around know: A "crazy" guy on a mysterious furlough from a state mental hospital who was actually a kind-hearted simpleton that would turn soon. Anyway, Pillman told him they should work like they did in Calgary, so they had a really good, short match that upped Norman's stock.

* 5 years ago in 2010, WWE sent Matt Hardy home from the European tour for reasons later revealed to be related to him being in bad shape when he was still off the wagon. He had been scheduled for a tag team match with R-Truth against CM Punk (who he had real-life heat with) and Luke Gallows when the call was made. He had also walked out on a show in White Plains, New York a few weeks earlier over similar issues. At the time, Hardy, arguing the semantics, released a video showing he was still in Europe and thus not "sent home," which didn't exactly help his cause. All of the videos from that period in hardy's life have been deleted from his YouTube channel or made private.

At first, nothing happened. Weirdly enough, the last straw appeared to be when he released a video of him having lunch with an unmasked Rey Mysterio. At that point, his release was arranged. He soon showed up in TNA, debuting against Rob Van Dam as a mystery opponent. Thanks to his unfortunate choice of hair style, then WWF undercard performer Tyler Reks trended on Twitter when Hardy walked out. Hardy won, but most of the talk centered around his appearance: Not only was his hair weird, but he looked out of shape and reports on the match on various wrestling sites described Hardy using terms like "sluggish" and "glassy-eyed."

While there were a few bumps in the road in TNA, Hardy eventually announced he was going to rehab as paid for by WWE. Even hospitalized, there was an incident that led to him going to another facility, but in the end, he cleaned up and has been an asset to every locker room he's in.


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