Today In History 9/3: Raven Returns On ECW's National TV Debut, Ted DIBiase Wins Last Title, & More

* 22 years ago in 1993 on a AJPW card at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Ted DiBiase won the last title of his hall of fame career, teaming with Stan Hansen to win AJPW's Unified World Tag Team Championship from the Holy Demon Army (Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue). DiBiase had just finished up with the WWF by putting ovr Razor Ramon at SummerSlam on August 30th, and with the exception of a shot at WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior at the U.S,-Japan Wrestling Summit supershow in 1990, this was his first match back in AJPW in over six years. He picked up right where he left off, as he had been Hansen's partner after Bruiser Brody jumped to NJPW (Terry Gordy replaced DiBiase when he originally left for the WWF).

Unfortunately, DiBiase wasn't able to enjoy his return to Japan for long. While he's not thought of as a crazy bumper, he worked a hard style his whole career and did have a few pretty dangerous trademark bumps, like the missed backwards elbow drop off the second rope where he'd land on his neck. After an indie match in Pennsylvania against Terry Funk for legendary indie promoter Dennis Coraluzzo, he returned to Japan in November for AJPW's annual tag team tournament, the World's Strongest Tag Determination League (commonly referred to in English speaking countries as the Real World Tag League). After three matches, DiBiase injured two discs in his neck, bowed out, and never wrestled again aside from winning a legends' battle royal in WWE where he was never touched.


* 16 years ago in 1999, the second episode of ECW on TNN aired on...well, TNN, which was still under its original branding as The Nashville Network. This episode was noteworthy because it was actually the entirely first-run episode of the show. Originally, a taping in Toledo, Ohio was supposed to supply the first TNN show, but Paul Heyman wasn't happy with it for unspecified reasons. Instead, he put together an introductory show built around an edited version of a Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn pay-per-view match from earlier in the year and videos introducing the ECW stars. So, TNN was not happy, though an introductory show was, in a vacuum, not a bad idea.

So week two was taped on August 26th at Elks Lodge No. 878 on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst (Queens), NY. Dubbed the "Madhouse of Extreme," it had arguably become ECW's best building for atmosphere, so it made sense to hold the first original ECW show on national cable there. The New York fans didn't like the fans in ECW's Philadelphia homebase, and Heyman cultivated the feud between the two cities, which made the atmosphere even better.

One of the matches at the original taping in Ohio saw Spike Dudley and Balls Mahoney winning the ECW Tag Team Titles from Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley. The result was acknowledged, but was quickly undone on the Queens show, with the Dudleys regaining the titles. They were going to the WWF and it wasn't a secret, to the point that this was supposed to be their last night in the company, so this got super heat. They promised to leave as champions, but...read on,

A few weeks earlier at a WCW show, there was a talent meeting. Eric Bischoff told the locker room that anyone who was unhappy could get their release. Before he was even done talking, Raven got up and left the room. He wanted out, and he got it. So it worked out perfectly for ECW to have the Dudleys defend their tag team titles against the heart of ECW, Tommy Dreamer, in a handicap match, which turned into a tag team match when Raven returned, joining his former arch-nemesis (remember, they feuded off and on for Raven's entire first stint, with Dreamer being his first and last opponent) and winning the tiles with him. It was the type of surprise that would make ECW look like a bigger deal, though in the long run, the TNN relationship was inevitably doomed.

It wasn't long before it became clear that Viacom was going to get the WWF television package when the WWF/USA contract was up in September of 2000, with Raw as the centerpiece of a rebranded TNN. Heyman had numerous disputes with TNN and made "The Network" heels via their representative, Cyrus (Don Callis). While there were things ECW could have done differently, they were such an obvious placeholder, lame duck wrestling show for TNN that it's understandable why Heyman and company lashed out. That's not even mentioning how ads for ECW on TNN only aired during ECW on TNN. Maybe ECW went a bit far at times in blasting the network on the air, but it was a ridiculous situation all-around.

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