Pro Wrestling History: What Cool Stuff Has Happened in Wrestling on Leap Day?
February 29th only happens every four years.
With that in mind, I thought it could be fun to look at today in wrestling history.
2000: WWE Has a Mildly Eventful SmackDown Taping, WCW Tapes an Awful Thunder
12 years ago today, WWE held a SmackDown taping in Trenton, NJ.
While it wasn't an especially memorable show, it was still eventful enough to take a look at.
A Light Heavyweight Title match between champion Essa Rios and challenger Jeff Hardy (which I've embedded here) continued Rios' heel turn and set Lita's move to managing Jeff and his brother Matt in motion.
Crash Holly announced that the Hardcore Title would be on the line 24/7 as long as a referee was present, leading to the Mean Street Posse unsuccessfully ambushing him later in the show.
Sgt. Slaughter had one of his semi-annual matches against a rising star. This time, he unsuccessfully challenged European and Intercontinental Champion Kurt Angle for the latter title.
Meanwhile, in Fargo, North Dakota, WCW taped an episode of Thunder where nothing really notable happened, other than your usual crop of weird matches from WCW.
This taping included:
Referees Mickey Jay and "Slick" Mark Johnson wrestling each other.
La Parka getting a win(!) over The Demon (Dale Torborg in part of a failed licensing deal with KISS).
A match taped for WCW Worldwide featuring Mona (Molly Holly) vs. Sherri Martel (she was still in WCW in 2000? And actually wrestling?).
The unlikely trio of Sid Vicious, Billy Kidman, and Booker T losing to Jeff Jarrett and the Harris Twins.
I miss WCW.
1992: WCW Puts on a Great PPV Event, the WWF Runs 4 House Shows
From the Mecca in Milwaukee, WI, WCW broadcast SuperBrawl II live on pay-per-view.
It was a really good show, well worth going out of your way to see, that included:
Jesse Ventura's WCW debut as a color commentator.
Brian Pillman regaining the WCW Light Heavyweight Title from Jushin "Thunder" Liger in a classic match that got a standing ovation from the live crowd.
Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham defeating Dangerous Alliance members Steve Austin and Larry Zbyszko in a great tag-team match.
WCW Tag Team Champions and Dangerous Alliance members Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton retaining their titles over The Steiner Brothers after a screwy reversed decision finish.
U.S. Champion and Dangerous Alliance member Rick Rude eking out a win over Ricky Steamboat with thanks to interference from manager Paul E. Dangerously disguised as Steamboat's ninja bodyguard.
Sting defeating the departing WCW Champion Lex Luger to win the title and start his second run atop the company. The match fell flat, as Luger had been off TV due to contractual issues and showed up too big to have a good match.
Meanwhile, the WWF had two separate touring crews that each ran two shows that day. The "A-show" crew had two shows in Massachusetts (Boston and then Springfield) while the "B-show" crew worked in Lexington, KY (no results or lineup available) and then Cincinnati, OH.
Boston was headlined by Hulk Hogan and Intercontinental Champion Roddy Piper defeating WWF Champion Ric Flair and Sid Justice, while Springfield was topped off by Piper defeating Flair in a non-title cage match.
Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts headlined the Cincinnati show relatively late in their feud.
No-shows by Jerry Saggs and Jim Neidhart in Cincinnati led to some unusual matches: Owen Hart and Jim Brunzell (replacing Neidhart) faced the Beverly Brothers, while Bret Hart and the Bushwhackers took on The Mountie, Brian Knobbs and Shawn Michaels (replacing Saggs).
J.W. Storm (journeyman Jeff Warner) continued his run in that company that never included a TV appearance by working as a babyface and defeating Kato (Paul Diamond under a mask) on both Massachusetts shows.
A WCW pay-per-view event and FOUR WWF house shows. That's a lot.
1984: A Ridiculously Cool Tag-Team Match Took Place
On this date in 1984, Jim Crockett Promotions (the company Turner Broadcasting bought to form WCW) taped various episodes of their syndicated World Wide Wrestling show.
One of the matches that took place exclusively for the live crowd was the Road Warriors vs. former rivals Greg Valentine (who recently turned babyface after a long run as a heel) and Wahoo McDaniel.
Knowing how the Road Warriors wrestled back then and how their opponents liked to do their thing—wow.
They probably beat the hell out of each other.
If WWE has this somewhere in their vault, I hope it shows up at some point.
In additional non-televised matches, Jimmy Valiant and The Great Kabuki squared off to continue their feud, while NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair took on NWA United States Heavyweight Champion Dick Slater in what was likely an excellent match.
1980: Business as Usual as a Bunch of Territories Run Shows
In 1980, there were plenty of full-time wrestling promotions across North America, so a bunch of shows took place on Leap Day.
The WWF had split crews run shows in Binghamton and Albany, NY. Both shows were largely uneventful except for the main events. In Binghamton, WWF Champion Bob Backlund defeated Bobby Duncum to retain the title in a match where Pat Patterson was guest referee, while in Albany, Hulk Hogan defeated Tito Santana.
Jim Crockett Promotions also had two crews that night. The card in Lynchburg, VA was headlined by United States Champion Jimmy Snuka defending his title against Ric Flair in a match that sounds awesome on paper.
In Charleston, SC, NWA World Tag Team Champions Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood defended their titles against Greg Valentine and Ray "The Crippler "Stevens in the main event.
Georgia Championship Wrestling ran a small show at the Fort Hill High School Gym in Dalton, GA with an interesting lineup where the most intriguing matches were Tommy Rich vs. Killer Khan and Austin Idol facing Kevin Sullivan to continue a feud they had going.
Leroy McGuirk's Championship Wrestling based out of Oklahoma was dying after booker Bill Watts left along with most of the top talent and took over the Louisiana end of the territory, but it was still running a full time schedule. They still had some good talent, with David Von Erich being the biggest name. He won a loser-leaves-town match against journeyman Siegfried Stanke.
The AWA ran an interesting card in Denver, CO that was probably the biggest show that day. Lord Alfred Hayes defeated Bobby Heenan in a battle of managers who were also great wrestlers. Adrian Adonis and Dino Bravo (who was a lot better before his late '80s WWF heel run) did double duty, going to a draw in a singles match as well as facing off in a tag match where Adonis and Jesse Ventura beat Bravo and Greg Gagne by disqualification.
The main event saw a battle of AWA mainstays as Da Crusher beat Nick Bockwinkel.
Finally, in Stu Hart's Calgary Stampede Wrestling, multiple future stars saw action.
Of particular interest, future British Bulldog Dynamite Kid drew fellow Brit Steve Wright in what was likely an incredible technical match. Bret Hart fought Len Denton (who later wrestled as The Grappler and one half of the Dirty White Boys with Tony Anthony) to a no-contest, and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart defeated The Loch Ness Monster (the U.K.'s Giant Haystacks) by count-out.