On This Day In Wrestling History… January 4th

What happened on January 4th in wrestling history? Bret Hart made an iconic return to Raw, The Fingerpoke Of Doom and every Wrestle Kingdom. Ever!

Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels

Credit: WWE

1985 – In the main event of the NJPW Fujiyoshiwara Show in Japan, the team of Hulk Hogan, Kerry Brown and King Kong Bundy beat Antonio Inoki, Kantaro Hoshino and Tatsumi Fujinami in a 6-man tag team match with Bundy pinning Hoshino.

1999 – The night of the infamous ‘Fingerpoke of Doom’. This was the moment that many see as the turning point in the Monday Night Wars between the WWF and WCW and it unfolded due to a culmination of various events throughout the night. WWF RAW had been taped the previous week whereas WCW Monday Nitro was going out live, but both shows would be on air at the same time. On the same night as the bizarre happenings on Nitro, viewers would see Mankind defeat The Rock to win the WWF Championship in a match taped the week prior.

  • On Nitro there was supposed to be a rematch featuring Goldberg trying to win back the WCW Championship from Kevin Nash, but Hulk Hogan gets Goldberg arrested and Hogan is announced as his replacement in the main event.
  • Mankind loses out a place in the Royal Rumble to Triple H after a fast three count by Shane McMahon. After the match he locks Shane in a submission hold and refuses to let go unless he’s given a no disqualification title match that night against the Rock. Vince McMahon agrees.
  • WCW were known to report the pre-taped RAW results before they aired as part of their war against the company and tonight was no different. Eric Bischoff told commentator Tony Schiavone to announce the following: “Fans, if you’re even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, fans, do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here one time as Cactus Jack, is going to win their world title. Ha! That’s gonna put some butts in the seats.” Backfiring in a major way, this caused an estimated 600,000 viewers to immediately change channels from WCW Nitro to WWF RAW.
  • Mankind faces off with the Rock for the WWF Championship and is no disqualification. During the match Mankind gets the Mandible Claw on the Rock but Ken Shamrock interferes and hits Foley with a chair to break it up. Billy Gunn launches himself across the ring and takes out Shamrock before the sound of breaking glass hits the arena and Stone Cold Steve Austin marches to the ring. He hits the Rock with a chair, drags Mankind on top of the Rock and Foley gets the win and is the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion.
  • Around the same time as Mankind is announced at the winner, Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash are face to face in the WCW ring. They circle each other, Hogan pulls his arm back ready to strike and then… pokes Nash in the chest. Nash drops to the floor and Hogan pins for the win and becomes the WCW Champion in what would later be known as ‘the Finger Poke of Doom.’

2007 – NJPW presented the very first of what would go on to become an annual event…Wrestle Kingdom. The event would take place at the iconic Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan and the main event would see a battle of legends as Keiji Mutoh and Masahiro Chono defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship was defended on the card when Hiroshi Tanahashi retained against Taiyo Kea in the penultimate match of the night.

2008 – After the success of the previous year’s event, NJPW once again presented Wrestle Kingdom from the Tokyo Dome. In a spectacular main event, Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to win his second IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. In the semi-main event, Kurt Angle retained the IWGP Third Belt Title against Yuji Nagata.

2009 – Hiroshi Tanahashi left NJPW Wrestle Kingdom III as the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion after defeating Keiji Mutoh to begin his third reign with the title. Elsewhere on the card, three other titles changed hands:

  • The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin) won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship from Tetsuya Naito and Yujiro.
  • Tiger Mask IV bested defending champion Low Ki for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
  • Team 3D won a hardcore match against Toru Yano and Togi Makabe to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
HOW ABOUT...  On This Day In Wrestling…16th January

2010 – The date that the ‘Monday Night War’ re-emerged, albeit very briefly. The date marked the eagerly anticipated debut of Hulk Hogan (Along with Eric Bischoff) in TNA Wrestling. The show also played host to a number of surprise debuts and returns including Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, Sean Waltman, Shannon Moore, Sean Morley, Scott Hall, The Nasty Boys and Orlando Jordan.

The night also saw Awesome Kong and Hamada win the Knockouts Tag Team Championship and ODB defeat Tara for the Knockouts title.

2010 – Hell froze over on Monday Night Raw as Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart made his first appearance in a WWE ring since the infamous ‘Montreal Screwjob’ in November 1997. Hart acted as the guest host of Raw and in the opening segment, he buried the hatchet with Shawn Michaels in one of the greatest opening segments in Raw history.

2010 – The Tokyo Dome played host to NJPW Wrestle Kingdom IV. In the main event, Shinsuke Nakamura retained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Yoshihiro Takayama. Earlier on the card, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title changed hands when Naomichi Marufuji defeated Tiger Mask IV. The other title that changed hands on the night was the IWGP World Tag Team Titles. A three way hardcore match was won by Tetsuya Naito and Yujiro who defeated Team 3D and the team of Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson.

2011 – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom V took place at the Tokyo Dome. In the night’s main event, Hiroshi Tanahashi won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Satoshi Kojima. Elsewhere on the card, Jeff Hardy retained the TNA World Championship against Tetsuya Naito.

2011 – Kofi Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Intercontinental Championship on an episode of SmackDown from Tucson, Arizona.

2012 – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom VI at the Tokyo Dome was main-evented by Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Minoru Suzuki to retain his IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Elsewhere on the card Price Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship from Davey Richards and Rocky Romero. The other title change saw Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson.

2013 – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 7 took place at the Tokyo Dome. In the main event, Hiroshi Tanahashi retained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kazuchika Okada. No titles changed hands at the event.

2014 – The main event of NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 8 saw Hiroshi Tanahashi defeat Shinsuke Nakamura to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. In the semi-main event, Kazuchika Okada retained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito. Three other title changes occured on the night:

  • Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson beat Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Hoyt for the IWGP World Tag Team Championship.
  • Satoshi Kojima won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Rob Conway.
  • Kota Ibushi defeated Prince Devitt for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

2015 – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 was held at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. In the main event, Hiroshi Tanahashi retained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kazuchika Okada. Three titles changed hands on the night. Togi Makabe beat Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship in the first of the changes. In the next match, Kenny Omega beat Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Finally, Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata won the IWGP World Tag Team Championship against Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson.

2016 – The landmark 10th Wrestle Kingdom event was presented at the Tokyo Dome by NJPW. The main event saw Kazuchika Okada retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi in a rematch from the previous year’s main event. The five title changes on the card were:

  • The Young Bucks won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles in a four way match. They defeated champions ReDragon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly), Beretta and Rocky Romero and Matt Sydal and Ricochet.
  • Jay and Mark Briscoe teamed with Toru Yano to win the NEVER Openweight Tag Team Championship from Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Yojiro Takahashi.
  • KUSHIDA defeated Kenny Omega to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
  • Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma defeated Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
  • Katsuyori Shibata beat Tomohiro Ishii to win the NEVER Openweight Championship.
HOW ABOUT...  On This Day in Wrestling...15th January

2016 – Monday Night Raw took place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The main event saw Roman Reigns retain the WWE Championship against Sheamus in a match with Mr. McMahon as the special guest referee.

2017 – Wrestle Kingdom 17 took place at the Toyko Dome with a main event seeing Kazuchika Okada successfully defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kenny Omega in the main event. Six titles changed hands on the night:

  • Beretta and Rocky Romero defeated The Young Bucks for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
  • BUSHI, EVIL and SANADA won the NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship in six team gauntlet match.
  • Adam Cole defeated Kyle O’Reilly to win the ROH World Championship.
  • Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team titles in a three way match against defending champs, The Guerillas Of Destiny as well as the team of Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma.
  • Hiromu Takahashi snared the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from KUSHIDA
  • Hirooki Goto beat Katsuyori Shibata for the NEVER Openweight Championship..

2018 – NJPW held Wrestle Kingdom 12 at the Tokyo Dome, Japan. The main event saw Kazuchika Okada retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito. The event also marked the NJPW debut of Chris Jericho in a loss to Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Championship. This was Jericho’s first match outside WWE since 1999.

The card saw a total of five title changes:

  • The Young Bucks defeated SHO and YOH for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
  • Beretta, Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii defeated Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa for the NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship.
  • EVIL and SANADA beat Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
  • Hirooki Goto beat Minoru Suzuki in a hair vs. hair match to win the NEVER Openweight Championship.
  • Will Ospreay won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in a four way match involving defending champion Marty Scurll, Hiromu Takahashi and KUSHIDA.

2019 – Wrestle Kingdom 13 took place at the Toyko Dome in Japan with a blockbuster card. In a historic occurence, the night featured eight title matches with title changes in all eight matches. These changes in full were:

  • In the main event, Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kenny Omega to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
  • Tetsuya Naito defeated Chris Jericho for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in a no disqualification match.
  • Taiji Ishimori beat KUSHIDA to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
  • Juice Robinson beat Cody Rhodes for the IWGP United States Championship.
  • EVIL and SANADA won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in a three way match against defending champions, The Guerillas Of Destiny and The Young Bucks.
  • Zack Sabre Jr. bested Tomohiro Ishii for the Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship.
  • BUSHI and Shingo Tagaki defeated the teams of SHO and YOH and defending champions El Desporado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
  • Will Ospreay bested Kota Ibushi to win the NEVER Openweight Championship.

2020 – For the first time ever, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom would take place over two nights instead of the customary one. – The first night was held in Tokyo in front of 40,000 fans. Five of the IWGP titles were on the line and four changed hands:

  • David Finlay and Juice Robinson beat Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa to win the Tag Team belts.
  • Jon Moxley beat Lance Archer to take the United States Heavyweight Championship.
  • Hiromu Takahashi won the Junior Heavyweight Title after pinning Will Ospreay.
  • Tetsuya Naito beat Jay White for the Intercontinental Championship.
  • Kazuchika Okada retained the World Heavyweight Championship against Kota Ibushi in a match lasting just under 34 minutes.

Notable Wrestling Birthdays:

  • Jim Powers (1958)
  • La Parka II (1966)
  • Chris Kanyon (1970)

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