Triumph and tragedy on July 4th
By CHRIS SCHRAMM -- For SLAM! Wrestling
Apple pie, mom and the American flag are three things many think of when you
say the 4th of July. It was July 4, 1776 that the United States officially
signed themselves free of Britain and became a new country.
Professional wrestling has both celebration and tragedy on this day. Many
promotions have used this day to put on a giant event to promote both
wrestling and the birthday of the United States.
Probably the most memorable 4th of July event in recent history came when
Lex Luger bodyslammed then WWF World champion Yokozuna
in 1993. Numerous
other wrestlers and sports athletes of different sports, including Randy
Savage attempted 'The bodyslam heard around the world.' The event was held
on the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York City. The slam led Luger on a tour the
United States on his "Lex Express" bus. The final stop saw him defeat
Yokozuna by countout in Auburn Hills, MI, in August 1993.
Back about 80 years, in 1915, Joe Stecher and Charlie Cutler wrestled to see
who was truly the undisputed wrestling champion. The Omaha, Neb., crowd saw
Stecher become the first widely recognized World champion since Frank Gotch
retired two years before.
Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling, which ran until the mid-1980s, booked
frequent events on July 4. Their event in 1981 saw Paul Orndorff defeat Jake
Roberts in New Orleans, LA, to win the Mid-South North American title. Both
men would make their name, though, when they signed with the WWF just a few
The holidays are usually celebrated in glorious tradition, but disaster
struck some on this day. Davey "British Bulldog" Smith
, Jason the Terrible (Karl Moffatt)
and Chris Benoit
were riding in a car in Jasper, Alberta, when they struck
an oncoming car. Smith was thrown through the windshield and requires over
1,000 stitches, Jason the Terrible suffered a fractured left leg and Benoit
injured his right knee. All three men returned to action shortly after.
The year before was not as lucky for three men. Mike Kelly
Adrian Adonis, Dave 'The Wildman' McKigney
, and his twin brother Pat Kelly in Lewisporte, Newfoundland, when
Kelly lost control of the van, trying to avoid a moose. The van fell into a lake, and Mike Kelly was the only survivor.
Tragedy did not stop there. In 1990, Ed Leslie, who wrestled as Brutus
Beefcake and The Disciple, suffered massive facial injuries after a
parceling accident in Lutz, FL. He underwent immediate surgery that
requires eight steel plates, 40 screws and hundreds of staples. He returned
to action in a few years.
The third man in the ring when Hulk Hogan defeated Andre the Giant
at Wrestlemania III was WWF referee Joey Marella. In 1994, Marella died in
an automobile accident while driving in New Jersey. The person hit most by
the death was his father, the late Gorilla Monson
The United States celebrates the 4th of July while the wrestling world
remembers the great and tragic memories of this day.
Don't let it be said we're Canadian all the time! Happy birthday to our friends in the good ol' U.S.A.