Wrestling History Timeline

Wrestling History Timeline


Wrestling Wrestling Legends WWE NWA

1873 - The first masked wrestler, appropriately named "The Masked Wrestler," debuts in Paris.

1878 - Frank Gotch is born in Homboldt, Iowa.

September 26, 1885 - Australia's first professional wrestling bout, William Miller vs. Clarence Whistler, is staged at Melbourne's Theatre Royal. Whistler won, but died afterward. The cause of death was internal bleeding caused by eating a champagne glass after the match.

September 1896 - George Hackenschmidt, 18, makes his wrestling debut.

April 2, 1899 - Gotch, trained by Martin Burns, makes his wrestling debut by defeating Marshall Green.

1901 - San Francisco hosts wrestling's first tag team matches.

February 22, 1903 - Tom Jenkins defeats Frank Gotch in Cleveland in the first meeting of the dominant American wrestlers of the era.

May 5, 1905 - Hackenschmidt defeats Tom Jenkins for the Catch-as-Catch-Can championship. The title is later re-named the NWA World Heavyweight title.

April 3, 1908 - Hackenschmidt and Gotch do battle at Chicago's Dexter Park. The match ended when a frustrated Hackenschmidt leaves the ring, leaving Gotch with the World title.

1911 - The Hackenschmidt/Gotch rematch draws 33,000 fans to Comiskey Park, drawing a $87,000 gate.

April 1, 1913 - Gotch announces his retirement from wrestling in Kansas City, Missouri.

1916 - A battle between Ed "Stranger" Lewis and Joe Stecher ends in a five-hour draw.

July 18, 1916 - Gotch returns to wrestling and fractures his leg in an exhibition match against Bob Managoff, Sr. in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Gotch would never wrestle again.

1917 - Gotch passes away.

December 13, 1920 - "Stranger" Lewis becomes World champion by beating Stetcher.

1925 - Jess McMahon, grandfather of Vince McMahon Jr., promotes his first boxing card in the "old" Madison Square Garden in New York City.

October 25, 1932 - Paul Boesch makes his professional wrestling debut against Benny Ginsburg in Staten Island, New York.

September 20, 1934 - A match between Jim Londos and "Stranger" Lewis at Wrigley Field is refereed by former Boxing champion Jack Dempsey.

1935 - Jim Crockett Sr. forms Jim Crockett Promotions. In the same year, Vince McMahon Sr. promotes his first wrestling card.

September 14, 1938 - Everett Marshall is awarded the National Wrestling Association's version of the World Title.

May 19, 1946 - Andre The Giant is born in Grenoble, France.

1947 - A New York match between Buddy Rogers and Billy Darnell is such a wild brawl, a ringside fan dies of a heart attack. Both wrestlers are disqualified from New York competition for two years.

Fred Blassie suffers a head injury that places him on the verge of retirement when he is bounced out of the ring by Rudy Dusek.

1948 - The National Wrestling Alliance is first formed in Waterloo, Iowa. The first NWA President was P.L. "Pinkie" George.

July 30, 1948 - Pro wrestling debuts on the Dumont Network.

February 22, 1949 - Gorgeous George headlines the first Madison Square Garden wrestling card in 12 years, against Ernie Dusek. Gorgeous George won the match in front of 4,197 fans.

October 4, 1949 - Lillian Ellison (later known as Fabulous Moolah) defeated Cecilia Blevins in Kansas City, Missouri.

November 25, 1949 - Lou Thesz is awarded his first of six NWA World titles after Orville Brown's career is ending by a car accident.

1951 - Japan's first post-war professional wrestling card is held ... Verne Gagne moves up to the heavyweight division.

1952 - The Sheik makes his professional wrestling debut.

1953 - Captain Lou Albano makes his professional wrestling debut by defeating Bob Lazaro in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

April 1, 1957 - Wrestler Danny Hodge appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.

1959 - Bruno Sammartino makes his professional wrestling debut.

August 1960 - The American Wrestling Association (AWA) is formed.

1962 - Gorgeous George loses his hair, after dropping his match with the Destroyer in L.A.

April 1963 - The World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) recognizes its first champion, Buddy Rogers

1964 - Andre Rene Rousimoff (later known as Andre the Giant) debuts at the Butcher.

May 17, 1964 - Sammartino defeats Buddy Rogers for the WWWF title. He retains the title until January 1971 when Ivan Koloff relieves him of the gold.

March 1972 - New Japan Pro Wrestling is formed.

October 1972 - Shohei "Giant" Baba forms All Japan Pro Wrestling.

1973 - Jim Crockett Jr. takes over Crockett promotions.

May 9, 1975 - WWWF champion Sammartino defends the title against PWF Giant Baba in Japan. The match ends in a no decision.

October 4, 1975 - Ric Flair is involved in a plane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina. "The Nature Boy" breaks his back in three different places.

November 8, 1975 - Nick Bockwinkel ends Verne Gagne's seven year plus AWA title reign.

April 1979 - Vince McMahon Sr. renames the WWWF the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

July 18, 1980 - Verne Gagne wins his tenth AWA title by defeating Nick Bockwinkel in Chicago, IL. Bockwinkel had been champion since 1975.

August 2, 1980 - Hulk Hogan wrestles Andre the Giant to a time limit draw before 26,000 fans on a Bill Watts' show at the Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

August 9, 1980 - Bruno Sammartino defeats his protégé Larry Zbyszko in a steel cage match at Shea Stadium in New York. The semi-main event saw Andre the Giant beat Hulk Hogan.

September 17, 1981 - Flair captures his first World title from Dusty Rhodes.

June 1982 - Vince McMahon Jr. purchases the WWF from his father.

November 24, 1983 - The first Starrcade is staged in Greensboro, North Carolina.

1984 - McMahon purchases Georgia Championship Wrestling for $1,000,000 and closes the promotion.

January 24, 1984 - Hulk Hogan pins The Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden for the WWF title. Hogan begins a four year title reign.

February 21, 1985 - ABC airs an installment of "20/20" during which Dr. D David Shultz hits reporter John Stossel in the ears; Stossel later sued and received a $280,000 settlement from the WWF.

March 31, 1985 - Vince McMahon Jr. stages the first WrestleMania on closed circuit television.

May 10, 1985 - NBC airs the first episode of "Saturday Night's Main Event." The show features Hogan defeating "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Jr. to retain the WWF title.

May 1986 - The Four Horsemen are formed, a quartet consisting of Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson and Ole Anderson, with management by James J. Dillon.

1987 - Jim Crockett purchases Mid South Sports (UWF) from Bill Watts for $4 million.

March 29, 1987 - Wrestlemania III is hosted by the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. A crowd of over 78,000 fans witnesses Hogan successfully defending the WWF title against Andre the Giant in the main event.

May 26, 1987 - "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and The Iron Sheik are arrested by New Jersey state police. Duggan is charged with possession of marijuana and drinking alcohol while driving; Sheik is charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana. Duggan receives a conditional discharge; Sheik receives a year probation.

January 24, 1988 - WWF airs its first "Royal Rumble" on the USA Network.

February 5, 1988 - Andre the Giant ends Hulk Hogan's four year WWF title reign. He later gives the title to the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, until the title is held up by WWF President Jack Tunney.

March 27, 1988 - The first "Clash of the Champions" air on WTBS, airing head to head with Wrestlemania IV. In the main event, Ric Flair and Sting wrestled to a 45 minute time limit draw.

November 1988 - Ted Turner buys out Jim Crockett Jr. for $9 million, and later renames his promotion World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

January 1993 - "Raw" debuts on the USA Network.

November 1993 - Vince McMahon is charged with steroid possession.

June 11, 1994 - Hogan signs with World Championship Wrestling.

July 22, 1994 - The Ultimate Warrior wrestles his first match in more than two years before 2,000 fans in Las Vegas. He defeats the Honky Tonk Man.

August 27, 1994 - Shane Douglas defeats 2 Cold Scorpio for the NWA World Heavyweight Title, but then dumps the belt and proclaims himself the first Extreme Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion.

May 13, 1995 - Big Van Vader beats El Canek in Mexico City to win the UWA heavyweight title. With the win, Vader simultaneously holds major titles in Asia (New Japan's IWGP title), Europe (CWA title) and North America (UWA title).

September 4, 1995 - "Nitro" debuts on TNT.

1996 - Paul Heyman purchases ECW from Tod Gordon.

1996 - The WWF lost a state supreme court appeal of a court's decision that awarded Jesse "The Body" Ventura $800,000 in past royalties.

May 19, 1996 - After a steel cage match between Shawn Michaels and Diesel (Kevin Nash) at Madison Square Garden, "The Kliq" (Hall, Nash, HBK, and Triple H) embrace, breaking tradition "kayfabe." Hall and Nash had already signed with WCW.

June 23, 1996 - Austin wins the King of the Ring tournament, and starts his Austin 3:16 gimmick.

July 7, 1996 - Hogan turns heel at Bash at the Beach, joining Hall and Nash in the New World Order (NWO).

November 17, 1996 - Rocky Maivia (The Rock) debuts at the Survivor Series.

November 9, 1997 - McMahon cheats Bret Hart out of the WWF title at the Survivor Series in Montreal.

November 1997 - Rick Rude becomes the only wrestler to appear on "Raw" and "Nitro" on the same night.

1998 - WCW earns $55 million in profits.

April 13, 1998 - "Raw" ends "Nitro's" 83 week winning streak.

November 1998 - Former wrestler and announcer Jesse "The Body" Ventura is elected Governor of Minnesota.

May 23, 1999 - Owen Hart, 34, dressed as the Blue Blazer, falls to his death during the Over the Edge PPV in Kansas City, Missouri. The Hart family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the WWF, and settled out of court for $18 million in November 2000.

September 1999 - WCW hires WWF writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara.

2000 - WCW loses $62 million.

September 25, 2000 - The WWF moves "Raw" to TNN.

March 23, 2001 - The WWF purchases World Championship Wrestling (WCW) for a mere $4.3 million.

March 26, 2001 - The final "Nitro" airs on TNT.

April 4, 2001 - HHG Corporation, the owners of Extreme Championship Wrestling, filed for bankruptcy. In their filing, HHG Corp. claimed assets of $1,385,500 and listed debts of $8,881,435, leaving them with about $7.5 million in debt when they ceased operations.


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