Wwe Wwf Ecw Wrestling Photos Negatives Lot 100+ Macho Man Bret Hart w/ copyright

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Seller: memorabilia111 ✉️ (786) 100%, Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, US, Ships to: US, Item: 175892961818 Wwe Wwf Ecw Wrestling Photos Negatives Lot 100+ Macho Man Bret Hart w/ copyright. In May 2014, WWE and NBCUniversal agreed to a new contract that would see both Raw and SmackDown continue on NBC owned networks the USA Network and Syfy. [55] In January 2016, SmackDown would change networks to the USA Network. 130+ unique vintage negatives and 80+ vintage photos of ECW and RAW stars like DOINK THE CLOWN, SCORPIO, YOKOZUNA, BRET HART, MICK FOLEY, TERRY FUNK, TATONKA, MACK DADDIES OF VIOLENCE, MACHO MAN, AND MANY MANY MORE. I have included photos of all of the photographs but not all the negatives ... some of the negatives are even better than the photos. There are many candid shots and action shots as I was in attendance at the events very close to front row. I will also sign away copyrights to all negatives and photos to the new owner. These are all from the 90's. Michael Francis Foley Sr.[1][2] (born June 7, 1965)[1][2] is an American author, actor and former professional wrestler and color commentator currently signed to WWE. Foley has worked for many wrestling promotions, including the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and Global Wrestling Federation (GWF), as well as numerous promotions in Japan. Foley is widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of WWE,[5] where he participated in the main event of WrestleManias XV and 2000 – as a special guest referee in the former. Foley was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2013. Foley has wrestled under his real name and various personas, including Dude Love, Cactus Jack and Mankind, also known as the "Three Faces of Foley". He is a four-time world champion (three WWF Championships and one TNA World Heavyweight Championship), an eleven-time world tag team champion (eight WWF Tag Team Championships, two ECW World Tag Team Championships and one WCW World Tag Team Championship), a one-time TNA Legends Champion and the inaugural WWF Hardcore Champion. Contents 1 Background 2 Professional wrestling career 2.1 Training and early career (1983–1991) 2.2 World Championship Wrestling 2.2.1 Early years (1991–1993) 2.2.2 Feud with Vader (1993–1994) 2.3 NWA Eastern/Extreme Championship Wrestling (1994–1996) 2.4 Smoky Mountain Wrestling and Japan (1994–1996) 2.5 World Wrestling Federation 2.5.1 Three faces of Foley (1996–1998) 2.5.2 WWF Champion (1998–2000) 2.5.3 Commissioner and departure (2000–2001) 2.6 Independent circuit (2003–2005) 2.7 Return to WWE 2.7.1 Various feuds (2003–2006) 2.7.2 Sporadic appearances and SmackDown color commentator (2007–2008) 2.8 Total Nonstop Action Wrestling 2.8.1 Championship reigns (2008–2009) 2.8.2 Various storylines (2009–2011) 2.9 Second return to WWE 2.9.1 Last matches and final retirement (2011−2012) 2.9.2 Hall of Famer and various appearances (2013−2016) 2.9.3 Raw General Manager (2016–2017) 2.9.4 Return to Raw (2018–present) 3 Writing career 3.1 List of works 4 Film, television and radio 4.1 Filmography 4.1.1 Film 4.1.2 Television 5 Activism 6 Personal life 7 Championships and accomplishments 8 Luchas de Apuestas record 9 Footnotes 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links Background Foley was born in Bloomington, Indiana. He has an older brother named John. Shortly after his birth, Foley's family moved to East Setauket, New York, where Foley attended Ward Melville High School, played lacrosse, and wrestled.[1][6] Foley is of Irish descent.[7] Foley was a high school classmate of actor Kevin James. The two were on the wrestling team together and attended the same college.[8] While a student at State University of New York at Cortland, he hitchhiked to Madison Square Garden to see his favorite wrestler, Jimmy Snuka, in a steel cage match against Don Muraco.[3][9] Foley has said that Snuka's flying body splash from the top of the cage inspired him to pursue a career in pro wrestling.[3][9] Foley had a front row seat and is visible on the video of the event.[10][9] Professional wrestling career Training and early career (1983–1991) Foley as Cactus Jack Mick Foley formally trained at Dominic DeNucci's wrestling school in Freedom, Pennsylvania, driving several hours weekly from his college campus in Cortland, New York, and debuted in 1983.[4][11] In addition to appearing on DeNucci's cards, Foley and several other students also took part in some squash matches as jobbers for WWF TV tapings of Prime Time Wrestling and Superstars of Wrestling, where Foley wrestled under the names Jack Foley and Nick Foley. In one of these matches (the very first episode of Superstars), Foley and Les Thornton (another jobber) faced the British Bulldogs, during which the Dynamite Kid (who had a long earned reputation as a stiff worker in the ring) clotheslined Foley with such force that he was unable to eat solid food for several weeks.[12] During these squash matches, Foley also faced other top level talent at the time, such as Hercules Hernandez. His run would not last long, as he had not signed a contract with the promotion at the time. During this run, he was also billed from different hometowns and at different weights. After several years of wrestling in the independent circuit, Foley began receiving offers from various regional promotions, including Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF).[13] He joined the Memphis-based Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) as Cactus Jack Manson, where he teamed with Gary Young as part of the Stud Stable.[14] Cactus and Young briefly held the CWA tag titles in late 1988.[15] On November 20, Foley left CWA for Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling. In World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), Cactus Jack, billed as Cactus Jack Manson, was a major part of Skandor Akbar's stable. (The addition of "Manson" to Foley's name, due to its implied connection to Charles Manson, made him uncomfortable.)[16] Foley also won several titles, including the company's light heavyweight and tag team titles before leaving the company, losing his last match to Eric Embry in nine seconds. He then briefly competed in Alabama's Continental Wrestling Federation before completing a brief stint with World Championship Wrestling. For much of his time there, he would team with jobbers. When the jobber would lose the match for the team, Cactus Jack would attack his partner, throw them out of the ring, and deliver his infamous ring apron flying elbow drop onto the concrete floor. His biggest match at the time was against Mil Máscaras at Clash of the Champions X: Texas Shootout.[17] It was during this period that Foley was involved in a car accident that resulted in the loss of his two front teeth, adding to the distinctive look for which he is famous.[18] Following the short stint with WCW, Foley then signed with Herb Abrams's Universal Wrestling Federation.[15][19] In UWF, Foley teamed with Bob Orton to feud with Don Muraco, Sunny Beach, and Brian Blair. He soon left UWF for Tri-State Wrestling (a forerunner to Extreme Championship Wrestling),[20] whose high-impact and violent wrestling style fit Foley well. On one night, known as Tri-State's Summer Sizzler 1991, Cactus Jack and Eddie Gilbert had three matches in one night: Cactus won a Falls Count Anywhere match, lost a Stretcher match, and then fought to a double disqualification in a Steel Cage match.[21] These matches caught the attention of World Championship Wrestling promoters, in large part due to widespread photo circulation. In 1991, after a brief stint working in the Global Wrestling Federation, Foley joined WCW full-time.[15][21] World Championship Wrestling Early years (1991–1993) On September 5, 1991, Cactus Jack debuted as a heel and attacked Sting.[22] After feuds with Van Hammer and Abdullah the Butcher, Cactus Jack faced Sting, then WCW World Heavyweight Champion, in a non-title Falls Count Anywhere match at Beach Blast in 1992, which Sting won.[23] For a long time, Foley considered this the best match he ever worked.[23] Unlike Jack's first stint in WCW, where his personality was quieter, he was now outwardly maniacal; laughing hysterically, shrieking into the air while choking his opponents and yelling his signature catch phrase "Bang-Bang!". After spending a year and a half with WCW as a heel, Cactus Jack transitioned into a fan favorite after engaging in a feud with Paul Orndorff, Harley Race and Big Van Vader. Jack and Orndorff wrestled each other in a match for a spot on WCW World Heavyweight Champion Vader's team at a Clash of the Champions event. After the match, Race and Orndorff beat up Jack. At the following Clash of Champions event, Cactus Jack helped Sting's team win the match. He engaged in a feud with Orndorff, winning a falls-count-anywhere match against Orndorff at SuperBrawl III. He then moved on to face Big Van Vader. Cactus Jack wrestled Big Van Vader on April 6, 1993, winning by count-out, but being severely beaten in the process. As a result, in the rematch with Vader on April 24, the two executed a dangerous spot to sell a storyline injury. Harley Race removed the protective mats at ringside and Vader powerbombed Cactus onto the exposed concrete floor, causing a legitimate concussion and causing Foley to temporarily lose sensation in his left foot.[24] While Foley was away, WCW ran an angle where Cactus Jack's absence was explained with a farcical comedy storyline in which he went crazy, was institutionalized, escaped, and developed amnesia.[25] Foley had wanted the injury storyline to be very serious and generate genuine sympathy for him before his return. The comedy vignettes that WCW produced instead were so bad that Foley jokes in Have a Nice Day that they were the brainchild of WCW executives who regarded a surefire moneymaking feud as a problem that needed to be solved.[25] Feud with Vader (1993–1994) In one of WCW's most brutal matches of all time, Cactus faced Vader in a Texas Death match at Halloween Havoc.[26] Race won the match for Vader by using a cattle prod on Cactus, knocking him out. The level of violence involved in this feud caused WCW to refuse to book Cactus Jack against Vader on a pay-per-view again. On March 16, 1994, during a WCW European tour, Foley and Big Van Vader had one of the most infamous matches in wrestling history in Munich, Germany. Foley began a hangman—a planned move where a wrestler's head is tangled between the top two ring ropes. Neither wrestler was aware that the ring ropes had been drawn extra tight before the event, and Foley was barely able to move. When Foley finally freed himself from the ropes and fell out of the ring, his ears were badly split at the back. When Foley re-entered the ring the two wrestlers began trading blows. During this time, Vader reached up and grabbed Foley's ear, and ripped it off. The two men continued wrestling as the referee picked up the ear and gave it to the ring announcer. Vader claimed for years after that the ear had come off during the botched Hangman maneuver, however in a WWE Network video, Vader admits that after seeing footage that he had indeed removed Foley's ear. Cactus Jack and Kevin Sullivan were scheduled to win the tag team titles at Slamboree in 1994.[27] Foley had to choose between reattaching his ear or wrestling in the pay-per-view and winning the titles. Foley chose to wrestle and won his only championship in WCW. Later on, Foley was frustrated by WCW's reluctance to work a storyline around losing his ear. WCW also shared a brief co-promotion with ECW during this time in which Foley represented WCW on ECW television as the WCW Tag Team champion, facing Sabu at Hostile City Showdown on June 24, 1994. During a promo, Foley spat on his Tag Team title belt and threw it to the ground to appeal to the hardcore fans who frowned upon the mainstream promotions. NWA Eastern/Extreme Championship Wrestling (1994–1996) Cactus Jack's first appearance for the NWA-affiliated Eastern Championship Wrestling came on the May 31, 1994 episode, with Cactus revealed as Sabu's opponent for June 24 at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia. After being part of a talent exchange between ECW & WCW, Foley brought his WCW tag team title belt and spit on it for a recorded ECW tv segment. Foley continued with ECW, and began a feud with Sabu. Foley then began working the ECW tag team division on teams with Terry Funk, Mikey Whipwreck, and Kevin Sullivan. He had two ECW World Tag Team Championship reigns with Whipwreck while in ECW.[28] After the stints in Smokey Mountain Wrestling and Japan noted below, Foley then returned to ECW to have a series of violent encounters with the Sandman, while challenging him and claiming that he had never been beaten in a falls count anywhere match. He then started to team with Tommy Dreamer. According to Heyman, Hardcore style differentiated Foley from other traditional wrestlers, so in ECW, Foley was right at home. After seeing a sign in the audience one night that said "Cane Dewey" a reference to Foley's real life son, Foley began a gimmick where he criticized hardcore wrestling and sought to renounce his status as a hardcore wrestling icon and used a very technical, slow wrestling as a way to punish the audience.[29] He said that he was on a mission to save his partner from making the mistake of trying to please bloodthirsty fans. The mismatched partnership lasted until August 5, 1995, when Cactus turned on Dreamer when they were teaming with The Pitbulls against Raven, Stevie Richards and The Dudley Brothers (Dudley Dudley and Big Dick Dudley). Cactus Jack DDT'ed his partner and joined Raven's Nest, as he wished to serve Raven's "higher purpose". He remained one of Raven's top henchmen for the remainder of his time in ECW. On August 28, Cactus beat the previously undefeated 911. As part of Foley's heel gimmick, he began praising WWF and WCW on ECW television, which angered ECW fans. Their anger intensified once word began to spread that Foley was leaving to join the WWF (In Have a Nice Day, Foley recounted an incident where he asked an ECW roadie to sell T-shirts for him at an event held in a Queens, New York venue where he had been popular even as a heel; the man came back after being spat upon numerous times by angry fans, who made him fear for his life[30]). Even when he tried to give sincere good-byes to the fans, Cactus Jack was met with chants of "You sold out" by the ECW fanbase everywhere he went. Cactus was booked to face WWF hater Shane Douglas, who won when he put Jack into a figure four leglock that allowed Mikey Whipwreck to hit him repeatedly with a steel chair. Foley's last ECW match was against Whipwreck on March 9, 1996, and he recounts that he was not looking forward to it due to the increasingly hostile reactions he got even when he wasn't in character. The ECW fans, who knew that this was Foley's last match, finally returned his affection. They cheered him throughout the match and chanted, "Please don't go!". After the match, Foley told the audience that their reaction made everything worthwhile and made his exit by dancing with Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie to Frank Sinatra's song "New York, New York". Foley has said that this exit was his favorite moment in wrestling.[15][31] Smoky Mountain Wrestling and Japan (1994–1996) At the tail end of 1994, Foley joined Smoky Mountain Wrestling (SMW) as Cactus Jack, causing Boo Bradley to lose the SMW Beat the Champ Television Championship. He often teamed with Brian Lee to feud with Bradley and Chris Candido. Cactus Jack then began a crusade to rid Bradley of his valet Tamara Fytch. He ignited a feud between Candido and Bradley when he accused Candido of having sexual relations with Fytch. (Ironically, Candido and Fytch were a couple in real life). Cactus Jack left SMW before the feud was resolved. In 1995, Foley went to Japan and wrestled in International Wrestling Association of Japan (IWA Japan), where he engaged in feuds with Terry Funk and Shoji Nakamaki. During his brief stint in Japan Foley had the nickname "Tsunami Stopper." Foley, however, soon returned to ECW to feud with The Sandman. Funk returned to team up with Sandman, and during a particularly violent spot, the pair hit Cactus with a Singapore cane forty-six times. Cactus Jack then defeated Funk at Hostile City Showdown 1995. Later, he fought Sandman for the ECW championship. During the match, Cactus Jack knocked Sandman unconscious and was declared the winner. Referee Bill Alfonso, however, reversed his decision on the grounds that the title cannot change hands by knockout. Returning to the IWA, Cactus Jack began a feud with Leatherface, whom he had betrayed during a tag team match. Foley also continued to wrestle in independent circuits, winning championships on the Ozark Mountain and Steel City circuits. On August 20, 1995, IWA organized a King of the Death Match tournament at their Kawasaki Dream event. Each level of the tournament featured a new and deadly gimmick: Cactus Jack's first round was a barbed-wire baseball bat, thumbtack death match, in which he defeated Terry Gordy; the second round was a barbed-wire board, bed of nails match where Cactus Jack defeated Shoji Nakamaki. The final, against Terry Funk, was a barbed-wire rope, barbed-wire and C4 board, time-bomb death match, which Cactus Jack won with help from Tiger Jeet Singh. After the match, both men were ravaged by the wire, and burned by the C4 explosions. Foley later said that he only received $300 for the entire night[32] but in 2010 he wrote that, "looking back that match in Honjo is probably the performance I'm proudest of."[33] After the tournament, he teamed with Tracy Smothers for a quick run with the IWA tag team titles. World Wrestling Federation Three faces of Foley (1996–1998) In 1996, Foley signed a contract with WWF and, this time, the WWF did not use Foley as "enhancement talent". He was shown several designs for a new character—a man with a leather mask and chains. However, WWF decided that it was too dark and only left the mask.[34] Foley arrived in the WWF in 1996 with a new gimmick and perhaps his most famous personality: Mankind, a mentally deranged schizophrenic who constantly squealed (even throughout his matches), shrieked "Mommy!", spoke to a rat named George, enjoyed pain, physically abused himself (such as by pulling out his hair), wore a mask and lived in boiler rooms; hence, his specialty match, the Boiler Room Brawl.[1] Mankind's finishing move was the mandible claw nerve hold, which involved sticking his fingers in his opponent's mouth. His catch phrase was "Have a nice day". On the April 1, 1996, episode of Monday Night Raw, the day after WrestleMania XII, Mankind debuted and defeated Bob Holly, quickly moving into a feud with The Undertaker. The two then began interfering in the other's matches until they were booked in the first ever Boiler Room brawl, in which the goal was to escape the arena's boiler room and reach the ring to take the urn from Paul Bearer. The Undertaker appeared to have won, but Paul Bearer refused to hand him the urn, allowing Mankind to win, thus (for the time being) ending the relationship between Paul and The Undertaker. While Mankind was managed by Paul Bearer, he referred to him as "Uncle Paul". Mankind then earned the number one contendership to face the then WWF Champion Shawn Michaels at In Your House: Mind Games. Michaels won by disqualification via interference by Vader and The Undertaker. The Mankind and Undertaker rivalry continued with the first ever Buried Alive match at In Your House: Buried Alive. Undertaker won the match, but Paul Bearer, the Executioner, Mankind and other heels attacked The Undertaker and buried him alive. Afterward, The Undertaker challenged Mankind to a match at Survivor Series, which the Undertaker won. The feud continued after another match at In Your House: Revenge of the Taker for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, which Undertaker had won at WrestleMania 13. Undertaker won the match and Bearer took a leave of absence, continuing the feud. Jim Ross then began conducting a series of interviews with Mankind. During the interviews, Ross brought up the topic of Foley's home videos and the hippie-inspired character he played in them, Dude Love, as well as his tormented journey in wrestling. The interviews also had an effect on the fans, who began cheering Mankind, turning him into a face. Around this time, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels won the WWF Tag Team Championships from Owen Hart and The British Bulldog, but Michaels was injured and could no longer compete. Mankind tried to replace him, but Austin said he wanted "nothing to do with a freak" and resigned himself to facing Hart and the Bulldog alone the next week. Halfway into the match, however, Foley debuted a new persona known as Dude Love, who helped Austin take the victory, becoming the new Tag Team Champions.[35] Austin and Foley vacated their tag team titles when Austin suffered a neck injury in a match at SummerSlam. Dude Love feuded with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, as the two competed in a Falls Count Anywhere match. One of Foley's most memorable vignettes aired before the match began, in which Dude Love and Mankind discussed who should wrestle the upcoming match. Eventually, "they" decided that it should be Cactus Jack, and Foley's old character made his WWF debut. Cactus Jack won the match with a piledriver through a table. Shortly thereafter, ECW's Terry Funk joined the WWF as Chainsaw Charlie. At the 1998 Royal Rumble, Foley participated under three personas, Cactus Jack, Mankind, and Dude Love. Charlie and Jack defeated the New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania XIV in a Dumpster match to win the tag team titles. The next night, however, Vince McMahon stripped them of the belts and scheduled a rematch in a steel cage, which the Outlaws won with help from their new allies, D-Generation X. On April 6, 1998, Foley turned heel when Cactus Jack explained the fans would not see him anymore because they did not appreciate him and only cared about Stone Cold Steve Austin. Vince McMahon explained to Austin the next week that he would face a "mystery" opponent at Unforgiven. That opponent turned out to be Dude Love, who won the match by disqualification, meaning that Austin retained the title. McMahon, displeased with the outcome, required Foley to prove he deserved another shot at Austin's title with a number one contendership match against his former partner, Terry Funk. The match was both the WWF's first ever "Hardcore match" and the first time that Foley wrestled under his own name. Foley won, and after the match, a proud McMahon came out to Dude Love's music and presented Foley with the Dude Love costume. At Over the Edge, Dude Love took on Austin for the title. McMahon designated his subordinates Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson as the timekeeper and ring announcer, and made himself the special referee. The Undertaker, however, came to ringside to ensure McMahon called the match fairly, and with his presence, Dude Love lost the match and was "fired" by McMahon on the June 1 episode of Raw. On that same episode of Raw, Foley reverted to his Mankind character, who began wearing an untucked shirt with a loose necktie and resumed his feud with The Undertaker. At King of the Ring on June 28, the two performed in the third Hell in a Cell match, which became one of most notable matches in professional wrestling history. Foley received numerous injuries and took two dangerous and highly influential bumps. His character lost the match to conclude their storyline. WWF Champion (1998–2000) Main article: The Rock 'n' Sock Connection Although conventional wisdom holds that the Hell in a Cell match was responsible for Foley's rise to main event status, live television crowds did not initially get behind Mankind because of the match.[citation needed] Following a couple months of teaming with Kane, who together won the WWF Tag Team Championship on two separate occasions, Foley decided that crowds might respond better if Mankind were more of a comedy character, and so he abandoned the tortured soul characteristics and became more of a goofy, broken down oaf. He began the transition into this character following SummerSlam in 1998, after Kane turned on him and the two lost the tag team championships. The following month, Foley began an angle with Vince McMahon, with Mankind trying to be a friend to the hated Mr. McMahon. On the October 5 episode of Raw, while McMahon was in a hospital nursing wounds suffered at the hands of The Undertaker and Kane, Mankind arrived to cheer him up. Having succeeded only in irritating McMahon, Mankind then took a sock off his foot to create a sock puppet named "Mr. Socko". Intended to be a one-time joke, Socko became an overnight sensation. Mankind began putting the sock on his hand before applying his finisher, the mandible claw, stuffing a smelly sock in the mouths of opposing wrestlers. The sweatsock became massively popular with the fans, mainly because it was marketed (mostly by Jerry "The King" Lawler during the events) as being a dirty, smelly, sweaty, repulsive, and vile sock. McMahon manipulated Mankind, who saw the WWF owner as a father figure, into doing his bidding. McMahon created the Hardcore Championship and awarded it to Mankind, making him the first-ever champion of the hardcore division. Mankind was then pushed as the favorite to win the WWF Championship at Survivor Series, as McMahon appeared to be manipulating the tournament so that Mankind would win. He and The Rock both reached the finals, where McMahon turned on Mankind. As The Rock placed Mankind in the Sharpshooter, McMahon ordered the timekeeper to ring the bell even though Mankind did not submit, a reference to the Montreal Screwjob from the year before. As a result of Survivor Series, Mankind officially turned face, while The Rock turned heel and the crown jewel in McMahon's new Corporation faction. After weeks of trying to get his hands on McMahon's new faction, the Corporation, Mankind received a title shot against The Rock at Rock Bottom: In Your House. Mankind won the match by shoving a stench-ridden sock down The Rock's gullet, but McMahon ruled that the title would not change hands because Mankind did not win by pinfall or submission. After several weeks of going after the Corporation, Mankind defeated The Rock to win his first WWF Championship on December 29. The taped show was broadcast on January 4, 1999, so that is the date WWE recognizes as beginning the title run. Having title changes on broadcast television rather than pay-per-view was uncommon in professional wrestling, but because of the Monday Night Wars, TV ratings became more important. The rival WCW, attempting to take advantage of the fact that their show Monday Nitro aired live while Mankind's title victory was taped the week before, had announcer Tony Schiavone reveal the ending of the Mankind-Rock match before it aired. He then added sarcastically, "That'll put a lot of butts in the seats." The move backfired for WCW, as Nielsen ratings showed that Raw won the ratings battle that night, despite the Hulk Hogan vs. Kevin Nash main event which led to the reformation of the New World Order. Foley said that the ratings indicate that large numbers of viewers switched from Nitro to Raw to see him win the title and took great personal pride from this. Mankind lost the WWF Championship to The Rock in an "I Quit" match at Royal Rumble, in what is regarded as one of the company's most violent matches. During the match, Foley took several bumps, including eleven unprotected chair shots to the head. This match is featured in Barry Blaustein's documentary Beyond the Mat, which shows the impact the match had on Foley and his family at ringside. The match ended after Mankind lost consciousness, and The Rock's allies played a recording of Mankind saying "I Quit" from an earlier interview. The match was also voted 1999's Match of the Year by the readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Mankind won the title back in a rematch on Halftime Heat, which aired during halftime of Super Bowl XXXIII, in the WWF's first ever Empty Arena match on January 31. The two then competed in a Last Man Standing match at St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which ended without a winner, meaning that Mankind retained the title. The next night, Mr. McMahon booked a ladder match for the championship, which The Rock won with help from The Big Show. Foley would go on to WrestleMania to defeat The Big Show and again at Backlash a month later. Shortly after Big Show would team with Mankind, Test and Shamrock to take on the Corporation at Over The Edge. Later in the year, Foley and The Rock patched up their friendship and teamed up to form a comedy team called the Rock 'n' Sock Connection, becoming one of the most popular teams during that time. The pair won the tag team titles on three occasions. Foley helped Raw achieve its highest ratings ever with a segment featuring himself (as Mankind) and The Rock. The "This is Your Life" segment aired on September 27, 1999, and received an 8.4 rating.[36] In August 1999, Foley returned after a three-month absence recovering from knee surgery to resume his feud with Triple H. On an episode of Raw, Mankind drew with Triple H in a match for the number one contender for the WWF Championship, which resulted in a Triple Threat match between Steve Austin, Triple H and Mankind at SummerSlam for the title. Foley won the WWF Championship for the third time at SummerSlam, pinning the reigning champion Austin.[37] Mankind's win led to an enraged Triple H to assault Austin, justifying Austin's absence while he healed a knee injury. The next night on Raw, Triple H defeated Mankind to win his first WWF championship. A feud then developed between Mankind and the McMahon-Helmsley regime, led by Triple H. Foley then reverted to his Cactus Jack persona in January 2000 and faced Triple H for the WWF Championship at Royal Rumble in a Street Fight. Cactus used barbed wire 2x4 and thumbtacks, trademark weapons from his pre-WWF days, but Triple H won the match after delivering two pedigrees, the second onto a pile of tacks. This feud culminated with a rematch at No Way Out in a Hell in a Cell match, where stipulations held that if Cactus Jack did not win the title, Foley would retire from wrestling. During the match, they had made their way onto the top of the cell and Foley was preparing to piledrive Triple H onto a barbed wire 2x4 on fire, but Triple H reversed it into a backdrop, causing the cage to give way, Foley fell through the canvas. One pedigree later, Triple H had won the match and Mick's career was over.[38] Foley left for a few weeks, but returned at the request of Linda McMahon to wrestle for the title at WrestleMania 2000 against Triple H, The Rock and Big Show.[39] Triple H won and Foley did not wrestle again for four years. Commissioner and departure (2000–2001) Foley at WrestleMania X-Seven Fan Axxess After retiring from active competition, Foley served as storyline WWF Commissioner under his real name rather than one of his personas. Foley has said that he intended for his Commissioner Foley character to be a "role model for nerds," cracking lame jokes and making no attempt to appear tough or scary. He also had a knack during this time to have no one spot for his office; rather, Mick would have an office in all sorts of odd places (for example, closets). Foley turned getting cheap pops into something of a catchphrase, as he shamelessly declared at each WWF show that he was thrilled to be "right here in (whatever city in which he was performing (e.g., New York))!" punctuated with an intentionally cheesy thumbs-up gesture. During this time, Commissioner Foley engaged in rivalries with Kurt Angle, Edge and Christian, and Vince McMahon without actually wrestling them. He left the position in December 2000 after being "fired" onscreen by McMahon during which he received a brutal beat down. Foley made a surprise return on the Raw just prior to WrestleMania X-Seven and announced that he would be the special guest referee in the match between Mr. McMahon and his son Shane at WrestleMania. After WrestleMania, Foley made sporadic appearances on WWF programming throughout the middle of the year, at one point introducing Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura during a taping of Raw in the state as a foil to Mr. McMahon, as well as serving as the guest referee for the Earl Hebner versus Nick Patrick Referee match at the WWF Invasion pay-per-view. Foley returned as commissioner in October 2001, near the end of The Invasion angle. During this brief tenure, Foley had the opportunity to shoot on the WWF's direction and how dissatisfied he was with it. Saying that there were far too many championships in the company, he booked unification matches prior to the final pay-per-view of the storyline, Survivor Series. After Survivor Series, he ended his commissionership at Vince McMahon's request and left the company. Independent circuit (2003–2005) During his absences from WWE, Foley made frequent appearances on the independent circuit from 2003 to 2005, primarily in non-wrestling roles, either as a referee, manager, or special guest. His first independent circuit appearance was on December 12, 2003 for International Wrestling Cartel, where he was the special guest referee for a match between Dusty Rhodes and Jerry Lawler. Foley did not appear on the independent circuit again until May 2004, when he appeared for the Japanese promotion HUSTLE and returned to the ring to face Toshiaki Kawada for the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, but ended up losing. On September 11, 2004, Foley made his debut for Ring of Honor and cut a promo, praising ROH and referring to it as "Ring of Hardcore", thus establishing himself as a babyface. On October 3, Foley refereed a match between Jerry Lawler and Slyck Wagner Brown for the New England Wrestling promotion. On October 15, Foley returned to ROH where he confronted Ricky Steamboat, who claimed that traditional wrestling was better than hardcore wrestling. The next day, both Foley and Steamboat cut promos on each other, leading to a match between two teams of wrestlers handpicked by both men, with Nigel McGuiness and Chad Collyer representing Steamboat and Dan Maff and B.J. Whitmer representing Foley, which was won by McGuiness and Collyer. On November 6, Foley teased a heel turn when he called ROH Champion Samoa Joe "softcore". On November 20, Foley made a surprise appearance for New York Wrestling Connection, making a run-in during Mikey Whipwreck and Ken Scampi's match against Mayhem and Tony Burma, where he helped Whipwreck and Scampi win. Foley made an appearance on the Night of Appreciation for Sabu, where he refereed the match between Shane Douglas and Raven, where Sabu himself interfered in the match and helped Douglas win. Foley returned to ROH on December 26 at ROH's Final Battle event and had his final confrontation with Ricky Steamboat, where the two made peace. On January 15, 2005, Foley turned heel after he was confronted by Samoa Joe and hit Joe over the head with a steel chair. One week later, Foley appeared with Border City Wrestling to referee the match between Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin for the BCW Television Championship, which Sabin won. Foley refereed the main event of the first WrestleReunion show, which saw Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, and Mike Graham battle Abdullah the Butcher, Kevin Sullivan, and CM Punk. On February 19, Foley resumed his feud with Samoa Joe in ROH, teasing a return to the ring but instead choosing Vordell Walker to fight Joe. After Joe defeated Walker, Foley introduced his "backup plan" New Cactus Jack to fight Joe in a second match, which Joe won as well. On February 26, Foley appeared with Frank Goodman's USA Xtreme promotion, cutting a promo saying that there was no need to wait until June for an ECW reunion (referring to the upcoming Hardcore Homecoming show being put together by Shane Douglas), and brought out Axl Rotten, Shane Douglas, Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Balls Mahoney, Al Snow, Justin Credible, The Sandman, Terry Funk and Sabu, much to the excitement of the crowd, who began an "E-C-Dub!" chant. But then Raven came out and cut a promo saying that he had only ever been the one true star of ECW and everyone else had just been a jobber, leading to a match between Raven and Balls Mahoney later in the night, which Raven won by DQ when he threw fire in Mahoney's eyes. After this, Foley and several of the other ECW alumni came to the ring and attacked Raven. On April 2, Foley appeared with Harley Race's World League Wrestling to referee a match between Trevor Rhodes and Brandon Bishop, which was ruled a No-Contest. After the match, Rhodes, Bishop, and Johnny Gold all attacked Foley until Terry Funk and Harley Race ran in and fought the three wrestlers off. Afterwards, Foley left the arena with Funk and Race. On April 30, Foley refereed a match at a Northeast Wrestling show between Jerry Lawler and King Kong Bundy, which Lawler won. On May 7, Foley made a return to the ring at the Mark Curtis Memorial Show, where he was victorious in a tag team match with Shane Douglas against Al Snow and D'Lo Brown, which also featured Dominic DeNucci (Foley and Douglas' trainer) in his and Douglas' corner. The main event of the ECW reunion show Hardcore Homecoming was Terry Funk against Sabu and Shane Douglas in a Triple Threat Elimination No Ropes Barbed Wire Match. During the middle of the match, Bill Alfonso, who was in Sabu's corner, began pulling Shane Douglas into the wire, which led to Francine, who was in Douglas' corner, attacking Alfonso. Using this as a distraction, Douglas brought a ladder into the ring when suddenly the lights in the arena went out. When they came back on, Foley was in the ring, as Cactus Jack, wearing a referee shirt. Foley pulled out a barbed-wire wrapped Mr. Socko and applied the Mandible Claw on Douglas, then DDT'd Douglas onto a steel chair. Terry Funk then crawled onto Douglas and eliminated him when Foley made the 3-count. After that, Funk targeted Sabu, throwing him into the barbed wire, then setting up a table and putting Sabu on it. Funk then climbed up the ladder, but before he got far, it collapsed from under his weight, sending him crashing through the table. Sabu then recovered, gave Funk an Arabian Facebuster off a chair, and pinned Funk to win the match. After the match ended, all four of them were greeted with chants of "Terry!" and "Sabu!" and "Foley!" and "Thank You Shane!" and of course "E-C-Dub! E-C-Dub!". The entire locker room emptied moments later and celebrated with Funk, Sabu, Foley, and Douglas in the ring to continued "E-C-Dub" chants. On July 8, Foley returned to ROH as a face, confronting ROH Champion CM Punk, who had turned heel and mocked ROH and the championship after he had signed with WWE and threatened to take the title with him to WWE. Foley acted as a direct line to Vince McMahon, attempting to convince Punk to defend his title one last time on McMahon's orders before he departed from ROH. On August 13, Foley made an appearance with Ballpark Brawl to make fun of Matt Striker, who had been doing an impersonation of The Rock. Later in the event, Foley refereed the Canes, Tables, and Chairs match between Sandman and Sabu, which Sandman won. After the match, Foley celebrated with Sandman by drinking beer with him in the middle of the ring. On August 20, Foley returned to ROH again, as a face, to rescue Jade Chung from Prince Nana. Foley was then attacked from behind by Alex Shelley and The Embassy until Austin Aries and Roderick Strong chased them off. One week later, Foley returned to the ring for the second WrestleReunion show to team with Terry Funk and Dory Funk, Jr. in a losing effort against the Midnight Express (Stan Lane, Bobby Eaton, and Dennis Condrey.) Foley made his final regular appearance with ROH on September 17, when he was in A.J. Styles' corner in a match against Embassy member Jimmy Rave, which Styles won. Afterwards, Foley put over ROH huge saying he enjoyed being on ROH shows and would speak highly of it. Foley made his final major independent circuit appearance on the Tribute to Starrcade show on November 19 as the referee for the match between Dustin Rhodes and Terry Funk, which ended in a No-Contest. Return to WWE Various feuds (2003–2006) Foley returned in June 2003 to referee the Hell in a Cell match between Triple H and Kevin Nash at Bad Blood. On June 23, during a Raw broadcast in Madison Square Garden, he was honored for his achievements in the ring and presented with the retired WWE Hardcore Championship belt. The evening ended with Foley taking a beating and kicked down stairs by Randy Orton and Ric Flair. In December 2003, Foley returned to replace Steve Austin as co-general manager of Raw. He soon grew tired of the day-to-day travel and left his full-time duties to write and spend time with his family. In the storyline, Foley was afraid to wrestle a match with Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton on the December 15 episode of Raw and walked out of the match rather than face him, the result of the match was ruled a draw. After Foley walked backstage, Orton confronted him asking why he walked out of the match, calling him a coward in the process, before spitting in his face. Foley walked out of the arena afterwards. In 2004, Foley returned briefly to wrestling, competing in the Royal Rumble and eliminating both Orton and himself with his trademark Cactus Jack clothesline. He and The Rock reunited as the Rock 'n' Sock Connection and lost a handicap match to Evolution at WrestleMania XX. Foley and Orton continued to feud, culminating in a hardcore match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship at Backlash, where Orton defeated Foley, as his Cactus Jack persona, to retain the title. Foley regards this match as possibly the best of his career.[40] Foley appeared as a color commentator at WWE's ECW One Night Stand, which aired on June 12, 2005, and subsequently renewed his contract with WWE. Foley returned in 2005 in a match where fans were able to vote on which persona he would appear as—Mankind, Dude Love, or Cactus Jack—against Carlito at Taboo Tuesday. The fans voted for Mankind, who went on to win the match. On the February 16, 2006, Raw, Foley returned to referee the WWE Championship match between Edge and John Cena. After Cena won, Edge attacked Foley, and the following week, Edge challenged Foley to a match at WrestleMania 22. Edge defeated Foley after spearing him through a flaming table. In the weeks after the match, Foley turned heel and allied himself with Edge against the newly rejuvenated ECW. At ECW One Night Stand, Foley, Edge and Lita defeated Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer and Beulah McGillicutty. Foley then engaged in a storyline rivalry with Ric Flair, inspired by real-life animosity between the two. In Have a Nice Day!, Foley wrote that Flair was "every bit as bad on the booking side of things as he was great on the wrestling side of it." In response, Flair wrote in his autobiography that Foley was "a glorified stuntman" and that he was able to climb the ladder in the WWF only because he was friends with the bookers. The two had a backstage confrontation at a Raw event in 2003, but Foley has said that they have largely reconciled.[41] To spark the feud, Flair again called Foley a "glorified stuntman" and Foley called Flair a "washed up piece of crap" and challenged him to a match. The result was a Two-out-of-Three Falls match at Vengeance, where Flair beat Foley in two straight falls. The two then wrestled an "I Quit" match at SummerSlam, which Flair won when he forced Foley to quit by threatening Melina with a barbed-wire bat.[42] On the August 21 episode of Raw, Foley kissed Vince McMahon's buttocks as part of McMahon's "Kiss My Ass Club" gimmick after he threatened to fire Melina. Shortly thereafter, she betrayed Foley and announced that he was fired. Sporadic appearances and SmackDown color commentator (2007–2008) Seven months later, Foley made his return to Raw as a face on March 5, 2007, with the storyline being that he tricked McMahon into giving him his job back. At Vengeance, Foley wrestled in a WWE Championship Challenge match involving WWE Champion John Cena, Randy Orton, King Booker, and Bobby Lashley. Cena retained by pinning Foley. A month later, Foley made an appearance on Raw as the special guest referee for a match between Jonathan Coachman and Mr. McMahon's storyline illegitimate son Hornswoggle. Foley then made an appearance on SmackDown the same week, where he defeated Coachman with Hornswoggle as the special guest referee. On the January 7, 2008 episode of Raw, Foley and his tag team partner Hornswoggle qualified for the Royal Rumble by defeating The Highlanders, but Foley was eliminated by Triple H during the Royal Rumble match. Foley debuted as a color commentator for SmackDown alongside Michael Cole at Backlash in 2008, replacing Jonathan Coachman.[43] On the edition of August 1 of SmackDown, Foley was kayfabe attacked by Edge during Edge's promo for his SummerSlam match against The Undertaker. Foley sat out the August 8 SmackDown to sell his recovery from the injuries. Tazz filled in for Foley as a color commentator on SmackDown, while Raw wrestler Matt Striker filled in for Tazz on ECW. Foley told Long Island Press pro wrestling columnist Josh Stewart in August 2008 that "creatively, the announcing job wasn't working out too well". He expanded with Dave Meltzer on the Observer radio show that the environment was creatively frustrating. Foley allowed his contract with WWE to expire on September 1, 2008 and quietly left the company. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling Championship reigns (2008–2009) Foley at Bound for Glory IV On September 3, 2008, Foley's agency, Gillespie Talent, issued a press release that stated Foley had signed a short-term deal with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). Foley claimed in the statement to be "very excited about the specifics of this agreement and the potential it holds".[44] Foley made his TNA debut on September 5, at a TNA house show giving a short speech about how he loved the product, in which he also belittled WWE.[45] The official TNA Wrestling website featured an image of a smiley face with a variation of Foley's catch phrase, "Have a nice day!" (and, before No Surrender, "Have a nice Sunday!"). Foley at a TNA house show in Dublin, Ireland in January 2009 On the edition of September 18, 2008 of Impact!, Foley made his first televised appearance for TNA, where Jeff Jarrett introduced him to the audience on the arena's video wall. Two weeks later, Foley made his full television debut in a promo making comments about the WWE roster, Vince McMahon and Kurt Angle. At Bound for Glory IV, he was the special guest enforcer for Jarrett and Angle's match. Later, on Impact!, Foley said goodbye, but was then approached by Jeff Jarrett with a new offer; he later indicated that they had come to terms on a new contract and would make a major announcement the next week. On the October 23 episode of Impact!, Foley announced that he was now co-owner of TNA along with Jarrett, just after Kurt Angle headbutted him. On November 27, Thanksgiving Day, TNA presented the Turkey Bowl. Alex Shelley ended up being pinned by Rhino, and Foley handed Rhino the check. Afterwards, the defeated Shelley had to put on a Turkey Suit in compliance with the match rules, albeit with much refusal. However, Shelley "flipped off" Foley and proceeded to beat him up. In the aftermath, Mick mentioned that Shelley is lucky he still has his job. The Main Event Mafia's Kevin Nash, Booker T, and Scott Steiner were going to take on Brother Devon, A.J. Styles, and Mick Foley in his debut matchup at Genesis. Nash, however, suffered a legitimate staph infection and missed Genesis. He was replaced by Cute Kip. Foley got the pin when he hit Scott Steiner with a double arm DDT onto a chair. On April 19, 2009 at Lockdown, he defeated Sting to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship for his first ever championship in TNA, and his fourth World title overall. Mick did not lose the championship, but Sting became the new leader of the Main Event Mafia by pinning Kurt Angle at Sacrifice. Foley had also stated on Impact! tapings that if he retained the TNA World Heavyweight Title at the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary, he would only put the title up in a match once a year. However, he lost the title to Kurt Angle in the King of The Mountain match at Slammiversary. He received a rematch at Victory Road, commenting he had only submitted once in his career (to Terry Funk, in a spinning toe hold) and swore he'd never do it again. He lost the match when Angle forced him to submit again with the ankle lock. On July 30, 2009, the 200th episode of Impact!, Foley won the TNA Legends Championship by pinning champion Kevin Nash in a tag team match where Nash teamed with Angle and Foley with Bobby Lashley. At Hard Justice Nash defeated Foley to regain the title, following interference from Traci Brooks. Various storylines (2009–2011) On the edition of September 24 of Impact! Foley turned heel again when he attacked Abyss during and after a TNA World Tag Team Championship match against Booker T and Scott Steiner. Foley revealed Abyss as the one who tore up his picture and beat him to a bloody pulp with a video tape and the baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. Abyss then challenged Foley to a Monster's Ball match which Foley accepted.[46] At Bound for Glory Abyss defeated Foley in the match.[47] Two weeks later, Foley turned face by turning on Dr. Stevie and saved Abyss from him.[48] The following week he explained that he had played Dr. Stevie all along and had challenged Abyss to a match at Bound for Glory in order to see how tough he really was.[49] On the edition of November 12 of Impact! Raven returned to TNA and saved Stevie's future in the company by costing Abyss a match and throwing a fireball in Foley's face.[50] After this, Foley turned his attention away from Abyss and Dr. Stevie and concentrated on Hulk Hogan's arrival in TNA, appearing to be paranoid about Hogan taking over TNA. On the edition of December 3 of Impact! Foley teased another heel turn by booking face Kurt Angle in a handicap match, after Angle refused to give him information on who Hogan is bringing to TNA.[51] At Final Resolution Abyss and Foley defeated Stevie and Raven in a "Foley's Funhouse" tag team match.[52] On January 4, 2010, the day of Hulk Hogan's debut for TNA, Foley was assaulted by the reunited Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman, when trying to get a meeting with Hogan.[53] On the edition of January 21 of Impact! new Executive Producer Eric Bischoff fired Foley, after claiming to have been attacked by him.[54] On the edition of February 11 of Impact!, Bischoff and Foley "talked it over", as Hogan had suggested two weeks prior, and Foley was entered in the 8 Card Stud Tournament at Against All Odds.[55] The match was a No Disqualification match against Abyss, who won the match and advanced.[56] On the edition of March 15 of Impact! Bischoff announced that he would be shaving Foley bald as a punishment for trying to help Jeff Jarrett in a handicap match the previous week. At first Foley was seemingly going along with the plan, but at the last second he shoved Mr. Socko down Bischoff's throat, put him on the barber's chair and shaved him nearly bald.[57] On the following edition of Impact!, Foley lost to Jarrett in a No Disqualification Career vs. Career match set up by Bischoff, forcing Foley to kayfabe leave TNA.[58] In reality, Foley was taken off television due to him being on his way to exceed the maximum number of dates per year on his contract, at the pace he was making appearances.[59] Foley returned to TNA on July 12, 2010, at the tapings of the edition of July 15 of Impact!, leading an invasion of fellow ECW alumni TNA World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Stevie Richards, Rhino, Brother Devon, Pat Kenney and Al Snow forming the team of EV 2.0.[60][61][62] The following week, TNA president Dixie Carter agreed to give the ECW alumni their own reunion pay–per–view event, Hardcore Justice: The Last Stand, as a celebration of hardcore wrestling and a final farewell to the company.[63] At the event Foley refereed a Final Showdown match between Tommy Dreamer and Raven.[64] On the following edition of Impact!, the ECW alumni, known collectively as Extreme, Version 2.0 (EV 2.0), were assaulted by A.J. Styles, Kazarian, Robert Roode, James Storm, Douglas Williams and Matt Morgan of Ric Flair's Fourtune stable, who thought they didn't deserve to be in TNA.[65][66] In August Foley began writing a weekly column for TNA's website.[67] On the October 7, 2010 live edition of Impact!, Foley defeated Ric Flair in a Last Man Standing match. the Last Man Standing match with Flair turned out to be Foley's last match in TNA.[68] At Bound for Glory Foley was in EV 2.0's corner, when Dreamer, Raven, Rhino, Richards and Sabu defeated Fourtune members Styles, Kazarian, Morgan, Roode and Storm in a Lethal Lockdown match.[69] After not appearing for two months, Foley returned on the edition of December 23 of Impact!, confronting Fortune and Immortal.[70] After Genesis, Foley once again disappeared from TNA television, but kept making regular appearances at TNA house shows.[71] At the tapings of the edition of May 12 of Impact!, Foley made his return to TV as he was revealed as the "Network" consultant, who had been causing problems for Immortal for the past months.[72][73] On May 23, Foley, who had expressed frustration with TNA and said that he did not plan to renew his contract with the promotion once it would expire in the fall of 2011, made a joke on Twitter, comparing his Empty Arena match with The Rock to a TNA house show.[74][75] On the following edition of Impact Wrestling on June 2, Hulk Hogan announced that Foley had been fired as the Network Executive.[76] This was done to write Foley, who had asked for his release from TNA, off television. His departure from the promotion was confirmed on June 5, 2011.[77][78] Second return to WWE Last matches and final retirement (2011−2012) Foley returned to WWE in November 2011 at a house show in Dublin, Ireland Foley returned to WWE at a house show in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, taking a break from his UK comedy tour, on November 2, 2011, making an in-ring promo with The Miz and R-Truth and then guest refereed the tag team match, appearing again in Manchester on November 5.[79] Foley returned to Raw on November 14, which featured him presenting a "This is Your Life" celebration for John Cena (he presented a similar segment for The Rock 12 years earlier). Among those brought out were Cena's former tag team partner Bull Buchanan, his former baseball coach (kayfabe), and his father; however the segment was interrupted by The Rock, who delivered a Rock Bottom to Foley before leaving the ring, ending the segment.[80] Foley was the special guest host on the live edition of Smackdown on November 29. Foley appeared on Raw on the January 16, 2012, episode to announce his intentions to participate in the Royal Rumble match at the 2012 Royal Rumble pay-per-view later in the night during a six-man tag team match CM Punk needing a tag Foley came down to the ring and got tagged in the match; he defeated David Otunga but John Laurinaitis reversed the decision because Foley was not an official participant of the match. The next week, he also appeared, wishing Zack Ryder good luck in his match against Kane that night.[81] Foley participated in the Royal Rumble match at the 2012 Royal Rumble pay-per-view where he entered at number 7 and eliminated Justin Gabriel (with the help of Ricardo Rodriguez), Epico, and Primo, eventually being eliminated by Cody Rhodes after 06:34 this was Foley's last night as an active wrestler. Foley later appeared in a segment alongside Santino Marella during WrestleMania XXVIII. On April 10, 2012, Foley made an appearance on WWE SmackDown: Blast from the Past. He returned to Raw on June 18, 2012, announcing that he would be serving as the temporary general manager of both Raw and SmackDown for the week. On July 23, at the 1000th episode of Raw, he appeared as Dude Love, danced with Brodus Clay and performed the mandible claw on Jack Swagger with a tie dyed Mr. Socko. In 2012 he hosted the WWE: Falls Count Anywhere – The Greatest Street Fights and other Out of Control Matches DVD. On the September 24, 2012 episode of Raw, Foley made an appearance to confront CM Punk, telling him to accept a match against John Cena. Later in the show, however, Punk attacked Foley backstage. At Hell in a Cell, CM Punk successfully retained his WWE Championship against Ryback due to interference from the referee, Brad Maddox. The next day on Raw, CM Punk announced he would be facing Team Foley at Survivor Series in a traditional Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination match for which Foley had accepted the challenge.[82] However Punk had been removed from the match the following week. On the November 12, 2012 episode of Raw, Foley was appointed the Special Guest Enforcer in the match between CM Punk and John Cena. Foley's hand-picked Survivor Series team of The Miz, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston and Team Hell No failed to defeat Team Ziggler in the Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Tag Match. Foley portrayed Santa Claus on the December 24 pre-taped edition of Monday Night Raw. Foley as Santa was run over by Alberto Del Rio. However, he managed to recover later in the night and help Cena defeat Del Rio in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight. In August 2012, Foley was originally scheduled to have a match with the debuting Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam. However, doctors were not able to medically clear Foley and thus Foley announced his final retirement from in-ring competition. Hall of Famer and various appearances (2013−2016) On January 11, 2013 WWE.com announced that Foley would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2013 by his longtime friend Terry Funk. The official announcement was made on the 20th Anniversary of Raw on January 14.[83] At the February 26 taping of Saturday Morning Slam (that aired March 16), Foley was named as the new general manager for the show. He left the position in May 2013 when the show was canceled[84] Foley returned on April 22 episode of Raw to confront Ryback until he was saved by John Cena.[85] Foley appeared as part of the Extreme Rules post-show to provide an analysis. On the December 18 episode of Main Event he appeared As 'Foley Claus', helping The Miz defeat Curtis Axel. In April 2014, Foley didn't re-sign his Legends contract with WWE.[86] On the October 20, 2014 episode of Raw, Foley returned during a segment with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins where he discussed the cases of their match at Hell in a Cell. Throughout December 2014, Foley appeared in segments on Raw as Saint Mick alongside his daughter Noelle. In 2015, Foley appeared at SummerSlam, where he kicked off the event with host Jon Stewart. Foley returned to Raw on March 14, 2016 in a backstage segment with Dean Ambrose, in which he gave him a pep talk for his upcoming WrestleMania 32 match against Brock Lesnar and a passing of the torch in the form of his iconic barbed wire baseball bat, "Barbie". On April 3, 2016 at WrestleMania 32, Foley returned in-ring alongside Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin in a post-match interruption where the trio of Hall of Famers took on The League of Nations after they had defeated The New Day and proclaimed "No three people can ever defeat us." Foley brought out Mr. Socko and executed the Mandible Claw two times during the fight, once on Sheamus and once on King Barrett. The latter was part of a three-way finishing move sequence where Barrett was first hit with Sweet Chin Music by Shawn Michaels, staggered and fell into Mr. Socko, and finally hit with a Stone Cold Stunner. Raw General Manager (2016–2017) Foley at Tribute to the Troops in December 2016 On the July 18, 2016 episode of Raw, Foley was appointed by Stephanie McMahon as the General Manager of Raw. Foley has since unveiled new titles exclusive to the Raw brand, while also making fair decisions to favor the faces and occasionally disagreeing with Stephanie McMahon. One of Foley's first decisions as Raw General Manager was pitting the feuding Sheamus and Cesaro against one another in a Best of 7 series. Going into Clash of Champions the duo were tied 3-3. At Clash of Champions, both men would be counted out resulting in a draw and the best of seven series being declared a draw. On the next night's episode of Raw Foley who had promised the victor a championship opportunity would put the two in a tag team. They would later lose to The New Day in a WWE Tag Team Championship match before going on to capture the RAW Tag Team Championships against the New Day at the Roadblock: End of the Line pay-per-view. On the November 21 episode of Raw, Foley would place Sami Zayn in a match against Braun Strowman after Zayn failed to defeat The Miz at Survivor Series for the WWE Intercontinental Championship to bring the title to Raw. During the match, Foley would order the match to be stopped, deeming Zayn unable to continue. The following week on Raw, Zayn would demand a rematch against Strowman, but Foley would decline, telling Zayn he could not beat him, making Zayn storm off in anger. On the December 12 episode of Raw, Zayn would once again ask for a rematch with Strowman, but was once again rejected by Foley. Zayn would then tell Foley he was pondering going to SmackDown because Foley did not believe in him. Later that night, after Zayn defeated Jinder Mahal, Foley would tell him he has arranged a trade with SmackDown for him in exchange for Eva Marie. Zayn would angrily refuse the trade and once again demanded a rematch with Strowman. Foley would yield, giving Zayn his match with Strowman at Roadblock: End of the Line with a ten-minute time limit. On the March 13, 2017 episode of Raw, Stephanie McMahon forced Foley to fire a member of the Raw roster by the end of the night. Foley chose to fire Stephanie McMahon herself, which prompted Triple H to come out and confront Foley. After being insulted and ordered to leave the ring, Foley instead attacked Triple H, stuffing a sock in Triple H's mouth via Mr. Socko before being low blowed by McMahon. Seth Rollins would then come out to aid Foley, only to be attacked by Triple H. On the March 20 episode of Raw, Stephanie McMahon would fire Foley for his actions the previous week. A few weeks later Foley made an appearance at the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2017 ceremony. Return to Raw (2018–present) On the September 10, 2018 episode of Raw. Foley interrupted Elias with the announcement that in speaking with Stephanie McMahon regarding the upcoming 20th anniversary of his Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker at King of the Ring[87] that he would be appointed special guest referee for the WWE Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman at the September Hell in a Cell PPV event.[88] At the event, Brock Lesnar would interfere in the contest with Paul Heyman spraying Foley in the eyes with pepper spray, as a result; the match was ruled a no-contest. Following the show, a Mick Foley 20 Years of Hell special was aired on the WWE Network. Writing career Foley promoting his book on ECW Foley is a multi-time New York Times bestselling author, particularly known for his ongoing series of memoirs.[89] His writing has generally received favorable reviews.[90] From May 7 to July 1, 1999, Foley wrote his autobiography — without the aid of a ghostwriter, as he noted in the introduction — in almost 800 pages of longhand.[91] The book, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks was released on October 31, 1999 and topped The New York Times' non-fiction bestseller list for several weeks. The follow-up, Foley Is Good: And the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling, was released on May 8, 2001. The third part of his autobiography, The Hardcore Diaries, highlights his 2004 feud with Randy Orton, his match and later partnership with Edge, and program with Ric Flair in 2006.[92] The Hardcore Diaries was released on March 6, 2007 also spent time on the New York Times bestseller list.[92] Foley's Countdown to Lockdown was released on October 1, 2010.[93] On September 30, 2010, Joey Styles interviewed Foley on WWE.com – even though Foley was under contract with TNA – about his new book,[94] while Michael Cole plugged the book on the edition of September 27 of Raw[95] and a piece was published by Foley in Slate of which portions were adapted from Countdown.[33] WWE's promotion of a product released by an employee of a rival company was a quite unusual move and a welcome surprise for Foley, who has since stated that he was delighted at the respect shown by his former employer. On November 10, 2010, Foley appeared on The Daily Show and Off the Record to discuss the book and his charity work.[96] Countdown to Lockdown became Foley's first memoir to not make the New York Times bestseller list.[97] His fifth autobiography, Saint Mick, was released on October 17, 2017. Foley has also written four children's books, Mick Foley's Halloween Hijinx, Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos, Tales from Wrescal Lane and A Most Mizerable Christmas, in addition to two novels: Tietam Brown, a coming-of-age story which was nominated for the WHSmith People's Choice Award in 2004 and Scooter, was published in August 2005. List of works Memoirs (1999) Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. ReganBooks. ISBN 0-06-039299-1. (credited as Mankind/Mick Foley) (2001) Foley Is Good: And the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling. ReganBooks. ISBN 0-06-103241-7. (2007) The Hardcore Diaries. PocketBooks. ISBN 1-4165-3157-2 (2010) Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-56461-3 (2017) Saint Mick: My Journey From Hardcore Legend to Santa's Jolly Elf . Polis Books. ISBN 1943818754 Children's fiction (2000) Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos. ReganBooks. ISBN 0-06-039414-5. (2001) Mick Foley's Halloween Hijinx. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-000251-4. (2004) Tales From Wrescal Lane. World Wrestling Entertainment.ISBN 0-7434-6634-9. (2012) A Most Mizerable Christmas DK Publishing, Inc.ISBN 9781465403452.[98] Contemporary fiction (2003) Tietam Brown. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41550-5. (2005) Scooter. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4414-6. Film, television and radio Foley signing autographs One of Foley's earliest acting roles was in 1996. Shortly before he left for Stamford, Foley appeared in Atlanta filmmakers Barry Norman and Michael Williams' short subject Deadbeats as "Bird", an armed robber turned debt collector. One of Foley's first TV guest appearances was as a wrestler on USA Network's short-lived action-comedy G vs E. He also featured prominently in the documentary Beyond the Mat. As Mankind, he also starred in a series of commercials for Chef Boyardee's beef ravioli. He appeared in the Insane Clown Posse vehicle Big Money Hustlas as Cactus Sac, which was basically the same character as his Cactus Jack persona. In late 2001, Foley hosted a series of Robot Wars dubbed "Extreme Warriors."[99] He also provided a guest voice for two episodes of the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which he portrayed a satirical earthbending wrestler named the Boulder, and provided the voice for Gorrath in the pilot episode of Megas XLR. Foley appeared in an episode of Boy Meets World as Mankind, giving advice to Eric Matthews before giving Eric the mandible claw and an airplane spin. Foley was also a voice in an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch where he was an animated version of Mankind doing a stunt from the ceiling, and later in the same episode he fought and defeated Ernest Hemingway. Foley also had a small role in the 2007 thriller movie Anamorph starring Willem Dafoe. Foley has frequently appeared on Air America Radio's Morning Sedition, including several stints as a guest host and has appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show. He also hosted WWE's radio show. Foley also occasionally appears on the Opie and Anthony Show. He appeared in the 2009 wrestling documentary, Bloodstained Memoirs.[100] In 2009, Foley had a guest voice appearance on Adult Swim show Squidbillies as Thunder Clap, a former pro-wrestler (strongly resembling Hulk Hogan in appearance and speech), who had recently gone through some tough times, during the Season 4 episode "Anabolic-holic". On August 22, 2009, Foley made his stand-up debut at The Improv in Los Angeles. The event was billed the "Total Xtreme Comedy show" and also featured comedians Brad Williams, Bret Ernst and Ring of Honor's Colt Cabana, who was also making his stand-up debut. The money Foley made from the event went to Wrestler's Rescue, which creates awareness and helps raise money to support the health care needs of retired professional wrestlers. In October 2009, Foley was guest DJ on E Street Radio, a Satellite radio station dedicated to the music of Bruce Springsteen. On November 19, 2009 Foley made his first appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Deemed the "Senior Ass Kicker", Foley defended the pro-gay rights views of Will Phillips. He showed up again on March 15, 2010 to help correspondent Wyatt Cenac compare politics to pro wrestling, giving speeches for and against the use of the filibuster. Due to his charitable work and for standing up for Will Phillips, Foley was awarded a "Medal of Reasonableness" by Jon Stewart at the 2010 Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.[101][102] On June 18, 2013, Mick Foley again appeared on the Daily Show now hosted by temporary host John Oliver. On this appearance, he defended immigration reform in response to the WWE's character Zeb Colter's comments on the June 17 episode of Raw.[103] In mid-2010, Foley has appeared on Chicago Comic Con, where he had his own booth promoting TNA. He was also interviewed by Victory Records, mentioning his interest in Swedish hard rock band Sister Sin.[104] On September 27, 2010, it was announced that Union Square Agency and American Original would be producing a feature film based on Foley's life.[105] In November 2010 Foley was a contestant on an all TNA week of Family Feud, teaming with Jay Lethal, Matt Morgan, Mr. Anderson and Rob Van Dam against Angelina Love, Christy Hemme, Lacey Von Erich, Tara and Velvet Sky.[106] Foley and his family appeared on ABC's Celebrity Wife Swap on January 31, 2012. His wife Colette traded places on the show with Antonio Sabàto, Jr.'s fiancé, Cheryl Moana Marie Nunes. Foley appeared in a CollegeHumor video entitled "Mick Foley Mystery" as himself. In 2014, a documentary starring Foley was released by Virgil Films entitled, I Am Santa Claus. The film was produced by Foley and Morgan Spurlock.[107] It chronicles the lives of members of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas. Filmography Foley at a signing in 2009 Film Year Title Role 1999 Beyond the Mat Himself 2000 Big Money Hustlas Cactus Sac 2007 Anamorph Antique Store Owner 2009 Bloodstained Memoirs Himself 2015 Dixieland Himself 2016 Chokeslam Patrick 2019 The Peanut Butter Falcon Jacob Television Year Title Role Notes 1999 Total Request Live Mankind 1 episode Boy Meets World Mankind 1 episode G vs E Himself 1 episode The Howard Stern Show Himself 1 episode The Martin Short Show Himself 1 episode Late Night with Conan O'Brien Himself 1 episode 1999–2001 The Howard Stern Radio Show Himself 3 episodes 2000 Celebrity Death Match Mankind 1 episode Now and Again Charlie 1 episode Saturday Night Live Himself 1 episode 2001 Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Himself Contestant The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Himself 1 episode 2001–2002 Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors Himself Host 2003 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Himself Guest co-host, 5 episodes 2006–2007 Avatar: The Last Airbender The Boulder Voice, 2 episodes 2009 Squidbillies Thunderclap 1 episode 2009–2013 The Daily Show Himself 3 episodes 2010 Family Feud Himself 5 episodes 2012 30 Rock Mankind 1 episode Celebrity Wife Swap Himself 1 episode 2016–2017 Holy Foley! Himself Main cast, reality series Activism Foley speaking at the USO Metro awards in Arlington, Virginia, March 25, 2008 Much of Foley's charitable work revolves around children. Among his involvement, Foley has participated in numerous Make-a-Wish Foundation events, has made surprise visits to children in hospitals, and has visited schools and libraries to talk to students about the value of education and the importance of reading. Foley sponsors seven children with ChildFund International (formerly Christian Children's Fund), a group he has been affiliated with since 1992. In recent years, he has become one of the fund's leading donors, helping fund childhood education centers in the remote areas of the Philippines and Mexico, as well as four small community schools in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. After visiting the country in November 2008, an experience he called "one of the best experiences of my life; maybe the best,"[108] Foley committed to funding a larger primary school, which was completed in September 2009. Foley has visited U.S. troops at various military bases and military hospitals. For several years Foley visited wounded soldiers at Washington D.C.-based military hospitals on almost a monthly basis, becoming known as a "Legend among hurt troops," according to a Washington Times article.[109] Having become a devoted fan of Tori Amos' music in 1993, (particularly the song "Winter" from the Little Earthquakes album),[33] and following a meeting with Amos at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, Foley became involved with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a group Amos co-founded in 1994. Since then, he has worked as a volunteer on their online hotline and as a member of their National Leadership Council. During a 15-month period ending in April 2011, Foley logged more than 550 hours talking to victims online. The same month, Foley offered to mow anyone's lawn who donated at least $5,000 to the organization, stating, "If you want to help survivors of sexual assault, or just want to see a big guy with long hair mowing your lawn in front of your friends, please take part..."[110][111][112] Continuing his campaign for the organization, in May 2011 Foley auctioned off on eBay two famous items associated with his wrestling career: his Cactus Jack lace-up "leopard skin" boots (still embedded with 149 thumbtacks from his Impact match with Ric Flair); and the white shirt that he wore as Mankind during 1998's "Hell in a Cell" match, among other items.[113] Foley has been outspoken in his support for the Democratic Party. During the 2004 election cycle, Foley argued the Democratic point of view in a WWE-sponsored debate against John "Bradshaw" Layfield, who spoke for the Republican side. He was a contributor to Barack Obama's campaign for the U.S. presidency in 2008.[114] Personal life Foley and his wife Colette (née Christie) have three sons and a daughter: Dewey Francis (born February 20, 1992), Noelle Margaret (born December 15, 1993),[115] Michael Francis "Mickey" Jr. (born in 2001), and Hughie Francis (born in 2003).[116] Foley's father, Jack Foley, a former Ward Melville High School Athletic Director, died on September 13, 2009.[117] As of June 2018, Dewey works for WWE.[118] His son Mickey is on the autism spectrum.[119] Foley's sons Mickey and Hughie operate their own YouTube channel, MickeyFoley0105.[120] The page depicts Mickey wrestling on a trampoline with his brother, and video games and other aspects of his life. Foley himself occasionally appears in Mickey's videos, including one parodying the 2010 LeBron James special The Decision in which Foley teases announcing Al Snow as being his WWE Hall of Fame inductee before announcing the real inductee, Terry Funk.[121] Foley is a longtime fan of women's professional wrestling and has campaigned for their equality among men.[122] Among his closest friends in WWE have long been their female performers, with Trish Stratus calling Foley the Divas' "safety valve" since, due to Foley being married, he was one of the few wrestlers who would not try to date his coworkers.[123] Championships and accomplishments Continental Wrestling Association CWA Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Gary Young Extreme Championship Wrestling ECW World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Mikey Whipwreck[28] Extreme Mid-South Wrestling North American Championship (3 times)[124] George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Frank Gotch Award (2010)[125] International Wrestling Association of Japan IWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Tracy Smothers[126] King of the Deathmatch (1995) North American Wrestling NAW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[127] National Wrestling League NWL Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[128] Ozark Mountain Wrestling OMW North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[129] Pro Wrestling Illustrated Inspirational Wrestler of the Year (1993)[130] Match of the Year (1998) vs. The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring[130] Match of the Year (1999) vs. The Rock in an "I Quit" match at Royal Rumble[130] Ranked No. 19 of the 500 best singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1999[131] Ranked No. 46 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 2003[132] Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Steel City Wrestling SCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time) SCW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with The Blue Meanie[133] Total Nonstop Action Wrestling TNA Legends Championship (1 time)[134] TNA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[135] World Championship Wrestling WCW World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kevin Sullivan[136] World Class Championship Wrestling USWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Scott Braddock[137] WCWA World Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[138] WCWA World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Super Zodiak II (1) and Scott Braddock (1)[139] World Wrestling Federation/WWE WWF Championship (3 times)[140][141][142] WWF Hardcore Championship (1 time)[143] WWF Tag Team Championship (8 times) – with Stone Cold Steve Austin (1), Chainsaw Charlie (1), Kane (2), The Rock (3) and Al Snow (1)[144][145][146][147][148][149][150][151] Tag Team Royal Rumble (1998) - with Kane[152] WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2013)[83] Wrestling Observer Newsletter Best Brawler (1991–2000) Best on Interviews (1995, 2004, 2006) Best Pro Wrestling Book (2010) for Countdown to Lockdown Feud of the Year (2000) vs. Triple H Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic (1993) Cactus Jack amnesia angle Readers' Favorite Wrestler (1998)[153] Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2000) Doink the Clown Doink in January 09.jpg Doink the Clown in January 2009 Professional wrestling career Ring name(s) Doink the Clown Billed height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)[1] Billed weight 243 lb (110 kg)[1] Debut 1992 Doink the Clown is a professional wrestling character originally and most popularly portrayed by Matt Borne, who debuted the Doink persona in the World Wrestling Federation in 1992. He is a clown (or evil clown) wearing traditional clown makeup (or a mask decorated to resemble such) and brightly colored clothes. Along with Borne, Doink has been portrayed by many other wrestlers both in the WWF (now WWE) and on the independent circuit.[1] Contents 1 Character history 1.1 World Wrestling Federation 1.2 Midwest Territorial Wrestling 1.3 Extreme Championship Wrestling 1.4 World Wrestling Entertainment 1.5 Independent circuit 2 Portrayers 3 Other media 4 Championships and accomplishments 5 See also 6 Notes 7 External links Character history World Wrestling Federation Original Doink Doink wrestling Jeff Jarrett in 1994 Former WWE producer Bruce Prichard said in an interview on The Steve Austin Show that Michael Hegstrand had originally conceived the idea of a miserable clown character.[2] After making appearances in late 1992 in the crowd and at ringside, playing tricks on the fans and wrestlers, the Doink character made his in-ring debut in the WWF in 1993, originally wrestling as a technically sound heel. Doink played cruel jokes on both fans and wrestlers in order to amuse himself and put them off guard.[1] Some of his villainous pranks included tripping Big Boss Man with a tripwire, dumping water on Marty Jannetty and attacking Crush with a loaded prosthetic arm. He clashed with Crush at WrestleMania IX, a match which he won after the appearance of an identical Doink (played by Steve Keirn) from underneath the ring. Doink also wrestled Randy Savage on Monday Night Raw, and substituted for Jerry Lawler, who faked an injury, against Bret Hart at SummerSlam in 1993. Doink then turned on Lawler on the September 4 episode of WWF Wrestling Challenge in Lawler's The King's Court segment, making Burger King jokes to amuse the crowd and eventually emptied a bucket of water over Lawler. Matt Osborne, the original man behind Doink, was fired for re-occurring drug abuses, eventually leaving the gimmick (after bouncing through a few others) to Ray Licameli (also known as Ray Apollo).[3][4] Now as a fan favorite and with a new midget sidekick Dink, Doink was more of a comic relief character, but continued to pull pranks on other wrestlers (albeit more harmless and silly than outright cruel), mostly on heels like Lawler and Bobby Heenan. Doink and Dink also battled with Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon in a feud that culminated at WrestleMania X. Doink would later encounter Jerry Lawler again in a match at Survivor Series. In this match, Doink and Dink teamed with Wink and Pink to meet Lawler's dwarf team of 'little kings' Queazy, Cheezy, and Sleazy. Eventually, Doink became a jobber, regularly losing to wrestlers like Jeff Jarrett, Hakushi, Waylon Mercy and, in his final televised match in September 1995, to Hunter Hearst Helmsley.[5] Doink reemerged one last time in 1997 at the Slammy Awards and was attacked by Stone Cold Steve Austin, amidst crowd chants of "kill the clown".[1] Midwest Territorial Wrestling Doink (Matt Osborne) also had a few matches in 1994 in southeast Michigan. He faced off against Bastion Booger on July 14, 1994, in Port Huron, Michigan. He also wrestled alongside some other now known names such as Al Snow and Terry Funk when wrestling for MTW. Extreme Championship Wrestling Following his departure from the WWF, Osborne appeared (as Matt Borne) in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) for several matches as Doink in a blue and green clown suit, setting up an angle where ECW champion Shane Douglas criticized Vince McMahon for turning a talented wrestler like Borne into a comic relief character, and claimed that he knew how to bring out Borne's full potential. Borne then made a few appearances with Douglas as "himself", sporting his face half-painted with the Doink makeup. His attitude insinuated that he had developed borderline personality disorder from having been forced to wrestle as a clown; after winning matches he would dress his opponent in clown accessories to humiliate them. His ring name under this gimmick was "Borne Again". World Wrestling Entertainment Since 1997, Doink has appeared sporadically in WWE. Ray Apollo returned to play him in the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-Seven.[6] On December 10, 2007, Doink played by Matt Borne participated in a battle royal of 15 WWE alumni for the Raw 15th anniversary special episode.[7] Played by Nick Dinsmore, he showed up in the A.P.A. Bar Room Brawl at Vengeance in 2003.[8] He was selected by Rhino to face Chris Benoit on the July 31, 2003 Smackdown!.[9] Played by Steve Lombardi, he wrestled Rob Conway on an October 2005 episode of Raw.[10] On June 2, 2007, Doink, Eugene and Kane defeated Umaga, Viscera and Kevin Thorn on the 34th edition of Saturday Night's Main Event. On the July 12, 2010 Raw, Doink teamed with William Regal, Primo and Zack Ryder to lose to Santino Marella, Goldust, Vladimir Kozlov and The Great Khali, when he was pinned by Khali. On the July 2, 2012 Raw, he made a surprise return and lost to Heath Slater.[11] He reappeared on July 23, alongside several other WWE alumni, to help Lita take down Slater on WWE Raw 1000, the one thousandth episode of Raw. Independent circuit In early 2010, Osborne reinvented the Doink character to resemble Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight, nicknaming the incarnation 'Reborne Again'.[12] The new character debuted on March 27 for ISPW in New Jersey.[12] On May 23, 2010, Doink the Clown, portrayed by Dusty Wolfe, interfered against Skandor Akbar and his men Dr. Knuckles and Rommel. This caused them to lose the Wrecking Ball Wrestling tag titles. In retaliation Akbar called on the original Doink Matt Borne. Wolfe and Borne were scheduled to meet on August 15,[13] Wolfe would later no show the event. On August 8, 2010, Borne, as Doink the Clown, won the Wrecking Ball Wrestling Championship.[14] Portrayers Matt Osborne[9] – the original Doink, left WWF in December 1993, died June 28, 2013. Steve Keirn[9] – wrestled as the "illusion" Doink at WrestleMania IX and occasionally the "real" Doink at house shows. Steve Lombardi[9] – occasionally wrestled as Doink at house shows and dressed as Doink for various WWE appearances. Ray Licameli (Ray Apollo) – wrestled as Doink in the WWF after Osborne left the company. Dusty Wolfe[9] – wrestled as Doink in the NWA and other indie promotions. Ace Darling – wrestled Scotty Flamingo as Doink on a Smoky Mountain Wrestling card in November 1994.[15] Eugene – wrestled as Doink on the July 31, 2003 episode of SmackDown!, losing to Chris Benoit.[9] Jeff Jarrett once dressed up as Doink to pull pranks on Dink. Men on a Mission and The Bushwhackers wrestled as "The Four Doinks" at the 1993 Survivor Series.[16] Chris Jericho took on the persona of Doink in order to perform an ambush on William Regal. Other media Doink is a playable character in Acclaim's 1994 video game, WWF Raw, Midway's WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game (1995), and SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 (2008) (as a DLC character). Doink with Psycho Championships and accomplishments Allied Powers Wrestling Federation APWF Television Championship (1 time)[17] International Wrestling Association IWA United States Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[17] NWA Southwest NWA Southwest Television Championship (1 time)[18] Pro Wrestling Illustrated PWI ranked him #26 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1992[19] Regional Championship Wrestling RCW United States Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Jay Love[17] Wrecking Ball Wrestling WBW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[14] Wrestling Observer Newsletter Most Embarrassing Wrestler (1994) Worst Feud of the Year (1994) vs. Jerry Lawler Worst Worked Match of the Year (1994) with Dink, Pink and Wink vs. Jerry Lawler, Sleazy, Queasy and Cheesy at Survivor Series Christopher Chavis[3][4] (born June 8, 1961) is a Native American professional wrestler currently signed to WWE under a legend's contract. He is part of the Lumbee tribe. He is best known for his work with the World Wrestling Federation (later known as World Wrestling Entertainment) under the ring name Tatanka from 1991 to 1996 and 2005 to 2007. His ring name is a Lakota word that means "buffalo". Contents 1 Bodybuilding and football careers 2 Professional wrestling career 2.1 Early career (1989–1990) 2.2 World Wrestling Federation 2.2.1 Undefeated streak (1991–1993) 2.2.2 Million Dollar Corporation, suspension, and departure (1994–1996) 2.3 Independent circuit (1997) 2.4 Return to WWE 2.4.1 Feud with MNM (2005−2006) 2.4.2 Various Feuds and Departure (2006−2007) 2.5 Second return to the independent circuit (2008–present) 2.6 Second return to WWE (2010–present) 2.6.1 Sporadic appearances (2010−present) 3 Personal life 3.1 Championships and accomplishments 4 Bibliography 5 References 6 External links Bodybuilding and football careers Chavis started competing in powerlifting. He competed in his first bodybuilding contest, Mr. Virginia Beach, placing second. He won many competitions during his time in bodybuilding, but decided against competing on the national level and possibly turning pro. From 1985 to 1990 he worked for Bally's Health and Tennis Corporation, becoming a divisional manager. During the 1987 NFL Players Association strike, he received many tryouts for the National Football League, from teams such as the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, and the Los Angeles Raiders. He decided to pursue a career with the Dolphins. Chavis was one of 20 hopefuls offered a deal out of approximately 2,000 tryouts. The Dolphins offered him a free agent contract with the availability to increase after the first year. He declined, since his income at Bally's exceeded the value of the contract. Professional wrestling career Early career (1989–1990) In 1989, Chavis left Bally's to pursue an accounting career. He met "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers in Florida at a video store while looking for wrestling tapes. Rogers had Chavis call Larry Sharpe, who ran a wrestling school in southern New Jersey called "The Monster Factory". He had his first match, as Tatanka, against Joe Thunder in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 13, 1990. Rogers introduced Chavis to George Scott, the booker for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) during the 1980s. Scott was starting his own promotion called the North American Wrestling Association, later known as South Atlantic Pro Wrestling. Chavis wrestled under the name "The War Eagle" Chris Chavis and was voted third runner up for Rookie of the Year in Pro Wrestling Illustrated for 1990. Also in 1990, he became the South Atlantic Heavyweight Champion by beating Ken Shamrock. Not long after, he was signed to a WWF contract. World Wrestling Federation Undefeated streak (1991–1993) Chavis received his first tryout match with the WWF on February 18, 1991 against Brooklyn Brawler at a WWF Superstars taping in Orlando, Florida. Wrestling as The War Eagle, Chavis was victorious. He followed it up with a win against Dale Wolfe the next day at a Wrestling Challenge taping.[5] On October 21 he received what was likely another tryout match at a Superstars taping, this time defeating Skinner. In November Chavis began wrestling on house shows under his given name.[6] Soon after, he took on the ring name "Tatanka". After wrestling in tryout matches at house shows, Tatanka made his television debut as a fan favorite on the February 1, 1992, episode of Superstars, defeating Pat Tanaka in his debut match.[6] As Tatanka, Chavis performed a war dance to the Lumbee tribal war cry that preceded his entrance to the ring, and had a red stripe dyed in the middle of his hair. Tatanka was pushed as undefeated on WWF television; he did not suffer any defeat by pinfall or submission, but he lost several matches at house shows, the first being a countout loss to Rick Martel on June 4, 1992, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.[6][7] Tatanka's earliest rivalry on television was against Martel; it culminated in Tatanka's pay-per-view debut at WrestleMania VIII, with Tatanka winning the match.[6] On May 18, 1992, Tatanka reached the peak of his success by winning the 40-man Bashed in the USA battle royal.[6] He renewed his "feud" with Martel, who had stolen sacred eagle feathers from him to add to his wardrobe, going on to defeat Martel again at Survivor Series to reclaim the feathers.[6] At WrestleMania IX, Tatanka received his first televised title shot in WWF against Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Tatanka won the match by countout. Since a title could not change hands on a countout, Michaels retained the title.[6] On the October 30, 1993, edition of Superstars, Tatanka suffered his first televised defeat in the WWF, losing to Ludvig Borga (Borga had hit Tatanka in the back with a steel chair while Mr. Fuji distracted the referee).[6] After the match, he was attacked by WWF Champion Yokozuna and was subsequently out of action for three months. Tatanka returned to WWF in the beginning of 1994.[6] He was scheduled to face Borga in a rematch at the Royal Rumble, but Borga injured his ankle just days before the event. Borga was replaced by Bam Bam Bigelow, who Tatanka defeated. Bigelow, however, would go on to eliminate Tatanka from the 30-man Royal Rumble match. Million Dollar Corporation, suspension, and departure (1994–1996) Main article: Million Dollar Corporation Tatanka was honored by previous Native American professional wrestlers Chief Jay Strongbow and Chief Wahoo McDaniel and by Lumbee tribesman Ray Littleturtle on an edition of Raw. Littleturtle presented him with a full-length Lumbee tribe chief headdress.[6] Tatanka engaged in a storyline feud with Irwin R. Schyster, who insisted he pay a gift tax on the item. Strongbow briefly served as Tatanka's mentor and manager during the duration of the feud.[6] During the summer of 1994, Tatanka accused Lex Luger of selling out to Ted DiBiase, which resulted in a match between the two. Afterward, DiBiase entered the ring with a red, white and blue bag full of money. Luger kicked the bag out of DiBiase's hands resulting in Tatanka attacking him and turning him into a villain at SummerSlam, joining DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation.[6] He spent the remainder of the year feuding with Luger which topped off in a cage match on Raw that saw Luger come out the victor.[6] In spring 1995, Tatanka had another feud with Bam Bam Bigelow, who just turned face.[6] As a result, he teamed with Sycho Sid at the King of the Ring pay-per-view to lose to Bigelow and Diesel.[6] Tatanka was suspended on Aug 30, reportedly as a preemptive measure for being named in a lawsuit to be filed by a woman stemming from an incident in Anaheim, CA following a WWF event in late 1994. According to sources, the woman mentioned above was said to be drugged, sodomized and her head shaved on only one side leaving the other side of her hair there. Kevin Nash reiterated this story in an interview with Kayfabe Commentaries with a link here to be seen http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5sy7gq. The woman was having drinks with him and Undertaker the night prior. When the wrestlers were leaving the hotel the following morning, Nash noticed that she was seated in between two police officers. The hallway was smeared in blood. She had half her head shaven as she was crying, reporting the incident to the officers. In the interview, however, Nash presumed the person who did this was Jimmy Del Ray because of stories of Del Ray & that this was his m.o. During representation by Tatanka's Attorney the facts shown that Tatanka was not involved in the incident at all and Del Ray was fired from the company and Tatanka's suspension was lifted and returned with full-pay to the active WWF roster. As Kevin Nash noted in his interview, he knew that Tatanka was not involved at all but had only been around Jimmy Del Ray that night, which caused Tatanka to also be named and unfairly suspended.[8] Following this hiatus at the end of August 1995, Tatanka returned to the WWF to compete in the Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble 1996 event, where he was eliminated by Diesel.[6] On March 19, 1996, Tatanka wrestled his final televised match in WWF, losing to the WWF Champion Bret Hart in a non-title match.[6] Tatanka would leave the WWF in the spring of 1996, citing family and spiritual issues. At the time, the WWF and major rival World Championship Wrestling (WCW) were in a major talent war, and WCW President Eric Bischoff offered him a lucrative deal, but Chavis declined. He continued to appear for independent promotions, which allowed him to continue to wrestle while maintaining a lighter schedule. Independent circuit (1997) Tatanka with Falcon Coperis in 1997 In 1997, Chavis wrestled for the independent New York-based promotion Ultimate Championship Wrestling (UCW), where he wrestled Bruce Hart of the Hart wrestling family, King Kong Bundy, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and Marty Jannetty. He went from playing the role of a face to a heel when he turned on Falcon Coperis and Tommy Cairo to align himself with the likes of the UWF faction of the organization which included Neidhart, Hart, and eventually Jannetty. Chavis captured the UCW Heavyweight Championship title and handed then-champion Falcon Coperis his first championship defeat. Chavis remained champion until the organization folded its professional wrestling division in 1998. Return to WWE Feud with MNM (2005−2006) On August 1, 2005, Chavis returned to Raw as a face once again which was intended to be a special one-time appearance to face Eugene in the "Eugene Invitational", a three-minute match with Kurt Angle's Olympic gold medal on the line. Tatanka lost the match when Angle attacked Eugene with 27 seconds remaining, causing a disqualification. Chavis returned to a full-time schedule for WWE at the tail end of 2005, debuting at a December 27 house show, teaming with Shelton Benjamin in a win over Carlito and Jonathan Coachman. He returned to television in the Royal Rumble match at the January 2006 event, where he was eliminated by Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro. The next month he began appearing on Velocity before being moved full-time to the SmackDown! brand. As a face, Chavis teamed with Matt Hardy to defeat MNM, the then-Tag Team Champions, in a non-title match at No Way Out. They were granted a title shot on the next edition of SmackDown!, but lost. On the April 28 SmackDown! a vignette played announcing that "a new warrior would soon be forged in Tatanka." Over the next three weeks footage aired of Tatanka being (legitimately) adopted into the Oglala Sioux Tribe (Lakota). When he returned to wrestling Tatanka defeated Simon Dean with his new finisher, "Wakinyan" (from the Lakota word for "Thunder"). Various Feuds and Departure (2006−2007) On the September 1, 2006 episode of SmackDown!, he lost to The Miz in Miz's debut match, & would later lose a rematch to Miz as well. Tatanka engaged in a mini-feud with Sylvain Grenier, trading victories with him, before he was moved into an angle where he entered into a losing streak due to what he perceived to be bad decision-making by referees during his matches, especially Charles Robinson. This escalated until the October 27 SmackDown! when Tatanka, alongside partner Bobby Lashley, lost a match to William Regal and Dave Taylor when Regal pinned Tatanka by illegally using the ropes after (During the pin Dave Taylor got his hands in the last second). After the match Tatanka argued the decision again, then he turned heel by attacking the referee and then Lashley when he tried to calm him down. The next week he appeared on SmackDown! with a new style of warpaint, covering the top of his face in black and the bottom in white, and cut a promo on Lashley saying he owed neither him nor the crowd an explanation for his actions. He compared his recent losing streak to the years of persecution that his people had suffered over the years and said that he "called upon his forefathers to unleash a new warrior in [him]". He asked for and was released from his WWE contract on January 19, 2007,[9] but not before ending his losing streak by defeating Jimmy Wang Yang, his first victory in months. WWE.com noted this event with these parting words: "Tatanka is an accomplished veteran of the squared circle. The Native American made a splash upon his entrance to the WWE in the early 90s, remaining undefeated for two years."[9] Tatanka stated on his official website that he requested to be released and mentioned he was not done with WWE as he would like to return someday. Second return to the independent circuit (2008–present) In 2008 Tatanka toured Ireland and France with the American Wrestling Rampage tour. He also wrestled for All Star Promotions in the United Kingdom. He competed in All Star and American Wrestling between August 29 to October 31, 2008, in the Tower Circus area of Blackpool Tower. Tatanka made an appearance in Danish Pro Wrestling (DPW) and lost to Chaos after he was hit by a DDT. He was given a standing ovation after the match. Tatanka appeared in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling on the December 17, 2009 episode of Impact where he defeated Jay Lethal in a Black Machismo Invitational Match with an End of the Trail. Tatanka also made headlines in Scotland while appearing for Scottish Wrestling Entertainment, renewing his partnership with the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase in Dundee. Tatanka was due to return to Scotland to wrestle for the SWE at the Dewars Centre in Perth on the 25th of August 2012. On August 8, 2012, Chikara announced that Tatanka would be making his debut for the promotion in the following month's 2012 King of Trios tournament, where he will team with the 1-2-3 Kid and Aldo Montoya as "Team WWF".[10] In their first round match on September 14, Team WWF was defeated by The Extreme Trio (Jerry Lynn, Tommy Dreamer and Too Cold Scorpio).[11][12] The following day, Tatanka defeated Sugar Dunkerton in a singles match.[11][13] Tatanka made another appearance in Danish Pro Wrestling (DPW) and defeated Chaos after hitting Wykea after a long and enduring match. He was given a standing ovation once again. He also wrestled in Germany, in June 2013 for ACW (Athletik Club Wrestling) and GHW (German Hurricane Wrestling). On May 2, 2014, Tatanka won the DPW Tag Team Championship along with Rick "The Prick" Dominick. They lost the titles on October 18, 2014 to Ravn and Demolition Davies. Second return to WWE (2010–present) Sporadic appearances (2010−present) Tatanka made an appearance on the Old School Raw on November 15, 2010 backstage along with Ron Simmons, Dusty Rhodes, IRS, and The "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. On November 3, 2015, WWE announced that they signed Tatanka to a Legends contract.[14] On April 3, 2016, at WrestleMania 32, Tatanka competed in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal as a face, and was among the last to be eliminated. Tatanka is in the WWE 2K17 video game as DLC. He appears in WWE 2K18 and WWE 2K19 as a playable character. Personal life Chavis and his wife, Michelle, have four children; daughters Christiana Mariah (born 30 May 1996) and Rhea Aiyana (born 1 July 2002) and sons Joseph Tatanka (born 6 March 2004) and Jeremiah Chris (born 2009).[15] They live in Spring Hill, Florida. Chavis was previously married to Dawn Doyle on Valentines Day in 1989 in Hampton, Virginia. He has a younger brother, Sean Chavis, who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy as a Chief Air Traffic Controller. Championships and accomplishments Athletik Club Wrestling ACW German Championship (1 time)[16] Covey Promotions Covey Pro Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[17] Dansk Pro Wrestling DPW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Rick Dominick[18] Deutsche Wrestling Allianz DWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[3][19] German Hurricane Wrestling GHW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[20] i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling i-Generation Australasian Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[3] International Wrestling Superstars Wrestler of the Year (2003) Israeli Pro Wrestling Association IPWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[21] North American Wrestling Association Mercedes Benz 400 SL Tournament (1990)[22] Pro Wrestling Illustrated PWI ranked him # 279 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the PWI Years in 2003 South Atlantic Pro Wrestling SAPW Heavyweight Championship (1 time) [3] Stampede Wrestling Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[3] Top Rope Championship Wrestling TRCW International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[23][24] United States Wrestling Association USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[3] World Wrestling Federation Slammy Award (1 time) Most Greediest (1994) Other titles IWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[3] Bret Hart Bretsigning.JPG Hart in 2010 Birth name Bret Sergeant Hart[1][2] Born July 2, 1957 (age 61) Calgary, Alberta, Canada[3] Alma mater Mount Royal University[4] Spouse(s) Julie Smadu (m. 1982; div. 2002) Cinzia Rota (m. 2004; div. 2007) Stephanie Washington (m. 2010) Children 4 Family Hart Harry Smith, maternal grandfather[5] Website brethart.com Professional wrestling career Ring name(s) Bret Hart[3] Buddy Hart[3] Billed height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)[6] Billed weight 235 lb (107 kg)[6] Billed from Calgary, Alberta, Canada Trained by Stu Hart[3][a] Katsuji Adachi[3] Kazuo Sakurada[9] Debut 1976 (referee) 1978 (wrestler)[10] Retired 2000[11][b] Bret Sergeant Hart (born July 2, 1957) is a Canadian-American retired professional wrestler, retired amateur wrestler, writer and actor. A member of the Hart wrestling family and a second-generation wrestler, he has an amateur wrestling background, wrestling at Ernest Manning High School and Mount Royal College. A major international draw within professional wrestling, he has been credited with changing the perception of mainstream North-American professional wrestling in the early 1990s by bringing technical in-ring performance to the fore. Hart is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time; Sky Sports noted that his legacy is that of "one of, if not the greatest, to have ever graced the squared circle". For most of his career, he used the nickname, "Hitman". Hart joined his father Stu Hart's promotion Stampede Wrestling in 1976 as a referee, and made his in-ring debut in 1978. He gained championship success throughout the 1980s and 1990s in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), where he helmed The Hart Foundation stable. He left for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) following the controversial "Montreal Screwjob" in November 1997, where he remained until October 2000. Having been inactive from in-ring competition since January 2000, owing to a December 1999 concussion, he officially retired in October 2000, shortly after his departure from the company. He returned to sporadic in-ring competition from 2010–2011 with WWE, where he won his final championship, headlined the 2010 SummerSlam event, and served as the general manager of Raw. Throughout his career, Hart headlined WrestleMania IX, X, and XII, and participated in the main event of Starrcade 1997 and 1999 – as a special enforcer and referee in the former.[c] Hart has held championships in five decades from the 1970s to the 2010s, with a total of 32 held throughout his career, and 17 held between the WWF/WWE and WCW. Among other accolades, he is a five-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion and a two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Hart has most combined days as WWF World Heavyweight Champion during the 1990s (654), and was the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion born outside the United States. He is the second WWF Triple Crown Champion and fifth (with Goldberg) WCW Triple Crown Champion, and the first man to win both the WWF and WCW Triple Crown Championships. Hart is also the 1994 Royal Rumble match winner (with Lex Luger), and the only two-time King of the Ring, winning the 1991 tournament and the first King of the Ring pay-per-view in 1993. Stone Cold Steve Austin, with whom Hart headlined multiple pay-per-view events as part of an acclaimed rivalry from 1996 to 1997, inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2006. Outside of wrestling Hart has appeared in numerous films and television shows such as The Simpsons as well as featuring in several documentaries, both about himself specifically and others about his family or the wrestling industry in general. Hart also helped found and lent his name to the major junior ice hockey team the Calgary Hitmen, and has written two biographies along with a weekly column for the Calgary Sun for over a decade. After his retirement Hart has spent much of his time on charitable efforts concerning stroke recovery and cancer awareness since his personal experiences with the two. Contents 1 Early life 2 Amateur wrestling 3 Professional wrestling career 3.1 Stampede Wrestling (1976–1984) 3.2 World Wrestling Federation 3.2.1 Early tenure and The Hart Foundation (1984–1991) 3.2.2 Intercontinental Champion (1991–1992) 3.2.3 WWF Champion (1992–1996) 3.2.4 Feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin (1996–1997) 3.2.5 The Montreal Screwjob and departure (1997) 3.3 World Championship Wrestling 3.3.1 United States Heavyweight Champion (1997–1999) 3.3.2 World Heavyweight Champion and injury (1999–2000) 3.4 Independent wrestling appearances (2001–2009) 3.5 Return to WWE 3.5.1 WWE Hall of Fame (2005–2007) 3.5.2 Feud with Vince McMahon and Raw General Manager (2009–2010) 3.5.3 Sporadic appearances (2011–present) 4 Professional wrestling style and persona 5 Legacy 6 Other media 6.1 Writing 6.2 Acting 6.3 Wrestling-related 7 Personal life 7.1 Family 7.2 Health problems 7.3 Personal issues with Ric Flair 8 Championships and accomplishments 8.1 Amateur wrestling 8.2 Professional wrestling 8.3 Other 9 Luchas de Apuestas record 10 See also 11 Notes 12 References 12.1 Citations 12.2 Bibliography 13 Sources 14 Further reading 15 External links Early life The eighth child of wrestling patriarch Stu Hart and his wife Helen, Bret Hart was born in Calgary, Alberta into the Hart wrestling family. He is of Greek descent through his maternal grandmother and Irish through his maternal grandfather.[13][14][15] His father was mainly of Scots-Irish descent but also had Scottish and English ancestry.[16][17] Hart is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States since his mother Helen was born in New York.[18][19] Hart has stated that he considers himself to be North American and that he is equally proud of his U.S. and Canadian nationality.[20] His maternal grandfather was long-distance runner Harry Smith. Hart grew up in a household with eleven siblings, seven brothers Smith, Bruce, Keith, Wayne, Dean, Ross and Owen, as well as four sisters, Ellie, Georgia, Alison and Diana. As a child he was the closest with his older brother Dean who was the nearest to him in age of all his older brothers, being three years his senior. Together they would often fight with Bret's two older sisters, Ellie, who was two years older, and Georgia, who was one year older.[21] Hart's family were non-denominational Christians, but he and all of his siblings were baptized by a local Catholic priest.[21] Hart spent the vast majority of his childhood in the Hart family mansion which was owned by his father. During one period his father was housing a bear known as Terrible Ted chained under the building, the bear had had all of its teeth removed and Hart would sometimes as a very young child let the bear lick ice cream off his toes since he thought it was a good way to keep them clean.[22] His introduction to professional wrestling came at an early age. As a child, he witnessed his father training future wrestlers like Billy Graham in the Dungeon, his household basement which served as a training room. Before school, Hart's father, also a wrestling promoter, had him hand out fliers to local wrestling shows. In the 1998 documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows, Hart reflected on his father's discipline, describing how Stu uttered morbid words while inflicting excruciating submission holds that left broken blood vessels in Bret's eyes. Hart claimed his father had an otherwise pleasant demeanor.[23] Hart's first work in wrestling involved pulling out lucky numbers out of a metal box during intermission at the Stampede Wrestling shows when he was four years old. When he got slightly older he would sell programs to the shows, something all Hart's seven brothers would do. He would often compete for customers with his little brother Ross since the fans would often want to buy from the youngest Hart child.[24] Amateur wrestling Like his father, Hart was an excellent amateur wrestler since an early age, having begun training as a nine year old.[25] At Ernest Manning High School, Hart became a standout student in the amateur wrestling division. Hart has stated that he joined the wrestling team "for the sole reason that my dad expected me to... no-one asked me to."[26] He won significant championships in tournaments throughout Alberta, including the 1974 city championships in Calgary. He scored a victory over competitor Bob Eklund – who would go on to become a Canadian Interuniversity Sport national champion, winning "Outstanding Wrestler of the Year 1980–1981"[27] – en route to the championship.[28] Hart describes the moment where he displayed the medal to his father, Stu, as a "powerful moment", and that the relationship with his father "took a different direction from that point on."[26] Hart considered the medals to be one of his most prized possessions.[1] By 1977, Hart was collegiate champion at Mount Royal College, where he was studying filmmaking;[26][29] his coaches and other people around him felt that he had shown sufficient promise to compete at the following year's Commonwealth Games and encouraged him to begin training for the event. Hart, however, was beginning to find amateur wrestling unrewarding amid injuries and fluctuating weight.[26][30] Stu still believed his son capable of making it to the Olympic or Commonwealth Games if he put forth the effort.[31] Hart has expressed that he believed that even if he became an exceptionally successful sports wrestler it would not have led to a career afterwards which he was interested in, stating that he thought that he would end up as a wrestling coach or phys-ed teacher at a high-school if he pursued the olympic route.[32] Hart felt that the only way to give up amateur wrestling without disappointing his father was to become a professional wrestler. His college grades became poorer as his interest in filmmaking waned; he dedicated himself to professional wrestling and began training with his father's Stampede Wrestling promotion.[26] Hart has spoken of how helpful his amateur background was in his professional wrestling career, and also of what a positive effect amateur wrestling has on junior high school and high school-aged boys in terms of building self-confidence.[33] Professional wrestling career Stampede Wrestling (1976–1984) In 1976, Hart began working for his father's Stampede Wrestling promotion in Calgary. Hart first began helping the promotion by refereeing matches.[10] At a 1978 event in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a wrestler was unable to perform his match, forcing Stu to ask his son to stand in as a replacement. Before long, he became a regular contender, eventually partnering with brother Keith to win the Stampede International Tag Team Championship four times. Hart gained some of his most prominent experience with Japanese combatants and real-life trainers Mr. Hito and Mr. Sakurada. Hart also had high-impact matches against Tom Billington, the Dynamite Kid. In the midst of wrestling alongside his family, Hart made a point not to ride on the shoulders of his elders. Hart faithfully jobbed as requested of him, taking pride in the believability of his performances. As he said himself, "No one could take a shit kicking like Bret Hart".[26] Although he dreaded partaking in interviews and speaking in front of a crowd, Hart went on to win the promotion's top titles, including two British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championships, five International Tag Team Championships, and six North American Heavyweight Championships. Hart also wrestled Tiger Mask in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), a promotion for whom he often wrestled during the early to mid-1980s. He remained one of Stampede's most successful performers until the promotion, along with several wrestlers, was acquired by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in August 1984. World Wrestling Federation Early tenure and The Hart Foundation (1984–1991) Main article: The Hart Foundation Hart (left) with Jim Neidhart behind him as The Hart Foundation Hart was asked to start out in the WWF as a singles wrestler with a cowboy gimmick but refused, stating that where he comes from "if you called yourself a cowboy, you'd better be one."[34] He made his televised WWF debut on August 29, 1984, in a tag team match where he teamed with the Dynamite Kid.[35] On September 11, in Poughkeepsie, New York, Hart defeated Aldo Marino in his televised debut singles match, which aired on the September 29 edition of Superstars of Wrestling. In 1985, after acquiring the nickname of "Hit Man",[6] he requested to join Jimmy Hart's heel stable, The Hart Foundation, which included brother-in-law Jim Neidhart. Bret began to increasingly team with Neidhart,[26] in order to build the promotion's tag team division. The "Hart Foundation" name then became exclusive to Bret, Neidhart and manager Jimmy Hart, due to the similar family names of both team members and their manager.[36] Bret's agile, technical style – which earned him the moniker "The Excellence of Execution" (coined by Gorilla Monsoon)[6][37] – created a contrast with his partner Neidhart's strength and brawling skills. During this time, Hart began wearing his signature[38] sunglasses, initially to conceal his nervousness during promos. Hart considers his microphone work to have been a weakness throughout his early career.[26][39] In 1986, Hart began his first singles program with Ricky Steamboat, and in a singles match originally planned for WrestleMania 2,[40] he lost to Steamboat at the Boston Garden on March 8, 1986, which would be included on Hart's 2005 DVD as one of his all-time favorite matches.[26] At WrestleMania 2, Hart instead participated in a 20-man battle royal which was eventually won by André the Giant.[41] He lost to Steamboat again on the July 28, 1986 edition of Prime Time Wrestling.[42] Hart headlined his first televised WWF card when he beat Ray Rougeau, of The Fabulous Rougeaus, in the main event of the November 3, 1986 edition of Prime Time Wrestling.[42] The Hart Foundation won their first of two WWF Tag Team Championship on the February 7, 1987 edition of Superstars of Wrestling when they defeated The British Bulldogs. They then teamed with Danny Davis to face The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana at WrestleMania III. They won the match when Davis pinned Davey Boy Smith after hitting him with Jimmy Hart's megaphone.[43] The Hart Foundation adopted the nickname, "The Pink and Black Attack", which Hart continued to use after the tag team's disbandment. This was in reference to the team's ring attire, as well as Hart's signature mirrored sunglasses, which he would routinely give away to a young audience member before matches, following his face turn in 1988.[38][44] As Hart's WWF career progressed, he increasingly described himself as "The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be" (derived from the 1984 film The Natural), which he would later justify through three claims: he never injured an opponent through any fault of his own; through the entire course of his career, he missed only one show (as a result of flight difficulties); and that he only once refused to lose a match – his final WWF match with long-time adversary Shawn Michaels at the Survivor Series event in 1997, which culminated in the Montreal Screwjob.[45] For his entrances, Hart often wore a leather jacket with shoulder tassels (epaulets), Mylar wrap-around (originally silver, later pink) sunglasses and bright pink attire[46] The Hart Foundation lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to Strike Force on the October 27 edition of Superstars of Wrestling. Hart subsequently competed in his most high-profile singles contest to date on the November 28, 1987 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, when he faced "Macho Man" Randy Savage in a losing effort.[47] He began 1988 with a decisive victory over Paul Roma of The Young Stallions (who had scored an upset victory over The Hart Foundation the previous year)[48] on the January 11 edition of Prime Time Wrestling,[42] and, at the Royal Rumble in January 1988, was the first man to enter the Royal Rumble match. He lasted 25 minutes and 42 seconds before being eliminated by Don Muraco. In his first singles championship opportunity, he challenged The Honky Tonk Man for the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship in the main event of the July 18 edition of Prime Time Wrestling, with the match ending in a double countout.[42] At the Royal Rumble in January 1989, The Hart Foundation teamed with Jim Duggan to defeat The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and Dino Bravo. They also defeated Greg Valentine and The Honky Tonk Man, who were also managed by Jimmy Hart, at WrestleMania V. At an event in Milan on April 8, 1989, broadcast live on Tele+2, André the Giant requested to work a singles match with Hart, who lost the match, which was later released on his 2013 DVD set, The Dungeon Collection, but considered André's praise and encouragement after the match to be of key importance in his singles career.[49] He wrestled his first pay-per-view singles match on October 10, losing to Dino Bravo in the first British WWF pay-per-view, which was held at the London Arena and broadcast on Sky Television[50] (Hart was in fact booked to win the match, but incurred a broken sternum, causing an unplanned countout loss).[26] At SummerSlam in August 1989, The Hart Foundation lost a non-title match against then WWF Tag Team Champions The Brain Busters. In the first televised contest of a rivalry that would span Hart's WWF and WCW careers, he lost to Mr. Perfect on the November 6, 1989 edition of Prime Time Wrestling, when Perfect pulled Hart's tights during a roll-up.[51] In their first ever singles meeting, Shawn Michaels and Hart wrestled to a double countout on the February 11, 1990 edition of the Wrestling Challenge.[52] After participating at the Royal Rumble in January 1990, The Hart Foundation defeated The Bolsheviks in 19 seconds at WrestleMania VI and began feuding with Demolition, who had just won the WWF Tag Team Championship against The Colossal Connection at WrestleMania VI. At SummerSlam in 1990, The Hart Foundation began their second, and final, WWF Tag Team Championship reign by defeating Demolition members Crush and Smash in a two out of three falls match with some help from Legion of Doom.[53][54] On October 30, the Hart Foundation lost the title to The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels), but a few days later, President Jack Tunney reversed the decision and the win was never acknowledged on television. The Hart Foundation's reign lasted until WrestleMania VII, where they lost to The Nasty Boys, after which the team split.[55] Intercontinental Champion (1991–1992) Hart won his first WWF Intercontinental Championship by defeating Mr. Perfect with the Sharpshooter at SummerSlam in 1991,[56][57] and subsequently won the 1991 King of the Ring tournament on September 7, 1991 at the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Hart's first pay-per-view title defense occurred at This Tuesday in Texas, where he beat the undefeated Skinner.[58] In January 1992, Hart was placed in a feud with The Mountie. This feud came about when the Mountie's manager, Jimmy Hart, threw water on Hart, and The Mountie proceeded to shock Hart with a cattle prod. On January 17, 1992, Hart dropped the Intercontinental Championship to The Mountie. Following the loss, Roddy Piper defeated Mountie with a sleeper hold two days later at the 1992 Royal Rumble,[59] and Bret later pinned Piper for his second Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania VIII later that year,[60][61] making him the first, and one of few wrestlers to ever pin Piper's shoulders to the mat.[26] At a Wrestling Challenge taping on July 21, 1992, Hart defeated Shawn Michaels, with the Intercontinental Championship belt suspended above the ring, in the WWF's first ever ladder match.[62] Hart dropped the Intercontinental Championship to his brother-in-law, Davey Boy Smith, in Hart's first WWF pay-per-view main event at SummerSlam in August 1992, held before over 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.[63] Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers voted it the "Match of the Year",[64] and WWE named the match as the greatest in the history of SummerSlam.[65] Upon induction into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2006, Hart cited the contest as his favorite match of his career.[66] WWF Champion (1992–1996) Hart with his WWF World Heavyweight Championship belt underneath his jacket Hart won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair at a Superstars taping at Saskatchewan Place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on October 12 of that year, in a match not originally broadcast on WWF television[67] – the match was instead made available on a series of Coliseum/WWE Home Video releases.[68] Hart dislocated one of the fingers on his left hand during the match and popped it back in himself so it would not affect the rest of the match.[26] He made his first successful title defense against Papa Shango on Saturday Night's Main Event. He would headline his first pay-per-view as champion with a successful title defense against Shawn Michaels at the 1992 Survivor Series,[69] and defeated Razor Ramon at the 1993 Royal Rumble.[70] He would also defend the title against contenders such as Papa Shango[71] and former champion Ric Flair[6] before losing the title to Yokozuna in his first WrestleMania main event at WrestleMania IX, after interference from Mr. Fuji. Fuji then challenged Hulk Hogan, who had come out to help Hart, to compete for the title; Hogan then won his fifth WWF World Heavyweight Title from Yokozuna.[72] In June, Hart won the first pay-per-view King of the Ring tournament, defeating Razor Ramon, Mr. Perfect, and Bam Bam Bigelow, thus becoming the only two-time King of the Ring.[73] According to Hart, he was scheduled to regain the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam, but Hogan chose to drop the title to Yokozuna instead at King of the Ring.[74] Hart instead entered a feud with Jerry "The King" Lawler, who interrupted Hart's coronation, claimed he was the only king, attacked Hart and began a barrage against Hart and his family. The two met at SummerSlam in 1993, to determine the "Undisputed King of the World Wrestling Federation".[75] Hart originally won the match by submission, via the Sharpshooter, but as he would not let go of the hold, the decision was reversed to a Lawler victory by disqualification.[76] Hart and his younger brother, Owen Hart, would also feud with Lawler during 1993 in the United States Wrestling Association (USWA), with Lawler notably defeating Owen for Owen's USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship.[77] Hart's feud with Lawler was named "Feud of the Year" by Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and voted "Feud of the Year" by readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.[78] After months of dealing with Lawler, Hart received a WrestleMania IX rematch with WWF World Heavyweight Champion Yokozuna on the November 20 edition of WWF Superstars. When Bret appeared to have the match won, with Yokozuna locked in the sharpshooter, Owen came to ringside to congratulate his brother. The referee began questioning Owen's motives, which allowed Fuji to assault Bret. Owen then involved himself in the match, resulting in a victory for Yokozuna via disqualification. On the non-televised but now-canon November 22 edition of Monday Night Raw, Hart again challenged Yokozuna for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, and again failed to regain the championship due to similar involvement from Owen.[citation needed] The brothers' disagreements set the wheels in motion for a family feud that would span the entirety of 1994.[79] At Survivor Series, the Harts (Bret, Owen, Bruce, and Keith) took on Shawn Michaels (a substitution for Lawler, who was facing legal troubles)[80] and his knights. The Harts won the match, with all of the brothers surviving except for Owen, the only Hart family member eliminated when he was rolled up by Michaels after inadvertently knocking Bret off the apron.[81] Bitter about his elimination, Owen blamed Bret for this and in the weeks ahead, blamed Bret for holding him back. Owen demanded a one-on-one match with Bret, which Bret refused to accept. In the storyline, Bret, along with his parents, worked over the Christmas holidays to reunite the family and to settle their rivalry. Bret was voted "WWF Superstar of the Year" 1993 by fans,[82] as well as the greatest wrestler of the year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers.[83] Bret's rivalry with his brother Owen won them Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Feud of the Year award and featured a highly rated steel cage match at SummerSlam At the Royal Rumble in January, Bret and Owen took on The Quebecers (Jacques and Pierre) for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Referee Tim White stopped the match after he considered Bret unable to continue after he sustained a kayfabe knee injury during the match. After the match, Owen berated his brother for costing him a title opportunity and attacked the injured knee, setting the feud between the two.[84] Later on, Hart managed to participate and win the 1994 Royal Rumble match amid controversy. Hart and Lex Luger were the final two participants and the two were eliminated over the top rope at the same time. Therefore, both men were named co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble match and received title shots at WrestleMania X.[85] Luger won the chance to face Yokozuna first, with Hart having to wrestle his brother Owen, before receiving his title shot. Hart lost his match against Owen[86] but went on to defeat Yokozuna for his second WWF World Heavyweight Championship.[87][88] Hart continued to feud with his brother Owen while he also started feuding with Diesel. Hart's friend and former tag team partner Jim Neidhart returned to the WWF and reunited with Hart. At King of the Ring, Hart defended the WWF World Heavyweight Championship against Diesel. When Hart was winning the match, Shawn Michaels interfered on Diesel's behalf; Diesel appeared close to victory after he delivered a Jackknife Powerbomb yet before he could pin Hart, Neidhart interfered, therefore Diesel won by disqualification, but Hart retained his title. Neidhart left when Diesel and Michaels attacked Hart following the match. Neidhart's motivation was made clear when he helped Owen win the tournament that night, so that he could receive a title shot against his brother.[89] At SummerSlam, Hart successfully retained the WWF World Heavyweight Championship against Owen in a steel cage match.[90] This match received a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and the brothers' feud was voted "Feud of the Year" by readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.[78] Hart eventually lost his WWF World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series in a submission match against Bob Backlund where the manager of either competitor (Davey Boy Smith for Hart, Owen for Backlund) would have to "throw in the towel" for the wrestler they were representing. When Hart was in Backlund's crossface chickenwing and Davey Boy was kayfabe knocked out, Owen persuaded his mother Helen to throw in the towel for Hart, giving Backlund the championship victory.[91] Bret's feud with Backlund would continue into the following year. He was voted the greatest wrestler of 1994 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers, winning the vote for the second straight year.[92] Hart in 1995 Three days after Hart's title loss, Diesel defeated Backland in eight seconds with a jackknife powerbomb to become the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion. By 1995, Hart was focusing on projects outwith the business, such as acting, and shifted to the number two face in the company, behind Diesel.[93] Hart challenged for Diesel's WWF World Heavyweight Championship at the 1995 Royal Rumble, in a match that was continually marred by outside interference and ruled a draw. Both men embraced in a display of sportsmanship after the match. In a rematch from Survivor Series, Hart defeated Bob Backlund in an "I Quit" match at WrestleMania XI.[94] Hart was critical with the match against Backlund, claiming it was "probably my worst pay-per-view match I ever had".[95] Hart would be the focal point of the first event in the In Your House pay-per-view series, competing in two matches at In Your House 1. He defeated Hakushi in the very first match of the in Your House series. Hart's acclaimed feud with Jerry Lawler was reignited at the event when Lawler defeated Hart due to Hakushi's (now Lawler's protégé) interference.[96] Hart beat Lawler in a "Kiss My Foot" match at King of the Ring, and defeated Lawler's kayfabe dentist, Isaac Yankem, by disqualification at SummerSlam 1995.[97] Their King of the Ring match ended with Hart shoving his foot into Lawler's mouth, then forcing Lawler to kiss his own foot.[98] Although Hart was victorious in their in-ring feud, Lawler remained strongly opposed to Hart as a commentator, and would routinely encourage Hart's opponents during matches; it would not be until Over the Limit, sixteen years later, that both men would finally bury the hatchet. After disposing of Lawler, Hart engaged in a three-month feud with Jean-Pierre Lafitte, who would stealing the mirrored sunglasses from fans at ringside and his trademark leather jacket. At In Your House 3, Hart defeated Lafitte, to end the feud. Hart shifted his focus back to the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Diesel in a no disqualification match at Survivor Series to commence his third reign.[99][100] In a rematch from their SummerSlam 1992 encounter, Hart successfully defended his title against the now heel Davey Boy Smith at In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings. He lost to The Undertaker by disqualification at the 1996 Royal Rumble when Diesel interfered, ultimately retaining the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, and defeated The Undertaker by disqualification in a rematch on the February 5 edition of Raw, again due to Diesel's interference.[101] Hart retained his title once again against Diesel in a steel cage match at In Your House 6, and defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who was undefeated on Raw, on the March 4 edition of the show.[102] WWF Commissioner Rowdy Roddy Piper ruled that Hart would face Shawn Michaels, who had earned a WWF World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XII by winning the Royal Rumble,[103] in a 60-minute Iron Man match at the event. The wrestler with the most decisions during the 60 minutes would win the match and the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. At WrestleMania, with less than a minute left on the clock and the score still 0–0, Michaels jumped from the middle rope; his legs were caught by Hart, and Hart locked in his Sharpshooter. However, Michaels did not submit in the last 30 seconds so the match ended in a tie. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon ruled that the match would continue in sudden death overtime. Michaels hit a superkick to win the championship.[104] Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers voted it the "Match of the Year";[64] in 2004, WWE fans voted the match as the greatest in the history of WrestleMania.[105] After WrestleMania, Hart went on a European tour over the next two weeks, coming out victorious against Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. The tour ended on April 22, and after this he took his hiatus from television. His final televised appearance was an interview taped while on the European tour in which he described his passion for wrestling was diminished, and stated that although there were offers from competing companies he might be finished with wrestling.[106] That fall, Hart would indeed receive competing offers of employment from both WWF and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). WCW presented a 3-year, $9M contract offer to Hart,[107] while the World Wrestling Federation responded with an unprecedented 20-year contract. Finishing up his original WWF deal, Hart returned to action on a tour of South Africa on September 8, 1996, defeating Davey Boy Smith in Durban.[106] On October 21, Hart elected to re-sign with the World Wrestling Federation.[108] He was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame Class of 1996. Feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin (1996–1997) Main article: Hart Foundation reunion Hart posing for the crowd with his arms open Over the summer, Stone Cold Steve Austin, who was fresh from winning the 1996 King of the Ring,[109] continually taunted Hart and challenged him to come back and have a match. After an eight-month hiatus from television, Hart returned and defeated Austin at Survivor Series in a match for the number one contender spot to the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.[110] Hart challenged champion Sycho Sid at the following month's In Your House 12: It's Time; Shawn Michaels, who was serving as a guest commentator at ringside, accidentally cost Hart the victory when he attempted to become involved in the match after being assaulted by Sid. The building tension between Hart and Michaels climaxed after the match, when Hart assaulted Michaels. Hart's feud with Austin escalated at the Royal Rumble (1997), when Hart tossed Austin out of the ring, only for Austin (unbeknownst to the referees) to climb back into the ring and win the Rumble, while the referees were distracted by Mankind.[111] Hart quit the WWF the next night on Raw in protest. In order to deal with this controversy, a Fatal Four-Way between Austin and the participants he eliminated after re-entering the ring (Vader, The Undertaker, and Hart) was set up for In Your House 13: Final Four, with the winner becoming the number one contender. After then-champion Shawn Michaels relinquished the belt, though, the match officially became for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Hart defeated Austin, Vader, and The Undertaker in the Fatal Four-Way.[112][113] However, Austin made sure Hart's fourth reign was short-lived, costing him a title match against Sid the next night on Raw.[114] Hart challenged for Sid's WWF World Heavyweight Championship in a steel cage match shortly before WrestleMania 13, which saw Austin actually attempt to help Hart win, in order to make their scheduled match at WrestleMania 13 a title match. Concurrently, The Undertaker, who had a scheduled title match with Sid at WrestleMania, attempted to help Sid win. Sid ultimately retained, leading to a pure grudge match for Hart and Austin.[115] Following his loss to Sid, Hart shoved "announcer" Vince McMahon to the ground when he attempted to conduct a post-match interview, and engaged in a worked shoot, expletive-laden rant against McMahon and WWF management. This incident has been cited as one which helped lay the foundations of the WWF's Attitude Era, as well as the starting point of McMahon's on-air character, the tyrannical WWF owner "Mr. McMahon".[116] At WrestleMania 13, Hart and Austin had their rematch in a submission match that would later get a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer. In the end, Hart locked the Sharpshooter on a bloody Austin, who refused to give up. In fact, Austin never quit, but passed out from the blood loss and pain. Ken Shamrock, the special guest referee, awarded Hart the match, after which he continued to assault Austin, thus turning heel for the first time since 1988.[117] It was named "Match of the Year" by Wrestling Observer Newsletter and voted "Match of the Year" by Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers.[64] Later that night, Hart confronted Sycho Sid and The Undertaker prior to their match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship; Hart insulted Undertaker and told Shawn Michaels (who was a guest commentator for the match) not to interfere. Undertaker won the match, which ended with Hart hotshotting Sid on the ropes, therefore costing him the title. Hart challenged Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental Championship in the main event of the March 31 edition of Raw. Rocky Maivia won by disqualification when Hart refused to release a figure-four leglock applied around the ringpost. He faced Austin again in the main event of In Your House 14: Revenge of the 'Taker, to determine who would challenge the WWF World Heavyweight Champion in a title match at the following month's In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell. Austin had Hart locked in his own finishing move, the Sharpshooter, in the middle of the ring when The British Bulldog interfered on Hart's behalf, resulting in disqualification and giving Austin the victory and title match. They met once again in a street fight on the April 21 edition of Raw Is War, in which Austin injured Hart's ankle with a steel chair. The match was ruled a no contest and Austin afterward continued to beat Hart while on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance. In 1997, Hart became a tweener: generally cheered for by Canadian and international fans, and booed by American fans, while remaining largely consistent in character In the ensuing weeks, Hart denounced American fans, because of their negative reaction to him in the recent weeks in contrast to his continued popularity through the rest of the world, and reunited with brother Owen and brothers-in-law Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart. The family members formed a new Hart Foundation with Brian Pillman; this incarnation was an anti-American stable which was popular within Canada and Europe. As the leader of this stable, Hart routinely carried a Canadian flag to the ring and engaged in promos where he declared the superiority of his home nation; he became so despised by U.S. audiences that they would often throw debris during his ring entrances, interviews, and matches.[26] He was voted by Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers as the "Most Hated Wrestler of the Year" 1997.[118] At In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede, in Hart's home town of Calgary, the Hart Foundation defeated the team of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and The Legion of Doom, representing the United States, in a ten-man tag team match main event.[119] The Canada vs. U.S. rivalry escalated on the July 21 edition of Raw Is War in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Bret, Owen, and Davey Boy Smith, representing Canada and the Hart Foundation, defeated the team of Dude Love, Austin, and The Undertaker, representing the U.S., in a Flag match.[120] The Hart Foundation's feud with Austin was named "Feud of the Year" by Wrestling Observer Newsletter and voted "Feud of the Year" by readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.[78] Hart vowed that if he could not defeat The Undertaker for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam, he would never wrestle in the United States again. The Undertaker agreed to the match, and Hart won his fifth and last WWF World Heavyweight Championship after spitting in guest referee Shawn Michaels' face; Michaels swung a steel chair in retaliation, which accidentally struck the Undertaker. Michaels, who, as part of another pre-match stipulation, would be banned from wrestling in the United States if he did not remain impartial as referee, had no option but to count the pinfall, giving his rival Hart the victory.[121][122] After SummerSlam, Michaels was pushed as the top heel in the company and negative fan reactions towards Hart in the United States softened somewhat, as he declared, "I'm not so much anti-American as I am just very, very pro-Canadian".[26] In real life, Hart did not like the new Attitude Era, instead preferring traditional values. This was used as part of his character, as Hart would insult the U.S. fans because of the success of the Attitude Era.[123] Hart successfully defended his title against The Patriot, with whom Hart had become involved in a feud as part of the Canada vs. U.S. storyline, at Ground Zero: In Your House,[124] avenging a loss to him on the July 28 Raw.[120] The Canada vs. U.S. feud would conclude at Badd Blood: In Your House, where Hart and Davey Boy Smith, representing Canada and The Hart Foundation, defeated The Patriot and Vader, representing the U.S., in a Flag match.[125] Erstwhile, in a rematch from SummerSlam, The Undertaker challenged Hart for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at One Night Only; after reversing a Tombstone Piledriver attempt from Hart, The Undertaker dumped Hart on the apron when he would not let go of the ropes. As a result, Hart's neck was caught in the ropes, and The Undertaker was disqualified.[126] Hart later cited this as his favorite of all his matches with The Undertaker,[26] and his last great match in the WWF.[127] During the Hart Foundation's feud with the Shawn Michaels-led D-Generation X (DX), DX framed the Hart Foundation in vandalizing the locker room of the African American stable, Nation of Domination with racist motifs. In retaliation, during a promo with D-Generation X, Hart called members Triple H (previously billed as "Hunter Hearst Helmsley") and Shawn Michaels "homos". Hart later apologized for his participation in the storyline and said that he had been pressured into it, saying, "I am not in any shape or form a racist. And I don't believe it is anything to kid around about. I also want to apologize for any remarks I made about gay people. It was a stupid mistake on my part".[127] Hart successfully defended his title against Nation of Domination leader, Faarooq, on the October 20 edition of Raw.[120] In his penultimate title defense, Hart wrestled Ken Shamrock to a no-contest on the October 27 edition of Raw Is War; while the referee was knocked out, Shamrock put Hart in an ankle lock; members of the Hart Foundation then attacked Shamrock until Shawn Michaels made the save for Shamrock and attacked Hart.[120] The Montreal Screwjob and departure (1997) Main articles: Montreal Screwjob and Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows Hart (along with Hulk Hogan) held the record for most WWF World Heavyweight Championship reigns until The Rock's sixth reign in 2001 Around this time, Hart's on-air rivalry with Vince McMahon also escalated. A heated ringside altercation between the two led many fans to dislike McMahon, who at the time was being exposed as owner of the WWF more and more frequently on-air. Although Hart had signed a 20-year contract back in 1996, the WWF was in a rough financial position by late 1997 and could no longer afford to honor the contract. Although Hart was arguably the biggest wrestler in the world during the mid-1990s,[128] McMahon also felt that the value of his character was beginning to wane,[129] and he encouraged Hart to approach the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) about a contract, hopefully one similar to their original offer. This was despite Hart's reluctance to leave the WWF and willingness to re-negotiate.[26][130] Hart subsequently signed a three-year contract with WCW. His final match with the WWF would be a title match against his real life rival Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series in Montreal. Hart did not want to end his WWF career with a loss to Michaels in his home country particularly with the context of their nationality-fueled feud; and offered to lose, forfeit or otherwise give over the belt to Michaels in any other way that McMahon wanted. McMahon agreed to Hart's idea of forfeiting the championship the next night on Raw Is War or losing it a few weeks later. Although Hart stated to McMahon he would not take the WWF World Heavyweight Championship with him to WCW TV and despite insistence from then-WCW President Eric Bischoff,[26] that Hart would join WCW with a "clean slate", McMahon was still concerned and paranoid; this led to him breaking his word in what eventually came to be known as the Montreal Screwjob. Even though Hart did not submit to the Sharpshooter, referee Earl Hebner called for the bell as if he had, on McMahon's orders. This resulted in Hart "losing" the title to Michaels.[131] The night ended with an irate Hart spitting in McMahon's face, destroying television equipment, and punching McMahon backstage in front of Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, and McMahon's son Shane. Hart also confronted Michaels backstage about the match finish. Many behind-the-scenes events leading up to the Montreal Screwjob were filmed for the documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows, released in 1998. WWE has described the Montreal Screwjob as "arguably the most controversial, most jarring moment in the annals of sports entertainment".[132] Hart's likeness would continue to be featured in WWF media into 1998, including the title video of Raw (brawling in a ring within a warehouse),[133] and the WWF War Zone video game.[134] World Championship Wrestling United States Heavyweight Champion (1997–1999) Hart's three-year contract with World Championship Wrestling included a salary of $2.5 million per year (a $1 million annual increase from his WWF contract), as well as a light schedule and a measure of creative control over his television character.[135] A day after the WWF's Survivor Series pay-per-view, Eric Bischoff, while with the New World Order (nWo), announced that Hart was going to be coming to WCW and joining the nWo. Hart made his debut on Nitro on December 15, 1997.[136] He was also heavily involved in that month's Starrcade pay-per-view. Due to a 60-day no-compete clause from the WWF, he served as the special guest referee for the match between Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko; during the Sting versus Hollywood Hogan main event for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, he stepped in toward the conclusion of the match as impromptu referee, declaring Sting the winner and new champion by submission.[137][138] In January, his no-compete clause expired, and his first feud in WCW was against Ric Flair, as both wrestlers considered themselves the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Hart defeated Flair at Souled Out in his first WCW match.[139] After this, Hart elected to defend the honor of WCW against the nWo, defeating members Brian Adams in his debut Nitro match on March 2, and Curt Hennig at Uncensored.[140] In April 1998, Hart interfered in a Nitro main event between Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage, helping Hogan recapture the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. He became an associate of the nWo, but did not officially join the group. Hart held the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship four times from 1998–1999 (a record within WCW), and he was seen to raise its prestige, as many WCW events were headlined by a match for that title during the time period in which Hart was associated with it[141] Hart competed in his second Nitro match on June 22, defeating Chris Benoit with assistance from nWo members: Hart had attempted to recruit his long-time friend into the nWo, but the offer was rejected.[142] At Bash at the Beach, Hart competed in his first championship match in WCW when he faced Booker T for Booker's WCW World Television Championship. He was disqualified after hitting Booker with a steel chair.[143] He headlined his first Nitro card on July 20, defeating Diamond Dallas Page for the vacant United States Heavyweight Championship, with assistance from nWo member, The Giant.[144] On the August 10 edition of Nitro, Hart lost his title to Lex Luger.[145] He regained it from Luger the next night on Thunder.[146] In the main event of Fall Brawl, Hart was defeated in a WarGames match for the No. 1 contender spot to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.[147] Hart subsequently asked the fans for forgiveness, turning his back on Hogan and the nWo. A match between Hart and Hogan was booked for the September 28 edition of Nitro. During the match, Hart sustained a knee injury, with the bout ending in a no-contest; Sting came to Hart's aid and initiated a match with Hogan. Hart turned on Sting, delivering a DDT, and this bout was also ruled a no-contest. Sting, a member of the rival nWo Wolfpac, was assaulted after the match; this betrayal began an intense feud between Hart and Sting. On the October 12 edition of Nitro, Sting and The Warrior beat Hart and Hogan by disqualification. Hart's feud with Sting ended at Halloween Havoc with Hart controversially defending the United States Heavyweight Championship and (kayfabe) injuring Sting. On the October 26 edition of Nitro, Hart lost the title to Diamond Dallas Page.[148] The two headlined the following month's World War 3 pay-per-view in a title match which Hart lost.[149] Hart regained the title from Page on the November 30 edition of Nitro in a No Disqualification match with help from The Giant.[150] On the February 8, 1999 episode of Nitro, Hart lost the United States Heavyweight Championship to family friend Roddy Piper.[151] On the March 29 edition of Nitro held at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, Hart appeared in street clothes and derided WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, as well as Hogan, for avoiding a match with him. Finally, he called out "franchise player" Bill Goldberg, claiming he could beat him in five minutes and verbally coercing Goldberg into giving him the spear. Hart was wearing a metal breastplate under his Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, which resulted in Goldberg being knocked out. Hart then counted his own pinfall over Goldberg's unconscious body and announced over the mic: "Hey Bischoff, and the WCW, I quit!" In reality, he had suffered a groin injury at the hands of Dean Malenko in November and needed time off for surgery.[152] On May 23, 1999, the night before Hart was scheduled to make an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to hype his imminent WCW return, his brother Owen Hart died in an accident during a WWF pay-per-view. Hart took a further four months off from WCW to be with his family. World Heavyweight Champion and injury (1999–2000) Hart returned to wrestling on the September 13, 1999 edition of Nitro in a tag team match with Hulk Hogan against Sting and Lex Luger. Hart challenged for Sting's WCW World Heavyweight Championship on the October 18 edition of Nitro, but lost the match when he was attacked by Luger.[153] Due to controversy over a series of WCW World Heavyweight Championship matches between Sting, Hogan, and Goldberg at Halloween Havoc, the title was declared vacant. A tournament then took place over several episodes of Nitro. Hart's first round match came against Goldberg the night after Halloween Havoc, with the bout being a tournament match for a berth in the next round, as well as being a match for the United States Heavyweight Championship that Goldberg had won the night before. Thanks to outside interference, Hart defeated Goldberg and won the title for the fourth time.[154][155] On the November 8 episode of Nitro, Hart lost the title to Scott Hall in a ladder match which also involved Sid Vicious and Goldberg.[156] Hart after winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Starrcade 1999 Hart won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship tournament by defeating Perry Saturn,[156] Billy Kidman,[157] Sting, and Chris Benoit at Mayhem. On December 7, Hart and Goldberg won the WCW World Tag Team Championship from Creative Control, making Hart a double champion. Hart and Goldberg lost the tag team titles to The Outsiders on the December 13 episode of Nitro.[158] At Starrcade, Hart defended his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Goldberg. During the match, Hart was struck with a thrust kick to the head, resulting in a severe concussion. Hart later speculated that he may have suffered up to three additional concussions within matches over the course of that day along with the days immediately following Starrcade, having been unaware of the severity of his injuries.[159] For example, Hart placed Goldberg on the post in a figure four leglock which ended with Hart hitting his head on the concrete floor when Goldberg failed to receive the move correctly.[160] The sum total of those injuries left Hart with post-concussion syndrome and ultimately forced his retirement from professional wrestling. Hart later claimed that Goldberg "had a tendency to injure everyone he worked with."[161] As part of his DVD documentary, Hart expressed regret that "someone as good-hearted as Bill Goldberg" was responsible for hurting him.[26] Referee Roddy Piper rung the bell when Hart held Goldberg in the Sharpshooter, although Goldberg did not submit. Piper simply walked away, leaving both Goldberg and Hart bewildered.[162] Out of respect for Goldberg, Hart vacated the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on the December 20 episode of Nitro and suggested that he, without the championship advantage, face Goldberg that night to determine the true champion. During the match, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash came to the ring looking to attack Goldberg with baseball bats. Hart convinced them to stop, then hit Goldberg with one of the bats. The three continued to beat down Goldberg and were eventually joined by Jeff Jarrett.[163] Hart regained the championship, even though it was Roddy Piper who was covering Goldberg (to try and protect him) when the three count was made. The nWo was reformed (now billed as "nWo 2000").[164][165] Hart wrestled Terry Funk to a no contest in a non-title, hardcore rules match on the January 6 edition of Thunder. In his final match in WCW, he defended the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Nash on the January 10 edition of Nitro, which also ended in a no contest. Hart vacated the title in late January 2000 when he was forced to withdraw from the main event of WCW's Souled Out due to his injuries. Hart continued to make appearances on WCW television, generally cutting promos. on the May 3 edition of Thunder, Hart made a run in during an over the top rope battle royal where he hit Hogan with a chair. His final WCW appearance occurred on the September 6, 2000 edition of Thunder, in a promo where he confronted Bill Goldberg on the injury he sustained nine months prior. WCW terminated Hart's contract via FedEx letter on October 20, 2000, due to his ongoing incapacity, and he announced his retirement from professional wrestling soon afterward.[11] Hart and several critics considered his storylines during his tenure to be lacklustre.[26][166] Former WCW wrestler Chris Jericho attributed this to backstage politics and creative mayhem.[123] Hart cited his "steel plate" segment with Goldberg and his tribute match to Owen, against Chris Benoit, as his two worthwhile moments with the company. He said he was "proud" to have been WCW World Heavyweight Champion for a short time prior to his injury.[26] Independent wrestling appearances (2001–2009) In 2001, Hart became the on-screen commissioner of World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA), a role that ended prematurely due to a 2002 stroke, which temporarily required him to use a wheelchair.[167] In his first major appearance since recovering, Hart traveled to Auckland, New Zealand to appear at another WWA event in May 2003.[168] In 2007, Hart signed autographs at "The Legends of Wrestling" show at the Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.[169] On the weekend of July 11, 2009, he made an appearance at One Pro Wrestling in Doncaster, England, where he held a Q&A, and then entered the ring to address the fans at the show. On September 27, 2009, Hart appeared in New York City's Manhattan Center to sign autographs during a Ring of Honor event. He spoke to the crowd, reminiscing about some of his more memorable matches in New York.[170] Return to WWE WWE Hall of Fame (2005–2007) In mid-2005, Hart worked with the renamed World Wrestling Entertainment for the first time since 1997, contributing hours of interview footage and selecting matches for his WWE Home Video release, Bret "Hit Man" Hart: The Best There Is, the Best There Was, the Best There Ever Will Be. He returned to WWE programming as a guest on the November 16 edition of web series, Byte This.[39] On April 1, 2006, Hart was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2006 by Stone Cold Steve Austin. He did not appear alongside his fellow inductees at WrestleMania 22 the following night. On June 11, 2007, Hart made his first appearance on Raw since October 27, 1997 when he appeared in a pre-taped interview voicing his opinions on Vince McMahon as part of "Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night." Feud with Vince McMahon and Raw General Manager (2009–2010) Hart confronts Michaels on January 4, 2010 Hart re-signed with WWE in late 2009. On December 28, after weeks of speculation surrounding Hart and his presence in World Wrestling Entertainment, Chairman Vince McMahon announced that Hart would be special guest host on the January 4 Raw.[171] Hart thanked the fans for their continued support, jokingly teased announcer Jerry Lawler about their long-running 1990s feud, and confronted Shawn Michaels and McMahon regarding the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series in 1997. Hart and Michaels were able to agree on a truce, shaking hands and hugging. While many cast doubts on the sincerity of their reconciliation, both men have confirmed that it was indeed genuine and not part of storyline.[172][173] It also appeared that he had buried the hatchet with McMahon later in the night, until McMahon subsequently kicked Bret in the crotch (this was in fact part of a storyline, as Hart and McMahon had been on speaking terms since 2005).[172] During different encounters the following month, Hart and McMahon reproduced events similar to those that occurred in the Montreal Screwjob: McMahon spitting in Hart's face (as Hart did to McMahon), and Hart destroying parts of the technical equipment that goes into producing Raw (as he did to the Survivor Series equipment).[174] On the February 15 Raw, Hart made a farewell from WWE, but as he left to go inside his limousine, another vehicle reversed into the door of his limo and injured his left leg. On the March 1 Raw, McMahon challenged Hart to a match at WrestleMania XXVI; Hart accepted.[175] The match was later changed to a No Holds Barred match as Hart revealed (with help from "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the special guest host that night) the staging of his injury. Hart, along with his family, inducted his father Stu Hart into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2010, a controversial decision that aggravated Hart and McMahon's rivalry in 2010. At WrestleMania, McMahon attempted to buy Hart's family into turning against him; however, they turned against McMahon instead and helped Hart defeat McMahon.[176] Hart with WWE in 2010 Hart stood with The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd), a stable stemmed from the Hart family, throughout their feud with ShoMiz (Big Show and The Miz); they ultimately won the WWE Tag Team Championship on April 26. When The Miz lost a match that guaranteed a WWE United States Championship match to a Hart family member, he chose Bret; with the help of the Dynasty, Hart defeated The Miz to win his fifth United States Championship on May 17 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[177] On the May 24 edition of Raw, Hart was named the new general manager of Raw. His first orders included vacating his United States Championship, which R-Truth won, and setting up qualifying matches for Fatal 4-Way, which the injured Batista took exception to and quit.[178] The next week, Hart declared a Viewer's Choice episode of Raw.[179] He was attacked by NXT rookies after firing Wade Barrett and declining to offer them contracts on the June 14 episode of Raw.[180] A week later, McMahon fired Hart as general manager for failing to control the rookies.[181] Hart returned five weeks later, where it was announced by John Cena that he, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison and Hart would face the NXT rookies, now known as The Nexus, at SummerSlam.[182] The following week, Hart teamed with Cena to wrestle SummerSlam teammates Edge and Chris Jericho to a no contest.[183] In the SummerSlam main event, he was disqualified for using a steel chair on Skip Sheffield, however, his team still ultimately won the match.[184] On the August 16, episode of Raw, Hart introduced the new tag team title belts to the champions, The Hart Dynasty. Later on in the night during The Nexus vs. Raw challenge, Hart was scheduled to face Justin Gabriel, but was unable to compete after the Anonymous Raw General Manager, citing his disdain for Hart, removed him from the match and replaced him with Randy Orton.[185] On September 25, WWE hosted a tribute event to Hart in Madison Square Garden, where he and the Hart Dynasty defeated Nexus members Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel and Michael Tarver in a six-man tag team match, when Gabriel submitted to Hart's Sharpshooter.[186] In November 2010, Hart's WWE contract had expired.[187][188] Sporadic appearances (2011–present) At Over the Limit, Hart came to the support of his long-running 1990s rival, Jerry Lawler, forcing Michael Cole to kiss Lawler's foot. The following night on Raw, Hart refereed the main event, which saw John Cena and Rey Mysterio defeat R-Truth and CM Punk with Hart's assistance. On the August 23, 2011 tapings of SmackDown (aired August 26), Hart served as guest general manager. On September 12, Hart teamed with John Cena in a match against Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez, which he won after putting Rodriguez into a sharpshooter. This was Hart's final match. Hart has made infrequent appearances in minor roles, appearing on the April 25, 2011 edition of Tough Enough.[189] At Raw 1000 and on the May 4, 2012 episode of Raw he served as guest ring announcer; he interviewed John Cena on September 10, 2012, during which CM Punk interrupted and got into a confrontation with Hart. He participated in backstage segments at the 2013 Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 31. On the post-show of Raw on May 27, 2013, Hart was honored by the city of Calgary and the WWE with a "Bret Hart Appreciation Night", a celebration of the work he had done in his career. Also present in the ring for this celebration were Pat Patterson, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon, who each paid their own tributes to Hart. He has also served as an expert on panels, including the March 25, 2013 episode of Raw and at the NXT Arrival pre-show. Hart was in the corner of his niece Natalya on the March 27, 2014 episode of NXT,[190] at the second NXT TakeOver event[191] and at the 2016 edition of Payback. The match ended when the referee, Charles Robinson, called for the bell as Charlotte had Natalya locked in the Sharpshooter. After the match both Natalya and Hart placed Charlotte and her father, Ric Flair in the Sharpshooter.[192] Professional wrestling style and persona Hart is nicknamed "The Hitman", and often dubbed "The Best There Is, the Best There Was, and the Best There Ever Will Be". Hart usually wrestled in a pink attire and, during his time as The Hart Foundation, the tag team was nicknamed "The Pink and Black Attack", a nickname Hart used for himself during his singles career.[193][194] Hart used the Sharpshooter as his finishing maneuver.[195] In his biography, Hart said he learned the hold from Konnan and Pat Patterson named it.[196] Due to Hart's success, the Sharpshooter is usually used by Canadian wrestlers.[197] Before ending his matches, Hart usually employed a sequence of five moves: inverted atomic drop, Russian leg sweep, backbreaker, elbow drop from the second rope, and Sharpshooter, being known as the "Five Moves of Doom".[198] During his time in the original Hart Foundation, he and Jim Neidhart performed the Hart Attack as their finisher manoeuver.[199] Legacy Hart accepts his induction into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, July 15, 2006 According to clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, Hart was at one point the most famous Canadian in the world.[200] BBC and Entertainment Tonight writers noted that Hart is "widely regarded" as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time.[201][202] Sky Sports described his legacy as "one of, if not the greatest, to have ever graced the squared circle".[203] Veteran industry journalist Dave Meltzer called Hart "one of the best ever,"[204] and further praised his ring psychology as the best in WWE history (alongside that of Ricky Steamboat, and "maybe Jake Roberts").[205] Jon Robinson of IGN called him "one of the greatest (if not the single best) pure wrestler to ever walk that aisle".[206] Veteran wrestlers including CM Punk,[207] Booker T and Michael Hayes have named Hart "the greatest of all time",[208] with Hayes noting that he is considered by many as the best Canadian performer ever, if not the single greatest overall.[209] Veteran announcer Gene Okerlund dubbed Hart "the greatest ever",[209] and stressed that he should appear in anyone's list of the all-time top 10 wrestlers.[26] Olympic wrestling gold medalist and six-time WWE world champion Kurt Angle studied tapes of Hart in order to learn the art of pro wrestling;[210] he and Stone Cold Steve Austin have ranked Hart as the best in-ring performer ever (Austin tying Hart with Shawn Michaels).[211][212] Similarly, former opponent Harley Race described Hart as being "as good as they got".[213] WWE chairman Vince McMahon described Hart as having "unparalleled" technical wrestling and storytelling skills, and retrospectively characterized the late 1990s Hart as a performer "who you know is going to give you the best match of the night every time he goes out there".[26] The Undertaker named Hart as his toughest opponent, adding: "Some of my favorite matches are with him... I think my matches with Bret were some of the best".[214] Shawn Michaels conceded that Hart was an "unbelievable" performer (an opinion shared by WWE executive and former opponent Triple H),[215] calling him a "sheer joy" to work with and saying that the pair's match at WrestleMania XII was one of, if not his favorite WrestleMania bout.[216] Curt Hennig stated: "Out of all the matches I had, probably the best match I ever had would be with Bret [at SummerSlam 1991]... I have a good thing with Bret forever."[217] Roddy Piper described Hart as "one great man", and "one of the few guys who has a 'total package'".[26] Asked about his favorite opponent, Ted DiBiase said: "In my own era, without a doubt, Bret Hart."[218] Lance Storm remarked: "[Hart's] matches always seemed more important than the individuals involved in them, and that's what made him great. Bret managed to dominate this sport... by wrestling, which is no easy task, and is to his credit". On Hart's influence, Storm said: "I've always tried to pattern my ring style or work ethic, at least, after that of 'The Hitman'".[219] Along with Storm, Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn point to Hart as their top wrestling inspiration;[220][221] Seth Rollins and Jinder Mahal called him an idol,[222][223] and Dean Ambrose cited him as an influence.[224] Edge listed his three idols within the business as "Bret, Shawn and Hulk".[225] Chris Jericho named Bret as his hero (along with Owen Hart), and said he aspired to be "half of" what Bret was.[226] Chris Benoit remarked: "I always emulated him... I spent so many years looking up to, idolizing [Hart]; he was somewhat of a role model to me". Benoit added that his matches against Hart were "up on a pedestal".[26] Koji Nakagawa modelled his character and entire career on Bret Hart by adopting Hart's pink and black attire, an entrance theme identical to Hart's theme song, while also adopting his moveset.[227] Ryback recalled a WWF event from his childhood, saying: "I remember it was Bret Hart against Diesel inside a steel cage in the main event, and I just knew I wanted to be a WWE wrestler... Bret [Hart], I love".[228] Asked about his favorite wrestlers/idols, Wade Barrett named Hart along with The British Bulldog, The Ultimate Warrior and The Undertaker;[229] he has called Hart vs. the Bulldog, at SummerSlam 1992, his all-time favorite match.[230] Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) readers voted Hart the greatest wrestler of 1993 and 1994 in the "PWI 500",[83] as well as the "Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year" 1994.[231] He was voted "WWF Superstar of the Year" 1993 by fans.[82] PWI ranked him No. 4 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003, after Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and André the Giant.[232] WWE has also credited Hart as the top "Submission Specialist" in professional wrestling history,[citation needed] and for popularizing the Sharpshooter, named by the organization as the most devastating submission hold in professional wrestling history.[233] Hart's rise to singles success was seen to revolutionize the business; IGN wrote: "After Bret beat Ric Flair for the WWE Championship in 1992, it changed the entire industry, re-setting the WWF back to the days of technical wizardry and reshaping all our notions of what a great wrestling match should actually look and feel like".[234] According to prominent industry historian Dave Meltzer, Hart was "a major draw in the United States and probably more so in Europe".[235] WWE owner Vince McMahon asserted that whichever company hired Hart could "have built the entire franchise around [him]", and described him as an "extraordinary star." McMahon added that it was "fortunate for me, in terms of my company", that his chief competitor, WCW, did not utilize Hart to his full potential.[26] WCW described Hart as "an incredible international draw, attracting standing room only crowds in every corner of the globe."[236] Professional wrestling magazine Power Slam has spoken to Hart's drawing power, placing him number 7 in "The 10 Best U.S.-Style All-Rounders", a list that considered drawing ability, along with workrate and promo skills.[237] On the February 16, 2006 episode of Raw, it was announced that Hart would be an inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2006.[238] Hart had also been approached by Vince McMahon for a potential match between the two at WrestleMania 22 but declined the offer.[239] On April 1, 2006, Hart was inducted by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. He thanked every wrestler he worked with (even thanking Vince McMahon) and said he's "in a good place in life."[240] Veteran industry personality and former WWE executive Paul Heyman referred to Hart's oeuvre as "a body of work so spectacular that it is beyond comprehension how brilliant a career he enjoyed".[241] On July 15, 2006, Hart was inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, at the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa. The induction took place in an immensely crowded and humid display room showcasing one of Hart's ring entrance jackets. The honor is only awarded to those with both a professional and amateur wrestling background, making Hart one of the youngest inductees. During his acceptance, Hart compared this induction to his place in the WWE Hall of Fame, saying "This is a much bigger honor for me."[242] In June 2008, Hart returned to the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame ceremony, this time to induct his father Stu Hart.[243] Other media Writing Hart wrote a weekly column for the Calgary Sun from June 1991 until October 2004.[244] On October 16, 2007, Hart's autobiography titled Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, was released in Canada by Random House Canada, and released in fall 2008 in the United States by Grand Central Publishing, with a U.S. book signing tour. Hart began writing the book in July 1999 with Marcy Engelstein, his longtime close friend and business associate. They did not complete the book until eight years later in September 2007 due to Hart suffering his stroke in 2002, among numerous other tragedies that occurred during the writing. Hart's chronicle is based on an audio diary that he kept for all of his years on the road in professional wrestling.[245] Hart also provided the forewords to Roddy Piper's autobiography, In the Pit with Piper,[246][247][self-published source] Harley Race's autobiography King of the Ring[248] and Dave Meltzer's book Tributes II: Remembering More of the Worlds Greatest Wrestlers.[249] Acting In 1994, Hart played a prison inmate in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers; however, the scene he appeared in was deleted.[citation needed] From 1994 to 1995 Hart appeared in Lonesome Dove: The Series television show playing "Luther Root". He has made numerous televised appearances since, including a guest spot on The Simpsons in 1997 (as himself, in "The Old Man and the Lisa") and episodes of the Honey I Shrunk The Kids TV series (along with his brother Owen), The Adventures of Sinbad, Big Sound, and The Immortal. Hart provides the voice of pro wrestler character "The Hooded Fang" in Jacob Two-Two. Hart also guest starred on the sketch comedy series MADtv in 1997 where he acted as enforcer at a fan's house, appearing with his WWF Championship belt. Hart later appeared again on MADtv in 1999 and 2000 in an angle with actor Will Sasso in which the two feuded on the set of MADtv and in World Championship Wrestling; this culminated in a grudge match on WCW Monday Nitro, where Hart decisively defeated Sasso. Hart donned his "Hit Man" singlet, along with additional costume, and executed wrestling maneuvers on villain characters, as part of his performance as the Genie in a 2004 stage production of Aladdin.[250] He reprised the role in 2006. Wrestling-related Hart was the subject of the 1998 documentary, Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows, which chronicled many of the events in Hart's personal and professional life from September 1996 to November 1997, including the Montreal Screwjob and its immediate aftermath. A clip of Hart applying the sharpshooter to Benoit at WCW Mayhem in 1999 is featured in the opening credits of Malcolm in the Middle. In mid-2005, WWE announced the release of a three-disc DVD originally named Screwed: The Bret Hart Story, with the title a reference to the Montreal Screwjob. Hart filmed over seven hours of interview footage for the DVD, which was renamed Bret "Hit Man" Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. The collection was released on November 15, 2005. Hart appeared on many talk shows (including Larry King Live, Nancy Grace, Hannity & Colmes, On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren) discussing the Chris Benoit double murder and suicide. Hart was a long time friend of Benoit. On April 6, 2010, WWE released Hart & Soul: The Hart Family Anthology, which is a 3 DVD set featuring a documentary on the Hart wrestling family as well as 12 matches. It is unique in that it also features previously unseen home movies from the Harts as well as interviews from family members. In 2010, The Fight Network produced a documentary titled Bret Hart – Survival of the Hitman produced by John Pollock, Jorge Barbosa and Wai Ting chronicling the rise of Hart, his split with WWE in 1997 and his road back to the company in January 2010. The documentary features interviews with Hart, members of the Hart family, Hart's former business manager Carl De Marco, former sports agent Gord Kirke, and producer of Wrestling with Shadows Paul Jay. A DVD entitled Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart: WWE's Greatest Rivalries was released in November 2011. The subject of the DVD was their on-screen rivalry and real-life conflicts, with a particular focus on the Montreal Screwjob. In 2016, Hart starred in the documentary film Nine Legends.[251] Early that year, Hart launched a podcast named The Sharpshooter Show.[252] Hart has appeared in numerous video games. They include WWE All Stars, WWE '13, WWE 2K14, WWE 2K16, WWE 2K17 and WWE 2K18. Personal life Hart lent his nickname to the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League; he was a founder and part-owner.[253] He is the commissioner of Sharpshooter Funding, a business loan company.[citation needed] On August 23, 2018, Hart was honored with a traditional Niitsitapi naming ceremony and named 'Courageous Chief' by Siksika Elder Miiksika’am (Clarence Wolfleg). The ceremony was done as recognition for his and his father Stu Hart's cultural relationship building contributions, such as promoting interest of the sport of amateur wrestling among indigenous youth throughout Western Canada.[254] Family Main article: Hart wrestling family Hart married Julie Smadu (born March 25, 1960) on July 8, 1982. They have four children:[255] Jade Michelle Hart (born March 31, 1983); Dallas Jeffery Hart (born August 11, 1984); Alexandra Sabina Hart (born May 17, 1988), nicknamed "Beans"; and Blade Colton Hart (born June 5, 1990).[256][256] The four hearts located on the right thigh of his tights symbolize his children, as do the four dots following his signature.[257] Julie's sister Michelle was married to Tom Billington from 1982 to 1991.[258][259] Bret and Julie separated in May 1998,[260] and after several brief reunions over the next 4 years,[261] eventually divorced on June 24, 2002, just hours before Hart suffered his stroke.[262] Hart married an Italian woman named Cinzia Rota on September 15, 2004, but they divorced in 2007 after failing to agree on where they should live.[263] He married Stephanie Washington on July 24, 2010.[citation needed] Through his daughters Jade and Alexandra, Hart has a granddaughter, Kyra Beans (born June 2010) and two grandsons, Grayson Knight Cassidy (born June 20, 2015) and Bo (born April 2016).[264] His seven brothers were either wrestlers or involved backstage with the wrestling business; his four sisters all married professional wrestlers. Two of his brothers-in-law, Davey Boy Smith, and Jim Neidhart had successful careers in the business. His youngest brother Owen Hart had become a decorated wrestler in his own right before his death in 1999, caused in an accident at the WWF pay-per-view Over the Edge. Hart's niece Natalya is a professional wrestler. Fellow pro wrestler Roddy Piper claimed in his autobiography to be a cousin of Hart.[265] Hart has also stated that Piper was the only wrestler to visit him in the hospital after his stroke.[266] Health problems On June 24, 2002, Hart suffered a stroke after hitting his head in a bicycle accident. The Calgary Herald reported that Hart hit a pothole, flew over the handlebars of the bike, and landed on the back of his head. Hart suffered total paralysis on his left side, which required months of physical therapy. Hart has since recovered much of his mobility and is in good health, although he suffers from an emotional imbalance and other lasting effects common to stroke survivors. Hart wrote in detail about his stroke in his autobiography, Hitman: My Real Life In The Cartoon World of Wrestling.[206] Hart later became a spokesperson for March of Dimes Canada's Stroke Recovery Canada program.[267] While recovering from his stroke Hart would train three days a week at B.J's Gym in Calgary, which was owned by his brother-in-law B.J. Annis.[268] On February 1, 2016, Hart announced through a Facebook post that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.[269] Jim Ross claimed on March 2, 2016 that Hart had beaten the disease following successful surgery and that it appeared not to have spread to other areas of his body.[270] Hart responded to Jim Ross' comments through Facebook saying that although the surgery was a success and that he and his doctors were optimistic, he would continue to be monitored every three months by doctors until he can actually be cancer free.[271] Personal issues with Ric Flair In October 1993, Hart gave a radio interview in which he said Ric Flair "sucks", and described his workplace, WCW, as "minor league".[272] In his autobiography, Flair accused Hart of exploiting the death of his brother, Owen Hart, and the controversy surrounding the Montreal Screwjob.[273] Flair also claimed in his autobiography that, despite Hart's popularity in Canada, he was not a formidable money-making draw in the United States, a claim which Hart dismissed as "plain ridiculous" in a column written for the Calgary Sun.[45] Hart claimed that he drew greater revenue than Flair, citing his headlining performances on consistently sold-out tours throughout his WWF career, while Flair wrestled to allegedly near-empty arenas. He also criticized Flair on what he perceived as insults to fellow wrestlers Mick Foley and Randy Savage. Hart did acknowledge a decline in the WWF's popularity during the mid-1990s, but he, and others, felt that this was largely attributed to the WWF's well-publicised sex and steroid scandals, as well as WCW's acquisition of former top WWF stars.[45][274][275] Hart also took aim at Flair in his autobiography, criticizing his in-ring talents and what Hart perceived as Flair's unsubtle blading.[276] Flair and Hart have since reconciled and are now friends.[277] Championships and accomplishments Amateur wrestling City, Calgary City championships, Calgary (1974)[26][28] Collegiate wrestling Mount Royal Collegiate Champion (1977)[26][29] National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2006[278] Professional wrestling Cauliflower Alley Club Iron Mike Award (2008)[279] Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame Individually[280] With the Hart family[281] George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2006[282] Prairie Wrestling Alliance Prairie Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame (Class of 2010)[283] Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum Class of 2008[284] Pro Wrestling Illustrated Comeback of the Year (1997)[285] Feud of the Year (1993 vs. Jerry Lawler)[78] Feud of the Year (1994) vs. Owen Hart[78] Match of the Year (1992) vs. British Bulldog at SummerSlam[64] Match of the Year (1996) vs. Shawn Michaels in an Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII[64] Match of the Year (1997) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin in a submission match at WrestleMania 13[64] Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1997)[118] Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year (1994)[231] Stanley Weston Award (2003)[286] Ranked No. 1 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1993 and 1994[83] Ranked No. 4 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 2003 Ranked No. 37 of the top 100 tag teams of the PWI Years with Jim Neidhart in 2003 Quebec Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2017[287] Stampede Wrestling NWA International Tag Team Championship (Calgary version) (5 times) – with Keith Hart (4) and Leo Burke (1)[288] Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship (3 times)[289] Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (6 times)[290] Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame[291] World Championship Wrestling WCW United States Heavyweight Championship (4 times)[155] WCW World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[292] WCW World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Goldberg[293] WCW World Heavyweight Championship Tournament (1999) Fifth Triple Crown Champion[73][294][d] Universal Wrestling Promotions UWP Caribbean Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Smith Hart[295] World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment WWE United States Championship (1 time)[155] WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[296] WWF Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Jim Neidhart[55] WWF World Heavyweight Championship (5 times)[297] King of the Ring (1991, 1993) Middle East Cup (1996)[298] Royal Rumble (1994) – with Lex Luger[73][e] WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2006) WWF Superstar of the Year (1993)[82] Second Triple Crown Champion Slammy Award (5 times) Best New Generation Spot (1994) – "Go Get 'em, Champ!" commercial[299] Best Music Video (1996)[299] Match of the Year (1997) – vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII[299] Put a Fork in Him, He's Done (1996) – The Sharpshooter[299] Which WWF World Heavyweight Champion, past or present, in attendance, is Hall of Fame bound? (1996)[299] Wrestling Observer Newsletter Best Pro Wrestling Book (2007) Hitman Best Pro Wrestling DVD (2006) Bret "Hit Man" Hart: The Best There Is, the Best There Was, the Best There Ever Will Be Best Pro Wrestling DVD (2011) Greatest Rivalries: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Feud of the Year (1993) vs. Jerry Lawler Match of the Year (1997) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin in a Submission match at WrestleMania 13 Feud of the Year (1997) with Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog, and Brian Pillman vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996) Other Hart was ranked the 39th greatest Canadian in 2004 in a poll by CBC which received more than 1.2 million votes.[300][301][302] Randy Mario Poffo[7] (November 15, 1952 – May 20, 2011),[1] better known by his ring name Randy Savage, was an American professional wrestler, actor and color commentator best known for his time in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) and later World Championship Wrestling (WCW). His best known nickname was "Macho Man".[2] Savage was described by ESPN's Bill Simmons as "one of the greatest pro wrestlers who ever lived"—a statement echoed by multiple industry performers.[8] He was recognizable by wrestling fans for his distinctively deep and raspy voice, his flamboyant ring attire, intensity exhibited in and out of the ring, his use of "Pomp and Circumstance" as his entrance music, and his signature catch phrase, "Oooh yeah!"[1][2] For most of his tenures in the WWF and WCW, Savage was managed by his real-life wife, "Miss Elizabeth" Hulette. He won 29 titles during a 32-year career, including two WWF World Heavyweight Championships and four WCW World Heavyweight Championships. As WWF World Heavyweight Champion, Savage held similar drawing power to that of Hulk Hogan.[9][10] A one-time WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, Savage was named by WWE as the greatest titleholder of all time and was credited for bringing "a higher level of credibility to the title through his amazing in-ring performances".[11] Aside from championships, Savage was the 1987 WWF King of the Ring and the 1995 WCW World War 3 winner. He headlined many pay-per-view events throughout his career, including WrestleManias IV, V and VIII (being part of a double main event at the last of those presentations),[12] four of the first five SummerSlam shows, and the 1995 Starrcade. He was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame upon its inception in 1996, with a posthumous WWE Hall of Fame induction following in 2015. Contents 1 Early life 2 Baseball career 3 Professional wrestling career 3.1 Early career (1973–1985) 3.2 World Wrestling Federation (1985–1994) 3.2.1 Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion (1985–1987) 3.2.2 WWF Champion (1988–1989) 3.2.3 Macho King and retirement (1989–1991) 3.2.4 Color commentator and reinstatement (1991–1994) 3.3 World Championship Wrestling (1994–2000) 3.3.1 WCW World Heavyweight Champion (1994–1996) 3.3.2 New World Order (1997–1998) 3.3.3 Team Madness (1999–2000) 3.4 Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2004–2005) 4 Other media 4.1 Endorsements 4.2 Acting career 4.2.1 Filmography 4.3 Music 4.4 Video games 5 Personal life 6 Death 7 Tributes and legacy 8 Championships and accomplishments 9 References 10 External links Early life Poffo was born in Columbus, Ohio,[5][6] the older son of Judy and Angelo Poffo. His father was Italian American and his mother was Jewish; Poffo was raised Roman Catholic.[13] Angelo was a well-known wrestler in the 1950s and 1960s, who was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not! for his ability to do sit-ups for hours on end.[13] His younger brother is professional wrestler Lanny Poffo. He lived in Zanesville, Ohio, where he attended Grover Cleveland Middle School. He graduated from Downers Grove North High School in Downers Grove, Illinois.[14] He later moved to Staten Island, New York, before moving to Lexington, Kentucky, where he lived for many years.[15] Savage was also an alumni of Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. Baseball career Savage was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a catcher out of high school.[16] He was placed in the minor leagues to develop, where he mostly played as an outfielder[17] in the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox farm systems.[5] Savage was 18 when he began playing minor league baseball; one of his teammates on the 1971 Gulf Coast League Cardinals was Larry Herndon who was also his roommate.[16] Savage would swing a bat into a hanging car tire as a regular training exercise in order to strengthen his hands and make sure he utilized his legs during swings. The technique was so effective that Herndon adopted it and used it during his own career as a baseball coach.[16] Savage injured his natural (right) throwing shoulder after a collision at home plate, and he learned to throw with his left arm instead. Savage's last season was 1974, when he played for the Tampa Tarpons.[17] He played 289 games in four minor league seasons, batting .254 with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs.[16] Professional wrestling career Early career (1973–1985) Savage (right) prepares to face off against Roberto Soto in a match held in Macon, Georgia on August 23, 1977[18] Savage first broke into the wrestling business in 1973 during the fall and winter of the baseball off season.[1] His first wrestling character, The Spider, was similar to Spider-Man.[1] He later took the ring name Randy Savage at the suggestion of his longtime friend and trainer Terry "The Goose" Stephens and Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) booker Ole Anderson, who said that the name Poffo did not fit someone who "wrestled like a savage".[1] The "Macho Man" nickname was adopted after his mother Judy Poffo read a Reader's Digest article predicting that the phrase would become "the next hot term".[19] Savage eventually decided to end his baseball career and become a full-time wrestler, working with his brother and father.[1] He wrestled his first match against Midwest Territory wrestler "Golden Boy" Paul Christy. Savage worked with his father and brother in Michigan, the Carolinas, Georgia, the Maritimes, and the eastern Tennessee territory run by Nick Gulas.[6] After a while, his father felt that his sons were not getting the pushes they deserved so he started the "outlaw" International Championship Wrestling (ICW) promotion in the mid-American states.[5] Eventually, ICW disbanded and Randy and Lanny entered the Memphis scene, joining Jerry Lawler's Continental Wrestling Association (their former competitors). While there, Savage feuded with Lawler over the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. He also teamed with Lanny to battle The Rock 'n' Roll Express; this feud included a match on June 25, 1984 in Memphis, where in the storyline, Savage injured Ricky Morton by piledriving him through the timekeeper's table, leading to the Express winning by disqualification (though Savage's brother Lanny later said that Morton was not injured in the attack).[20] Later in 1984, Savage turned babyface and allied with Lawler against Jimmy Hart's First Family alliance, only to turn heel on Lawler again in early 1985 and resume the feud with him over the title.[1] This ended when Lawler beat Savage in a Loser Leaves Town match on June 7 in Memphis, Tennessee.[1] World Wrestling Federation (1985–1994) Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion (1985–1987) In June 1985, Savage signed with Vince McMahon. Billed as "the top free agent in pro wrestling", Savage's first appearances on Tuesday Night Titans featured several established managers (including Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, and "Classy" Freddie Blassie) offering their services to Savage.[5] He eventually declined their offers and chose Miss Elizabeth as his new manager.[5][6] His gimmick was a crazed, ego-maniacal bully who mistreated Miss Elizabeth and threatened anyone who even looked at her. He made his pay-per-view (PPV) debut at The Wrestling Classic on November 7, 1985, participating in a 16-man tournament. He defeated Ivan Putski,[21] Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat,[21] and the Dynamite Kid[21] before losing by a countout in the finals to Junkyard Dog.[21] A collection of Savage's flamboyant outfits In late 1985, Savage started a feud with then Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion Tito Santana over that title. Santana beat him on October 19, 1985 at San Juan, Puerto Rico.[22] The November 2, 1985 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, he unsuccessfully challenged Santana for the title (Savage won the match by countout, but not the title because the title did not change hands by countout).[23] In a rematch on the February 24, 1986 (taped February 8) episode of Prime Time Wrestling, he won the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship at the Boston Garden by using an illegal steel object stashed in his tights to knock out Santana.[24] Early in his WWF career, Savage also won three countout victories (the first at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and the other two at Madison Square Garden) over his future tag team partner WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan (although the belt did not change hands due to the countout) as well as engaging in feuds with Bruno Sammartino and George "The Animal" Steele.[6] During this time, Savage also formed a tag-team with semi-retired wrestler come color commentator Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who would remain a vocal supporter of Savage until Ventura left the WWF in mid-1990, except during Savage's period as a face. Savage's feud with Steele began on the January 4, 1986 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, when Steele developed a crush on Miss Elizabeth.[25] At WrestleMania 2, Savage defeated Steele in a match to retain his Intercontinental Heavyweight Title.[26] He resumed his feud with Steele in early 1987, culminating in two Intercontinental Heavyweight title matches, both won by Savage.[27][28] Savage wrestled Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III in the Pontiac Silverdome. After 19 two-counts, Steamboat pinned Savage (with help from George Steele, who pushed Savage from the top rope seconds before he was pinned) to end his near 14-month reign as Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion.[29][30] The match was extremely choreographed, as opposed to the "on the fly" nature of most wrestling matches at the time.[1] Savage was a stickler for detail, and he and Steamboat laid out and rehearsed every spot in the match prior to WrestleMania, at his home in Florida.[1] The match was named 1987's Match of the Year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer. Steamboat and Savage were seen cheering with and hugging other wrestlers after the match.[1][6] WWF Champion (1988–1989) Main article: The Mega Powers Savage won the King of the Ring tournament later in 1987.[31] Savage's popularity was rising to the point that he was being cheered by a majority of the fans despite being heel, so he became less hostile towards the fans and Miss Elizabeth. When The Honky Tonk Man declared himself "the greatest Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion of all time", Savage began a feud with him to get the title back, becoming a fan favorite in the process. To help gain credibility with fans as a face prior to his match against Honky, Savage was booked (on the winning end) against heels, including Hercules, "King" Harley Race and Killer Khan, among others. On the October 3, 1987, edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he got his shot at The Honky Tonk Man and the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship, but lost out on the title when The Hart Foundation (Bret "Hitman" Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart), who along with Honky were managed by "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart, interrupted the match, getting Honky disqualified. In the ensuing beatdown, Miss Elizabeth ran back to the locker room and brought Hulk Hogan out to the ring to save Savage, leading to the formation of "The Mega Powers".[32][33] Savage would lead a team of five against Honky's team of five at the first annual Survivor Series where Savage's team was victorious, avenging Elizabeth's honor. His feud with Honky continued into early 1988, where in their last high-profile matchup (aired as the undercard to Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan on the February 5, 1988 Main Event), Savage defeated Honky by countout after he shoved Honky away from Elizabeth and into the ringpost. Their feud was blown off in the weeks before WrestleMania IV when the two competed in tag team-style steel cage matches, with Savage and Honky each enlisting their allies for their respective teams; the Savage-led teams usually won these matches. Although Savage did not regain the Intercontinental Championship, bigger things were awaiting him. Savage won his first WWF World Heavyweight Championship in a 14-man tournament at WrestleMania IV At WrestleMania IV, he participated in the 14-man tournament for the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship. During the tournament held at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Savage defeated "The Natural" Butch Reed, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and the One Man Gang on his way to the finals. In the Final he defeated "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase (who had his bodyguard Virgil and André the Giant in his corner), by pinning him with the help of Hogan.[34][35][36] Savage retained the WWF World Heavyweight Title for a little over a year, defending it against the likes of super heavyweights One Man Gang, the Big Boss Man[37] and André the Giant.[38] The Mega Powers' first feud was against The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant), whom they defeated in the main event of the first-ever SummerSlam pay-per-view event. The match, refereed by Jesse Ventura, was famous for Miss Elizabeth jumping up on the apron of the ring late in the match and removing her skirt to show red panties. This allowed both Savage and Hogan (who had been knocked to the outside) to get back in the ring and get the pin on DiBiase with Savage pushing a reluctant Ventura to the 3-count.[39][40] The Mega Powers then began feuding with The Twin Towers (Big Boss Man and Akeem who was formerly the One Man Gang). In the case of the latter feud, Savage frequently became involved in Hogan's matches involving one of the two villains (and vice versa); the two rival factions captained opposing teams in the main event of the 1988 Survivor Series, which was won by the Mega Powers. Problems between Savage and Hogan developed, however, in early 1989 after Hogan also took Elizabeth as his manager.[33] At the Royal Rumble, Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage from the Royal Rumble match and they started to fight until Elizabeth separated them.[41] On the February 3, 1989 episode of The Main Event, Savage and Hogan took on the Twin Towers in a match that saw Elizabeth accidentally get injured at ringside. Hogan carried her to the back, which enraged Savage to the point that he abandoned Hogan later in the match. Savage and Hogan got into a heated argument with Savage declaring that Hogan was an inferior wrestler to him and that he wanted to steal Elizabeth from him. He then proceeded to attack his partner, then attacked Hogan's friend Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake as he tried to intervene before finally being separated by security, thus Savage turned heel once again for the first time since 1987.[42] At WrestleMania V (which like WM4 was held at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City), Savage dropped the WWF World Heavyweight Championship to Hogan after a reign of 371 days. Prior to the match Savage had actually been hospitalized with an infected elbow but checked himself out of hospital in order to wrestle Hogan and despite wearing a heavy bandage over the elbow and being sick as a result of the infection, still managed to put on a high quality showing.[43][44] In April 1989, he replaced Elizabeth (who stayed with Hogan) as his manager with former WWF Women's Champion Sensational Sherri.[45] Savage would co-main event SummerSlam, teaming with "The Human Wrecking Machine" Zeus, a character from Hulk Hogan's movie, No Holds Barred, against The Mega-Maniacs (Hogan and Brutus Beefcake), with the Mega-Maniacs winning after Hogan hit Zeus with Sherri's loaded purse to get the win.[46][47] Savage and Zeus faced Hogan and Beefcake in a rematch contested in a steel cage at No Holds Barred and lost again.[48] Macho King and retirement (1989–1991) Savage adopted the moniker "The Macho King" after defeating Jim Duggan for the King of the Ring title in September 1989 (Duggan in turn had won it from Haku).[49] On a later wrestling episode, he had a coronation as the new "King of the WWF" led by wrestler The Genius (actually Savage's brother, Lanny Poffo), in which Ted DiBiase gave him a scepter as a gift. Savage would use that scepter as a weapon numerous times. The "Macho King" and Hulk Hogan met one last time (intended to end their ongoing year-long feud), when Savage got a shot at Hogan's WWF World Heavyweight Championship on the February 23, 1990 episode of The Main Event.[50] The pinfall was counted by new heavyweight boxing champion Buster Douglas despite Savage kicking out at two, Douglas then punched Savage in the face after Savage confronted and then slapped Douglas. Savage wrestling The Ultimate Warrior, who retired him at WrestleMania VII Savage then began feuding with the "Common Man" Dusty Rhodes, losing a mixed tag match (along with Sherri) to Rhodes and Sapphire at WrestleMania VI[51] but beating him in a singles match at SummerSlam.[52] In late 1990, Savage started a feud with then WWF World Heavyweight Champion The Ultimate Warrior. The feud escalated at Royal Rumble, when Warrior refused to promise Savage the right to challenge him for the title, should Warrior defend it successfully against Sgt. Slaughter (Slaughter had already granted Savage this opportunity, should he beat Warrior). Savage had sent Sensational Queen Sherri out before the match to try to persuade the Warrior to promise this in a face-to-face interview laced with sexual innuendos, but was unsuccessful. Outraged, Savage promised revenge, which he got during the Slaughter-Warrior title match. During the match, Sherri distracted The Warrior who chased her back to the locker room. However, halfway down the aisle "The Macho King" Randy Savage attacked the champion, resulting in the Ultimate Warrior having to crawl to the ring. Later, Savage ran out to the ring and smashed the sceptre over Warrior's head, (knocking him unconscious for Slaughter to pin), and then immediately sprinted back to the locker room. Later in the program, Savage failed to appear in the Royal Rumble which led to speculation that he and Sherri had fled the building in order to avoid The Warrior.[53] The events at the Royal Rumble led to a career-ending match at WrestleMania VII, which Savage lost.[54] After the match, Savage was attacked by Sherri as he lay dejected in the ring.[1] This was too much for Miss Elizabeth who happened to be in the audience.[5] Elizabeth rushed to Savage's aid, fighting off Sherri and reuniting with her one-time love to huge crowd appreciation, with Savage becoming a fan favorite once again for the first time since 1989.[1] Despite his retirement from active wrestling, Savage stayed in the WWF in a non-wrestling capacity while The Ultimate Warrior was ultimately fired by Vince McMahon after SummerSlam 1991 later that year.[1] Savage actually wrestled a number of times following WrestleMania VII and the WWF's official story was that out of respect, Warrior had generously allowed him to see out the final months of his contract before he was forced to retire. His last match was on April 1st in the Kobe, Japan at a joint card between the WWF and Super World Sports, where he was defeated by Genichiro Tenryu. [55] Color commentator and reinstatement (1991–1994) Miss Elizabeth Hulette, Savage's first wife Savage returned to television in a non-wrestling role as the "Macho Man" after WrestleMania VII as a broadcaster. Although in storyline he was retired, Savage continued to wrestle on joint WWF/SWS cards in Japan. He also made an initial, untelevised return to the ring on July 30th in Portland, ME at a WWF Wrestling Challenge taping when he substituted for Ultimate Warrior and pinned The Undertaker. Following this Savage subbed for Warrior on house shows in early August against Undertaker. [56] Savage also participated as a special referee in several house show matches between Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter. Meanwhile, the storyline with Miss Elizabeth continued, culminating with Savage proposing to her in the ring leading to an on-air wedding at SummerSlam dubbed The Match Made in Heaven. It was at this time that Savage was targeted by Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who was, by now, a villain. On an episode of Prime Time Wrestling prior to SummerSlam, the announcers and several wrestlers threw a "bachelor party" for Savage, with Roberts' arrival deemed unwelcome by the rest of the contingent.[57] In the post-SummerSlam wedding reception, Roberts and his new ally, The Undertaker, made their presence known by hiding a live snake in one of the newly married couple's wedding presents; Elizabeth was frightened when she opened the gift box, and the Undertaker blindsided Savage by knocking him out with the urn. Sid Justice ran off both Roberts and The Undertaker. Savage, still unable to compete due to his WrestleMania VII loss to the Ultimate Warrior, immediately began a public campaign to have himself reinstated as an active wrestler to gain revenge on Roberts; however, WWF President Jack Tunney refused. Meanwhile, Roberts cut a series of promos berating Savage. The feud began to boil over during a television taping for WWF Superstars of Wrestling October 21 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when Roberts cut an in-ring promo to goad Savage – who was providing TV commentary – into the ring. After he was lured into the ring, Roberts attacked Savage, eventually tying Savage into the ropes before getting a live king cobra to bite his arm, according to Hulk Hogan and Jake Roberts on the Pick Your Poison DVD that the snake was holding on with the fangs and that Jake had a hard time getting the snake off Randy. Sid Justice was originally supposed to be the victim of the snake bite, but due to a biceps injury, Savage accepted to be snake bitten. Savage then urged fans to lobby Tunney to reinstate him, under the rallying cry "Reinstatement! That's the plan! Reinstate the Macho Man!" In response, Tunney reinstated Savage and announced a match between him and Roberts for the This Tuesday in Texas pay-per-view event. Savage won the match,[58] and the two continued to brawl afterward. The feud continued throughout the winter, ending after a match on the February 8, 1992 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, which Savage won;[59] Roberts had planned a backstage ambush of Savage and Elizabeth after losing the match, but was stopped by The Undertaker. Savage then began an on-screen feud with WWF World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair. According to the storyline, Flair claimed that he had been in a prior relationship with Savage's wife Miss Elizabeth, going as far as presenting pictures of Elizabeth and Flair together. This culminated in a title match at WrestleMania VIII; Savage won the match and his second WWF World Heavyweight Championship.[60][61][62] During this time, Savage and Elizabeth separated in real life, and Elizabeth made her final WWF appearance on April 19, 1992 at the UK Rampage pay-per-view, where Savage defended the WWF World Heavyweight Championship against Shawn Michaels.[63] However, the Savage-Flair feud continued, keeping the Flair-Elizabeth television storyline intact until Elizabeth's final WWF appearance (the UK Rampage match between Savage and Michaels) aired on WWF Prime Time Wrestling in June. About this same time, WWF Magazine published photos of Savage and Elizabeth, which were identical to those featuring Elizabeth and Flair; it was revealed that Flair had doctored the Savage-Elizabeth pictures. The former couple were divorced on September 18, 1992. A statement announcing the divorce appeared in WWF Magazine at about the same time, a rare break of kayfabe for the WWF at the time; the divorce was never referenced again nor did it figure into any of Savage's future feuds for the duration of his WWF run. For the better part of 1992, Savage and his old nemesis The Ultimate Warrior (who returned to the WWF at WrestleMania VIII), peacefully co-existed. However, when it was announced that Warrior was the new number one contender for Savage's WWF World Heavyweight Championship, old tensions resurfaced and they had several heated exchanges prior to the match. Savage defended the title against The Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam. Savage lost the match by countout, after having his knee injured by Flair and Mr. Perfect, but retained the championship. After the match, Warrior helped a badly injured Savage to the back.[64][65] On the September 14 episode of Prime Time Wrestling (taped September 1), Savage lost the WWF World Heavyweight Title to Flair after an interference from Razor Ramon.[57] He formed a tag team with The Ultimate Warrior known as the "Ultimate Maniacs" after both men were attacked by Flair and Mr. Perfect during their match at SummerSlam. After his title loss shortly after, an injured Savage backed Warrior to be the man to dethrone Flair. On the November 8, 1992 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, they took on Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Money. Inc. lost by countout but retained their title.[66] Savage and Warrior were scheduled to face Flair and Ramon in a tag team match at Survivor Series. Warrior was fired from the WWF weeks before the event, so Savage chose Mr. Perfect, executive consultant to Flair, as his partner to replace Warrior. Perfect initially laughed off the suggestion, but was angered by Bobby Heenan and his insinuations that he could never again wrestle at his previous level, and accepted the match. Despite initial distrust (an interview prior to the match had Savage admit to Perfect that he neither liked nor trusted him), the duo defeated Flair and Ramon via a disqualification.[67] When Monday Night Raw began in January 1993, Savage served primarily as a color commentator, wrestling only occasionally against characters such as Doink, The Repo Man, Rick Martel, and Crush. However, he was the runner up in the Royal Rumble match at Royal Rumble, where he was eliminated by Yokozuna.[68][69] Savage returned to pay-per-view at Survivor Series as a substitute for Mr. Perfect and competed in the 1994 Royal Rumble match. His last WWF pay-per-view appearance as a competitor was a victory over Crush in a Falls Count Anywhere match at WrestleMania X.[70] Savage also made periodic appearances in Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion in fall 1994. Meanwhile, Savage was also a color commentator for the 1994 King of the Ring and made his final WWF pay-per-view appearance at SummerSlam at the new United Center in Chicago, where he served as the master of ceremonies. Before the SummerSlam PPV, Savage and several WWF superstars, including Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, Bart Gunn and the 1-2-3 Kid took part in a charity softball match against the "Chicago Media All-Stars". The WWF superstars won the game 9–7 with Savage showcasing his old baseball skills by hitting a home run.[71] At the end of October 1994, Savage's WWF contract expired and he left to sign with the competing World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He made his final televised WWF appearance on the October 31 Raw, making a save for Lex Luger against Bob Backlund. The following week, on the November 7 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon announced that Savage had left the company, thanking him for his contributions and wishing him the best of luck in the future. World Championship Wrestling (1994–2000) WCW World Heavyweight Champion (1994–1996) Savage made his first appearance for WCW on the December 3, 1994 episode of Saturday Night. Savage made reference to the love/hate relationship he had with Hulk Hogan and stated his desire to be the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Savage appeared at Starrcade later that month, saving Hogan from an attack by The Three Faces of Fear, shaking hands with his friend and rival. At SuperBrawl V, he teamed up with Sting and took on Avalanche and Big Bubba Rogers in a tag team match, which Sting and Savage won.[72] The following month at Uncensored, Savage wrestled Avalanche with Savage getting the win by disqualification when a fan, who happened to be Ric Flair dressed in drag, attacked Savage.[73] This led to a feud between Savage and Flair where Flair attacked Savage's father, Angelo Poffo, at Slamboree following a tag team main event where Savage and Hogan defeated Flair and Vader. Savage participated in the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship tournament and defeated The Butcher in the first round,[74] and "Stunning" Steve Austin in the quarterfinals.[74] and then interfered in Flair's match against Alex Wright, attacking Flair and causing Wright to get disqualified, which set up a tournament semi-final match in which the winner would face the winner of the Sting and Meng match for the United States Heavyweight Championship at The Great American Bash. Savage and Flair's tournament semi-final match never took place, however, due to Savage and Flair brawling in the backstage area prior to the match and both being eliminated from the tournament.[74] Savage and Flair would wrestle at the event that took place on Father's Day. Savage brought out his father with him, but at the end of the match, Flair used Poffo's cane to defeat Savage.[75] In a rematch the next month, Savage defeated Flair in a lifeguard lumberjack match at Bash at the Beach.[76] Later that year, during part of the storyline in which Arn Anderson and Ric Flair turned on each other, Flair (looking for a partner to take on Anderson and Brian Pillman in a tag match) tried to recruit Savage to be his partner. Remembering the rivalry (and how Flair had attacked Savage's father), Savage refused. At World War 3, Savage won his first WCW World Heavyweight Championship by winning the first-ever 60-man three-ring battle royal.[77] He lost the title to Flair a month later at Starrcade 1995: World Cup of Wrestling; earlier that night, he defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan.[78] Savage won his second WCW World Heavyweight Championship back from Flair on the January 22, 1996 episode of Nitro,[79] but against lost the title to Flair the next month in a steel cage match at SuperBrawl VI.[80] In January 1996, Savage brought Elizabeth with him into WCW as his manager once again, but she turned on Savage in his last title loss to Flair. Thereafter, Flair claimed that Elizabeth had given him a sizable amount of Savage's money, taken in their divorce settlement, which Flair used to set up a "VIP section" at Monday Nitro events. Flair and Savage continued to feud until June 1996, when the overall landscape of WCW changed. At Bash at the Beach, the New World Order (nWo) was formed when Hulk Hogan turned on Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger and joined "The Outsiders", a tag team of former WWF wrestlers Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.[81] After their inception, one of their main enemies became Savage himself, who was one of the leaders of the WCW crusaders against the nWo. Savage threatened Hogan for months, often being attacked by the nWo. At Halloween Havoc, Savage finally faced Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, but lost when The Giant interfered and hit him with a chokeslam.[82] Savage left WCW following the event, when he was unable to reach a new deal with the company.[83] New World Order (1997–1998) Main article: New World Order (nWo) Savage returned to WCW on the January 20, 1997 episode of Nitro hijacking the show, claiming to have been "blackballed" and refusing to leave the ring until Sting showed up, and the two left together. Savage appeared again with Sting over the next couple Nitro shows roving and watching events from the crowd as "free agents". At one point, Eric Bischoff informed Savage that his WCW career was over and he could only return as an nWo member. Sting and Savage appeared at SuperBrawl VII, where Savage left Sting's side and joined the nWo by helping Hogan defeat Roddy Piper. The next night, he reunited with Elizabeth, who had joined the nWo several months earlier during Savage's hiatus from WCW. Savage began feuding with Diamond Dallas Page and his wife Kimberly. Their feud lasted almost eight months which included tag team matches,[84][85][86] a no disqualification match at Spring Stampede,[87] a falls count anywhere match at The Great American Bash,[88] and a Las Vegas Death match at Halloween Havoc.[89] In early 1998, Savage started a feud with Lex Luger which culminated in a match at Souled Out, which Luger won.[90] Luger also won a rematch between the two at SuperBrawl VIII.[91] When Hogan failed to recapture his "nWo" title from Sting, it was Savage's turn, and he got his shot at Spring Stampede. Hogan tried to make sure that Savage would not win the title because Hogan felt that he was the only nWo member who should be WCW World Heavyweight Champion, since he was the leader of the stable. With the help of Nash, however, Savage beat Sting for his third WCW World Heavyweight Championship, despite tearing his ACL in his knee during the match.[92][93] The following night on Nitro, Hogan faced Savage for the championship and it looked like Hogan had Savage beat,[94] but for the second consecutive night, Nash came to Savage's aid, powerbombing Hogan.[94] but an interfering Bret Hart attacked Savage and preserved the victory for Hogan.[94] Savage then joined with Nash and others to form the nWo Wolfpac, a split from Hogan's group.[95] Savage went on to feud with both Hart and Roddy Piper.[96][97] After the June 15 episode of Nitro, Savage took a hiatus from the company to recover from at least two major knee surgeries. He made only one more appearance in 1998, helping Ric Flair defeat Eric Bischoff for the Presidency of WCW on the December 28, 1998 episode of Monday Nitro.[98] He entered the ring wearing an nWo shirt but suddenly turned on the Giant, who was interfering on Bischoff's behalf, and removed the shirt while exiting. Team Madness (1999–2000) Main article: Team Madness Savage returned in April 1999, debuting a new look and theme music, sporting a slicked back ponytail, earrings, and a new villainous attitude (though still embracing the fans), as well as introducing his then 23-year-old girlfriend Gorgeous George as his valet.[1] His first action was as the guest referee in the main event at Spring Stampede, which was won by Diamond Dallas Page.[1] For a short time afterward, Savage interfered in DDP's matches to make sure that Page kept the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, but when Kevin Nash won it at Slamboree, Savage went after the title himself.[5] It was around that time that Madusa and Miss Madness joined Savage as his other two valets; together they were known as Team Madness.[99] At The Great American Bash, Sid Vicious returned to WCW and helped Savage to attack Kevin Nash.[1] This led to a tag team match at Bash at the Beach between Nash and Sting against Savage and Sid Vicious, in which whoever scored the winning fall would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship; Savage won his fourth and final WCW World Heavyweight Championship when he pinned Nash.[100] Savage's last reign as champion did not last long, as he lost the title to a returning Hollywood Hogan the next night on Nitro, when Nash interfered and hit a powerbomb on Savage (in a reversal of the situation from the previous year, in which Nash had attacked Hogan to help Savage keep his title, albeit unsuccessfully).[101] Team Madness slowly started to disband, after Madusa and Miss Madness began fighting each other over who was responsible for Savage's title loss.[5] Savage soon fired both of them and started a feud with Dennis Rodman, defeating him at Road Wild.[102] Savage disappeared from WCW programming following his feud with Rodman and would make two more appearances: first on the October 25, 1999 episode of Nitro, when he appeared in the ring with Gorgeous George, and talked about passing the torch forward.[103] His second, and final, WCW appearance would be on the May 3, 2000 episode of Thunder, when Savage returned to join The Millionaire's Club – a group consisting of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and other veterans – aiding them at the end of a 41-man battle royal.[104] Despite Savage ending the show claiming he was going to help the veteran group take out young New Blood group, he did not appear again in WCW before they folded the next year. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2004–2005) Savage made his return to professional wrestling at Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's (TNA) Victory Road by confronting Jeff Jarrett.[105] Savage would make his Impact! debut on November 19, where he confronted the Kings of Wrestling. Savage would make one final Impact! appearance on November 26, when he showed up at the end of the show leading the force against the Kings of Wrestling. On December 5 at Turning Point, he teamed up with Jeff Hardy and A.J. Styles to defeat the Kings of Wrestling (Jarrett, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall), in his last in-ring match.[106][107] The main event of Final Resolution in January 2005 was scheduled to be Jarrett and Savage for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[1] The plan was for Savage to win the championship and then drop it back to Jarrett at the next pay-per-view. On February 18, 2005, however, Savage left TNA due to health concerns. Other media Savage posing with a fan Endorsements He was the celebrity spokesman for Slim Jim snack foods in the mid-to-late 1990s. His catch phrase in the ads was "Snap into a Slim Jim, oooooh yeah!", which became a recurring theme for Slim Jim ads. In 1998, Savage accepted an award from Harvard University's humor society Harvard Lampoon as Man of the Year. Acting career Savage appeared in many television shows in the mid-to-late 90's. He appeared on a wrestling themed episode of Baywatch that aired in 1996 with fellow WCW wrestlers Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Big Van Vader, and Kevin Sullivan. In 1999, he appeared on popular television shows Walker, Texas Ranger and Mad About You. Savage appeared in his first theatrical film in 2000 making an appearance as his Macho Man character in the movie Ready to Rumble where David Arquette daydreams a sequence fighting Savage at a gas station.[108] Savage's most famous film role was in the 2002 film Spider-Man as the wrestler Bonesaw McGraw (based on the comics character Crusher Hogan). Savage's memorable voice gave him voice acting roles for various television and film projects. He voiced the rogue alien wrestler "Rasslor" in the Dexter's Laboratory shorts Dial M for Monkey. He also provided his voice in many other shows including the voice for "Gorilla" in an episode of King of the Hill and the voice of Space Ghost's grandfather in an episode of Space Ghost Coast To Coast. Savage served as the voice of "The Thug", in Disney's Academy Award nominated 2008 animated film Bolt, which was his last theatrical film appearance. Savage reprised the role in Super Rhino in 2009 for the short film featuring the cast of Bolt. Filmography Film Year Film Role Notes 2000 Ready to Rumble Himself 2002 Spider-Man Bonesaw McGraw 2008 Glago's Guest Short film 2008 Bolt Thug (voice) 2009 Super Rhino Thug (voice) Television Year Title Role Notes 1996 Baywatch Himself Episode: "Bash at the Beach" 1996 Dexter's Laboratory Rasslor (voice) Dial M for Monkey segment of episode 7 1997 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Leonard "the Gray Ghost" Ghostal (voice) A former professional wrestler (and Space Ghost's grandfather), in episode "Piledriver" 1997 The Jeff Foxworthy Show himself "Wrestling Opera" episode 1997 The Weird Al Show himself "Al Gets Robbed" episode 1999 Walker, Texas Ranger Whitelaw Lundren Episode "Fight or Die" 1999 Mad About You himself Episode "Separated Beds" 1999 Arliss himself "To Thine Own Self Be True" episode 2001 Nikki James "Pretty Boy" Carter Pro-wrestler, in episode "Fallback" 2003 College University Himself "You've Pushpa'd Me Too Far" episode Duck Dodgers Master Sergeant Emily Dickinson Jones (voice) "Queen Is Wild, The/Back to the Academy" episode 2003 Whatever Happened to Robot Jones Biker (voice) "Family Vacation" episode 2005 The X's Sasquatch (voice) "Photo Ops/Boy's Best Friend" and "You only Sneeze Twice/X Takes a Holiday" episodes 2007 King of the Hill Gorilla (voice) "Bill, Bulk and the Body Buddies" episode Video Games Year Title Role Notes 2009 Cars Race-O-Rama El Machismo (voice) Music Savage's music debut was on the WWF-produced WrestleMania: The Album in 1993, where he sang on the song "Speaking From The Heart", one of many songs sung by then-WWF wrestlers on the CD. Ten years later, on October 7, 2003, Savage released a rap album titled Be a Man. It includes a tribute to "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig as well as a diss track aimed at Hulk Hogan.[109] Savage promoted Be A Man with a concert tour featuring Brian Adams as his bodyguard and Ron Harris as touring manager. During this time, the development of a second album was already in progress with Savage exclaiming, "We are absolutely going to have more records."[110] However, no further albums were released. Just three months before his death on February 2, 2011, EpicLLOYD and Nice Peter made a song along with a video for Epic Rap Battles of History of Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Kim Jong-Il having a rap battle. They noted his death with annotations in the video. Rapper Don Trip released a mixtape on January 24, 2014 entitled Randy Savage. All tracks have Savage's famous "Ohhh Yeah!!!" in the opening of the song; the track entitled "Cream of the Crop" has Savage's "Nothing Means Nothing" speech from an interview after WrestleMania III. In January 2015, DJ/rapper DJ Cummerbund began releasing a series of remixes that feature samples from Be A Man and has received critical acclaim.[111][112] Video games He appeared in WWF WrestleMania, WWF WrestleMania Challenge, WWF Superstars, WWF WrestleMania Steel Cage, WCW Nitro, WCW/nWo Thunder, WCW vs nWo: World Tour, WCW/nWo Revenge, WCW MAYHEM, WWF Super WrestleMania, WWF Royal Rumble, WWF King of the Ring, WWE All Stars, as a DLC in WWE 12 and as an unlockable character in WWE 2K14. He appears as the Macho King as a DLC in WWE 2K15, in WWE 2K16 as a starting wrestler, in WWE 2K17 and WWE 2K18 as an unlockable wrestler through the in-game currency "VC" (Virtual Currency), and WWE 2K19 as an exclusive DLC character for the Collector's edition of the game, entitled the "Wooooo!" Edition, making him the only wrestler ever to have more than two DLC appearances in a wrestling video game.[citation needed] Savage's absence from WWE-licensed games was recognized by Guinness World Records in its 2015 gamer's edition as the longest such absence.[113] Personal life Savage married Elizabeth Hulette, better known as Miss Elizabeth, in 1984.[114] They divorced in 1992.[115] In May 2010, Savage married Barbara Lynn Payne, who was described as his "high school sweetheart" by Terry Funk.[115][116] For years, Savage and Hulk Hogan were at odds and had an on again/off again friendship. According to Hogan, Jimmy Hart,[117] and Savage's brother Lanny,[118] the two may have reconciled shortly before his death.[118] Death On the morning of May 20, 2011, Savage died at age 58 after suffering a sudden heart attack[119][120] while driving with his wife in Seminole, Florida.[121] He became unresponsive and lost control of his Jeep Wrangler, crashing into a tree.[122] Initial reports of Savage's death indicated that he had been killed in the collision,[123] when, in fact, he and his wife had been wearing seatbelts and suffered only minor physical injuries in the crash.[120] An autopsy performed by the medical examiner's office found that he had an enlarged heart and advanced coronary artery disease (more than 90% narrowed). The drugs found in his system included a prescription painkiller and a small amount of alcohol. Savage had never been treated for heart problems and there was no evidence that he was aware of his heart condition. The cause of death was officially ruled as atherosclerotic heart disease.[120][124] Savage was cremated, and his ashes were placed under a favorite tree on his property in Largo, Florida, near his mother's development. Ten days before his death, he had asked his brother to pour the ashes of his dog in the same spot.[125][126] Tributes and legacy Savage was represented by his brother, Lanny Poffo, at his WWE Hall of Fame induction Vince McMahon, with whom Savage had a longtime strained relationship,[127] paid tribute to Savage in a Time magazine article, describing Savage as "one of wrestling's all-time greats."[128][129] TNA held a ten bell salute in Savage's honor the night of his death.[130] WWE aired a tribute video on the May 23 episode of Raw. Later that night, CM Punk paid tribute to Savage by wearing pink trunks and yellow boots complete with white stars on the trunks during a tag team match with R-Truth against John Cena and Rey Mysterio.[131] Punk later adapted a version of the diving elbow drop into his moveset.[132] In 2011, pro wrestling podcaster Peter Rosenberg stated, to agreement from veteran wrestler Shawn Michaels, that, "You add up all the things that he was capable of, and you can make a case that there was no one better than 'Macho Man'."[133] Also that year, Kevin Eck of The Baltimore Sun lauded Savage as an all-round performer, saying that "nobody blended power, speed, agility, and technical skills like the 'Macho Man' in his prime".[134] WWE released a DVD documentary, Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story, in November 2014. Despite a strained relationship over the years with the WWE, the documentary featured interviews with Savage's brother, Lanny Poffo and his mother, with Poffo giving insight to many of the rumors and denying some of the negative things other wrestlers said in the documentary about Savage, including his relationship with Elizabeth.[135] Savage was never inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame during his lifetime and he was frequently described as being one of its most noticeably absent figures.[127][136][137] On January 12, 2015, WWE announced Savage as the first inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2015, and that his Mega Powers partner and long-time rival Hulk Hogan would induct him.[138] Savage's brother, Lanny Poffo, appeared on the WWE Network that same night and commented on Savage's induction announcement by saying "I had no thoughts. I was so excited. Intellectually, there was nothing. It was all emotional. I was happy for the fans. They waited for Bruno Sammartino for so many years and now they waited for Macho Man." He went on to say that Savage's mother and his 30-year-old daughter are both very excited and said of the WWE Network, "Randy will never die."[139] On September 1, 2018, at the event All In, Jay Lethal was accompanied to the ring by Lanny Poffo while dressed in one of Savage's original outfits that he had been given to use by Doctor Marty Urban.[140] Championships and accomplishments NWA Mid-America/Continental Wrestling Association AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[141] CWA International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[142] NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship (3 times)[143] Grand Prix Wrestling GPW International Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[144] Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling NWA Gulf Coast Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Lanny Poffo[145] International Championship Wrestling ICW World Heavyweight Championship (3 times)[146] Ilio DiPaolo Legends of the Aud Hall of Fame (2016)[147] Pro Wrestling Illustrated Comeback of the Year (1995)[148] Feud of the Year (1997) vs. Diamond Dallas Page[148] Match of the Year (1987) vs. Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III[148] Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1989)[148] Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1988)[148] Stanley Weston Award (2011)[148] Wrestler of the Year (1988)[148] Ranked No. 2 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1992[149] Ranked No. 9 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003[150] Ranked No. 57 of the top 100 tag teams of the "PWI Years" with Hulk Hogan in 2003[151] Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2009[3] United States Wrestling Association USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[152] World Championship Wrestling WCW World Heavyweight Championship (4 times)[153][154][155][156] World War 3 (1995)[2] World Wrestling Council WWC North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[157] World Wrestling Federation/WWE WWF Intercontinental Championship (1 time)[158] WWF World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[159][160] King of the Ring (1987)[31] WWF World Heavyweight Championship Tournament (1988) WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2015) Wrestling Observer Newsletter Match of the Year (1987) vs. Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III Most Unimproved (1992)[161] Worst Worked Match of the Year (1996) with Hulk Hogan vs. Arn Anderson, Meng, The Barbarian, Ric Flair, Kevin Sullivan, Z-Gangsta, and The Ultimate Solution in a Towers of Doom match at Uncensored Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996) HHG Corporation,[2] d/b/a Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) is a defunct professional wrestling promotion that was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1992 by Tod Gordon. In 1993, Scarsdale, New York native and businessman Paul Heyman took over the creative end of the promotion from Eddie Gilbert and rechristened the promotion from Eastern Championship Wrestling to "Extreme" Championship Wrestling, kicking off a worldwide craze of companies using the tagline "Extreme" for their products. Heyman's creative direction created new stars, and established the "third" big brand in the United States, competing with the billionaire-backed World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling promotions. HHG closed ECW in 2001 when it was unable to secure a new national television contract, and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. purchased the assets of the company from bankruptcy in January 2003. The promotion showcased various international styles of professional wrestling, ranging from lucha libre to puroresu and hardcore wrestling. After purchasing the assets of ECW, WWE relaunched the Extreme Championship Wrestling franchise as a third brand with their existing Raw and SmackDown brands. It debuted on June 13, 2006 on Sci Fi in the United States and ran for close to four years until it aired its final episode on February 16, 2010 on the rebranded Syfy. Contents 1 History 1.1 Tri-State Wrestling Alliance and NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling (1989–1994) 1.2 Secession from the NWA (1994) 1.3 ECW Arena and television syndication (1994–2001) 1.4 Paul Heyman and cross promotion with the WWF and the USWA (1996–1997) 1.5 Mike Awesome controversy and promotional rivalry (2000) 1.6 ECW on TNN and decline (1999–2001) 2 Legacy and resurface 2.1 The Alliance 2.2 Documentaries 2.3 Reunions and relaunch 2.3.1 WWE 2.3.2 Other reunions 3 Championships and programming 3.1 Championships 3.2 Programming 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links History Tri-State Wrestling Alliance and NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling (1989–1994) ECW had its origins in 1989 under the banner Tri-State Wrestling Alliance owned by Joel Goodhart.[3] ECW would, in fact, continue to use the former Tri-State Heavyweight championship belt to represent its own Championship, although the ECW title was not considered a continuation of that title. In 1992, Goodhart sold his share of the company to his partner, Tod Gordon, who in return renamed the promotion Eastern Championship Wrestling.[4] When Eastern Championship Wrestling was founded, it wasn't a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). At the time, "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert[5] was the lead booker of Eastern Championship Wrestling. Gilbert, after a falling out with Tod Gordon, was replaced in September 1993 by then-28 year old Scarsdale, New York native and businessman Paul Heyman. Heyman, known on television as Paul E. Dangerously, had just been fired by World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and was looking for a new challenge.[4] Eastern Championship Wrestling logo. Secession from the NWA (1994) In 1994, Jim Crockett's non-compete agreement with Ted Turner, who purchased World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from Crockett in November 1988, was up and he decided to start promoting with the NWA again.[4] Crockett went to Tod Gordon and asked him to hold a tournament for the NWA's top prize, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, in ECW's home area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 27, 1994. NWA President Dennis Coralluzzo alleged that Crockett and Gordon were going to try to monopolize the title[6] (akin to Crockett's actions in the 1980s) and stated Crockett did not have the NWA board's approval, which resulted in Coralluzzo personally overseeing the tournament. Gordon took offense at Coralluzzo for his power plays and began contemplating a plan to secede ECW from the NWA through a controversial and public manner that would attract attention to ECW and insult the NWA organization. Gordon planned to have Shane Douglas, who was scheduled to face 2 Cold Scorpio in the tournament finals, throw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt upon winning as an act of defiance.[7][8] Tod Gordon and Paul Heyman originally planned the idea of throwing down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt. Heyman persuaded Douglas by noting that the negative would only be that NWA traditionalists would just see them as traitors to tradition. Adding to Douglas' decision was the animosity between Douglas and NWA President Dennis Coralluzzo, who at the time publicly criticized Douglas and told NWA affiliated bookers not to book Douglas for shows. Coralluzzo believed that Douglas was a "bad risk" and had the tendency to no-show events.[9] Douglas ultimately decided to go through with Gordon and Heyman's plan, inspired by his father's motto of "doing right by the people that do right by you." After looking up and saying, "This is it tonight, Dad," Douglas threw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt, stating that he did not want to be champion of a "dead promotion" that "died seven years ago." [4] He then raised the Eastern Championship Wrestling title belt and declared it to be a World Heavyweight Championship — calling it the only real world title left in professional wrestling. When recalling this event years later, Paul Heyman stated the following in a 1998 chat: “ The National Wrestling Alliance was old-school when old-school wasn't hip anymore. We wanted to set our mark, we wanted to breakaway from the pack, we wanted to let the world know that we weren't just some independent promotion.[3] ” Coralluzzo was interviewed after the event and declared that Douglas would be the world champion of the NWA "whether he likes it or not", calling Douglas' actions a "disgrace" and said he would move to have Douglas stripped of both the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and the Eastern Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Championship, calling him "undeserving" of both titles.[10] Gordon made the following announcement on the next edition of NWA-ECW programming: “ I listened with great interest as the representative of the NWA board of directors took it upon himself to inform you that they have the power to force NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling not to recognize The Franchise, Shane Douglas, as a world heavyweight champion. Well, as of noon today, I have folded NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling. In its place will be ECW- Extreme Championship Wrestling- and we recognize The Franchise, Shane Douglas, as our World Heavyweight Champion. And we encourage any wrestler in the world today to come to the ECW to challenge for that belt. This is the ECW, Extreme Championship Wrestling, changing the face of professional wrestling. ” The promotion showcased many different styles of professional wrestling, including hardcore wrestling matches as well as lucha libre and Japanese wrestling styles. Extreme Championship Wrestling, Inc. was sold to HHG Corporation sometime after 1995. ECW Arena and television syndication (1994–2001) See also: ECW Hardcore TV The bulk of ECW's shows remained at the ECW Arena, a former warehouse secluded under a section of Interstate 95. Seating comprised simple folding chairs and four sets of portable bleachers, with the unconventional scene reflective of the gritty style of the promotion itself. Shows were broadcast on a Philadelphia local cable sports station (SportsChannel America's local affiliate, SportsChannel Philadelphia) on Tuesday evenings. After Sports Channel Philadelphia went off the air in 1997, the show moved to WPPX-TV 61. It later moved to a former independent broadcast station (WGTW 48) in Philadelphia on either Friday or Saturday night at 1 or 2 a.m. Shows were also aired on the MSG Network in NYC on Friday nights (Early Saturday morning) at 2 a.m. Due to the obscurity of the stations and ECW itself, as well as the lack of FCC oversight at that late hour, many times expletives and violence were not edited out of these showings, along with extensive use of copyrighted music and music videos. Paul Heyman and cross promotion with the WWF and the USWA (1996–1997) In 1995, Tod Gordon sold ECW to his head booker, Paul Heyman. Afterward, Gordon remained in ECW as a figurehead commissioner. Years after being the ECW "Commissioner", Gordon left ECW in May 1997, his absence was explained on-air that he retired from wrestling due to family. Rumors circulated, however, that Gordon was fired by Heyman after he was suspected as a "locker room mole" for a rival wrestling promotion, helping to lure talent to World Championship Wrestling. Storyline-wise, Vince McMahon first became "aware" of ECW while at the 1995 King of the Ring event in ECW's home base of Philadelphia. During the match between Mabel and Savio Vega, the crowd suddenly started to angrily chant, "ECW ECW ECW!". On September 22, 1996, at the In Your House: Mind Games event in Philadelphia, ECW stars The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Paul Heyman, and Tazz were in the front row with Sandman even interfering in one match (when he threw beer on Savio Vega during his strap match with Bradshaw). McMahon acknowledged ECW's status as a local, up and coming promotion on the air. The following night on WWF Monday Night RAW, broadcast on September 23, 1996, at the onset of a match between The Bodydonnas vs. The British Bulldog and Owen Hart, Bill Alfonso, and Tazz could be seen invading the program. Both Tazz and Alfonso were able to successfully jump the security rails, and Tazz was able to prominently display a bright orange sign with black lettering that read "Sabu Fears Tazz-ECW". On February 24, 1997, ECW "invaded" Raw from the Manhattan Center. They advanced a storyline, plugged their first ever pay-per-view and worked three matches in front of the WWF audience while McMahon called the action with both Jerry "The King" Lawler and Paul Heyman. The Manhattan Center in New York was peppered with a large number of ECW fans, who gave the WWF wrestlers "Boring!" chants when they felt it was warranted. Likewise, when the ECW performers arrived, they popped and introduced the WWF Monday night audience to some trademark ECW group chants. This invasion sparked an inter-promotional feud between ECW and Lawler's United States Wrestling Association. Lawler disparaged ECW on-camera and convinced wrestlers such as Rob Van Dam and Sabu to join him in an anti-ECW crusade. Throughout 1997, ECW wrestlers appeared on USWA television programs, and vice versa. As part of the working relationship between ECW and the WWF, a number of WWF-contracted wrestlers were sent to ECW for seasoning in 1997, including Droz and Brakkus.[11][12] On April 13, 1997 ECW broadcast their first pay-per-view (PPV) wrestling card Barely Legal, highlighted by Terry Funk defeating Raven to win the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. In June 1997, the company's Wrestlepalooza '97 event featured Raven's final ECW match before leaving for WCW. In this match, Tommy Dreamer finally beat Raven, his longtime nemesis. Dreamer's celebration was short-lived, though, as Jerry Lawler, along with Sabu and Rob Van Dam showed up to attack Dreamer. This set up a match between Dreamer and Lawler at the pay-per-view, 1997 Hardcore Heaven, on August 17, which was won by Dreamer. ECW continued through 1998 and early 1999 with a string of successful pay-per-views. Mike Awesome controversy and promotional rivalry (2000) In April 2000, Mike Awesome made a surprise appearance on WCW Monday Nitro – making his debut by attacking Kevin Nash – while still reigning as ECW World Heavyweight Champion. Awesome's friend Lance Storm has said that Awesome refused to sign a new contract with ECW until Paul Heyman paid him overdue wages.[13] There were rumors that WCW Executive Vice-President Eric Bischoff wanted Awesome to drop the ECW World Championship belt in the trash can on television, as had been done previously with the WWF Women's title by Madusa when she jumped from the WWF to WCW. After Paul Heyman filed an injunction, WCW refrained from having Awesome appear on Nitro with the belt, but did acknowledge him as the champion. Eventually, a compromise was reached. Awesome (a WCW employee and the reigning ECW World Heavyweight champion) appeared at an April 13, 2000 ECW event in Indianapolis, Indiana,[14] where he lost the title to Tazz (who was working for the World Wrestling Federation).[15] In 2000, ECW made its West Coast debut, holding its annual summer pay-per-view ECW Heat Wave in Los Angeles. At the time Los Angeles was home to Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW), and its owner Rob Black purchased six front row tickets for the show. The tickets were given to a cadre of XPW talent, and their mission was to make it clear that ECW was on enemy turf. This was not a storyline. At the beginning of the main event, the XPW contingent donned shirts emblazoned with the XPW logo, gaining the attention of security and ECW wrestler Tommy Dreamer. Security ejected the XPW group from the building and later, a brawl broke out in the parking lot between members of the XPW ring crew and the ECW locker room. The XPW wrestlers were not involved in the fracas, during which the ECW wrestlers brutalized the XPW ring crew with several of the ring crew members left in pools of their own blood.[16] Initial reports claimed that XPW valet Kristi Myst had somehow touched ECW valet Francine Fournier and that this is what prompted the incident, but Fournier herself has since gone on record as saying that she was never grabbed or in any other way touched by any of the XPW crew, and other eyewitnesses support the story that Fournier never had a hand laid on her. XPW was not acknowledged by ECW announcer Joey Styles during the pay-per-view telecast, however at the November to Remember pay-per-view a few months later, color-commentator Don Callis made a subtle reference to the incident, describing a wild brawl as "looking like a Los Angeles parking lot". The XPW contingent at ringside consisted of wrestlers The Messiah, Kid Kaos, Supreme, Kristi Myst, Homeless Jimmy and XPW announcer Kris Kloss. ECW on TNN and decline (1999–2001) Main article: ECW on TNN In August 1999, ECW began to broadcast nationally on TNN (for what was initially a three-year contract). Despite no advertising and a low budget, ECW became TNN's highest rated show. ECW on TNN was canceled in October 2000 (with the final episode airing on October 6, 2000) in favor of WWF Raw moving to the network. Paul Heyman stated he believed that the inability to land another national television deal was the cause of ECW's demise.[17] ECW struggled for months after the cancellation, trying to secure a new national TV deal. On December 30, 2000, ECW Hardcore TV aired for the last time and Guilty as Charged in 2001 was the last PPV aired on January 7, 2001. Living Dangerously was scheduled to air on March 11, 2001, but because of financial trouble it was canceled in February.[18] Heyman could not get out of financial trouble and ECW closed on April 4, 2001.[18][19] Heyman supposedly had never told his wrestlers that the company was on its dying legs and was unable to pay them for a while. The company was listed as having assets totaling $1,385,500. Included in that number was $860,000 in accounts receivable owed the company by In Demand Network (PPV), Acclaim (video games), and Original San Francisco Toy Company (action figures). The balance of the assets were the video tape library ($500,000), a 1998 Ford Truck ($19,500) and the remaining inventory of merchandise ($4). The liabilities of the company totaled $8,881,435.17.Wrestlers and talent were listed, with amounts owed ranging from $2 for Sabu and Steve Corino to hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars. The highest amounts owed to talents were Rob Van Dam ($150,000)[4][18], Shane Douglas ($145,000), [20], Tommy Dreamer ($100,000),[18] Joey Styles ($50,480),[4][18] Rhyno ($50,000),[4][18] and Francine Fournier ($47,275).[4][18] These assets were eventually purchased by World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., now known as WWE. Legacy and resurface In ECW, there were virtually no rules. The role of referees only included counting pinfalls, acknowledging submissions, and upholding rope breaks. ECW was known for making popular several types of matches, including the 3-Way Dance, Barbed wire match, Ultimate Jeopardy steel cage match, Flaming Tables match, Singapore Cane match among others. The "Big Two" (World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation) began hiring away their talent. ECW, according to Heyman, was the first victim of the "Monday Night Wars" between WCW Monday Nitro and Monday Night Raw. The WWF had a working relationship with ECW, going so far as to participate in cross-promotional angles, providing talent on loan in exchange for developed young talent and marketable gimmicks (Al Snow's "head" gimmick among them), and even providing financial aid to Heyman for a considerable period of time. WCW on the other hand, refused to even mention ECW by name (with a few notable exceptions; including a passing remark by Raven in late 1997 and Kevin Nash and Scott Hall mentioning it as a viable second option in American wrestling in a slight on their main competition, the World Wrestling Federation). It was referred to as "barbed wire city" and "a major independent promotion that wrestled in bingo halls" during a segment directed at Diamond Dallas Page. The Alliance Main article: The Invasion (professional wrestling) A few months after the promotion's 2001 demise, ECW resurfaced as a stable as part of the World Wrestling Federation Invasion storyline. On the July 9, 2001 edition of Raw Paul Heyman, who had been hired by the WWF while ECW was still in bankruptcy proceedings, joined several former ECW alumni on the WWF roster (including the debuting Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer) and claimed that he was bringing ECW back to participate in the Invasion by themselves. (At the time, however, the ownership of ECW, including its use of its name on-air, was disputed despite Heyman still technically owning the company when he jumped ship to the WWF. In addition, WWF had faced legal action by Harry Slash & The Slashtones for the use of its theme song "This Is Extreme!" which was then eventually settled). Before Raw was over that evening Heyman and Shane McMahon, who had (kayfabe) purchased World Championship Wrestling (WCW), revealed that they were in cahoots with each other and that Heyman had (also kayfabe) sold ECW to Stephanie McMahon, forming The Alliance to try and wrestle power from Vince McMahon. At that time, the inter-promotional feud shifted into an internal power struggle among the McMahon family. The defection of WWF superstars to The Alliance continued the shift as less focus was placed on WCW and ECW performers— in fact, with rare exceptions such as Van Dam, the ECW alumni in The Alliance were given even less focus than WCW's performers. The feud lasted six months and concluded with WWF defeating The Alliance at the 2001 Survivor Series. The WWF's victory also marked the end of the Invasion storyline, and WCW and ECW wrestlers were reintegrated into the WWF. Documentaries On January 28, 2003[21], World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. purchased ECW's assets from HHG Corporation in court, acquiring the rights to ECW's video library. They used this video library to put together a two-disc DVD titled The Rise and Fall of ECW. The set was released in November 2004. The main feature of the DVD was a three-hour documentary on the company's history, with the other disc featuring matches from the promotion. An unauthorized DVD called Forever Hardcore was written, directed and produced by former WCW crew member Jeremy Borash in response to The Rise and Fall of ECW. The DVD had stories of wrestlers who were not employed by WWE telling their side of ECW's history. During the week of November 10, 2014, WWE had ECW Week on the WWE Network featuring the ECW Exposed special hosted by Joey Styles and Paul Heyman.[22] Reunions and relaunch WWE Main article: ECW (WWE brand) By 2005, WWE began reintroducing ECW through content from the ECW video library and a series of books, which included the release of The Rise and Fall of ECW documentary.[23] With heightened and rejuvenated interest in the ECW franchise, WWE organized ECW One Night Stand on June 12, a reunion event that featured ECW alumni.[23] Shane McMahon had the idea of an online, low budget show, but they asked TV stations and PPV producers and they were interested in ECW.[24] Due to the financial and critical success of the production, WWE produced the second ECW One Night Stand on June 11, 2006, which served as the premiere event in the relaunch of the ECW franchise as a WWE brand, complementary to Raw and SmackDown.[25] On June 13, Paul Heyman, former ECW owner and newly appointed figurehead for the ECW brand, recommissioned the ECW World Heavyweight Championship to be the brand's world title and awarded it to Rob Van Dam as a result of winning the WWE Championship at One Night Stand 2006. The brand would continue to operate until February 16, 2010. Under the WWE banner, ECW was presented following the same format of the other brands, with match rules, such as count outs and disqualifications, being standard. Matches featuring the rule set of the ECW promotion were classified as being contested under "Extreme Rules" and were only fought when specified. Other reunions On the same weekend as the ECW One Night Stand 2005 event another reunion show was held at the ECW Arena. Booked and promoted by Shane Douglas, Cody Michaels and Jeremy Borash, Hardcore Homecoming was held on June 10, 2005.[26] Because of the success of the initial event a tour was planned, and later the DVD documentary Forever Hardcore was released by the same production crew as a counterpart to WWE's Rise and Fall of ECW. Following Tommy Dreamer's debut in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, a new stable was formed called EV2.0 consisting of former ECW alumni.[27] TNA President Dixie Carter agreed to give the stable their own reunion show at TNA's annual Hard Justice pay-per-view.[28] Billed as the last ECW reunion show, Hardcore Justice aired on August 8, 2010.[29] EV2.0 remained on the active roster for the remainder of the year. The Extreme Rising promotion featured many ECW alumni as well as younger talent and embraced the hardcore style of the original ECW. Their first show, Extreme Reunion, took place on April 28, 2012. It was result of the team of Shane Douglas, Cody Michaels, Kevin Kleinrock, and Steve and Michael O'Neil.[30][31][32] In 2012, Tommy Dreamer founded House of Hardcore, a wrestling promotion named after the ECW wrestling school and inspired by the hardcore style of wrestling. Since then, HOH has held numerous wrestling events mainly in areas where ECW was held such as the ECW Arena. Championships and programming Championships Championship Notes ECW World Heavyweight Championship The world title of ECW. It was established in 1992 while ECW was still a member of the National Wrestling Alliance, and continued to be defended within the promotion until 2001. The title was also defended within World Wrestling Entertainment from 2006 through 2010. The first champion was Jimmy Snuka & The final champion under ECW banner was Rhyno and under the WWE banner was Ezekiel Jackson. ECW World Tag Team Championship The world tag team title of ECW. It was established in 1992 under ECW and continued to be defended until 2001. The First champions were The Super Destroyers and The final champions were Danny Doring and Roadkill. ECW World Television Championship The title was established in 1992 under National Wrestling Alliance affiliate and ECW precursor, Eastern Championship Wrestling, and continued to be defended until 2001. The first Champion was Johnny Hotbody.The Final champion was Rhyno ECW FTW Heavyweight Championship The unsanctioned title, akin to the Million Dollar Championship, was created for Tazz and was defended within ECW from 1998 through 1999. It was unified with ECW World Heavyweight Championship by Tazz. ECW Maryland Championship The title was established in 1993 under Eastern Championship Wrestling and was defended through the year. ECW Pennsylvania Championship The title was established in 1993 under Eastern Championship Wrestling and was defended through the year. Programming Programming Notes ECW Hardcore TV (1993–2000) Syndicated, also broadcast on the MSG Network. ECW on TNN (1999–2000) Broadcast exclusively on The Nashville Network. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. WWE Logo.svg WWE logo since 2014 WWE Corporate HQ, Stamford, CT, jjron 02.05.2012.jpg WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut in 2012 Trading name WWE Formerly Titan Sports, Inc. World Wrestling Federation, Inc. World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. Type Public Traded as NYSE: WWE S&P 400 component ISIN US98156Q1085 Industry Professional wrestling Sports entertainment Streaming media Predecessor Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. Founded January 7, 1952; 67 years ago (as Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd.)[1] February 21, 1980; 38 years ago (as Titan Sports, Inc.) Founders Jess McMahon Toots Mondt (as Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd.) Linda McMahon Vince McMahon (as Titan Sports, Inc.) Headquarters 1241 East Main Street Stamford, Connecticut 06902[2], United States Area served Worldwide Key people Vince McMahon (Chairman and CEO) George Barrios[3] (Co-President) Michelle D. Wilson[3] (Co-President) Products Television Publishing Films Finance Music Merchandise Streaming network service Home video Live events Services Licensing Revenue Increase US$729.2 million (2016)[4] Operating income Increase US$55.6 million (2016)[4] Net income Increase US$33.8 million (2016)[4] Total assets Increase US$600.9 million (2016)[4] Total equity Increase US$239.7 million (2016)[4] Owner Vince McMahon (42%)[5] Number of employees approximately 800 (2016)[6] Divisions Divisions[show] [7] Subsidiaries Subsidiaries[show] Website www.wwe.com World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., d/b/a WWE, is an American integrated media and entertainment company[8][9] that is primarily known for professional wrestling. WWE has also branched out into other fields, including movies, real estate, and various other business ventures. The WWE name also refers to the professional wrestling promotion itself, founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt in 1952 as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. As of 2018, it is the largest wrestling promotion in the world, holding over 500 events a year, with the roster divided up into various globally traveling brands,[10] and is available to about 36 million viewers in more than 150 countries. The company's global headquarters is located in Stamford, Connecticut, with offices in major cities across the world.[11][12] As in other professional wrestling promotions, WWE shows are not legitimate contests, but purely entertainment-based, featuring storyline-driven, scripted, and choreographed matches, though matches often included moves that can put performers at risk of injury if not performed correctly. This was first publicly acknowledged by WWE's owner Vince McMahon in 1989 to avoid taxes from athletic commissions. Since the 1980s, WWE publicly has branded their product as sports entertainment, acknowledging the product's roots in competitive sport and dramatic theater. The company's majority owner is its chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon, who retains a 42% ownership of the company's outstanding stock and 83% of the voting power.[5] The current entity, incorporated on February 21, 1980, was previously known as Titan Sports, Inc., which was founded that same year in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. It acquired Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd., the holding company for the World Wrestling Federation, in 1982. Titan was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. in 1998, then World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. in 1999, and finally the current World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. in 2002. Since 2011, the company has officially branded itself solely as WWE though the company's legal name was not changed.[13][14] Contents 1 Company history 1.1 Prior to Titan Sports 1.2 Titan Sports, Inc. 1.2.1 Golden Age 1.2.2 New Generation (1993–1997) 1.2.3 The Attitude Era (1997–2002) 1.3 World Wrestling Federation, Inc. / World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. 1.3.1 Acquisition of WCW and ECW 1.4 World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. / WWE 1.4.1 Brand extension Original Reunification Second brand split 2 Terminology 3 WWE Network and distribution deals 4 WWE stock and corporate governance 5 Contracts 6 Wellness Program 7 Legal disputes and controversies 7.1 1990s drugs scandal 7.2 Disputes with rival companies 7.3 Owen Hart's death 7.4 USA Network-Viacom programming bids 7.5 WWF name dispute 7.6 Harry Slash and the Slashstones lawsuit 7.7 Ultimate Warrior related disputes 7.8 Bullying and hazing allegations 7.9 Domestic violence and criminal related issues 8 Expansion beyond wrestling 8.1 Subsidiaries 8.1.1 Active 8.1.2 Defunct 8.2 Tapout 8.3 TSI Realty Co. 8.4 Investments 8.5 Charities 9 Partnerships 10 Championships and accomplishments 10.1 Championships 10.1.1 Current Raw SmackDown Unbranded 205 Live NXT NXT UK 10.1.2 Defunct 10.2 Other accomplishments 11 References 12 External links Company history Main article: History of WWE Prior to Titan Sports Main article: Capitol Wrestling Corporation WWE's origins can be traced back as far as 1952 when Roderick James "Jess" McMahon and Toots Mondt created the Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. (CWC), which joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in 1953. McMahon, who was a successful boxing promoter, began working with Tex Rickard in 1926. With the help of Rickard, he began promoting boxing and wrestling at the third Madison Square Garden. It was not the first time McMahon had promoted wrestling cards, as he had already done so during the 1910s. In November 1954, McMahon died and Ray Fabiani, one of Mondt's associates, brought in McMahon's son Vincent James.[15] The younger McMahon and Mondt were very successful and soon controlled approximately 70% of the NWA's booking, largely due to their dominance in the heavily populated Northeastern United States. In 1963, McMahon and Mondt had a dispute with the NWA over "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers being booked to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[16] Both men left the company in protest and formed the WWWF in the process, awarding Rogers the newly created WWWF World Heavyweight Championship in April of that year. He lost the championship to Bruno Sammartino a month later on May 17, 1963, after suffering a heart attack a week before the match. Capitol operated the WWWF in a conservative manner compared to other pro wrestling territories:[17] it ran its major arenas monthly rather than weekly or bi-weekly, usually featuring a babyface (heroic character) champion wrestling various heels (villainous character) in programs that consisted of one to three matches.[18] After gaining a television program deal and hiring Lou Albano as a manager for Sammartino's heel opponents, the WWWF was doing sellout business by 1970. Mondt left Capitol in the late 1960s and although the WWWF had withdrawn from the NWA, Vince McMahon, Sr. quietly re-joined in 1971. Capitol renamed the World Wide Wrestling Federation to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1979.[19] Titan Sports, Inc. Golden Age Main article: 1980s professional wrestling boom Vince McMahon, the owner, chairman and CEO of the WWE since 1980. Vincent J. McMahon's son, Vincent K. McMahon, and his wife Linda, established Titan Sports, Inc., in 1980 in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts.[20][21] The company was incorporated on February 21, 1980, in the Cape Cod Coliseum offices. The younger McMahon bought Capitol from his father in 1982, effectively seizing control of the company. Seeking to make the WWF the premier wrestling promotion in the country, and eventually, the world, he began an expansion process that fundamentally changed the wrestling business.[22] At the annual meeting of the NWA in 1983, the McMahons and former Capitol employee Jim Barnett all withdrew from the organization.[16] McMahon also worked to get WWF programming on syndicated television all across the United States. This angered other promoters and disrupted the well-established boundaries of the different wrestling promotions, eventually ending the territory system, which was in use since the founding of the NWA in the 1940s. In addition, the company used income generated by advertising, television deals, and tape sales to secure talent from rival promoters. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, McMahon noted: In the old days, there were wrestling fiefdoms all over the country, each with its own little lord in charge. Each little lord respected the rights of his neighboring little lord. No takeovers or raids were allowed. There were maybe 30 of these tiny kingdoms in the U.S. and if I hadn't bought out my dad, there would still be 30 of them, fragmented and struggling. I, of course, had no allegiance to those little lords.[22] McMahon gained significant traction when he hired American Wrestling Association (AWA) talent Hulk Hogan, who had achieved popularity outside of wrestling, notably for his appearance in the film Rocky III.[23] McMahon signed Roddy Piper as Hogan's rival, and then shortly afterward Jesse Ventura as an announcer. Other wrestlers joined the roster, such as Jimmy Snuka, Don Muraco, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Junkyard Dog, Paul Orndorff, Greg Valentine, and Ricky Steamboat. Many of the wrestlers who would later join the WWF were former AWA or NWA talent. The WWF would tour nationally in a venture that would require a huge capital investment, one that placed the WWF on the verge of financial collapse. The future of McMahon's experiment came down to the success or failure of McMahon's groundbreaking concept, WrestleMania. WrestleMania was a major success, and was (and still is) marketed as the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. The concept of a wrestling supercard was nothing new in North America; the NWA had begun running Starrcade a few years prior. In McMahon's eyes, however, what separated WrestleMania from other supercards was that it was intended to be accessible to those who did not watch wrestling. He invited celebrities such as Mr. T, Muhammad Ali, and Cyndi Lauper to participate in the event, as well as securing a deal with MTV to provide coverage. The event and hype surrounding it led to the term Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection, due to the cross-promotion of popular culture and professional wrestling. The WWF business expanded significantly on the shoulders of McMahon and his babyface hero Hulk Hogan for the next several years. The introduction of Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC in 1985 marked the first time that professional wrestling had been broadcast on network television since the 1950s, when the now-defunct DuMont Television Network broadcast matches of Vince McMahon Sr.'s Capitol Wrestling Corporation. The 1980s "Wrestling Boom" peaked with the WrestleMania III pay-per-view at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1987, which set an attendance record of 93,173, a record that stood for 29 years until WrestleMania 32.[24] A rematch of the WrestleMania III main event between WWF champion Hulk Hogan and André the Giant took place on The Main Event in 1988 and was seen by 33 million people, the most-watched wrestling match in North American television history.[25] In 1985, Titan moved its offices to Stamford, Connecticut, though the current building was built in 1981. Subsequently, a new Titan Sports, Inc. (originally WWF, Inc.) was established in Delaware in 1987 and was consolidated with the Massachusetts entity in February 1988.[26] New Generation (1993–1997) Main article: Monday Night Wars The WWF was hit with allegations of steroid abuse and distribution in 1992. This was followed by allegations of sexual harassment by WWF employees the following year.[27][unreliable source?] McMahon was eventually exonerated, but the allegations brought bad public relations for the WWF, and an overall bad reputation. The steroid trial cost the company an estimated $5 million at a time of record low revenues. This helped drive many WWF wrestlers over to rival promotion World Championship Wrestling (WCW), including 1980s babyface hero Hulk Hogan. During this period, the WWF promoted wrestlers of a younger age comprising "The New Generation", featuring Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, Bret Hart, and The Undertaker, in an effort to promote new talent into the spotlight. In January 1993, the WWF debuted its flagship cable program Monday Night Raw. WCW countered in September 1995 with its own Monday night program, Monday Nitro, which aired in the same time slot as Raw.[28] The two programs would trade wins in the ensuing ratings competition (known as the "Monday Night Wars") until mid-1996. At that point, Nitro began a nearly two-year ratings domination that was largely fueled by the introduction of the New World Order (nWo), a stable led by former WWF performers Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall (the former Razor Ramon), and Kevin Nash (the former Diesel).[29] The Attitude Era (1997–2002) Main article: Attitude Era See also: Montreal Screwjob As the Monday Night Wars continued between Raw Is War and WCW's Nitro, the WWF would transform itself from a family-friendly product into a more adult oriented product, known as the Attitude Era. The era was spearheaded by WWF VP Shane McMahon (son of owner Vince McMahon) and head writer Vince Russo. 1997 ended with McMahon facing real-life controversy following Bret Hart's controversial departure from the company, dubbed as the Montreal Screwjob.[30] This proved to be one of several founding factors in the launch of the Attitude Era as well as the creation of McMahon's on-screen character, "Mr. McMahon". Prior to the Montreal Screwjob, which took place at the 1997 Survivor Series, former WCW talent were being hired by the WWF, including Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, and Vader. Austin was slowly brought in as the new face of the company despite being promoted as an antihero, starting with his "Austin 3:16" speech shortly after defeating Jake Roberts in the tournament finals at the King of the Ring pay-per-view in 1996.[31] World Wrestling Federation, Inc. / World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. On May 6, 1998, Titan Sports, Inc. was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. It was renamed World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. a year later. On April 29, 1999, the WWF made its return to terrestrial television, airing a special program known as SmackDown! on the fledgling UPN network. The Thursday night show became a weekly series on August 26, 1999—competing directly with WCW's Thursday night program Thunder on TBS. In 2000, the WWF, in collaboration with television network NBC, announced the creation of the XFL, a new professional football league that debuted in 2001.[32] The league had high ratings for the first few weeks, but initial interest waned and its ratings plunged to dismally low levels (one of its games was the lowest-rated prime-time show in the history of American television). NBC walked out on the venture after only one season, but McMahon intended to continue alone. However, after being unable to reach a deal with UPN, McMahon shut down the XFL.[33] On October 19, 1999, World Wrestling Federation, Inc. launched an initial public offering as a publicly traded company, trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with the issuance of stock then valued at $172.5 million.[34] The company has traded on the NYSE since its launch under ticker symbol WWE.[35] Acquisition of WCW and ECW By the fall of 1999, the Attitude Era had turned the tide of the Monday Night Wars into WWF's favor. After Time Warner merged with AOL, Ted Turner's control over WCW was considerably reduced, and the newly merged company announced a complete lack of interest in professional wrestling as a whole, and decided to sell WCW in its entirety. Although Eric Bischoff, whom Time Warner fired as WCW president in October 1999, was nearing a deal to purchase the company, in March 2001 McMahon acquired the rights to WCW's trademarks, tape library, contracts, and other properties from AOL Time Warner for a number reported to be around $7 million.[36] Shortly after WrestleMania X-Seven, the WWF launched the Invasion storyline, integrating the incoming talent roster from WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). With this purchase, WWF now became by far the largest wrestling promotion in the world. The assets of ECW, which had folded after filing for bankruptcy protection in April 2001, were purchased by WWE in mid-2003.[37] World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. / WWE Current WWE minority owners/front office executives/wrestlers Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon On May 5, 2002, the World Wrestling Federation announced it was changing both its company name and the name of its wrestling promotion to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Although mainly caused by an unfavorable ruling in its dispute with the World Wildlife Fund regarding the "WWF" initialism, the company noted it provided an opportunity to emphasize its focus on entertainment.[38] On April 7, 2011, WWE, via the WWE Corporate website, announced that the company was ceasing use of the full name World Wrestling Entertainment and would henceforth refer to itself solely as WWE, making the latter an orphan initialism. This was said to reflect WWE's global entertainment expansion away from the ring with the ultimate goal of acquiring entertainment companies and putting a focus on television, live events, and film production. WWE noted that their new company model was put into effect with the relaunch of Tough Enough, being a non–scripted program (contrary to the scripted nature of professional wrestling) and with the launch of the WWE Network (at the time scheduled to launch in 2012; later pushed back to 2014). However, the legal name of the company remains as World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.[14] Brand extension Main articles: WWE brand extension and WWE draft Original In March 2002, WWE decided to create two separate rosters, with each group of wrestlers appearing on one of their main programs, Raw and SmackDown!, due to the overabundance of talent left over from the Invasion storyline. This was dubbed as the "brand extension". Beginning in 2002 a draft lottery was held nearly every year to set the rosters, with the first draft to determine the inaugural split rosters, and subsequent drafts designed to refresh the rosters of each show. On May 26, 2006, WWE announced the relaunch of ECW as a third WWE brand. The new ECW program aired until February 16, 2010.[39] All ECW wrestlers at that point became free agents that could sign either Raw or SmackDown. Reunification Beginning with the August 29, 2011 episode of Raw, it was announced that Raw would feature talent from both Raw and SmackDown, and would be known as Raw Supershow (the "Supershow" suffix would be dropped on July 23, 2012).[40] Championships previously exclusive to one show or the other were available for wrestlers from any show to compete for; the "Supershow" format would mark the end of the brand extension, as all programming and live events from when the original announcement was made until July 2016 featured the full WWE roster.[41] In 2013, the company built the sports medicine and training facility WWE Performance Center in east Orange County, Florida in partnership with Full Sail University from Winter Park, Florida. The training facility is targeted at career and athletic development for the company's wrestlers.[42] Full Sail is also home base to WWE's NXT brand,[43] which over the years has grown and expanded from a small developmental territory into a globally touring brand in its own right.[44] Second brand split On May 25, 2016, WWE announced a relaunch of the brand extension, billed as the "New Era". Following that announcement, Raw and SmackDown now each feature their own unique rosters, announcers, ring sets/ropes, and championships. A draft took place to determine which wrestlers would appear on what show. SmackDown also moved from Thursdays to Tuesday nights, which began on July 19 (the night of the aforementioned draft), and airs live instead of the previous pre-recorded format.[45] On November 29, 2016, WWE introduced a new program specifically for their cruiserweight division (wrestlers 205 lbs. and under) called WWE 205 Live.[46] The program focuses exclusively on those wrestlers who qualify for the division.[47][48] The cruiserweights – who first became a fixture in WWE with the Cruiserweight Classic tournament – were originally exclusive to the Raw brand at the onset of the 2016 brand extension, before landing their own brand (though select cruiserweights still also appear on Raw, as well as working on the NXT and SmackDown brands).[49] On December 15, 2016, it was announced that WWE was establishing a new WWE United Kingdom Championship, with the winner being decided by a 16-man tournament to air on WWE Network featuring wrestlers from the UK and Ireland during January 2017. WWE executive Paul "Triple H" Levesque said the eventual plan with the new title and tournament was to establish a UK-based brand with its own weekly TV show.[50][51] The UK based brand - officially known as NXT UK - also has its own Women's Championship, and Tag Team Championship. WWE currently has over 140 wrestlers (both male and female) under various forms of contract, and stages over 500 events a year around the world.[10] Terminology WWE uses a variety of special terms in promoting their product, such as describing the wrestling industry as sports entertainment. The fan base is referred to as "the WWE Universe". A wrestler is designated a "WWE Superstar", while retired wrestlers are described as "WWE Legends" (or "Hall of Famers" if they have been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame).[52] WWE Network and distribution deals Main article: WWE Network On February 24, 2014, WWE launched a 24/7 streaming network. The network includes past and present WWE shows, pay-per-views, and shows from the WWE Library.[53] The network reached 1,000,000 subscribers on January 27, 2015 in less than one year of its launch, with WWE claiming that it was thus "the fastest-growing digital subscription service ever".[54] In May 2014, WWE and NBCUniversal agreed to a new contract that would see both Raw and SmackDown continue on NBC owned networks the USA Network and Syfy.[55] In January 2016, SmackDown would change networks to the USA Network. The contract with NBCUniversal expires in 2019.[56] On November 17, 2016, WWE and Sky Deutschland signed a multi-year agreement to distribute WWE's premier pay-per-view events and broadcast Raw and SmackDown Live on SKY Sports starting in April 2017.[57] On April 10, 2017, WWE and DAZN, announced that Raw and SmackDown would be available live in Japan with Japanese commentary for the first time ever.[58] On April 27, 2017, WWE and TV5, announced a new agreement to broadcast one-hour e Type: Photograph, Subject: Men, Unit of Sale: Lot

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