1960s and 1970s

by Mark Long

1960s-1970s

1960
02 Jan, 1960

Bruno Sammartino Makes His Madison Square Garden Debut

Bruno Sammartino - MSG - historyofwrestling.com

The man who would go on to become the longest-reigning champion in WWE history, Bruno Sammartino, makes his Madison Square Garden debut. Sammartino’s MSG debut marked the beginning of an era of fame and monetary..Read More

11 Apr, 1960

Giant Baba Joins the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance

Giant Baba - Antonio Inoki - Rikidozan - historyofwrestling.com

Shohei “Giant Baba” Baba joins the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance (JWA).  Baba had formerly been a top pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants of the  Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. He was honored as the league’s best pitcher in three..Read More

15 Apr, 1960

Antonio Inoki Enters JWP

Antonio Inoki - Rikidozan - historyofwrestling.com

Kanji (Antonio) Inoki began his professional wrestling career, training with Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance (JWA) under the tutelage of wrestling legend Rikidōzan. Inoki, originally born to a well to do family in Japan, moved to Brazil after..Read More

04 Jun, 1960

Bruno Sammartino Headlines MSG For the First Time Ever

Bruno Sammartino - Antonino Rocca - historyofwrestling.com

A mere six months after making his Madison Square Garden debut, Bruno Sammartino headlines MSG for the first time ever, tagging with Antonino Rocca and defeating the team of Pampero Firpo & The Great Antonio...Read More

22 Jul, 1960

Danny Hodge Wins the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship

Danny Hodge - historyofwrestling.com

Danny Hodge defeated Angelo Savoldi at the Stockyards Coliseum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to win the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship. Trained by Leroy McGuirk and Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Hodge debuted as a professional wrestler in..Read More

16 Aug, 1960

Verne Gagne is Awarded the AWA World Heavyweight Championship

Verne Gagne - historyofwrestling.com

Verne Gagne is awarded the newly-created American Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight championship. Having withdrawn from the National Wrestling Alliance, the Minnesota-based group of promoters issued a fictitious public challenge to NWA champion Pat O’Connor, and,..Read More

30 Sep, 1960

Antonio Inoki Makes His Professional Wrestling Debut

Antonio Inoki - historyofwrestling.com

Antonio Inoki makes his professional wrestling debut at the Taito Ward Gym in Tokyo, Japan. He lost in a match against Kinatro Oki, also known by the ring name of Kim Il, who was part of the..Read More

30 Sep, 1960

Giant Baba Makes His Professional Wrestling Debut

Giant Baba - historyofwrestling.com

Giant Baba makes his professional wrestling debut at the Taito Ward Gym in Tokyo, Japan, defeating Yonetaro Tanaka. Baba made his debut on the same date and location as Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki. Baba would..Read More

1961
01 Jul, 1961

Giant Baba Embarks Upon His First Tour of the United States

Giant Baba - historyofwrestling.com

Japanese wrestling promoter Rikidōzan arranged for Giant Baba to begin his first tour of the United States. Baba, the 6′ 10″ for baseball player became a popular international star over the years, working as both..Read More

11 Jul, 1961

Gene Kiniski Wins the AWA World Heavyweight Title

Gene Kiniski - historyofwrestling.com

Gene Kiniski defeated Verne Gagne to win the AWA World heavyweight title on July 11, 1961 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Gagne had held the belt for almost a year after being awarded the belt in 1960. Gagne took..Read More

01 Dec, 1961

Fritz Von Erich Wins the NWA US Title

Fritz Von Erich - historyofwrestling.com

Fritz Von Erich defeated Dick the Bruiser for the NWA United States title in Detroit Michigan on December 1, 1961. Fritz would go on to hold the title on two more occasions and well as..Read More

1962
28 Mar, 1962

Rikidozan Beats Fred Blassie For the WWA World Heavyweight Title

Rikidozan - Freddie Blassie - historyofwrestling.com

In a match held at the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium, Japanese star Rikidozan defeated Fred Blassie for the WWA World Heavyweight championship belt. Rikidozan was awarded the belt after gaining one fall before the time..Read More

27 Apr, 1962

Dick Beyer Wrestles Under a Mask For the First Time

Dick Beyer - historyofwrestling.com

Dick Beyer wrestles under the mask as The Destroyer for the first time,  defeating Seymour King in San Diego, California. Beyer would go on to have an incredible career, gaining enormous popularity, holding titles in..Read More

25 May, 1962

Rikidozan Defeats Lou Thesz in Tokyo Tournament

Rikidozan - Lou Thesz - historyofwrestling.com

Japanese star Rikidozan defeated former NWA World champion Lou Thesz in the finals of the fourth annual Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance World League Tournament. Rikidozan had won the tournament the previous three years, but defeating an..Read More

02 Aug, 1962

Bruno Sammartino Defeats Buddy Rogers in Toronto

Bruno Sammartino - historyofwrestling.com

Bruno Sammartino defeated NWA World Heavyweight champion Buddy Rogers via countout  at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Sammartino was awarded the title, but refused it because Rogers had been injured during the match...Read More

01 Sep, 1962

Buddy Rogers Injured in Locker Room Attack

Bill Miller - historyofwrestling.com

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Buddy Rogers was injured in a pre-match incident at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Columbus, Ohio. Rogers, who supposed to match up again Johnny Barend, suffered a broken arm in a confrontation..Read More

07 Nov, 1962

Gorgeous George Has Head Shaved By Destroyer

Gorgeous George - historyofwrestling.com

In what would prove to be his last match, Gorgeous George was defeated via submission by the Destroyer. The masked grappler applied a figure-four leg-lock in what was billed as a”Mask vs. Hair” match. George,..Read More

21 Nov, 1962

Killer Kowalski Defeats NWA Champion Buddy Rogers

Buddy Rogers - Killer Kowalski - historyofwrestling.com

Walter “Killer” Kowalski was victorious in a title match against “the Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, holder of the National Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight championship. Kowalski was awarded the match when Rogers broke his ankle jumping out..Read More

1963
01 Jan, 1963

Timeline 1963

Timeline 1963 - historyofwrestling.com

Lou Thesz wins NWA championship, The World Wide Wrestling Federation established, Bruno Sammartino defeats Buddy Rogers for the WWWF belt, Japanese legend Rikidozan stabbed and killed and more.

24 Jan, 1963

Lou Thesz Defeats Buddy Rogers for NWA Title

Buddy Rogers - Sam Muschnick - Lou Thesz - historyofwrestling.com

Lou Thesz defeated Buddy Rogers in a controversial match to win the NWA World Championship. Because most title matches require a best out of three falls, Rogers disputed the title change. As well, Capital Wrestling,..Read More

25 Jan, 1963

“Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers Defends WWWF Title Against Bobo Brazil

Buddy Rogers - historyofwrestling.com

In what is generally recognized as the first-ever defense of the WWE title, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers defeats Bobo Brazil in New Haven, Connecticut. Unbeknownst to the fans in attendance, Rogers had lost the NWA..Read More

01 Apr, 1963

World Wide Wrestling Federation Formed

World Wide Wrestling Federation Formed

The World Wide Wrestling Federation is formed on April 1, 1963. Promoters Vince McMahon, Sr., Toots Mondt and Willie Gilzenberg withdraw their Northeastern promotion, Capitol Wrestling, from the National Wrestling Alliance in response to Lou Thesz gaining a victory to..Read More

06 Apr, 1963

Bobo Brazil Recognized as the WWWF United States Championship

Bobo Brazil - historyofwrestling.com

Bobo Brazil was recognized as the first man to hold the WWWF United States Heavyweight Championship. Brazil had previously defeated NWA Champion Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Title on August 18, 1962, but refused..Read More

17 May, 1963

Bruno Sammartino Defeats Buddy Rogers for the WWWF Title

Bruno Sammartino - Buddy Rogers - historyofwrestling.com

Bruno Sammartino defeats Buddy Rogers for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship in 48 seconds with a backbreaker. Rogers would later claim that he had suffered a heart attack before the match. Sammartino would hold onto the belt for..Read More

19 May, 1963

The Destroyer Beats Rikidozan In Osaka, Japan

The Destroyer - Rikidozan - historyofwrestling.com

The Destroyer (Dick Beyer) defeats Japanese great Rikidozan in Osaka, Japan. Rikidozan, who was considered by most to be the father of Japanese Professional Wrestling, was a huge international star and draw. The win, thus..Read More

08 Dec, 1963

Japanese Great Rikidozan Stabbed in Nightclub Incident

Rikidozan - historyofwrestling.com

Japanese great Rikidozan was stabbed by gangster Katsuji Murata while at a nightclub in Tokyo, Japan. Rikidozan, considered the Father of Japanese Professional Wrestling received medical treatment and was expected to survive the encounter. In..Read More

1964
08 Mar, 1964

World Wrestling Association Formed in Indianapolis

World Wrestling Association - Indianapolis Formed - historyofwrestling.com

World Wrestling Association was formed in Indianapolis by Dick Afflis (Dick the Bruiser) and Wilber Snyder (through their company Championship Wrestling of Indiana, Inc.). Dick the Bruiser served as the company’s first champion and would hold..Read More

22 Apr, 1964

Dick the Bruiser Defeats Freddie Blassie for the WWA Belt

Dick the Bruiser - historyofwrestling.com

Dick the Bruiser (Dick Afflis) defeated “Classy” Freddie Blassie in Los Angeles, California to win the WWA World title. The Bruiser won in the best two out of three falls, pinning Blassie in the third...Read More

11 Jul, 1964

Hiro Matsuda Wins the NWA Junior Heavyweight Belt

Hiro Matsuda - historyofwrestling.com

Hiro Matsuda defeated NWA Junior Heavyweight champion Danny Hodge for the title belt in Tampa, Florida. Hodge had been injured and suffered from a knee infection in the weeks prior to the match, having held..Read More

23 Oct, 1964

Jim Barnett Holds His First World Championship Wrestling Show

WCW Australia - historyofwrestling.com

Promoter Jim Barnett held his first show in Australia for his World Championship Wrestling promotion. Barnett was partners with Johnny Doyle, running wrestling promotion that ran shows in Detroit, Denver and Los Angeles. In 1964,..Read More

1965
16 Jan, 1965

Yukon Eric Commits Suicide

Yukon Eric - historyofwrestling.com

Wrestler Yukon Eric, a popular Canadian wrestler who performed throughout North America, died on this date. A former NWA Canadian Open Tag Team Champion and NWA Texas Heavyweight Champion, Eric Holmback was best known for..Read More

13 Feb, 1965

Harley Race Stabbed Outside a Minneapolis Restaurant

Harley Race - historyofwrestling.com

Harley Race, a future NWA Heavyweight champion, was stabbed at 4:10 PM outside of a Minneapolis, Minnesota restaurant called The Chestnut Tree. Race, 22 years of and using the name “Handsome” Harley, interceded when a..Read More

12 Mar, 1965

Pedro Morales Defeats the Destroyer For the WWA Belt

Pedro Morales - historyofwrestling.com

Pedro Morales defeated the Destroyer (Dick Beyer) in best of three falls match in Los Angeles, California. The Destroyer had held the belt since the previous November. This was the first of three times that..Read More

19 Nov, 1965

Women’s Wrestling Legalized in California

Women's Wrestling - historyofwrestling.com

Women’s Wrestling was legalized in California on November 19, 1965. By a 3-2 vote, the California Athletic Commission ended a 20 year ban on female wrestlers performing in the state. Aileen Eaton, a west coast..Read More

1966
07 Jan, 1966

Gene Kiniski Wins the NWA Heavyweight Title

Lou Thesz vs. Gene Kiniski - historyofwrestling.com

Former AWA Heavyweight champion Gene Kiniski defeated Lou Thesz for the NWA World heavyweight title in St. Louis, Missouri. Thesz, in his third title reign had held the belt for three years since winning it..Read More

17 Mar, 1966

Chief Don Eagle Found Dead From a Gunshot Wound

Chief Don Eagle - historyofwrestling.com

Chief Don Eagle, former holder of the Boston version of the AWA World Heavyweight Championship was found dead as a result of a self-inflicted gun wound. His body was found in the kitchen of his..Read More

08 Aug, 1966

Ed “Strangler” Lewis Dies

Strangler Lewis - historyofwrestling.com

Ed “Strangler” Lewis, a five time world champion, died at the Veterans Administration Hospital in New York City. Lewis, whose real name was Robert Herman Julius Friedrich began wrestling when he was 14 years old,..Read More

02 Sep, 1966

Bobo Brazil Wins the WWA World Title

BoBo Brazil - historyofwrestling.com

Bobo Brazil defeatedBuddy Austin to win the WWA World title in Los Angeles, California. The match was stoped due to excessive bleeding by Austin. This was the first of two WWA title reigns for Brazil...Read More

1967
27 Jan, 1967

Paul Boesch Purchases the Gulf Athletic Club in Houston

Paul Boesch - historyofwrestling.com

Paul Boesch, radio announcer and television commentator for Houston Wrestling, purchased the Gulf Athletic Club in Houston, Texas from the widow of former promoter Morris Siegel. Numerous outside promoters approached Mrs. Siegel, making generous offers..Read More

1968
19 Feb, 1968

“The Russian Lion” George Hackenschmidt Dies

George Hackenschmidt - historyofwrestling.com

One of professional wrestling’s earliest and biggest attractions, European sensation and professional wrestling’s first true World Heavyweight champion, “The Russian Lion” George Hackenschmidt, dies at the age of 90 in London, England.

1969
11 Feb, 1969

Dory Funk, Jr. Wins NWA World Heavyweight Title

Dory Funk, Jr. - historyofwrestling.com

Dory Funk, Jr. becomes NWA World Heavyweight champion by defeating Gene Kiniski in Tampa, Florida. Funk’s time as NWA champion would last nearly four and a half years (1,563 days) and remains the second longest..Read More

1971
18 Jan, 1971

Ivan Koloff Defeats Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Title

Ivan Koloff defeats Bruno Sammartino - historyofwrestling.com

In front of a stunned crowd of approximately 22,000 fans in Madison Square Garden, the Russian Bear, Ivan Koloff defeated WWWF Heavyweight champion Bruno Sammartino for the title belt. Sammartino had held the belt since..Read More

08 Feb, 1971

Pedro Morales Defeats Ivan Koloff for the WWWF Heavyweight Title

Pedro Morales - historyofwrestling.com

Before a sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd of 21,812, Pedro Morales defeats Ivan Koloff for the World Wide Wrestling Federation Heavyweight title, solidifying his status as the babyface successor to the extremely popular former champion..Read More

06 Mar, 1971

New Japan Pro Wrestling Presents Its First Card

Karl Gotch - Antonio Inoki - historyofwrestling.com

In one of the most historic nights in the history of Japanese professional wrestling, Antonio Inoki’s New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion presents its first-ever card, at Ota Ward Gym in Tokyo, Japan. In the main..Read More

23 Oct, 1971

The Detroit Wrestling War Begins Between the Bruiser and the Sheik

The Detroit Wrestling War Begins Between the Bruiser and the Sheik

Indianapolis promoter William Afflis (Dick the Bruiser) and partner Wilber Snyder promote the first World Wrestling Association event in Detroit, Michigan, beginning a two-year promotional war with Michigan wrestling czar (and NWA member) Ed “The..Read More

1972
30 Sep, 1972

Pedro Morales Wrestles Bruno Sammartino at Shea Stadium

Bruno Sammartino vs. Pedro Morales - historyofwrestling.com

WWWF Heavyweight champion Pedro Morales matches up against former champion Bruno Sammartino in a huge matchup in Shea Stadium in New York. The two combatants were both huge fan favorites and the match drew more..Read More

21 Oct, 1972

Shohei “Giant” Baba Establishes All-Japan Pro Wrestling

Giant Baba - Bruno Sammartino - historyofwrestling.com

A mere nine months after the debut of Antonio Inoki’s New Japan Pro Wrestling, Shohei “Giant” Baba establishes All-Japan Pro Wrestling with the support of Nippon Television. In the main event of AJPW’s first show,..Read More

1973
24 May, 1973

Harley Race Defeats Dory Funk, Jr. To Capture His First NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Harley Race - historyofwrestling.com

Eleven years after his professional wrestling debut, Harley Race defeats Dory Funk, Jr. in Kansas City, Kansas, to capture his first NWA World Heavyweight championship. Over the course of the next eleven years, the legendary..Read More

1977
30 Apr, 1977

“Superstar” Billy Graham Wins the WWWF Title

Bruno Sammartino - Superstar Billy Graham - historyofwrestling.com

One of the most influential wrestlers in professional wrestling history, “Superstar” Billy Graham defeats “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino in Baltimore, Maryland, to become the World Wide Wrestling Federation Heavyweight champion. The trend-setting Graham would..Read More

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