1980s and 1990s

by Mark Long

1980s-1990s

1980
09 Aug, 1980

Hulk Hogan Faces Andre the Giant at the Showdown at Shea

Andre the Giant - Hulk Hogan - Shea Stadium - historyofwrestling.com

The third and final WWF “Showdown At Shea” event takes place in Queens, New York, featuring, arguably, the strongest line-up in the trio of supercards. Hulk Hogan faced Andre the Giant in a match seven..Read More

09 Aug, 1980

Showdown At Shea III Takes Place

Showdown at Shea 3 - historyofwrestling.com

The third and final WWF “Showdown At Shea” event takes place, featuring, arguably, the strongest line-up in the trio of supercards.  Hulk Hogan faced Andre the Giant in a match seven years prior to their..Read More

1981
17 Sep, 1981

Ric Flair Wins His First World Championship

Ric Flair - historyofwrestling.com

“Nature Boy” Ric Flair wins the first World championship of his storied career, defeating the reigning National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight champion Dusty Rhodes at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. Race had held the..Read More

1982
05 Apr, 1982

First Match between Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler

Jerry Lawler - Andy Kaufman - historyofwrestling.com

The first match in the legendary feud between Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler takes place at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, TN. with 8,091 fans in attendance. The match, which saw Lawler use multiple piledrivers..Read More

05 May, 1982

Tiger Mask Defeats NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion Les Thornton

Tiger Mask - historyofwrestling.com

New Japan Pro Wrestling superstar Tiger Mask defeats NWA World Junior Heavyweight champion Les Thornton in Shizuoka, Japan. Tiger Mask would then go on to win the WWF Junior Heavyweight championship just three weeks later,..Read More

05 Jun, 1982

Vincent K. McMahon Purchases Capitol Wrestling

Vincent J. Mcmahon - Vincent K. Mcmahon - historyofwrestling.com

On June 5, 1982, Titan Sports Inc., owned by Vincent K. McMahon acquired the operations of Capitol Wrestling, owned in part by his father, longtime promoter Vincent J. McMahon. Vince Jr. moved the company headquarters..Read More

05 Dec, 1982

Southwest Championship Wrestling Makes Its Debut On The USA Network

Southwest Championship Wrestling - historyofwrestling.com

The first-ever weekly professional wrestling program to be broadcast on the USA Network, Joe Blanchard’s San Antonio-based Southwest Championship Wrestling, makes its debut. The S.C.W. show would air on the USA Network for eight months..Read More

1983
28 Aug, 1983

WWF All-American Wrestling Debuts On The USA Network

All American Wrestling - historyofwrestling.com

WWF All-American Wrestling debuts on the USA Network, replacing Southwest Championship Wrestling. While the WWF had previously aired its monthly Madison Square Garden shows on the USA Network, All-American Wrestling was the first weekly WWE..Read More

24 Nov, 1983

Starrcade Debuts in Greensboro, NC

Starrcade 1983 - historyofwrestling.com

Predating WrestleMania by a year and a half, the inaugural Starrcade is held in Greensboro, N.C. The event, considered by many to be the first true “megacard,” drew a sold-out crowd of 15,447 to the..Read More

26 Dec, 1983

The Iron Sheik Defeats Bob Backlund

Iron Sheik - Bob Backlund - historyofwrestling.com

Bob Backlund’s nearly six-year reign as WWF Heavyweight champion finally comes to an end at the same arena it started, Madison Square Garden in New York City, when he is defeated via submission by The..Read More

1984
23 Jan, 1984

Hulk Hogan Defeats the Iron Sheik For the WWF Championship

Iron Sheik - Hulk Hogan - historyofwrestling.com

A mere three weeks after returning to the WWF following a highly successful run in the AWA, Hulk Hogan defeats The Iron Sheik to capture the World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight championship at Madison Square Garden..Read More

05 Feb, 1984

El Santo Dies

El Santo - historyofwrestling.com

The legendary El Santo, unquestionably the most famous and successful luchador in the history of professional wrestling, dies of a heart attack in Mexico City at the age of 69.

10 Feb, 1984

David Von Erich Dies in Japan

David Von Erich - historyofwrestling.com

The first in a long line of Von Erich family tragedies, David Von Erich dies in a Tokyo hotel at the age of 25.  While some maintain that his death was drug related, the official..Read More

06 May, 1984

Kerry Von Erich Defeats Ric Flair For NWA Title

Kerry Von Erich - historyofwrestling.com

In the main-event of the first annual “David Von Erich Parade of Champions,” Kerry Von Erich defeats “Nature Boy” Ric Flair to become the new NWA World Heavyweight champion before a crowd of over 32,000..Read More

27 May, 1984

Vincent James McMahon Dies

Vincent James McMahon Dies

Vincent James McMahon, founder of the World Wide Wrestling Federation and one of the most powerful and successful promoters in the entirety of professional wrestling history, dies at the age of 69 from throat cancer.

14 Jul, 1984

Black Saturday Edition of World Championship Wrestling Airs

Vince McMahon - Black Saturday - historyofwrestling.com

The infamous “Black Saturday” edition of World Championship Wrestling airs on TBS, which, following Vince McMahon’s acquisition of the Georgia promotion’s traditional timeslot, featured WWF performers instead of the familiar NWA stars.  For numerous reasons,..Read More

23 Jul, 1984

The Brawl To Settle It All Airs On MTV

Brawl to End it All - historyofwrestling.com

Working in partnership, the World Wrestling Federation and MTV present “The Brawl To Settle It All,” which airs in prime time on the cable network.  The unique special took place eight months prior to WrestleMania..Read More

1985
18 Feb, 1985

The War To Settle The Score Airs On MTV

War to Settle the Score - historyofwrestling.com

The second collaboration between MTV and the WWF, “The War To Settle The Score,” airs on MTV and delivers the highest ratings in network history to that point in time.  In the main event, Hulk..Read More

21 Feb, 1985

Dr. Death David Schultz Attacks Reporter John Stossel.

Dr. Death David Schultz - historyofwrestling.com

The infamous edition of ABC’s 20/20 program airs, which features both “The Continental Lover” Eddie Mansfield and “Big” Jim Wilson openly breaking kayfabe before a nationwide audience and, even more notably, David Schultz attacking reporter..Read More

31 Mar, 1985

Wrestlemania I is held at Madison Square Garden

Wrestlemania 1 - historyofwrestling.com

On March 31, 1985, Vince McMahon and the WWF held the first Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The attendance for the event was reported to have been 19,121 fansmand was viewed..Read More

11 May, 1985

Saturday Night Main Event Debuts

Saturday Night Main Event debuts- historyofwrestling.com

WWF debuted Saturday Night Main Event, the first broadcast of professional wrestling on network television since the 1950s. The program originally aired on NBC as an occasional replacement for Saturday Night Live on its weekend broadcast schedule. The show was a..Read More

14 Sep, 1985

Hulk Hogan’s Rock N Wrestling” debuts on CBS

Hulk Hogan's Rock n' Wrestling - historyofwrestling.com

The animated series “Hulk Hogan’s Rock N Wrestling” debuts on CBS.  The first and only wrestling program of its kind, the Saturday morning cartoon aired for nearly two years before being cancelled in June of..Read More

07 Nov, 1985

WWF Puts On The Wrestling Classic PPV

The Wrestling Classic - historyofwrestling.com

The World Wrestling Federation presents “The Wrestling Classic,” professional wrestling’s first-ever pay-per-view event.  Held in Chicago, IL., “The Wrestling Classic” featured a tournament that was won by “Macho Man” Randy Savage when he defeated The..Read More

28 Nov, 1985

Starrcade ’85: The Gathering Is Presented

Starrcade '85: The Gathering - historyofwrestling.com

Jim Crockett Promotions presents Starrcade ’85: The Gathering.  The event emanated from two separate locations, Greensboro, N.C. and Atlanta, GA., both of which sold-out, drawing over 32,000 spectators live and tens of thousands more watching..Read More

1986
20 Feb, 1986

World Class Championship Wrestling Withdraws from the NWA

World Class Championship Wrestling - historyofwrestling.com

Jack Adkisson’s Dallas-based World Class Championship Wrestling promotion officially withdraws from the National Wrestling Alliance and it is announced that reigning NWA American Heavyweight champion “Ravishing” Rick Rude is recognized as the inaugural World Class..Read More

12 Jul, 1986

Final Madison Square Garden Appearance of Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino - historyofwrestling.com

The final Madison Square Garden appearance of two-time WWF champion “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino takes place when Sammartino & Tito Santana team up to defeat Randy Savage & Adrian Adonis inside of a steel..Read More

1987
29 Mar, 1987

Hulk Hogan Headlines Wrestlemania III With Bodyslam Of Andre the Giant

Wrestlemania III - historyofwrestling.com

Hulk Hogan defeated Andre the Giant in the main event at WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. After a back and forth match, with Andre almost gaining a pinfall, Hogan made a..Read More

09 Apr, 1987

Jim Crockett Promotions Purchases Universal Wrestling Federation

Jim Crockett, Jr. - historyofwrestling.com

The country’s second-largest wrestling promotion at the time, Jim Crockett Promotions, purchases the third-largest group, Bill Watts’ Universal Wrestling Federation, for a reported $4 million.  Although the purchase included an impressive number of t.v. stations..Read More

23 Sep, 1987

The Mega Powers form

The Mega Powers form

The on-screen friendship of Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan forms following Savage’s match against The Honky Tonk Man for the WWF Intercontinental Championship (aired October 3 on Saturday Night’s Main Event). The friendship formed after..Read More

20 Oct, 1987

Wade Keller Launches Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter

Wade Keller Launches Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter

Professional wrestling journalist Wade Keller begins publication of Pro Wrestling Torch, which much like the Wrestling Observer Newsletter includes weekly columns, news reporting and analysis, and shoot interviews of professional wrestling personalities.

1988
15 Jul, 1988

Bruiser Brody Stabbed to Death

Bruiser Brody - historyofwrestling.com

Frank Goodish, aka Bruiser Brody, is murdered in the shower room of a stadium in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.  His killer, Jose Gonzalez, was acquitted of the murder, finding that Gonzalez was acting in self-defense.  Goodish..Read More

02 Nov, 1988

Jim Crockett Promotions Purchased by Turner Broadcasting System

Ted Turner - historyofwrestling.com

After more than 55 years of promoting professional wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions (J.C.P.) is purchased by Turner Broadcasting System for a reported $9 million.

1989
20 Jan, 1989

Jerry Lawler Stripped of the AWA Title

Nick Bockwinkel - Jerry Lawler - historyofwrestling.com

Citing a lack of mandatory championship defenses, Jerry “The King” Lawler is officially stripped of his American Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title after eight months as champion.  This decision by AWA owner Verne Gagne effectively..Read More

07 May, 1989

Ric Flair Defeats NWA Champion Ricky Steamboat at the Music City Showdown

Ric Flair - Ricky Steamboat - historyofwrestling.com

In what many consider to be the overall greatest wrestling match of the modern era, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair defeats reigning NWA World champion Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in Nashville, TN. at the “Music City..Read More

1991
01 Jan, 1991

World Championship Wrestling Discontinues Using The NWA Name

Ted Turner - historyofwrestling.com

Technically still a member of the National Wrestling Alliance, Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling officially discontinues using the NWA name and rechristens its championships, including the World Heavyweight title, using the WCW initials.

08 Feb, 1991

Dr. George Zahorian is Convicted of Selling Steroids

Vince McMahon - George Zahorian - Hulk Hogan - historyofwrestling.com

Following three hours of deliberation by a federal jury, Dr. George T. Zahorian is convicted in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. of selling anabolic steroids and controlled substances to four professional wrestlers and a weightlifter.  Zahorian, who had..Read More

08 Sep, 1991

Ric Flair is Fired by WCW. Vice President Jim Herd

Jim Herd - historyofwrestling.com

Ric Flair is fired by WCW Vice President Jim Herd, a move that would have far-reaching implications.  Soon after being let go, Flair would sign with the World Wrestling Federation, taking the instantly recognizable NWA/WCW..Read More

1992
07 Jul, 1992

Vader Defeats Sting to Win the WCW Championship

Vader - historyofwrestling.com

Arguably the most physically intimidating titleholder in WCW history, Vader defeats Sting to win his first WCW World heavyweight championship in Albany, GA.  Vader, a former I.W.G.P., (Japan), Catch Wrestling Association (Europe) and U.W.A. (Mexico)..Read More

1993
11 Jan, 1993

First Episode of Monday Night Raw Airs

Shawn Michaels - Max Moon - historyofwrestling.com

The World Wrestling Federation launched Monday Night Raw on the USA network. The show replaced Prime Time Wrestling which had run for the previous eight years. Raw was unique in that it was broadcast from..Read More

1994
27 Aug, 1994

Extreme Championship Wrestling Formed

ECW Formed - historyofwrestling.com

Extreme Championship Wrestling was formed on August 27, 1994 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The National Wrestling Alliance held a tournament to crown its new champion. Because of bad blood between NWA Dennis Coralluzzo and Tod Gordon,..Read More

27 Aug, 1994

Shane Douglas Throws Down the NWA Belt

Shane Douglas - historyofwrestling.com

In the finals of a tournament to crown the new NWA champion, reigning Eastern Championship Wrestling titleholder Shane Douglas defeats 2 Cold Scorpio in Philadelphia, PA.  During a speech following his victory, Douglas unexpectedly threw..Read More

1995
24 Feb, 1995

Dan Severn Becomes the NWA Champion

Dan Severn - historyofwrestling.com

Dan “The Beast” Severn defeats Chris Candido in Erlanger, KY. to become the NWA World Heavyweight champion.  During a time when the promotion was considered nothing more than a glorified independent group, Severn, also an..Read More

04 Sep, 1995

WCW Monday Night Nitro Debuts

WCW Nitro Debut - historyofwrestling.com

The debut episode of Monday Night Nitro was broadcast from the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 4, 1995. The show was launched as a response to the ongoing success of WCW rival, the WWF’s Monday Night Raw show...Read More

1997
09 Nov, 1997

Montreal Screwjob Takes Place

Montreal Screwjob - historyofwrestling.com

In what would become known as “the Montreal Screwjob,” Bret Hart was double-crossed by Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels in the main event of the Survivor Series main event. In the middle of the match,..Read More

1999
29 Apr, 1999

WWF Smackdown Debuts

Smackdown Debuts - historyofwrestling.com

WWF launches SmackDown! debuted on UPN on April 29, 1999. The show was developed to compliment the WWF’s Monday Night Raw television show and served as a showcase for the burgeoning talent within the promotion.

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