Extreme milestones: a history of hardcore

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April 25, 2013

July 4, 1987 — WarGames: The Match Beyond
A 10-year tradition is born when WarGames, a five-on-five match held in two rings enclosed by a roofed steel cage, premieres at the NWA’s Great American Bash. The team of Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff, & Paul Ellering overcomes The Four Horsemen (including J.J. Dillon).

Oct. 6, 1989 — A new frontier
The hardcore wrestling movement gains traction in Japan with the opening of Atsushi Onita’s Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling, an organization based around no disqualification brawls. Onita honed his taste for the extreme action while brawling years earlier in a concession stand in Tupelo, Miss., in homage to the famous 1979 tag bout.

Aug. 3, 1991 — A hardcore trilogy
On a single night in Philadelphia, Cactus Jack and Eddie Gilbert compete in a Falls Count Anywhere Match, a Stretcher Match and a Steel Cage Match. The evening brings to a close a monthslong rivalry that also featured a Barbed Wire Match.

Oct. 24, 1993 — Cactus Jack vies for WCW Title
Cactus Jack goes for Vader’s WCW Championship in a Texas Death Matc at Halloween Havoc. The match is immediately hailed as one of the ring’s most physically intense bouts ever. “I was wrestling that match like it was my last ever,” Mick Foley said years later.

Aug. 27, 1994 — The ‘E’ stands for Extreme
A tournament to crown a new NWA World Champion — hosted by the NWA’s Philadelphia-based affiliate, Eastern Championship Wrestling — ends in controversy as its winner, ECW’s Shane Douglas, throws down the title, denounces the alliance and declares a new era of ECW. Soon after, ECW Commissioner Tod Gordon severs ties with the NWA and renames the organization Extreme Championship Wrestling.

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March 19, 1995 — WCW UnCensored
WCW holds the first UnCensored event. Billed as “unsanctioned” and “unauthorized,” the card features mostly stipulation matches, opening with a fight between Dustin Rhodes and Bunkhouse Buck on the back of a moving 18-wheeler.

Aug. 20, 1995 — Cactus’ coronation
Cactus Jack earns the dubious distinction of “King of the Death Match” after winning an eight-man tournament held in Japan at the Kawasaki Baseball Stadium. In the tournament final, Jack prevails over Terry Funk in a “no-ropes barbed wire explosive time bomb death match.”

 Bret Hart vs. DieselNov. 19, 1995 — WWE Championship brawl
Technical wrestling wiz Bret “Hit Man” Hart earns his third WWE Title by unseating Diesel in a No Disqualification Match at Survivor Series. During the contest, Diesel slingshots Hart off the ring apron and through a ringside commentary desk, the first instance of its kind ever witnessed on a WWE pay-per-view.

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