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WRESTLING COLUMNS

NWA Title: Through Hell & Back
July 15, 2006 Andrew Webber


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In 1948 the wrestling world had their first true world champion. A group of promoters from around the country came together and formed the National Wrestling Alliance and named Orville Brown as the World Heavyweight Champion. Before this it seemed every little territory had a World Champion.

Most of these so called World Champions didn't even defend it out of the territory. The NWA World Title from that point on was the most recognized World Title in the United States and due to the power of the NWA the title became known throughout the world. We have all heard about these great champions of the past. You hear over and over about Lou Thez, Ric Flair, Harley Race and the list goes on and on. If you are just a casual wrestling fan or a newcomer to the world of professional wrestling you just don't know how important this title is and how for a long period of time the title was garbage.

The title had the first shot to its integrity with the explosion of the WWF in the United States. Hulk Hogan was a bigger draw than current NWA champion Ric Flair. Before the WWF the NWA was the #1 wrestling company in the United States. Sure it was broken up in territories, but Ric Flair and the champions before him were the recognized World Champions in these small territories. The title had credibility still at this point, but no doubt it lost some due to the fact that Hulk Hogan was seen everywhere. The feeling among the people was that Hulk Hogan was possibly better than Ric Flair and more of a World Champion. I realize that the AWA had a World Champion too and countless of other promotions had World Champions, but they were not put on the national stage like Hogan and Flair. People outside the Midwest could careless who was the AWA Champion. Well the NWA is not the #1 promotion in the United States no big deal the title is still worth something and is still respected throughout the world. The future for the title was still bright and the title had such a great history, and then Ted Turner came along.

Turner showcased the NWA on his program called World Championship Wrestling on WTBS. World Championship Wrestling did very well in cable ratings for Turner. Wrestling was huge and Turner saw an opportunity to make millions of dollars and compete with Vince McMahon and the WWF. Jim Crockett Promotions was the feature on World Championship Wrestling, but Crockett promotions was losing money. The WWF was just to much for them to compete with and thus Jim Crockett promotions was sold to Ted Turner and the NWA started a business relationship that I'm sure they regret.

Ted Turner renamed the promotion to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) after the TV show that was featured on WTBS. WCW kept all the NWA titles including the World Title. Ric Flair was referred to for quite some time as the NWA World Champion even though the promotion was now WCW. In January 1991 Ric Flair defeated Sting to win back the NWA World Title when he was interviewed he referred to the belt as the WCW World Title. It seemed like all the NWA Titles were suddenly the WCW Titles. Ric Flair was the WCW Champion and the NWA Champion, but the belt remained the same. Many fans just assumed that the NWA was dead and that Ric Flair was the WCW Champion and that the WCW World Title would just carry on the legacy of the old NWA World Title. The NWA World Title legacy seemed protected as the New WCW World Title until May of 1991.

Ric Flair faced Tatsumi Fujinami in Tokyo, Japan. Fujinami beat Flair and took the belt. Suddenly WCW says that Flair is the World Champion of WCW still because Fujinami threw Flair over the top rope which at that time in WCW was a DQ. WCW also claimed that Fujinami was the NWA World Champion. Now as a fan this is confusing as hell. There was one belt being referred to as two different things. Most fans thought that back in January of 91 that the NWA World Title became the WCW World Title. WCW tried to fix this at Super Brawl I where they had a unification match between Flair and Fujinami.

The winner of the match was supposed to unite the two world titles and after Flair won that is what most of us believe happened that the World Titles were one. Just like we were lead to believe back in January of 1991, but with WCW involved you know things are just going to get more screwed up.

WCW and Ric Flair could not see eye to eye on a new contract. There are many speculations of why Flair and WCW could not reach an agreement, but that is not the focus of this column. To make a long story short, Ric Flair left WCW for the WWF and took the World Title Belt with him. To make this even more confusing WCW had a match and a new world belt manufactured where Luger won the World Title. WWF is refusing to call Ric Flair NWA champ. Instead he is referred to as the Real World's Champion. Lex Luger is World Champion of the WCW. Now you have to remember back in 1991 the internet wasn't around, so all you had to go by is what you saw on TV. The thought at the time was that Lex Luger was the World Champion of WCW which came from the old NWA and there was no NWA Champion because it was the WCW World Title. Many people didn't know that the NWA still had a World Title that existed. Most of us all assumed that the WCW title was the old NWA Title. Just to point something out what ever credibility the NWA Title had at this point is gone. Ric Flair is prancing around the WWF with the physical NWA World Title Belt and is not being called the NWA Champion and Lex Luger wins a manufactured title not even defeating Ric Flair for the belt and he is being referred to as the WCW Champion. At this point how could things get any more confusing" Well when WCW is involved it just does.

Due to the lack of information that the fans were able to retain in wrestling in the early 90's many of us just assumed what I have been preaching all along. That the WCW World Title is from the old NWA Title and was unified by Ric Flair at Super Brawl I, but this is not the case. Here is what most people didn't know. Ric Flair was stripped by the National Wrestling Alliance of the NWA World title after signing a contract with Titan Sports Inc. (the parent company of the World Wrestling Federation). Flair had previously been stripped of the separate WCW World heavyweight championship by WCW, Inc. on July 1, 1991. This is the fact of what happened, but this is not what most of us know and even though this is fact this title is basically crap at this point as well as the WCW World Title.

Suddenly the NWA Title comes back to WCW TV. In August of 1992 we here of Mashiro Chono defeating Rick Rude for the title in Japan. Now it has been like an entire year and a half since we saw this title on TV. Last time we saw it Ric Flair was actually prancing around with the belt in the WWF, but WCW gets the title belt back from Flair which is another story of its own, but it looks like WCW is serious about giving the NWA World Title a run.

They seem to want to keep it separate from the WCW world Title, so at this point WCW is recognizing two World Champions. If you were a fan of WCW back then like I was you just felt that the NWA world title was like the Minor League Belt. The presence of the two belts just hurt the NWA World Title's prestige, but suddenly life was breathed back into the NWA World Title, but it would only last a few months.

Barry Windham defeats the Great Muta at Super Brawl III bringing the Belt to the United States where it is seen more and defended more within this country. Windham defends the title against all comers Arn Anderson, Davy Boy Smith, and Ric Flair who just came back from the WWF. Ric Flair ends up winning the NWA World Title. Suddenly people are thinking that the NWA World Title is just as good as the WCW World Title then WCW does what it does best screw something that is so good up. WCW cuts ties with the NWA and renames the NWA Belt the WCW International World Title. Still most of us Wrestling fans back then just think that the NWA Title has been renamed again no biggie right" WRONG! Here is the fact of what happen After a legal dispute between the National Wrestling Alliance and member promotion World Championship Wrestling ends in a Charlotte, North Carolina, USA courtroom (with the NWA prevailing over WCW), "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (Richard Morgan Fliehr) is stripped of the NWA World title. However, WCW keeps the physical belt which had represented the NWA World title since 1986 and uses it to launch a new brand new title, totally unrelated to the NWA World title, called the WCWI World heavyweight championship.

This belt has been tarnished so bad, in hindsight thank god that the NWA got away from WCW. The NWA World Belt however will become more tarnished. In 1994 Shane Douglas (Troy Martin) pins Too Cold Scorpio (Charles Skaggs) in the finals of a one-night tournament at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA to win the NWA World title. After the match, Douglas relinquishes the championship, declaring himself the ECW World heavyweight champion. The match and tournament are presented by Extreme Championship Wrestling. Douglas actually throws the title down and claims that its crap. Douglas couldn't be more right.

Years followed and I personally didn't know what happened to the title. I assumed that the WCW World Title was the NWA World title especially after Flair Unified the WCWI Title and WCW Title. I would occasionally see the NWA ranking in PWI magazine, but didn't care. With the explosion of the Monday Night Wars I totally forgot about the NWA Title. It wasn't until late 1999 when I was flipping back in forth between Nitro and Raw where I saw Dan Severn being advertised as a multiple champion including the NWA World Champion. He actually had the belt that represented the NWA before 1986. The Sad thing was that the advertisement was for a mixed martial arts fight that would take place at Lakeside Casino in Osceola, Iowa. Now I live in Des Moines IA which has near a million people with all the suburbs added in. It's one thing to have a World Title match here, but in Osceola Iowa that's crazy. I thought briefly to myself good god that title is shit and then I went back to not caring about the NWA Title.

Then in 2002 I heard that Jeff Jarrett became the NWA world champion through an organization called Total Non-stop Action Wrestling. (I know there were two champions before him I just found out about it late), I thought - well that's definitely an improvement from Dan Severn, but I still wasn't feeling the whole NWA thing. The belt to me was still crap. Now I will admit I never watched TNA when they had weekly PPV's - I was too cheap for that, but TNA did land a TV deal with FSN and I began to watch the TNA brand. I thought that the NWA Title was still a crappy title; hell I thought the X Division Title was better and had more prestige. After all it hadn't had the crappy legacy the NWA World Title has had in the last 15 years.

Jeff Jarrett changed my mind. He was in fact defending the title against legitimate contenders like Kevin Nash, DDP, Ron Killings, but still I felt the belt was not anywhere in the league of the World Title on Smackdown or the WWE title on RAW. Then things changed the belt just kept getting better more wrestlers challenged and held it Raven and Rhino gave it more of a push.

Finally on Against All Odds 2006 when Christian Cage defeated Jeff Jarrett for the title I felt that the NWA World Belt has credibility again. In fact I thought it was better that the other two World Titles due to the fact that the wrestling in the WWE had been watered down due to the massive roster of SD! and RAW. Christian Cage went on a tear as NWA Champion and held the title with class. The competition for the belt was getting even better and I still feel the same way with Jeff Jarrett as world champion again. TNA and the NWA World Belt has such a bright future.

To close, the NWA World Title went though hell. The belt was literally worthless, but now it's worth something. Christian Cage, Jeff Jarrett, Sting, Samoa Joe and so many will no doubt keep the title picture interesting and I'm sure they will all no doubt hold the belt with class if given a chance.

The NWA Title has such a bright future ahead of it. It has been literally resurrected and thanks to TNA the belts legacy will be secure.

by Andrew Webber..


Jon Rosaler wrote:
For Starters, TNA is planning to launch an Total Nonstop Action World title as well as a TNA Television title and TNA Tag Team titles in the near future and the NWA title will no longer be defended on TV as well as the NWA Tag Team titles.

I don't want to ruin anything, but It looks like Sting is going to win the NWA title. I'm curious to know why, he already won it and doesn't Samoa Joe deserve it" Can't we for once have an NWA champion that was also the X division champion besides AJ Styles"

Finally, the reason they dropped the title from Cage was because he wasn't gaining recognition. He started getting Mixed reaction at house shows and doing boring Jeff Jarrett like promos that got him to be a very boring champion.

The NWA has started it all, such asVince Mcmahon Sr. leaving the NWA to start his own promotion, which is now a world wide phenominom and WCW and ECW were apart of the NWA for awhile, and now it started TNA. The National Wrestling Alliance is the Chicken that laid the eggs of successful businesses and we must thank the coop for all of this.
Joe Spaz wrote:
Wow, I think I got all of that" That physical belt that Flair brought to the WWF in 91-92 is the current World Championship that Rey Mysterio now holds. To me this title does not nearly mean as much as the WWE championship held by Edge. Look at the lineage for the WWE championship. This is the title that was held by Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Bob Backland, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and Steve Austin. This is the title that main evented many Wrestlemaina's. Let's look at the recent history of the "World Championship": 1. Spray painted with black letters by the NWO, held by David Arquette, Taken from Sid Vicious to "Relaunch WCW," was transferred to the WWF in 2001 with the purchase of WCW, was unified with the WWF title at the end of 01, was given to Triple H in 2002, and then began an OK title linage. Now, Mysterio has not defended the title and has lost more non-title matches recently than Barry Horwitz. The point is this, there is only one title, in the United States, worth "World Title" Status. That is the WWE championship. There is no break in the lineage. And, where it was said in this article the NWA title has recently been defended well. Let's remember this, who has held that title on a regular basis" And, who is the owner of the company"
Gus D. wrote:
Good column. I enjoyed it. I would love to see Ric Flair and Sting hook up one more time with the belt on the line. First, Flair has to go to TNA, its possible in my view.
Aaron Tolles wrote:
The NWA title is never going to have the recognition that it once did.Jim Crockett ruined the title by having a stronghold on the belt for years.Once he sold to Ted Turner you could pretty much see the title's demise.The NWA pretty much shot themselves in the foot after stripping Ric Flair by agreeing to work with New Japan and WCW,where the title became secondary.From 1994-2002 the only way to really keep track of the NWA title was internet and magazines.We watched Douglas throw the title down and even saw Dan Severn appear on WWF television during his first reign.Does anyone remember Sabu was champion during this timeframe as well"Even TNA failed to mention that.TNA is basically using NWA as a launching pad,using the Crockett stronghold, and I truly believe that soon the NWA title will once again fade in obscurity.
Tealmania wrote:
I just have one thing to say about the NWA world heavyweight title. It seems that week after week TNA seems to say that the NWA Title is the most prestigous title in sports entertainment but I think that is just plain bullshit. The most prestigous title happens to be The WWE world heavyweight title since it is formed from the original NWA title, The WCW title and it was part of being the undispuded wwe title.So I do not know where TNA gets off with this bullshit about being the most prestigous because it has a legendary name. I think of it as the TNA title With NWA engraved In the gold
Jeff Springer wrote:
Jon Rosaler I don't know where you get your sources from but TNA World and Tag titles are not in the near future. TNA has a contact to keep the NWA titles exclusive to TNA till 2014 and will continue to use them until then. As far as a TV Title as long as TNA is an hour this belt won't exist but in the near future this is the only one possible. And as far as Sting winning is concerned it has to happen because the real plan is to have Joe take the belt off a Credible Champion one who will be the only champ in TNA history to hold the NWA title in the NWA and TNA having Joe take the strap off some one with that on there plate will elevate Joe to Superstar Status and it will Happen Mark my words Joe wins the NWA title October 22 2006 in Detroit Michigan at Bound for Glory. So as far as the NWA title goes it has 8 years if TNA lasts to be rebuilt to it's original Status
Thomas "Sweet Daddy" Bugg wrote:
As long as TNA doesn't get a big head and abandon its NWA roots, the NWA World championship should be fine. Personally, I think TNA management needs to adapt the old Sam Muchnick philosophy- protect the championship, not the champion. In fact, TNA (as especially the Evil Empire) need to adapt every single aspect of Sam Muchnick-style booking.
[I didn't sign my name] wrote:
When I first started watching pro wrestling in the mid 90's I always wanted to meet a pro wrestler in person then one day I went to school in 4TH Grade and my teacher told me we have special guest in gym it turned out to be Bob Backlund himself! I was one one of three people who knew who he was in my class. Bob talked about his experience in Pro Wrestling and his match At wrestlemania XI with Bret Hart. But the Real Reason he was in Connecticut was to promote some kind of political crap that I did not really care about but anyway I think Bob is a good person and he taught me an understanding about pro wrestling. Then I met Bob Again on the Christmas of 1999 he gave away WWF title replicas to the kids and WWF Trivia card games.My main Reason for this article is to say that not only is Bob a great wrestler but he is a great person.
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