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WRESTLING COLUMNS

NWA Championship vs. WWE Championship
February 5, 2005 by Ashley Daniels


'The Rock says this, its not about the lights, it's not about the cameras, the glitz, the glamour. It's not about Stephanie's marriage to Triple H, it's not about the McMahon family saga, it's not about Mick Foley's final match, it sure as hell ain't about the Big Show, The Rock says its about the WWF(e) Championship'

-The Rock, Wrestlemania 2000

'When I one the NWA Championship in 1981 it was the most prestigious honour in all of professional wrestling, and I think that even the guys in the AWA, which was the American Wrestling Association and the WWWF which was owned by Vince McMahon Senior would tell you that if you were the NWA Champion you were the Mecca position, the number one position and the most recognised professional wrestler in the world.'

- Ric Flair

Within the wrestling world there are two very important championships, arguably the two most important wrestling championships in the world, definitely the two most important championships as far as America's wrestling scene is concerned. In this article I shall attempt to find out which of these two championships are more prestigious; by looking at each championship's history, wrestlers who have had the honour to call themselves NWA or WWE Champion, matches contested over the NWA and WWE championships.

The NWA Championship

The NWA championship is rich in history to say the very least. The first wrestler who has the honour of calling himself NWA champion was Orville Brown. Orville Brown was originally the Midwest Wrestling Association World Heavyweight champion (1940) and reigned as World champ for seven years before being defeated by Sonny Myers in 1947, however Orville would regain his championship in 1948. During this same year Pinkie George along with five other promoters become the founding members of the National Wrestling Alliance, recognising Orville as their World Heavyweight champion. Orville did not ever lose the NWA championship, though due to critical injuries suffered in an automobile accident, was forced to forfeit the title. This title would later be awarded to Lou Thesz who unified the NWA championship with the A.W.A (Boston) World Heavyweight Championship. (This championship was not a championship under the American Wrestling Association, rather a championship from the original A.W.A promotion which existed prior to the more popular American Wrestling Association) The Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium version of the World title. As well as the original NWA championship. (National Wrestling Association, not National Wrestling Alliance) This was the early beginnings of the NWA Championship.

The WWE Championship

Toronto Ontario was the place, Buddy Rogers the reigning NWA champion was squaring off with one of the all time greats in Lou Thesz, with the NWA championship on the line in a 2/3 falls match. Both men had a fall a piece to their name when Thesz took the third and deciding fall via disqualification. The match and the championship was awarded to Lou Thesz, however many northeast promoters vehemently disagreed with the more than controversial decision, seeing as NWA rule books state the NWA championship can only changed hands via pin or submission. This lead to the same northeast promoters beginning their own promotion (WWWF) with Buddy Rogers as their champion. This was the beginning of the WWE championship.

Looking at both the championships from a historical point of view, it seems the NWA championship is more important. Not only has it got 13 years over the WWE championship, (NWA-1940, WWE-1963) it also seems that if Buddy was to have been the victor in the third fall, there would not even be a WWE.

Championships are the crowning achievements in any professional wrestler's career. Although what makes championships so important" So important that wrestlers would endure such a punishing ordeal just so they can call themselves champ. After contemplating this question, I came to the conclusion that what makes a championship so important in world of professional wrestling is the reputation it gains. For example the Intercontinental championship, the secondary championship in the WWE, has become such a symbol of excellence due to wrestlers like Greg Valentine, Tito Santana, Randy Savage, and Ricky Steamboat... Therefore what I am trying to say is that it is the wrestlers who bring the glory to belts, and I feel it is safe to say that a wide variety of wrestlers, with diverse in-ring styles bought the WWE and NWA championships to a whole new level. During this part of the article I shall pick three wrestlers who have been NWA or WWE champion, as well as the current NWA, WWE champion and explain what I feel they have done for each championship, respectively.

The four wrestlers (from the NWA championship) I have decided on are Harley Race, Ric Flair, AJ Styles and the reigning NWA champion Jeff Jarrett.

Harley Race- Arguably the greatest NWA champion since that championship very beginning. Harley was an eight time NWA world heavyweight champion and did his utmost best to bring legitimacy to not only the NWA championship but to professional wrestling as well. Harley was a wrestler who dictated his every move in the ring, in my opinion Harley embodied everything a pro wrestler should be like.

Ric Flair- 10 times (I think) NWA world heavyweight champion and the man with the most world championship to his name. The NWA championship was the first major world championship Ric Flair won, so I think it is safe to say this championship will always have a special place in the heart of Ric Flair. I guess you can say similar to Harley Race, Ric Flair added a legitimacy to the NWA world championship (emphasis on the word world) by defending the championship all over the world.

AJ Styles- The phenomenal one is a former 2 times NWA champion and quite possibly the hardest working wrestler in the world, you always know what your in for a great show when AJ Styles is wrestling. In my opinion he has paved the way for many new wrestlers to possibly reign as NWA world champion, proving that you don't have to be the biggest dog in the fight.

Jeff Jarrett- (NWA champion) Some people may argue that the only reason Jeff Jarrett is the NWA world champion is because he is the man in charge and the NWA championship is a means of satisfying his ego, although I personally believe that Jeff is trying his hardest to put the NWA championship back on the map as far as worldwide appeal is concerned. I would also like to add that if Jeff was the egotist that he is described as being, why have Ron Killings and AJ Styles both had runs with the NWA championship, surely if he was so egotistical, he would have not even given AJ or Ron runs as the world champion and reign as NWA world champion for several years, like the champions of the past.

The four WWE champions I have decided to choose are Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Eddie Guerrero and the reigning WWE champion JBL.

Hulk Hogan- Hulk was not the greatest wrestler, nor was he the greatest WWE champion of all time; however I do not think anyone can doubt the impact he has had on pro wrestling as well as the WWE championship. During the 1980's wrestling became popular around the world and I guess Hogan can take much of the credit for that. Hogan had worldwide appeal amongst fans and celebrities, which only added to the WWE championship's worldwide appeal.

Bret Hart- 'The excellence of execution' is a five time WWE champion and without a shadow of a doubt one of the all time best. His matches always told a story, no matter who the opponent was or how bad a wrestler he was, seeing as Bret could pull off a great match with just about anybody. If you look at guys who were champions prior to Bret's first reign as champion, you can see that a lot of them were more gimmick orientated (Undertaker, Sgt Slaughter) and I guess what Bret did was bring the WWE title back to more wrestling orientated, with his straight ahead wrestling approach.

Eddie Guerrero- Eddie Guerrero is one of the truly deserving WWE champions. He realised a life long dream, at No Way Out in 2004 by capturing the WWE championship in a great match with Brock Lesnar. Eddie Guerrero's championship reign was really a treat for wrestling fans, seeing as it bought forth some amazing WWE championship matches; Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero at Wrestlemania XX. It also displayed WWE championship matches which we may never see again Eddie vs. Rey Mysterio.

JBL- (WWE champion) I am not here to criticise JBL or his championship reign, because quite frankly I feel JBL has been a credible champion, never thought I would say that. However when it comes to making some sort of mark/impact on the WWE championship, I feel JBL has not. In fact the only good thing which I think has come from JBL's reign as champ, is the fact that it seems WWE have decided to give wrestlers longer runs with the WWE championship.

Now here comes the difficult part, which championship has been represented by the all around best wrestlers. This decision was very hard to make, however I feel the WWE championship has been worn by better wrestlers. The reason why I say this is because former WWE champions were able to take the WWE championship, which in my opinion was living in the shadows of the NWA championship (WWE championship was reduced to a regional championship in 1971 when the WWWF aligned itself with the National Wrestling Alliance) and take it to a level of prestige which was equal to the NWA championship.

The final part of the article shall look at four matches, two contested over the NWA championship and two contested over the WWE championship, in the process awarding the NWA or WWE championship the victory in this article.(NWA was a more historical title, WWE had better champions)

Ric Flair vs. Harley Race, Starcade 1983, NWA Championship Harley Race was the champion going into this match; he had previously vowed that Ric Flair would never get another shot at the World Championship, going as far as putting a bounty on the Nature Boy's head. Although Ric was able to go through with the match and what a great wrestling match it turned out to be. Early in the match both men were seemingly cautious to lock up, eventually they did, which lead to Ric wearing down Harley with a basic headlock. Harley proved that this would not be a total one-sided match and hit his patented flying knee. Although failed to execute his falling headbutt. Flair regained control with the head lock, however it would not be long before Harley gained momentum and made it clear to the wrestling world that his focus was the neck of the Nature Boy, delivering moves such as the neckbreaker and piledriver. It was not long before the match turned into a bloodbath; however Flair could not yet grab the advantage. Until the firm guest referee Gene Kiniski, who was passionate that this match stay a wrestling match stopped Harley from using a right hand, this gave Flair the opening he needed and was not long before Flair had Harley Race hooked in the figurefour. Towards the end of the match the referee had been momentarily dazed; however he was able to see Ric catch Harley off guard with a cross body and count to three for the win.

Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat, Wrestle War 1989, NWA championship From the opening bell both men appeared to be confident and from the matches beginning they were both displaying natural wrestling ability, even though it was not long before chops were flying. Later in the match Flair went for one of his favourite wear down holds, the headlock, on the contrary Steamboat was able to counter into a upper had wrist lock. This began a relentless assault on Flair's arm which would last the majority of the match. Now we go to later in the match when the Nature Boy's star is shining bright. Executing his patented knee drops and chops. Steamboat attempted the chicken wing submission which made Flair tap out in a previous encounter. After a successful high risk move Steamboat attempts another, until Flair jerks the middle rope forcing Steamboat down to the outside of the ring, hurting his knee in the process. After Flair dissected the leg of Steamboat, Steamboat hit an enziguri, momentum seemed to be shifting back to Steamboat who then went for a body slam, however Flair was able to cradle Steamboat up for the win.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar, No Way Out 04, WWE championship Ever since this match had been announced many people believed Eddie had no chance in hell of winning the championship and judging from the beginning of the match, they were right. Brock destroyed Eddie with his arsenal of suplexes, although to Eddie's credit he did not quit, even showing there may be a possibility of him winning by working on the legs of Brock, using dangerous submissions such as the figurefour, STF and a Lasso from Elpaso. Brock would regain the advantage using his amateur background to ground Eddie, although Eddie looked like he was determined to win. Eddie showed great desire fighting back and hitting the three amigos, even though he failed to hit the frog splash. Following this failed attempt Brock hit the F-5, although the referee had been taking out in the process. Goldberg would make his way on the scene and spear Brock, and then what followed was a tornado DDT on the championship belt and frog splash to give Eddie his first WWE championship.

Eddie vs. Kurt Angle, Wrestlemania XX, WWE championship This match began with both men going hold for hold, although Eddie would gain the advantage with a succession of devastating shoulder blocks. Early in the match Eddie went for the three amigos, though Kurt was able to hit a German suplex, this would began Kurt Angle's strategy to work the ribs of Eddie, although in true Eddie form he was able to fight back hitting the most devastating DDT ever and a frog splash. This was not the end as Angle was able to kick out, he then put the ankle lock on Eddie which many thought was the end, however Eddie kicked off his boot and rolled up Angle for the win.

So there you have it, four of the best NWA, WWE championship matches in the history of each title respectively. However what this part of the article hopes to do is determine which championship has put fourth the greatest wrestling matches. The NWA championship has for many years put on solid wrestling matches including the classic 2/3 fall matches and more recently put on more unique matches such as gauntlet for the gold, as well as King of the Mountain. Although the WWE championship has been defended in unique match settings as well such as cage matches, Hell in a Cell. I personally feel that the WWE championship wins when it comes to putting on the greatest wrestling matches. Seeing as the WWE championship has been the prize for a lot of revolutionary match types. Through the WWE championship they have produced many matches which will stand the test of time and overall I feel the WWE championship has surpassed the NWA championship as far as prestige and glory goes. On the other hand I am sure there are going to be some who disagree, so if you have a different opinion on which championship is more prestigious please send in your replies.

by Ashley Daniels ..


Big James wrote:
Ok first off the NWA has 23 years on the WWE.Please learn your math. Second your choices as far as NWA Champions get Jeff Jarretts ass out of their he has held back so many people in that company it is pathetic. He has been champion more times and longer than everybody else who has had the honor of holding that title. Now I agree with you putting Harley Race, Ric Flair, and AJ is kind of a long shot I would have gone with Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat as my other choices. And your WWE champions you have picked out now we have a problem. Although I have never liked the man Hulk Hogan did bring wrestling into the limelight Bret Hart definently a shoe in. But you put JBL and Eddie Guerroro in with the likes of these two men that ain't right. The only other two men who should be on that list are Shawn Micheals and Triple H or maybe Stone Cold Steve Austin or maybe The Rock these men have legitimized themselves as true champions and not one hit wonders such as Eddie and JBL. I give them credit they are great champions but not as great as the men I just named off. You named off two great matches for the NWA title but I think the first Clash of Champions or the first Starcade I can't really remember right now but the match was between Sting and Ric Flair. I thought it was a great match and I think it deserves a honorable mention. As far as the WWE title matches their have been so many good matches and you chose these two cmon. Right off the bat I could think of a match that blows those two right out of the water. And the winner is Iron Man match Wrestlemanie XII. Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels absolutely off the chart. Next match Wrestlemania VI. Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior. Babyface vs Babyface. This match was incredible from start to finish( I thought the finish was the best part only cause Hogan lost). And their you have it folks. My opinion Til next time
Sean Stein wrote:
Too say that the WWE title is better then the NWA title I disagree. I say they both are even and extreme dropped in value. First the NWA Title. Being that once in a great while. That belt leaves Florida. Before that it was the same situation but instead of Florida it was Nashville, TN. When you look at the WWE title now. You have JBL as the champion. Who had a long title run but no good matches. It's like HTM's I-C title run. On top of that, the WWE has too World title belts. So how creatiable does that make it" Now NWA Champion is Jarrett. Matches some what better then JBL.

I don't look at the NWA title a world title anymore. I haven't since TNA started. Not because the champion were bad. But how the belt is being exposed. The NWA World title regularly went over seas and had a chance too change hands. Now, today that belt get defend maybe once or twice a year out of the country Against someone who not in TNA so that means no chance of changing hands. Just like the WWE title. It goes over seas but never as that belt ever change hands outside of Noth America. It's been that way for years. Look at those UK PPV that was nothing more then a house show card. Never once the title changed hands.

Sure when the Rock held it that was it. Now there a WWE title and a World title. Once company and two World titles. How does it make it creditable" It devalues them. Raw title was handed too HHH back in 02. Sure last year and so far this year. There matches have all been better then Smackdowns. But you can't expect much from a JBL match. No matter who you put against him. Guerrero or Angle. Either one brought out anything remotely close too MOTY or memoriable.

So I think both belts are even and from what they were in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. They both devalue extremely.
ShaunCl wrote:
Triple H the best. Excuse me but I can think of around 20 other people in the wwe alone who could kick his ass. Notice somebodys always helping him to win. Even Edge can beat him.
Matthew Behrman wrote:
to me the NWA title is more honered than the WWE title sure WWE has it champions but the NWA is more historic and more prized title.....I remember ric flair hold the title and also the NWA is the best promotions of all time years from now I see the NWA title will get the respect it deserved again like the the old days as for the WWE title one day I see a women will win the WWE world title and that women will be trish stratus!!!!!!!! ( I couuld dream can I)
Ronevsorg wrote:
Why put Jarrett over Jack Brisco" JBL over Bruno" Why no mention of Race's title vs Title matches ( vs Bruno,Graham,Backland)"
LanceCrucifix wrote:
In all honesty, the NWA title has seen so many more great matches then the WWE championship. In my personal opinion, AJ Styles was the worst thing to happen to the NWA title, he put on some great matches, and he is probly one of the most talented and hard working wrestlers in NWA history, but lets look at Christopher Daniels, He just as talented, if not more, then AJ, except his Highflying manuevers aren't as spectaculer, but most take more thought to pull out, and about the WWE and World titles, both are dying quick. Triple H, talented, but not deserving, JBL, as much as I hate to say this, is saving the Smackdown! title, what do you honestly want to see, JBL lose the title, the longer they keep the title on JBL, the more you'll be happy with who ever else gets it, I believe Smackdown! should push, Booker to the title, Booker has always made a good face, and in my honest opinion, Eddie Guerreo vs Booker T has always been a good match. Well thats just my opinion...
P.W.Dennis (WInter Springs, FL) wrote:
While officially the NWA belt traces back to 1950, unofficially it can be traced back to Frank Gotch and the early 1900s.

As to titlists to represent the respective federations, I would think Lou Thesz, who held the world championship (off and on) from 1939 to 1966 was probably the greatest NWA Champion and probably the greatest professional wrestler of all time. Thesz had speed, scientific wrestling skills and the ability to roughhouse with anyone. Thesz was probably the fastest thinker on his feet of any wrestler I've seen. with both at their peak, and possibly the best conditioned wrestler ever. I suspect that Flair would win only 25% to 30% of his matches against Thesz.

For WWE the obvious choice is Bruno Sammartino. While his scientific wrestling skills were little better than Hulk Hogan, physically he was much stronger (despite Hogan's more impressive looking build), faster and more agile. Were both in their primes simultaneously, Sammartino would beat Hogan easily. I can't conceive of Hogan ever winning a match legitimately

I don't know if Flair and Thesz ever met - if they did it would have been after Thesz turned 50 in 1967. Thesz did face a young Sammartino in the early 1960s, winning both matches
Robert Morton wrote:
I think that it's easy for fans to get confused as to what the X-Division title is and what the World Heavyweight title is, so let me break it all down for us to make sense of.

The X-division was founded on being an open weight title, but was once thought of as a title to showcase the style of those in the light heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions. Slowly it seemed to become a title the represented the junior heavyweight division. Which has been popularized by contemporary legends such as Chris Benoit, the late Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Jeff Jarrett, Chris Jericho, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, the late Owen Hart and more currently Kurt Angle. But, it always seemed to be a second tier title for those rapidly approaching the main event level. I mean, why else would Sonny Siaki hold it"

The one thing that separates the Junior Heavyweights listed from those that are currently in the X division is their ability to act as though wrestling manuevers are effective. Remember when AJ Styles was german suplexed onto the guard rail at Genises" The one constant about X division is the lack of ability that the wrestlers in that division have to sell moves. Remember when Samoa Joe was lifted into a powerbomb by AJ Styles and dropped hard at Turning Point" The X Division style is one that is about athleticism and millions of flips and the ability to withstand infinite amount of punishment.

It wasn't until the title was on cable television that it begun to live up to it's true "no limits" moniker. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, and Chris Daniel's three way feud really showed what the title was supposes to represent. Samoa Joe showed that weight wasn't a limit and as long as you could wrestle the pace as the main event indy guys then you're deserving of your spot.

Now it's time for the NWA World Heavyweight title, the most prestige in wrestling history. It dates back to pre 1940, but became the only true world's championship in 1942. Traditionally the World Heavyweight title would be used in the sport as an Open weight title. Guys of various shapes and sizes and of different style backgrounds would be able to get a shot at the title. I'd say that the NWA title has a more old school style associated with it today. And for that one reason alone is why Jeff Jarrett is the best fit in the entire wrestling world to hold that title. He wrestles a classic style, has many years left on his body, has much experience on his body and isn't completely broken like champions of the northern based companies.

The contenders as of late for the NWA title have also been of the same "you can't kill me" mentality as the X Division. Rhino can fall of off a balcony and then be able to sprint to the ring before he's counted out. What's the point of that" To make TNA's talent look like they can withstand anything" It just makes a much seem meaningless when spots that look like they'd inflict some sort of pain (and they do in real life because falling 15 feet to the ground does hurt).

Why is it that there are two open weight titles in TNA" Neither one is worth less than the other. Neither is currently a stepping stone to the other. They're both filled with talent that take sick bumbs and aren't capable of selling it.

The NWA title is popularized by skits and promos where as the X title is popularized by match quality. The Contenders to the NWA title are mostly those that have had main stream attention and the contenders of the X title as those that do not. Why are those titles on the same level"

I guess it doesn't really matter because no title is more fascinating than the other. Maybe if TNA had the ability to put matches together with people that don't want to look TOTALLY NON-STOPPABLE then it'd be a decent product.

I believe that the NWA title and the X title should showcase to separate styles and not break up their roster based on how well they're recognized by the main stream. Good wrestlers should go after the NWA title. Wrestlers that want to have finishers that kill people and want to make every single move seem ineffective should go to the X Division. If this were to happen maybe we'd be able to see a Jeff Jarrett vs. Christopher Daniels in a NWA World Title match. And we might even be able to see Rhino vs. Petey Williams in an X-title match. Imagine seeing Rhino kick out of canadian destroyer after canadian destroyer for like 20 minutes straight" That'd be like seeing Scott Steiner giving countless belly to belly suplexes to Triple H at Royal Rumble 2003.
wrote:

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