A few weeks back, I was guest hosting Kayfabe Kickout Audio along with grand master of this site Richard Boudreau. Our guest for the show was the NWA World Women’s Champion, the beautiful Kacee Carlisle. When we got to the subject about the NWA, we talked about how important it still is to be a champion for the organization that has lasted so long even though it’s not as big as it once was.
I mentioned how those initials definitely still hold importance to me in the wrestling world, and both Rich and Kacee seemed to agree with me. Well it appears that the three of us, along with some other folks who are old school, are the only ones who seem to feel this way. On Friday, March 16th, former WWE Superstar Rob Conway defeated Kahagas for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. With that win, Rob Conway joined the likes of Lou Thez, Buddy Rogers, Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat, and a plethora of other greats in the squared circle who have had the honor of holding “the most famous 10 pounds of gold”, and the oldest World title in professional wrestling.
While other titles, such as the WWE Title, may be better in terms of money and popularity the NWA World Title demands more respect. The average fan reading this may have no idea that the NWA still exists, and wrestling websites didn’t really cover the title change like they would if the WWE or TNA World Titles were to change hands. In fact, it was treated as an afterthought. It seems like the NWA has never really gotten respect for its place in history. Just about every wrestling promotion that has gone national once began as a member of the NWA. The WWWF (now WWE) started off as a member of the NWA when it was known as Capitol Wrestling Corporation, but left the alliance in 1963 because Vince McMahon Sr. wanted Buddy Rogers as World Champion while the rest of the NWA wanted to keep the title on Lou Thez. Verne Gagne couldn’t get recognition as World Champion from the NWA despite his popularity, so he would have his Minnesota Territory secede from the NWA to form the American Wrestling Association which would last until 1991.
In the 80s, Ted Turner would purchase NWA Jim Crockett Promotions and rename it World Championship Wrestling. Once WCW showed that they could stand on their own two feet as a national wrestling power, they would secede from the NWA in 1993 taking all of the NWA’s top stars with them! The usage of the NWA as a way to become a national championship promotion wouldn’t stop there; with the NWA needing a new champion for the vacated title they held a tournament in conjunction with NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling, a fledgling wrestling northeast territory based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Shane Douglas won the title that night and then threw the newly won championship on the ground refusing to be recognized as the champion of a “dead promotion”. As we all know, that night in 1994 NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling would secede and become Extreme Championship Wrestling and Shane Douglas named the ECW World Heavyweight Champion.
The NWA would limp along afterwards, and even had some great wrestlers such as Chris Candido and UFC Champion Dan Severn hold the title, and he would actually defend the title in other parts of the World including Japan while helping UFC during its infancy. Multiple independent promotions would become charter members of the NWA (some of those promotions still are today), and in essence the NWA territory system would still exist on a smaller scale. Back in 2002, NWA-TNA would open its doors with backing from Jeff and Jerry Jarrett giving the National Wrestling Alliance another shot on the arm. The NWA now had a promotion that did weekly Pay Per Views showcasing their World Title and World Tag Team titles giving both championships much needed face time. In 2004, TNA would ALSO secede from the NWA while having an agreement with the NWA to still use their belts. By 2007, the issue was that TNA wasn’t letting the NWA know about title changes cause the NWA to withdraw their championships from TNA.
And now nearly 6 years later, the NWA is back in obscurity to a majority of the wrestling World. Such a mighty company has been treated like nothing more than the town slut who people would get into bed with, and then kick out of the house once they were done with her. Pro Wrestling Illustrated doesn’t even recognize the NWA Championships as World Titles because gone are the days where the title was defended at the Omni in Atlanta or the Tokyo Dome in Japan in front of thousands of fans, now the belt is defended at high schools, armories, and fire halls in front of crowds of hundreds of fans. A lot of folks seem to want to call the NWA a joke because of this! Promoters who can’t even draw 100 fans to their shows are even joining in talking shit! What those promoters and a lot of wrestling fans don’t realize is that back in the NWA’s heyday, under the territory system, in the 60’s, 70’s, and even the early 80’s the NWA World Title was defended where? In front of crowds at schools, armories, and fire halls! In a way you can say that the NWA is going back to the future.
In closing, the NWA has some great wrestlers as World champions in Rob Conway and Kacee Carlisle, and I hope they realize that there is a lot that they can do to give the company more recognition like it deserves. Have the champions defend their belts all over North America and in other parts of the World! For a lot of old timers out there, it is still an honor for them to come to these NWA shows and to be inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame. Try telling Harley Race or Terry Funk those three initials don’t mean anything.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @whosantcox and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! See ya next time, wrestling fans!
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