Monday, April 27, 2015

Is the NWA World Championship still a premier Championship? Part 2


In May 2007 TNA ended their relationship withdrawing from the NWA and creating their own new World Heavyweight and Tag Team Championships.  TNA had brought the NWA national recognition by featuring the World Championship on their weekly show and monthly PPV’s.

According to the ELLBOW Productions documentary on the History of the National Wrestling Alliance, TNA was looking to renegotiate their deal with the NWA and it was unfavorable to the Alliance.  Also the NWA was looking to regain control of their championships once again, as the NWA World Champion under the TNA banner rarely if ever worked the smaller NWA promotion shows.

The NWA was at the highest peak visibility wise that they had been in 14 years thanks to TNA and they needed to work hard to keep that momentum going.  None of the NWA Promotions at that time had national television distribution however in 2007 with the capabilities of the internet and resources such as You Tube and Facebook it’s much easier to get yourself in the public eye than ever before.

With the Championships vacant the NWA announced their intention to crown a new World Heavyweight Champion with a 16 man tournament starting on June 2, 2007 and culminating with the final match on September 1, 2007.  The tournament featured 4 mini brackets where the winners would advance to the final bracket.  The called it “Reclaiming the Glory!”

Lou Thez Bracket
June 2nd Salyersville, KY            Brent Albright defeated Osamu Nishimura
June 9th Meza, AZ                       Fred Sampson defeated Glamour Boy Shane

June 30th Chula Vista, CA           Brent Albright defeated Fred Sampson

Terry Funk Bracket
June 16th Danvers, MA                Claudio Castagnoli defeated Pepper Parks
June 30th Lebanon, TN                 Sicodelico Jr. defeated Roughneck Ryan

July 21st Wallingford, CT             Claudio Castagnoli defeated Sicodelico Jr.

Jack Brisco Bracket
June 16th Vancouver, NC, CN       Bryan Danielson defeated Nelson Creed
June 30th Qunicy, MA                   Fergal Devitt defeated Mikey Nicholls

July 21st North Tonawanda, NY   Bryan Danielson defeated Fergal Devitt

Harley Race Bracket
June 2nd Cornelia, GA                   Chad Parham defeated Damian Wayne
June 2nd Lodi, NJ                           Adam Pearce defeated Aaron Aguilera

July 13th Covina, CA                     Adam Pearce defeated Chad Parham

Semi Finals
August 12th Charlotte, NC            Brent Albright defeated Claudio Castagnoli
August 18th Vancouver, BC, CN   Bryan Danielson defeated Adam Pearce

September 1st Bayamon, PR          Adam Pearce defeated Brent Albright

"Scrap Iron" Adam Pearce 5 time NWA World Champion

A week prior to the finals Bryan Danielson was injured in a match with Takeshi Morishima fracturing his orbital bone.  Danielson was unable to compete in the finals so the man he defeated Adam Pearce was placed in the match.  Danielson was made the special enforcer and ended up counting the pinfall after the referee was knocked out.  I remember watching the promo videos and all the hype when this first happened and I always got the feeling the Bryan Danielson was going to win the tournament

The NWA World Championship would remain in the public eye thanks to Adam Pearce working hard to keep the title relevant by being a touring champion and on June 7, 2008 Ring of Honor officially recognized the championship at their Respect Is Earned 2 PPV taping. 

Pearce would go one to defend the NWA World Championship at Battle for Supremacy in Dayton, OH on June 27, 2008 against ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness.  The match would end in disqualification when then NWA rule of no throwing your opponent over the top rope was enforced.

On August 2, 2008 at Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor VI event in New York City and culmination of a near year-long feud would take a new turn as Brent Albright would defeat Adam Pearce for the NWA World Championship.  The feud would end at ROH’s Glory By Honor VII in Philly when Pearce would capture his second championship on September 20, 2008. 

Brent Albright NWA World Champion 8/2/2008 - 9/20/2008

In the 16 months since the NWA World Championship left the national exposure of TNA, the NWA had done a great job in keeping it a premier championship.  After winning the tournament Adam Pearce would tour with the title, bring it to ROH and maintain an excellent feud with Brent Albright.  But then the NWA Board of Directors decided to put the championship on Blue Demon Jr. and the NWA World Championship lost all footing it had gained in recognition and relevance.

On October 25, 2008 in Mexico City Blue Demon Jr defeated Adam Pearce to win the NWA World Championship becoming the first Mexican and Masked Luchador to win the title, it is also the first time that the Championship changed hands in Mexico.  Blue Demon Jr. is the adopted son of Blue Demon a legendary Mexican luchador.  Blue Demon Jr. is an excellent wrestler having debuted in 1985 and headlined arenas all over Mexico.  I can see why putting the championship on Demon Jr. would be a way to jump start recognition of the Championship in Mexico, however, it was not worth the damage it did to its recognition in the United States.

Blue Demon Jr. NWA World Champion 10/2/2008 - 3/14/2010

Demon Jr. held the Championship for 505 days rarely making an appearance in the United States primarily competing in his own promotion NWA Mexico.  In my eyes this hurt the NWA World Championship because it was now essentially exclusive to Mexico.  Historically the NWA World Championship was always defended around the world but it always maintained its strongest presence in the United States, especially the Southern United States and now it wasn’t even being defended there.

On March 14, 2010 Adam Pearce defeated Phil Shatter and Blue Demon Jr. in an elimination match to win his 3rd NWA World Championship.  Pearce once again began touring as Champion to bring recognition back to the title in the United States. 

NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood promoted by Dave Marquez, premiered on KDOC-TV Los Angeles on September 17, 2010.  It is a 60 minute, multi-camera studio wrestling show that is crisp, has great production, and is a throw-back to old studio wrestling days of Georgia Championship Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.   This show is also available on the internet to watch. 

The NWA World Championship was prominently featured on the show and an excellent feud was built between Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana culminating in Cabana winning the NWA World Championship on March 6, 2011 on the show. 

Colt "Boom Boom" Cabana 2 time NWA World Champion

Forty eight short days later The Sheik defeated Cabana for the Championship in Jacksonville, FL.  There is a lot of controversy behind this title change.  It’s been said that The Sheik bought the title while others refute that.   Bill Behrens stated in the documentary “7 Levels of Hate” that Sheik winning the title was previously decided before Cabana winning the belt.

On July 11, 2011 the NWA stripped The Sheik of the Championship.  Much controversy surrounds this with many different versions of what really happened.  It’s been said that the Sheik didn’t know about the match or what his pay off would be.  That was refuted by the NWA stating that the date was known and that the pay for the Champion is a preset amount that has to be met by the promoter to book the Champion.  Others feel that Sheik didn’t want to lose as it would hurt his position in Zero-1 where he was getting a push.

The Sheik NWA World Champion 4/23/2011 - 7/11/2011

At the end of the day the Sheik was stripped and Adam Pearce started his 4th reign as champion defeating Jimmy Rave, Chance Prophet, & Shaun Tempers in a fatal four way match at the Ohio State Fair on July 31, 2011. 

According to Adam Pearce the NWA basically said we made a mistake let’s just redo the feud with you and Cabana.  When Cabana was approached about this he was hesitant to do it.  They had built a feud for 10 months to result in a short reign when Cabana was ready to take the title around the world using is already established reputation. 

 In my opinion as a fan you’re watching and following a great feud with Cabana and Pearce that meant something and then after it culminates in this exciting moment of Cabana winning is all for naught as 6 weeks later with no build or rhyme or reason you switch the championship to someone else, and there is no follow up after that.

Pearce had made a deal with the NWA that he would take the Championship but Cabana would get it back and have a year-long reign.  Eventually Cabana agreed and they started a program where Pearce saved Cabana and they teamed in a feud with Stu Stone and the Stone Family that eventually lead to Pearce turning on Cabana.  Then on April 8, 2012 Cabana defeated Adam Pearce for his second NWA World Championship.  


After the title win Cabana and Pearce entered into a Best of 7 Series called the 7 Levels of Hate.  As a wrestling fan this was so exciting to anticipate because each match was a special stipulation and it was going to take the NWA World Championship to a huge level of recognition as these two would battle across the country and around the world in this series.

The 7 Levels of Hate

Stage 1 May 13, 2012 First Blood Match, NWA Wrestling From Hollywood, Glendale, CA
                Winner: Colt Cabana

Stage 2 June 8, 2012 Boston Street Fight, New England Championship Wrestling, Bridgewater, MA
                Winner: Colt Cabana

Stage 3 July 7, 2012 I Quit Match, Steel Domain Wrestling, Hopkins, MN
                Winner Colt Cabana

Stage 4 July 21, 2012 Best 2 out of 3 Falls Match, Metro Pro Wrestling, Kansas City, KS
                Winner: Adam Pearce – NEW CHAMPION

Stage 5 August 18, 2012 Dog Collar Match, NECW, Bridgewater, MA
                Winner: Adam Pearce

Stage 6 September 30, 2012 Texas Death Match, West Coast Wrestling Connection, Salem, OR
                Winner: Adam Pearce

Stage 7 October 27, 2012 Steel Cage Match, NWA Warzone Wrestling, Berwick, Victoria, Australia
                Winner: Colt Cabana

Stage 6 was set to take place in at NWA Legends Fan Fest in Charlotte, North Carolina and needed to be changed.  Stage 7 was to conclude at NWA Wrestling From Hollywood in Glendale, CA however the NWA had other things in mind.

Rob Trobich
E. Bruce Tharpe

In the middle of this Series the law suit filed by R. Bruce Tharpe against Bob Trobich and Pro Wrestling Organization LLC was settled and the ownership of the NWA and all its entities were now in the control of a new LLC headed by Tharpe.  To read more about it follow this link to Mike Johnson’s article at PWInsider.  

According to the documentary “7 Levels of Hate” after Stage 6 Fred Rubenstein contact Adam Pearce and stated they were no longer interested in doing business with Colt Cabana. Another issue was after the lawsuit and the way the structure of the NWA changed Championship Wrestling from Hollywood withdrew from the NWA on September 9, 2012. 

Originally State 7 was to finish in Glendale, CA where it started, now that Championship Wrestling from Hollywood was no longer part of the NWA they didn’t want the match to happen there.  Eventually Ben Gilbert of NWA Warzone Wrestling in Australia agreed to host the final match.  To Pearce and Cabana this was good for the feud and for the NWA because now the “7 Levels of Hate” was going international and it would be the first time the NWA World Championship would change hands in Australia.

The NWA strongly objected to Cabana becoming the Champion and told Pearce to drop the title the first week of October while he was in Virginia.  Pearce refused for several reasons.  First he was already book on several shows as Champion including a show for new NWA head Bruce Tharpe.  Pearce felt that the other promoters had already spent money on advertising, paid for airfare and paid deposits to Pearce for his appearances.  Also the feud with Cabana had running for two years and to have Pearce drop the title cold to someone else made no sense. 

Pearce strongly felt that Cabana had to win this feud and deserved the be the NWA World Champion and that Cabana was the right man to lead the NWA especially considering his large following and fan base.  As it was their right, the NWA felt different.   It was agreed that the match would be a non-sanctioned match by the NWA and that it would no longer be for the title. 

All of these actions drove Pearce to want to leave the NWA and he decided that he would step down as Champion after the match with Cabana, and that’s exactly what he did.  Cabana won and Pearce said that Cabana was the rightful champion.  Cabana cut a promo basically saying the NWA was the past and he was the future and that he didn’t want it.  Pearce also stated that because he lost the match he would honor his agreement that if he lost he would leave the NWA forever and if Cabana didn’t want the title, then neither did he.  The both dropped the belt in the ring and left it. 

Fred Rubenstein
After the fallout the Vice-President of the NWA Fred Rubenstein went on the Kayfabe Radio show in November 2012 and said the reason the NWA would not sanction the match was because the promoter of NWA Warzone had not paid his licensing fee, even after he was given two extensions to pay it.  When R. Bruce Tharpe became the owner of the NWA they switched from having shareholding members to having licensees.   According to the documentary “7 Levels of Hate” a licensing fee had nothing to do with it.

Kahagas NWA World Champion 11/2/2012 - 3/16/2013

 The NWA quickly crowned a new champion in Kahagas on November 2, 2012 in Clayton, NJ when he won a multi-person elimination match.  Rob Conway won the title in San Antonio on March 16, 2013.  NJPW rejoined the NWA where currently R. Bruce Tharpe is a heel manger leading a faction of wrestlers representing the NWA at NJPW shows.   

Rob Conway 2 x NWA World Champion

Conway has had several matches in NJPW on their major cards defending the Championship in many high profile matches against Satoshi Koima, Manabu Nakanishi, and Jushin Thunder Liger while at the same time defending his title in the States. 

 Satoshi Kojima NWA World Champion 1/4/2014 - 6/2/2104
On January 4, 2014 at Wrestle Kingdom 8 Conway lost the Championship to Kojima.  Kojima successfully defended the title in Japan, Taiwan, and the United States before losing it back to Conway on June 2 in Las Vegas.

The current NWA World Champion is Hiroyoshi Tenzan having won the Championship on February 14, 2015 in Sendai Japan.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan NWA World Champion since 2/14/2015

The NWA World Heavyweight Championship has certainly suffered it’s up and downs over the years and while it is not currently being featured on a weekly nationally televised wrestling company in the United States it is still a very active championship and one only need to turn to the internet to keep up to date on it.  Most casual fans do not do that though, they look no further than what is fed them on television each week to get their wrestling fix.

I’m from Maine, in the Northeast the WWE has been king since 1963 and most casual fans aren’t familiar with anything that isn’t the WWE.  The NWA has always and will always been more highly regarded in the south and in Japan were in Japan professional wrestling is always held in a higher standing there than it is here in the United States, also Japan believes heavily in history and tradition. 

The basis of my tattoo
For a die-hard fan like my friends and I we watch good wrestling no matter who is producing it.  We follow it on the internet and social media.  We watch the shows on You Tube and buy the DVD’s.   When I think of the NWA I think of Ric Flair, I think of Jim Crockett promotions, I think of Georgia Championship Wrestling, Starrcade 1985 “I Quit” match with Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA inside the steel cage.  Hell, I have the NWA ring skirt logo tattooed on my arm because that to me is my favorite time of wrestling.

Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard "I Quit" Match for the NWA United States Championship Starrcade November 28, 1995

So the question is, is the NWA World Heavyweight Championship still a Premier Championship in wrestling?  When I started this I thought I already knew my answer which was no, not any more.  That answer though is why I started down this path writing this article.  I didn’t like that answer, I want the NWA World Championship to be highly regarded as a premier championship in wrestling.

The NWA is alive and well just not up here in the Northeast or in the whole country for that matter.  The NWA is highly active in the South East from Ohio/West Virginia down to Florida and Texas area and to those fans the NWA World Heavyweight Championship is THE premier championship. 

The NWA doesn’t need a national television deal to be a premier World Championship.  It only needs the fans that believe in it, the wrestlers that strive to compete for it, and the history that is behind it.  With this it will always be a premier World Championship, and that makes me very happy. 

On a personal note I would like to see the NWA start a YouTube show where the NWA Champion is featured weekly.  It doesn’t need to be a full hour of wrestling, just a 15 minute documentary style show like the Candice and Joey Show, Brian Myers Making Towns, or Kevin Steen’s Weekend Escapades that would show us what the Champion is doing, where he’s going, life on the road as champion. 

I think the NWA Champion needs to tour and hit every state in the country.  I don’t think the NWA World Championship has ever been defended in Maine, I think it should be.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, like my Facebook page and follow my twitter, and check out the rest of my blog.

Later Readers!

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