Thursday, February 28, 2019

Is the NWA World Championship Still A Premier Championship? Part 3

All the way back in 2015 when this blog premiered I posed a question about the NWA World Championship and discussed it in a two part blog.  I've decided to do a follow up to that blog and see what has changed in the world of the NWA.  Check out the first two parts if you'd like..

Part 1     Part 2

Hiroyoshi Tenzan champion February 14, 2015 - August 29, 2015
When I last left off in April 2015 Hiroyoshi Tenzan was the current champion.  During his 6 month run he never left Japan but Tenzan defended the championship in against former Satoshi Kojima and Big Daddy Yum Yum.  In August 2015 he traveled to Texas and defeated Nathan Briggs on the 22nd before losing the championship to Jax Dane on August 29th in San Antonio, Texas.

Jax Dane champion August 29, 2015 - October 21, 2016
Jax Dane debuted in 2009 in Texas joining NWA Houston in 2012.  He won numerous NWA regional championships along with holding the NWA National, North American, and Tag Team Championships before winning the top prize from Tenzan.

During his 14 month run as champion the title continued to primarily be defended in the south east states of Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee.  I can't find a major event or significant match during Dane's reign.

In my opinion the NWA was no longer a priority for Bruce Tharpe as he was no longer traveling with the champion as he was when Rob Conway held the gold.  The title just continued to descend into obscurity.

On October 21, 2016 in Sherman, Texas at the age of 51 Tim Storm defeated Dane to become the oldest man to hold the championship.  I remember when Storm won the title my first thought is who the hell is Tim Storm?!?  My second thought was why the hell did Dane drop the title.  He showed up in Ring of Honor a week later.

Tim Storm champion October 21, 2016 - December 9, 2017
Tim Storm had been wrestling for over 20 years when he won the championship barely wrestling outside of Texas where he is a school teacher.  He never had a run in a national company, he had one match in the WWE on an episode of WW-ECW getting squashed by Big Daddy V on July 17, 2007.

During his run as champion he had one match in Japan February 23, 2017 defeating Ryota Hama in six minutes for DSW in Tokyo.  Otherwise his reign was more obscure than Dane's, until the company changed hands.

On May 1, 2017 Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan purchased the NWA, rights, trademarks, championship belts from Bruce Tharpe.  This was not Corgan's first foray into wrestling, a long time fan he did a couple things with ECW but it was most recently that he almost bought Impact Wrestling.

On October 1, 2017 all the existing licenses that Tharpe has granted to other promoters expired and Corgan took over full ownership.  No other promotion is allowed to use the NWA name and for either their promotion or championships.  For the first time the NWA was a single entity and no longer a territorial promotion.

Back in 2015 I wrote that the NWA should start a weekly YouTube show focusing on the championship, not a 1 hour television show but a 15 minute documentary style show.  On October 5, 2017 on the official NWA YouTube channel a teaser was released about Tim Storm.  On October 20th the first episode of Ten Pounds of Gold debuted relaunching the NWA.

Storm would finally be featured in his first high profile program as champion on Championship Wrestling from Hollywood.  He defeated Nick Aldis then started a feud with Jocephus.  Storms run would come to and end at the CZW Cage of Death 19 PPV in Sewell, New Jersey when Nick Aldis won the title in just over 4 minutes.

Nick Aldis debuted in 2005 in his home country on England.  His first foray in the States from as Magnus for TNA in 2008 staying with the promotion until 2015 winning the Tag Team and World Heavyweight championships.

Nick Aldis Two Time and Current Champion
First Reign December 9, 2017 - September 1, 2018
Aldis' first run as champion he brought attention to the championship like no champion had done since Adam Pearce over a decade before him.  Aldis defended the championship in many promotions across the country and around the world in high profile matches against contenders like David Starr, Tommy Dreamer, former champion Colt Cabana, Matt Cross, Robbie Eagles, Mr. Anderson, and more.  He defended the title in the United Kingdom, Australia, and China with his journey being chronicled on Ten Pounds of Gold.

Aldis would bring the championship into the mega event All In promoted by Cody Rhodes & The Young Bucks defending the title against Cody Rhodes.  The build for this match would be featured on Ring of Honor television, Ten Pounds of Gold, Being the Elite, and Cody's YouTube channel Nightmare Family.  This would be the most high profile match for the championship since TNA had control of it.

Cody Rhodes champion September 1, 2018 - October 21, 2018
On September 1, 2018 just outside Chicago in front of 11,263 fans Cody would defeated Nick Aldis to win the championship and with his father "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes become the first father and son to hold the historic title.

"American Dream" Dusty Rhodes 3 time champion
Cody Rhodes 1 time champion
Cody's short 50 day run as champion brought tremendous exposure to the title.  He had it with him on Ring of Honor television, in Japan for NJPW, and more.  He had on successful title defense on September 29th defeated Willie Mack in Las Vegas.

The re-match would take place at the first Billy Corgan promoted NWA event The NWA 70th Anniversary show on October 21, 2018 in Nashville at the historic Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena.

The show drew a sell out and saw Aldis recapture the title from Cody after almost 37 minutes in a two out of three falls match.  This show was significant in the year plus the Corgan was running the promotion only the World Championship was active, at this show he brought back the NWA Women's and National Heavyweight Championship.

Since regaining the championship Aldis has continued his quest to return the championship to prominence.  He defended it in North Carolina for the first time in years, Puerto Rico, England, and at the NWA Pop Up Event January 5, 2019, Corgan's second promoted show.  He wrestled the likes of Jack Swagger, Brian Cage, Billy Gunn, Jimmy Havoc, PJ Black, & James Storm.

Aldis is defending the championship for the first time in the titles history in New Hampshire on March 31, 2019 against Tommy Mack in Concord.  If he's still the champion his next big title defense will be at the returning Crockett Cup on April 27, 2019 in Concord, North Carolina against Marty Scurll.

Without a doubt Nick Aldis is bring the prominence back to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.  I still hope to see the title defended in Maine one day, but until then I'm looking forward to what's next.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Signed Trading Card: Bart Gunn

Mike Polchlopek wrestled in the WWE as Bart Gunn from 1993 until 1999.  The majority of that run was as one half over the very successful tag team The Smoking Gunns with "brother" Billy Gunn.  Together they were three time WWE Tag Team Champions.

This card was released in 1995 by the WWE and was available only in the WWF Magazine.  Specifically this card was part of the set that was included in the April 1995 issue.

Last week I got a FaceBook friend request from a woman named Jennifer that I didn't know and it wasn't the typical spam friend request this person was local but I just didn't recognize her so I figured it was a mistake and hit delete.  A couple days later I get a Facebook Messenger message from her:

"Hey! Sorry to bother you but my dad is also Michael Labbe and I think he got a piece of your mail which he accidentally opened (because of the name of course).  When he was telling me about it I remembered you from the dojo with the kids!  Did you order a wrestling card?"

I order wrestling cards multiple times a month and this is the first time that this has happened so I thought it was odd.  My oldest son took karate for two years and Jennifer was one of the teenagers that help out with Canaan's age group.  Thing is he hasn't taken Karate in five years and I just didn't recognize her.

So I pick up the envelope from her and immediately I'm confused for two reasons, her dad lives in Pittston and I live in Gardiner.  The towns are close to each other and they use the same post office for delivery but they are different towns.  Also the address on the card is from my Gardiner, PO Box which I closed out in 1995! And yes the envelope was postmarked January 15, 2019.

Original Cover
Back in February 1995 I found an address online for Mike Polchlopek in Florida and being a unique name I took the chance and mailed the card with a self addressed stamped envelope and when I didn't get it back a few months later I figured that it was never coming back.  That happens more than I'd like it too, but it's the chances you take.  To get this card back FOUR years later is crazy, to have it get sent to my old PO BOX get routed to a different Michael Labbe and for his daughter to happened to know who I was, mind boggling.

Alternate Cover
This is one of the reasons why I don't but signed cards, the story behind each autograph that I get makes it worth the effort.  This April I'm going to WrestleCon where Billy Gunn will be appearing and you can bet on the fact that I will get him to sign this card!

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Pedro Morales: One The Greatest Champions in WWE History

Pedro Morales is one of the greatest champions in the history of the WWE and I'm going to tell you why.  I didn't always think so when I was a kid whenever Pedro was on TV I remember him losing or getting wins over jobbers who I called bums.  I would hear the commentators state that he was a former champion, but I just didn't see it.  Now looking back and seeing his old matches I see it and you should too.

Born in 1942 be debuted at the age of 17 in 1959 in New York after training with Barba Roja.  Although primarily known by me for being in the now WWE he has stints all over the United States and in Japan.

He held titles in NWA Hawaii, Championship Wrestling from Florida, NWA San Francisco, Puerto Rico's WWC and was a two time WWA World Heavyweight Champion.  He also wrestled for the American Wrestling Association, Crockett's Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as other promotions.

On January 24, 1963 the Capitol Wrestling Corporation officially became the WWWF holding their first ever television taping in Bridgeport, Connecticut on January 29th.  Morales made his WWE debut at that taping teaming with Dory Dixon and defeated Johnny Barend & The Magnificent Maurice.   He stayed with the WWE for two years then moved onto the WWA. 

On February 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden Morales defeated Ivan Koloff for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship ending the Russian Bears three week reign as champion. He would go onto hold the championship for 1,027 days dropping it to Stan "The Man" Stasiak in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1973.

As champion he headlined Madison Square Garden 30 times defending his title against the likes of Larry Hennig, BlackJack Mulligan, Freddie Blassie, Ray Stevens, and George "The Animal" Steele just to name a few.  On September 30, 1972 Morales defended the Championship against Bruno Sammartino in front of more than 22,000 fans at Shea Stadium wrestling to a 75 minute time limit draw.

Morales left the WWE in 1975 returning in 1980.  On August 9, 1980 he and then WWE Champion Bob Backlund defeated the Wild Samoans in two straight falls to win the World Tag Team Championships.  They were stripped of the titles the next day because of Backlund being the WWE Champion.

On December 8, 1980 he defeated Ken Patera at Madison Square Garden to capture the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship becoming the first ever Triple Crown Champion.  He would hold the championship for 194 daus dropping it to Don Muraco in Philadelphia on June 20, 1981, but would regain it from Muraco on November 23rd at MSG.

His second reign would last over a year until January 22, 1983 when Muraco defeated him again at the Garden ending Morales 425 day run. 

To summarize:

Morales is the first ever Triple Crown Champion

He is one of only two people to ever hold the World and Intercontinental Championships for over a year on single reign, the other is "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

His 1,027 days as World Champion is the fifth longest single reign behind Bruno's two reigns, Bob Backlund, & Hulk Hogan.  The title has traded hands 134 times to 49 different title holders.

As Intercontinental Champion he held the title twice for a combined 619 days, the longest reigning champion of all time.  His second reign at 425 days is the second longest single reign behind the Honky Tonk Man.

Some will argue that I'm wrong, for instance Chris Jericho has held every championship in the promotion.  WWE Champion, World Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, Hardcore Champion, European Champion, Intercontinental Champion, United States Champion, WWE Tag Team Champion, and World Tag Team Champion.

In total Jericho had 26 championship reigns whereas Morales only had four.  However, Morales' four reigns lasted for 1,647 days and Jericho's twenty six lasted 1,059 days.  I firmly believe that this proves that Pedro Morales, without question, is one of the greatest champions in the history of the WWE. 

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Signed Trading Cards: Jim Steele

James Rocha began wrestling in the 1990's debuting in WCW in 1993 as "Jungle" Jim Steele in World Championship Wrestling.  I remember seeing him on WCW Saturday Night but his biggest match of that WCW run was at the SuperBrawl IV pay-per-view where he defeated The Equalizer.

Leaving WCW in 1994 he traveled to All Japan Pro Wrestling teaming with Danny Spivey in the 1994 Real World Tag League they finished with two points.  In 1995 he had a dark match in WWE, and was defeated by 911 in ECW.

Steele being chokeslammed by 911
In All Japan he wrestled under the mask as The Lacrosse until 1998.  From late 1995 through 1997 he wrestled occasionally as Jim Steele in World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico holding their version of the World Television Championship for 28 days.

In late 1997 he removed the mask becoming Wolf Hawkfield, based on the Virtua Fighter character, teaming with Johnny Smith for the 1997 Real World Tag League finishing in 5th place with ten points.  On January 9, 1998 in Kagoshima, Japan teaming with Johnny Smith they defeated Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori for the All Asia Tag Team Championships.  They held the championships for 270 days losing the titles to Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida on October 6, 1998 in Niigata.

As Hawkfield he made two appearances in November 1998 in ECW defeated Tommy Rogers.  His last appearance in All Japan as Hawkfield was October 28, 2000.  Less than a month later as Jim Steele he teamed with Mike Barton in the 2000 Real World Tag League finishing with ten points. 

November 3, 2001 Steele defeated Invader 1 to win the WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship holding the title until November 24th losing it back to Invader 1.

With Mike Barton after winning Stan Hansen Cup
The following year Steele and Barton traveled to New Japan to compete in the G1 Tag League losing in the finals to Kojima & Tenzan.  On July 7, 2002 he and Barton won the Stan Hansen Cup.  They remained with  All Japan until November 2002 when he and Barton returned to New Japan where he would stay until early 2004.  In December 2003 he and Barton had a couple tag matches in the WWE.

Steele returned to All Japan for a short run at the end of 2004 as Love Machine Steele.  This would he his last run in Japan.  In 2005 he had a few matches in WWC and his final match came on April 26, 2008 losing to Orlando Colon in the WWC Universal Title Tournament in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. 

Left to Right: The Lacrosse, Wolf Hawkfield, & Jim Steele all released by BBM Magazine in 1996, 2000, & 2004 respectively.

I mailed these cards to Mr. Rocha after reaching out to him on Facebook.  I'm very appreciative that he signed all three cards for me as the name of each person he portrayed on the cards.  I sent him an extra The Lacrosse & Wolf Hawkfield that I had and I am actively looking for a Jim Steele 2004 BBM to send him as well if anyone has one. 

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!