NWA70: The Legacy of the NWA National Heavyweight Championship

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This Sunday October 21 in Nashville, Tennessee, the rebooted National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), under the guidance of new owner Billy Corgan and his partner, former creative for WWE, Ring of Honor and IMPACT Wrestling, Dave Laguna, will hold the NWA 70th Anniversary Show at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The main event is the rematch for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, between current champion Cody Rhodes and the man he defeated at All In, Nick Aldis. The NWA World Women’s Championship is also being defended, as champion Jazz (former 2x WWE Women’s Champion) defends her belt against Penelope Ford. While former NWA titles like the World Tag Team, World Junior Heavyweight and United States Championships are still deemed inactive, they will be bringing back one more NWA title this Sunday, when they crown a brand new NWA National Heavyweight Champion with a special 8-man tournament (comprised of two Fatal Four Ways) that will feature former NWA World Champion Colt Cabana, Willie Mack, Parrow, Jay Bradley, Scorpio Sky, Ricky Starks, Sammy Guevara, and Samuel Shaw. Here’s a look at the legacy of one of the NWA’s youngest major titles and where it came from.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The NWA National Heavyweight Championship was originally created in 1980 in Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW), the NWA territory run out of Atlanta by Jim Barnett. The title was created and overtook the NWA Georgian Heavyweight Championship as GCW’s top singles prize. Due to GCW’s large TV presence due to it’s legendary Saturday night 6:05pm broadcast on TBS, it also became of the NWA’s most recognized singles titles after the NWA World Heavyweight title.

The title’s first year saw a big feud between Austin Idol and Jack Brisco, with both men holding onto the title during 1980, to kickstart the new championship. It soon became a title held by men who were hitting the peaks of their craft, as such names as Paul Orndorff, The Masked Superstar, “Wildfire” Tommy Rich and Larry Zbyszko became mult-time title holders.

A pre-WWF Paul Orndorff

But in 1984, a young Vincent Kennedy McMahon, who had recently taken over his father’s company World Wrestling Federation (WWF), purchased GCW from new owners, Jack and Jerry Brisco (Barnett had been forced out in 1983). McMahon dissolved the promotion and the title was declared vacant.

Ole Anderson

But shortly after GCW’s demise, Ole Anderson founded Championship Wrestling From Georgia, regaining GCW’s old time slot and gaining NWA territory status for the company. In the process, the NWA National Heavyweight title was revived, and Ted DiBiase became the new champion. Over the next couple years, the NWA National Championship would be held by such names as Dusty Rhodes, Tully Blanchard, Wahoo McDaniel and Terry Taylor.

THE UNIFICATION

Nikita Koloff unified the title with his NWA US title in 1986

By 1986, Jim Crockett Promotions – the parent company that had acquired and/or operated NWA territories Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Mid South Wrestling and others – had acquired Championship Wrestling From Georgia into it’s growing competition to McMahon’s own expansion. On September 28, 1986, NWA United States Champion Nikita Koloff unified the NWA National Heavyweight title with his own, when he defeated the last champion, Wahoo McDaniel. The title was once again declared inactive. By 1988, Jim Crockett had sold his company to Ted Turner, who rebranded it to World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

THE REVIVAL

Big Slam was the first NWA National Champ after the revival in 1997

When WCW left the NWA in 1993, it left the NWA without a lot of it’s star power, but it did manage to persist. Only now, with all the territories bought up by either WWF or Jim Crockett Promotions, the NWA was a collective of some of the first true indie promotions that we see flourishing now. But it wasn’t until 1997 when they officially reactivated the storied National Heavyweight Championship. Indie wrestler Big Slam (former ECW star Crybaby Waldo) became the first new champion in 11 years and over the next two decades, it would find the waists of such wrestlers as Stevie Richards, Pepper Parks (formerly Braxton Sutter with IMPACT Wrestling), Doug Gilbert, Jax Dane, and Damien Wayne.

THE FINAL CHAMPION

The final man to hold the NWA National Heavyweight Championship was 15-year indie veteran Kahagas, a student of Hector Guerrero and Prince Iaukea. He started out with Full Impact Pro (FIP) in 2003 and has since worked the indie circuit for two decades, working with the likes of Coastal Championship Wrestling (CCW), Florida Underground Wrestling (FUW), and Brew City Wrestling (BCW). He’s also seen some TV time this year, as part of the rebooted Ring Warriors TV show on WGN. Kahagas defeated Jake Logan for his second reign as NWA National Champion at a Vendetta Pro event in Las Vegas in May of 2017. It was shortly after the match that Corgan took control of the NWA and the title was deemed inactive following Corgan’s purchase.

THE NEXT GEN NATIONAL CHAMP

Which leads us to this Sunday’s National Heavyweight Championship match at the NWA 70th Anniversary show. With eight strong competitors from the indie circuits, a third NWA title will emerge from the ashes and rejoin the promotion as it continues to gain momentum after years of lurking in the shadows.

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