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Abandoned: The History of the WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship

Kyle SchadlerChief Writer IDecember 28, 2011

Abandoned: The History of the WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship

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    Throughout history, professional wrestling has seen many championships.

    In WWE, there are six major titles. Not many know that the company has had a total of at least 19 different titles, 13 of which have been abandoned for one reason or another.

    The other two major companies owned by WWE are WCW and ECW, which have at least 15 abandoned and forgotten titles between them.

    For as long as it takes, I will be concentrating on those forgotten titles.

    Each slide will feature the champion, who they defeated, where and when they won it, the length of their title reign, any special circumstances that happened during their reign and a bit of commentary.

    Belts with a lengthy history will get their own articles and may be broken up into two depending on the length.

    For this edition of Abandoned I present the WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship.

    The title was created in 1965 for the World Wide Wrestling Federation.

    Not much is known of the early history of the title but in 1978 it became one of the many titles to be a joint venture between WWF and New Japan Pro Wrestling.

    As it says in the name, the title was for wrestlers of smaller size. It doesn’t state what the weight limit was but I’d imagine it was around 220 pounds much like other lightweight titles.

    In 1986 the title was abandoned when WWF and NJPW ended their working relationship.

    Throughout its 21-year history the title has seen at least 14 champions. Due to the confusion in the title's early history, it’s hard to tell exactly how many champions there were.

    So let’s get started!

Paul DeGalles

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    Defeated: N/A

    Where: N/A

    When: Sept. 1965

    Title Reign: ~one month

    World Wide Wrestling Federation promoter Toots Mondt billed DeGalles as the International junior heavyweight champion.

    Not much is known of the early history of the title, but DeGalles is known to be first the champion.

    I couldn’t find much on DeGalles, but I did discover that he was a former NWA world champion in the Ohio territory in 1957.

Johnny De Fazio

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    Defeated: Paul DeGalles

    Where: Pittsburgh, PA

    When: Oct. 15, 1965

    Title Reign: Not available due to incomplete dates

    De Fazio reportedly would trade the title with Jackie Nichols a few times between winning the title in October 1965 and his retirement in 1972.

    The dates of the title changes are not known. It’s also not known if the title changes actually took place.

    A wrestler by the name of Bradley Lowe has also reportedly defeated De Fazio for the title but would lose it back to him. It’s also not known if these title changes actually took place.

    The title would be declared vacant in 1972 when Johnny De Fazio retired from the ring.

    De Fazio is also a former WWWF International Tag Team Championship holder with Bepo Mongol.

    Since he is apparently a councilman in Pennsylvania I’d imagine he’s retired from the ring.

Carlos Jose Estrada

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    Defeated: Tony Garea

    Where: Uniondale, NY

    When: Jan. 20, 1978

    Title Reign: three days

    By now the title had become a joint venture between the World Wide Wrestling Federation and New Japan Pro Wrestling and would mostly be seen in Japan.

    Estrada defeated Garea to become the new champion. It’s not known why these two particular wrestlers met to decide the champion, though.

    Estrada was a mainstay in Puerto Rico’s WWC winning 19 titles there. He is also one of the original Los Conquistadores.

    Estrada was last seen in WWC as a manager.

Tatsumi Fujinami

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    Defeated: Carlos Jose Estrada

    Where: New York, NY

    When: Jan. 23, 1978

    Title Reign: 617 days

    When Vince McMahon took control of the World Wide Wrestling Federation from his father on March 25, 1979, he dropped “Wide” from the name and it became the World Wrestling Federation.

    All titles were renamed as such and Fujinami was still recognized as the champion.

    Fujinami has held two other titles in the WWF.

    He won the International Heavyweight Championship twice in 1982 and 1983.

    Two years later he won the International Tag Team Championship with Kengo Kimura and they’d be the final champions to hold the belts.

    Fujinami also had a very successful career in New Japan Pro Wrestling winning many titles there.

Ryuma Go

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    Defeated: Tatsumi Fujinami

    Where: Osaka, Japan

    When: Oct. 2, 1979

    Title Reign: two days

    I couldn’t find much on Ryuma but I did discover that he wrestled throughout Japan in NJPW and All Japan Pro Wrestling. He also spent some time in the UWF.

    Ryuma Go would pass away on October 18, 2009.

Tatsumi Fujinami

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    Defeated: Ryuma Go

    Where: Tokyo, Japan

    When: Oct. 4, 1979

    Title Reign: 789 days

    The title was declared vacant in December 1981 when Fujinami entered the heavyweight division.

    Fujinami would stay with NJPW until 2006 ending his 34-year career there. He still wrestles on occasion in the Japanese independent circuit.

Tiger Mask

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    Defeated: Dynamite Kid

    Where: Tokyo, Japan

    When: Jan. 1, 1982

    Title Reign: 125 days

    Tiger Mask defeated the Dynamite Kid for the vacant title. Why these two wrestlers met to decide the champion is not known.

    The title was declared vacant in April 1982 when Tiger Mask suffered an injury.

    Satoru Sayama is the original man to use the Tiger Mask character.

    He was the first and only wrestler to hold this title and the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship simultaneously.

    After leaving NJPW he found his way to the UWF under the name The Tiger.

Black Tiger

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    Defeated: Gran Hamada

    Where: Fukuoka, Japan

    When: May 6, 1982

    Title Reign: 20 days

    Tiger Mask’s evil twin Black Tiger defeated Gran Hamada for the vacant title. It’s now known why these particular wrestlers met to decide the champion.

    Mark Rocco wrestled throughout Japan but has also spent some time in England and the United States.

    One of his opponents in the states would be Hulk Hogan before the powerhouse that was Hulkamania began.

    He would retire from the ring in 1991.

Tiger Mask

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    Defeated: Black Tiger

    Where: Osaka, Japan

    When: May 26, 1982

    Title Reign: 312 days

    The title was declared vacant on April 3, 1983 after Tiger Mask suffered another injury.

    The Dynamite Kid and Kuniaki Kobayashi met to decide the champion but the match ended in a no-contest.

    Sayama would retire from professional wrestling only a few months later.

Tiger Mask

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    Defeated: Fishman

    Where: Mexico City, Mexico

    When: June 13, 1983

    Title Reign: 239 days

    Tiger Mask defeated Fishman for the vacant title. Why these two particular wrestlers met to decide the champion is not known.

    The title was declared vacant on August 12, 1983 when Tiger Mask retired from the ring.

    Since his retirement there have been three other wrestlers to use the Tiger Mask character.

    All the wrestlers used the same style of wrestling to keep with tradition.

    He would return to the ring in the mid-90s and is now training Tiger Mask V.

Dynamite Kid

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    Defeated: The Cobra

    Where: Tokyo, Japan

    When: Feb. 7, 1984

    Title Reign: 268 days

    The Dynamite Kid defeated the Cobra in a tournament final to win the title.

    The belt would be declared vacant in November 1984 when Dynamite Kid left NJPW for AJPW with his partner Davey Boy Smith.

    The Dynamite Kid was an extremely accomplished wrestler winning titles all over Japan, the United States, Canada and his native England.

    He and Davey Boy Smith have won many tag-team titles together including the WWF Tag Team Championship.

    Dynamite Kid retired in 1991 but would wrestle one final time in 1996.

    He is now in a wheelchair with the inability to walk due to his years of steroid and drug abuse. Some contribute his spinal injuries to the diving head-butt he used in his matches.

The Cobra

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    Defeated: Black Tiger

    Where: New York, NY

    When: Dec. 28, 1984

    Title Reign: 143 days

    The Cobra defeated Black Tiger for the vacant title. Why these two particular wrestlers met to decide the champion is not known.

    The Cobra has wrestled around the world though spent most of his time in Japan winning a couple of titles.

Hiro Saito

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    Defeated: The Cobra

    Where: Hiroshima, Japan

    When: May 20, 1985

    Title Reign: 69 days

    Saito has been wrestling in NJPW and AJPW since his debut in 1978, though he would spend most of his time in New Japan.

    He would leave the company in 2006 but will still wrestle on the Japanese independent circuit.

The Cobra

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    Defeated: Hiro Saito

    Where: Osaka, Japan

    When: July 28, 1985

    Title Reign: 95 days

    The title was declared vacant on October 31, 1985 when the World Wrestling Federation and New Japan Pro Wrestling ended their working relationship.

    Eight months later on June 28, 1986 the title was officially abandoned when NJPW introduced their own Junior Heavyweight Championship.

    Cobra is still active in Japan as he has created his own wrestling promotion.

Statistics and Final Thoughts

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    Most Reigns: Tiger Mask (3)

    Longest Single Reign: Tatsumi Fujinami (789 days)

    Longest Combined Reign: Tatsumi Fujinami (1,406 days)

    Shortest Reign: Ryuma Go (two days)

    The World Wrestling Federation and New Japan Pro Wrestling shared many titles when they worked together. A lot of those belts, though, stayed in Japan and rarely made their way to the United States or other countries.

    This title would be WWE’s first lightweight title and would be joined by the Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight Championships down the line.

    Cruiserweight wrestling never really seemed to be WWE’s thing as all three titles have been abandoned.

    WWE currently employees a number of cruiserweight wrestlers who are lucky if they get any television time.

    To see one of these titles return would be beneficial to those wrestlers.

    If one was to be reinstated it wouldn’t be this one. Odds are it would be the Cruiserweight Championship that would return.

    The WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship will remain gone and forgotten.

    Thanks for reading! Come back on Sunday for a New Year’s Day edition featuring the WWF Women’s Tag Team Championship!

     

    Previous Installments 

    WWE Women’sWWE EuropeanECW TelevisionWCW HardcoreWCW US Tag TeamWWF Martial ArtsWWF InternationalWCW Women’sECW WorldWWE CruiserweightWWF Light WeightECW Tag TeamFTW WorldWCW 6-Man Tag TeamMillion Dollar

     

    Sources

    http://www.wrestling-titles.com/japan/newjapan/wwf-j.html 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWF_Junior_Heavyweight_Championship 

    http://www.puroresu.com/forum/general/5006-ryuma-go-1956-2009-a.html 

    Photos: onlineworldofwrestling.com unless noted otherwise

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