Abandoned: WWF Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship in Retrospect
For the sixth edition of Abandoned I decided to try something a little different due to this particular titles very short history.
For this edition, I present the WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship.
The title was created in 1978, and then abandoned in 1990. Despite its 12-year history, the title saw only three champions.
On December 18, 1978, the World Wide Wrestling Federation Martial Arts Championship was awarded to Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki.
The title was given to him by Vince McMahon due to his accomplishments in matches against fighters in other combat sports such as when he faced Muhammad Ali in 1976.
The title was defended in MMA-like fights and was mostly seen in New Japan Pro Wrestling when they had a working relationship with the company.
A little less than a year into his title reign, the company dropped “wide” and became the World Wrestling Federation. The title was then renamed the WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship.
Inoki would hold onto to the title for close to 11 years before losing it in Tokyo, Japan on April 24, 1989 to Shota Chochishvili.
Chochishvili was a judo master from Soviet Georgia who won a gold medal in the 1972 Olympics as well as a bronze medal at the 1976 games.
He entered professional wrestling in 1989, but only spent that year in the business.
Chochishvili would only hold the title for a month as he lost it back to Antonio Inoki in Osaka, Japan. After losing the title, he left New Japan Pro Wresting, and it seems he never wrestled again.
Ten years prior to this, Inoki would win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship after defeating Bob Backlund. Due to some extenuating circumstances, the Japanese legend is sometimes not recognized as an official champion.
His short reign as world champion and his two reigns as martial arts champion would be his only involvement in the WWF/E until his was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2010.
On September 29, 1990, the New Japan Pro Wrestling introduced a new title. The Greatest 18 Club Championship was created as a stepping stone of sorts to the International Wresting Grand Prix World Heavyweight Championship.
The title was awarded to Riki Chōshū and it officially replaced the WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship.
Due to it being replaced, and the WWF and NJPW no longer working together, the title was abandoned shortly afterwards.
It was abandoned two years later when then-champion the Great Muta wanted to concentrate on winning the IWGP World Championship.
The martial arts title was a very interesting title that was certainly ahead of its time.
It’s a shame, though, that US fans never got the chance to see it due to the titles main affiliation being in Japan.
With the interest in mixed martial arts today, it would be intriguing to see someone bring in a title like this. Unfortunately that’s probably a long shot.
For now, though, the WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship remains one of the many forgotten titles of professional wrestling.
Thanks for reading! Come back on Sunday for the seventh edition when I present another rare WWF title.
On Sunday you will see the history of the WWF International Heavyweight Championship.
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