Abandoned: The History of the WWWF USA Heavyweight Championship

Kyle SchadlerChief Writer IFebruary 29, 2012

Abandoned: The History of the WWWF USA Heavyweight Championship

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    Throughout history, professional wrestling has seen many championships.

    In WWF/E, 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. Titles with a short history may be featured in a standard article, but if they’re really short, they’ll be at the end of another title. 

    For this final edition of Abandoned, I present the WWWF U.S.A. Heavyweight Championship.

    The title was established in 1963 as the company’s secondary singles title. Not much is known about the title, though, as WWE doesn’t even recognize that the title existed. 

    The current WWE United States Championship has no lineage to this title, as it shares its history with the NWA/WCW United States Championship.

    The U.S.A. title would be abandoned in 1976 when it was replaced by the WWF North American Heavyweight Championship, which some say later became the WWE Intercontinental Championship.

    Throughout its 13-year history, the title saw 13 champions.

    So, let’s get started.

Bobo Brazil

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    Defeated: Recognized

    Where: California

    When: April 6, 1963

    Title Reign: 63 days

    Bobo Brazil is recognized as the first World Wide Wrestling Federation U.S.A. heavyweight champion.

    It is not known who Brazil defeated—it’s just known that he was the first champion.

    Brazil debuted as a professional wrestler in 1951.

    He is known for breaking the barriers of racial segregation in the business and he is sometimes known as the "Jackie Robinson of professional wrestling."

Johnny Barend

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    Defeated: Bobo Brazil

    Where: Philadelphia

    When: June 8, 1963

    Title Reign: 31 days

    Johnny Barend started wrestling as an amateur when he was eight years old.

    After he graduated high school, he decided to fight in World War II and wrestled during his time in the Navy.

    After his time in the war, Barend began to train professionally and debuted as a tag-team wrestler alongside his partner, the Magnificent Maurice.

Bobo Brazil

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    Defeated: Johnny Barend

    Where: Philadelphia

    When: July 9, 1963

    Title Reign: 64 days

    Brazil originally went by Boo-Boo Brazil, but when a promoter misspelled his name on a poster, the name stuck and he became known as Bobo Brazil.

    He was at first booked against fellow African-American stars such as Ernie Ladd and Abdullah the Butcher, but fans became very interested in Brazil and he got booked against stars like Killer Kowalski, Dick the Bruiser and the Sheik.

Johnny Barend

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    Defeated: Bobo Brazil

    Where: Baltimore, Md.

    When: Sept. 11, 1963

    Title Reign: 41 days

    Along with the Magnificent Maurice, Barend would capture many tag-team titles throughout his career.

    While dominating tag-team wrestling, they were managed by Mr. Kleen, who later gained much fame as a manager by the name of the Grand Wizard of Wrestling.

    While Barend would be a contender for Dory Funk, Jr.'s NWA World Championship in 1969, he would never win the title.

    Johnny Barend would retire in 1972, then pass away 39 years later on Sept. 20, 2011.

Bobo Brazil

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    Defeated: Johnny Barend

    Where: Newtown Square, Pa.

    When: Oct. 22, 1963

    Title Reign: 1,334 days

    Brazil became one of WWWF's top face competitors, eventually challenging then-world champion Bruno Sammartino for the title. However, Brazil was never able to win the belt.

    Before he challenged Sammartino, though, Brazil made history when he challenged Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Championship.

    Brazil would defeat Rogers for the title, but the NWA doesn't recognize Brazil as ever holding it due to the circumstances behind the win.

    Even though Ron Simmons is known as the first African-American world champion, Brazil is technically the first.

Ray Stevens

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    Defeated: Bobo Brazil

    Where: N/A

    When: June 18, 1967

    Title Reign: 36 days

    Ray Stevens debuted in 1950 in the various territories of the National Wrestling Alliance.

    He was at first a face, but would become one of the biggest heels in the business by the 1960s.

    He and Pepper Gomez would sell out arenas throughout the territories in 1962.

    At one such event at the Cow Palace in California, the Stevens/Gomez match drew 17,000 fans and turned away many more, a record crowd at the time that surpassed the previous record held by Elvis Presley.

    In a time where kayfabe was never broken and you were either loved or hated, Ray Stevens made history in 1962.

    Stevens was unsurprisingly voted as the most hated wrestler, but shocked the industry when he was also voted as the most popular grappler.

    Stevens would also gain fame for his heel team with Pat Patterson, winning the AWA Tag Team Championship.

    Stevens would retire in 1992 after over 40 years in the business.

    Stevens would pass away four years later on May 3, 1996.

Bobo Brazil

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    Defeated: Ray Stevens

    Where: Trenton, N.J.

    When: Aug. 24, 1967

    Title Reign: 29 days

    With his manager James Dudley, Brazil continued to make history.

    In October 1970, he participated in the very first racially mixed match in Atlanta when he teamed with El Mongol to take on Mr. Ito and the Great Ota.

    While making history, Brazil served as a mentor to many wrestlers, including Rocky Johnson.

The Sheik

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    Defeated: Bobo Brazil

    Where: Detroit

    When: Sept. 22, 1967

    Title Reign: 419 days

    The Sheik would debut in 1949 and is credited as being one of the originators of the hardcore style later popularized by the likes of Mick Foley, Terry Funk and ECW.

    The Sheik never spoke and became known for using a pencil to stab his opponents and innovated the throwing of fireballs into his opponents' faces.

    He became one of wrestling’s top heels and had matches with the likes of Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino and Andre the Giant.

Bobo Brazil

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    Defeated: The Sheik

    Where: N/A

    When: Nov. 24, 1968

    Title Reign: 57 days

    After a career spanning over 40 years, Brazil would retire in 1994.

    His last match would take place that year against one of his old rivals, Wild Bull Miller.

The Sheik

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    Defeated: Bobo Brazil

    Where: Boston

    When: Jan. 20, 1969

    Title Reign: 21 days

    One of the Sheik's final matches would takes place in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling in 1992.

    The Sheik teamed with his nephew Sabu to take on Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Goto in a Fire Death Match.

    Hardcore fans are familiar with the rules of a death match, but this included flaming barbed wire in place of ring ropes.

    Sheik would retire in 1998 but before retiring, he would train Greg Valentine, Sabu, Rob Van Dam, Scott Steiner and Raven.

    The Sheik would pass away on Jan. 18, 2003 and be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame four years later, then the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011.

Bobo Brazil

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    Defeated: The Sheik

    Where: Washington, D.C.

    When: Feb. 10, 1969

    Title Reign: 678 days

    The title was declared vacant on Dec. 29, 1970. The reasons as to why it was vacated are not known.

    Shortly after his retirement in 1994, Brazil would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his long-time friend Ernie Ladd.

    Brazil would repay the favor a year later when he inducted Ladd into the Hall of Fame.

Pedro Morales

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    Defeated: Freddie Blassie

    Where: Los Angeles

    When: Jan. 7, 1971

    Title Reign: 32 days

    Pedro Morales defeated Freddie Blassie in a tournament final to become the new champion.

    The title was then declared vacant on Feb. 8, 1971, when Morales won the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship.

    Morales debuted in 1959 in New York. He wrestled throughout the territories before debuting with the WWWF in 1970.

    He became the company’s first Triple Crown Champion after winning the Tag Team, Intercontinental and World Heavyweight Championships.

    Morales would retire in 1987 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995.

    Morales tends to stay away from wrestling now and just lives out his retirement with his family.

Bobo Brazil

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    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Harrisburg, Pa.

    When: Feb. 19, 1971

    Title Reign: 1,856 days

    Bobo Brazil was awarded the title, but it is not known as to why he was awarded the belt.

    Brazil reportedly held the title until it was abandoned in March 1976.

    After retiring, Brazil ran a restaurant in Michigan.

    After a career some can only dream about, Bobo Brazil would pass away on Jan. 20, 1998. 

    Ten years later, he would be inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame as a member of the "Television Era" category.

Statistics and Final Thoughts

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    Most Reigns: Bobo Brazil (7)

    Longest Reign: Bobo Brazil (1,856 days)

    Longest Combined Reign: Bobo Brazil (4,050 days)

    Shortest Reign: The Sheik (21 days)

    I never knew this title existed until I stumbled upon it by accident.

    I always figured that WWE reinstating the WCW United States Championship was their first time with a U.S. title, but I was obviously wrong.

    It’s a shame that’s there isn’t much information on this belt out there. WWE themselves don’t even recognize the title, but they do that with quite a few belts.

    While it’s always a shame to see a title scrapped, this was eventually replaced with the Intercontinental Championship. So, in a way, the U.S.A. Championship paved the way for the future mid-card title as it was the first of its kind to appear in the WWE.

    While the title is certainly forgotten, at least the WWE still as a United States Championship, even though it doesn’t share a history with this one.

    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 DollarWWF JuniorWWF Women’s Tag TeamWCW International│ WCW TV pt.1WCW TV pt. 2WWE Hardcore │WCW Tag Team pt. 1WCW Tag Team pt. 2World Tag Team pt. 1World Tag Team pt. 2│ World Tag Team pt. 3World Tag Team pt. 4







    Photos: onlineworldofwrestling.com

Thank You, and Help Me Name the New Series!

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    What a ride, huh? After four months and 25 championships, the Abandoned series has come to a close.

    I want to thank everyone for the thousands of views and hundreds of comments. To those that have read each and every one, I thank you sticking with me until the end!

    I hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed the research!

    With defunct titles now finished, though, I will be moving on to current titles.

    To be more specific, I will be presenting the histories of the current titles of WWE, TNA and ROH, as well as the original and NWA World Heavyweight Championships.

    I was never too good at coming up with names so I’d like you, the readers, to name the new series.

    The new series itself will begin after WrestleMania.

    Got a good idea?

    Post it in the comments.

    If there’s one that catches my eye then it will be the name of the new series.

    You will, of course, get credit for coming up with the name as well.

    So help me out and I'll see you after WrestleMania XXVIII!