Wrestling Gold: The History of the WWE United States Championship, Pt. 1

Kyle SchadlerChief Writer IJune 27, 2012

Wrestling Gold: The History of the WWE United States Championship, Pt. 1

0 of 66

    Throughout the history of professional wrestling, the business has awarded championship belts in many divisions. While some have been forgotten over the years, some titles have stood the test of time.

    The WWE has seen almost 30 titles defended, but today only six remain.

    TNA Wrestling began with three titles—the NWA World and Tag Team Championships as well its own X-Division title, but today it owns its own belts and fans see six titles defended between its ropes.

    Ring of Honor Wrestling began with just two, but has since added another title to its ranks.

    While Shimmer has only been around for a few years, the most well-known all-women’s wrestling promotion currently holds two titles.

    Wrestling Gold will concentrate on the active titles of the companies listed, as well as the NWA World and Tag Team Championships, and any other active title the readers would like to see!

    That’s right, if there’s a championship you’d like to see included, it will be added to the series.

    For this edition of Wrestling Gold, I present the WWE United States Championship!

    The title was established in 1975 as the exclusive NWA United States Heavyweight Championship of the Mid-Atlantic territories, more specifically Jim Crockett Promotions. At the time, the NWA didn’t recognize a sole champion due to every region having their own United States title.

    In January 1981, the title became the undisputed NWA United States Championship when the last remaining territory to recognize their own shut down.

    Ted Turner then bought JCP and WCW in 1988, and when WCW officially withdrew from the NWA, they took the title with them. The title was then renamed to the WCW United States Championship as a result.

    The belt remained as WCW’s secondary title until the company was shut down in March 2001. The title then appeared on WWF television during the Invasion angle, but it was unified with the Intercontinental Championship in November.

    The WCW United States Championship was abandoned due to the unification.

    In July 2003, WWF, now WWE, reinstated the title and renamed it the WWE United States Championship. The title was exclusive to the SmackDown at first but has jumped around both Raw and SmackDown due to the annual draft.

    Since the brand extension is all but over, the United States title now appears on both shows.

    Throughout the title’s 37-year history, it has seen 131 champions. In part one, the first 65 will be featured. Let’s get started!

Harley Race

1 of 66

    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Tallahassee, Fla.

    When: Jan. 1, 1975

    Event: N/A

    Title Reign: 183 days

    Harley Race was awarded the title to become the first National Wrestling Alliance United States Champion of the Mid-Atlantic territories. To explain Race being champion, the NWA announced that he had defeated Johnny Weaver in a tournament final.

    Harley Race made his professional wrestling debut in 1960. He wrestled under the name Jack Long in Nashville and won the Southern Tag Team Championship with a storyline brother.

    A car accident almost cut his career short, but he returned to the ring in 1964 under his real name, Harley Race.

    After wrestling for the Funks in Texas, he formed a team with Larry Hennig and went to the American Wrestling Association in 1965.

    Race and Hennig would dominate the tag-team division in the AWA for three years, winning the tag titles three times. Race left the AWA while at the top and made his way to the territories of the National Wrestling Alliance.

    Race would become one of the biggest stars in wrestling, winning the NWA World Championship eight times and having memorable feuds with the likes of the Funks, Jack Brisco, Dusty Rhodes, Giant Baba and Ric Flair.

    Race would join the World Wrestling Federation in 1986, winning the 1986 King of the Ring tournament. He stayed with WWF for three years, leaving in early 1989.

    Harley Race would retire in 1991 but continued to make appearances for WCW, WWE and even TNA.

    His legendary career has been recognized everywhere as Race is a member of seven Halls of Fame, including Halls from WWE, NWA and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Johnny Valentine

2 of 66

    Defeated: Harley Race

    Where: Greensboro, N.C.

    When: July 3, 1975

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 93 days

    The title was declared vacant on Oct. 4, 1975 when a plane crash ended Johnny Valentine’s career.

    Johnny Valentine debuted in 1947 and wrestled throughout the NWA territories, winning a large amount of titles before he settled in with Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the early 1970s.

    While there, he captured the Heavyweight Championship twice and this title on one occasion.

    Valentine was involved in the same plane crash as Ric Flair in 1975. The crash would break his back and force him to retire from professional wrestling. At the time, Valentine was the reigning United States champion.

    After he retired, he stayed active in wrestling as a manager despite his paralysis.

    Johnny Valentine would pass away on April 24, 2001. He was then inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006 in the “Television Era” category and into the NWA Hall of Fame in 2011.

Terry Funk

3 of 66

    Defeated: Paul Jones

    Where: Greensboro

    When: Nov. 9, 1975

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 18 days

    Terry Funk defeated Paul Jones in a 16-man tournament final.

    Terry Funk made his professional debut in December 1965 in his father’s promotion in Texas. Funk quickly rose to the top, and in 1975, he defeated Jack Brisco to become the NWA World heavyweight champion.

    He held the title for over a year before losing it to Harley Race.

    Funk made his WWF debut in 1985 and was soon followed by his brother Dory Jr. The highlight of their time there would be a tag-team match at WrestleMania 2 against the Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana.

    He would return to the NWA in 1989 and stayed primarily in the Mid-Atlantic territories. When WCW came to fruition, he appeared from them as well until heading to the Land of Extreme in 1994.

    During his time with Extreme Championship Wrestling, Funk would win the Television Championship once and the World Heavyweight Championship twice.

    He would then return to the WWE for a short time in 1998, winning the Tag Team Championship with Cactus Jack. He left by the end of the year and appeared for both ECW and WCW, winning the hardcore title three times in WCW and this title once more.

    Funk would retire in 2000 but return to the ring two years later.

Paul Jones

4 of 66

    Defeated: Terry Funk

    Where: Greensboro

    When: Nov. 27, 1975

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 107 days

    Paul Jones got his start in 1968 in the Mid-Atlantic territories of the NWA under the name Al Fredericks. He soon went by the name Paul Jones and became a star in Jim Crockett Promotions.

    Jones would capture 21 titles throughout the Mid-Atlantic territories including the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship twice, the television title five times and this title on three occasions.

Blackjack Mulligan

5 of 66

    Defeated: Paul Jones

    Where: Greensboro

    When: March 13, 1976

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 217 days

    Blackjack Mulligan made his professional wrestling debut in 1967, but before that, he played professional football. He played for the New York Jets during the preseason and also had tryouts for the New Orleans Saints and the Denver Broncos.

    After talking with Wahoo McDaniel, Mulligan began training under Joe Blanchard and Verne Gagne, making his wrestling debut with the AWA.

Paul Jones

6 of 66

    Defeated: Blackjack Mulligan

    Where: Greensboro

    When: Oct. 16, 1976

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 43 days

    Jones became a manager in the 1980s, creating a stable called the Paul Jones Army. The stable included such wrestlers as Rick Rude, Abdullah the Butcher, Billy Graham and Ivan Koloff.

    He would leave the company when Ted Turner bought it and turned it into WCW, though.

Blackjack Mulligan

7 of 66

    Defeated: Paul Jones

    Where: Charlotte, N.C.

    When: Nov. 28, 1976

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 11 days

    After the AWA, Mulligan made his way to the World Wide Wrestling Federation and became a top heel. Even though he never won the world title, he had memorable feuds with the likes of Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales.

    Mulligan soon returned to the Midwest territories, where he began to team with Blackjack Lanza, forming the Blackjacks.

    The Blackjacks would become a feared tag team, capturing gold in NWA Big Time Wrestling, later known as World Class Championship Wrestling, the World Wrestling Association and the WWWF.

Paul Jones

8 of 66

    Defeated: Blackjack Mulligan

    Where: Winston-Salem, N.C.

    When: Dec. 9, 1976

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: six days

    Jones continued to wrestle for the other Mid-Atlantic territories up until his retirement in 1991.

    Paul Jones now owns a body shop in North Carolina.

Blackjack Mulligan

9 of 66

    Defeated: Paul Jones

    Where: Raleigh, N.C.

    When: Dec. 15, 1976

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 204 days

    Mulligan returned to singles competition in the late 1970s, wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions and the Mid-Atlantic territories.

    He would win this title four times and the Tag Team Championship with Ric Flair on one occasion. He also had a memorable feud with Andre the Giant throughout the early to mid-1980s.

Bobo Brazil

10 of 66

    Defeated: Blackjack Mulligan

    Where: Norfolk, Va.

    When: July 7, 1977

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 22 days

    Bobo Brazil would make his professional debut in 1951 as Boo-Boo Brazil. After a misprint on an advertisement, though, he became Bobo Brazil.

    He began his career wrestling fellow African-American wrestlers such as Ernie Ladd and Abdullah the Butcher, but he gained such a following that fans wanted to see him face everybody.

    He became one of the top faces in the business and that led him to challenging Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship.

    In 1962, however, Brazil would become the first African-American world champion by defeating Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Championship. The NWA doesn’t recognize the title change, though, so Ron Simmons is usually given the distinction as the first African-American world champ.

    After wrestling for 44 years, Brazil retired in 1995. A year before, though, Brazil was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame.

    On Jan. 20, 1998, Bobo Brazil passed away.

Ric Flair

11 of 66

    Defeated: Bobo Brazil

    Where: Richmond, Va.

    When: July 29, 1977

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 84 days

    Ric Flair made his professional wrestling debut in 1972 in the AWA after training with Verne Gagne. You would barely recognize him back then, though, as Flair weighed around 300 pounds and had brown hair.

    After wrestling for the AWA for two years, he made his way to the NWA, more specifically the Mid-Atlantic territories.

    Flair quickly rose to the top winning the Television Championship, but his soon to be legendary career was almost cut short by a plane crash in 1975.

    After being told he'd never wrestle again, Flair returned to the ring six months later. In 1977, his rise was back on track when he won this title.

    He would win it four more times throughout the next three years.

    In 1978, he began to refer to himself as the Nature Boy, and the original Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers, soon put him over. Flair would reach the top of the wrestling world in 1981 when he captured the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

    Throughout the next five years, Flair would win the title six times and also form the now legendary Four Horsemen with J.J. Dillon, Tully Blanchard and Ole and Arn Anderson.

Ricky Steamboat

12 of 66

    Defeated: Ric Flair

    Where: Charleston, S.C.

    When: Oct. 21, 1977

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 72 days

    Ricky Steamboat made his professional wrestling debut in 1976 in the AWA as Sam Steamboat, Jr. He also wrestled under his real name, Richard Blood, before sticking with Ricky Steamboat.

    He wrestled for Championship Wrestling from Florida as well as Georgia Championship Wrestling before making his way to Jim Crockett Promotions in 1977.

    Steamboat's first big feud came against Ric Flair over the Television Championship, and it resulted in Steamboat winning the title.

    During his time with JCP, Steamboat world capture 16 titles. He left the NWA in 1985 and made his way to the WWF.

Blackjack Mulligan

13 of 66

    Defeated: Ricky Steamboat

    Where: Greensboro

    When: Jan. 1, 1978

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 77 days

    Mulligan would retire in 1988 and distance himself from wrestling. He would return to the spotlight in 2006, though, when he and Lanza would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame together.

    Mulligan's legacy would live on to this day with his son Barry Windham wrestling throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and his grandkids Bo Dallas and Husky Harris (now Bray Wyatt) working for WWE.

Mr. Wrestling

14 of 66

    Defeated: Blackjack Mulligan

    Where: Greensboro

    When: March 19, 1978

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 21 days

    Mr. Wrestling made his professional debut in 1963 under the name Tim Woods. He was soon given the Mr. Wrestling gimmick in Nebraska and donned a mask as a result.

    He would become a major star throughout the territories of the NWA and soon began to wrestle as both Mr. Wrestling and Tim Woods.

    He would be involved in the same plane crash in 1975 as Ric Flair and Johnny Valentine, and told doctors that he was a promoter.

    Mr. Wrestling was a face on a plane full of heels, and since kayfabe was never broken back then, he didn’t want the fans to know that he was on the plane with his enemies.

    When rumors began to circulate that he was on the plane, Mr. Wrestling returned to the ring just two weeks after the accident so kayfabe could remain intact. Ric Flair would later call him “the man who saved wrestling” as a result.

    Mr. Wrestling officially retired in 1984 and live out the rest of his life in North Carolina. He passed away on Nov. 30, 2002.

Ric Flair

15 of 66

    Defeated: Mr. Wrestling

    Where: Charlotte

    When: April 9, 1978

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 265 days

    Flair remained with Jim Crockett Promotions until 1991. During this time, the company was transitioning into one of the biggest wrestling entities in the world. Crockett had brought all of his territories together to create one big one with Flair as the centerpiece.

    As champion, Flair would have some of the most memorable matches in wrestling. Some of those include the 45-minute draw with Sting at the first-ever Clash of the Champions and the Chi-Town Rumble match with Ricky Steamboat in 1989.

    By the end of Flair's run with what was now WCW, he was a nine-time world champion, surpassing the previous record of eight held by Harley Race.

Ricky Steamboat

16 of 66

    Defeated: Ric Flair

    Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    When: Dec. 30, 1978

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 92 days

    When Steamboat went to the WWF, he was given the nickname "The Dragon" and competed on the first-ever WrestleMania. He would have feuds with Don Muraco and Jake Roberts before heading into a storyline with Intercontinental champion Randy Savage.

    At WrestleMania III, the two of them would steal the show. Steamboat would win the title that night as well.

    He wouldn't have the title for long, though; as it was taken off of him a few weeks later after he wanted time off to be with his pregnant wife. He returned in November, but his push was dead.

    Steamboat would announce his retirement in 1988 and leave the WWF.

    He would come out of retirement a year later in January 1989 and return to JCP, now WCW. Steamboat would win the NWA Championship from Flair during this time, but ultimately lose it back to him.

    After a match with Lex Luger at the Great American Bash, Steamboat would once again leave.

Ric Flair

17 of 66

    Defeated: Ricky Steamboat

    Where: Greensboro

    When: April 1, 1979

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 133 days

    The title was declared vacant on Aug. 12, 1979 when Ric Flair won the NWA World Tag Team Championship with Blackjack Mulligan.

    After a dispute with WCW president Jim Herd, Flair left WCW while still as champion. WCW quickly vacated the WCW World Championship, but the NWA still recognized him as their champion.

    Flair would sign with the WWF during this time and appear on television with the Big Gold Belt, which is now WWE's World Heavyweight Championship.

    The NWA stripped him of recognition in September 1991, but the belt itself was owned by WCW.

    Flair would call himself the "Real World Champion" and the lawsuit soon got the belt off of WWF television. Flair would win his first WWF Championship at the 1992 Royal Rumble, and became one of only two men to win both the WWE world title and the NWA world title.

    Flair feuded with Randy Savage throughout the year which saw Savage take the title off of Flair at WrestleMania VIII. The feud would end in September when Flair got the title back.

    He made one last appearance at the 1993 Royal Rumble and went back to WCW the following month.

Jimmy Snuka

18 of 66

    Defeated: Ricky Steamboat

    Where: Charlotte

    When: Sept. 1, 1979

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 231 days

    Jimmy Snuka defeated Ricky Steamboat in a 12-man tournament final.

    Jimmy Snuka made his professional debut in 1969 as Jimmy Kealoha in Hawaii. He soon made his way to the Pacific Northeast territories, winning their world title six times.

    By the mid-1970s, he had become Jimmy Snuka and began to appear for other NWA territories as well.

    He made his WWF debut in 1982 as a heel with Captain Lou Albano as his manager. He was shot to the top and had a very memorable cage match against world champion Bob Backlund later that year.

    Despite being a bad guy, Snuka was loved by the fans due to his style of wrestling. In 1983, Snuka defined his career with a cage match against Don Muraco in which he leaped off the cage and hit his Superfly Splash.

    He then began a feud with Roddy Piper and stuck with that until leaving in 1985.

    Snuka then appeared for the AWA for three years and also returned to WWF for another three.

    In 1992, Snuka debuted with Eastern Championship Wrestling, later the Land of Extreme, and would become the first-ever ECW world champion in April. He remained with ECW until 1994.

    He would be inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996 and soon entered into semi-retirement. He would make appearances for WCW and WWF during this time, and will still appear for WWF, now WWE, once in a while.

    You can still see Jimmy Snuka wrestling on the independent circuit and appearing at conventions while his son Sim Snuka, better known as Deuce to WWE fans, and his daughter Tamina continue his legacy.

Ric Flair

19 of 66

    Defeated: Jimmy Snuka

    Where: Greensboro

    When: April 19, 1980

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 98 days

    Flair returned to WCW in 1993 and would win the NWA title one more time before WCW officially withdrew from the NWA in September 1993.

    He would capture the WCW Championship in June and was quickly entered a feud with Hulk Hogan when he debuted with WCW.

    They fought for the title at Bash at the Beach and Hogan won the match, beginning his 15-month title reign.

    The Nature Boy remained with WCW until the day it closed its doors, having memorable feuds with the likes of the nWo and reforming the Four Horsemen with Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit and Steve McMichael.

    Flair would participate in WCW's final match against Sting on March 26, 2001.

Greg Valentine

20 of 66

    Defeated: Ric Flair

    Where: Charlotte

    When: July 26, 1980

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 121 days

    Greg Valentine made his professional wrestling debut in 1970. The son of Johnny Valentine went by Baby Face Nelson first, but soon became Johnny Fargo in the National Wrestling Federation.

    In 1974, he began using the name Johnny Valentine Jr. to continue on his father's legacy but soon changed it to Greg Valentine.

    By 1976, Valentine was wrestling for JCP and the Mid-Atlantic territories. He remained with them for two years, winning the Tag Team Championship with Ric Flair and Baron Von Raschke as well as the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship on two occasions.

    He then left JCP and made his way to the WWWF. He stayed with the company for three years, being a top title contender the whole time.

    His most memorable moment would come when he wrestled world champion Bob Backlund to a one-hour draw.

    While wrestling for the WWWF, though, Valentine returned to JCP and the NWA in 1979.

Ric Flair

21 of 66

    Defeated: Greg Valentine

    Where: Greenville, S.C.

    When: Nov. 24, 1980

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 64 days

    Ric Flair returned to the WWF as co-owner of the company. The storyline led to Raw and SmackDown getting separate rosters and Flair gaining control of Raw.

    After Vince McMahon defeated Flair in a match in 2002, Flair was taken out of power and ultimately replaced by Eric Bischoff.

    Flair's most memorable moments would come as a member of Evolution from 2003 to 2005. While with the group, he acted as a manager and a mentor to Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista. He would also win the Tag Team Championship with Batista during this time.

    He would also win the title one more time with Roddy Piper and the Intercontinental Championship.

    Flair would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, and the next night, battled Shawn Michaels in a memorable match that resulted in Flair's retirement.

    The night on Raw, Flair gave an emotional farewell speech that also saw him joined by his family, the Four Horsemen and the entire WWE roster giving him a standing ovation.

    When Raw went off the air, the Undertaker gave tribute to Flair when the Deadman got down on one knee and saluted him. It was a tribute that should have aired on Raw.

Roddy Piper

22 of 66

    Defeated: Ric Flair

    Where: Raleigh

    When: Jan. 27, 1981

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 193 days

    United States Championships were recognized throughout the territories of the NWA. By this time, only the Mid-Atlantic and San Francisco territories recognized a United States title.

    When the San Francisco office closed down in January 1981, the Mid-Atlantic title became the undisputed United States Championship in the NWA.

    Roddy Piper made his professional wrestling debut in 1973 as a jobber in the AWA. Over the next two years, he would wrestle for the AWA, in Canada, Texas and for Fritz Von Erich.

    In 1975, Piper began wrestling for the territories of the NWA. He got his big start in the California territories as a heel and soon became the most hated wrestler in California. He made a name for himself in his first big feud as he took on the entire Guerrero family in Los Angeles.

    Towards the end of the decade, Piper started to branch out to other territories including the Pacific Northwest where he won the tag titles five times and the heavyweight title twice.

    In 1980, Piper made his way to the Mid-Atlantic territory. He spent the next three years wrestling for JCP, Georgia Championship Wrestling, as well as Puerto Rico.

    He would win nine titles while there, holding the Tag Team, Television, United States and Heavyweight Championships throughout his three-year stint.

    After a memorable feud with Greg Valentine, Piper made his way to the WWF in 1984.

Wahoo McDaniel

23 of 66

    Defeated: Roddy Piper

    Where: Greensboro

    When: Aug. 8, 1981

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: ~24 days

    The title was declared vacant in September 1981 when Wahoo McDaniel was injured by Abdullah the Butcher.

    Wahoo McDaniel made his professional wrestling debut in 1961 during the offseason of the AFL. Between 1960 and 1968, McDaniel played for the Houston Oilers, Denver Broncos, New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins.

    While he was a member of the San Diego Chargers in 1968, he never played a game and began to wrestle full-time as a result.

Sgt. Slaughter

24 of 66

    Defeated: Ricky Steamboat

    Where: Charlotte

    When: Oct. 4, 1981

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 229 days

    Sgt. Slaughter defeated Ricky Steamboat in a tournament final.

    Sgt. Slaughter made his professional wrestling debut in 1972 in the territories of the NWA. He also wrestled for the AWA before making the move to the WWF in 1980.

    With the Grand Wizard as his manager, Slaughter was a heel challenging wrestlers to break his Cobra Clutch. He soon gained the status of No. 1 contender and faced-off against world champion Bob Backlund.

    He would never win the title and soon began to feud with Pat Patterson after Patterson almost broke the clutch. They engaged in a heated feud which ended with an Alley Fight at Madison Square Garden.

    In 1981, Slaughter joined JCP and began to wrestle for both companies. He had more success in the Mid-Atlantic but he soon turned face in 1984 when he defended America against the Iron Sheik.

    After a huge feud between them, Slaughter went to the AWA as Hulk Hogan was emerging as the top face. During his time with the AWA, Slaughter would win the America's Championship and be the final wrestler to hold the belt before it was abandoned.

    He also won the right to face Ric Flair for the NWA Championship but failed to win the title. He stayed with the AWA until 1990 when he returned to the WWF.

Wahoo McDaniel

25 of 66

    Defeated: Sgt. Slaughter

    Where: Richmond

    When: May 21, 1982

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 17 days

    McDaniel made a name for himself in Texas, feuding with Boris Malenko and Dory Funk Jr. over the NWA World Championship.

    The feud over the title was so huge, that they would sell out stadiums every time they were to wrestle. He soon went to the AWA and feuded with Billy Graham until he moved to JCP in 1974.

Sgt. Slaughter

26 of 66

    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Greenville

    When: June 7, 1982

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 76 days

    When Wahoo McDaniel went done with an injury, the No. 1 contender, Sgt. Slaughter, was awarded the title.

    Slaughter became an Iraqi sympathizer when he returned in 1990 and aligned himself with General Adnan and later Colonel Mustafa, better known as the Iron Sheik.

    During this time, America was in the Gulf War against Iraq so Slaughter received many death threats from fans. It got so bad that he began to wear a bulletproof vest and was accompanied by security at all times.

    Slaughter would win the WWF Championship from the Ultimate Warrior at the 1991 Royal Rumble, but lose the title at WrestleMania VII to Hulk Hogan. After feuding with Hogan, Slaughter went back to being a face but disappeared in 1992.

    He would return five years later, though, in the role of commissioner. He would last a year in the role, mostly feuding with D-Generation X, and disappeared once again.

    While wrestling the independents, Slaughter still makes many appearances for WWE.

Wahoo McDaniel

27 of 66

    Defeated: Sgt. Slaughter

    Where: Charlotte

    When: Aug. 22, 1982

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 74 days

    One of the most memorable feuds of the time was McDaniel fighting Johnny Valentine over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship. When Valentine's career was ended by the infamous 1975 plane crash, McDaniel helped make Ric Flair a star with their feud over the title.

    They would swap the title back and forth for a few years until McDaniel began to feud with Valentine's son, Greg Valentine.

    He ultimately won the feud after taking the Mid-Atlantic title away from Valentine, but his reign didn't last long, as he lost it to Ken Patera a week later.

Greg Valentine

28 of 66

    Defeated: Wahoo McDaniel

    Where: Norfolk

    When: Nov. 4, 1982

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 163 days

    Upon his return to the NWA, Valentine formed a team with Ray Stevens and would win the tag titles one more time. He soon began to feud with Ric Flair over this title and it resulted in the belt being traded back and forth between them with Flair ultimately ending up with the title and winning the feud.

    Valentine would remain in contention for the title, feuding with Wahoo McDaniel as well as Roddy Piper over it. His feud with Piper led to a series of memorable Dog Collar Matches between them.

    After finishing his last reign, Valentine made his way to the WWF.

    When he returned to the WWF, he almost immediately won the Intercontinental Championship. He held it for nine months before losing it to Tito Santana in a steel cage match. Afterwards, Valentine formed the Dream Team with Brutus Beefcake and won the Tag Team Championship in August 1985.

    They would lose the titles eight months later and Valentine would enter into random feuds with the likes of Don Muraco, Ronnie Garvin and Hercules.

    In 1988, he formed Rhythm and Blues with the Honky Tonk Man but the team would go nowhere. They broke up towards the end of 1990 and entered into obscurity until he left in 1992.

Roddy Piper

29 of 66

    Defeated: Greg Valentine

    Where: Greensboro

    When: April 16, 1983

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 14 days

    Due to injuries, Piper was a manager at first in WWF. He was soon given a talk show called Piper's Pit and he would create some of the most memorable moments in the company’s history.

    Piper was unmatched on the mic as he interviewed many superstars. One memorable moment came when he smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka's head, resulting in a huge feud.

    He also feuded with Bruno Sammartino as a result of insults he threw at the wrestling legend. Piper would continue to make history when he began his feud with Hulk Hogan.

    The rivalry helped usher in the Rock 'N' Wrestling Connection with the involvement of Cyndi Lauper and the main event of the very first WrestleMania.

    He took a break after WrestleMania 2, but returned as a face in 1986. Even as a good guy, Piper played a key role in WWE history.

    During a Piper's Pit, Andre the Giant turned on Hulk Hogan, which led to one of the biggest matches in history at WrestleMania III.

    Piper would also win the Intercontinental Championship on one occasion in 1992.

    As his WWF career began to wind down, Piper started to do color commentary, though he did still wrestle. His last match would be at WrestleMania XII when he faced Goldust in a Hollywood Backlot Brawl.

    Piper would debut with WCW in 1996 renewing his feud with Hulk Hogan. He spent the next four years mostly feuding with the nWo and won this title one final time.

    He would leave WCW in 2000 and return to WWF, now WWE, in 2003. He once again feuded with Hogan, though part of the feud had Hogan playing Mr. America.

    Piper then feuded with Chris Jericho, but Piper was gone by the end of the year.

Greg Valentine

30 of 66

    Defeated: Roddy Piper

    Where: Greensboro

    When: April 30, 1983

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 228 days

    Valentine returned to JCP, now WCW, in 1992. He formed a team with Terry Taylor and won the United States Tag Team Championship. After losing the titles, Taylor was released and Valentine just decided to leave by the end of the year because he refused to lose to Sting.

    He then returned to the WWF in 1993 as the Blue Knight at Survivor Series, but wouldn’t appear again until two months later at the 1994 Royal Rumble.

    While he has made the occasional appearance for WWE over the past few years, including being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, Greg Valentine has been wrestling the independents since 1994.

    You can still see him on the circuit as well as at wrestling conventions.

Dick Slater

31 of 66

    Defeated: Greg Valentine

    Where: Shelby, N.C.

    When: Dec. 14, 1983

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 129 days

    Dick Slater made his professional wrestling debut in 1972 in the various territories of the NWA, mostly in Florida Championship Wrestling.

    He would win 13 titles in FCW before making the move to Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1972. He held six titles there, winning the Heavyweight Championship four times and tag-team gold twice with Bob Orton, Jr.

    He spent 11 years with GCW before heading to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and JCP. He only spent two years there but he did manage to win a number of titles.

    He debuted with the Mid-South Wrestling Association in 1985. He would leave a year later, though.

    In 1986, he became a jobber for the WWF before heading to WCW in 1987. He stayed with them for nine years, winning tag team gold with The Barbarian and Bunkhouse Buck before a back injury forced him to retire in 1996.

Ricky Steamboat

32 of 66

    Defeated: Dick Slater

    Where: Greensboro

    When: April 21, 1984

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 64 days

    Steamboat would tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1990 and return to the WWE in 1991 as the Dragon. Steamboat would go undefeated during this run with the company but leave by the end of the year before Survivor Series.

    He then returned to WCW a few weeks later and spent the next three years there. He would go on to win the world tag titles and the television and United States title before retiring again in 1994.

    During his retirement, Steamboat would make appearances for various independent promotions and wrestling conventions. He would also pop up in TNA Wrestling as well as Ring of Honor.

    Steamboat would return to the WWE in 2005.

Wahoo McDaniel

33 of 66

    Defeated: Ricky Steamboat

    Where: Greensboro

    When: June 24, 1984

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: ~seven days

    The title was declared vacant in July 1984 due to interference by Tully Blanchard.

    McDaniel continued to wrestle for the Mid-Atlantic territories throughout the 1980s while also wrestling for the AWA and WWC in Puerto Rico.

    After being a regular challenger for the AWA World Championship, McDaniel retired in 1989.

Wahoo McDaniel

34 of 66

    Defeated: Manny Fernandez

    Where: Charlotte

    When: Oct. 7, 1984

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 167 days

    Wahoo McDaniel defeated Manny Fernandez in a tournament final.

    McDaniel would return to the ring in 1990 and wrestled on the independent circuit. He appeared in a legends match at the 1993 WCW Slamboree and would be inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame two years later.

    He also appeared for the WWF when he and Chief Jay Strongbow did a "passing of the torch" storyline with Tatanka.

    He continued to wrestle until 1996, when he officially retired.

    Wahoo McDaniel passed away on April 18, 2002. Eight years later, he was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and into the NWA Hall of Fame in 2011.

Magnum T.A.

35 of 66

    Defeated: Wahoo McDaniel

    Where: Charlotte

    When: March 23, 1985

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 120 days

    Magnum T.A. made his professional wrestling debut in 1977 for the NWA territory Championship Wrestling from Florida. He wouldn't become Magnum T.A., though, until he moved to Mid-South Wrestling in the early 1980s.

    In 1984, he won his first major title, defeating Mr. Wrestling II for the North American Heavyweight Championship. After losing the title five months later, Magnum T.A. headed to Jim Crockett Promotions and entered into a feud with United States champion Wahoo McDaniel.

    He would win the title, but began to get targeted by the Four Horsemen, though more specifically Tully Blanchard.

    The feud led to them trading the title, the final match being a famous I Quit Match at Starrcade 1985.

    Magnum T.A. soon began to feud with Ivan and Nikita Koloff, which resulted in him getting stripped of the title after he assaulted the NWA president.

    He was allowed to compete for it in a Best of Seven Series, but ultimately lost to Koloff.

Tully Blanchard

36 of 66

    Defeated: Magnum T.A.

    Where: Charlotte

    When: July 21, 1985

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 130 days

    Tully Blanchard made his professional wrestling debut in 1975 in Southwest Championship Wrestling. He found much success in SCW but would move onto Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in 1984.

    He immediately began to feud with television champion Mark Youngblood and won the title in March. He would hold the belt for just under a year, losing the title to Dusty Rhodes in March 1985.

    They would trade the title throughout the year, with Rhodes ultimately winning the title. Blanchard then moved onto the United States Championship in a top feud with champion Magnum T.A.

    After losing the title, he was joined by Ric Flair, Ole and Arn Anderson to form the Four Horsemen in 1986. The Horsemen would dominate the NWA with Blanchard winning the Tag Team Championship with Arn Anderson.

    In 1988, though, both of them made their way to the WWF as the Brain Busters. They would win the tag titles one time before leaving the company the following year.

    While Anderson returned to the NWA, Blanchard's problems with drugs forced the company to deny signing him. After appearing on the independents for a bit, he became a born-again Christian towards the end of 1989 and retired to become a minister.

    His retirement didn't last long, though, as he returned to wrestling a few years later. After appearing on the independent circuit, he would once again retire in 2005.

    Tully Blanchard is now the head booker of NWA: New Beginnings in North Carolina and a member of the WWE Hall of Fame as a part of the Four Horsemen as of this year.

Magnum T.A.

37 of 66

    Defeated: Tully Blanchard

    Where: Greensboro

    When: Nov. 28, 1985

    Event: Starrcade

    Title Reign: 182 days

    Magnum T.A. was stripped of the title on May 29, 1986 after he attacked NWA President Bob Geigel. The title was then declared vacant as a result.

    In the fall of 1986, Magnum T.A. was in a car accident that injured his spine. While told he would never walk again, Magnum T.A.'s physical condition before the accident caused his recovery to go better than expected.

    Despite being able to walk again, his wrestling career was indeed over.

    He became a commentator for the NWA as well as WCW afterwards, and he also managed Dusty Rhodes for a bit.

    He jumped around the territories, the WWF and AWA before leaving wrestling completely in 1993.

    He made his first appearance in 12 years at an independent show and began to make the occasional appearance for other promotions. He was last seen at WWE Night of Champions in 2007 where he was recognized as a former United States champion.

Nikita Koloff

38 of 66

    Defeated: Magnum T.A.

    Where: Charlotte

    When: Aug. 17, 1986

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 328 days

    Nikita Koloff defeated Magnum T.A. in a best-of-seven series of matches to win the title.

    The title was unified with the NWA National Heavyweight Championship on September 28, 1986 when Koloff defeated Wahoo McDaniel.

    Nikita Koloff made his professional wrestling debut in 1984 in Jim Crockett Promotions as the nephew of Ivan Koloff. He originally didn’t have much training, so his matches were kept short until he evolved better skills in the ring.

    As his skills developed, he and Ivan were involved in a huge series of matches with the Road Warriors in the NWA as well as the AWA.

    Koloff would never break character and the end result was a top heel in the Mid-Atlantic territories.

    It was his match with NWA champion Ric Flair that got him noticed by the WWF, but Koloff turned down the chance to win the Intercontinental Championship and feud with Hulk Hogan to stay with the NWA.

    Koloff would spend the majority of his career in the Mid-Atlantic, winning seven titles before leaving for the AWA in 1989. He would leave in 1990 and go to WCW in 1991. He only stayed with the company for a year as his career was ended by a clothesline from Vader which injured his neck.

    He retired in 1992 and became a born again Christian the following year. He was last seen on a national scale under the mask of Mr. Wrestling IV in TNA in 2003.

    You can still see Nikita Koloff at wrestling conventions.

Lex Luger

39 of 66

    Defeated: Nikita Koloff

    Where: Greensboro

    When: July 11, 1987

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 138 days

    Lex Luger made his professional wrestling debut in 1985 in NWA Florida. He rose through the ranks quickly, winning the Southern Heavyweight Championship two months after his debut.

    Luger rose so fast that he received a shot at Ric Flair and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in September 1986. The match went to a 60-minute draw, thus resulting in Flair retaining the title.

    In 1987, Luger made his way to World Championship Wrestling, which at the time was an NWA affiliate.

Dusty Rhodes

40 of 66

    Defeated: Lex Luger

    Where: Chicago

    When: Nov. 26, 1987

    Event: Starrcade

    Title Reign: 141 days

    The title was declared vacant on April 15, 1988 when Dusty Rhodes was suspended for attacking promoter Jim Crockett.

    Dusty Rhodes made his professional wrestling debut in 1968 in the AWA. He spent the majority of his early career in the AWA as well as the territories of the NWA.

    He soon joined the NWA on a permanent basis, more specifically the Mid-Atlantic territories. He would have major feuds with the likes of Abdullah the Butcher, Terry Funk, Harley Race and the Four Horsemen, who became his biggest rivals.

    Rhodes would win the NWA World Championship on three occasions, one of the times defeating Horsemen leader Ric Flair for it.

    In 1985, he became a booker for Jim Crockett. He’s credited as creating many of the PPV’s for WCW as well as making a match end in controversy due to the referee getting knocked out, or the Dusty Finish as it came to be called.

    Rhodes was one of their top draws during this time, which some credit to him being in charge.

    He was fired from WCW in 1988 and joined the WWF in 1989. He is best known for wearing polka-dot tights and dancing around during his two-year stint with the company.

    After leaving the WWF, Rhodes entered into semi-retirement as he was no longer a full-time wrestler. He returned to WCW as a commentator but did wrestle on occasion.

    He was present during WCW’s battle with the nWo and joined them as a manager to the Outsiders. He left WCW in 2000 and appeared for ECW for a little bit before heading back for a stint with WCW. Rhodes would disappear for the most apart but resurfaced on the independent circuit in 2003.

    He also appeared for TNA Wrestling from 2003-2005 as their Director of Authority and also wrestled on occasion.

    Rhodes would return to the WWE in 2005 under a Legends contract and be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.

    Dusty Rhodes remains with WWE as the head of Florida Championship Wrestling and will also appear on television once in a while.

Barry Windham

41 of 66

    Defeated: Nikita Koloff

    Where: Houston

    When: May 13, 1988

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 283 days

    Barry Windham defeated Nikita Koloff in a tournament final.

    Barry Windham made his professional wrestling debut in 1979 in Championship Wrestling from Florida. He formed a team with Mike Rotundo in 1984 and they both found themselves signed to the WWF as the U.S. Express.

    The team would capture the WWF Tag Team Championship twice before Windham left the company in 1985 and returned to CWF.

    In 1987, he moved from Florida to JCP where he had memorable matches with Ric Flair that went to 60-minute draws.  He spent the most of the year in the mid-card, though, as he won multiple titles in other territories.

    In 1988, Windham would win the tag titles with Lex Luger but soon turn on him to join the Four Horsemen. It was his time with the Horsemen that he won this title. He dominated the mid-card as champion for nine months before losing the title to Luger.

    His contract expired a month later and he returned to the WWF as the Widowmaker. He went undefeated for his four-month stint and returned to JCP, though now it was WCW.

    Over the next four years, Windham would capture the Television Championship as well as the NWA World Championship.

    Windham then returned to the WWF again, this time as The Stalker. The gimmick didn’t go too far and he formed the New Blackjacks with Bradshaw in 1997. By 1998, Windham once again left to go back to WCW.

    He spent the next year in WCW with Curt Hennig as the West Texas Rednecks. He would win the tag titles once under this gimmick and another time with his brother, Kendall Windham.

    He would leave WCW again in 1999 and compete on the independent circuit until his retirement in 2004.

    Earlier this year, Windham would be inducted alongside other members of the Four Horsemen in the WWE Hall of Fame.

Lex Luger

42 of 66

    Defeated: Barry Windham

    Where: Chicago

    When: Feb. 20, 1989

    Event: Chi-Town Rumble

    Title Reign: 76 days

    Luger made his debut with the NWA in 1987 as an associate of the Four Horsemen. Once Ole Anderson left the stable, though, Luger became a full member of the legendary group.

    His first major feud as a member of the group was with Nikita Koloff over this title. With help from J.J. Dillon, Luger would win the title in a steel cage match.

    He held the title for four months before losing it to Horsemen rival Dusty Rhodes. Luger would soon leave the Horsemen after he disobeyed an order by Dillon.

    Luger was now feuding with the Horsemen and he recruited Barry Windham to help him. Windham would end up turning on him, though, and he joined the Horsemen himself.

    Luger then targeted their leader, Ric Flair, and his WNA World Championship. After a feud that lasted throughout 1988, Flair defeated Luger.

    Over the next year, Luger would win the United States Championship three more times and would never actually lose the title during his fourth reign. He would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in July 1991, and the United States title was declared vacant as a result.

    Towards the end of his reign, though, Luger had used up the majority of his contracted dates with the NWA. He defended the title up until December 1991, sitting at home until his title defense against Sting in February 1992. Sting would win the title, and Luger left WCW.

Michael Hayes

43 of 66

    Defeated: Lex Luger

    Where: Nashville, Tenn.

    When: May 7, 1989

    Event: WrestleWar

    Title Reign: 15 days

    Michael Hayes made his professional debut in 1977 in Tennessee. Two year later, he would join Terry Gordy and form the soon to be legendary Fabulous Freebirds.

    For the next three years, the Freebirds would win many tag titles throughout the territories. With Buddy Roberts, they established the Freebird Rule. The rule stated that any two of the three members could defend the titles at a given time.

    The Freebird Rule is still used to this day for some teams and even for singles titles sometimes.

    In 1982, Hayes and the Freebirds joined WCCW. It was with them that they saw their most success and where they became a household name.

    Now with Jimmy Garvin, the Freebirds feuded with the Von Erich Family during their time with WCCW. They would head to the WWF in 1984, but they left just as quickly as they arrived because they wanted to split the Freebirds up.

    The Freebirds would appear for the AWA, WCCW, NWA and WCW before Hayes retired in 1995.

    Hayes then returned to the WWF as Dok Hendrix. He conducted interviews and also did commentary. In 1999, he became the manager of the Hardy Boyz, but it only lasted a few months.

    Michael Hayes remains with WWE to the day as a member of the creative team. He will also make the occasional appearance on television as a legend.

Lex Luger

44 of 66

    Defeated: Michael Hayes

    Where: Bluefield, W.Va.

    When: May 22, 1989

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 523 days

    Luger joined the WWF's World Bodybuilding Federation as a co-host, but a motorcycle accident caused him to sit at home. When he was ready to return, the WBF had failed and was shut down.

    The following year, Luger joined the WWF as the Narcissist. He started out as a heel and feuded with Mr. Perfect. By the summer, Hulk Hogan had left the company and Luger was transformed to an "All-American" gimmick to fill the void.

    He never reached the success Hogan did, though. While he did have chances at the WWF World Championship, the most memorable being at WrestleMania X, he would never win the title.

    He formed a team with Davey Boy Smith called the Allied Powers in 1995, but he would once again fail at winning WWF gold.

    After appearing at SummerSlam, his contract would expire and Luger would return to WCW.

Stan Hansen

45 of 66

    Defeated: Lex Luger

    Where: Chicago

    When: Oct. 27, 1990

    Event: Halloween Havoc

    Title Reign: 50 days

    Stan Hansen made his professional wrestling debut in 1973 in Texas. He also appeared for the WWWF in the late 1970s and gained much fame after he broke the neck of Bruno Sammartino.

    He also appeared GCW, the AWA and the Mid-Atlantics, but his most success would come from his time in Japan.

    He competed mostly for New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling during the 1980s and 1990s, though he did briefly appear for WCW to win this title.

    He would win 24 titles while in Japan, including the heavyweight and tag-team titles, as well as NWA titles that were defended there.

    He would retire in 2000 and become the commissioner of the Pacific Wrestling Federation in Japan a year later. He would also appear in front of the audience on occasion.

    He stepped down from the position in 2007 and finished up with the wrestling business.

Lex Luger

46 of 66

    Defeated: Stan Hansen

    Where: St. Louis, Mo.

    When: Dec. 16, 1990

    Event: Starrcade

    Title Reign: 210 days

    When WCW began to withdraw from the NWA, the NWA United States Championship was referred to as the World Championship Wrestling United States Championship. Lex Luger is recognized as the first WCW United States Champion as a result.

    The title was declared vacant on July 14, 1991 when Lex Luger won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

    About a week after last appearing for the WWF, Luger made his return to WCW on the very first episode of Nitro. It wouldn't be until October that he let his allegiance be known.

    Luger would attack Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc, officially joining the Dungeon of Doom. Even though he was a heel, he was friends with Sting and the two would win the Tag Team Championship from Harlem Heat in January 1996.

    The following month he would also win the Television Championship from Johnny B. Badd. 

    Shortly after winning the television title, the Dungeon of Doom joined the Four Horsemen in the Alliance to End Hulkamania. At Uncensored 1996, nine wrestlers from the alliance took on Hogan and Randy Savage in the Tower of Doom match.

    Hulkamania would prevail that day and Luger was kicked out due to accidentally hitting Flair during the match.

    He became a face due to that and began to fight for the world title. During this time, though, the nWo would form and Luger joined WCW in the fight against Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and the growing stable.

    The feud would result in Luger winning the WCW World Championship one more time.

    The nWo wouldn't die, though, and it soon split into two different factions. Luger would join the nWo Wolfpac, the face group, and feud with nWo Hollywood throughout 1998-1999.

    After going down with an injury, Luger would leave the group and rename himself the Total Package upon his return. He would remain under that name, while also teaming with Buff Bagwell as Totally Buff, until the WWF bought WCW and shut it down.

Sting

47 of 66

    Defeated: Steve Austin

    Where: Atlanta, Ga.

    When: Aug. 25, 1991

    Event: House Show

    Title Reign: 86 days

    Sting defeated Steve Austin in a tournament final.

    Sting made his professional debut in 1985 in the Continental Wrestling Association. Back then he was known as Flash and with Justice, later the Ultimate Warrior, were Power Team USA. They later became the Blade Runners and Flash became Sting.

    In 1986, the team debuted with the UWF but they broke up after his partner went to the WWF. Sting would capture the tag titles three times with Eddie Gilbert and Rick Steiner before making the move to JCP in 1987.

    Sting rose through the ranks very quickly and challenged Ric Flair for the NWA World Championship in 1988 at the very first Clash of the Champions. They would wrestle to a 45-minute draw, and the match is recognized as the moment Sting truly became a star.

    Sting stuck with JCP/WCW until the day it was shut down in 2001.

    During his 14 years with the company, Sting would capture 15 titles and win many tournaments.

    Sting is a one-time NWA world champion, one-time NWA television champion, six-time WCW world champion, two-time International champion, three-time tag team champion and has held this title twice.

    When WCW shut down, Sting became the only big-name star never to jump to the WWE.

Rick Rude

48 of 66

    Defeated: Sting

    Where: Savannah, Ga.

    When: Nov. 19, 1991

    Event: Clash of the Champions XVII

    Title Reign: ~378 days

    The title was declared vacant in December 1992 when Rick Rude went down with an injury.

    Rick Rude made his professional wrestling debut in 1982 in the Mid-Atlantic territories. He wrestled throughout the Mid-Atlantics and Florida, capturing four titles in the process.

    Rude really hit it big when he made the move to the WWF in 1987. As “Ravishing” Rick Rude, he would insult the male audience due to their physique not being like his and would kiss a woman in the crowd after every match.

    His most well-known feud with be with Jake Roberts. Rude would move onto Roberts’ wife, including airbrushing her portrait onto his tights, and Rude waged war with Roberts for quite some time.

    After the feud with Roberts, Rude moved on to the Intercontinental champion, the Ultimate Warrior. Rude would win the title at WrestleMania V but lose it back to Warrior at SummerSlam.

    After picking the feud back up when Warrior won the world title at WrestleMania VI, the two fought over the belt. Rude would lose the feud and leave the company for WCW in 1991.

    Rude spent three years with WCW, winning this title once and the International Heavyweight Championship three times, before retiring in 1994.

    After a brief stint with ECW, Rude returned to the WWF as the manager of Shawn Michaels and Triple H in D-Generation X. He would leave the company after the Montreal Screwjob and go back to WCW.

    His return made the history books as be appeared on Monday Nitro, a live show, then appeared on WWF’s taped show, Raw, an hour later.

    Rude joined the nWo upon his return in 1997 and remained with the group until an injury sidelined him in 1998.

    Rude would then begin training for a return to the ring, but he passed away on April 20, 1999.

Dustin Rhodes

49 of 66

    Defeated: Ricky Steamboat

    Where: Atlanta

    When: Jan. 11, 1993

    Event: Saturday Night

    Title Reign: ~110 days

    Dustin Rhodes defeated Ricky Steamboat in a tournament final.

    On May 29, 1993, the title was held up after a match between Rhodes and Rick Rude ended in a double pin. They had their rematch on August 30, 1993 which Rhodes won.

    A month later, WCW officially withdrew from the NWA. Rhodes continued on as the WCW United States Champion while the NWA began to recognize its own champion.

    Dustin Rhodes made his professional wrestling debut in 1988 and first appeared on a national scale for the WWF in 1990. He would leave a few months later, though, and head to WCW in 1991.

    He would win tag team gold with Barry Windham and this title before leaving in 1995.

    He then returned to the WWF as Goldust. He spent the next four years with the company feuding with the likes of Razor Ramon, Roddy Piper, Ahmed Johnson and Brian Pillman. He would also win the Intercontinental Championship three times.

    In 1998, though, he dumped the Goldust gimmick and began to wrestle as himself. By the end of the year, Goldust was back.

    Rhodes made his return to WCW in 1999 as Se7en. The gimmick was dropped due to it appearing that the character was a child abductor. He remained with WCW until it was shut down in 2001, and he returned to the WWF later that year.

    During the next two years, Goldust would win the Hardcore Championship seven times and the tag titles once with Booker T. He was released from the company, now WWE, in 2003.

    He competed on the independent circuit, including a one-year stint with TNA in 2004-2005, before returning to WWE in 2005.

    He only made the occasional appearance, though, and was released in 2006. He wrestled for Japan in 2007 and returned to TNA for another stint from 2007-2008.

    He then returned to the WWE once again. While wrestling, he also became a producer backstage. He would be released earlier this year, though.

Steve Austin

50 of 66

    Defeated: Dustin Rhodes

    Where: Charlotte

    When: Dec. 27, 1993

    Event: Starrcade

    Title Reign: 240 days

    Steve Austin made his professional wrestling debut in 1989 in WCCW. By 1991, he found himself in WCW, where he garnered some success.

    During his time with the company, Austin would capture this title, the NWA and WCW Tag Team Championship with Brian Pillman and the WCW Television Championship.

    Eric Bischoff didn’t see star potential in him, though, and he was released in 1995.

    Austin then made his way to ECW where he would make disparaging remarks about WCW during interviews. By the end of the year, though, Austin found himself in the WWF.

    As the Ringmaster, Austin had Ted DiBiase in his corner and he was the Million Dollar Champion. In June 1996, Austin would win the King of the Ring and Austin 3:16 was born.

Ricky Steamboat

51 of 66

    Defeated: Steve Austin

    Where: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    When: Aug. 24, 1994

    Event: Clash of the Champions XXVIII

    Title Reign: 25 days

    Steamboat would make his return to the WWE as a road agent. He would make the occasional appearance on television before entering into a feud with Chris Jericho in 2009.

    After being inducted into the Hall of Fame the night before, Steamboat returned to the ring for the first time in 15 years at WrestleMania XXV teaming with Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka in a match against Jericho.

    While Jericho won the match, Steamboat showed no ring rust and impressed the fans. Steamboat remains with the WWE to this day in a backstage role.

Steve Austin

52 of 66

    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Roanoke, Va.

    When: Sept. 18, 1994

    Event: Fall Brawl

    Title Reign: A few minutes

    Steve Austin was awarded the title when Ricky Steamboat was too injured to defend it.

    Throughout the next seven years, Steve Austin would become the biggest WWF star since Hulk Hogan.

    He started out small, winning the Intercontinental Championship twice, as well as the Tag Team Championship a total of four times throughout the years. Austin hit superstardom when he defeated Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XIV, and ushered in the Attitude Era.

    It was the Attitude Era that put WWF back on top of the wrestling world and was ultimately the downfall of WCW.

    Austin would go onto win the title five more times, while also winning the Royal Rumble three times. He had memorable feuds and matches with The Rock, Triple H, the Undertaker and many more before his departure in 2002.

    He would return a year later, though, to battle The Rock at WrestleMania XIX.

    Austin would retire in 2003, but he will still make appearances for WWE, mostly to deliver the Stone Cold Stunner to someone.

    Steve Austin would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.

Jim Duggan

53 of 66

    Defeated: Steve Austin

    Where: Roanoke, Va.

    When: Sept. 18, 1994

    Event: Fall Brawl

    Title Reign: 100 days

    Jim Duggan made his professional wrestling debut in 1979. He appeared in Texas, the WWF and GCW before going to the UWF in 1982. He spent four years there, winning four titles, before making an official debut with the WWF in 1987.

    His first feud was with Nikolai Volkoff, and he feuded with just about every heel throughout his six-year stint with the company. His claim to fame would be winning the very first Royal Rumble in 1988, before it was associated with a world title shot at WrestleMania.

    After leaving in 1994, Duggan made his way to WCW, which is where he stayed until the company was shut down.

    He would appear in the mid-card during his time with WCW, winning this title once and finding the Television Championship in the trash, becoming the final wrestler to hold the title in the process.

    After WCW was closed, Duggan wrestled on the independent circuit and also made some appearances for TNA Wrestling.

    He returned to the WWE in 2005 as the partner of Eugene. He remained with the team until 2006 and began to get used sparingly. He wrestled the occasional match and appeared in comedy segments until his release in 2009.

    After appearing in the independents, Duggan once again returned to the WWE in 2011 when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

    Jim Duggan remains with WWE as he makes the occasional appearance.

Vader

54 of 66

    Defeated: Jim Duggan

    Where: Nashville, Tenn.

    When: Dec. 27, 1994

    Event: Starrcade

    Title Reign: 88 days

    Vader was stripped of the title on May 25, 1995 by WCW commissioner Nick Bockwinkel for injuring Dave Sullivan.

    Vader made his professional wrestling debut in 1985 in the AWA. He only spent two years with the company and made his way to New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1987.

    In Japan, Vader would become a huge star. He would win the tag titles once with Bam Bam Bigelow and the IWGP World Championship on three occasions.

    In 1990, Vader began to appear for WCW, wrestling for both companies until he left NJPW in 1992. He would stick with WCW for five years, winning this title once and the WCW World Championship three times.

    He would have many memorable matches with the likes of Sting, Cactus Jack and Hulk Hogan before returning to NJPW in 1996 to have a match with Antonio Inoki. He debuted with the WWF later that year and stayed with them for two years having feuds with Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker.

    His only accomplishment in WWF would be winning a Slammy Award in 1996 for attacking Gorilla Monsoon. He left WWF in 1998 and return to Japan, wrestling for All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah.

    Vader would continue his success in Japan before returning to the United States in 2003. He worked on the independent circuit, while also appearing for TNA Wrestling and WWE, before retiring in 2007.

    He returned to the ring in 2010, though, in Japan and wrestled many benefit shows in 2011 after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan earlier in the year.

    Vader was last seen on the June 11 episode of WWE Raw to celebrate Raw’s upcoming 1,000th episode. He defeated Heath Slater in a one-on-one match to a huge ovation from the crowd.

Sting

55 of 66

    Defeated: Meng

    Where: Dayton, Ohio

    When: June 18, 1995

    Event: The Great American Bash

    Title Reign: 148 days

    Sting defeated Meng in a tournament final.

    After WCW shut down, Sting disappeared until 2002 when he appeared for World Wrestling All-Stars. He would win their world title once before it was unified with the NWA World Championship.

    Sting then made his debut with TNA Wrestling in 2003 and has been with them ever since.

    The Icon would win the NWA World Championship in 2006 while with TNA, his first reign as champion in 15 years. He would also capture the TNA World Championship four times and the tag titles once with Kurt Angle.

    At this year’s Slammiversary, it was announced that Sting would be the first inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame as well.

    Sting’s decorated career continues in TNA Wrestling, and the Icon continues to be the biggest star never to wrestle in a WWE ring.

Kensuke Sasaki

56 of 66

    Defeated: Sting

    Where: Tokyo, Japan

    When: Nov. 13, 1995

    Event: New Japan Pro Wrestling Live Event

    Title Reign: 44 days

    Kensuke Sasaki made his professional wrestling debut in 1986 in Japan Pro Wrestling but soon found himself in NJPW the following year.

    In 1988, Sasaki did a tour of North America as he wrestled for WWC in Puerto Rico, Stampede Wrestling in Canada as well as a few shows in the United States.  He returned to NJPW in 1990 and wrestled occasionally for WCW.

    Sasaki jumped around Japanese promotions since leaving NJPW in 2002, wrestling for Fight World of Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling and even returning to NJPW for a year in 2004.

    After winning many titles throughout Japan, Sasaki is now a member of Pro Wrestling Noah since 2008. 

One Man Gang

57 of 66

    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Nashville

    When:  Dec. 27, 1995

    Event: Starrcade

    Title Reign: 33 days

    One Man Gang defeated Sasaki in a pay-per-view dark match. The match ended up getting restarted, though, and Sasaki would win back the United States Championship.

    The title change would never be recognized by WCW.

    One Man Gang made his professional wrestling debut in 1977 in South Carolina. He jumped around various promotions, including WCW, WCCW and the UWF, before getting the call to join the WWF in 1987.

    He mostly squashed jobbers throughout the year and would lose to the bigger stars like Hulk Hogan. He took part in the first-ever Survivor Series as a member of Andre the Giant’s team against a team led by Hogan.

    In 1988, his manager Slick announced that One Man Gang was African. He was repackaged as Akeem the African Dream. He soon formed a team with the Big Boss Man called the Twin Towers, but they would never win the tag titles.

    They remained as a team until 1990 when Boss Man turned on Akeem. He would leave the WWF towards the end of the year and debut with WCW as his One Man Gang character.

    He would leave by the end of the year but return in 1995 as a member of the Dungeon of Doom. He would win this title once before losing it a month later and leaving WCW once again.

    After appearing for ECW and other independent promotions, One Man Gang would retire in 2000 after a heart attack.

    He would return to the ring a year later, though, in the gimmick battle royal at WrestleMania X-Seven.

    You can still see One Man Gang on occasion on the independent circuit.

Konnan

58 of 66

    Defeated: One Man Gang

    Where: Canton, Ohio

    When: Jan. 29, 1996

    Event: Main Event

    Title Reign: 160 days

    Konnan made his professional wrestling debut in 1987 in Mexico and soon found himself in AAA in 1992. At the same time, he appeared for the WWF as Max Moon.

    Since he was working without a contract in WWF, he left in 1993 and appeared regularly for AAA. He also briefly appeared for ECW during his time with the Mexican promotion.

    He permanently joined WCW in 1996 and quickly won this title, holding it for six months. After losing the title he would join the Dungeon of Doom, but then joined the nWo when it was formed.

    He stayed with WCW until it was closed in 2001, winning the Tag Team Championship twice with Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman and the Television Championship.

    When TNA Wrestling was formed in 2002, Konnan joined up with them. He at first led a heel stable with Juventud Guerrera and Super Crazy, but formed the 3Live Kru in July 2003.

    He would hold the NWA Tag Team Championship twice as a member of the team, and after they broke up in 2005, Konnan led the Latin American Xchange.

    Konnan would leave TNA to return to AAA in 2007, where you can still see him.

Ric Flair

59 of 66

    Defeated: Konnan

    Where: Daytona Beach, Fla.

    When: July 7, 1996

    Event: Bash at the Beach

    Title Reign: ~56 days

    Ric Flair vacated the title due in October 1996 due to sustaining an injury to his shoulder.

    After retiring, Flair made the occasional appearance for WWE until 2009 when he began to appear for Ring of Honor as an authority figure.

    He soon returned to the ring, though, on the Hulkamania Tour of Australia wrestling Hulk Hogan. When Hogan went to TNA in 2010, Flair soon followed suit and they continued their feud.

    Flair would continue to wrestle on a part-time basis, but will best be remembered for forming Fortune, a new version of the Four Horsemen with A.J. Styles, Kazarian and Beer Money.

    They would join forces by the end of the year as Immortal, but once again go at it once Hogan left the group at last year's Bound for Glory.

    Flair would wrestle one more match, though, two months earlier against his old rival Sting.

    While under contract to TNA, Flair would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame again in 2012, this time as a member of the Four Horsemen. Flair is no longer a member of the TNA roster and WWE fans may see him pop up sooner rather than later.

Eddy Guerrero

60 of 66

    Defeated: Diamond Dallas Page

    Where: Nashville

    When: Dec. 29, 1996

    Event: Starrcade

    Title Reign: 77 days

    Eddy Guerrero defeated Diamond Dallas Page in a tournament final.

    Eddie Guerrero made his professional wrestling debuted in 1987 in Mexico and soon found himself in AAA in 1992. He would win their tag titles once with Art Barr before leaving for Japan in 1993.

    Despite wrestling mainly in Japan, Guerrero would appear for AAA in 1994. In Japan, he wore the mask of Black Tiger, the second wrestle to do so. In his three-year stint, he would gain shots at the IWGP Junior heavyweight Championship but would never win it.

    In 1996, he began appearing for ECW as well. In his debut match, Guerrero won the Television Championship, holding it a total of two times before leaving by the end of the year.

    He made his WCW debut in 1995 as Eddy Guerrero, though he did appear as a jobber in 1989. He didn’t do much in his first year, but became a contender for this title in 1997.

    He feuded with Konnan and Ric Flair over the belt, but he wouldn’t capture it until it was declared vacant. After losing the title, he set his sights on the Cruiserweight Championship, winning it twice.

    He spent the majority of 1998 feuding with his nephew Chavo Guerrero and forming the Latino World Order to feud with the nWo. The storyline was cut short, though, due to Guerrero being involved in an accident in January 1999.

    He would return during the summer and form the Filthy Animals. The stable mostly feuded with the Dead Pool and the Revolution before Guerrero left for the WWF in 2000.

Dean Malenko

61 of 66

    Defeated: Eddy Guerrero

    Where: Charleston, S.C.

    When: March 16, 1997

    Event: Uncensored

    Title Reign: 85 days

    Dean Malenko made his professional wrestling debut in 1979 as a referee. He soon began wrestling and appeared in Mexico, Japan and on the independent circuit before signing with ECW in 1994.

    Within a few months, Malenko won the Television Championship. A few months later, Malenko joined Triple Threat with Chris Benoit and Shane Douglas, resulting in winning the tag titles with Benoit in February.

    He would lose his television title in March and the tag belts in April, though.

    He spent the summer feuding with Eddie Guerrero over the television title before moving to WCW in September. While there, he was known as the “Man of 1000 Holds” and captured the Cruiserweight Championship in May 1996.

    He would hold the title a total of four times as well as this title once before joining the Four Horsemen in 1998.

    While as a Horsemen, he and Benoit won the WCW tag titles, but would only hold them for two weeks. The Horsemen would disband in May 1999 and Malenko would join the WWF in 2000.

    Malenko wouldn’t find much success in the company, though, as he would capture the Light Heavyweight Championship twice before retiring in 2001.

    Malenko remains with WWE in a backstage role and will appear on television once in a while.

Jeff Jarrett

62 of 66

    Defeated: Dean Malenko

    Where: Boston

    When: June 9, 1997

    Event: Nitro

    Title Reign: 73 days

    Jeff Jarrett made his professional wrestling debut in 1986 as a referee for his father’s CWA promotion. He soon began to wrestle for his father, the AWA and the USWA, which was the CWA merged with WCCW.

    He wrestled for his father until signing with the WWF in 1993. With the gimmick of a country singer, Jarrett had random feuds until going after Razor Ramon’s Intercontinental Championship in 1995.

    He would win the title a total of three times before leaving in 1996 and joining WCW.

    He debuted with WCW as a free agent that both the nWo and the Four Horsemen wanted. He ultimately joined the Horsemen in December 1996.

    He would win this title six months later and leave the Horsemen. After losing the belt to Steve McMichael, Jarrett left WCW to go back to the WWF.

Steve McMichael

63 of 66

    Defeated: Jeff Jarrett

    Where: Nashville

    When: Aug. 21, 1997

    Event: Clash of the Champions XXXV

    Title Reign: 25 days

    Steve McMichael made his professional wrestling debut in 1995 as a color commentator for WCW. Before that, though, he played for the NFL. He played for three different teams and won Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears.

    In April 1995, Ric Flair started to move in on McMichael’s wife, Debra, and he challenged him and Arn Anderson to a match at the Great American Bash. Along with fellow football star Kevin Greene, they took on the Four Horsemen at the PPV.

    After Debra appeared with a briefcase full of money and a Horsemen shirt, McMichael turned on Greene and joined up with Flair and Anderson.

    His first real feud would be with Jeff Jarrett over his wife and this title. Debra would leave McMichael for Jarrett, but McMichael got his revenge by taking the title away from him.

    After he lost the belt, he entered into obscurity until leaving WCW and retiring in 1999.

    Steve McMichael was last seen in wrestling at the 2008 TNA Bound for Glory event. He was the special referee to a fatal four-way Monster’s Ball match featuring Beer Money, Team 3D, the Latin American Xchange and the team of Abyss and Matt Morgan.

Curt Hennig

64 of 66

    Defeated: Steve McMichael

    Where: Charlotte

    When: Sept. 15, 1997

    Event: Nitro

    Title Reign: 104 days

    Curt Hennig made his professional debut in 1980 in the AWA, which is where his father made a name for himself. He left after two years and headed to the WWF, where he also spent two years.

    In 1984, Hennig returned to the AWA. He would capture the Tag Team Championship with Scott Hall and the World Championship before heading back to the WWF in 1988.

    Now Mr. Perfect, Hennig went on a one-year undefeated streak and began to feud with Hulk Hogan over the WWF Championship. The feud saw Hennig and his manager the Genius destroy Hogan’s title belt, but Hennig ultimately lost the feud.

    He would then capture the Intercontinental Championship twice in 1990 before retiring in 1991. He then became a color commentator for the company while also acting as Ric Flair’s advisor.

    He returned to the ring in 1992, but he didn’t find the same success he did before. He left in 1994, retiring again, but would return a year later as a commentator and the occasional special guest referee.

    He left for good in 1996 and debuted with WCW in 1997. He initially joined the Four Horsemen, replacing a retiring Arn Anderson, but he soon turned on the Horsemen to join the nWo.

    He remained with the stable until 1999 when he formed the West Texas Rednecks, winning the tag titles in the process. After losing the belts, though, Hennig left WCW in 2000.

    He made his return to the WWF in 2002, but would only last a few months.

    Curt Hennig then passed away on Feb. 10, 2003.

Diamond Dallas Page

65 of 66

    Defeated: Curt Hennig

    Where: Washington, D.C.

    When: Dec. 28, 1997

    Event: Starrcade

    Title Reign: 112 days

    Diamond Dallas Page made his professional wrestling debut in 1988 as a manager in the AWA. He led a stable called the Diamond Exchange and soon brought it to WCW as the Diamond Mine in 1991.

    He managed the Fabulous Freebirds and Scott Hall during this time while also beginning to train to be a wrestler. At 35 years old, Page made his in-ring debut later that year.

    When Hall left for the WWF, Page began to team Vinnie Vegas as the Vegas Connection. An injury to Page caused the team to disband, though.

    He returned in 1994 with his wife Kimberly by his side and won his first title in 1995, defeating the Renegade for the Television Championship.

    Page would stay with WCW until its demise in 2001, winning the television title once, this title twice, the Tag Team Championship on four occasions and the World Heavyweight Championship three times.

    When the WWF showed interest in him after the buyout, Diamond Dallas Page debuted with them in late 2001.

Part Two Coming Soon

66 of 66

    Thanks for reading! The second and final part of the WWE United States Championship will be up as soon as it’s finished. I’m aiming for next Wednesday.

    Previous Installments

    WWE DivasTNA KnockoutsTNA Knockouts TagWWE TagTNA TagShimmer

    Sources

    http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wcw/wcw-us-h.html 

    http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wwe/wwf-us-h.html#wwe 

    http://www.wwe.com/classics/titlehistory/unitedstates 

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

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

    Information on the wrestlers provided by Wikipedia

    Title “Wrestling Gold” thought up by editor Jeff D. Gorman