The Illustrious History of the NWA

Daris BrownSenior Analyst IApril 27, 2009

When you say WWE, TNA, ECW and even ROH, everyone immediately knows what you're talking about. They've seen the shows or at least heard of their wrestlers, but the same can't be said about the NWA.

Yeah people are aware that there's an NWA, but far too many people are unaware of the impact the NWA has had on wrestling as a whole.

While the WWE has changed the way fans view professional wrestling, it is the NWA that quietly works behind the scenes. With little credit and even less fan fare the National Wrestling Alliance continues to press on, molding and shaping our view of professional wrestling.

Since it's inception in 1948, the NWA was set to govern and protect the integrity of pro wrestling. In a time where the wrestling world was shattered with numerous territories and organizations, the NWA was the glue that kept wrestling together.

No matter where you went, every organization had it's own champion. In the AWA it was Pat O'Connor, Georgia Championship Wrestling had Fred Blassie, WCWA had Fritz Von Erich, and so on.

But all of these Heavyweight champions were under one champ, the NWA heavyweight champion. Decided on by the Board of Directors, which included rival and non-NWA member Vince McMahon Sr., the NWA World Heavyweight champion would travel from territory to territory to feud with the area's biggest stars.

The NWA champ was consider the best wrestler in the world, and when he came into town you knew you were in for a treat. He would typically lose via count out or DQ, thus making it seem that the local champ was robbed from the world title. Thus enhancing the credibility of the area's hero. It was great for business.

The NWA would continue to go around boosting the local territories until Vince McMahon Jr. came into the area via cable TV. The local promotions soon lost steam, unable to compete with the WWF's television presence and the once great territories were reduced to independent stature.

Wounded but not killed off, the NWA continues to make a positive impact in the sport of pro wrestling. After being rocked by the savoy WWF, the NWA continued it's efforts by lending it's name and likeness to various start up promotions.

WCW used the NWA belt starting in 1985, when WCW owner became the NWA President. And WCW continued to use the belt until they left the NWA in 1993. Ric Flair was the bot the first and last holder of the NWA belt under the WCW banner.

But WCW wasn't the only one who caught fire using the name of the NWA. ECW used the NWA ECW Heavyweight Championship to help start the fledgling promotion. The first ever champ, Superfly Jimmy Snuka.

ECW continued under the NWA world title banner until Shane Douglas won a world title tournament in 1994 under the ECW's new owner, Paul Heyman. There history took place as The Franchise proclaimed the belt dead as he threw the belt down and discarded it for the new ECW title.

Despite Douglas's claims, the title was far from dead. Another fledgling promotion needed help getting started, and nobody could help them out like the NWA.

Using the honor and storried history of the NWA, Jeff Jarrett's TNA also lauched under the NWA banner.

As NWA TNA, Jarrett's promotion was able to link itself to wrestling history as they brought in former NWA champs Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Harley Race among others to help them separate themselves from various independent organizations.

In a gauntlet for a gold match, Ken Shamrock became the first NWA TNA world champ in 2002 and they continued to use the NWA until Kurt Angle became the new TNA champ in 2007.

TNA is another example of a little known promotion that leaped off the back of the NWA into success.

But just like ECW, as soon as it became established, it proclaimed the title dead and vacated the belt. But just as we saw with ECW, the belt still had life.

Only this time the NWA was using a smaller promotion to help get it off the ground. After being dumped by TNA, the NWA crowned a new champion at Ring of Honor's PPV, Reclaiming the Glory. The NWA did exactly that.

Adam Pierce became the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion and the legacy of the NWA lives on.

Today the NWA continues to live strong with numerous territories under its name. The world title belt is currently held by their first Mexican champion Blue Demon Jr who is quickly climbing up the all-time record for the longest title reign with 185 consecutive days as the champ.

It's unlikely that he'll come close to matching Lou Thez's reign of 3,749 over three title wins, but NWA continues to wrestle with greatness regardless.

And it's only a matter of time before another great start up promotion comes knocking in hopes to use the NWA's long linage of champions.

There's no doubting the NWA's place in wrestling history as they will be forever known as one of the greatest organizations ever. But along with their great list of champions, the NWA's true claim to greatness is their ability to give instant credibility to organizations in need of that last extra push to main stream status.

Check out Hit The Ropes Radio next week as we interview WWE Hall of Famer Superfly Jimmy Snuka and NWA's Chris Escobar. Plus,TNA prizes, our second attempt at Turnbuckle 2 Turnbuckle 3 and more. Wednesday at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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