I was originally going to do this mid-week, but decided to hold off until after AEW, because I wanted to see if they lived up to the promised hype. I had to see if AEW could pull it of again. I had to see with my own eyes if they could be a viable substitute to WWE.
AEW did not fail to impress. I can finally say the line that I was going to open with originally. But I wanted to hold off to see if I could say it without it being untrue. After Double or Nothing, I can finally say:
The landscape of Professional Wrestling as we know it has changed. With the introduction of AEW, and with Impact holding on after what seemed like their demise time and time again, to the resurgance of the NWA under the leadership of Billy Corgan and David Lagana, to the abysmal failure WWE is turning into, we now have choices we haven’t had since the Monday Night Wars. We can choose Monday Night Raw, Smackdown Live, Impact, NWA, and soon AEW. I haven’t been this excited for wrestling since I was a little kid.
Lets take a look at our new, and old, options, starting with the Father of professional Wrestling, the NWA.
A bit of history, the NWA is where every single federation now in existance, and most before, have come from. From WCW to Impact, they all held the name NWA at one point in their title. ECW broke away from the NWA as well, during Shane Douglass’ famous original pipe bomb promo. Sorry CM Punk, Shane Douglass did it best, when he threw the NWA belt down, declaring all the former champions could “Kiss. My. ASS!” and declared himself the ECW champion. Impact wrestling used to be called NWA/TNA for a long time as well, before they split from the promotion, and even WCW had its roots in NWA back in it’s WCCW days, and even into it’s WCW days, with Ric Flair and Sting fighting for the NWA World Championship Title. The most prestigious title in wrestling history. WWE can claim they are, but with champions like Ricky Steamboat, Sting, Ric Flair with the most reigns at 9, Lou Thez who held it for 2,300 days, to Nick Aldis, Orville Brown, the list of legends goes on and on.
The NWA has birthed many promotions, Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC)/World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW, Smoky Mountain Wrestling/United States Wrestling Association, the then WWF, now WWE, NWA:TNA, and even Ring of Honor. Without NWA, none of what we have today would exist. Every single title except AEW and RoH titles have come from the NWA World Title.
We’ll look at the NWA:TNA splinter first which lead to Impact as we know it today. Back in 2002, Jeff and Jerry Jarret made what was then known as NWA: Total Nonstop Action. Th show originally debuted as a weekly pay per view show while they worked out a TV deal, and licensed the rights to the NWA Tag Team championship and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (NWA WHC). At the time, Dan Severn was the NWA WHC, but was unable to make the initial appearance of NWA:TNA. Needless to say that didn’t work for Double J, and so Dan was stripped of the title, and Ken Shamrock was given the title after winning a tournament called Gauntlet for the Gold. In 2004, just two short years after the alliance was formed, TNA broke away from the NWA after a dispute, but they retained the licensing to both the NWA WHC and Tag titles until May 13th, 2007 when the deal would run out. At that point TNA created it’s own championships, including some amazing belts, such as the original X Division title, not the resurgence trash, and some questionable titles, such as the Legends Belt. Impact went through some turmoil and nearly folded multiple times, the first when they lost the deal with Fox, and went to webisodes via Real Player (blast from the past) and torrents. Five months later they secured another TV deal with Spike TV, and managed to get back into weekly shows. TNA started to thrive, even purchasing Ohio Valley Wrestling and making it their own NXT (Before NXT was really a household name). Impact underwent a lot o changes over the years, from Jerritt’s failed Global Force Wrestling to Billie Corgan, the NWA current co-owner, somehow, some way, Impact has always pulled through when we thought they were dead and gone. They are currently owned by Anthem
Next up is Ring of Honor. Seen as an “Indie” promotion by many, ROH has a lot of big names. I won’t cover it nearly as much due to it being a stable venture unlike Impact. But ROH had a pay per view on June 7, 2008, when Adam Pearce, the current NWA champion at the time, revealed the NWA WHC at the end of the PPV, signifying a partnership had been agreed to. However, during the “Battle for Supremacy” in Dayton Ohio, the “No over the top rope” rule was enforced during the match with then ROH champion Nigel McGuiness. The match ended with a DQ and both men retained their titles, in which the crowd was unhappy and chanted “Dusty Finish”. The belt is still defended in RoH today. This is where AEW comes into the picture.
On May 1 2017 Billy Corgan purchased the NWA, which was confirmed by then NWA president Bruce Tharpe. Corgan would take full control in October, and as part of the agreement, ALL NWA titles were to be vacated except the WHC. Corgan and Lagana began a wonderful youtube series focusing on the title called “Ten Pounds of Gold.” When Nick Aldis became the champion for the first time in 2017, the series focused on his title defenses. This started a build up to a match with Cody Rhodes at AEW’s first PPV “All In”. This “T-Shirt Company” as Vince McMahon once called it (What a mistake), then went on to have Cody Rhodes vs Nick Aldis for the NWA WHC. This was, in my opinion, one of the most amazing build ups to a title match I’ve ever seen. Over the entire buildup on Ten Pounds of Gold, the series focused on the Rhodes dynasty, on Aldis and his defenses, the buildup between the two men. This even led up to yours truly having a brief conversation with David Lagana himself on twitter. Sure it was only a couple words but hey, not every day the co owner of the NWA replies to you! Cody Rhodes of course won the title at All In, and lost it shortly after back to Nick Aldis, in an obvious move to promote AEW and put it on the map. Boy did it ever. This “T-Shirt Company” sold out the Sears Center with a capacity of 11,218 in just 30 minutes. No other independence promotion can boast a claim of selling over 10k tickets. That was 2018. This year we’re just coming off All or Nothing, They had hoped to hit 11,600 tickets according to Cody in an interview with Jim Ross on the Ross Report. As of right now I don’t have the exact numbers, but Double or Nothing, once again, sold out. This time in 4 minutes. As a friend of mine Brooke Owens likes to say, “Not bad for a T-Shirt company huh?” Not bad at all. The partnership with the NWA, along with their own beautiful WHC belt, and working with NJPW and ROH, I think AEW is our next rising star in the wrestling world. Soon we can see AEW on TNT television.
This brings us to WWE. I’m not going to really talk about this at all as I don’t watch WWE anymore, I think the product has become a joke, and I have zero interest in it. But let’s look at how it broke from the NWA as we’ve done with the rest. Oh wait, it didn’t. Well it sort of did. Lets break down how all these titles came to be.
The original NWA WHC was made in 1905. We’re going way, way back here. It was called the World Heavyweight Championship, and partially later merged with the NWA WHC in 1948. Then it splintered off, and this will cover the WWE side. It became the WWWF/WWF Championship in 1963 until 2001. It then became the WWF/WWE Undisputed Champinship in 2001-2002. Then renamed the WWE Champinship until 2013. Then became the WWE World Heavyweight Champinship until 2016, and split into the 2 belts we have today.
Now, back to the NWA WHC. It broke to the WCW WHC from 1991 until 3/26/2001, then became the WCW World Championship until 12/9/2001. It also in 1993 was the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship, and was unified with the WCW WHC in 1994, and then merged into WWE.
Back to NWA again, ECW this time. in 1992-2001 the NWA WHC splintered into the ECW WHC, was discontinued, and then re-emerged in 2006-2010 under WWE’s excuse of ECW.
Last time! Back to the NWA belt, in 2007 the TNA WHC splintered off, and in 2017 it became the Impact Wrestling Global/World Championship. All these federations go back to the Father of all professional wrestling, the NWA. Confused? Well thanks to Wikipedia I found this awesome diagram entailing everything I just said 😉
I guess this sort of changed into a history lesson huh? But the fact is, we now have choices. Choices we havent had since the Monday Night Wars. We have WWE, Impact, Ring of Honor, the NWA, and now, All Elite Wrestling.
Thank the wrestling Gods.
As always, like it, hate it, found something incorrect, hit me up on twitter, @LaurenCR3 and let me know your thoughts, and suggest something for me to cover! I love history, if that helps!