The National Wrestling Alliance. I can still hear Ric Flair enunciating every syllable.
When the â<80><9c>Big Threeâ<80> were the NWA, AWA and the WWWF/WWF, the NWA always seemed to stand above the rest. Their competition spun off from them following various disputes. They were (and still are) the foundation of the wrestling business. No promotion is steeped in more history. Funny, when I was a kid, the NWA meant more to me even before seeing one match or one minute of their programming. I followed the NWA the â<80><9c>old schoolâ<80> way in the seventies and eighties â<80>” wrestling magazines.
Dory Funk, Jr., Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Jack and Jerry Brisco, Tommy Rich, and, of course, â<80><9c>Nature Boyâ<80> Ric Flair.
The WWF was showy while the NWA had some substance back in the day. Some meat on its bones. The AWA fell somewhere in between. Promotions have come and gone. They have changed ownership, image and even their name. Yet, one remains.
Yes, theyâ<80><99>re still around. In fact, a TV taping is upcoming in a studio. A STUDIO! I have written about my love for studio wrestling shows. New names carry on the legacy. Adam Pearce, Blue Demon, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. Wrestlers, not superstars. Pro grapplers, not entertainers.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when TNA dropped the NWA name. I understood why. Todayâ<80><99>s wrestling fan does not have that connection to the NWA. They wanted to establish their own identity. I get it. Still, it was cool to see the NWA name (and that belt) featured so prominently.
And what would the NWA be without that championship belt. Thereâ<80><99>s something about that classic, pre-â<80><9c>Big Goldâ<80> belt. Itâ<80><99>s not the biggest. Itâ<80><99>s not the prettiest. My first reaction to is was that the center was shaped more like a beer can. I didnâ<80><99>t truly appreciate it until it was replaced by the title belt you see today.
When I was with WOW Magazine, I did a feature on replica belts. I was sent about five of them to keep. My favorite? Of course, the NWA belt. My son preferred the ECW title and my daughter was enamored with the colorful WWF European strap. Not me.
Did I wear it during private moments? A mark will never tell. Sadly, it had to go via eBay when the geniuses who ran WOW went bankrupt.
Sighâ<80>¦if anyone has a spare oneâ<80>¦
I didnâ<80><99>t see that strap on TV again until ECW champion Shane Douglas, under orders of Paul Heyman, threw it down to the mat and refused to accept it after winning a tournament to crown a new champ. I know itâ<80><99>s not a popular viewpoint, but I still consider that one of the biggest a-hole moves in the industry, no matter how much impact it had at the time. Seriously, did it help? Did ECW become truly renegade, truly â<80><9c>extremeâ<80> over the long haul?
Watch Sci Fi on Tuesday night and report back to me on the effects of that â<80><9c>trail blazingâ<80> move, will ya?