A comprehensive history, from the RSPW FAQ
at http://www.thesmarks.com/home/rspwfaq/part2/nwa.asp...I've edited it to make it more cohesive.
The NWA was and is the National Wrestling Alliance.
In an effort to get around strict antitrust laws in the United States
six mid-west promoters, Sam Muchnick, Al Haft, Harry Light, Pinky George,
Tony Stecher, and Orville Brown agreed to work together and recognize a
single 'World' champion in the heavyweight, Jr.-Heavyweight and Lt.-Heavyweight
divisions. Representing the promotions in St. Louis, Des Moines, Kansas
City, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Columbus, OH the N.W.A. named Mid-Western
Wrestling Association champion Orville Brown the first N.W.A. World champion
on July 14, 1948.
It should be noted that any attempts to trace the NWA World Heavyweight
title back further than this are necessarily fictitious. The organization
simply did not exist. The NWA's immediate predecessor as the most widely
recognized world title was the National Wrestling Association championship
which was held by Lou Thesz at the time of the formation of the NWA.
A title unification match was scheduled for November 25, 1949 between Thesz
and Brown and it is believed that Brown was scheduled to win that match.
However, Brown suffered a career ending injury in a car accident prior
to the match. On November 27, 1949, Thesz was awarded the NWA title.
From its formation in 1948 until 1980 the N.W.A. grew into the largest
and most recognized wrestling promotion around. For over 35 years the N.W.A.
was the true power in pro-wrestling. It had the most prestigious 'World'
heavyweight title because it was truly defended around the world.
At its greatest point the N.W.A. had twenty-six promotions and countless
promoters around the world including the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan
and Australia. Some of these promoters were Frank Tunney (Canada), Clarence
Luttrell, Fred Kohler, Bob Geigel (Central States), Jim Crockett (Mid-Atlantic),
Jim Barnett, Eddie Graham (Florida), Jack Adkisson (World Class), Don
Owen (Pacific Northwest), Shohie Baba (All-Japan), Steve Rickard (Australia/New
Zealand) as well as others. In the 1980s, however, things started to fall
apart when at the end of 1980 the Los Angeles promotion run by Gene &
Mike Lebell's closed. Almost a year later Roy Shire's San Francisco promotion
Also in the 1980s cable TV started to changed the whole face of wrestling
as promoters could now get simultaneous national exposure for their shows.
Ole Anderson, who was running Georgia Championship Wrestling, was the
first to try to take advantage of cable TV by promoting outside his own
territory. He ran shows throughout Ohio and Michigan,
as well as in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other areas. The promotion changed
its name from Georgia Championship Wrestling to World Championship Wrestling
(WCW) and for a while in 1983 gave up the rights to the Georgia territories
to try to promote nationally. In the summer of 1983 it was rumored that
WCW was pulling out of the N.W.A. after they chose not to announce that
Harley Race had defeated Ric Flair for the world title on June 10,
1983. Eventually they did recognize Race and continued within the N.W.A.,
including a planned joint promotional effort with Jim Crockett's Mid-Atlantic
promotion into the Northeast.
Despite what some saw as Ole's basic mismanagement, WCW was doing pretty
well competing against the other group that was trying to go national:
Vince McMahon's WWF. The competition ended in May 1984 when Jack &
Jerry Brisco, the top investors in World Championship Wrestling sold control
of the company to Vince McMahon. The WWF took over the TV slot on TBS.
Very few of the wrestlers from Georgia agreed to work for McMahon, and
Anderson formed a new group, which came under the control of Jim Crockett
by March 1985. Crockett then paid McMahon $1 million to get back the rights
to the TBS time slot and the World Championship Wrestling name.
However this caused problems for other N.W.A. members. Toronto
had featured Jim Crockett's wrestlers since October 1978 and was the
first territory to bring in talent from Mid-Atlantic. Now Crockett no longer
felt that he could spare his wrestlers for shows in Toronto, and the quality
of the Toronto cards plummeted. With his area starved for talent, Jack
Tunney had little choice but to make a deal with Vince McMahon--taking
one of the hottest areas for wrestling out of the N.W.A. and into the WWF.
In 1985, Jim Crockett announced that he would no longer allow N.W.A.
Champion Ric Flair to accept more than 2 dates per week outside Crockett-promoted
shows. Also from that point on, promoters would have to pay a guaranteed
amount, rather than the 8% of the gate that was traditionally paid to the
N.W.A. Champion. Crockett would later also insist that he supply the wrestlers
for the top half of the card for any show on which Ric Flair appeared.
This pretty much marked the end of the N.W.A. as it had existed since 1948.
In February 1986, Fritz Von Erich, in an effort to take World Class
national, pulled his promotion out of the N.W.A. and recognized his own
world champion. Later in the year, Crockett took over the St. Louis promotion,
the flagship of the N.W.A. since 1948, and brought in his own wrestlers
for shows there. He also briefly took control of Bob Geigel's Central States
promotion in Kansas City. Geigel tried to start up again in February 1987
and briefly recognized his own world champion before the promotion folded
Crockett bought out the Florida territory in February 1987, and a few
months later took control of Bill Watts' UWF (formerly Mid-South and which
was not part of the N.W.A.). By the end of the year, all of the territories
had been homogenized into a single Crockett-controlled entity, which still
ran under the name N.W.A., but really had little to do with the group that
had existed for the preceding 40 years. The only former N.W.A. territories
that still operated in the US were Don Owen's Pacific Northwest in Portland,
and Continental in Alabama, both of which no longer claimed ties to the
On 01/01/1991, WCW officially dropped the NWA name entirely and
operated without a World champion or World tag team champions for a period
of 10 days. They continued to recognize the Mid-Atlantic version
of the NWA US title, which was held by Lex Luger at that point, as well
as the Mid-Atlantic version of the NWA World TV title, which was held by
Tom Zenk. These two titles were renamed the WCW US title and WCW
TV title, respectively, and have direct lineage to the original NWA versions
of the titles.
On 01/11/1991, Ric Flair defeated Sting to win the NWA World title,
and immediately afterwards WCW named him as the first WCW World champion.
It cannot be pointed out strongly enough at this point that these were
TWO DIFFERENT TITLES. Ric Flair was simultaneously NWA and
WCW World champion, and one title did not follow from the other.
The WCW World title was created completely separate from the NWA World
title and has NO direct lineage to the NWA World title, aside from the
fact that the NWA champion happened to be the first WCW champion.
In 1992, after the re-creation of the NWA, Masa Chono was established
as NWA World champion. His reign, and those of the Great Muta and
Barry Windham are regarded as legitimate World titles. WCW pulled
out of the NWA for good in 1993, however, which rendered the "NWA World
championship" being defended in WCW totally meaningless. When Ric Flair,
as WCW World champion defeated Sting, the WCW "International World champion",
to "unify" the titles, it actually unified nothing, as the NWA had died
many months prior to this match.
On November 19, 1994, Dennis Coralluzzo finally crowned a new N.W.A.
World Heavyweight Champion in a tournament in New Jersey. There
was controversy again when promoter Jim Crockett, who did not like the
choice for champion and, according to some, was upset that he would not
be able to control the champion as he did in the 1980's refused to recognize
tournament winner Chris Candido as the N.W.A. Champion. Several independent
promoters did recognized Candido as the N.W.A. World Champion, including
Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling.
In January 1995 rumors circulated that the N.W.A. Board served Crockett
dismissal papers. At the same time Crockett began to claim he and
Coralluzzo ran two different promotions that both used the N.W.A. name.
Crockett and the N.W.A. seemed to have an uneasy agreement where Crockett
used the N.W.A. name and agreed not to crown another N.W.A. "World" champion.
Today, the N.W.A. still exists, however it has returned more to its
original form of small independent promoters, currently 15, who recognize
a single World Heavyweight Champion. The only relation it bears to the
N.W.A. of mid-to-late 1980s is the name.