Introduction - Symbols
Pre-1990 topics only.
what about Colon's match with Flair when both the NWA/WWC title were on the line and Colon won and the WWC title became known as the Universal Title??
<span style='color:DarkRed'>--Sitting here like a loaded gun im waiting to go off!--</span>
I did something quite similar to this some time ago as well. Here's what I posted on another board. I make no claims of this being definitive, or of taking it too seriously.
* * *
Wrestling's linear Championship
1) If a man beat a man, then that takes precedence over alphabet politics. Politics are works anyway. The argument over whether a champion can lose a title by DQ or in only one fall is so much grist for the kayfabe mill when the reality is one of promoters not getting along and forming their own factions. So whenever a dispute over the *manner* of a title loss takes place, the benefit of the doubt goes to the wrestler that gained the victory in the disputed match.
2) In the absence of any disputes, "wins" that are overturned and booked not to be actual wins (i.e., "Dusty finishes") do not count as wins. A win has to count as a win in the mind of some official body. As a corollary, if there is no dispute that a match is a non-title match, then defeats of champions in such non-title matches do not count either, because theoretically a champion knows he is not wrestling up to championship par.
3) "Failing to defend or be stripped"is just alphabet politics, not an in-ring victory.
4) A match can be for the linear Title even if it is not for any sanctioned title--- provided both wrestlers are on an equal footing (a champion in a non-title match is by definition not wrestling up to par, but two wrestlers who are both non-titlists altogether can be, by definition, on an equal footing and therefore wrestle for the linear Title), and the win itself must still qualify as a win in the eyes of some sanctioning body.
5) If a wrestler "retires," but then comes out of retirement, the lineage continues through him. This is precedented by boxing's "linear championship."
1) George Hackenschmidt
Wins world championship tournament; wins tournaments in Paris, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Elberfield, and Berlin in the same year; wins European Greco-Roman title from Tom Cannon on 02/09/04 in Liverpool, ENGLAND; wins recognition as World champion on 04/01/30 in London, ENGLAND, defeating Ahmed Madrali; defeats American title holer Tom Jenkins on 05/05/04 in New York, NY to become recognized champion in North America.
NOTE: As an inaugeral champion, that's good enough for me.
2) Frank Gotch April 3, 1908; Hackenschmidt can't continue; Chicago, IL)
NOTE: Going into this match, Gotch was the American Champion. This unified the titles. Gotch retired in 1913, severing the lineage.
3) Henry Ordmann General Historical Concensus; 1913; over Jess Westergaard; Omaha, NE.)
NOTE: Re-establishes the lineage.
4) Charlie Cutler July, 1914; from Henry Ordmann; Minneapolis, MN.)
5) Joe Stecher July 5, 1915; from Charlie Cutler; Omaha, NE.)
6) John Olin December 11, 1916; Stecher can't continue; Springfield, MA.)
NOTE: The "Olin Line" is controversial in wrestling history because even though Olin was awarded the bout by the referee, the mild-mannered Olin at first didn't publically claim the championship, which many in the press saw as a fluke victory. I install him here as a linear Champion because by definition, he beat the man who beat the man in a title match and was awarded the official victory by the referee. The "Olin Line" is disregarded by some. Earl Caddock would be the next undisputed champion.
In April, 1917, Earl Caddock defeated Joe Stetcher in Omaha to continue that lineage of the title.
7) Ed "Strangler" Lewis May 2, 1917; from John Olin; Chicago, IL.)
Wladek Zbyzsko June 5, 1917; from Ed "Strangler" Lewis; San Francisco, CA)
NOTE: Zbyszko wins the only fall in a 2 1/2 hour 2/3 falls match.
9) Ed "Strangler" Lewis July 4, 1917; Zbyszko can't continue; Boston, MA)
10) Wladek Zbyszko Dec. 22, 1917; over Ed "Strangler" Lewis; New York, NY).
NOTE: "over," and not "from," because technically Ed "Strangler" Lewis put his title up for grabs to be won in a tournament. That the tournament final included Lewis himself was incidental. Fortunately for the lineage, Zbyszko also happened to beat the then-linear champion in Lewis.
11) Earl Caddock Feb. 8, 1918; from Wladek Zbyszko via decision; Des Moines, IA)
NOTE: This unifies the disputed lineage. For some reason Zbyszko continued to claim the title (probably in protest of the decision), but that is immaterial in the lineage. A title loss is a title loss. Furthermore, Caddock would go on to defeat Zbyszko two more times decisively, as well as Lewis.
Some histories show an unrecognized title switch by Joe Manciewitz. Wrestling historian Don Luce shows that the Manciewitz-Caddock Utica, NY match is incorrectly attributed to January 1920, but actually happened Jan. 14, 1921 after Caddock had dropped the title. Therefore Manciewitz should not be included in the lineage.
12) Joe Stetcher Jan. 30, 1920; over Earl Caddock; New York, NY.)
NOTE: Caddock put his title up for grabs in a tournament, much like Ed "Strangler" Lewis previously.
13) Ed "Strangler" Lewis Dec. 13, 1920; from Joe Stetcher; New York, NY)
14) Stanislaus Zbyszko May 6, 1921; from Ed "Strangler" Lewis; New York, NY)
15) Ed "Strangler" Lewis March 3, 1922; from Stanislaus Zbyszko; Wichita, KS)
16) Wayne Munn Jan. 8, 1925; from Ed "Strangler" Lewis)
17) Stanislaus Zbyszko April 15, 1925; from Wayne Munn; Philadelphia, PA)
NOTE: This was a double-cross shoot victory, not recognized in Michigan and Illinois.
18) Joe Stetcher May 30, 1925; from Stanislaus Zbyszko; St. Louis, MO)
NOTE: On the same day, Ed "Strangler" Lewis defeats Wayne Munn in Benton Harbor, MI for the Michigan/Illinois version of the title.
19) Ed "Strangler" Lewis Feb. 21, 1928; from Joe Stetcher; St. Louis, MO)
NOTE: For the "undisputed" title. Stetcher's feet were on the ropes in the third, deciding fall.
20) Gus Sonnenberg Jan. 4, 1929; from Ed "Strangler" Lewis; Boston, MA)
NOTE: The first AWA (Boston) takes over the lineage here.
21) Ed Don George Dec. 10, 1930; from Gus Sonnenberg; Los Angeles, CA)
22) Ed "Strangler" Lewis April 14, 1931; from Ed Don George; Los Angeles, CA)
23) Henri Deglane May 4, 1931; from Ed "Strangler" Lewis via DQ; Montreal, QB)
NOTE: Whether or not one could win a title via DQ was the source of dispute here, and Ed "Strangler" Lewis would continue to be recognized in Chicago. I recognize Deglane because of the primacy of the fact of a defeat taking place over the murkier question as to whether the manner of the defeat was valid. In the absence of a priori clarity as to whether DQs counted or not, there is no reason to deny the validity of this title change.
24) Ed Don George Feb. 9, 1933; from Henri Deglane; Boston, MA)
25) Danno O'Mahoney July 30, 1935; from Ed Don George; Boston, MA)
NOTE: Danno O'Mahoney is the first undisputed champ since Ed "Strangler" Lewis.
26) Dick Shikat March 2, 1936; from Danno O'Mahoney; New York, NY)
NOTE: Boston AWA continues to recognize O'Mahoney, but historical concensus recognizes Shikat as the linear champion at this point.
27) Ali Baba April 25, 1936; from Dick Shikat; Detroit, MI)
28) Dave Levin June 12, 1936; from Ali Baba via DQ; Newark, NJ)
NOTE: The NWA (Association, not alliance) and the NBA (Boxing) continue to recognize Baba as champ. Later that year the NWA/NBA would declare their version of the title vacant.
29) Dean Detton Sept. 28, 1936; from Dave Levin; Philadelphia, PA)
NOTE: Detton also defeated Ed "Strangler" Lewis in a tournament final to solidify his claim to the title in the public mind.
30) Bronco Nagurski June 16, 1937; from Dean Detton; Minneapolis, MN)
NOTE: Nagurski was recognized as the Undisputed Champion by Ring Magazine, which historically solidifies the lineage
31) Jim Londos Nov. 18, 1938; from Bronco Nagurski; Philadelphia, PA)
NOTE: Jim Londos retires as champion in 1946.
32) Lou Thesz By historical concensus.)
NOTE: Thesz became undisputed champion through a process of unifying the following titles: the National Wrestling Alliance title awarded by forfeit over Orville Brown, injured in a car accident, being among the most significant. This NWA title, the one with the greatest longevity, began as an elevation of Orville Brown's Midwestern Wrestling Association title to world title status by NWA founder Pinkie George. Thesz also defeated National Wrestling Association champ Bill Longston (7/20/48, Indianapolis); Los Angeles version Baron Michele Leone (5/21/52, Los Angeles); and AWA (Boston) champ Gorgeous George (7/27/50, Chicago). (The AWA lineage had continued by virtue of their not recognizing the Dick Shikat title range, which then developed independently. This lineage recognizes the Shikat reign.)
Leo Nomellini defeats Thesz by disqualification in San Francisco, CA on 3/22/55; NWA (Alliance not Association) rules that the titles cannot change hands by DQ, which sets the precendence that titles cannot change hands by disqualification.
At this point, the National Wrestling Alliance title is synonymous with the Undisputed and linear World title.
33) Whipper Billy Watson March 15, 1956; from Lou Thesz via countout; Toronto, ON)
NOTE: At this point countouts are not considered a form of disqualification. A personal note on countouts. I have always thought countouts should be considered equivalent an equivalent of submission, because it is a failure to continue. If the sport were not a work, there would be nothing to prevent a champion from simply walking out, getting counted out, and retaining the title every single time.
34) Lou Thesz Nov. 9, 1956; from Whipper Billy Watson; St. Louis, MO)
Hereafter, title recognition becomes a mess. This is the most significant point of fracture, in which one has to make a calculated decision to determine lineage. The main consideration is the priority of win/loss over all other politicking decisions. Did a given man beat the man who beat the man?
Also, read this article on the fracture: http://www.wrestling-titles.com/puzzle.html
35) Edouard Carpentier June 14, 1957; from Lou Thesz by DQ when Thesz can't continue; Chicago, IL)
NOTE: Murky definitions still pervade as to what constitutes a "disqualification" as opposed to a pinfall/submission. "Can't continue" of course in boxing is a TKO, and in my view should constitute a submission equivalent.
36) Lou Thesz July 24, 1957; from Edouard Carpantier by DQ; Motreal, QC)
NOTE: Though this loss was via DQ, Carpantier withdrew his claim to the title, and the National Wrestling Alliance upheld the title loss, returning it to Thesz. The fact of a defeat takes precedence over alphabet politics; therefore, Thesz is the linear champion. (Furthermore the WWA line created by Carpantier would ultimately be absorbed by the NWA in any event.)
37) Dick Hutton November 14, 1957; from Lou Thesz; Toronto, ON)
38) Pat O'Connor Jan. 9, 1959; from Dick Hutton; St. Louis, MO)
In May, 1960, the AWA (Minnesota) recognized Pat O'Connor as its first champion, and gave O'Connor 90 days to defend against Verne Gagne. Gagne (awarded the AWA title August 16, 1960) would of course go on to become AWA Champion on many more occassions. However, there was no in-ring victory by Gagne over Pat O'Connor, however significant the AWA lineage would become in wrestling history.
From herein until further notice the linear Championship is synonymous with the NWA world title.
39) Buddy Rogers June 30, 1961; from Pat O'Connor; Chicago, IL)
40) Bobo Brazil August 18, 1962; Buddy Rogers can't continue; Newark, NJ)
NOTE: Bobo Brazil didn't accept the victory, however. Rogers had claimed he couldn't continue due to a groin injury. Historical concensus now recognizes Brazil's title reign, making him the first black champion (sorry Ron Simmons).
41) Buddy Rogers October 30, 1962; from Bobo Brazil; Toledo, OH)
42) Killer Kowalski November 21, 1962; from Buddy Rogers; Montreal, QC)
NOTE: After Rogers broke his ankle in the first fall. Some NWA territories did not recognize the title change. Here the "in-ring victory" rule takes precedence.
43) Buddy Rogers Jan. 21, 1963; from Killer Kowalski; New York, NY)
NOTE: Killer Kowalski claimed this wasn't a title match. However, this was not an undisputedly non-title match, and therefore the linear Title was at stake.
44) Lou Thesz Jan. 24, 1963; from Buddy Rogers; Toronto, ON)
NOTE: This is the next big fissure in the lineage. The northeast promoters would not recognize this one-fall victory over Rogers, formed the WWWF, and named Rogers their first champion. However important, of course, the WWF lineage would be to wrestling history, again, the fact of a win over the previous champion takes precedence here. Moreover, Thesz would defeat Rogers 2/7/63 in a two-out-of-three-falls rematch in Toronto (which retrospectively invalidates the WWWF lineage altogether, ironically).
The rather familiar NWA line continues as the linear Title....
45) Gene Kiniski Jan. 7, 1966; from Lou Thesz; St. Louis MO)
46) Dory Funk Jr. Feb. 11, 1969; from Gene Kiniski; Tampa, FL)
47) Harley Race March 24, 1973; from Dory Funk Jr.; Kansas City, MO)
48) Jack Brisco July 20, 1973; from Harley Race; Houston, TX)
49) Giant Baba Dec. 2, 1974; from Jack Brisco; Kagoshima, Japan)
NOTE: It took awhile for the World title to change hands outside the USA.
50) Jack Brisco Dec. 9, 1974; from Giant Baba; Toyohashi, Japan)
51) Terry Funk Dec. 10, 1975; from Jack Brisco; Miami, FL)
52) Harley Race Feb. 6, 1977; from Terry Funk; Toronto, ON)
53) Dusty Rhodes Aug. 21, 1979; from Harley Race; Tampa, FL)
54) Harley Race Aug. 26, 1979; from Dusty Rhodes; Orlando, FL)
55) Giant Baba Oct. 31, 1979; from Harley Race; Nagoya, Japan)
56) Harley Race Nov. 7, 1979; from Giant Baba; Amagasaki, Japan)
57) Giant Baba Sept. 4, 1980; from Harley Race; Saga, Japan)
NOTE: Some of these title switches with Baba were not mentioned on U.S. television.
58) Harley Race Sept. 9, 1980; from Giant Baba; Ohtu, Japan)
59) Tommy Rich April 27, 1981; from Harley Race; Augusta, GA)
60) Harley Race May 1, 1981; from Tommy Rich; Gainsville, GA)
61) Dusty Rhodes June 21, 1981; from Harley Race; Atlanta, GA)
62) Ric Flair Sept. 17, 1981; from Dusty Rhodes; Kansas City, MO)
63) Jack Vaneno Sept. 1982; from Ric Flair; Dominican Republic)
NOTE: This title switch was never mentioned on U.S. television.
64) Ric Flair Sept. 7, 1982; from Jack Vaneno; Dominican Republic)
NOTE: On Feb. 9, 1983 The Midnight Rider "defeats" Ric Flair in a (literal) "Dusty finish," but because the Rider refused to unmask, the title was returned to Flair. Therefore, this does not count as an in-ring victory because the win was never validated by a sanctioning body.
Hypothetically, if a group like, say, the National Wrestling Organization formed and named the Midnight Rider as their first champion, then the lineage would go forward with Midnight Rider and whomever defeated him from then on. But this never happened, and the Midnight Rider never wrestled as a champion. The storyline presupposed that Dusty Rhodes had been suspended anyway and was therefore not qualified to wrestle to begin with.)
65) Carlos Colon Jan. 6, 1983; from Ric Flair; San Juan, PR)
NOTE: This title switch, like the Jack vaneno switch, was never mentioned on U.S. television.
66) Ric Flair Jan. 23, 1983; from Carlos Colon; San Juan, PR)
67) Victor Jovica 1983; from Ric Flair; Trinidad)
NOTE: This title switch, much like the Vaneno and Colon switches, took place but were never announced in the U.S.; however, it is next to impossible to find exact dates for the switch. There is little historical dispute that the switch took place some time after the Colon switch but before the next Race switch, and that both matches took place in Trinidad.
68) Ric Flair 1983; from Victor Jovica; Trinidad)
69) Harley Race June 10, 1983; from Ric Flair; St. Louis, MO)
70) Ric Flair Nov. 24, 1983; from Harley Race; Greensboro, NC)
71) Harley Race March 21, 1984; from Harley Race; Wellington, New Zealand)
NOTE: This title switch was never mentioned on U.S. television (though it would have enhanced the "World" title credibility)
72) Ric Flair March 23, 1984; from Harley Race; Kallang, Singapore)
NOTE: For one thing, not recognizing this title switch keeps Harley Race from having the dubious distinction of the "shortest title reign" at this point in history (that honor belonging to, as far as U.S. media was concerned, Tommy Rich).
73) Kerry Von Erich May 6, 1984; from Ric Flair; Irving, TX)
74) Ric Flair May 21, 1984; from Kerry Von Erich; Yokosuka, Japan)
75) Dusty Rhodes July 26, 1986; from Ric Flair; Greensboro, NC)
76) Ric Flair August 7, 1986; from Dusty Rhodes; St. Louis, MO)
77) Ronnie Garvin Sept. 25, 1987; from Ric Flair; Detroit, MI)
78) Ric Flair Nov. 26, 1987; from Ronnie Garvin, Chicago, IL)
79) Rick Steamboat February 20, 1989; from Ric Flair; Chicago, IL)
80) Ric Flair May 7, 1989; from Rick Steamboat; Nashville, TN)
81) Sting July 7, 1990; from Ric Flair; Baltimore, MD)
82) Ric Flair Jan. 11, 1991; from Sting; East Rutherford, NJ)
NOTE: Here is where the title picture gets murky again, with the NWA ceasing operations and with WCW taking over the lineage.
83) Tatsumi Fujinami March 21, 1991; from Ric Flair; Tokyo, Japan)
NOTE: This match had a Japanese referee representing the NWA lineage and a U.S. referee representing a WCW lineage. The Japanese referee awarded the match via pinfall to Fujinami, while the WCW referee disqualified Flair for throwing Fujinami over the top rope. Even though this caused a recognition split between the NWA and WCW, in terms of the linear title, it's a win for Fujinami either way.
84) Ric Flair May 19, 1991; from Tatsumi Fujinami, St. Petersberg, FL)
NOTE: settles the previous dispute.
On July 1, 1991, WCW strips Ric Flair of their title for singing with the WWF; likewise, on Sept. 8, 1991, the NWA strips Ric Flair of their title for the same reason. (WCW would recognize Lex Luger as their champion in a top contenders match, while Masahiro Chono would win a tournament to fill the NWA title; both lineages for those organizations proceed from there.)
However, Flair never lost the linear championship in the ring. Therefore, Flair's claim of being the "Real World Champion" upon entering the WWF was not simply alphabet-organization chauvenism, but rather he was the actual linear champion.
For the first time in a long time the linear championship would be at stake without a sanctioning body to reinforce the legitimacy of the championship.
Ric Flair suffered many losses by countout or DQ at house shows during this Interregnum (including versus Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Roddy Piper), but by now it is fully established that titles do not change hands on countouts or DQs, so the linear Championship does not either.
On Jan. 19, 1992, Ric Flair won the Royal Rumble for the vacant WWF title. For the first time in history, the WWF title is synonymous with the linear Title.
The linear title continues through the WWF line:
82) Randy Savage
83) Ric Flair
84) Bret Hart
86) Hulk Hogan
88) Bret Hart
89) Bob Backlund
NOTE: Of course, Backlund was previously a long-standing WWF champion even though the linear championship rested with the NWA at the time
90) Kevin "Big Daddy Cool Diesel" Nash
91) Bret Hart
92) Shawn Michaels
93) Sycho Sid
94) Shawn Michaels
NOTE: On Feb. 13, 1997, another fracture in the lineage occurs when Shawn Michaels relinquishes the WWF title in a leg injury. The WWF title was filled in a four-way dance and had a short lineage without Michaels.
However, Shawn Michaels came out of retirement shortly thereafter. In the boxing lineage, retirements are annulled retrospectively if the boxer comes out of retirement after vacating (e.g., Joe Louis, Muhammed Ali). Using that as precedent, Michaels continues to be the linear Champion.
Michaels reunified the lineage by defeating WWF Champion Bret Hart Nov. 9, 1997 in one of the most notorious shoot double-crosses in wrestling history.
95) "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
NOTE: Title vacated on Sept. 27, 1998 when Austin is defeated simultaneously in a 3-way dance by Kane and the Undertaker.
98) The Rock
NOTE: Tournament final over Mankind. The tournament fulfills the linear Championship because both Kane and the Undertaker--- presumably the competing claimants of the linear Title--- were defeated in the tournament, which was ultimately won by the Rock.
99) Mick "Mankind" Foley
100) The Rock
102) The Rock
104) The Undertaker
107) Hunter Hearst Helmsley
108) Vince McMahon
NOTE: Vince McMahon forfeited the title Sept. 20, 1999. The WWF fills its title with a six-pack challenge match (HHH wins); but the McMahon lineage continues through to:
109) The Rock
NOTE: Pins Vince McMahon in a 6-man tag team match where the WWF title was on the line, June 25, 2000, Boston, MA. This reunites the WWF title with the linear title again.
The WWF(E) champions continue herein, from 109) The Rock through 127) John Bradshaw Layfield. (Note: This WWE title lineage becomes the WWE "Smackdown" lineage. The WWE "Raw" Lineage absorbed the title lineage beginning with Lex Luger defeating Barry Windham for the then-WCW title.)
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