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World Title Lineage

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World Title Lineage

Postby IDMT13 » 2002/10/07 Mon 8:43 pm

After Eric Bichoff intorduced Raw's "World Heavyweight Title", I took up the task of attempting to trace the lineage of the title, actual and fictional. I looked through the title histories on this site and others to see if I can come up with something that resembles a true lineage of the title since the 18th century, through to modern times. I came up with an extensive written article, and a rough diagram, (<a href='http://idmt13.mailru.com/diagram.gif' target='_blank'>Click Here</a> to view. Note that the diagram is somewhat misleading (and due to being made in MS Paint for lack of time, quite unsightly) and does assume certain things.

From my research, this is basically the information I gathered:

February 6th 1877: William Muldoon def. Christol. Earned recognition as the first World Champion.
September 4, 1902: George Hackenschmidt def. Tom Cannon in Liverpool, England for the title that came to be known as the Greco-Roman Heavyweight Championship in Europe.

March 2, 1893: Evan "Strangler" Lewis def. Ernest Roeber for American Greco-Roman title, unifying it with his Catch-as-Catch-Can title, becoming the American Heavyweight Title.

April 3, 1908: Frank Gotch (American Champion) def. George Hackenschmidt (European Greco-Roman Champion). The resulting title became the <a href='http://www.puroresu.com/titles/world/world-h/' target='_blank'>World Heavyweight Title</a>.

[Follow the link above for further explaination]

Eventually we get to a point when the only two titles that race their lineage to the aforementioned World Heavyweight Title are the <a href='http://www.puroresu.com/titles/nwa/world/nwa-h.html' target='_blank'>NWA (Alliance)</a> and <a href='http://www.puroresu.com/titles/boston/ma-awa-h.html' target='_blank'>AWA (Boston) </a> versions of the title.

June 6, 1957: Edouard Carpentier vs. Lou Thesz. We know the story of this match, and which man was recognized where. Except for <a href='http://www.puroresu.com/titles/awa/omaha.html#570614' target='_blank'>Omaha</a>, all other divisions would eventually lead into either the WWWF, or back into the NWA. Omaha, meanwhile, would be joined with the modern <a href='http://www.puroresu.com/titles/awa/awa-h.html#unified' target='_blank'>AWA</a>, which would close in 1991. (*1)

January 24, 1963: Buddy Rogers vs. Lou Thesz. This was what resulted in the formation of the <a href='http://www.puroresu.com/titles/wwf/wwf-h.html' target='_blank'>WWWF</a>, and branch the title in another direction (*2)

Then, WCW's split from the NWA (in both the "International" Title in 1991, and the World Title in 1993, which would later be unified) branched the lineage once again. WWF's purchace of WCW unified the two breanches in 2001. Whether thr bastard of a title that Triple H holds is this one is questionable.(*3)

The formation of ECW and its disbanding the NWA in 1994 technically takes the title in yet another direction. the promotions death in 2001 ended the lineage of that branch of the title (*4)

The NWA World Heavyweight Championship, in its current form, is held by Ron Killings. (*5)

So, in theory, to be unified again, one would have to purchace the rights to the AWA and ECW, then unify the NWA title with the WWE title (and possibly the Raw version). Would I be correct in assuming that?

Are there any other branches of the actual World Heavyweight Championship unaccounted for here? I understand that certain states whose titles stemmed from the NWA title now recognize their own independent champions, but they are not considered "World" Champions. As far as I can tell, there aren't any other significant lineages. What I'm basically asking is, would the above representation (the diagram) be correct, or is there something missing?
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Postby Luds » 2002/10/08 Tue 8:04 am

That looks good dude... I'd like to hear what Dan has to say about your work... He seems to know all the details when it comes to promotions and history... What do you think Dan?
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Postby Hisaharu Tanabe » 2002/10/08 Tue 10:20 am

I'm not Dan and usually leave this kind of stuff for him since he can explain much better, but I just wanted to mentioned one thing. According to your view, I guess Unified World Title (USWA) should be also considered as a "branch" of AWA title. The title claim was started when AWA and WCWA titles were unified.
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Postby Hijo de Carlos » 2002/10/08 Tue 11:23 am

I can't see any reason why the ECW world title should be considered a branch of the NWA world title....
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Postby necrosis215 » 2002/10/08 Tue 2:27 pm

So, in theory, to be unified again, one would have to purchace the rights to the AWA and ECW, then unify the NWA title with the WWE title (and possibly the Raw version). Would I be correct in assuming that?


Actually, Vince said at the last shareholders' meeting that he is currently going through trying to purchase the rights to ECW material. That means he will hold all of their TV footage, along with WWE and WCW and also their titles will be able to be reactivated. I think Vince will probably suceed in doing this so we may see that part of the equation phased out.

The only real problem I can see, especially while Vince is in charge, is the unification of NWA/WWE. NWA is Vince's main competiton now and from past mistakes (WCW) he's learned that he needs a competative market (amongst other things) in order to attract a crowd. Perhaps, at the end of wrestling, the two will be unified, but I doubt it. It certainly doesn't seem plausable in the near future.

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Postby Americancyco » 2002/10/08 Tue 4:22 pm

Okay here are the problems I have with it.

ECW title has nothing to do with the NWA title. The title was around before the NWA tournament, they just renamed the title after the one night torunament.

My other problem is if you wanna go by your title history I don't ever see where the status of world title should have evr come off of the NWA title. Now I'm not saying the NWA title is the real world title but by what you posted here I don't see any reason to see why any of the other federatiosn would have any right to lay claim to world title, just because they pulled out of the NWA

Hisa if you wanna bring up the USWA title, then I guess you could say that unifed the NWA Americas title with the AWA title becuase the old World Class "world title" was nothing more then a national title.
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Postby IDMT13 » 2002/10/08 Tue 5:34 pm

Well, apparently ECW shouldn't be up there. Even though without that NWA Title win, we don't know if ECW's Title would be elevated to World status or not. Either way, it doesn't really belong there. And if it does, vince's purchase of ECW assets will negate the whole thing anyway.

I can see how USWA can be a branch, since its title was born out of the AWA one. But it's debateable, since the AWA did split with CWA right after the unification... If I want to keep things uniform though, then it should be included.

To address the issue about what the real world title is, in theory, they all came from one original recognition. That being the "World Heavyweight Championship", which George Hackenschmidt (or Frank Gotch, depending on interpretation) unified, or just held first. The NWA title wasn't the Undisputed one, as Lou Thesz claimed, because he didn't hold the AWA (Boston) title at the time.

In any case though, if the originas of a particular promotion's "World Championship" can be traced back to the World Heavyweight Championship, then they should be included in the lineage. In the event that sometime, in the distant wrestling future, someone somehow unifies it again, the only legitimate way to do so would be to get all the branches of that original Title. What I'm trying to do is trace all of them, and try to make some sense out of the big picture.
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Postby Dan Poutsma » 2002/10/09 Wed 3:34 am

Originally posted by Luds
That looks good dude... I'd like to hear what Dan has to say about your work... He seems to know all the details when it comes to promotions and history... What do you think Dan?


Well, here's my opinion:

The ECW title may or may not be included, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, you can argue that it was already in existence and merely "elevated" to world title status. On the other hand though, you can argue that when Douglas discarded the NWA title and they changed their acronym from "Eastern" to "Extreme", they created a completely different championship. Plus, in reality, the two ECW's actually were different companies, since Tod Gordon really did form an entirely new corporation called Extreme Championship Wrestling, Inc. a few days after he split from the NWA.

As for the USWA "Unified" World title, I wouldn't include it. It was formed as a result of the "unification" of the AWA and WCCW titles. But even though the WCCW title was created as a result of Fritz's promotion leaving the NWA, unlike the other titles mentioned, it was not born directly out of the NWA championship itself. In order for it to be a legitimate branch, IMO, both of it's "parent" titles would have to be legitimate. But since one isn't, then I don't count it.
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Postby Hijo de Carlos » 2002/10/09 Wed 4:53 am

also, why would Vince need to purchase the rights to the AWA and ECW in order to claim a true "undisputed" world title? Those organisations are gone/dead/defunct and therefore can in no way be considered disputed branches of the world title in 2002....

On another point, altho they are in no way connected with the original "world hvywt title", many observers consider the IWGP title and the Triple Crown to be the world's most prestigious titles and, if anything, more deserving of world title status than any US-based title - where would they fit into the picture?
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Postby IDMT13 » 2002/10/09 Wed 2:48 pm

Originally posted by Hijo de Carlos
also, why would Vince need to purchase the rights to the AWA and ECW in order to claim a true "undisputed" world title?  Those organisations are gone/dead/defunct and therefore can in no way be considered disputed branches of the world title in 2002....

On another point, altho they are in no way connected with the original "world hvywt title", many observers consider the IWGP title and the Triple Crown to be the world's most prestigious titles and, if anything, more deserving of world title status than any US-based title - where would they fit into the picture?


I see your point about the defunct promotions. But let's say somebody (Not McMahon) purchsed the AWA rights, and restarted the company? The title's lineage would be legitimate, and therefore, still disputed.

I'm not sure if I'd consider the Triple Crown to be just as prestigious. As of today, it may be, but it's still three secondary titles unified into one. It's like the WWE Title, which originally started out as a territorial belt, but attained it's World status today. That one though, can be traced back to Hackenschmidt, and even William Muldoon. The Triple Crown was born out of several secondary titles, which don't have such a lineage. The IWGP title I can understand, due to its heritage, but it has no link to the lineage I'm trying to trace, so it doesn't apply.


After reading Dan's post, I'm not sure what to do with the USWA. On the one hand, it was born out of the AWA title, though that title was only a part of it for just over a month. I don't think I'll include it, since the promotion is defunct as it is (and owned by Jerry Lawler, no less).

ECW, I'll probably leave on there. If the company born out of shane Douglas' win is a new one, as Dan mentioned, then it should definitely be included. Especially since the ECW World Title was established because of the NWA World Title.

A big thanks to everyone who replied. I'm pretty sure I got the lineage down correctly, except for the early 1900s history, which is still somewhat blurry.
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Postby Americancyco » 2002/10/09 Wed 3:09 pm

I still disagree on the ECW title. Even if they changed the name of the belt Douglas held the same title just a new name. The belt has no real connection to the NWA title. It is clear where the WWWF/ AWA and WCW titles came out of the nWA title, the ECW title didn't.

The triple crown is made up of three lesser titles? Wow that's the first I ever heard someone say that. United National, PWF and International world title are lesser titles?

As for the IWGP how about when Fujinami held both the IWGP and NWA title at the same title in the title for title match vs Ric Flair? If you want to say ECW can lay claim to world title then so should IWGP.

Finally AWA is still around as far as I know. It's just really small and really bad. But that title could still be considered active.
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Postby Rex Idol » 2002/10/09 Wed 4:39 pm

I could easily be wrong, but I thought the current AWA was completely different from the old one. I thought it stood for All-Star Wrestling Association, or something like that.

Does anyone know more about this, like is Verne involved with the new one?


Alos, I remember reading in PWI back in '89 0r '90, that the AWA was stripped of it's World title status after Larry Legend's battle royal win. Does that factor in at all?
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Oh, by the way, IDMT13...

Postby Hisaharu Tanabe » 2002/10/09 Wed 4:43 pm

I think you really did a great job on the diagram.

It all depends on each person's perspective, but it's (usually) fun to discuss on this topic.
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Postby IDMT13 » 2002/10/09 Wed 6:31 pm

Without the NWA tournament, we just don't know if the ECW title would have reached its world status. And if it really did become a new company after breaking away from the NWA, and the championship became the ECW World Championship (instead of the Eastern Championship), then it should be included. Similar to how Omaha, Boston, Minneapolis and others disbanded from the NWA, and their lineages trace beack to the NWA title, ECW's should too.

As far as the Triple Crown is concerned, as I understand it, it's the NWA International, NWA United National and PWF titles unified, none of which were at World Championship status before the unification. In any event, as pretigious as the title is now, it's still not connected to the lineages being traced. The same thing goes for the IWGP title. Even though Fujinami held it, and the NWA World title at the same time, the two were never unified, and their lineages never intertwined.

About the AWA, according to <a href='http://www.awastars.com/' target='_blank'>this website</a>, the current AWA is owned by Dale Gagne, and has been active since he purchased the rights to it from bankruptcy court in 1996. Apparently, its World Champion is Evan Karagias. ****, I didn't think it was still around...

Oh and thanks for the nice words, Hisa.
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Postby Dan Poutsma » 2002/10/09 Wed 8:38 pm

I'm still undecided as to whether or not I'd personally consider Dale Gagner's AWA title to be the exact same championship as Verne Gagne's AWA title.

On the one hand, sure, Gagner owns the intellectual property that is the AWA trademark, and therefore is legally entitled to say that his championship was once held by Verne, Nick Bockwinkle, Curt Hennig, etc.

But on the other hand though, there was no direct assignment of ownership from Verne's company to his. As previously mentioned, he acquired the rights to it in bankruptcy court. So in that particular sense, it's not really the same title since there was no "transfer of power" from one promoter to another (although I suppose you could include the court as being the middleman and the link between the two, but of course, that would be strictly a legal issue).

If Vince McMahon ever officially gets his hands on the ECW trademark, the same question would be up for debate. Would it be the same title? Legally, the answer would be yes, but what about in actuality?

I just think that these are some interesting philosophical queries to ponder because it helps us sort out what should or should not be included as essential elements when it comes to determining a title's history, especially when you have a situation like the one I just discussed.
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