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I am just learning about pro wrestling history which took place before where my personal recollections kick in (the Attitude era of WWF and the Monday Night Wars). I have been studying the history of the WWE Championship, and I see that Buddy Rogers was awarded the first WWWF Heavyweight belt due to some sort of dispute over (to my understanding) Rogers dropping the NWA World Heavyweight belt to Lou Thesz on Jan. 24, 1963.
Is there any way someone can either elaborate on what is known about this event, or else redirect me to a site which has the details? Thank you all in advance.
The dispute over the title change was just an explanation on paper.
Simply put, Vince Sr. wanted his own world champion for his territory which had grown strong enough to be independent from the NWA.
McMahon and Toots Mondt virtually monopolized Rogers, and many NWA member promoters, including then-NWA president Doc Sapolis of Amarillo, didn't get to book their world heavyweight champion. This caused problems within the NWA. Some promoters, including Sarpolis, Paul Jones (Atlanta), and Stu Hart (Calgary), recognized their own heavyweight champions. Some may have brought the AWA champ in for their territories. To bring the unity back to the NWA, the promoters agreed to ask Lou Thesz to be the champ once again.
Thesz beat Rogers on 1963/01/24 in Toronto for the title. In the story line, McMahon disputed the title change and continued to recognized Rogers as the champ because the match was only for one fall. However, Thesz beat Rogers in a three-fall match on 1963/02/07 in Toronto. Now, McMahon had to come up with a different idea and started claiming that Rogers had won a tournament in Rio de Janeiro. The rest is history.
AWA, which was founded by Verne Gagne in 1960, and WWWF weren't really "competing" with the NWA. Three organizations continued to work together behind the scenes, but on paper, existences of AWA and WWWF showed that NWA wasn't practicing the monopoly in professional wrestling.
I'd suggest you to read National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly that Strangled Pro Wrestling by Tim Hornbaker. This excellent book goes further in detail.
Another factor in it, according to my understanding, was that Rogers was a big money maker for McMahon and Mondt; whereas in the NWA territories in the south and central United States Rogers didn't draw as much. Thesz was their main eventer.
BOB ORTON (1929-2006)
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