Bob Trobich, longtime legal counsel and current Executive Director for the NWA, has been posting on their message forum and a couple of days ago gave his account of the legal events concerning the Big Gold Belt in the early '90s with Ric Flair, the NWA, and WCW in condensed form. Here is what he said:
-JIm Crockett Promotions had the belt made in the mid-80s.
-Ric Flair fired by WCW in 1991; the NWA publicly supports Flair and there is some discussion of him working smaller NWA shows.
-Flair begins negotiating and/or signs with WWF and rumors begin circulating that he is going to appear with the belt on TV. There is some talk of doing an NWA angle.
-Flair appears with the belt in the WWF and WCW tells NWA it is willing to commit funds and foot all legal fees for a court battle; NWA strips Flair and begins legal proceedings. The belt is pixelated, etc.
-Despite some reports, the NWA never recognized Lex Luger as champion after stripping Flair and the title was vacant until Chono won the tournament in Japan.
-JIm Crockett's story about the history of the belt tended to change depending on the audience, but during the WWF lawsuit he signed an affidavit stating that he gave ownership to the NWA.
-Flair had paperwork on the $25,000 bond he posted as security on the belt, but did claim that Crockett personally gave him the belt at some point as a gift.
-Trobich did not act directly as legal counsel for the NWA during the lawsuit because he was a potential fact witness and had previously represented Flair.
-Flair is paid a money settlement, for the most part covering his security bond plus interest, and the belt is returned to the NWA/WCW.
-NWA sues WCW in Sept. 1993 for continuing to promote an NWA title match between Flair and Rick Rude for their Fall Brawl PPV after the organizations split (WCW had also planned to make Rude champion without first getting NWA approval); during the hearing, a lawyer who had represented the NWA during the WWF lawsuit shows up on behalf of WCW with an alleged "bill of sale" indicating that ownership of the belt and it's associated "goodwill" were transferred from NWA to WCW. The document is allegedly signed by a WCW vice president and NWA president Seiji Sakaguchi of New Japan. Trobich claims that this had never been disclosed before and that there was never any corporate record documenting any such "sale". He also claimed conflict of interest since the lawyer had previously represented the NWA. The judge rules the document vague but valid and allows the match to proceed as scheduled. Trobich considers another lawsuit over the validity and interpretation of the document, but wasn't specific as to whether or not it was actually pursued. Obviously the belt stayed with WCW, and in the midst of all the legal rangling, the promotion changed the name several times from NWA title to World title to Gold Belt to WCW Internatonal World title, as in the World title recognized by WCW's international contingent of promoters, aka "WCW International", supposedly representing such places as Europe, Asia, and Japan.
-As an addendum, he also stated that Magnum T.A. has always maintained that Flair gave him the belt while he was in the hospital following his near fatal car accident, but has never made any legal claim to it.
The Atlanta-based organization owned by Turner Broadcasting.
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Thanks for sharing this with us. If I remember correctly, this is the first time we heard from someone who was actually involved with the event.