Jay Cal’s View: #174 (A History of the NWA in SoCal)

The National Wrestling Alliance Worlds Heavyweight Championship will be defended this Sunday at the Oceanview Pavilion in Pt Hueneme, for the first time in over five years.   The Champion Tim Storm will defend the Legendary 10lbs of Gold against Nick Aldis.  The new NWA has been doing a short documentary entitled, Ten Pounds of Gold introducing new fans to who Tim Storm is.  A new audience is being introduced to the National Wrestling Alliance, even though the NWA isn’t new to Southern California.  The NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title actually has a pretty rich history of being defended in Southern California.  Even prior to David Marquez’s Championship Wrestling from Hollywood joining the NWA, the Worlds Heavyweight Championship was defended 108 times from 1948 to 2005, in Southern California.  The title would be defended by the likes of Orville Brown, Lou Thesz, Billy Watson, Gene Kiniski, Dory Funk Jr., Jack Brisco, Terry Funk, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and AJ Styles.  Styles was the first champion to defend the title in SoCal since Flair.  (Also if you haven’t watch the 30 for 30 on the Nature Boy, I highly recommend it.)

The match announcement for Storm and Aldis came exactly 69 years to the day that the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship first was defended in Hollywood California when Orville Brown (who was the first NWA World Champion) would retain his title in a match with “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers at the Hollywood Legion Stadium with 4,500 people in attendance.  Later Rogers and and Brown would run to a  90 minute time limit draw.  It was some 40 years ago the last time the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship was defended in Ventura County, Harley Race and Victor Rivera battle to a double disqualification in Oxnard, April 7th 1977.  The last time the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship was defended in Southern California, Colt Cabana defeated Adam Pearce for the title at the Glendale Studios at Championship Wrestling from Hollywood as part of the Seven Levels of Hate (Best of Seven Series), in which Cabana drew First Blood for the victory, in 2012.  In fact Cabana winning the championship from Pearce a year earlier at the Regent Showcase Theater would mark the first time the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship would change hands in Southern California.

Lou Thesz is probably remembered as the greatest NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, mostly due to the fact that he unified “World” titles all across the United States.  On May 21st 1952, Thesz and his opponent Baron Michele Leone would make history when they fought at the Gilmore Field in Los Angeles.  Both Thesz’ Worlds Heavyweight Championship and Leone’s Grand Olympic World Title were on the line.  The event drew just over 25,000 fans (to this date the second largest crowd in history to watch a wrestling event) and was the first pro-wrestling gate to draw over $100,000.00.  Lou Thesz was inducted into the Southern California Pro-Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003. Baron Michele Leone would be inducted in 2004.

The NWA’s relationship in Southern California got shaky in 1957.  The Los Angeles Office continued to recognize Edouard Carpentier as Champion (even though he was defeated by Thesz) due to controversial circumstances and would start referring to the promotion as the North American Wrestling Alliance. They would later rename themselves Worldwide Wrestling Associates in 1961 before rejoining the NWA in 1968 as NWA Hollywood.  Wednesday November 6th at the Grand Olympic, Gene Kiniski would bring the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship back to Southern California and defend his title against El Medico

March 5th 1976 was also a big championship bout for Southern California, because it pitted Chavo Guerrero against Terry Funk. Guerrero a few nights earlier went to a 60 minute time limit draw in San Diego. So when the duo faced off at the Grand Olympic fans were shocked that Chavo would win the match. However, it was due to the champion being disqualified. Chavo was already very popular in the area, but it helped push him as a bigger star.  Chavo would go on to feud with Roddy Piper in one of the biggest feuds of the area.

1982 would see the NWA Hollywood fold.  AWA and WWE would both start running in the area, but the NWA Worlds Title was gone again from SoCal.  The Nature Boy Ric Flair would defend the title in 1984 in Los Angeles against Magnum TA.  Flair would retain the title by disqualification.  Ric Flair would have defense in San Francisco and Los Angeles through out the rest of the 80s.  But title again would become absent in Southern California until 2005.  AJ Styles who was the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion and the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Heavyweight Champion put both titles on the line against James Noble at PWG’s Guitarmageddon at the Hollywood-Los Feliz JCC in Los Angeles California.

Of course in 2007 the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship became closely affiliated with Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and would showcase in Southern California; Pearce, Blue Demon Jr., and Cabana as champion.  The title’s return was cause for celebration for long-time NWA fans and fans of Championship Wrestling from Hollywood.

The winner of the match will be in action at Tried N True Pro Wrestling the following Friday in Clarksville Tennessee.  To keep up with what’s happening in the National Wrestling Alliance please follow www.alliance-wrestling.com



1 Comment on "Jay Cal’s View: #174 (A History of the NWA in SoCal)"

  1. Mark Kausch | 11/08/2017 at 9:20 PM |

    Jay Cal’s Who? Welcome back, bro!

Comments are closed.