List of NWA World Heavyweight Champions
The NWA World Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship in the National Wrestling Alliance. Its lineage has been traced from the first World Heavyweight Championship, which traces its lineage to Georg Hackenschmidt's 1905 title and Frank Gotch's 1908 version. This effectively makes it the oldest surviving wrestling championship in the world.
† Unofficial title changes not recognized by the NWA.
|1||Orville Brown||1||January 5, 1948||692||Des Moines, IA||Live event||Defeated Sonny Myers. In July 1948, the current version of National Wrestling Alliance is founded and Brown is recognized as the first official NWA World champion. Brown was previously the Midwest Wrestling Association champion.|
|2||Lou Thesz||1||November 27, 1949||1941||—||—||Awarded when Brown suffers career-ending injuries in an automobile accident on November 1, 1949. The title is also unified with the World Heavyweight Championship (National Wrestling Association). Thesz became the Undisputed Champion of all of wrestling by winning the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium World Heavyweight Title, the remaining major World Championship at the time other than the NWA World Title, on May 21, 1952.|
|—||Leo Nomellini||1†||March 22, 1955||115||San Francisco, CA||Live event||Defeated Thesz by countout in the second round and disqualification in the third round. California Athletic Commission recognized the title change by disqualification, but both wrestlers continue to claim the title.|
|—||Lou Thesz||2†||July 15, 1955||244||Toronto, ON||Live event||Defeated Nomellini in a rematch.|
|3||Whipper Billy Watson||1||March 15, 1956||239||Toronto, ON||Live event|
|4||Lou Thesz||2(3)||November 9, 1956||217||St. Louis, MO||Live event|
|—||Édouard Carpentier||1†||June 14, 1957||40||Chicago, IL||Live event||Carpentier was awarded the title by disqualification when Thesz could not continue the match due to a back injury. In some territories, Thesz continued to be recognized as NWA champion while, in others, Carpentier was billed as the champion.|
|—||Lou Thesz||4†||July 24, 1957||113||Montreal, Quebec||Live event||Lou Thesz won a rematch against Carpentier by disqualification. The NWA initially continued to recognize Carpentier as the champion, but voids any recognition of Carpentier as champion when he withdrew the claim for the title when Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn quit the NWA in August 1958. Some territories such as Boston (AAC), Nebraska and Los Angeles (NAWA/WWA) continued to recognize Carpentier as NWA World Champion. The AAC recognized Killer Kowalski as World Champion when he defeated Carpentier in Boston. Nebraska later recognized Verne Gagne as World Champion when he defeated Carpentier in Omaha. The NAWA/WWA recognized Freddie Blassie as World Champion when he defeated Carpentier in 1961.|
|5||Dick Hutton||1||November 14, 1957||421||Toronto, ON||Live event|
|6||Pat O'Connor||1||January 9, 1959||903||St. Louis, MO||Live event||The AWA, under Verne Gagne, seceded from the NWA and declared O'Connor their first World Champion in May 1960. This was considered a compromise gesture by the AWA given that Gagne held Édouard Carpentier's disputed version of the title. O'Conner was given 90 days to defend the AWA title against number one contender Gagne and when he did not, the title was awarded to Gagne.|
|7||Buddy Rogers||1||June 30, 1961||414||Chicago, IL||Live event||On August 2, 1962, Bruno Sammartino defeated Rogers in Toronto, but refused to accept the title because Rogers had wrestled with an injury.|
|—||Bobo Brazil||1†||August 18, 1962||73||Newark, NJ||Live event||Brazil refused the title because of a groin injury that Rogers had claimed to have. However, on September 6, 1962, Brazil is declared champion because a doctor had determined that Rogers hadn't suffered an injury. This title change isn't recognized by the NWA.|
|—||Buddy Rogers||2†||October 30, 1962||86||Toledo, OH||Live event||Killer Kowalski defeated Rogers on November 21, 1961 in Montreal after Rogers broke his ankle in the first fall but was only recognized as champion in some states. Rogers defeated him on January 21, 1963 in New York, but Kowalski claimed the match wasn't for the title.|
|8||Lou Thesz||3(5)||January 24, 1963||1079||Toronto, ON||Live event||Promoters in the northeast United States refuse to recognize Rogers' one-fall loss to Thesz, thus breaking away from the NWA to form a new promotion, the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Rogers is declared the first WWWF World Heavyweight Champion soon after.|
|9||Gene Kiniski||1||January 7, 1966||1131||St. Louis, MO||Live event|
|10||Dory Funk||1||February 11, 1969||1563||Tampa, FL||Live event|
|11||Harley Race||1||May 24, 1973||57||Kansas City, MO||Live event|
|12||Jack Brisco||1||July 20, 1973||500||Houston, TX||Live event|
|13||Giant Baba||1||December 2, 1974||7||Kagoshima, Japan||Live event|
|14||Jack Brisco||2||December 9, 1974||366||Toyohashi, Japan||Live event|
|15||Terry Funk||1||December 10, 1975||424||Miami, FL||Live event|
|16||Harley Race||2||February 6, 1977||926||Toronto, ON||Live event|
|—||Terry "The Hulk" Boulder||1†||May 25, 1979||0||Dothan, AL||Live event||Terry "The Hulk" Boulder pinned NWA World Champion Harley Race to win the NWA World Championship, but the decision was voided when Terry was discovered to have thrown Race over the top rope during the match. Normally this would simply be looked at as a "Dusty finish" and ignored but video footage from the following night has surfaced in which Boulder's win is recognized - albeit briefly. This title change is not currently recognized by the NWA.|||
|17||Dusty Rhodes||1||August 21, 1979||5||Tampa, FL||Live event|
|18||Harley Race||3||August 26, 1979||66||Orlando, FL||Live event|
|19||Giant Baba||2||October 31, 1979||7||Nagoya, Japan||Live event|
|20||Harley Race||4||November 7, 1979||302||Amagasaki, Japan||Live event|
|21||Giant Baba||3||September 4, 1980||5||Saga, Japan||Live event|
|22||Harley Race||5||September 9, 1980||230||Otsu, Japan||Live event|
|23||Tommy Rich||1||April 27, 1981||4||Augusta, GA||Live event|
|24||Harley Race||6||May 1, 1981||51||Gainesville, GA||Live event|
|25||Dusty Rhodes||2||June 21, 1981||88||Atlanta, GA||Live event|
|26||Ric Flair||1||September 17, 1981||476||Kansas City, MO||Live event||On February 9, 1982 in Miami, The Midnight Rider (Dusty Rhodes under a mask due to being under suspension in Florida) defeated Flair for the title but returned it when NWA President Bob Geigel asked Rider to unmask or return the belt as NWA rules then forbade masked wrestlers from holding it.|
|—||Jack Veneno||1†||August 29, 1982||0||Rep. Dom.||Live event||Jack Veneno defeated Flair in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic but as he refused to defend the title outside his native country the title was returned to Flair on August 29, 1982.|||
|—||Carlos Colón||1†||January 6, 1983||17||San Juan, PR||Live event||This title change isn't recognized by the NWA.|||
|—||Ric Flair||1†||January 23, 1983||138||Miami, FL||Live event||This title change isn't recognized by the NWA. Victor Jovica defeated Flair on February 8, 1983 in Couva, Trinidad but the decision was reversed three days later because Jovica's feet were on the rope during the pin.|||
|27||Harley Race||7||June 10, 1983||167||St. Louis, MO||Live event|
|28||Ric Flair||2||November 24, 1983||118||Greensboro, NC||Starrcade (1983)||This was a Steel Cage match. Former champion Gene Kiniski (above) was special referee.|
|—||Harley Race||8†||March 21, 1984||2||Wellington, New Zealand||Live event||This title change was briefly recognized by WCW, but it is currently not recognized by NWA nor WWE.|
|—||Ric Flair||2(3)†||March 23, 1984||44||Kallang, Singapore||Live event||This title change was briefly recognized by WCW, but it is currently unrecognized by NWA or WWE.|
|29||Kerry Von Erich||1||May 6, 1984||18||Irving, TX||Parade of Champions 1|
|30||Ric Flair||3(4)||May 24, 1984||793||Yokosuka, Japan||Live event|
|31||Dusty Rhodes||3||July 26, 1986||14||Greensboro, NC||The Great American Bash (1986)||Flair was pinned by Dusty Rhodes in the main event of Starrcade (1985), but the decision was later reversed (the original Dusty Finish) and turned into a DQ for interference in the match by Ole and Arn Anderson. Therefore the title was returned to Flair.|
|32||Ric Flair||4(5)||August 9, 1986||412||St. Louis, MO||Live event|
|33||Ron Garvin||1||September 25, 1987||62||Detroit, MI||Live event|
|34||Ric Flair||5(6)||November 26, 1987||452||Chicago, IL||Starrcade (1987)||On November 21, 1988 WCW joined the NWA|
|35||Ricky Steamboat||1||February 20, 1989||76||Chicago, IL||Chi-Town Rumble|
|36||Ric Flair||6(7)||May 7, 1989||426||Nashville, TN||WrestleWar (1989)|
|37||Sting||1||July 7, 1990||188||Baltimore, MD||The Great American Bash (1990)|
|38||Ric Flair||7(8)||January 11, 1991||69||East Rutherford, NJ||Live event|
|—||Tatsumi Fujinami||1†||March 21, 1991||59||Tokyo, Japan||WCW/New Japan Supershow I||Briefly defended along with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This title change was briefly recognized by WCW, but it is currently not recognized by NWA nor WWE.|
|—||Ric Flair||7(9)||May 19, 1991||112||St. Petersburg, FL||SuperBrawl I||This title change was originally ignored in the USA. This title change was briefly recognized by WCW, but it is currently unrecognized by NWA or WWE.|
|—||Vacated||—||September 8, 1991||—||—||—||Flair was stripped of the title upon signing with the WWF.|
|39||Masahiro Chono||1||August 12, 1992||145||Tokyo, Japan||Live event||Defeated Rick Rude in tournament final.|
|40||The Great Muta||1||January 4, 1993||48||Tokyo, Japan||WCW/New Japan Supershow III||Muta's IWGP Heavyweight Title was also on the line; briefly defended along with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.|
|41||Barry Windham||1||February 21, 1993||147||Asheville, NC||SuperBrawl III|
|42||Ric Flair||8(10)||July 18, 1993||57†||Biloxi, MS||Beach Blast (1993)|||
|—||Vacated||—||September 13, 1993||—||—||—||Vacated when WCW left the NWA. WCW continued to recognize Flair as their WCW International World Heavyweight Champion.|
|43||Shane Douglas||1||August 27, 1994||0||Philadelphia, PA||NWA/Eastern Championship Wrestling Supershow||Defeated 2 Cold Scorpio in tournament final.|
|—||Vacated||—||August 27, 1994||—||—||NWA/Eastern Championship Wrestling Supershow||Douglas threw the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt down immediately after winning it and declared that he did not want to be the organization's champion; Douglas then declared the NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Championship, which he was already in possession of, to be a World Heavyweight Championship. Eastern Championship Wrestling then withdraws from the NWA and becomes Extreme Championship Wrestling.|
|44||Chris Candido||1||November 19, 1994||97||Cherry Hill, NJ||SMW/NWA Championship Wrestling America||Defeated Tracy Smothers in tournament final.|
|45||Dan Severn||1||February 24, 1995||1479||Erlanger, KY||Live event|||
|46||Naoya Ogawa||1||March 14, 1999||195||Yokohama, Japan||Live event|
|47||Gary Steele||1||September 25, 1999||7||Charlotte, NC||51st Anniversary Show||Gary Steele pinned Ogawa in a three-way match also involving Brian Anthony.|
|48||Naoya Ogawa||2||October 1, 1999||275||Thomaston, CT||Live event|
|—||Vacated||—||July 2, 2000||—||—||—||Ogawa vacated the title.|
|49||Mike Rapada||1||September 19, 2000||56||Tampa, FL||Live event||Defeated Jerry Flynn in tournament final.|
|50||Sabu||1||November 14, 2000||38||Tampa, FL||Live event|
|51||Mike Rapada||2||December 22, 2000||123||Nashville, TN||Live event|
|52||Steve Corino||1||April 24, 2001||172||Tampa, FL||Live event|
|—||Vacated||—||October 13, 2001||—||—||—||Title was held up following a match against Shinya Hashimoto.|
|53||Shinya Hashimoto||1||December 15, 2001||84||McKeesport, PA||Live event||This was 3 matches round robin style. Gary Steele vs. Steve Corino. Gary Steele vs. Shinya Hashimoto. Steve Corino vs. Shinya Hashimoto. Hashimoto won and was then attacked by a masked man who revealed himself to be Dan Severn.|
|54||Dan Severn||2||March 9, 2002||80||Tokyo, Japan||Live event||Match ended in controversy, as the referee gave a fast count.|
|—||Vacated||—||May 28, 2002||—||—||—||Severn was stripped of the title after failing to make a defense in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Title made exclusive to TNA.|
|55||Ken Shamrock||1||June 19, 2002||49||Huntsville, AL||Weekly pay-per-view event #1||Defeated Malice in the finals of a Gauntlet for the Gold.|
|56||Ron Killings||1||August 7, 2002||105||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #8|
|57||Jeff Jarrett||1||November 20, 2002||203||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #22||Unified with the WWA World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Sting on May 25, 2003 in Auckland, New Zealand.|
|58||A.J. Styles||1||June 11, 2003||133||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #49||This was a three-way match, also involving Raven.|
|59||Jeff Jarrett||2||October 22, 2003||182||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #67|
|60||A.J. Styles||2||April 21, 2004||28||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #91||This was a Steel Cage match.|
|61||Ron Killings||2||May 19, 2004||14||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #95||This was a four-way match, also involving Raven and Chris Harris.|
|62||Jeff Jarrett||3||June 2, 2004||347||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #97||This was a King of the Mountain match, also involving A.J. Styles, Raven, and Chris Harris. Ron Killings defeated Jarrett on the June 23 TNA Weekly PPV for the title, however due to issues surrounding the title change, the title was held up, before Vince Russo gave Jarrett the title back.|
|—||Ray Gonzalez||1†||April 3, 2005||0||San Juan, PR||IWAPR Juicio Final Live event||This title change is not recognized by the NWA nor was it recognized by the TNA.|
|63||A.J. Styles||3||May 15, 2005||35||Orlando, FL||Hard Justice (2005)||Defeated Jeff Jarrett for title.|||
|64||Raven||1||June 19, 2005||88||Orlando, FL||Slammiversary (2005)||This was a King of the Mountain match, also involving Abyss, Monty Brown, and Sean Waltman.|||
|65||Jeff Jarrett||4||September 15, 2005||38||Oldcastle, Ontario||International Incident|
|66||Rhino||1||October 23, 2005||2||Orlando, FL||Bound for Glory (2005)||Rhino won the right to face Jarrett in a Gauntlet for the Gold match after designated challenger Kevin Nash fell ill and withdrew.|||
|67||Jeff Jarrett||5||October 25, 2005||110||Orlando, FL||TNA Impact!||Aired November 3, 2005.|
|68||Christian Cage||1||February 12, 2006||126||Orlando, FL||Against All Odds (2006)|||
|69||Jeff Jarrett||6||June 18, 2006||126||Orlando, FL||Slammiversary (2006)||This was a King of the Mountain match. Jarrett won due to interference by referee Earl Hebner. Jim Cornette stripped Jarrett of the belt later that week, then returned it to him the following week on the condition that he face the winner of a #1 contender match being held at Victory Road on July 16, 2006.|||
|70||Sting||2||October 22, 2006||28||Plymouth, MI||Bound for Glory (2006)||Became the only wrestler to win the title before and during TNA's acquisition.|||
|71||Abyss||1||November 19, 2006||56||Orlando, FL||Genesis (2006)||Abyss defeated Sting by disqualification after Sting pushed the official.|||
|72||Christian Cage||2||January 14, 2007||119||Orlando, FL||Final Resolution (2007)||This was a Three-Way Elimination match, also involving Sting.|||
|—||Vacated||—||May 13, 2007||—||—||—||Cage is stripped of the championship when the NWA and TNA sever their business relationship. The NWA regains control of the title.|
|73||Adam Pearce||1||September 1, 2007||336||Bayamón, Puerto Rico||Live event||Defeated Brent Albright in the finals of the Reclaiming the Glory Tournament. Pearce competed as a substitute for Bryan Danielson, who defeated Pearce in the semifinals but withdrew from the tournament due to a detached retina. Danielson was the referee.|
|74||Brent Albright||1||August 2, 2008||49||New York City, NY||ROH Death Before Dishonor VI|||
|75||Adam Pearce||2||September 20, 2008||35||Philadelphia, PA||Glory By Honor VII|||
|76||Blue Demon, Jr.||1||October 25, 2008||505||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event|||
|77||Adam Pearce||3||March 14, 2010||357||Charlotte, NC||Live event||Three-Way Elimination match also featuring Phill Shatter.|||
|78||Colt Cabana||1||March 6, 2011||48||West Hollywood, CA||NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood taping|||
|79||The Sheik||1||April 23, 2011||79||Jacksonville, FL||NWA Pro Wrestling Fusion "Subtle Hustle"|||
|—||Vacated||—||July 11, 2011||—||—||—||Sheik is stripped of the title for refusing to defend against Adam Pearce on July 31, 2011.|||
|80||Adam Pearce||4||July 31, 2011||252||Columbus, OH||NWA at the Ohio State Fair||Defeated Chance Prophet, Jimmy Rave and Shaun Tempers in a four-way match to win the vacant title.|||
|81||Colt Cabana||2||April 8, 2012||104||Glendale, CA||NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood taping|||
|82||Adam Pearce||5||July 21, 2012||98||Kansas City, KS||Metro Pro Wrestling event||This was a Two Out of Three Falls match. It was match four of a seven-match series between Cabana and Pearce.|||
|Vacated||—||October 27, 2012||—||Berwick, Victoria Melbourne, Australia||NWA Warzone Wrestling 14||Pearce left the NWA and resigned as champion after the organization refused to allow him to defend the title in the concluding match of the best-of-seven series against Cabana.|||
|83||Kahagas||1||November 2, 2012||134||Clayton, NJ||NWA DAWG: Wrath of Champions||Won an elimination match for the vacant title by last eliminating Damien Wayne. Match also featured Chance Prophet, Jason Kincaid, Lance Erikson, Anthony Nese, Papadon, Biggie Biggs, and Lance Anoa'i. Kahagas was the reigning NWA National Heavyweight Champion at the time of his victory.|||
|84||Rob Conway||1||March 16, 2013||266+||San Antonio, TX||NWA Branded Outlaw Wrestling||Conway replaced an injured Jax Dane and defeated Kahagas for the title|||
List of top combined reigns
|Indicates the current champion|
|<1||The reign is shorter than one day.|
As of December 7, 2013.
†Combined length may not be correct. See above.
- National Wrestling Alliance
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- World Championship Wrestling
- Jim Crockett Promotions
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship
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- Official NWA World Heavyweight Title History
- Wrestling-Titles.com - NWA World Heavyweight Title History