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 (Catch as Catch Can version; 1905-1957), which traces its lineage to George Hackenschmidt's 1905 title which Frank Gotch won from him in 1908. This effectively makes it the oldest surviving wrestling championship in the world.
|Reign||The reign number for the specific champion listed|
|Location||The city in which the title was won|
|Event||The event promoted by the respective promotion in which the title was won|
|†||Indicates the title changes not recognized by the NWA|
|+||Indicates the current reign is changing daily|
|1||Brown, OrvilleOrville Brown||1||January 5, 1948||692||Des Moines, IA||House show||In July 1948, the National Wrestling Alliance was founded and Brown was recognized as the first official NWA World Heavyweight Champion. His reign length is calculated from the date he defeated Sonny Myers to first claim the world championship.|
|2||Thesz, LouLou Thesz||1||November 27, 1949||1,941||—||—||Awarded when Brown suffered career-ending injuries in an automobile accident on November 1, 1949. Thesz had earlier won the National Wrestling Association's World Heavyweight Championship on July 10, 1948 from Wild Bill Longson. 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, defeating Baron Michele Leone on May 21, 1952.|
|—||Nomellini, LeoLeo Nomellini||1†||March 22, 1955||115||San Francisco, CA||House show||Defeated Thesz by countout in the second fall and disqualification in the third fall. California Athletic Commission recognized the title change by disqualification, but both wrestlers continued to claim the title.|
|—||Thesz, LouLou Thesz||2†||July 15, 1955||244||Toronto, ON||House show||Defeated Nomellini in a rematch.|
|3||Watson, Whipper BillyWhipper Billy Watson||1||March 15, 1956||239||Toronto, ON||House show|
|4||Thesz, LouLou Thesz||2(3)||November 9, 1956||217||St. Louis, MO||House show|
|—||Carpentier, ÉdouardÉdouard Carpentier||1†||June 14, 1957||40||Chicago, IL||House show||Carpentier was awarded the title 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.|
|—||Thesz, LouLou Thesz||4†||July 24, 1957||113||Montreal, Quebec||House show||Lou Thesz won a rematch against Carpentier by disqualification. The NWA initially continued to recognize Carpentier as the champion, but voided 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||Hutton, DickDick Hutton||1||November 14, 1957||421||Toronto, ON||House show|
|6||O'Connor, PatPat O'Connor||1||January 9, 1959||903||St. Louis, MO||House show||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'Connor 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||Rogers, BuddyBuddy Rogers||1||June 30, 1961||
|Chicago, IL||House show||On August 2, 1962, Bruno Sammartino defeated Rogers in Toronto, but refused to accept the title because Rogers had wrestled with an injury. The NWA considers Rogers' reign to last until Thesz.|
|—||Kowalski, KillerKiller Kowalski||1†||November 22, 1961||425||Montreal, Quebec, Canada||House show||Kowalski defeated Rogers on November 21 after Rogers broke his ankle in the first fall, but was only recognized as champion in some states but not by the NWA.|
|—||Brazil, BoboBobo Brazil||1†||August 18, 1962||73||Newark, NJ||House show||Brazil refused the title because of a groin injury that Rogers had claimed to have. However, on September 6, 1962, Brazil was declared champion because a doctor had determined that Rogers hadn't suffered an injury. This title change wasn't recognized by the NWA.|
|—||Rogers, BuddyBuddy Rogers||2†||October 30, 1962
(defeat of Brazil)
(Brazil to Thesz reign)
|Toledo, OH||House show||Rogers was widely, though not universally, considered champion again after his wins over Brazil and Kowalski. Kowalski disputed that Rogers had won the title, arguing that the match had not been for the title. As the NWA had recognized none of Rogers's losses, no second title reign was counted for Rogers.|
|January 21, 1963
(defeat of Kowalski)
|New York||House show|
|8||Thesz, LouLou Thesz||3(5)||January 24, 1963||1,079||Toronto, ON||House show||Promoters in the northeast United States refused to recognize Rogers' one-fall loss to Thesz, thus breaking away from the NWA to form the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Rogers was declared the first WWWF World Heavyweight Champion three months later, on April 25.|
|9||Kiniski, GeneGene Kiniski||1||January 7, 1966||1,131||St. Louis, MO||House show|
|10||Funk, Jr., DoryDory Funk, Jr.||1||February 11, 1969||1,563||Tampa, FL||House show|
|11||Race, HarleyHarley Race||1||May 24, 1973||57||Kansas City, MO||House show|
|12||Brisco, JackJack Brisco||1||July 20, 1973||500||Houston, TX||House show|
|13||Baba, GiantGiant Baba||1||December 2, 1974||7||Kagoshima, Japan||House show|
|14||Brisco, JackJack Brisco||2||December 9, 1974||366||Toyohashi, Japan||House show|
|15||Funk, TerryTerry Funk||1||December 10, 1975||424||Miami, FL||House show|
|16||Race, HarleyHarley Race||2||February 6, 1977||926||Toronto, ON||House show|
|17||Rhodes, DustyDusty Rhodes||1||August 21, 1979||5||Tampa, FL||House show|
|18||Race, HarleyHarley Race||3||August 26, 1979||66||Orlando, FL||House show|
|19||Baba, GiantGiant Baba||2||October 31, 1979||7||Nagoya, Japan||House show|
|20||Race, HarleyHarley Race||4||November 7, 1979||302||Amagasaki, Japan||House show|
|21||Baba, GiantGiant Baba||3||September 4, 1980||5||Saga, Japan||House show|
|22||Race, HarleyHarley Race||5||September 9, 1980||230||Otsu, Japan||House show|
|23||Rich, TommyTommy Rich||1||April 27, 1981||4||Augusta, GA||House show|
|24||Race, HarleyHarley Race||6||May 1, 1981||51||Gainesville, GA||House show|
|25||Rhodes, DustyDusty Rhodes||2||June 21, 1981||88||Atlanta, GA||House show|
|26||Flair, RicRic Flair||1||September 17, 1981||631||Kansas City, MO||House show||On February 9, 1983 in Miami, The Midnight Rider (Dusty Rhodes under a mask due to being under suspension in Florida) defeated Flair for the title, but he 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.|
|—||Veneno, JackJack Veneno||1†||August 29, 1982||<1||Rep. Dom.||House show||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.|||
|—||Colón, CarlosCarlos Colón||1†||January 6, 1983||17||San Juan, PR||House show||This title change isn't recognized by the NWA. Colon's WWC World Heavyweight Championship was also on the line.|||
|—||Flair, RicRic Flair||1†||January 23, 1983||138||Miami, FL||House show||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||Race, HarleyHarley Race||7||June 10, 1983||167||St. Louis, MO||House show|
|28||Flair, RicRic Flair||2||November 24, 1983||117||Greensboro, NC||Starrcade (1983)||This was a Steel Cage match. Former champion Gene Kiniski (above) was special referee.|
|—||Race, HarleyHarley Race||8†||March 20, 1984||3||Wellington, New Zealand||House show||This title change was briefly recognized by WCW, but it is currently not recognized by NWA nor WWE.|
|—||Flair, RicRic Flair||3†||March 23, 1984||44||Kallang, Singapore||House show||This title change was briefly recognized by WCW, but it is currently not recognized by NWA or WWE.|
|29||Von Erich, KerryKerry Von Erich||1||May 6, 1984||18||Irving, TX||1st Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions|
|30||Flair, RicRic Flair||3(4)||May 24, 1984||793||Yokosuka, Japan||House show|
|31||Rhodes, DustyDusty Rhodes||3||July 26, 1986||14||Greensboro, NC||The Great American Bash (1986)|
|32||Flair, RicRic Flair||4(5)||August 9, 1986||412||St. Louis, MO||House show|
|33||Garvin, RonRon Garvin||1||September 25, 1987||62||Detroit, MI||House show|
|34||Flair, RicRic Flair||5(6)||November 26, 1987||452||Chicago, IL||Starrcade (1987)||On November 21, 1988 the NWA's flagship promotion Jim Crockett Promotions was purchased by ((Ted Turner)) and renamed World Championship Wrestling (WCW)|
|35||Steamboat, RickyRicky Steamboat||1||February 20, 1989||76||Chicago, IL||Chi-Town Rumble|
|36||Flair, RicRic 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||Flair, RicRic Flair||7(8)||January 11, 1991||69||East Rutherford, NJ||House show||After this title win, Flair was also recognized as the first WCW World Champion.|
|39||Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi 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 originally ignored in the USA. This title change was briefly recognized by WCW, but it is currently not recognized by WWE.|||
|40||Flair, RicRic Flair||8(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 not recognized by WWE.|||
|—||Vacated||—||September 8, 1991||—||—||—||Flair was stripped of the title upon signing with the WWF. This marked the first time the NWA World Heavyweight Championship was vacant.|
|41||Chono, MasahiroMasahiro Chono||1||August 12, 1992||145||Tokyo, Japan||G1 Climax 1992 - Day 5||Defeated Rick Rude in the final of the G1 Climax tournament.|
|42||The Great Muta||1||January 4, 1993||48||Tokyo, Japan||WCW/New Japan Supershow III||Muta's IWGP Heavyweight Championship was also on the line; briefly defended along with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.|
|43||Windham, BarryBarry Windham||1||February 21, 1993||147||Asheville, NC||SuperBrawl III|
|44||Flair, RicRic Flair||9(10)||July 18, 1993||57||Biloxi, MS||Beach Blast (1993)|||
|—||Vacated||—||September 13, 1993||—||—||—||Vacated when the NWA left WCW. WCW continued to recognize Flair as their WCW International World Heavyweight Champion.|
|45||Douglas, ShaneShane Douglas||1||August 27, 1994||<1||Philadelphia, PA||NWA World Title Tournament||Defeated 2 Cold Scorpio in tournament final.|
|—||Vacated||—||August 27, 1994||—||Philadelphia, PA||NWA World Title Tournament||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, of which he was already in possession, to be a World Heavyweight Championship. Eastern Championship Wrestling then withdraws from the NWA and becomes Extreme Championship Wrestling.|
|46||Candido, ChrisChris Candido||1||November 19, 1994||97||Cherry Hill, NJ||SMW/NWA Championship Wrestling America||Defeated Tracy Smothers in tournament final.|
|47||Severn, DanDan Severn||1||February 24, 1995||1,479||Erlanger, KY||House show|||
|48||Ogawa, NaoyaNaoya Ogawa||1||March 14, 1999||195||Yokohama, Japan||House show|
|49||Steele, GaryGary Steele||1||September 25, 1999||7||Charlotte, NC||51st Anniversary Show||Gary Steele pinned Ogawa in a three-way match also involving Brian Anthony.|
|50||Ogawa, NaoyaNaoya Ogawa||2||October 1, 1999||275||Thomaston, CT||House show|
|—||Vacated||—||July 2, 2000||—||—||—||Ogawa vacated the title.|
|51||Rapada, MikeMike Rapada||1||September 19, 2000||56||Tampa, FL||House show||Defeated Jerry Flynn in tournament final.|
|52||Sabu||1||November 14, 2000||38||Tampa, FL||House show|
|53||Rapada, MikeMike Rapada||2||December 22, 2000||123||Nashville, TN||House show|
|54||Corino, SteveSteve Corino||1||April 24, 2001||172||Tampa, FL||House show|
|—||Vacated||—||October 13, 2001||—||St. Petersburg, FL||53rd Anniversary Show||Title was held up when Corino lost a title match against Shinya Hashimoto when he became unable to compete due to head injury sustained in the match.|
|55||Hashimoto, ShinyaShinya Hashimoto||1||December 15, 2001||84||McKeesport, PA||House show||This was three matches round robin style; Gary Steele vs. Steve Corino, Gary Steele vs. Shinya Hashimoto, and Steve Corino vs. Shinya Hashimoto. Hashimoto won.|
|56||Severn, DanDan Severn||2||March 9, 2002||80||Tokyo, Japan||House show||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.|
|57||Shamrock, KenKen 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.|
|58||Killings, RonRon Killings||1||August 7, 2002||105||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #8|
|59||Jarrett, JeffJeff 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.|
|60||Styles, A.J.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.|
|61||Jarrett, JeffJeff Jarrett||2||October 22, 2003||182||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #67|
|62||Styles, A.J.A.J. Styles||2||April 21, 2004||28||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #91||This was a Steel Cage match.|
|63||Killings, RonRon 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.|
|64||Jarrett, JeffJeff 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.|
|65||González, RayRay González||1||April 3, 2005||<1||San Juan, PR||IWAPR Juicio Final Live event||Retroactively recognized on February 16, 2015.|||
|66||Styles, A.J.A.J. Styles||3||May 15, 2005||35||Orlando, FL||Hard Justice||Defeated Jeff Jarrett for title. Tito Ortiz was the special referee.|||
|67||Raven||1||June 19, 2005||88||Orlando, FL||Slammiversary||This was a King of the Mountain match, also involving Abyss, Monty Brown, and Sean Waltman.|||
|68||Jarrett, JeffJeff Jarrett||4||September 15, 2005||38||Windsor, ON||International Incident|
|69||Rhino||1||October 23, 2005||2||Orlando, FL||Bound for Glory||Rhino won the right to face Jarrett in a Gauntlet for the Gold match after designated challenger Kevin Nash fell ill and withdrew.|||
|70||Jarrett, JeffJeff Jarrett||5||October 25, 2005||110||Orlando, FL||TNA Impact!||Aired November 3, 2005.|
|71||Christian Cage||1||February 12, 2006||126||Orlando, FL||Against All Odds|||
|72||Jarrett, JeffJeff Jarrett||6||June 18, 2006||126||Orlando, FL||Slammiversary||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 would have faced the winner of a #1 contender match being held at Victory Road on July 16, 2006.|||
|73||Sting||2||October 22, 2006||28||Plymouth, MI||Bound for Glory||Kurt Angle was the special outside enforcer.|||
|74||Abyss||1||November 19, 2006||56||Orlando, FL||Genesis||Abyss defeated Sting by disqualification after Sting pushed the official.|||
|75||Christian Cage||2||January 14, 2007||119||Orlando, FL||Final Resolution||This was a Three-Way Elimination match, also involving Sting.|||
|—||Vacated||—||May 13, 2007||—||—||—||Cage was stripped of the title when the NWA and TNA Wrestling ended their business relations and title agreements.|
|76||Pearce, AdamAdam Pearce||1||September 1, 2007||336||Bayamón, Puerto Rico||House show||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.|
|77||Albright, BrentBrent Albright||1||August 2, 2008||49||New York City, NY||ROH Death Before Dishonor VI|||
|78||Pearce, AdamAdam Pearce||2||September 20, 2008||35||Philadelphia, PA||Glory By Honor VII|||
|79||Blue Demon, Jr.||1||October 25, 2008||505||Mexico City, Mexico||House show|||
|80||Pearce, AdamAdam Pearce||3||March 14, 2010||357||Charlotte, NC||House show||Three-Way Elimination match also featuring Phill Shatter.|||
|81||Cabana, ColtColt Cabana||1||March 6, 2011||48||West Hollywood, CA||NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood taping|||
|82||Sheik, TheThe Sheik||1||April 23, 2011||79||Jacksonville, FL||NWA Pro Wrestling Fusion "Subtle Hustle"|||
|—||Vacated||—||July 11, 2011||—||—||—||Sheik was stripped of the title for refusing to defend against Adam Pearce on July 31, 2011.|||
|83||Pearce, AdamAdam 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.|||
|84||Cabana, ColtColt Cabana||2||April 8, 2012||104||Glendale, CA||NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood taping|||
|85||Pearce, AdamAdam 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. The match did take place with Cabana leading victorious but both wrestlers refused the title in the aftermath.|||
|86||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.|||
|87||Conway, RobRob Conway||1||July 4, 2013||294||Brookhaven,MS||NWA Branded Outlaw Wrestling||Rob Conway replaced an injured Jax Dane and defeated Kahagas for the title|||
|88||Kojima, SatoshiSatoshi Kojima||1||January 4, 2014||149||Tokyo, Japan||Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome|||
|89||Conway, RobRob Conway||2||June 2, 2014||257||Las Vegas, NV||Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion Show|||
|90||Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan||1||February 14, 2015||196||Sendai, Japan||The New Beginning in Sendai|||
|91||Dane, JaxJax Dane||1||August 29, 2015||166+||San Antonio, TX||NWA Branded Outlaw Wrestling|||
As of February 11, 2016.
|†||Indicates the current champion|
|<1||The reign is shorter than one day.|
|1||Thesz, LouLou Thesz||3||3,749|
|2||Flair, RicRic Flair||9||3,103|
|3||Race, HarleyHarley Race||7||1,799|
|4||Funk, Jr., DoryDory Funk, Jr.||1||1,563|
|5||Severn, DanDan Severn||2||1,559|
|6||Kiniski, GeneGene Kiniski||1||1,131|
|7||Pearce, AdamAdam Pearce||5||1,078|
|8||Jarrett, JeffJeff Jarrett||6||1,006|
|9||O'Connor, PatPat O'Connor||1||903|
|10||Brisco, JackJack Brisco||2||866|
|11||Brown, OrvilleOrville Brown||1||692|
|12||Rogers, BuddyBuddy Rogers||1||573|
|13||Conway, RobRob Conway||2||551|
|14||Blue Demon, Jr.||1||505|
|15||Ogawa, NaoyaNaoya Ogawa||2||469|
|16||Funk, TerryTerry Funk||1||424|
|17||Hutton, DickDick Hutton||1||421|
|18||Cage, ChristianChristian Cage||2||245|
|19||Watson, Whipper BillyWhipper Billy Watson||1||239|
|21||Styles, A.J.A.J. Styles||3||196|
|Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan||1||196|
|23||Rapada, MikeMike Rapada||2||176|
|24||Corino, SteveSteve Corino||1||175|
|25||Dane, JaxJax Dane †||1||166+|
|26||Cabana, ColtColt Cabana||2||152|
|27||Kojima, SatoshiSatoshi Kojima||1||149|
|28||Windham, BarryBarry Windham||1||147|
|29||Chono, MasahiroMasahiro Chono||1||145|
|31||Killings, RonRon Killings||2||119|
|32||Rhodes, DustyDusty Rhodes||3||107|
|33||Candido, ChrisChris Candido||1||97|
|35||Hashimoto, ShinyaShinya Hashimoto||1||84|
|36||Sheik, TheThe Sheik||1||79|
|37||Steamboat, RickyRicky Steamboat||1||76|
|38||Garvin, RonRon Garvin||1||62|
|39||Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami||1||59|
|41||Albright, BrentBrent Albright||1||49|
|Shamrock, KenKen Shamrock||1||49|
|43||The Great Muta||1||48|
|45||Baba, GiantGiant Baba||3||19|
|46||Von Erich, KerryKerry Von Erich||1||18|
|47||Steele, GaryGary Steele||1||7|
|48||Rich, TommyTommy Rich||1||4|
|50||González, RayRay González||1||<1|
|Douglas, ShaneShane Douglas||1||<1|
- National Wrestling Alliance
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- World Championship Wrestling
- Jim Crockett Promotions
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship
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February 24, 1995 in Erlanger, KY; Dan Severn beat Chris Candido (10:00) via submission to win the NWA World Title.
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