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.
† Unofficial title changes not recognized by the NWA.
|1||Orville Brown||1||January 5, 1948||692||Des Moines, IA||House show||In July 1948, the National Wrestling Alliance is founded and Brown is 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, as opposed to the date afterward when the company was formed.|
|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||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 continue to claim the title.|
|—||Lou Thesz||2†||July 15, 1955||244||Toronto, ON||House show||Defeated Nomellini in a rematch.|
|3||Whipper Billy Watson||1||March 15, 1956||239||Toronto, ON||House show|
|4||Lou Thesz||2(3)||November 9, 1956||217||St. Louis, MO||House show|
|—||Édouard Carpentier||1†||June 14, 1957||40||Chicago, IL||House show||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||House show||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||House show|
|6||Pat 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'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||
145 until Kowalski
|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.|
|—||Killer 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. Rogers defeated Kowalski on January 21, 1963 in New York, but Kowalski claimed the match wasn't for the title.|
|—||Bobo 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 is declared champion because a doctor had determined that Rogers hadn't suffered an injury. This title change isn't recognized by the NWA, nor is the change with Kowalski. The NWA considers Rogers' reign to last until Thesz, while conversely, the WWWF did not recognize that.|
|—||Buddy Rogers||2†||October 30, 1962
(defeat of Brazil)
January 21, 1963
(defeat of Kowalski)
|House show||In spite of the lack of official title change, Rogers is considered champion in relation to his dispute with Brazil and Kowalski. The seconds reigns are unofficial and not included in official numbering. The alternate second reign length of Rogers (which, if Kowalski's 1961 title claim is legitimate, would nullify Brazil's 1962 claim) is only considered if one accepts that Rogers' defeat of Kowalski in 1963 was for the title, otherwise Kowalski would be considered the final NWA champion.|
|8||Lou Thesz||3(5)||January 24, 1963||1079||Toronto, ON||House show||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 3 months later, on April 25.|
|9||Gene Kiniski||1||January 7, 1966||1131||St. Louis, MO||House show|
|10||Dory Funk||1||February 11, 1969||1563||Tampa, FL||House show|
|11||Harley Race||1||May 24, 1973||57||Kansas City, MO||House show|
|12||Jack Brisco||1||July 20, 1973||500||Houston, TX||House show|
|13||Giant Baba||1||December 2, 1974||7||Kagoshima, Japan||House show|
|14||Jack Brisco||2||December 9, 1974||366||Toyohashi, Japan||House show|
|15||Terry Funk||1||December 10, 1975||424||Miami, FL||House show|
|16||Harley Race||2||February 6, 1977||926||Toronto, ON||House show|
|17||Dusty Rhodes||1||August 21, 1979||5||Tampa, FL||House show|
|18||Harley Race||3||August 26, 1979||66||Orlando, FL||House show|
|19||Giant Baba||2||October 31, 1979||7||Nagoya, Japan||House show|
|20||Harley Race||4||November 7, 1979||302||Amagasaki, Japan||House show|
|21||Giant Baba||3||September 4, 1980||5||Saga, Japan||House show|
|22||Harley Race||5||September 9, 1980||230||Otsu, Japan||House show|
|23||Tommy Rich||1||April 27, 1981||4||Augusta, GA||House show|
|24||Harley Race||6||May 1, 1981||51||Gainesville, GA||House show|
|25||Dusty Rhodes||2||June 21, 1981||88||Atlanta, GA||House show|
|26||Ric Flair||1||September 17, 1981||476||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 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.||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.|||
|—||Carlos 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.|||
|—||Ric 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||Harley Race||7||June 10, 1983||167||St. Louis, MO||House show|
|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 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.|
|—||Ric Flair||2(3)†||March 23, 1984||44||Kallang, Singapore||House show||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||House show|
|31||Dusty Rhodes||3||July 26, 1986||14||Greensboro, NC||The Great American Bash (1986)|
|32||Ric Flair||4(5)||August 9, 1986||412||St. Louis, MO||House show|
|33||Ron Garvin||1||September 25, 1987||62||Detroit, MI||House show|
|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||House show|
|39||Tatsumi Fujinami||1||March 21, 1991||59||Tokyo, Japan||WCW/New Japan Supershow I||Briefly defended along with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.|||
|40||Ric Flair||8(8)||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 WWE.|||
|—||Vacated||—||September 8, 1991||—||—||—||Flair was stripped of the title upon signing with the WWF.|
|41||Masahiro Chono||1||August 12, 1992||145||Tokyo, Japan||House show||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 Title was also on the line; briefly defended along with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.|
|43||Barry Windham||1||February 21, 1993||147||Asheville, NC||SuperBrawl III|
|44||Ric Flair||9(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.|
|45||Shane Douglas||1||August 27, 1994||0||Philadelphia, PA||NWA World Title Tournament||Defeated 2 Cold Scorpio in tournament final.|
|—||Vacated||—||August 27, 1994||—||—||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||Chris Candido||1||November 19, 1994||97||Cherry Hill, NJ||SMW/NWA Championship Wrestling America||Defeated Tracy Smothers in tournament final.|
|47||Dan Severn||1||February 24, 1995||1479||Erlanger, KY||House show|||
|48||Naoya Ogawa||1||March 14, 1999||195||Yokohama, Japan||House show|
|49||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.|
|50||Naoya Ogawa||2||October 1, 1999||275||Thomaston, CT||House show|
|—||Vacated||—||July 2, 2000||—||—||—||Ogawa vacated the title.|
|51||Mike 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||Mike Rapada||2||December 22, 2000||123||Nashville, TN||House show|
|54||Steve Corino||1||April 24, 2001||172||Tampa, FL||House show|
|—||Vacated||—||October 13, 2001||—||—||—||Title was held up following a match against Shinya Hashimoto.|
|55||Shinya Hashimoto||1||December 15, 2001||84||McKeesport, PA||House show||This was 3 matches round robin style. Gary Steele vs. Steve Corino. Gary Steele vs. Shinya Hashimoto. Steve Corino vs. Shinya Hashimoto. Hashimoto won.|
|56||Dan 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||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.|
|58||Ron Killings||1||August 7, 2002||105||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #8|
|59||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.|
|60||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||Jeff Jarrett||2||October 22, 2003||182||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #67|
|62||A.J. Styles||2||April 21, 2004||28||Nashville, TN||Weekly pay-per-view event #91||This was a Steel Cage match.|
|63||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.|
|64||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.|
|65||Ray Gonzalez||1||April 3, 2005||0||San Juan, PR||IWAPR Juicio Final Live event||This title change was not recognized by the NWA or TNA until NWA recognized it in 2015.
The title was given back to Jeff Jarrett after Ray used a guitar for the win.
|66||A.J. Styles||3||May 15, 2005||35||Orlando, FL||Hard Justice (2005)||Defeated Jeff Jarrett for title.|||
|67||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.|||
|68||Jeff Jarrett||4||September 15, 2005||38||Windsor, ON||International Incident|
|69||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.|||
|70||Jeff 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 (2006)|||
|72||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.|||
|73||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.|||
|74||Abyss||1||November 19, 2006||56||Orlando, FL||Genesis (2006)||Abyss defeated Sting by disqualification after Sting pushed the official.|||
|75||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 was stripped of the championship when the NWA regained control of the title.|
|76||Adam 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||Brent Albright||1||August 2, 2008||49||New York City, NY||ROH Death Before Dishonor VI|||
|78||Adam 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||Adam Pearce||3||March 14, 2010||357||Charlotte, NC||House show||Three-Way Elimination match also featuring Phill Shatter.|||
|81||Colt Cabana||1||March 6, 2011||48||West Hollywood, CA||NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood taping|||
|82||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.|||
|83||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.|||
|84||Colt Cabana||2||April 8, 2012||104||Glendale, CA||NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood taping|||
|85||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.|||
|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||Rob Conway||1||March 16, 2013||294||San Antonio, TX||NWA Branded Outlaw Wrestling||Conway replaced an injured Jax Dane and defeated Kahagas for the title|||
|88||Satoshi Kojima||1||January 4, 2014||149||Tokyo, Japan||Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome|||
|89||Rob Conway||2||June 2, 2014||257||Las Vegas, NV||Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion Show|||
|90||Hiroyoshi Tenzan||1||February 14, 2015||167+||Sendai, Japan||The New Beginning in Sendai|||
|+||Indicates the current champion|
|<1||The reign is shorter than one day.|
As of July 31, 2015.
†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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