It’s official. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance have agreed to end their partnership. Negotiations have been foregone between the NWA’s Bob Trobich and Steve Campbell, who works for Panda Energy, the parent company of TNA. These negotiations have apparently led to an agreement to end their partnership as early as this week.
My original reaction was that of unhappiness. “TNA World Champion” just doesn’t have the allure that the NWA World Heavyweight Championship does. That title belt has over a century of history with its lineage linking all the way back to 1904 with George Hackenschmidt being named the first victor. The title has transcended through the years, being held by such notable champions as Frank Gotch, Ed “the Strangler” Louis, Lou Thesz and the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
Once I thought about it a little more, I realized this may not be so bad. It has happened before, several times actually. Here’s a little history lesson for all of you out there. This could get a little confusing, so pay attention. In 1960, National Wrestling Alliance officials would not grant deserving number-one contender Verne Gagne a title shot, so he branched off with his own world title, that of the American Wrestling Association, which lasted until 1991. In 1963, Vince McMahon Sr. refused to have his champion Buddy Rogers drop the NWA belt and instead McMahon began his own promotion, the World Wide Wrestling Federation, which to present-day viewers is known as the WWE. In 1988, the NWA’s main territory became World Championship Wrestling but in 1991, they lost the rights to the World title and created their own championship which fans regard as the true title to this day (Batista defends the current incarnation on the Smackdown Brand). By 1994, the NWA had become watered down and was shortly the centrepiece of ECW. Following the finals of a tournament victory against 2 Cold Scorpio, Shane Douglas threw down the title and proclaimed the NWA dead and buried and became the first-ever “Extreme Championship Wrestling” title holder.
Fast forward 12 years later, and once again a promotion is at the crossroads with the National Wrestling Alliance. In 2002, the NWA’s prestige was elevated to a level that had not been seen for over a decade. Ron “the Truth” Killings, AJ Styles, Jeff Jarrett and Christian Cage battled for that title with their blood, sweat and tears for nearly five years. It was once again in the spotlight, being defended on pay-per-view and in front of a national television audience of millions of people. As of this month, the upwards spiral will be going downhill.
The NWA will be taking their Heavyweight and Tag Team titles back. NWA had a number of rules in place, which TNA did not follow. One of these rules is that when a title change is to take place, TNA officials were to notify the NWA board of directors of such changes. TNA has also refused, rightfully so, to pay a fee when they had an event in another NWA member’s territory. Why should TNA have to pay a fee for working a show in a certain area? This year especially they have been trying to expand by having more and more house shows and should not be forced to pay baloney fees. These actions have indeed resulted with both parties coming to an agreement and officially splitting within the next few weeks.
Over the weekend at a show in Ontario, Bryan Danielson made a challenge saying he wants to be the NWA champion. The NWA committee met and once the titles are gone from TNA, Danielson is in line to be the next champion. Danielson is a fine competitor. He held gold in Ring of Honor for over a year, and can even wrestle toe-to-toe with nearly anybody. But NWA champion, especially in TNA? I don’t think so.
I guess I’ll get used to it after a few months. I have come to realize that the NWA is only using TNA to promote themselves and get back into a spotlight that was once theirs. My call would be that Pro Wrestling Illustrated, the renowned publication of our industry, will recognize TNA as a World title, recognizing Ken Shamrock as the first champion from 2002, taking away that recognition from the NWA. With death, brings life. New life to the NWA championship, as we may possibly see Samoa Joe defeat Christian Cage in the upcoming months to become the new heavyweight champion of the world. It’s time for a new era, the era of Samoa Joe. The era of Samoa Joe as the “TNA World Champion”.
Sounds darn good in my book.