For my first edition of The Ten, I decided to look into who could be considered The Ten NWA World Champions to have had memorable or historic runs with Sweet Charlotte. It should be noted that while I tried to be as clinical as possible there will be some on the list you may disagree with and feel should be replaced with others and you would be right. It is impossible not to be somewhat biased in these types of lists but I will do my best to explain my reasoning for each.
You should also know this is NOT a TOP TEN as they will not be ranked. These are just the Ten Men I believe should be recognized as the Greatest NWA Champions, at this time.
I am going to start off by going over the three Honourable Mentions.
First is the longest reigning Canadian and one of the longest reigning champions of all time. I can not speak of personal experience with Gene as I can only remember seeing him in the Starrcade 83 Main Event between Ric Flair and Harley Race as the special referee. They talked about him in great length on the commentary about his legacy and his name still is recognizable even if you can’t remember a match of his.
Pat O’Connor is the only one of the entire list that I had never heard of before doing the research into this article. He is in both the WWE and NWA Hall of Fame. Would love to hear what others think of him that remember watching his matches.
And this is the point most of you will likely stop reading but before you do, let me defend why I have him only as an Honourable Mention and not in The Ten. Nick Aldis IS and HAS been a Great Champion and an amazing ambassador of Professional Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance as his time as champion. But of all of the people on this list, his legacy in both Professional Wrestling AND with the Ten Pounds of Gold is still being written. I will go over who I would replace him with when his time in the spotlight is over.
We start of with the first man to defeat an NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Lou Thesz is a name every single wrestling fan has heard even if you have only been watching wrestling for 3 hours. The Man held on to the belt longer than any other man since. While it was a different time, no one can deny the legacy that comes with being Champion for a total over 10 years which even over his three reigns is an average over 3 years per reign and that’s not Scott Steiner math either.
The next man on this list to have been the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship is the man who has held the belt longer than everyone but two men. While I am just getting into seeing some of his matches at the end of his prime years, I really like hearing his old promos, which NWA and WWE love to show us when they can. It is clear from listening to any group of wrestlers talk today what impact and legacy he has left from his time as World Champion.
DORY FUNK JR.
In his first reign as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, he was one of only THREE men to hold that title in a 10 year span between 1963 and 1973. He was the first of the family the make it big on the national stage. Along with innovating the business with his style, he is credited with creating the Texas Cloverleaf which is still a major move to this day. He is in both Hall of Fames and within the NWA I feel his is the name most recognized from the Funk family.
Like with Dory Funk Jr, Jack Brisco is someone who I was less familiar with than one of their relatives. Jack was the first person to be able to say they defeated Harley Race for the Championship and was the first person to lost the belt to Giant Baba temporarily. His two reigns have him sitting at 866 days which CURRENTLY keeps him 10th on the longest times as champion list but Nick Aldis will have past that by the time you read this or is close to doing so.
In my research for writing this, Dusty Rhodes is the one I was the most shocked about. I was not shocked that he was the NWA Champion because it has been so engrained in my thoughts and memories of him being seen as this great historical champion but his combined three reigns barely total over 100 days. I think the fact his Legacy lives so strong to this day and how shocked I was when seeing how short his time as champion was makes him a lock for this list. On top of that, he is also part of the ONLY father and son duo to have held the belt and that just adds to his Legacy.
The only man that has come close to Lou Thesz’s record. There is no denying the history and legacy of Ric Flair and the Ten Pounds of Gold are so connected that it is hard not to picture Flair without Sweet Charlotte or the Big Gold Belt. He holds the record for most reigns as Champion. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time and highly debated to be THE greatest of all time. There is no need to really explain any more why Ric Flair is one of The Ten!
Just a mention to one of the shortest yet most memorable reigns in the history of the championship. Yes he disrespected the championship like no other. Yes his reign was never really a reign. And Yes, he does not belong in the ten greatest NWA anything, but there is no doubt he was the most controversial person to ever be recognized as champion. What do you think about his impact on the belt as time passes?
THE TEN (continued)
It is true that Sting hasn’t broken a lot of records with his times as Champion but that doesn’t mean his name isn’t in the record books along with the Ten Pounds of Gold. Sting has the longest time between his reigns as well as doing so when the belt had been controlled by two completely different companies. Sting’s second reign even can be said to have regained the legacy of the belt itself tying the modern TNA era to the old times of the championship.
This is the first of what I feel will be controversial picks to be in The Ten. Let me start by saying I am well aware that his reign was during what most considered to be a dead time. But let’s just try to think objectively and historically for a second. His first reign is the third longest reign behind Dory Funk’s only reign and Lou Thesz first reign. The Man was defending the belt and appearing on national wrestling shows with the belt while also fighting in the UFC and basically carrying two promotions in two different sports at once. The guy, pardon the pun, is a BEAST and he wrote a legacy with the championship that I feel earned him a spot on this list.
And now for the other controversial pick on this list. So Adam Pearce would actually be the person I would replace on this list with Nick Aldis but didn’t for the reasons I already stated for Nick. As for why I feel Adam Pearce has earned his spot on this list, well like Dan Severn, I don’t feel the level of prestige of the NWA at the time of their reign is the sole judge of their reign. Adam Pearce is one of only FOUR men in history to hold the belt on more than 3 occassions. He is the 7th longest reigning champion of all time. His series with Colt Cabana was so good it actually made me hear about the NWA championship when I hadn’t even been following the NWA at the time and the controversy in which that series ended as left a lasting impact on the championship and I would even say led to the situation it was in at the beginning of the Ten Pounds of Gold series. I would love to hear why you think he does or doesn’t deserve to be on this list.
I don’t think anyone, not even AJ Styles, personifies the NWA World Heavyweight Championship more than Jeff Jarrett during the TNA era of the belt. Yes, he owned the company but he wouldn’t have been the first booker/promoter to put the belt on themselves. I would say I think of Jarrett more as the NWA Champion than as his championship runs with different belts in WCW and WWF. I know some feel he was the Triple H of TNA during that time but history, in my opinion, has shown he has had a lasting legacy as the champion.
Thanks for reading everyone! I would love to hear your thoughts on this list as well as suggestions for future lists. Who would be YOUR Ten NWA World Champions?
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