The National Wrestling Alliance or NWA for short has recently return to the wrestling world's attention as former lead singer of the rock band "Smashing Pumpkins" and former TNA Vice President, Billy Corgan has manage to revive the once dead promotion and with the help of various wrestlers both from the indies and formerly employed by TNA Wrestling, Corgan has provided a product for wrestling fans who are sick of the gimmicky, choreographed super kicking style of pro wrestling that it is now.
But today, I'm here to talk about the reason why the NWA World Championship was vacant before the first NWA TNA PPV back in 2002.
The Beast Becomes Champion
In 1995, MMA star and pro wrestling's equivalent of Tom Selleck, Dan "The Beast" Severn joined the NWA where he would become the world champion on two different occasions while achieving major accolades along the way like winning the UFC Superfight Championship making him the first person to hold two championships from two different sports.
He also was ranked number 35 on Pro Wrestling's Illustrated 500 magazine back in 95 and even held the NWA World Championship for 4 years, making him one of the longest reigns champions in the titles history.
Severn would defend the ten pounds of gold in various promotions until he showed up in the WWF back in 1997, complete a large assortment of other titles from the UFC and with Jim Cornette has his mouthpiece/manager.
Severn's time within the WWF wasn't very fruitful as The Beast of UFC and The NWA would be an afterthought in the attitude era doing color commentary, refereeing the infamous Hart Dungeon match between fellow MMA star Ken Shamrock and Owen Hart, allegedly promising to beat up everyone in the 1999 royal rumble match and according to Dan himself, the WWF wanted him to tattoo the numbers 666 aka "the Mark of the Beast" on his forehead and become a member on Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness faction...unsurprisingly Severn refused.
It is easy to see why Severn didn't do much of great importance during his WWF run because when you have over the top personalities like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, and DGeneration-X, not to mention the fact that UFC or mixed martial arts in general wasn't as popular as it is nowadays plus Severn's no-nonsense demeanor and issues with creative made it clear as day the NWA champion was not to last long in Vince McMahon's house of sports entertainment.
Enter NWA TNA
By the late 90's and early 2000's the popularity and influence the NWA had over the wrestling world was no more and was regulated to being a launching pad for new promotions who were looking to establish some legitimacy to their brand. The most notable of these brands was the new startup company known as Tuesday Night All-Stars or TNA for short.
Fun Fact, the initials for TNA didn't originally stand for Total Nonstop Action but they actually stood for Tuesday Night All-Stars.
They original idea was that the company was going to be airing it's weekly pay-per-view format on Tuesday nights, however due to WWE replaying previous PPV's around this time on Tuesday, the company would have to move to Wednesdays nights but the company decide to keep they initials but instead the TNA name would now mean Total Nonstop Action.
In 2002, Severn defeated a Japanese star named Shinya Hashimoto to become the NWA world champion for the second time, however this reign would be short lived as The Beast was suppose to wrestle on June 19th 2002 (the date of the first NWA TNA show) and defend his title but alas a number of commitments prevented this from happening and as a result Severn was stripped of the NWA Championship weeks in advance.
The World's Most Dangerous Champion
With Severn stripped of the title, NWA TNA ran the show as followed with the main event being a 20 man over the top rope gauntlet for the gold which saw the former WWE Intercontinental Champion, Ken Shamrock becoming the first ever world champion in TNA's long and storied history.
Shamrock would defend the belt against a few opponents before losing the gold to Ron "The Truth" Killings aka R-Truth on episode eight of NWA TNA. Shamrock would be gone not too long after this match but he did make a brief return to the company in 2004 until he stepped back into the ring to face former NFL star turn pro wrestler, Moose at Bound For Glory 2019.
Since then Shamrock has become a regular on current Impact Wrestling TV and even got inducted into the Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame at Bound For Glory 2020.
And despite a brief working agreement to have an empty arena match between two of the NWA's most recognizable stars back in 2018, the NWA and TNA would end their partnership in 2007 but that's a story for another day...
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