WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Retirement of the WWE World Title and Ric Flair

If you have read my blogs before, you know how great an NWA homer I am. You know how I was born and raised on the principals of the figure-four leg lock. You know I believe in the Dory Funk Jr. Upper cut and the iron claw of any Von Erich you could name. I believe in Kayfabe as a religion and the best preacher to ever grace a commentator’s desk was the late Gordon Solie. For me, the NWA and WCW were and always will be professional wrestling’s greatest era. Now it appears that another part of that time period has been put to rest.

It appears, at least after the replay I saw from Monday night on Raw, the former WCW Title has been retired, safely in the hands of the greatest to ever wear the belt, Ric Flair.

When Flair greeted John Cena in the last segment of Raw before the handicap tag match, Cena told Flair to hold onto the title that he made famous as a champion in the NWA and then as a past of World Championship Wrestling. The segment with Flair himself may have been hokie and a bit odd, but it was the subtle way Cena affirmed the idea that one title – unified – would represent the company.

The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) is a professional wrestling governing body which has historically been the largest league of independent wrestling promotions in the world. The organization sanctions various NWA championship bouts within its member promotions. The NWA has been in operation since 1948. Prior to the 1960s, it acted as the sole governing body for most of professional wrestling, operating as a talent and brand name franchiser for the inter-regional “territory” system.

World Championship Wrestling, Inc. (WCW) was an American professional wrestling promotion based in Atlanta, Georgia. It began as a regional promotion affiliated with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), named Jim Crockett Promotions until November 1988, when Ted Turner and his Turner Broadcasting System established the promotion, initially renaming it Universal Wrestling Corporation (UWC) that consisted of Crockett’s assets, but soon changing the name again to World Championship Wrestling.

In the mid-1990s WCW improved its economic stability, largely due to the promotion of Eric Bischoff to Executive Producer, the hiring of Hulk Hogan, the introduction of Nitro and the resultant Monday Night Wars, the New World Order and other innovative concepts. However, numerous problems financially and creatively led to the company losing its lead. Its fall from grace and the various factors leading up to it have been heavily documented within the industry.

Turner, and later Time Warner, owned WCW until 2001 when selected assets were purchased by its primary competitor, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), now known as WWE.

The majority of the success of both wrestling territories had to do with the growth and development of Flair, who has been considered the greatest world champion of all time. In my world, the discussion about who the best of all time starts and stops with the “limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun.”

Flair has won ten NWA Championships in NWA/WCW, as well as three NWA Championships in All Star Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and Central States Wrestling (CSW). Along with these, he is an eight-time WCW Champion, two-time WCW International World Champion, and two-time WWF Champion, making him a 26-time world heavyweight champion.

Flair’s antics over the past few years – centered around his abuse of alcohol, the legal issues with support and the recent poor showing on screen, giving him the title and basically retiring both the greatest title of all time in the business and the greatest of all time makes plenty of sense.

And in the end, laid to rest another part of wrestling that most of us remember fondly. The move was subtle and in my eyes, the WWE should be commended for not making this a serious issue heading into one of the more important pay-per-view events of the year.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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