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AWA and WWWF Split from the NWA

 - John Edwards

Back in the “good old days” I used to watch my local NWA telecasts on Channel 11 and read the Apter mags at the grocery store. I read about the “AWA” and the “WWWF” in the magazines, but never saw them, as we did not have cable yet and certainly no internet. As I got a little wiser, I understood the boundaries and that certain cities were “AWA” or “WWWF”, while the rest of the world was “NWA”.  And certainly St. Louis was the cornerstone of the NWA. 

The more I read and learned about the other two federations, the more I was convinced that the NWA was the real deal and the other two were minor league. The AWA and the WWWF did, from time to time, send talent to St. Louis. As mentioned in previous articles many, many AWA stars found the time to appear in the Kiel on a Friday night. The occasional WWWF superstar would also grace the St. Louis ring. Now that I realize this, years later, I ask the question: 

Why did the NWA allow the splits that became the AWA and the WWWF? 

From all my research of the beginnings of the NWA in 1948, the point of the organization appeared to be the protection of the product, the title, and the promoters’ best interests. That being said, things were <apparently> pretty smooth until the 1957 Thesz-Carpentier episode, which lead to the AWA.  The following is from the AWA section of 

The first real sign of trouble with the NWA's "undisputed" World title came in 1957, as Eduardo Carpentier defeated Lou Thesz to win the belt in a best-of-three falls match (the standard for title matches at that time). However, one of the falls was decided on a DQ, so one group of NWA Promoters chose not to recognize that title switch, while another group (led by Nebraska promoter Wally Karbo) chose not only to recognize Carpentier, but to continue recognizing that claim when Minnesota amateur wrestling legend Verne Gagne won the title from him in 1958. The situation worsened until finally Karbo's group (led, not coincidentally, by Gagne himself) split off in dramatic fashion to form the American Wrestling Association (or AWA for short), the first major challenger to the NWA's dominance of wrestling in America. Verne Gagne was given the first AWA World title, shocking no one.  More...

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