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Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
Kayfabe Memories is a
website that will attempt to, over time, examine both the major and
minor wrestling promotions that existed between the time frames of 1965
and 1989. However, we will break this time focus for certain specific
promotions that were either part of the regional period and extended
beyond the 1989 (such as the USWA) ending point, or for very specific
promotions that though after 1989, had that regional feel (such as GWF
or SMW). As stated, this period of time between 1965-1989 is
generally referred to as the regional or territory days of pro
wrestling. Whereas nowadays, there are essentially 3 large promotions (WWF,
WCW, and ECW), and a large number of independent groups, 20 years ago
there were many organizations that were all essentially on the same
level. Some were bigger (WWF, NWA and AWA), and some smaller, but none
outsized the others as is seen today. Furthermore, each of these
promotions were based in a specific part or region of the country
and for the most part, stayed within those set boundaries. This was
their territory and they respected those boundaries. For
instance, the Lebell Brothers, ran their promotion in and around the
L.A. area, while Roy Shire ran his promotion further north in San
Francisco. Both could have run shows in each others towns but they did
not, choosing rather to respect the informal rules that territorial
wrestling followed. The rest of the country followed a similar set of
rules that found their beginnings in 1948 when the National Wrestling
Alliance was formed.
The NWA was first started in '48 in order for wrestling promoters to avoid strict anti-trust laws. Though each promoter would essentially work separate from the others, they would work with each other under the NWA banner. While each promotion may've had their own regional champions, there was also an NWA World Champion that each and every promotion under the NWA banner recognized.
The first NWA champion came from the Midwest Wrestling Association, who joined the NWA when it was formed. His name was Orville Brown. During this same time, there was another NWA… the National Wrestling Association. Their champion was Lou Thesz. In 1949, Thesz won the National Wrestling Alliance belt when Brown was unable to compete. Over the next few years, Thesz unified several championships as they joined the NWA to create one singular championship. It should be noted that championship matches during this period consisted of two out of three falls.
In 1960, the American Wrestling Association named Pat O'Connor their World heavyweight champion, effectively splitting themselves off from the NWA. This title eventually found its way to Verne Gagne, who held it for much of the promotion's history.More...