The NWA. The National Wrestling Alliance. Three words and three letters that were overlooked over the years. That was until a man known as Nick Aldis came along.
The NWA World Heavyweight Championship is one of the most recognizable championships in the business. The National Wrestling Alliance was formally established in 1948 by promoter Paul “Pinky” George with Orville Brown unanimously being recognized as the first official NWA World Champion, though its lineage can be traced back to George Hackenschmidt in 1905 making it the oldest surviving wrestling championship in the world. Its legacy and prestige have since been etched in stone.
The “Ten Pounds of Gold” has been featured in many successful promotions over the years such as Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation, and in recent years, Total Nonstop Action and Ring of Honor.
The NWA took a heavy fall when they cut their ties with TNA Wrestling. Then-champion, Christian Cage was stripped of the World Heavyweight Championship on May 13, 2007, and from there, TNA created the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. The Ten Pounds of Gold stayed vacated for four months after that until Adam Pierce defeated Brent Albright in the finals of the Reclaiming the Gold Tournament on September 1, 2007. After, it was difficult for the belt to be challenged due to the same issues that plagued it in the past – a lack of stable promotions within the NWA.
Fast forward to October 21, 2016, in Sherman, Texas. A match took place between then-champion Jax Dane against Tim Storm for the Ten Pounds of Gold at a house show. The crowd got to see something nobody predicted happening, something thirty years earlier people would’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars to see: the NWA World Championship changing hands. This was in 2016 when it was so easy to live stream an event, yet it wasn’t. The Ten Pounds of Gold had reached the lowest point in its long and historic lineage.
On October 1, 2017, lead singer of the Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan, had the vision to bring prominence back to the NWA name and he took full control of the alliance. Corgan formerly worked with (then-TNA) Impact Wrestling. The wrestling world would soon come to realize that Billy was in it for the long haul.
On the topic of teaming with Corgan again, in a recent interview on ProWrestlingStories.com’s The Genius Cast podcast, Jeff Jarrett said, “It’s great. With his background and his career in music, he’s not only a great musician, a great artist, and a great performer, he’s a businessman. So, to be doing the business with a businessman it goes a long way and he respects the industry. He knows the industry, he’s very intelligent and knowledgeable about it. He’s not just a musician who does this on a whim. He’s in it on the long haul and for the right reasons and so I’ve got a ton of respect for that guy and couldn’t be happier for him personally and where the [NWA] brand is headed.”
Jarrett also stated what it was like working with this new form of the NWA. “It goes without saying, working with the NWA now is different. The old NWA had twelve, thirteen, fourteen promoters and by nature, there wasn’t a decision maker. There was a collective group and that’s always tough. Especially in the wrestling business. You can look at Vince McMahon and you can look at WCW- which succeeded? The organization that had someone who the buck stopped at them. Love it or hate it, [Vince] made the ultimate decision, and in WCW, there were times where I’m sure Eric [Bischoff wanted to do more], but he always had to play to a publicly traded company no matter how you sliced it. It was never the buck stops with one person from the day Ted Turner acquired it, so that’s the difference. It’s incredibly different and I couldn’t be happier for Billy and Dave Lagana and where the [NWA] is headed as well.”
Hear Jeff Jarrett discuss the NWA, “holding the WWF hostage”, his surprise on getting the call to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and so much more on The Genius Cast podcast:
By the end of 2017, headlines were buzzing again about the Ten Pounds of Gold. On December 9, 2017, at CZW’s annual Cage of Death show, Nick Aldis successfully claimed the NWA World Heavyweight Championship off Tim Storm for the first time. This was a moment that brought life back to a fading brand.
For those who do not know, Nick Aldis (formerly known as Magnus) is a former TNA World Heavyweight, GFW Global, and IWGP Tag Team Champion. While this story didn’t quite draw many more people into the NWA, it helped people remember and get talking about it again.
The NWA had to pull out something major to gain further media attention, so they announced something that old-school fans recognized and respected: The Aldis Crusade. The Aldis Crusade was a series of twenty title defenses in a period of sixty days. Much like in the old-days, Nick Aldis would have to successfully defend against top guys from the area like Tommy Dreamer at House of Hardcore and Ken Anderson at F1RST Wrestling. And he did so brilliantly. They even went as far as to bring The Aldis Crusade to a global level of recognition. On April 14, 2018, Nick Aldis became the first man to defend the Ten Pounds of Gold in China, and he did so against the former two-time champ, Colt Cabana. This marked the end of The Aldis Crusade, but the incredible defenses did not end there.
On May 13, 2018, at the ALL IN Press Conference, it was announced that Nick Aldis would defend the Ten Pounds of Gold against Cody [Rhodes] at ALL IN. This led to two matches for the NWA World Heavyweight Champion in Ring of Honor. The first being on May 24, 2018, where The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson) defeated Aldis and Mark Haskins. The second of which, and the one that really showed the world who Nick Aldis truly was, took place on July 20, 2018. Nick Aldis took on the underdog in Flip Gordon and successfully defended the Ten Pounds of Gold against him in an incredible match that put the NWA on the map some more.
It was time for the ultimate test for Nick Aldis. One fall against Cody for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at September 1st, 2018’s ALL IN show. To make things harder for Nick, this was the home stage for Cody as he and The Young Bucks had funded the ALL IN event themselves. Would Aldis crack under the pressure? Aldis had the support of former six-time NWA World Champion and WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett, Samuel Shaw, Shawn Daivari, and the man he beat for the prestigious and historic Ten Pounds of Gold, Tim Storm on his side, while Cody had support in the form of WWE Hall of Famer and former three-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion Diamond Dallas Page, Glacier, Tommy Dreamer, and his own wife, Brandi Rhodes.
Cody would be no easy challenge, however. He himself was a ten-year veteran of the WWE, a former two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, a former six-time Tag Team Champion in WWE, and a former ROH World Champion. Not to mention, he was mentored by the thirteen-time World Champion in WWE Randy Orton in Legacy, by his brother Dustin and father, the legendary Dusty Rhodes.
The bell rang. Throughout a lot of controversies, including Nick accidentally connecting an elbow drop on Brandi who had put herself on top of Cody, and what should’ve been a count-out victory for Nick, Cody defied the odds and won the title that his father Dusty held many times in his career. Cody was the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
On August 17, 2018, two weeks before the historic ALL IN event, it was announced that the NWA would be holding a 70th Anniversary Show in Nashville, Tennesse. It was also announced that the Ten Pounds of Gold would be defended in the main event and that six-time NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett would be co-producing the event with the NWA on FITE TV.
The official announcement read: “The NWA World Heavyweight Championship, known as the ‘Ten Pounds of Gold,’ will be defended at a blockbuster event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the National Wrestling Alliance at 6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21 at the historic Asylum at the Nashville Fairgrounds. The show, in conjunction with the NWA and Global Wrestling Entertainment, also will be carried live on FITE TV, the premium digital streaming network.”
Jeff Jarrett talked to JP Zarka of ProWrestlingStories.com about how the opportunity came up to co-produce the NWA 70th Anniversary Show and what it meant to him. “We [Global Force Entertainment/GFE] were looking for events, and the NWA was looking to run an event and they had the 70th anniversary. If you would’ve told me in January or February when was had our first discussions that NWA 70 would’ve taken place in the Asylum with Cody Rhodes as the champion, where his father had once wrestled, I never would have believed it. We set up a live gate record. That’s one of the roles I played for the NWA, I was the promoter. Man, it was just super exciting, so for me to get to promote the 70th Anniversary Show, it was super special, from a personal and emotional level.”
On September 9, 2018, it was announced that Nick Aldis would be receiving his rematch for the Ten Pounds of Gold against Cody at the NWA 70th Anniversary Show. It was later announced that the rematch would be defended in a Best of 3 Falls match – a nod to NWA’s past. For those who are unaware, in the territorial days, the title was rarely defended in one-fall and was traditionally defended in a Best of 3 Falls match A major use of this was when Gene Kiniski forgot that a match with Dory Funk Jr. for the title was a special one-fall contest and gave the “first” fall to Dory and lost the title. Dory went on to hold the title he wasn’t even supposed to win for four years.
Four days before the NWA 70th Anniversary Show took place, Aldis announced that he would be having an “insurance policy” at ringside as an equalizer for Brandi. However, Nick did not state who the insurance policy was but rather wanted to use the element of surprise to his advantage.
NWA 70 came along and the show went well despite a few audio issues at the beginning of the show. Sam Shaw moved onto the finals of the tournament for the NWA National Championship along with Willie Mack. Barrett Brown defeated Laredo Kid in an incredible match. Tim Storm beat Peter Avalon in a Kiss My Foot match. Jazz successfully defended her NWA World Women’s Championship against Penelope Ford. Crimson and Jax Dane defeated The Kingdom of Jocephus (Crazzy Steve & Shannon Moore). Willie Mack defeated Sam Shaw to claim the vacant NWA National Championship.
It was time for the Main Event: Cody (c) vs. Nick Aldis in a Best of 3 Falls match for the Worlds Heavyweight Championship.
When Nick came out, everyone found out that his insurance policy was Kamilla Kaine. Throughout the match, she was successful at preventing Brandi’s attempts to help her husband. The first fall went to Aldis after Cody tapped to the King’s Lynn Cloverleaf. The second fall spilled out to the floor and referee, legendary Earl Hebner, opted to let them fight. Their fight went out to the crowd and even out to the concessions stand! The second fall was scored as Nick went for an elbow drop from the top rope onto Cody who was on a table on the ground ten feet below but Cody moved out of the way just in the nick of time. Cody dragged Nick into the ring, connected with the Cross Rhodes and pinned him. The third fall was incredibly suspenseful. Cody kicked out of a tombstone piledriver and Nick escaped the three count after a Cross Rhodes. At one point, Cody had Nick in the King’s Lynn Cloverleaf but Nick got to the ropes. The final fall occurred when Nick grabbed Cody’s foot. His boot came off. Nick, confused, threw the boot out of the ring when Cody put Nick into a small cradle. Nick managed to reverse the small cradle at two, getting Cody covered in the small cradle. Hebner counted three and Nick Aldis was named the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Since NWA 70, Nick Aldis successfully defended the Ten Pounds of Gold against Brandon Scott in the MCW Arena. It was also announced that he would be defending the Ten Pounds of Gold against Jack Hager (A.K.A. Jack Swagger) at the WrestleCade: SuperShow, against Billy Gunn in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and three more defenses against unannounced opponents towards the end of the year in Great Britain.
This brought up one final question for Jeff Jarrett. With a legend like ‘Mr. A*s’ Billy Gunn challenging for the NWA World Championship, how open would Jeff be to challenge for the Ten Pounds Gold in the future? “Not open at all! Sure, I’d love to, wrestling is my first true love, but at the end of the day, it’s a young man’s game. Although I’ve trained every day, I don’t feel the need to pursue an NWA title match with Nick. I love my role as the live event promoter, but on the flip side, you gotta say never say never…”
During NWA’s 70th Anniversary Show, it was announced that the Crockett Cup would be returning in 2019. The Crockett Cup was a major tournament in the NWA (mainly JCP/Mid-Atlantic) featuring tag teams from around the world. It is currently unknown when specifically the Crockett Cup will return but it is another prime example of how the NWA, under Billy Corgan’s wing, will become traditional and prestigious again.
Nick Aldis mentioned the NWA’s “Rise to Prominence” on a recent episode of the Ten Pounds of Gold YouTube series, and that got me thinking. If there is a rise to prominence, wouldn’t that make this moment right now the #EraOfProminence for the NWA? That is exactly what this is, an Era of Prominence. With Billy Corgan, David Lagana, and Nick Aldis, we are looking at potentially another Gold Dust Trio. (The Gold Dust Trio was a trio with a promoter, World Champion, and manager who brought pro wrestling to relevance. in the past.) The NWA is rising and it is rising fast. The things Billy has done is incredible. Keep your eye on the NWA because before you know it, they could be taking Impact’s spot as the “Big Four” of promotions alongside WWE, New Japan, and Ring of Honor.