WCW International World Heavyweight Championship
A professional wrestling championship belt with a roughly circular golden front plate
The Big Gold Belt represented the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship from 1993–94.
Details
PromotionWorld Championship Wrestling
New Japan Pro-Wrestling
BrandWCW International
Date establishedJuly 18, 1993
Date retiredJune 23, 1994
Statistics
First champion(s)Ric Flair
Final champion(s)Ric Flair
Most reignsRick Rude (3)
Longest reignRick Rude (178 days)
Shortest reignHiroshi Hase (8 days)

The WCW International World Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship that was contested in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) between 1993 and 1994. Although it was owned and controlled by WCW, the championship was presented as the highest accolade of "WCW International", a fictitious subsidiary. The championship was contested at WCW events and at several events in Japan under the aegis of New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW).

Represented by the historic Big Gold Belt, the championship originated as the world heavyweight title of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), an umbrella organization of wrestling promotions from which WCW withdrew in 1993. At that time, WCW was responsible for deciding which of their wrestlers would hold the NWA championship. When the NWA withdrew WCW's control of the booking of their championship, a fictitious alternative was created to promote the use of the title belt.

Over the title's history, eight title reigns were shared between four wrestlers. Rick Rude's three title reigns comprise the longest total time as champion with 202 cumulative days. Hiroshi Hase is the champion with the shortest reign of eight days; Rude holds the longest individual reign of 178 days. Ric Flair was the first and last titleholder.

Background

The WCW International World Heavyweight Championship has its origins in the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, the principal championship of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). The NWA was a syndicate of wrestling promotions who would book an overall champion.[1] In 1991, the NWA World Heavyweight Champion was Ric Flair, who held the title when he wrestled for WCW. Flair was simultaneously considered the WCW World Heavyweight Champion; he was stripped of both titles because he left to work for rival company World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE).[2] Lex Luger won the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Championship, which would remain the promotion's primary title throughout WCW's existence until the company's assets were bought by the WWF;[3] Masahiro Chono won a tournament designed to crown the next holder of the NWA championship.[4] As a result of WCW withdrawing its membership of the NWA in September 1993, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, now once again held by Flair, no longer carried the NWA name, but WCW retained the physical belt they had used to represent the title. This belt became the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship. The NWA then appointed Eastern Championship Wrestling as the promotion in charge of booking a new NWA champion.[4]

Overview

A headshot photograph of a blonde man wearing blue, black and white facepaint
Sting held the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions.

Ric Flair was the first WCW International World Heavyweight Champion; he had defeated Barry Windham for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in July 1993 and held it at the point when WCW withdrew from the NWA two months later.[4] Flair was booked by WCW to lose the championship to Rick Rude in the 1993 Fall Brawl event. After the NWA objected to this, WCW withdrew from the NWA and the title change went ahead, but with no mention of the NWA.[5] For a brief time following WCW's withdrawal, the championship was not officially named; it was referred to as the "Big Gold Belt" until WCW management renamed it the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship. This was not intended to be the "International World Heavyweight Championship" contested by WCW, but rather the "World Heavyweight Championship" of a fictitious promotion named WCW International.[6]

Rude engaged in a promotional tour in Japan with the championship; WCW held a partnership with Japanese promotion New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW).[7] Rude lost the championship briefly to NJPW wrestler Hiroshi Hase as part of this arrangement, regaining it after eight days to set up a loss to Sting. An angle in which Rude defeated Sting for the championship in another NJPW-organized bout was then set up.[8] The finish was arranged to involve Rude illegally using the title belt as a weapon to score the victory, causing officials to declare the win null and void. Sting refused to accept the title without "winning" it back. This match caused a back injury to Rude, which ended his in-ring career.[9]

At the 1994 Slamboree event, Rude had been scheduled to defend against Sting in a return match. However, due to the nature of Rude's win (and in reality because of his injury) WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel declared Rude's win void and returned the title to Sting. However, Sting immediately vacated the title, claiming that the fans had come to the event to see him win the title in the ring and they deserved to see a championship match. Therefore, a match for the then-vacant championship was held later that night, in which Sting defeated Big Van Vader to begin a second title reign.[10] The title last changed hands at the Clash of the Champions XXVII event in 1994. The angle matched Sting against Flair, who was now the WCW World Heavyweight Champion, in a championship unification match as a way of eliminate the WCW International title. Flair would win the match, unifying both championships and ending the existence of the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship.[11] The unified title would be represented by the Big Gold Belt.

Reigns

Key
No. Overall reign number
Reign Reign number for the specific champion
Days Number of days held
No. Champion Championship change Reign statistics Notes Ref.
Date Event Location Reign Days
1 Ric Flair July 18, 1993 Beach Blast 1993 Biloxi, Mississippi 1 63 Flair defeated Barry Windham for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The NWA withdraws recognition on September 15, 1993, when WCW leaves the NWA. Flair continued to be recognized as "World Heavyweight Champion" by WCW. WWE does not recognize this reign as a separate reign, and it is included as one of Flair's eight NWA title reigns recognized by WWE. [12][13][14]
2 Rick Rude September 19, 1993 Fall Brawl 1993 Houston, Texas 1 178 Rude was recognized as "WCW International" World Heavyweight Champion after withdrawal of WCW from NWA. [15]
3 Hiroshi Hase March 16, 1994 House show Tokyo, Japan 1 8 [16]
4 Rick Rude March 24, 1994 House show Kyoto, Japan 2 24 [17]
5 Sting April 17, 1994 Spring Stampede 1994 Rosemont, Illinois 1 14 [18]
Rick Rude May 1, 1994 Wrestling Dontaku 1994 Fukuoka, Japan 3 21 Later, this victory was reversed due to use of the belt as a weapon and Rude's entire reign became unrecognized by WCW. However, Rude had already defended the title on the April 21, 1994 taping of WCW Saturday Night, which was shown via tape delay on May 14. This reign is currently recognized by WWE. [19][20]
Vacated May 22, 1994 Slamboree 1994 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Sting was notified of the reversal at Slamboree, but refused the title, leaving it vacant. [11]
6 Sting May 22, 1994 Slamboree 1994 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2 32 Sting defeated Big Van Vader for the vacant championship later that same night. [21]
7 Ric Flair June 23, 1994 Clash of the Champions XXVII North Charleston, South Carolina 2 <1 [22]
Unified June 23, 1994 The championship was retired following its unification with the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

Combined reigns

Rank Wrestler No. of reigns Combined days
1 Rick Rude 3 202
2 Ric Flair 2 63
3 Sting 2 46
4 Hiroshi Hase 1 8

Footnotes

  1. ^ Lawler 2002, p. 113.
  2. ^ "Slam! Sports – Wrestling – Ric Flair". Canoe.ca. Archived from the original on May 22, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  3. ^ "WCW World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "NWA World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  5. ^ Hornbaker 2007, p. 341.
  6. ^ Reynolds & Baer 2003, pp. 136–137.
  7. ^ Woodward, Buck (January 16, 2009). "PWInsider Q&A: WCW International World Title, Maryse, MVP and More". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  8. ^ Molinaro, John F. "History of New Japan at the Fukuoka Dome". Canoe.ca. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  9. ^ Shields 2010, p. 110.
  10. ^ "Slamboree". The History of WWE. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "'WCW International' World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  12. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (July 18, 1993). "WCW Beach Blast 1993 - Pay Per View @ Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi, USA". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  13. ^ "WCW 1993". Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  14. ^ "Wrestling Observer 1993". Wrestling Observer Newlletter. September 27, 1993. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  15. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (September 19, 1993). "WCW Fall Brawl 1993 - Pay Per View @ Astro Arena in Houston, Texas, USA". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  16. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (March 16, 1994). "NJPW Hyper Battle 1994 - Tag 10 - TV-Show @ Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  17. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (March 24, 1994). "NJPW Hyper Battle 1994 - Tag 16 - TV-Show @ Kyoto Prefectural Gymnasium in Kyoto, Japan". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  18. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (April 17, 1994). "WCW Spring Stampede 1994 - Pay Per View @ Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois, USA". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  19. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (May 1, 1994). "NJPW Wrestling Dontaku In Fukuoka Dome - TV-Show @ Fukuoka Dome in Fukuoka, Japan". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  20. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (April 24, 1994). "WCW Saturday Night - TV-Show @ Centre Stage Theatre in Georgia, USA". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  21. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (May 22, 1994). "WCW Slamboree 1994 - "A Legends' Reunion" - Pay Per View @ Civic Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  22. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip (June 23, 1994). "WCW Clash Of The Champions #27 - TV-Show @ McAllister Fieldhouse in Charleston, South Carolina, USA". Cagematch - The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved March 31, 2021.

References