List of NWA World Heavyweight Champions
|No.||Overall reign number|
|Reign||Reign number for the specific champion|
|Days||Number of days held|
|Days recog.||Number of days held recognized by the promotion|
|†||Championship change is unrecognized by the promotion|
|<1||Reign lasted less than a day|
|No.||Champion||Championship change||Reign statistics||Notes||Ref.|
|National Wrestling Alliance|
|1||Orville Brown||July 14, 1948||House show||Des Moines, IA||1||501||501||In July 1948, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) was founded and Brown was recognized as the first official NWA World Heavyweight Champion. His reign length is calculated from the date he defeated Sonny Myers to first claim the world championship.||[a]|
|2||Lou Thesz||November 27, 1949||N/A||N/A||1||1,941||2,300||Awarded when Brown suffered career-ending injuries in an automobile accident on November 1, 1949. Thesz had earlier won the National Wrestling Association's World Heavyweight Championship on July 10, 1948 from Wild Bill Longson. Thesz became the undisputed champion of all of wrestling by winning the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium World Heavyweight Championship, the remaining major world championship at the time other than the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Baron Michele Leone on May 21, 1952.||[b]|
|†||Leo Nomellini||March 22, 1955||House show||San Francisco, CA||1||115||—||Defeated Thesz by countout in the second fall and disqualification in the third fall. California Athletic Commission recognized the title change by disqualification, but both wrestlers continued to claim the title.|
|†||Lou Thesz||July 15, 1955||House show||Toronto, ON||2||244||—||Defeated Nomellini in a rematch.|
|3||Billy Watson||March 15, 1956||House show||Toronto, ON||1||239||239||Won the match and the championship by count out.||[c]|
|4||Lou Thesz||November 9, 1956||House show||St. Louis, MO||2(3)||217||370||Lou Thesz was able to unify the World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship (original version) with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship during this reign.||[d]|
|†||Édouard Carpentier||June 14, 1957||House show||Chicago, Illinois||1||40||—||Carpentier was awarded the title when Thesz could not continue the match due to a back injury. In some territories, Thesz continued to be recognized as NWA World Heavyweight Champion, while in others Carpentier was billed as the champion.||[e]|
|†||Lou Thesz||July 24, 1957||House show||Montreal, Quebec||4||113||—||Thesz won a rematch against Carpentier by disqualification. The NWA initially continued to recognize Carpentier as the champion, but voided any recognition of Carpentier as champion when he withdrew the claim for the title when Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn quit the NWA in August 1958. Some territories such as Boston (AAC), Nebraska and Los Angeles (NAWA/WWA) continued to recognize Carpentier as NWA World Heavyweight Champion. The AAC recognized Killer Kowalski as world champion when he defeated Carpentier in Boston. Nebraska later recognized Verne Gagne as world champion when he defeated Carpentier in Omaha. The NAWA/WWA recognized Freddie Blassie as world champion when he defeated Carpentier in 1961.||[f]|
|5||Dick Hutton||November 14, 1957||House show||Toronto, ON||1||421||421||[g]|
|6||Pat O'Connor||January 9, 1959||House show||St. Louis, MO||1||903||903||[h]|
|7||Buddy Rogers||June 30, 1961||House show||Chicago, Illinois||1||145||573|
|†||Killer Kowalski||November 22, 1961||House show||Montreal, Quebec||1||425||—||Kowalski defeated Rogers on November 21 after Rogers broke his ankle in the first fall. He was only recognized as champion in some states such as Texas until January 21, 1963 when he lost a rematch to Rogers in New York City.|
|†||Bruno Sammartino||August 2, 1962||House show||Toronto, Ontario||1||<1||—||On August 2, 1962, Bruno Sammartino defeated Rogers in Toronto, but refused to accept the title because Rogers had wrestled with an injury. The NWA considers Rogers' reign to last until Thesz.|||
|†||Bobo Brazil||August 18, 1962||House show||Newark, NJ||1||73||—||Brazil refused the title because of a groin injury that Rogers had claimed to have. However, on September 6, 1962, Brazil was declared champion because a doctor had determined that Rogers had not suffered an injury. This title change was not recognized by the NWA.|
|†||Buddy Rogers||October 30, 1962
(defeat of Brazil)
|House show||Toledo, OH||2||86||—||Rogers was widely, though not universally, considered champion again after his wins over Brazil and Kowalski. Kowalski disputed that Rogers had won the title, arguing that the match had not been for the title. As the NWA had recognized none of Rogers's losses, no second title reign was counted for Rogers.|
|†||Buddy Rogers||January 21, 1963
(defeat of Kowalski)
|House show||New York City, New York||2||3||—|
|8||Lou Thesz||January 24, 1963||House show||Toronto, ON||3(5)||1,079||1,079||Promoters in the northeast United States refused to recognize Rogers' one-fall loss to Thesz, thus breaking away from the NWA to form the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). Rogers was declared the first WWWF World Heavyweight Champion three months later, on April 25.||[i]|
|9||Gene Kiniski||January 7, 1966||House show||St. Louis, MO||1||1,131||1,131||[j]|
|10||Dory Funk Jr.||February 11, 1969||House show||Tampa, FL||1||1,563||1,563|||
|11||Harley Race||May 24, 1973||House show||Kansas City, Kansas||1||57||57|||
|12||Jack Brisco||July 20, 1973||House show||Houston, Texas||1||500||500|||
|13||Giant Baba||December 2, 1974||House show||Kagoshima, Japan||1||7||7|
|14||Jack Brisco||December 9, 1974||House show||Toyohashi, Japan||2||366||366|
|15||Terry Funk||December 10, 1975||House show||Miami Beach, Florida||1||424||424|
|16||Harley Race||February 6, 1977||House show||Toronto, ON||2||926||926|
|17||Dusty Rhodes||August 21, 1979||House show||Tampa, Florida||1||5||5|
|18||Harley Race||August 26, 1979||House show||Orlando, Florida||3||66||66|
|19||Giant Baba||October 31, 1979||House show||Nagoya, Japan||2||7||7|
|20||Harley Race||November 7, 1979||House show||Amagasaki, Japan||4||302||302|
|21||Giant Baba||September 4, 1980||House show||Saga, Japan||3||5||5|
|22||Harley Race||September 9, 1980||House show||Otsu, Japan||5||230||230|
|23||Tommy Rich||April 27, 1981||House show||Augusta, Georgia||1||4||4|
|24||Harley Race||May 1, 1981||House show||Gainesville, Georgia||6||51||51|
|25||Dusty Rhodes||June 21, 1981||House show||Atlanta, Georgia||2||88||88|
|26||Ric Flair||September 17, 1981||House show||Kansas City, Kansas||1||145||631||Former champion Lou Thesz was the special referee.|
|†||The Midnight Rider||February 9, 1982||House show||Miami, Florida||3||<1||—||On February 9, 1982 in Miami, The Midnight Rider (Dusty Rhodes under a mask due to being under suspension in Florida) defeated Flair for the title, but he returned it when NWA President Bob Geigel asked Rider to unmask or return the championship belt as NWA rules then forbade masked wrestlers from holding it.|
|†||Ric Flair||February 9, 1982||House show||Miami, Florida||2||150||—||The title returned to Flair. This is considered a continuation of Flair's previous reign|
|†||Jack Veneno||September 7, 1982||House show||Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic||1||<1||—||Jack Veneno defeated Flair in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. As Veneno refused to defend the title outside his native country, the title was returned to Flair on the same day.||[k]|
|†||Ric Flair||September 7, 1982||House show||Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic||3||121||—||The title returned to Flair later on due to the nature of the championship match. This is considered a continuation of Flair's previous reign||[k]|
|†||Carlos Colón||January 6, 1983||House show||San Juan, Puerto Rico||1||4||—||This title change is not recognized by the NWA. Colon's WWC World Heavyweight Championship was also on the line.||[l]|
|†||Ric Flair||January 10, 1983||House show||Miami, Florida||4||29||—||This title change is not recognized by the NWA.|
|†||Victor Jovica||February 8, 1983||House show||Couva, Trinidad||1||3||—||This title change is not recognised by the NWA. Victor Jovica defeated Flair on February 8, 1983 in Couva, Trinidad, but the decision was reversed three days later because Jovica's feet were on the rope during the pin.||[m][n]|
|†||Ric Flair||February 11, 1983||House show||Couva, Trinidad||5||119||—||The title returned to Flair three days later. This is considered a continuation of Flair's previous reign|
|27||Harley Race||June 10, 1983||House show||St. Louis, Missouri||7||167||167|
|28||Ric Flair||November 24, 1983||Starrcade||Greensboro, North Carolina||2(6)||117||164||This was a steel cage match. Former champion Gene Kiniski was the special referee.|
|29||Harley Race||March 20, 1984||House show||Wellington, New Zealand||8||3||3||This title change was recognized by World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and also by the NWA until at least 2011. The NWA didn't recognized the change since between 2017 and 2019 when they revised it again.|
|30||Ric Flair||March 23, 1984||House show||Kallang, Singapore||3(7)||44||44||This title change was recognized by World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and also by the NWA until at least 2011. The NWA didn't recognized the change between 2017 and 2019.|
|31||Kerry Von Erich||May 6, 1984||1st Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions||Irving, Texas||1||18||18|
|32||Ric Flair||May 24, 1984||House show||Yokosuka, Japan||4(8)||793||793|||
|Jim Crockett Promotions/World Championship Wrestling|
|33||Dusty Rhodes||July 26, 1986||The Great American Bash||Greensboro, North Carolina||3(4)||14||14|
|34||Ric Flair||August 9, 1986||House show||St. Louis, Missouri||5(9)||412||412|
|35||Ron Garvin||September 25, 1987||NWA World Wide Wrestling||Detroit, Michigan||1||62||62|
|36||Ric Flair||November 26, 1987||Starrcade||Chicago, Illinois||6(10)||452||452||On November 21, 1988 the NWA's flagship promotion Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) was purchased by Ted Turner and renamed World Championship Wrestling (WCW).|
|37||Ricky Steamboat||February 20, 1989||Chi-Town Rumble||Chicago, Illinois||1||76||76|
|38||Ric Flair||May 7, 1989||WrestleWar||Nashville, Tennessee||7(11)||426||426|
|39||Sting||July 7, 1990||The Great American Bash||Baltimore, Maryland||1||188||188|
|40||Ric Flair||January 11, 1991||House show||East Rutherford, New Jersey||8(12)||69||69||After this title win, Flair was also recognized as the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Of Flair's sixteen recognized world championships, WWE recognizes this reign as an NWA one, and not a WCW one.|
|41||Tatsumi Fujinami||March 21, 1991||Starrcade in Tokyo Dome||Tokyo, Japan||1||59||59||Briefly defended along with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This title change was originally ignored in the United States, but is retroactively recognized by WWE.|||
|42||Ric Flair||May 19, 1991||SuperBrawl I||St. Petersburg, Florida||9(13)||112||112||This title change was originally ignored in the United States, presenting Flair's reign as one continuous reign. This title change was briefly recognized by WCW.|
|—||Vacated||September 8, 1991||—||—||—||—||—||Flair was stripped of the NWA title upon signing with the World Wrestling Federation.|
|43||Masahiro Chono||August 12, 1992||G1 Climax 1992 – Day 5||Tokyo, Japan||1||145||145||Defeated Rick Rude in the final of the G1 Climax tournament.|
|44||The Great Muta||January 4, 1993||Fantastic Story in Tokyo Dome||Tokyo, Japan||1||48||48||Muta's IWGP Heavyweight Championship was also on the line|
|45||Barry Windham||February 21, 1993||SuperBrawl III||Asheville, North Carolina||1||147||147|||
|46||Ric Flair||July 18, 1993||Beach Blast||Biloxi, Mississippi||10(14)||57||57|||
|—||Vacated||September 13, 1993||—||—||—||—||—||Vacated when WCW withdrew from the NWA. WCW continued to recognize Flair as their WCW International World Heavyweight Champion.|
|National Wrestling Alliance|
|47||Shane Douglas||August 27, 1994||NWA World Title Tournament||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||1||<1||<1||Defeated 2 Cold Scorpio in tournament final.|||
|—||Vacated||August 27, 1994||NWA World Title Tournament||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||—||—||—||Douglas threw the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt down immediately after winning it and declared that he did not want to be the organization's champion; Douglas then declared the NWA-ECW Heavyweight Championship, of which he was already in possession, to be a world championship. Eastern Championship Wrestling then withdraws from the NWA and becomes Extreme Championship Wrestling.|||
|48||Chris Candido||November 19, 1994||NWA World Heavyweight Title Tournament||Cherry Hill, New Jersey||1||97||97||Defeated Tracy Smothers in tournament final.||[o]|
|49||Dan Severn||February 24, 1995||House show||Erlanger, Kentucky||1||1,479||1,479|||
|50||Naoya Ogawa||March 14, 1999||House show||Yokohama, Japan||1||195||195|
|51||Gary Steele||September 25, 1999||51st Anniversary Show||Charlotte, North Carolina||1||7||7||Gary Steele pinned Ogawa in a three-way match also involving Brian Anthony.|
|52||Naoya Ogawa||October 2, 1999||House show||Thomaston, Connecticut||2||274||274|
|—||Vacated||July 2, 2000||—||—||—||—||—||Ogawa vacated the title.|
|53||Mike Rapada||September 19, 2000||House show||Tampa, Florida||1||56||56||Defeated Jerry Flynn in tournament final.|
|54||Sabu||November 14, 2000||House show||Tampa, Florida||1||38||38|
|55||Mike Rapada||December 22, 2000||House show||Nashville, Tennessee||2||123||123|
|56||Steve Corino||April 24, 2001||House show||Tampa, Florida||1||172||172|
|—||Vacated||October 13, 2001||53rd Anniversary Show||St. Petersburg, Florida||—||—||—||Title was held up when Corino lost a title match against Shinya Hashimoto when he became unable to compete due to head injury sustained in the match.|
|57||Shinya Hashimoto||December 15, 2001||House show||McKeesport, Pennsylvania||1||84||84||This was three matches round robin style; Gary Steele vs. Steve Corino, Gary Steele vs. Shinya Hashimoto, and Steve Corino vs. Shinya Hashimoto. Hashimoto won.|||
|58||Dan Severn||March 9, 2002||House show||Tokyo, Japan||2||80||80||Match ended in controversy, as the referee gave a fast count.|||
|—||Vacated||May 28, 2002||—||—||—||—||—||Severn was stripped of the title after failing to make a defense in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) at their inaugural PPV. Title made exclusive to TNA.|
|Total Nonstop Action Wrestling|
|59||Ken Shamrock||June 19, 2002||NWA-TNA Weekly pay-per-view event #1||Huntsville, Alabama||1||49||49||Defeated Malice in the finals of a Gauntlet for the Gold.|
|60||Ron Killings||August 7, 2002||NWA-TNA Weekly pay-per-view event #8||Nashville, Tennessee||1||105||105|
|61||Jeff Jarrett||November 20, 2002||NWA-TNA Weekly pay-per-view event #22||Nashville, Tennessee||1||203||203||Unified with the WWA World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Sting on May 25, 2003 in Auckland, New Zealand.|
|62||A.J. Styles||June 11, 2003||NWA-TNA Weekly pay-per-view event #48||Nashville, Tennessee||1||133||133||This was a three-way match, also involving Raven.|
|63||Jeff Jarrett||October 22, 2003||NWA-TNA Weekly pay-per-view event #67||Nashville, Tennessee||2||182||182|
|64||A.J. Styles||April 21, 2004||NWA-TNA Weekly pay-per-view event #91||Nashville, Tennessee||2||28||28||This was a steel cage match.|
|65||Ron Killings||May 19, 2004||NWA-TNA Weekly pay-per-view event #95||Nashville, Tennessee||2||14||14||This was a four-way match, also involving Raven and Chris Harris.|
|66||Jeff Jarrett||June 2, 2004||NWA-TNA Weekly pay-per-view event #97||Nashville, Tennessee||3||347||347||This was a King of the Mountain match, also involving A.J. Styles, Raven, and Chris Harris. Ron Killings defeated Jarrett on the June 23 TNA Weekly PPV for the title, but due to issues surrounding the title change, the title was held up, before Vince Russo gave Jarrett the title back.|
|67||Ray González||April 3, 2005||Juicio Final 2005||San Juan, Puerto Rico||1||<1||<1||González was stripped of the title later in the evening due to the fall having been counted by the wrong referee. This reign was ignored by the NWA and TNA, with Jarrett continuing to be recognized as champion. Retroactively recognized by the NWA beginning February 16, 2015.|||
|†||Jeff Jarrett||April 3, 2005||Juicio Final 2005||San Juan, Puerto Rico||—||—||—||The title returned to Jarrett later on due to the nature of the championship match. This was originally considered a continuation of Jarrett's previous reign but is no longer recognized.|
|68||A.J. Styles||May 15, 2005||Hard Justice||Orlando, Florida||3||35||35||Defeated Jeff Jarrett for title. Tito Ortiz was the special referee.|||
|69||Raven||June 19, 2005||Slammiversary||Orlando, Florida||1||88||88||This was a King of the Mountain match, also involving Abyss, Monty Brown, and Sean Waltman.|||
|70||Jeff Jarrett||September 15, 2005||International Incident||Windsor, Ontario||4||38||38|
|71||Rhino||October 23, 2005||Bound for Glory||Orlando, Florida||1||2||2||Rhino won the right to face Jarrett in a Gauntlet for the Gold match after designated challenger Kevin Nash fell ill and withdrew.|||
|72||Jeff Jarrett||October 25, 2005||Impact!||Orlando, Florida||5||110||110||Aired November 3, 2005.|
|73||Christian Cage||February 12, 2006||Against All Odds||Orlando, Florida||1||126||126|||
|74||Jeff Jarrett||June 18, 2006||Slammiversary||Orlando, Florida||6||126||126||This was a King of the Mountain match.|||
|75||Sting||October 22, 2006||Bound for Glory||Plymouth, Michigan||2||28||28||Kurt Angle was the special outside enforcer. This was a title vs. career match where Sting put his career on the line.|||
|76||Abyss||November 19, 2006||Genesis||Orlando, Florida||1||56||56||Abyss defeated Sting by disqualification after Sting pushed the official.|||
|77||Christian Cage||January 14, 2007||Final Resolution||Orlando, Florida||2||119||119||This was a three-way elimination match, also involving Sting.|||
|—||Vacated||May 13, 2007||—||—||—||—||—||Cage was stripped of the title when the NWA and TNA ended their business relations and title agreements.|
|National Wrestling Alliance|
|78||Adam Pearce||September 1, 2007||House show||Bayamón, Puerto Rico||1||336||336||Defeated Brent Albright in the finals of the Reclaiming the Glory Tournament. Pearce competed as a substitute for Bryan Danielson, who defeated Pearce in the semifinals but withdrew from the tournament due to a detached retina. Danielson was the special referee.|||
|79||Brent Albright||August 2, 2008||Death Before Dishonor VI||New York City, New York||1||49||49|||
|80||Adam Pearce||September 20, 2008||Glory By Honor VII||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||2||35||35|||
|81||Blue Demon Jr.||October 25, 2008||House show||Mexico City, Mexico||1||505||505|||
|NWA Pro/Championship Wrestling from Hollywood|
|82||Adam Pearce||March 14, 2010||House show||Charlotte, North Carolina||3||357||357||Three-way elimination match also featuring Phill Shatter.|||
|83||Colt Cabana||March 6, 2011||NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood||West Hollywood, California||1||48||48|||
|84||The Sheik||April 23, 2011||Subtle Hustle||Jacksonville, Florida||1||79||79|||
|—||Vacated||July 11, 2011||—||—||—||—||—||Sheik was stripped of the title for refusing to defend against Adam Pearce on July 31, 2011.|||
|85||Adam Pearce||July 31, 2011||NWA at the Ohio State Fair||Columbus, Ohio||4||252||252||Defeated Chance Prophet, Jimmy Rave and Shaun Tempers in a four-way match to win the vacant title.|||
|86||Colt Cabana||April 8, 2012||NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood||Glendale, California||2||104||104|||
|87||Adam Pearce||July 21, 2012||Metro Pro Wrestling||Kansas City, Kansas||5||98||98||This was a two out of three falls match. It was match four of a seven-match series between Cabana and Pearce.|||
|National Wrestling Alliance|
|—||Vacated||October 27, 2012||NWA Warzone Wrestling 14||Berwick, Victoria, Australia||—||—||—||Pearce left the NWA and resigned as champion after the organization refused to allow him to defend the title in the concluding match of the best-of-seven series against Cabana. The match did take place with Cabana winning, but both wrestlers refused the title in the aftermath.|||
|88||Kahagas||November 2, 2012||Wrath of Champions||Clayton, New Jersey||1||134||134||Won an elimination match for the vacant title by last eliminating Damien Wayne. Match also featured Chance Prophet, Jason Kincaid, Lance Erikson, Anthony Nese, Papadon, Biggie Biggs, and Lance Anoa'i. Kahagas was the reigning NWA National Heavyweight Champion at the time of his victory.|||
|89||Rob Conway||March 16, 2013||A Monster's Ball||San Antonio, Texas||1||294||294||Rob Conway replaced an injured Jax Dane and defeated Kahagas for the title.|||
|90||Satoshi Kojima||January 4, 2014||Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome||Tokyo, Japan||1||149||149|||
|91||Rob Conway||June 2, 2014||Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion Show||Las Vegas, Nevada||2||257||257|||
|92||Hiroyoshi Tenzan||February 14, 2015||The New Beginning in Sendai||Sendai, Japan||1||196||196|||
|93||Jax Dane||August 29, 2015||World War Gold||San Antonio, Texas||1||419||419|||
|94||Tim Storm||October 21, 2016||House show||Sherman, Texas||1||414||414|||
|National Wrestling Alliance/Ten Pounds of Gold Era|
|95||Nick Aldis||December 9, 2017||Cage of Death 19||Sewell, NJ||1||266||266|||
|96||Cody||September 1, 2018||All In||Hoffman Estates, Illinois||1||50||50|||
|97||Nick Aldis||October 21, 2018||70th Anniversary Show||Nashville, TN||2||360+||360+||This was a two out of three falls match.|||
As of October 16, 2019.
|†||Indicates the current champion|
|<1||The reign is shorter than one day.|
- Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2000). ""United States: 19th century & widely defended titles – NWA, WWF, AWA, IWA, ECW, NWA: NWA World Heavyweight Title"". Wrestling title histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Waterloo, ON: Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Duncan & Will (2000) p. 15 "Orville Brown 1948/07 Recognized as the first champion when the National Wrestilng Alliance is founded in 48/07 in Waterloo, IA by Pinkie George with five other promoters."
- Duncan & Will (2000) p. 15 "Unifies following titles to become the Undisputed World Heavyweight champion :
- National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title, having defeated Bill Longson on 48/07/20 in Indianapolis, IN
- National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight title, awarded on 49/11/27 when champion Orville Brown is injured in an automobile accident on 49/11/01 before a unification match scheduled on 49/11/25 in St. Louis, MO
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Carpentier withdraws his claim to the title when Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn leaves NWA; NWA voids all recognition of Carpentier as champion"
- 'Dick Hutton 57/11/14 Toronto, ON"
- Duncan & Will (2000) p. 15 "Pat O'Connor 59/01/09 St. Louis, MO"
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Promoters in northeast refuse to recognize Rogers's one-fall loss to Thesz and start World Wide Wrestling Federation with Rogers as the first WWWF World Heavyweight champion"
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