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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    May 2018

    LoP Championship series

    In 2016, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon mocked the creation of the WWE’s Universal Title openly, publicly. The name itself took the brunt of the attack, and though it was obviously designed to refer to the bizarre concept of a WWE Universe, many were quick to jump on the theme of intergalactic champions, referring to ever larger units in a preposterous race towards peak pomposity; indeed, much like my own alliteration.

    Bryan and McMahon’s poking fun at that one particular title obscured something, though, and that’s that wrestling companies generally have been incredibly poor stewards of world championships. They have proliferated through the years, snapping apart and multiplying from one original brand until even the most mundane of independent promotions will sometimes label their top champion a ‘world’ champion, even though they might never defend that title outside of one region. We have gone from having one champion to seeing a number of occasions when two have been recognised by one company.

    Wrestling is not alone in this. Boxing, for so much of their history seen as wrestling’s more heteronormative cousin, has walked a similar path. No boxer has been recognised universally as the world heavyweight champion since Jack Dempsey, to the best of my knowledge. The proliferation of organising bodies has fractured the clarity of a single, universal recognition. Other groups existed first, but the WBA became a major player in the 1920s, the WBC emerged in the 1960s, and the IBF and WBO in the 1980s, and each of these four major players in the sport recognise a world heavyweight title. That is just the most major players in the game; there are also IBO, WBU, TBRB, and IBA World Heavyweight Champions that have less recognition globally but still advertise themselves as such.

    But while recognition has spiralled out, boxing has always had a counterbalance: for years, The Ringmagazine acted as a body outside the politics of boxing, and became a flagbearer for the idea of a lineal championship. And as a result of that for many boxing fans, The Ring title meant just as much, even more sometimes, then the actual championships that came with belts and prize money. To be The Ring’s world champion was to be the world champion, no matter what anyone else said.

    And if there’s one thing that wrestling could do with right now, it’s for some of the meaning to be put back into it; for something, someone, even just a piece of gold stuck to some leather, to feel special again. As a fan, so often it feels like there is not a lot that you can do to help that along.

    Then something occurred to me. I’ve got a platform here on this website that has a history that stretches back to some of the earliest days of wrestling websites – a site that still has some sort of name value. There is no good reason why The Ring magazine got to recognise a world champion in the twentieth century that LoP can’t do the same in the twenty-first.

    Of course, such a task is not something to undertake alone. If I made all the decisions unilaterally it’d just be the Prime Time world title, and even I am compelled to admit that is a lot less impressive. Fortunately, in the past I’ve worked with a team who are used to making tough decisions under intense pressure. As the chairman of the LoP Championship Committee, allow me to re-introduce the group who’ll be calling the shots with me.

    Firstly, we have the man who holds the record for the most COTM wins here at LoP forums, not to mention a former main page writer, the 2011 forums columnist of the year, the winner of the PEN15 Mightier Invitational, and the winner of best individual column for 2017 and best column series for the past two years running, mizfan. Joining him is the two-time and reigning CSI winner, four-time COTM winner, Mazza. We are also joined by his partner in the 2012 tag team of the year, Uncle Joe, who also has five COTM awards of his own. Finally we are joined by another former main pager: the seven-time COTM winner, the winner of King of the Columnists II, part of the tag team of the year for 2010, column of the year winner for 2016, LoP Radio Host of the year 2017, CF writer of the year for 2017, and most important of all the spiritual leader of the LoP Forums, Steve.

    My jaw is sore after all that, so if you’ll allow me a minute to blow my own trumpet – I’ll be rounding out the group, and my own credentials are five column of the month awards, the 2012 Columns Forum Columnist of the Year, and a four-year spell on the main page from 2004-2008. In short, the LoP Championship Committee have done everything that you can do on this site, have won everything, and represent every era of the site’s existence.

    Anyway, enough self-congratulation; we have a job to do.

    I know a percentage of people are interested in the mechanics of how these things work. That’s what I’m going to talk about here. If you’re not, skip ahead a few paragraphs and come back in when the good stuff really starts, with the headline below.

    If you’re still reading, here is the plan. We’ll be charting a single line for a wrestling world championship from its earliest moments until the present day. We’re going to follow that line until there’s a reason for us to have a debate. Any member of the committee can propose a debate at any point in the lineage, which will go to a vote. If the title is held up we’re going to choose from a range of suitable matches to continue – based on certain pre-agreed criteria – at which point we’ll follow that line until there’s a reason not to. All votes will be final, and will determine how we carry on. If you’re still a bit confused by all this, read on and all should become clear.

    It could be that the title moves half way around the world in a trice. Maybe we’ll find that the LoP title finds itself in the hands of someone who wasn’t recognised as a world champion. And maybe, just maybe, your favourites will actually never have been LoP world champion in their whole illustrious career. We won’t know until we get there.

    LoP World Heavyweight Championship

    All wrestling world championships seem really to begin in one point, with the Russian George Hackenschmidt. He gradually built up a base of recognition until on May 4th, 1905, he was recognised as the first Wrestling world champion. It was three years later when his rivalry with Frank Gotch in the United States reoriented the wrestling world from Europe, to the New World.

    George Hackenschmidt of Tartu, Estonia (then Russia), first LoP World Heavyweight Champion

    George Hackenschmidt – 4th May 1905 – 3rd April, 1908
    Frank Gotch – 3 April, 1908 – 1 April, 1913

    When Gotch retired without loss, there was no real world champion. In the absence of obvious contenders it is the unanimous decision of the LoP committee to recognise the winner of Charlie Cutler vs Joe Stetcher in Omaha as the World Champion, in line with what has become the traditional opinion.

    Joe Stetcher – July 5th, 1915 – April 9th, 1917
    Earl Caddock - April 9th, 1917 - January 30, 1920
    Joe Stetcher (2) - January 30, 1920 - December 13, 1920
    Ed “Strangler” Lewis - December 13, 1920- May 6, 1921
    Stanislaus Zbyszko - May 6, 1921- March 3, 1922
    Ed Lewis (2) - March 3, 1922 - January 8, 1925
    Wayne Munn - January 8, 1925 - April 15, 1925

    Joe Stetcher of Dodge Nebraska, first repeat winner of the LoP World Heavyweight title

    Here, we are forced into another minor adjudication, since at this point there was a title defence in Philadelphia, which Munn lost. So although he was still recognised as champion in parts of the Northern US, we follow our own rules and carry on from the new champion.

    I’ll also interject with a minor point here. In the block below you’ll find the name Gus Sonnenberg, who lost full recognition when the National Boxing Association accused him of failing to meet real contenders. But since he took on Ed Lewis (already a 3-time LoP World Champion at that juncture) a matter of weeks before they withdrew his status it’s our decision to consider this a spurious promoter’s trick and to carry on as before.

    Stanislaus Zbyszko (2) - April 15, 1925 - May 30, 1925
    Joe Stetcher (3) - May 30, 1925 - February 21, 1928
    Ed “Strangler” Lewis (3) - February 21, 1928 - January 4, 1929
    Gus Sonnenberg - January 4, 1929- December 10, 1930
    Ed Don George - December 10, 1930 - April 13, 1931
    Ed “Strangler” Lewis (4) - April 13, 1931

    Ed "Strangler" Lewis of Nekoosa, Wisconsin - first 4-time LoP World Heavyweight Champion

    It’s at this point that we hit our first real decision. We’ve done well to keep a reasonably clean line free of controversy for the first twenty-five years of wrestling, but at this point there is no option but to convene a full committee meeting. The match between Strangler Lewis and Henri Deglane in Montreal led to controversy and a split in the title and as the result is more ambiguous than in other cases, we need to get a proper verdict. I’m going to put this as a general question rather than a specific instance, so we can apply the same logic again in these early decades. The issue at hand: does the LoP World Heavyweight title ever change hands when a competitor is disqualified or counted out? The way I see it, you have three options. Yes, no, and only if the rules of the match specifically state that they do. Gentlemen, could I get your thoughts?

    Absolutely not!

    ok, well I pick only if the rules of the match specifically state that they do. I think it allows for more of a fluid debate.

    I think the title changing hands on any victory makes things a lot more unpredictable, mental and ultimately fun.

    I think I'd have to go with yes, but only if it is in keeping with the rules of the match. I suppose my reasoning is pretty straightforward, that being that it's, well, logical. Perhaps it’s my lifelong WWF/E fandom coming to the fore, but I think that the so-called "Champion's advantage" is a legit thing to have in the mix and that it should only be negated when clearly outlined as such in the rules of a given contest.

    No respectable title in history has done so, so let's not be the first!

    I think I agree with you, Mizzie. I’m all for being consistent with this and voting that it never happens.

    Result: Yes 1 No 2 Yes (if stipulated) 2
    Mazza casts the tiebreaking vote for Yes – if stipulated

    That decision has a sizeable impact here and forces us to change line. Ed Lewis was disqualified for biting in that match and although some parts of the country continued to recognise Lewis the official decision was to award the belt to the Canadian, and with that vote we must do the same. So, in carrying on we move over to what was the first incarnation of an AWA title – though how much connection it has to the more famous, later version is debatable.

    One thing is for sure – awarding the title to Deglane here locates the next generation of champions in Canada, the North East and Midwest.

    Henri Deglane - May 4, 1931- February 9, 1933
    Ed Don George (2) - February 9, 1933- July 30, 1935
    Danno O’Mahoney - July 30, 1935 – March 2, 1936
    Dick Shikat – March 2, 1936 – April 25th, 1936
    Ali Baba – April 25th, 1936 - June 12, 1936
    Dave Levin - June 12, 1936 - September 28, 1936
    Dean Detton - September 28, 1936 - June 29, 1937
    Bronko Nagurski - June 29, 1937 - November 18, 1938
    Jim Londos - November 18, 1938 – January 28, 1946

    There are a few historical notes to make in this block of champions. Dick Shikat beat O’Mahoney in New York in what is believed to have turned into a shootfight, which led to a split in recognition. Shikat won the match, though, which means we follow his line down the New York State Athletic Commission title, into a series of champions also recognised, funnily enough, by The Ring magazine back when wrestling and boxing were still closer together. These are reunified with the original lineage by Ali Baba, as wrestling’s world championship became universal again – for a while.

    We ignore those breaks as they are mostly the result of promoters trying to create their own champions to boost their gates. The next controversial point arrives solely because there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for debating the claims of Jim Londos until his retirement, undefeated, in 1946.

    The decision on how to carry on is straightforward, however; there is only one appropriate defence within a suitable timeframe, so from that point on we recognise the winner of a match between Buddy Rogers and Wild Bill Longson for the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title.

    Wild Bill Longson – 28 January, 1946 - February 21, 1947
    Whipper Billy Watson - February 21, 1947 - April 25, 1947
    Lou Thesz - April 25, 1947 - November 21, 1947
    Bill Longson (2) - November 21, 1947 - July 10, 1948
    Lou Thesz (2) - July 10, 1948 - March 22, 1955
    Leo Nomellini - March 22, 1955 - July 15, 1955
    Lou Thesz (3) - July 15, 1955 - March 15, 1956
    Whipper Billy Watson (2) - March 15, 1956 - November 9, 1956
    Lou Thesz (4) - November 9, 1956 - June 14, 1957

    There is a slight rupture in the timeline here, but not one that requires a full board meeting. Eduoard Carpentier beat Lou Thesz for the title and only lost a rematch via DQ. His reigns were removed from the NWA title lineage when he withdrew from the organisation but NWA politics in themselves do not constitute a reason for abandoning Carpentier, so we move away from the NWA path once again to the North.

    Edouard Carpentier - June 14, 1957 - May 3, 1958
    Killer Kowalski - May 3, 1958 - April 4, 1961
    Bearcat Wright - April 4, 1961 - May 30, 1961
    Jackie Fargo - May 30, 1961 - August 27, 1964
    Ted Blassie - August 27, 1964 - October 1, 1964
    Jackie Fargo (2) - October 1, 1964 – January 1, 1965

    We’ve been relatively untroubled to this point, but once Fargo leaves the Boston area it seems as if he specialises more in tag team wrestling in the South, and there is no evidence of his competing in matches that are worthy of recognition as world title bouts. Therefore we have no choice but to declare the world title vacant as of January 1st, 1965.

    The reason for the full committee meeting is that there is no single, clear choice for how to proceed. With the Longson and Rogers match it was a simple choice, but here there are a few contenders, each of which might claim to be the rightful world title match. Within the next thirty days there are three bouts, and in each case the winner might have some claim to consider himself the world champion; Mad Dog Vachon vs Jack Lanza, Bruno Sammartino vs Gorilla Monsoon, or Lou Thesz vs. Don Curtis.

    I open this up to the committee: which of these matches will be the LoP World Championship match?

    I mean, I know I am no spring chicken but damn! These are some ancient motherfuckers. I am slightly shocked that I don't have the choice of picking Dennis Norden vs Frank Muir.

    Man Prime, I love wrestling but shit this is going to test my mettle for sure. Oh wait, where in the fuck are my manners?! Prime how do you do? Mizzle, what’s the shizzle? Maz, still out of jail I see huh. Steve… I still haven't forgiven you.

    The first significant cracks in the NWA, and its title lineage, that showed up in 1963 signified to me a significant break from the previous norm. When Capitol Wrestling broke off to form the WWWF, I think it arguable that the title lineage should've followed Buddy Rogers as opposed to Lou Thesz. The sheer nature of the territories at the time, though, dictate that there is no easy answer to that whole quagmire.

    I'd love to follow the AWA title, but I think that's a lost cause with the voting committee, so I'll put my vote in for the NWA Title, since the WWWF belt is still very region specific in that time, whereas the NWA belt seems like the closest thing to a true world championship. Hell, the WWWF even rejoins the NWA for a long period after first breaking away, since they really only had the New England loop to work with until the time of the Hogan expansion. The NWA title is one you're much more likely to see going all over the country and even the world, or at least to Japan and Puerto Rico and such.

    Anywho where was I? Oh right. This new undertaking is going to push me to the limits of my fandom a lot of early wrestling was boring as FUCK. A vast amount were excellent but man a lot of them lacked the panache and charisma of guys to come in the 80s And 90s.

    So I’m going to start off with a rather comprehensive list of reasons what i think of each wrestler and will come to a conclusion and ultimately, a vote.

    Bruno Sammartino = Overrated and hairy Guinea who held championships for a millennium because wrestling was full of other hairy white folk. He sucks. Lou Thesz = Nasty motherfucker who wasn't afraid to legit poke a guy in the eyes. Credited with the invention of a few moves, dude can go. Not elite but good. Gorilla Monsoon - Dead as a dog’s dick in Vietnam. He sucks. Mad dog Vachon = Reminds me of early Kevin Sullivan, light on the Satan worshipping of course. He’s decent. Don Curtis - Another taco meat ridden peckerwood. He sucks too. Jack Lanza -One half of the legendary Blackjacks and all around thug. Tight butthole.

    Look, I am not really going to beat about the bush here. I am a WWE guy through and through. That's no secret. As such there is pretty much only one choice for me to make here. Sammartino vs Monsoon. I am well aware I could well regret this decision considering how long Bruno was champion but then again, I get the feeling this series will really pick up once we get out of the dark ages. Lanza vs Vachon piqued my interest slightly. I couldn't help but wonder if Mad Dog retired as champ, whether it would be vacated or whether it would be held up until HBK vs Diesel. Seriously, if that happens, I'd change my vote. As for Don Curtis, I can't lie, never even heard of the bloke. I don't think I'd heard of Thesz either until JR started getting wood at the sight of Stone Cold throwing himself at someone's chest and screaming his name.

    The fact that it’s against Don Curtis, predominantly a tag wrestler that most of us have never or barely heard of today, has to count against going down that route. But I think we shouldn’t overlook the fact that Thesz was way past his best at this point. We’ve got a couple of studs in the other matches at the peak of their career – do we really want to recognise a 49 year old over them? Thesz was a great but I don’t think we can recognise him as the very, very best in the world once we get to the mid-1960s. A decade earlier and he’s in the game but right now, I don’t think I can vote for that match.

    In the case of this holding up of the title at the beginning of 1965, I fear there are no easy answers to be had, either. In this case, I feel it necessary to take a look into the future a bit. While the AWA and NWA both certainly thrived within their areas, the largest market in the country was New York. That had been the case for a very long time, as evidenced by all the major shows run through Capitol at Madison Square Garden in years prior, before the WWWF split. This would only be magnified by the rousing success of Bruno's run atop the company.

    So with that my vote goes to mad dog vachon vs jack lanza cause reasons or whatever.

    I think both Mad Dog Vachon and Bruno Sammartino can both claim to be at their peak at this time, and represent their respective promotions well. But Bruno had been champion for a couple of years by this point, and had beaten plenty of people for that belt over the previous year – Jerry Graham, Giant Baba, Killer Kowalski, Fred Blassie, all fell to the man who’d beaten Buddy Rogers to win the title. And you can point to Vachon wins over Verne Gagne and Pat O’Connor, but there’s just so much more for Bruno. And we shouldn’t overlook the quality of the opponents in this match, either – Monsoon comes into it a lot hotter, while Lanza had lost two of his last three matches coming into the bout. All things considered it’s hard to look past the WWWF title match.

    As it was the largest market, the most viewed market, the market that got the most press in the era and the market that would go on to boast the most competitive World Championship scene over the next few years with Sammartino firmly on top, I'd have to go with the Bruno vs Monsoon bout to be the deciding match. Especially since the NWA Championship, probably the most valid contender to claim the lineage aside from the WWWF Championship, would really kinda float a bit without any major historical significance until Harley Race came along a few years later. Of course, that's a pretty populist view. This is a rather populist industry, though, is it not?

    Mad Dog vs Lanza 1 Bruno vs Monsoon 3 Thesz vs Curtis 1

    The decision made, we move towards the North East and the McMahons. The WWWF title is pretty uncontroversial through the next decade and, with no need for additional meetings, that allows us to move into the more modern period in pretty short order.

    Vacant – January 1, 1965 – January 22, 1965
    Bruno Sammartino – January 22, 1965 - January 18, 1971
    Ivan Koloff - January 18, 1971 - February 8, 1971
    Pedro Morales - February 8, 1971 - December 1, 1973
    Stan Stasiak - December 1, 1973 - December 10, 1973
    Bruno Sammartino (2) - December 10, 1973 - April 30, 1977
    Superstar Billy Graham - April 30, 1977 - February 20, 1978

    On February 20th Billy Graham lost the championship to Bob Backlund, and it is at that point we’ll pick up next time.

    We’ve managed to cover around seventy years in this one column, but our work is far from done. Something tells me that the increased chaos in wrestling in the intervening decades will mean that the committee have to get much more hands on to protect the integrity of the LoP title in future columns, through the Rock N’ Wrestling Era, the Monday Night Wars, and The Reality Era. So we ask you, the good readers of LoP, to come back and join us then.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    With Wrestlemania out of the way it’s time to get back to some serious business….

    This is the second meeting of the Lords of Pain World Heavyweight Championship committee. In attendance are Mazza, Mizfan, Uncle Joe and Steve, and both chairing the meeting and responsible for keeping a record of all decisions taken is myself, the man they call Prime Time. For those wanting to examine the minutes from our previous meeting, you can find a record of it here:

    We finished last time in 1978, and Superstar Billy Graham had just lost the LoP championship to Bob Backlund. As the LoP title is currently attached to the WWF title that means that we follow the line of that championship, and the first point at which we have to diverge comes when Antonio Inoki – whose reign is inexplicably unrecognised by the WWE – defeated their champion Bob Backlund. At this point we have no choice but to acknowledge that Antonio Inoki is the LoP champion. But just a few short days later there was a controversial rematch between the two, one that saw interference, and led to Inoki forfeiting the WWF title as a point of honour.

    I suppose, gentlemen, the question we need to address here is whether or not a champion is allowed to forfeit our title without a clear physical cause. Or to put it another way, when Inoki handed back the WWF title, did he also hand back the LoP title and the true, lineal championship of the world?

    While we voted in favor of allowing the title to change hands via DQ or count-out when the rules dictate it, I saw nothing about forfeiture. Though I suppose that's why we're having this conversation.

    First things first, allow me to start things off by welcoming Mr. Inoki with a huge FUCK YOU. No one told you to go into business for yourself against Muhammad Ali you slit-eye dog eater: He should have knocked you the fuck out and defecate on your remains, pussy. Whew, that felt pretty good to get off le ole chest.

    I think it is best if we pretend that didn’t happen while Joe calms down….

    To resolve this controversy, I’ve gone to the trouble of digging this match up on I feel it’s only fair to do my due diligence, since we’re talking about the fate of the world title here!

    And thanks to Mizfan tracking it down, I’ve also seen both the initial title change and the match that brings all of this to our attention.

    The controversy in this case comes from Tiger Jeet Singh appearing late in the match and getting physical with Inoki at ringside.

    By forfeiting the WWWF Championship, I feel it the logical conclusion that Inoki would also forfeit the LOP Championship. I mean, he wasn't beaten, but a standard has to be set. What if we were to run across an instance down the line where someone retires as Champion but doesn't actually retire? Do we just hold the Championship in limbo until they lose again at some point after returning? And for those who think that unlikely, I'll refer to a single, simple sentence.

    "I've lost my smile."

    I think we’ll have to refer to each of those on a case by case basis, and weigh up the pros and cons each time. The best way to approach this is probably just by thinking of the specifics of this situation.

    The title getting held up in this circumstance is a big no-no to me. If it changes hands in controversial circumstances, then it is absolutely an option. Getting retained however just means it should stay retained and another rematch booked. Obviously, we can't do that, but I still vote that Inoki remains as champion.

    However, it is very clear to me that the referee did not call for a disqualification at the time of the interaction. Backlund pinned Inoki shortly after, but not directly because of the interaction in my view. Inoki has no grounds to retain the title, my ruling is to uphold Inoki’s forfeiture for the LoP Championship.

    The referee might not have called for the bell, but he’s not the only official there. And it’s pretty clear that other officials have reversed the decision and taken the belt off Backlund by the time the show ends. For me that reversal is all well and good, the only question surrounds the forfeiture. Besides, if we go off the initial fall, then we shouldn’t be talking about whether or not the title is vacated, but whether Backlund is the champion.

    And with what I’d said, I guess you can figure out which way I’ll be leaning towards with my response, But then I’d be calling you a fool. While I certainly have an affinity for Backlund’s backwoods retard-savant incestuous bible thumper gimmick, Inoki is more than worthy name in stature to hold the WWF belt.

    A forfeiture is a forfeiture, regardless the circumstances. We were a mere one title switch into this entire thing when Frank Gotch retired undefeated and forfeited the Championship. I see that as no different than Inoki's forfeiture.I'll put it this way. Yes, Inoki kept on competing after he forfeited the title. So, too, did Gotch, though, at least in some manner. After his retirement he went on the carnival circuit, offering $250 to any man that could defeat him. None ever did, so he eventually did actually retire, and die a short time later, undefeated. But should we have to go back and try to figure out when and where all those carny bouts happened just because Gotch had surrendered the Championship due to "retirement" and not due to actual loss? That would cause a somewhat significant wrinkle in our timeline, here.

    I’m not sure that the idea of having a lineal world champion is consistent with someone giving it up as a ‘point of honour’. To me, letting Inoki give it up in this way when he was the victim of Singh’s attack is tantamount to rewarding Singh for interfering in an LoP championship match. I don’t like the precedent that sets at all.

    A forfeiture is a forfeiture. Whether it's due to injury, professional dispute or retirement, you're surrendering your right to be called Champion from that point forward. Which, given the timeframe of this incident, could make for a very interesting lineage decision moving forward.

    This is fine with me in terms of personal preference as well, as I find Inoki to be hit or miss at best with the risk of being terribly boring ever present, more so than others in his era.

    Plus, if it’s not exactly stated in the title defense rules prior, I am not a fan of awarding someone a title based on countouts, disqualifications or other sissy forms of defeat (or victory, guess it all depends on the eye of the beholder).

    This may go against where I was hoping to see the title go but doing what's right needs to be done first and foremost. I don't know what that means for the long term lineage of the LOP Championship but in the short term I think it has to go to the Land of the Rising Sun.

    Fun fact: inoki converted to Islam and yet is still somehow a sanctimonious son of a bitch.

    The decision is to recognise Inoki by three votes to two.

    This actually puts us into a strange situation, one that is new to us all. Generally speaking this works on timelines of other championship belts that we recognise as worthy enough to thought of as ‘world level’. Not world championships – because as we know there is only one genuine world title, the LoP title, and that’s the whole reason why we’re here – but belts with enough significance that the holder could at least claim to be on the radar and in the conversation.

    What we find here, however, is that our champion is not currently connected to any of the belts that we recognise; in fact, we won’t recognise a title in Japan until 1987. There was always a chance of this happening with our decisions, and I’ll wager it won’t be the last time that we find ourselves here. But it puts us into a more difficult position, because as a championship committee we need to ensure that the title is defended against appropriate opposition, and matches are held at the right frequency, to ensure that the standards of this most prestigious of championships are upheld.

    A quick reminder that one of our bylaws states that to try and keep the lineage as unbroken as possible without compromising the integrity of the championship, the necessary period in which the title must be defended has been raised to every 50 days, rather than the more traditional 30. The Backlund rematch, which ends in a no contest, is for the WWF title and can be considered a defence so the clock begins from there. Within that time period, Inoki wrestles a lot of tag matches, and only three that can be thought of as potential title defences. Your choice then, gentlemen, is whether to:

    Recognise Antonio Inoki vs Kim Klokeid as an LoP world title match; Recognise Inoki vs Hussein Arab;Recognise Inoki vs Rocky Johnson; Or to Strip Inoki after fifty days for failure to meet genuine contenders, on January 25th 1980. I’ll now open this to the group for debate.

    Well, I couldn’t find, ahem, I mean I wasn’t able to attend any of the three matches in question, so I’ll have to turn to history to determine if they were valid contenders.

    While it's cute to think of someone who would actually sit there and want to actually watch a match between Inoki and any of the combination of Johnson and/or the other scrubs, I think for the sake of those who want our sanity to remain intact, I say let's just say f*** it and having Inoki stripped.

    I admit I have never heard of Kim Klokeid, and a little research shows this was a special “Martial Arts” match, so I have no intention of sanctifying the match as a defense.

    I agree with you there; I don’t think there’s any real case to recognise that match at all.

    Hussein Arab is a more likely contender, and the bout also took place in America so that gives out title a little more world traveling flair. Rocky Johnson is also a notable talent, and he’s challenged guys like Funk and Race for the NWA title in the past. All in all I don’t really care for Inoki, but I hate to vacate a title, so my vote is to recognize the Arab and Johnson matches as official defenses and proceed with Inoki as champion for the time being.

    I have to say that my personal vote is in keeping with my previous one, that being to strip Inoki of the Championship. I'm really not super fond of establishing a culture of "squeezing through on technicalities" so early on, or frankly at all. Inoki already surrendered the Championship and then didn't even wrestle another singles match within the previously established time period for eligible defense.

    I’m not sure I’d see it as a technicality if they are big enough matches. And the only match outside the traditional thirty days is the Johnson bout.

    Still,at this point we find ourselves in exceptionally murky waters, waters that may wind up tainting future conflicts should we choose to adhere to these standards moving forward. I mean, we've already just opened Pandora's Box as it pertains to something like Shawn Michaels surrendering the Championship in 1997, should that incident fall under our jurisdiction when it arrives. I feel the best idea is to push the reset button.

    It accomplishes a few things; First it gets the belt off Inoki considering by this point he was no longer Champions so it kind of keeps everything within a specific time line even though we are going back in history and f****** with the future. Second, we finally, finally get out of the Drudge a little bit, move forward out of the doldrums and into the early to mid-eighties, when stuff starts to pick up and is less f****** boring. Thirdly, whenever there is a chance to produce any bit of chaos I’m all for it and I think this is the most chaotic of the three options maybe I'm not sure I have to check the algorithms on that but for now I spoke to strip for that bastard of the title.

    So I went into this thing wanting to carry it off with integrity. Then I realised how un-Mazza like that is. Time to be the wildcard; I say let’s go crazy and hold this thing up. You know what I want here right. Phantom 16 man tournament in Santiago.

    My big concern is that Hussein Arab had a chance at Backlund for the title shortly before Backlund lost the title to Inoki. I find it hard to believe that in all of wrestling a more worthy contender, one who hadn’t been bested so recently, could not have been found. It all really comes down to Rocky Johnson; and his recent record in big matches was not that great either, being bested by Harley Race the previous year and then only wrestling a handful of matches before the Inoki bout. All in all, I’m unimpressed with the competiton that Mr. Inoki has received and think we are in need of a change.

    Antonio Inoki is stripped of the LoP World title by a vote of 4-1.

    With the title vacated, we need to look around and try to find a match that will guarantee us a worthy successor. All three of the titles that we are interested in are defended within a short order of the decision to strip Inoki, and so the choice is once again between three potential matches. I’m not going to drag this out – your options are Bob Backlund defending the WWF title against Bobby Duncum, Harley Race defending the NWA title against Manny Fernandez, or Nick Bockwinkel defending the AWA title against Dino Bravo. Gentlemen, your thoughts?

    Wow, that really is a pretty uninspiring lot of matches, isn't it?

    I’m just going to open up by saying I’m not sure I can vote for Bob Backlund at this point. He’d recently been beaten by a man that we’ve just stripped the title from, and against strong opposition in the other two matches I think I have to dismiss him from the equation.

    Hmm, three interesting choices here. Backlund vs. Duncum actually appeals to me a lot, Bobby Duncum was a big standout of this period when I was watching his work in AAA, and I've always liked Backlund whenever I've seen him. Bockwinkel vs. Bravo is also appealing, more so because I think Bockwinkel is the most talented and total package of the three champions we have on offer here. I haven't seen Bravo pre-WWF but he hasn't struck me badly in that era, and most guys were capable of more than they put out during the WWF boom years.

    The battle of the Bobs.

    Seeing as how I think each of the three Champions listed are absolutely worthy based upon their own merits, my plan was to base my decision upon the quality of their respective opposition. That's kinda tough to do, though, when you take into consideration that all three of the contenders, despite being names of some level in their own rights, were basically little more than regional upper midcarders (at best) at the time of these matches.

    Harley Race is a classic choice for champion, obviously. I admit I'm not too familiar with Manny Fernandez, but I was able to find clips of the match in question and it looked pretty good, with Manny losing by match stoppage when he got tangled up in the ropes in a really nasty way, like Mick Foley losing his ear levels of bad. I have a feeling people are going to go with WWF just because it's the WWF, so I'm going to throw my vote in for Bock to get the nod here. AWA has several really great years left at this point before they start to decline, so let's give them a shot to carry that lineage!

    Well shit any chance I get to watch Nick Bockwinkel is a chance I’ll take 7 times out of 10. Wrinkly balls and all. Well I mean Harley racist sucks and any chance i get to denounce that dirty old bastard I’ll take not 7 out of 10, but 12 out of 10. Fucking cunt.

    So I decided to do a bit more research and base my decision upon the overall quality of opposition that each guy faced around the same time. Backlund was embroiled in a blood feud with Ken Patera for the years surrounding the match in question, some of those matches occurring when Patera was the reigning Intercontinental Champion. Gotta say, it's not a bad look for one to be consistently defending the title against another champion while also fending off the efforts of guys like Bobby Duncum.

    I think there’s a case to be made that Nick Bockwinkel is the stronger champion at this point in time. He’s almost five years into his reign, while Harley Race had lost the NWA title three times over the same period.

    Bockwinkel was kinda coasting at this time, frankly, though he had (ironically enough) just faced off with WWWF Champion Bob Backlund about a year earlier in a match that ended in a double countout. He would go on to lose the title shortly after the match in question took place, which kicked off a bit of a title controversy unto itself in the ensuing months. I love Nick and would probably consider Dino Bravo the strongest of the three challengers at this point in their respective careers, but the AWA was on straight up cruise control at this time. Harley Race, though... goddamn. In the weeks before the listed match against Fernandez, Harley had defended his title against names like David and Kerry Von Erich, Roddy Piper, Rick Martel, Chavo Guerrero, Terry Funk, Ray Stevens and, on the day before the Manny match, Mexican legend Mil Mascaras. Oh, and occasionally Andre the Giant. In the days and weeks after this match (which is kinda cheating, but fuck it) he would go on to continue to defend against many of these same names but threw in guys like Dirty Dick Slater, Bruiser Brody, Dusty Rhodes and Ric fucking Flair for flavor.

    If we're trying to keep the LOP Championship in the hands of those who face the highest quality of competition, this one is a hands down no-brainer. Harley Race WAS the real World Champion at this specific point in history. Bockwinkel and Backlund were great, no doubt, but Harley was operating on a whole other level at the time, facing off against some of the outright biggest names in the history of the business on a literal nightly basis.

    The one thing I don’t want to do is just assume that because Bockwinkel has won for the past five years, that he’ll win the match in question. What happens if he has an off night? We could find ourselves recognising Dino Bravo as the heavyweight champion of the world, and he’s recently dropped two matches to Adrian Adonis, not to mention only managed a draw with Jesse Ventura. Manny Fernandez, meanwhile, has been carrying the Florida Heavyweight title with the grace of a champion and were he to be victorious I think he’d make an excellent LoP Champion. So while I think Bockwinkel has as strong a claim as Race, I think the better match is the NWA title match.

    Oh and fuck that other match.

    The Vote is 2-2-1
    Mazza casts the tiebreaking vote for Harley Race vs. Manny Fernandez

    With that, the NWA title is the chosen line and this allows us to move unbroken into the autumn of 1981, with Harley Race becoming the first three-time champion since Lou Thesz in that time and concluding with Dusty Rhodes holding the title until September of that year. We’ll resume next time with what happens to Dusty. There’s just time, before we conclude, to recap all the ground we’ve covered today.

    Bob Backlund - February 20, 1978 - November 30, 1979
    Antonio Inoki - November 30, 1979 – January 25, 1980
    Vacant – January 25, 1980 – February 9th, 1980
    Harley Race – February 9, 1980 - September 4, 1980
    Giant Baba - September 4, 1980 - September 9, 1980
    Harley Race (2) - September 9, 1980 - April 27, 1981
    Tommy Rich - April 27, 1981 - May 1, 1981
    Harley Race (3) - May 1, 1981 - June 21, 1981
    Dusty Rhodes - June 21, 1981 - September 17, 1981

    Shohei “Giant” Baba, 50th LoP World Heavyweight Champion

    And that’s it from us – join us again next time!

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  3. #3
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Really glad you reposted these earlier columns. Hopefully people will take the opportunity to follow along from the start!

  4. #4
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Absolute fan of the series here. Looking forward to getting to the people I know but still found it really interesting to find out a little about these people who I only really know as names on a list.

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