25 Years Ago Today, The Beast Becomes Worlds Heavyweight Champion

25 Years ago today, Dan “The Beast” Severn won the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship. Severn was the only pro-wrestler to compete in the UFC as a champion of a professional wrestling company and a champion in MMA. Severn’s journey as champion would showcase the NWA’s domed globe title across multiple platforms of wrestling and would breath much needed life into the NWA.

Today marks the Silver Anniversary of Dan “The Beast” Severn winning the National Wrestling Alliance Worlds Heavyweight Championship. Severn would bring instant legitimacy to the claim of the Worlds Heavyweight Championship by defending the title against all comers, in 4 different countries, while wearing the championship to the octagon for Ultimate Fighting, New Japan Pro Wrestling and even showcasing the NWA on WWF programming.

On February 24th, 1995, Dan Severn defeated Chris Candido to win his first NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship. On November 19th 1994, roughly 2 months after Shane Douglas tossed the title to the floor proclaiming the NWA dead, Candido defeated Tracy Smothers in Cherry Hill, New Jersey to become champion.

As champion, Severn held the distinction to be the second Worlds Heavyweight Champion to be recognized by the National Wrestling Alliance to appear on Television with the, then, WWF. Ric Flair had done so earlier with the Big Gold Belt in a stunt that would have the NWA strip Flair as Champion. Severn did so with the blessing of Dennis Corraluzzo and Howard Brody. Both of whom made appearances on Monday Night Raw with Jim Cornette’s NWA Invasion. Severn would still keep his schedule as NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, while still defending the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship throughout the NWA. The Invasion was short-lived and Severn would go on to compete without the recognition as NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion.

In 1996, prior to joining the WWF Roster, Severn would also work for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Much like his time in the WWF, he didn’t actually defend the title, but he’d wear the belt to numerous events. Severn would compete in the G1 Climax Tournament. He was also part of Inoki’s World Peace Festival that featured wrestlers from around the world including WCW, New Japan Pro Wrestling, AAA, Michinoku Pro, and CMLL.

The Beast also holds the distinction for being the only NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion to defend the title in Malaysia. On March 5th, 1996 against the Repo Man and on March 6th, defended against Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.

Severn would eventually lose the Ten Pounds of Gold to Naoya Ogawa on March 14th, 1999 in the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama for the UFO promotion. Severn would unsuccessfully challenge for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship against Ogawa for NWA Southwest unsuccessfully, not being able to best the champion. From 1994-1999 Severn defended the championship 42 times in 4 different countries and seven different states including; Yokohama Japan, New Jersey, Florida, British Columbia Canada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Fukui Japan, Michigan, Ontario Canada, Kuantan Malaysia, Kawasaki, and Tennessee.

In 2002, the NWA would promote an event at the ZERO-ONE Vast Energy seven in Korakuen Hall in Tokyo Japan. Severn would defeat Shinya Hashimoto with the help of a fast count from the referee “Evil” Mr. Fred Richards to become a second champion. Although this reign would be cut short to the NWA and TNA agreement.

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