Notes about Chicago and the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship

The National Wrestling Alliance has had a rich historic tradition in Chicago, Illinois over the last seventy years. On September 1st Cody became the first NWA Worlds Champion to come out of the Windy City in quite some time. It had been nearly 30 years since a NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion changed hands in Chicago.

The title also changed hands in Chicago.  “Rugged Ronnie Garvin lost the NWA Worlds title to Ric Flair in Chicago on November 26th 1987.  And famously when Ricky Steamboat defeated Ric Flair on February 2oth 1989, in what many consider to be one of the greatest NWA World Title matches of all time.

The First time the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship was defended in Chicago Illinois, was December 3rd 1949, Lou Thesz defeated Ivan Rasputin. Thesz would return to the Windy City to face Rudy Kay on January the 7th 1950. It was in 1950 the NWA World Title became a regular attraction in the state of Illinois. In the span of 5 years, Thesz defended that title 93 times in Illinois against the top talent in the state including legends Pat O’Connor, Verne Gagne, Killer Kowalski, Buddy Rogers and Gorgeous George.

It was just over seven years prior to last weekend, when “The American Nightmare” Cody defeated “The National Treasure” Nick Aldis at the Sears Centre, when the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship was defended in Chicago. “Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce was the last champion to defend in Chicago against Chris Cairo November 12th 2011. Prior to that, the Worlds Championship hadn’t been defended in Chicago since 1993 when Barry Windham successfully retained against Ron Simmons on April 16th. A few months earlier Cody’s brother Dustin Rhodes also challenged Windham in Chicago, unsuccessfully. It should also be noted that NWA World Title matches happened outside of Chicago for Brent Albright who defeated Co Shiozaki in Chicago Ridge in 2008 for ROH, Pearce defeating Cairo on February 25th 2012 in Elk Grove Village, and Nick Aldis defeating Sam Adonis in Chicago Heights on May 11th 2018.

The attendance of All In was set at 11,263, that’s the largest American audience to witness a NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship Match in nearly 30 years. July 7th 1990, WCW’s Great American Bash had 14,000 in attendance and featured Sting vs. Ric Flair for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship in Baltimore Maryland.

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