Having secured a television deal in 2013 with the local broadcasting channel in Rolla, Missouri, Central-States Championship Wrestling was struck with the all the difficulties that come with such a venture for an independent promotion. While editing, talent retention, production and storyline continuity topped the list of concerns, even the decision of what to call the program bared some thought. “The name of the show was something that went around the table quite a bit,” recalls Rick Parrett, who wrestled for CCW as Deven Spade and who was involved with the birth of the program. “We eventually landed on Affliction. We were all true wrestling fans… and more so, fans of old school wrestling. It was in our blood. We all eat, sleep and breathe wrestling, even to this day. It was like an affliction.”
With the show’s name now set, CCW turned those old school wrestling thoughts towards a championship for the show. Wanting to capture the feeling from the territorial days when a promotion’s top championship belt (in this case the NWA/CCW Central States Heavyweight Championship) was not defended on television, the team felt a television title would be a great fit. However, roadblocks presented themselves before CCW’s TV strap from the start.
Firstly, their vision for it would see their champion represented as the workhorse of the company and the face of the television show, participating in a title defense on every episode. It would prove difficult at times to find that person: in the independent wrestling scene, talent work all over the place, and so scheduling and television taping around the champion would be challenging. With a fifteen-minute title defense envisioned every week, the right workers would need to be selected. Secondly, Bruce Tharpe, then-owner of the National Wrestling Alliance, would not allow CCW to call the title a television championship. The work-around was to name the title after the show itself, and the NWA/CCW Affliction Championship was born.
Parrett and his colleagues wanted even more definition than other television titles to help it stand out. “We added, on occasion, specialty matches – no disqualification matches, street fights, things of that nature,” he says, “just to give the title some uniqueness from previous television champions.” Additionally, title defenses were to be fifteen minute time limits, like old school television matches, and if an opponent could not pin or submit the champion within that period, the champion would retain.
CCW also wanted their championship belt to reflect hard work and toughness. Because holding the television title was going to be the hardest job in the company, the design of the belt was almost a tribute to the tough work and scheduling brutality that the champion would have to go through. The holder had to prove to everyone in the locker room and watching the show that he was legitimate and could go the distance, and CCW wanted the title to reflect that hardness.
“When you think of the name Affliction, you think a little gritty,” Parrett says, speaking on the belt’s appearance. “So the design of the belt was different than the others. It was not a beautiful belt, but it had a little grit.” Created by AK Impex off of design drafts by Parrett, the main plate prominently features a ring in the center with a red NWA font over the top and the words “Affliction Champion” in a font style reminiscent of ECW belts. The two “F”s in “Affliction” face one another to represent a face-off between competitors. The links of a steel cage are engraved over top of the entire plate, inspired by UFC cage designs of the past. On the side plates, matching grapplers engage in old school fashion.
The Affliction championship was a stepping stone to the other NWA titles. While it was strictly based in Central-States Championship Wrestling, the Illinois, Missouri, and Central States titles were defended in other territories and against other workers from outside the company. Because foreign talent would occasionally try to impose their will in the ring, CCW wagered that their sanctioned champions had to be skilled and tough enough to recognize when that was happening and defend themselves accordingly. The Affliction Championship was a test for their chosen talent before moving forward in the territory and branching out to other NWA promotions.
The difficulties CCW had foreseen around scheduling talent would indeed plague them. With those issues, as well as state licensing problems for wrestlers and commitments some talent had in Illinois after an operating move to Missouri, the title experienced several vacancies the nearly three years it existed. Parrett considers the most notable champion to be “The Freestyle Phenom” Jay Howard, the final man to hold the belt, citing a legitimacy in the ring and a noting that he possessed all the features the belt was meant to stand for. Howard, having won the title in July of 2016 in a Battle Royal, also won the Missouri championship a few months later. Once the television show went off the air, however, there was no need for the Affliction championship any longer and the decision was made to quietly unify it with the Missouri championship. Today it remains in the possession of Rick Parrett.
While the Central-States and Illinois championships are classic and elegant in their way, the Affliction championship is a belt for a straight-up tough guy. Although relatively short-lived in the overall pantheon of National Wrestling Alliance championships, the title did an excellent job in showing the kind of blood, sweat and tears workhorse champions go through. A lot of thought and heart went into the championship and it’s design, and it is that detail and care that sets the National Wrestling Alliance / Central-States Championship Wrestling Affliction Championship apart from your average title.
– Tim “BC” Wood
[NOTES & SOURCES]
The author would like to thank Rick Parrett, aka Deven Spade, for sharing his valuable time and invaluable information around the title. It is greatly appreciated, and this biography would not have been possible without it. Thanks as well to CCW promoter Todd Humphrey for his assistance in pointing me to Rick; Todd is a new friend and a true gentleman.]
Central-States Championship Wrestling Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/nwaccw
Wrestling Title Histories: https://www.wrestling-titles.com/us/mo/stlouis/mocw/ccw-aff.html
AK Impex, belt maker: https://akimpex.net/
All photos of the Affliction Championship [main plate, side plates, promotional fliers and champion photos]: Rick Parrett. Used with permission.