Let me begin this column by reiterating my feelings on smaller promotions claiming to have a "world" champion. I think it's ludicrous and makes the promotion and it's "wrestlers" look like jabronies straight from their back yard. If you have a company champion that's one thing. But to claim the "real" world championship? Please.
I have been a wrestling fan my whole life. I respected all the guys who were professional wrestlers before me because it was a hell of a lot tougher to break in and make a decent living on a consistent basis. From the top to the bottom of the card I was amazed that these guys were able to control a crowd and keep the matches interesting.
And when the NWA World champion came to town, it was a big deal. The first champion I remember was Gene Kiniski. He lost the NWA World title to Dory Funk Jr. in 1969. That was monumental for me because I had been watching Dory Sr., Jr. And Terry Funk from the beginning in El Paso and now our local hero was the champion...OF THE WORLD!
I still remember the excitement of seeing the world champion come to town and face the local #1 contender or regional champion. As Terry Funk talks about in his book, it was the champion's responsibility to come in and make the challenger look like a world beater and hopefully leave the territory in better shape after the match.
Thesz, Kiniski, O'Connor, Funk., Brisco, Race, Flair all bring to mind REAL world champions. Of course I was in NWA country but up north Bruno Sammartino and Verne Gagne also claimed a lineage to the world championship by virtue of a disputed finish with whoever was the NWA champion at one time or another. The history of how the AWA and WWWF were formed is out there for those who care enough to find it. But suffice to say both Bruno and Gagne were respected and at least were considered as world class champions
Which brings me to the heart of this column. I think I had a pretty decent career in wrestling. Sure there were some potholes along the way but I did a lot of things most people only dream about and for the most part, I accomplished all I set out to. One of my biggest accomplishments was capturing the WWF World Tag Team Titles at Wrestlemania 12 in Anaheim, CA. with Chris Candido. Yes, the WORLD Tag Team Titles. We actually defended the title in England, Germany and the Middle East. We were awarded them in California (notice I didn't say "won") and relinquished the title in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Those were good times and I got to live my dream.
I moved on from there and started training other wrestlers and helped them accomplish their goals and live their dreams. Along the way I returned to the ring as an active competitor and the independent scene. My goal is to try and help the guys out there as best I can. I still believe on the job training is the best way to learn this sport/business.
When I came across promotions and their "world" champions of two towns, I took it in stride. I get it. I really do. They believe having a "world" title makes their promotion more important (please refer to my previous column: "World Champions and a 3 Car Garage"). But in reality it makes everyone there look like they're playing 'rassler with their toy belt in front of 20-30 relatives in the crowd. OK, OK, OK, that's old news...To the reason I'm writing this column...
Professional Wrestling has always had a certain amount of self promotion and challenges issued by people claiming to be the REAL champion to come and beat them, IF THEY CAN.
The Southern Heavyweight Championship has been a title recognized in Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, Carolinas, Indiana, and so on. Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Dutch Mantell, Dick Slater, Jeff Jarrett, Eric Embry, and Tom Prichard have all held the prestigious Southern Heavyweight Championship at one time or another. Some are even former "world" champions (sorry, couldn't resist).
Now, I recently had a match in Alcoa, TN for the UWA World Heavyweight Championship and I was victorious. I defeated a mountain of a man in Dillinger. I couldn't bear the thought of holding the world title of Alcoa but I have the utmost respect for the promoter and the UWA as an organization that I came up with the idea of renaming the UWA World Heavyweight Championship the new Southern Heavyweight Championship. I would defend the title not only in Alcoa but all over the Southern United States!
As a matter of fact I will be traveling to Denver Sept.7-9 to do a camp with my good friend Les Thatcher (details at www.EPWT.com) and defend the Southern Title while out there.
Prior to that, Sept. 2, I will defend the championship in Pennington Gap, Virginia against Bobby Fulton, then Etowah, TN Sept. 3, Fall Branch, TN on Labor Day, Sept. 16 I have a double shot defending the title in Granitequarry NC in the afternoon and Statesboro NC that evening. I will return to Etowah and Alcoa the next week and then Cookeville TN on Sept. 23. So besides wrestling in Alcoa and Etowah every Thursday and Sunday, I am taking bookings in and OUT of the area and defending the Southern Title.
When the UWA announced the new Southern championship I immediately issued a public challenge to any and every so called "world" champion in Tennessee. Now by going on World Wrestling Insanity and the UWA website I am issuing a challenge to anybody or promotion who calls their one or two town champ the REAL world champion to come forward and accept my challenge. I mean, come on. If you're the REAL world champion, prove it against the Southern Champion. Winner take all. That's what the world champions did back in the day. He would come to the challengers home court and face the adversity and threat of walking out a loser. If he wasn't up to snuff that night he got beat!
I made the challenge in Alcoa to any world champion. I now take it to the internet. I don't go on forums and I don't post anywhere. The only place you can find my official statements or releases is on World Wrestling Insanity. I am forwarding this column to SlikNik at the Official UWA website in the hopes that someone will take me up on my challenge.
For those who say it doesn't matter, come on. Shut me up once and for all, tough guy. I say it does matter. I say you are a joke and spitting in the face of the REAL champions and pioneers of this sport. If you believe you're the World Champion come see me in Alcoa. Contact Danny Grubb and tell him when you want to come down. I'm sure we can work out any conditions you want, champ. Beat me. If you can.