By Kari Williams
When NWA Heavyweight Champion Adam Pearce battles “The Tokyo Monster” Kahagas in St. Louis, it will be more than a championship match – it will be the continuance of a renaissance.
“My personal belief is the NWA world title is the godfather to all wrestling championships in the United States… It’s an honor to come back to one of the greatest hubs [in the country to defend the title],” Pearce said.
Pearce’s championship defense will be the first in St. Louis in approximately 20 years, which Pearce said forces him to want to raise the bar.
But former “Wrestling at the Chase” commentator Larry Matysik, the NWA Heavyweight Championship returning to St. Louis is about more than a single match – it’s a homecoming.
“The NWA was technically born in Iowa where [various promoters across the country] had a meeting. [‘Wrestling at the Chase’ promoter] Sam Muchnick… [was] one of the main people giving birth to the national wrestling idea and putting people together,” Matysik said. “St. Louis very quickly became home of the NWA because Sam was chosen as president of the organization, and the champion was booked out of St. Louis.”
St. Louis and the NWA were synonymous from the late 1940s to the early 1980s for both wrestling fans and those in the business, according to Matysik.
Pearce said being the one to defend the championship in St. Louis is an honor – and humbling.
“I’ve had a few of these [types of matches] come up in the last six months… Just this past week, I got back from Australia and it had been 33 years [since the title was defended there]. Harley Race was the last champion to go,” Pearce said.
Pearce, currently on his fourth reign as NWA World Heavyweight Champion, said he has devoted his career to the belt.
“I’ve worked really hard personally to restore some of the luster to this championship… I’ve dedicated my career to the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship,” Pearce said.
St. Louis Match & Restoring Meaning to the Belt
Pearce’s challenger for the belt, “The Tokyo Monster” Kahagas is what Pearce calls a “tremendous competitor.” Kahagas has traveled the country, from the Midwest to Florida and Texas and is a former High Voltage Wrestling – Midwest Heavyweight Champion.“He’s definitely somebody in the last six months who has gotten his name out there… I admire him for that,” Pearce said.
Pearce said he has devoted his wrestling life to NWA belt and his goal is to make the letters N-W-A “mean something again on a much larger level.”
“I will always – until I take my last breath – feel the NWA World Heavyweight Championship is the most prestigious championship in all of pro wrestling… Today, in my fourth reign as in my first reign, I am as humbled as I always have been…,” Pearce said.
Seeing the NWA championship defended at a local promotion is a chance for the NWA to show off its champion around the world, Matysik said.
“I think wrestling more than anything right now desperately needs a place for young talent to get a place to grow, just aren’t enough places… To see the NWA champion on a program is going to be something really special,” Matysik said.
Matysik said he thinks it is important for independent promotions to find a way to be strong and having the NWA champion on the show could help.
“If the NWA, in latest incarnation, can do that that’s wonderful,” Matysik said. “The business desperately needs it.”
History of the NWA Championship in St. Louis.
Matysik said the original dream of those who started the NWA was for there to be one, recognizable champion. However, it never “really became a one-champion situation.”
“There were numerous reasons for that, but because their champion, the NWA champion, did wrestle in so many different areas… [he covered a] much larger area where one person is recognized as the champion,” Matysik said. “As wrestling magazines gained power in the ’60s and ’70s, they recognized the NWA title as more or less the real title.”
Through the efforts of Sam Muchnick and Ray Gillespie, Matysik said a line of succession for the NWA championship was traced back to the 1900s with Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt.
“There was research; there were facts… and they kind of looked at that champion as the champion,” Matysick said.
Additionally, Muchnick built everything around the championship in St. Louis, according to Matysik.
“[It] all revolved around who was the world champ, who was going to fight for the world championship… He made the championship even more important in St. Louis than it was anywhere else,” Matysik said.
Matysik said, in all likelihood, Ric Flair was the last person to defend the belt in St. Louis.
Pearce, who remembers watching tapes of Flair’s title defenses when the current champ was first breaking into the wrestling business, said he is most looking forward to “bringing [the belt] home.”
“There’s a renaissance going on with NWA world title. Whether I want to call it my calling [or not], it’s really been something extremely important to me to bring this championship to as many place as I can,” Pearce said.