There are moments in history that aren’t known for what people said or did, but what an item they created did. In this case, it was the Big Gold Belt’s debut.
While there is never really a way to replace history, various actions or items come along to fill the place of another legendary piece. It’s rare that the subsequent item rates as well as the original, but some come close.
For years, the NWA’s World Heavyweight Championship was represented by the historic Ten Pounds of Gold.
This belt’s legend went beyond just being a championship as the NWA board required the new champion to make a deposit of $25,000 before taking possession of the belt. This was meant as a security measure to ensure the champion would follow through on their appearances as the deposit would be forfeit if they reneged on any of their duties. It was an immense responsibility on top of being the face of the NWA, which made selecting their champion a complex and sometimes long debated topic before settling on someone they felt worthy of carrying the championship.
But times were changing.
The Big Gold Belt debut
The Big Gold Belt debuted around Ric Flair’s waist as he faced Barry Windham at Battle of the Belts II on February 14, 1986.
Bought by Jim Crockett Promotions (a territory of the NWA that would later become WCW) for Ric Flair, the belt has three large gold plates with a distinctive name plate where the champion’s name was etched. The Big Gold Belt was considered unbranded as it only read “World Heavyweight Championship” and without any trademarks of initials to the promotion it belonged.
This added a sense of mystique to the new championship, and it was often touted in similar ways as the old Ten Pounds of Gold.
After purchasing WCW in 2001, the Big Gold Belt was owned by the WWE. In 2003, the WWE added their logo to the design for copyright purposes, cementing it as theirs.
The creator and history
Thanks to @awrestlinghistorian for this excerpt.
“The maker of the original Big Gold belt was Charles Crumrine. Crumrine makes rodeo belt buckles and has had a shop in Nevada for decades.
“Unfortunately, Charles passed away, but an employee, Alice, who worked with Charles back then is still there and was a huge help in gathering a lot of previously unknown information on the belt.
“The original Big Gold was used throughout NWA and WCW until mid/late 2000. It was referred to as the ‘Big Gold Belt’ in a few promos by Ric Flair, and I believe one of the old TBS announcers referred to it that. Thus, many fans and collectors still refer to it as “the big gold” to this day.
“Nelson Royal originally ordered the belt in late 1985/early 1986, on behalf of the NWA. The original concept artwork for the belt had the NWA letters featured prominently at the top. After hearing the quoted price, the NWA did chose not to purchase it. Nelson purchased it with no letters or logos and intended to use it for himself. Once Jim Crockett Jr. saw the completed belt, he loved it and bought it from Nelson.
“Many books and articles quote the cost of the belt around $28,000. This is false. Nelson paid around $12,000+ for it.” – @beltfandan
So, there you have it. One of two historic championship belts that are currently held by two promotions with different ideas on the lineage.
While the WWE has merged the Big Gold Belt with their WWF World Heavyweight Championship into the current WWE Heavyweight Championship, the Ten Pounds of Gold remains with the NWA where it belongs and will hopefully remain.
If we’re lucky, Vince McMahon will ditch the Universal Championship and go back to one overall title, but there’s less merchandising income in that. Sometimes, history should be honored instead of used strictly for profit.
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