Last time we got into WWE and its strength booking face champions over heel champions. Now let’s look at WCW/NWA and its heel approach.
The Alliance Heel Champion
This time we’ll have to split this into two different periods since the WCW came out of NWA the alliance which became NWA the promotion.
The NWA was a vast alliance of territories broken up by major markets and some weaker markets which rested between those major markets.
While a promoter could run out of one major city, they usually had a few cities that were either in the metropolitan area or the greater TV market.
Now, we tend to simplify this to regional markets since each territory had a distinct approach although some—such as the deep south territories—had a similar flavor.
These territories had a champion who was often a hometown hero. The best example would be Jerry Lawler in Memphis, the Von Erichs in Dallas, or the Funks in Amarillo.
Your faces stayed in place. They were the home team. Heels usually traveled but there were some territorial heels who were regular threats.
A good example is the awesome mic master Ron White in Knoxville and throughout Tennessee and Kentucky.
The traveling alliance world champion usually came through to defend the belt in a one-shot but let locals know that their home champion was good enough to challenge the World champion.
It also broke up the local face champion taking on local heels regularly and worked when the major traveling heels weren’t swinging through any time soon.
Heels As World Champions In NWA/WCW
As the NWA began to see territories weaken and fold in the latter part of the 80s, the alliance was morphing more into a promotion. With the 80s wrestling boom, Jim Crockett Promotions became the core of NWA.
JCP was Ric Flair’s home promotion and at this time he was the regular World Champion. Watching old NWA and seeing him without the belt is strange.
The reason he had the belt so often was that he was the biggest drawing heel and the most marketable even if Roddy Piper was included (when he was there).
Chasing the heel champion was more attractive in the NWA than the face champion taking on all comers. That worked in WWE in part because the face champion also defended the promotion.
When NWA morphed into WCW, this approach remained a series strong heel champions such as Flair, Rick Rude, and Vader served as hard targets to take down for babyfaces.
That said, WCW had the benefit of having a regular strong face in Sting and several capable faces. Later on, the company had Goldberg and DDP but WCW always kept powerful heels on deck.
Now, we could end it here and compare WCW and WWE but drop back in next time as we look at ECW’s relatable world champions.
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