Chaos Descending wrote:
Well, not exactly. He was the reigning NWA World Champion who lost to Lou Thesz in a single-fall match (common now, but in those days a best two-of-three falls decision was common). Since the WWWF controlled the rights to Buddy Rogers and didn't like that "their guy" had to drop the belt to someone who wasn't "their guy", the WWWF split from the NWA and recognized him as champion based on the idea that his loss to Lou Thesz wasn't "legit". Then of course they came up with the bogus Rio De Janeiro tournament.
Ah, but there have always been rumours that Vince McMahon Sr. and Toots Mondt had planned to leave the NWA anyway (I suppose this is fueled by McMahon Jr's national expansion in the 1980's that pissed the territorials off, although the AWA were also doing the same, to a lesser scale. Still, even though McMahon Jr. went against the elder McMahon's wishes and invaded the territories, there are some who doubt this and believe all sorts) - given that they seldom allowed Rogers to wrestle outside of their territory (Northeast USA at that time) and as you mentioned - Rogers was their
Funnily enough, McMahon Sr. was involved with the NWA again in the 1970's, only this time they wouldn't book the NWA championship or champion - NWA at the same time didn't recognise the WWWF Championship as a world title.
In hindsight, McMahon and Co. were extremely
lucky to have such a talent as the great Bruno Sammartino in their promotion who reached the level of Rogers' success (and beyond) as the succeeding champion. In fact, Sammartino was such a big draw that they brought him back for a three and a half year title reign in the 1970's.
Antonio Inoki is technically a former WWE Champion, although WWE doesn't recognise this for whatever reason, although it could be down to the fact that the change occured in Japan and would be too confusing for the fans back in the US (add to that some politics and business decisions) where Backlund (the previous champion) was the company's biggest draw and therefore WWE recognises Backlund's reign as being constant all the way from 1978 - 1983.
The way I see it though, the WWWF created a new championship with no previous lineage and awarded the title to Buddy Rogers because he was the biggest draw in their promotion and to the Northeast fans (WWWF's territory), he was the "world champion".
Trivia: The WWE Intercontinental Championship was simply the old WWWF North American Heavyweight Championship re-named.
I did not know this! Cheers for posting!