AWA World Heavyweight Champiomship
Date introduced 1959 or 1960
Promotion American Wrestling Alliance

The American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling world championship and the highest ranked championship in the now defunct American Wrestling Alliance. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious championships in professional wrestling history.


The AWA World Heavyweight Championship was established in May 1960, after the AWA became a separate promotion from the National Wrestling Alliance, which had previously been a part of the NWA's Minneapolis, Minnesota-area presence. The first champion was Pat O'Connor, who was recognized as the first champion upon the AWA's secession from the NWA as O'Connor held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship as well, which he won on January 9, 1959. The creation of this world title along with the NWA world title would pave the way for the creation of many other world championships in other wrestling promotions.

The title was supposedly revived in 1996 in Dale Gagner's independent promotion AWA Superstars of Wrestling, who re-licensed the AWA name. However, World Wrestling Entertainment has sued Gagner for the use of the AWA name, citing trademark infringement, as the WWE owns the AWA tape library, trademarks, and logos. AWA Superstars of Wrestling has claimed lineage for their world title to the classic AWA title and control over the title history, but because there is no connection to the original organizations or individuals involved therein, no continuity in title reigns or even physical belts, and questionable legal use of the AWA name, the claims made by AWA Superstars of Wrestling are in historical dispute and in legal jeopardy.

Dale Gagner's claim that his AWA Superstars of Wrestling resumed the operations of the original AWA was more than tenuous, and the quality of champions it produced seemed to pale in comparison to the original AWA. In 2005, in what some might call a publicity stunt, the AWA Superstars recognized Hulk Hogan as a two-time AWA champion based upon two pinfalls he scored over AWA world champion Nick Bockwinkel way back in 1982, and 1983. Both decisions by the referee were quickly reversed by the AWA president based upon dubious technicalities, and these title changes were never officially recognized.

AWA Superstars took it upon itself to revise the original AWA title history, and correct the alleged wrongs against Hulk Hogan, but the decision was not widely welcomed, or accepted, in pro-wrestling circles. However, the announcement was not altogether rejected, as some felt Hulk Hogan was deserving of the correction all along. Regardless of one's opinion, these once largely forgotten and unofficial AWA title transfers are now often mentioned as a footnote in world-title history discussions. In fact, some non-wrestling media sources now commonly note or report Hulk Hogan as an official two-time AWA champion when covering his career, all based upon Dale Gagner's 2005 announcement - perhaps unaware of the weak historical and legal standing which the AWA Superstars held, or in deference to the fame and likability of Hulk Hogan.

Title history

†Title changes not officially recognized by the American Wrestling Association.

# Wrestler Reigns Date Days held: Location Event Notes
1 Pat O'Connor 1 May 18, 1959 St. Louis, MO Live event Held NWA World Heavyweight Championship, won on January 9, 1959 in St. Louis, Missouri; recognized as the first AWA World Champion in May 1960, but was given 90 days to defend the title against Verne Gagne or be stripped of the title.
2 Verne Gagne 1 August 16, 1960 N/A N/A Awarded after O'Connor failed to defend the title.
3 Gene Kiniski 1 July 11, 1961 Minneapolis, MN Live event
4 Verne Gagne 2 August 8, 1961 Minneapolis, MN Live event
5 Mr. M 1 January 9. 1962 Minneapolis, MN Live event
6 Verne Gagne 3 August 21, 1962 Minneapolis, MN Live event
7 The Crusher 1 July 9, 1963 Minneapolis, MN Live event Also won Omaha version of World Heavyweight Championship from Verne Gagne on February 15, 1963 in Omaha, Nebraska.
8 Verne Gagne 4 July 20, 1963 Minneapolis, MN Live event Wins both the AWA title and the Omaha title.
9 Fritz Von Erich 1 July 27, 1963 Omaha, NE Live event Wins both the AWA title and the Omaha title.
10 Verne Gagne 5 August 8, 1963 Amarillo, TX Live event Wins AWA title only; also wins Omaha title from Fritz Von Erich on September 7, 1963 in Omaha, NE to unify the titles.
11 The Crusher 2 November 16, 1963 St. Paul, MN Live event
12 Verne Gagne 6 December 14, 1963 Minneapolis, MN Live event
13 Mad Dog Vachon 1 May 2, 1964 Omaha, NE Live event
14 Verne Gagne 7 May 16, 1964 Omaha, NE Live event
15 Mad Dog Vachon 2 October 20, 1964 Minneapolis, MN Live event
16 Mighty Igor Vodic 1 May 15, 1965 Omaha, NE Live event
17 Mad Dog Vachon 3 May 22, 1965 Omaha, NE Live event
18 The Crusher 3 August 21, 1965 St. Paul, MN Live event
19 Mad Dog Vachon 4 November 12, 1965 Denver, CO Live event
20 Tim Woods 1 January 08, 1966 Omaha, NE Live event AWA president Stanley Blackburn reviews the match from January 8, 1966 and declares it "no contenst" on January 14, 1966 since Woods' legs are on the rope while pinning Vachon during the final fall.
21 Mad Dog Vachon 5 January 14, 1966 Omaha, NE Live event Vachon defeats Woods in a rematch on January 14, 1966.
22 Dick The Bruiser 1 November 12, 1966 Omaha, NE Live event
23 Mad Dog Vachon 5(6) November 19, 1966 Omaha, NE Live event
24 Verne Gagne 8 February 26, 1967 St. Paul, MN Live event
25 Dr. X 1 August 17, 1968 Bloomington, MN Live event
26 Verne Gagne 9 August 31, 1968 Minneapolis, MN Live event
27 Nick Bockwinkel 1 November 8, 1975 St. Paul, MN Live event Wrestled WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund to a double count-out on March 25, 1979 in Toronto, ON.
28 Verne Gagne 10 July 18, 1980 Chicago, IL Live event Gagne retired from active wrestling while still the champion.
29 Nick Bockwinkel 2 May 19, 1981 N/A N/A Awarded the title when Gagne retired.
30 Hulk Hogan 1 April 18, 1982 St. Paul, MN Live event Hogan's victory was overturned by AWA President Stanley Blackburn on April 24, 1982 as a result of the use of a foreign object by Hogan on Bockwinkel in the course of the bout, with Hogan's reign being unrecognized.[1]
31 Nick Bockwinkel 3 April 24, 1982 N/A N/A Returned to Bockwinkel by AWA president Stanley Blackburn due to the involvement of a foreign object in the match. Since Hogan was never recognized as a champion, Bockwinkel was only recognized as a two-time champion.[1]
32 Otto Wanz 1 August 29, 1982 St. Paul, MN Live event
Nick Bockwinkel
October 9, 1982 501 Chicago, IL Live event [1]
Jerry Lawler
December 27, 1982 14 Memphis, TN Live event Title held up after the match.[1]
Nick Bockwinkel
January 10, 1983 408 Memphis, TN Live event Defeats Lawler in a rematch..[1]
Hulk Hogan
April 24, 1983 0 Minneapolis, MN Live event Hogan's victory was overturned by Stanley Blackburn immediately following the bout, with Hogan's reign unrecognised.[1]
Nick Bockwinkel
April 24, 1983 304 Minneapolis, MN Live event After the match Blackburn came down to the ring and tried to have Hogan disqualified for having thrown Bockwinkel over the top rope, but since this was a no disqualification match, Blackburn simply stripped Hogan of the belt and again returned it to Bockwinkel. Understandably upset at the way he had been treated, Hogan left the AWA shortly thereafter. Neither of the Hogan's wins were officially recognized by the AWA.[1]
Jumbo Tsuruta
February 22, 1984 81 Tokyo, Japan Live event [1]
Rick Martel
May 13, 1984 595 St. Paul, MN Live event Wrestled NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair to a double count-out on October 2, 1985 in Tokyo, Japan.[1]
Stan Hansen
December 29, 1985 181 East Rutherford, NJ Live event [1]
Nick Bockwinkel
June 28, 1986 308 Denver, CO Live event Awarded when Hansen left the AWA.[1]
Curt Hennig
May 2, 1987 373 San Francisco, CA SuperClash 2 Title held up immediately after the match due to controversy over interference by Larry Zbyszko on Hennig's behalf, but the title is returned to Hennig days later after the AWA Championship Committee (perhaps learning from their mistakes with Hogan) rules that there was no evidence of interference.[1]
Jerry Lawler
May 9, 1988 256 Memphis, TN Live event Lawler defeated Kerry Von Erich on December 13, 1988 in Chicago to win the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship, and become the first USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship.[1]
36 Vacated
January 20, 1989 0 N/A N/A Lawler was stripped of the title after the Continental Wrestling Association split with the AWA.
37 Larry Zbyszko 1 February 7, 1989 St. Paul, MN Live event Zbyszko won a battle royal, last eliminating Tom Zenk.
38 Mr. Saito 1 February 10, 1990 Tokyo, Japan Live event
39 Larry Zbyszko 2 April 8, 1990 St. Paul, MN SuperClash 4
40 Title retired December 12, 1990 0 N/A N/A Title stripped when Zbyszko left the inactive AWA for WCW. The AWA closed in 1991.

List of top combined reigns

Rank Wrestler # Of Reigns Combined Days
1. Verne Gagne 10 4,677
2. Nick Bockwinkel 4 2,990
3. Mad Dog Vachon 5 776
4. Larry Zbyszko 2 616
5. Rick Martel 1 595
6. Curt Hennig 1 373
7. Jerry Lawler 1 256
8. Mr. M 1 224
9. Stan Hansen 1 181
10. The Crusher 3 122
11. Pat O'Connor 1 90
12. Jumbo Tsuruta 1 81
13. Mr. Saito 1 57
14. Otto Wanz 1 41
15. Gene Kiniski 1 28
16. Dr. X 1 14
17. Fritz Von Erich 1 12
18. Mighty Igor Vodic 1 7
19. Dick The Bruiser 1 7

The AWA World Heavyweight Championship was the primary championship in the American Wrestling Alliance professional wrestling organization. It was created in July 2006, and it has been held by many successful professional wrestlers.



On July 2, 2006, CCW, the new championship was not initially represented by its own title belt. Because of this, AWA regularly claimed the AWA World Championship lineage for its own championship.

Current Champion

The current AWA World Heavyweight Champion is Michael O'Dell, who defeated Jade on July 2, 2006 in Panama City, Florida. This is Hurricanes' first reign as champion.

Championship Reign by Length

Wrestler Days Held Date Won Date Lost
Hurricane 11 July 2, 2006 Current champion

Also See

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