An Undisputed Championship is a professional wrestling term for a champion who has obtained all of the major individual championships in his field during his era. The undisputed championship is an extremely rare and prestigious accomplishment.
The first undisputed championsEditThe reported first undisputed champion was Georg Hackenschmidt, who won a series of tournaments in Europe, including a world championship tournament to win the title. Amongst the other tournaments he won were the annual major tournaments in Paris, France; Hamburg, Germany, St. Petersburg, Russia, Elberfield, Germany, and Berlin, Germany. Hackenschmidt also defeated European Greco-Roman Champion Tom Cannon on September 4, 1902 in Liverpool, England to become the first undisputed World Heavyweight Champion.
The only other reigning champion with claim to the belt at the time was Tom Jenkins, the American Heavyweight Champion, who unified the American Greco-Roman Championship with the American Catch-As-Catch Can Championship. Jenkins was eventually defeated by Frank Gotch, who took over as the only man with a potentially legitimate claim to being "the true champion".
Hackenschmidt and Gotch finally met in the ring on April 3, 1908 in Chicago, Illinois. Gotch defeated Hackenschmidt to win the World Heavyweight Championship, then abandoned the American Heavyweight Championship in a process similar to today's championship unification. Gotch wrestled for several years before retiring as undisputed champion
Other wrestlers who were recognized as the only major World Champion following Gotch's retirement were Earl Caddock, Joe Stecher, Ed "Strangler" Lewis, Stanislaus Zbyszko, and Wayne Munn. The championship became disputed in the late 1920s, and remained that way for over 20 years, when several major World Championships split from the primary title (namely, the American Wrestling Association World Championship, the National Boxing Association (later, National Wrestling Association) World Championship of Wrestling, and the New York State Athletic Commission World Championship). Other governing bodies would create their own version of the World Championship in the 1930s and '40s, as well.
Lou Thesz and the National Wrestling AllianceEditAfter Gotch's retirement, several other men proceeded to hold the then World Heavyweight Title, including periods of time where the National Wrestling Association formed a second World Heavyweight Title to contend with the formerly undisputed belt. From that point onward, there was no undisputed champion, as multiple men laid claim to the title without ever backing it up by defeating multiple other contenders.
This all changed when the National Wrestling Alliance was formed by multiple promotions. Orville Brown, the then NWA (Association) World Heavyweight Champion, was awarded the NWA World Heavyweight Championship of the Alliance. Brown lost it soon after to Lou Thesz, who began the tradition of the Undisputed Championship once more.
Thesz traveled to many areas, winning the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title from Bill Longson on July 20, 1948. He then went on to defeat Orville Brown for the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title (on November 27, 1949), as well as defeating the American Wrestling Association (a Boston based federation different from Verne Gagne's more famous organization of the same name) World Champion Gorgeous George on July 27, 1950 in a non-title match. Finally, he defeated Baron Michele Leon on May 21, 1952 for the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium World Heavyweight Title.
In light of having unified 3 of the major World Heavyweight Championships of his time (as well as numerous other lesser-prestige titles) and defeating the reigning AWA World Champion in a non-title match (a major title that was abandoned soon after), Thesz became the Undisputed Champion for some time. From that point onward, the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title (the belt that Thesz opted to keep as the designation of all the championships he'd won) became the undisputed world heavyweight title for all contenders to seek.
This, however, would change over the years and decades to come as professional wrestling grew and evolved. The American Wrestling Association, owned by Verne Gagne split off from the NWA and declared their primary singles title a world title in 1960. The World Wide Wrestling Federation, owned by Vince McMahon, Sr. followed suit in 1963 and declared their major singles title a world championship. Many other NWA affiliated promotions would split from the NWA over the years with Fritz Von Erich's World Class Championship Wrestling withdrawing and renaming itself the World Class Wrestling Association in 1986, Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling in 1991, and Tod Gordon's Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1993. Each of these promotions declared their primary singles championship to be a world championship.