Franchise throws down NWA title (August 27, 1994)
On August 27, 1994, one of the most controversial and talked about moments in professional wrestling took place, when ECW Heavyweight champion Shane Douglas threw down the NWA World Heavyweight Title, moments after winning it in a tournament final.
Tod Gordon was a Philadelphia jewelry store owner who started NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1992. Not far away from ECW’s home-base of Philadelphia was another NWA promoter Dennis Coraluzzo, in New Jersey. After initially coming to an agreement about territorial boundaries, Coralluzzo claimed that Gordon reneged by running shows on his patch. Coraluzzo responded by allegedly getting venues to cancel shows after sending them tapes of ECW’s ‘hardcore’ content, or having the fire marshal shut down an event due to code violations. According to Gordon, he once caught Dennis and an accomplice (possibly Howard Brody) letting air out of fan’s tires in the parking lot during an ECW show. Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) had Gordon pull over to a phone booth one night and berated Dennis for ‘taking the food out of his mouth.’ Publicly, Dennis complained to various wrestling newsletters.
Around this time, an ambitious plan was hatched to try and resurrect the NWA to their former glories. ECW were chosen to host a tournament in the ECW Arena to crown a new NWA World Heavyweight champion. Despite his high standing on the NWA Board, Dennis was out-voted in regards to ECW’s involvement. Coraluzzo took to the newsletters again, raising the ire of Gordon and Paul Heyman (now a part owner of the promotion), neither of whom wanted to do the show in the first place. Deciding the time had come to extricate themselves from the NWA, the two came up with a plan to do so, and one that would also elevate themselves in the process.
Douglas defeated Too Cold Scorpio in the final, and was made NWA World Heavyweight champion. He began cutting a victory speech, name-dropping past NWA champions, including a man he despised, Ric Flair (going back to when Douglas was in WCW). Then, looking up at the heavens and saying “this is for you dad…” he proceeded to throw down the NWA Title, with the words that all the past titleholders could “kiss his a**!” With a nervous and concerned Corraluzzo sitting ringside with Gordon, Douglas was handed the ECW belt, where he proclaimed himself “the new ECW Heavyweight champion of the world!” On ECW television, Dennis voiced his disapproval, saying that if ECW did not fall into line, they would be kicked out of the Alliance.
Right after, a promo from Tod Gordon aired, where he stated that he had dissolved NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling, and in its place, was EXTREME Championship Wrestling. The promotion would go on to air pay-per-views and appear on national television, while the NWA’s plans were quietly dissolved.