Golden history

At Cyber Sunday, history will be made as the champions of all three WWE brands step into the ring to see who the “Champion of Champions” really is. This is the first time three champions have gone head to head, but it will not be the first champion vs. champion match in sports-entertainment history.

Before the Monday Night Wars, and even before the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era of the mid-1980s, WWE and the NWA were fighting for supremacy. The best way to claim it was to find out whose champion was the best, so there were a few instances where the respective champions squared off to settle the score.

On Jan. 25, 1978 at Miami’s Orange Bowl, NWA Champion Harley Race and WWE Champion “Superstar” Billy Graham squared off. It was champion vs. champion and a battle of two future WWE Hall of Famers. However, after 60 minutes of punishing action, the time limit expired. The bout was declared a draw, leaving the question of supremacy unanswered.

Bob Backlund toppled Graham for the WWE Championship a few weeks later, and before he had time to celebrate his victory, Race was back at the WWE Champion’s heels. On Feb. 23, 1978, just three days following Backlund’s victory over Graham, he met Race in Jacksonville, Fla.

Again, however, the match went to a draw, so they would try again later in the year. On Oct. 29 in Orlando, Race and Backlund battled to yet another draw, making it seem as if no one would ever get the upper hand in this stalemate.

Early in 1979, the AWA joined the fray, as AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkel challenged Backlund. But on March 25 at Toronto’s famed Maple Leaf Gardens, the two men battled to a double countout, still leaving the issue unsettled. Four matches in 13 months failed to settle the score, and the issue was laid to rest.

It would be revived a few years later, as the NWA had a new benchmark. Backlund was still WWE Champion, but “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was then the NWA Champion. In the midst of his first of 16 World Title reigns, Flair challenged Backlund to a battle of supremacy.

On July 4, 1982 at the Atlanta Omni (the building that was to the NWA what MSG is to WWE), Flair and Backlund had their showdown. Again, however, nothing was settled, as the two champions battled to a double countout. 

So now, nearly a quarter-century later, the debate is once again in the forefront. At Cyber Sunday, John Cena, King Booker or Big Show will finally settle the debate when they stand tall as the Champion of Champions. Who will it be?


Cast your vote for which title will be on the line

Title histories: WWE | World Heavyweight | ECW

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