A Short History of...
UNITED STATES WRESTLING ASSOCIATION
By 1987, the wrestling industry was changing at such a rapid pace. Not only concerning the talent and growing exposure to the national media, but also in terms of the promotions which were beginning to take shape and establish themselves for the years to come. The NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE had consolidated to Atlanta, Georgia, from which it began presenting itself as the number one single promotion in the world as opposed to various territories all over the country and world. The WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION had just ignited what would become known as "Macho Madness" with RANDY SAVAGE's victory and powerslam of ANDRE THE GIANT at WWF WrestleMania III. Meanwhile, up north, WORLD STAR WRESTLING had just formed thanks to an official alliance created by VERNE GAGNE and STU HART, combining their influence in Minnesota and Canada, and taking to Chicago, Illinois where a new "national promotion" was to be molded.
Things were a bit short-sighted down in Texas. Memphis was delusional, believing the old territory system would never falter, even though it was right before their eyes. Mid-South had made the transition only a year ago, creating the UNIVERSAL WRESTLING FEDERATION in attempts to "go national" all by themselves. All three territories had hit a dead-end, while the rest of the industry was fully consolidating and creating their own dominating promotions in the various corners of the United States. All three promoters out of Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, certainly were smart enough to understand what was happening, but were a bit stubborn in their acknowledgement.
By mid-1988, all three promotions were suffering, as the NWA was clearly the favorite and best drawing promotion in the South. The WWF was on a hot-streak, riding the wave of popularity provided by Randy Savage, and was effectively doing all it could to kill the territory system itself. WSW was the prime example of evolutionary adaptation, cultivating near national syndication with their television product based out of WGN-TV studios in Chicago, Illinois, while having since presented themselves as the number one wrestling promotion in America following its formation in August of 1987.
It took a few meetings before word had gotten out. By the time the negotiations of consolidation between MEMPHIS WRESTLING, WORLD CLASS CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING, and the UWF had hit the dirt sheets and rumor mill, agreements had already been created, and the rumors became official news. In late 1988, the UNITED STATES WRESTLING ASSOCIATION was officially established; the future of real "wrasslin'".
The promotion's first show promoted under the USWA banner was promoted for another month before it would finally take place on December 13th, 1988 in Houston, Texas. The main event was hyped up as the most important match in wrestling history, especially within all threerespective territories. The first true "super card" event to take place under the USWA banner saw Memphis' own, JERRY "The King" LAWLER become the first ever USWA Unified World Heavyweight champion, successfully defeating the home-town favorite, KERRY VON ERICH, and UWF's representation for their world title, "Dr. Death" STEVE WILLIAMS.
The next year saw Lawler and Kerry Von Erich battle over the new unified world title, while Kerry only achieving victory once in April of 1989, where he defeated Lawler to become the second-ever unified champion, only to lose the belt twenty-four days later in Houston. Lawler dominated much of 1989, before CHRIS ADAMS won a hard-earned victory in October to win the belt for his first, and perhaps only time. Adams' title-run was shortlived as well, ironically cut off by Kerry himself, who took the belt in early November.
The Early 1990's
From Kerry's second reign and into late 1990, he would feud for nearly a year with his older brother, DAVID VON ERICH, in what is regarded usually as one of the hottest feuds in USWA history. The two would trade the belt back-and-forth seven times throughout most of 1990, with Kerry finally winning the title for good in October of 1990, going on to hold the title for the next five-months.
The next year would see the debut of JAKE "The Snake" ROBERTS, who had first competed in WORLD CLASS CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING before taking to the WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION in 1986. From there, Roberts was a prominent and very popular member of the WWF roster, but would be forced out of the company in 1991 due to personal issues concerning alcohol and recreational drugs. Returning to his roots, Roberts debuted in the USWA with a bang, and eventually won the unified title in July of 1991, winning it from a franchise face in JERRY LAWLER.
As a new essential piece of the roster, Roberts was able to give the USWA even more legitimacy in the South, where the Roberts was beloved for his mysterious persona and pet snake he would greet live crowds with. From 1991 to 1992, Roberts dominated the main event scene with multiple title victories, defeating and losing to the likes of Kerry Von Erich, the HONKY TONK MAN, and, eventually losing a steamed-rivalry between he and Jerry Lawler.
Leading the company into 1993, Lawler was forced to deal with the debut of the USWA's biggest, and most important signing in their short history. Following VINCE MCMAHON's conviction in the summer of 1993, one of the WWF's biggest stars, "Rowdy" RODDY PIPER was ready to get the hell out of Stamford. Piper found himself in a peculiar situation, just like many workers in the WWF following the trial, but the Scotsman ended with the most unique result, and contract, of any other wrestler in the industry. Looking to sign Roddy Piper as their next big star and attraction for their tours across the South, the USWA coalition was able to fund most of his contract through private investment from multiple millionaires whom had previously helped fund the USWA's annual budget, and were willing to invest some of their assets to keep their favorite wrasslin' promotion alive and hungry. Jokingly, Piper's contract is frequently referred to as "the oil contract", in reference to the multiple oil-family millionaires which fund the contract.
Piper won the title in his debut against the champion, Jerry Lawler. The Dallas, Texas crowd was ecstatic to get the built off of Lawler, who had nearly held the built for an entire year. Piper became the hottest face in the South, with much of his reign climaxing in what would become known as "The Christmas of 1993".
Heading into the Holiday season, the USWA usually slowed down on shows, waiting until after New Year's to kick things back up again, and to give their roster and staff a multiple week-long holiday break. But 1993 was noticeably different as the company planned on holding shows in Memphis, Tennessee, all the way up to Christmas Eve. Any wrestling fan in Memphis can tell you about "The Christmas of 1993", and everyone seems to say that "they were there" when Lawler won back the belt, or "when YOKOZUNA made his debut." The holiday would go down in Memphis legend, but would really begin in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Lawler was finally able to take the belt back from Roddy Piper.
Heading into December, Lawler graced the live crowds and television program with his usual cocky attitude, this time with a bit of a Christmas theme with how it would be the best Christmas in Memphis history with Lawler the new USWA Unified World Heavyweight champion. But December 20th of that Winter saw the first night in four of the craziest days in Memphis wrestling history. December 20th saw the surprise debut of Yokozuna, who had also left from the WWF, and was looking for an easier schedule to travel. Crushing Lawler in the surprise main event, Yokozuna would win the title sending Memphis into quite a wrestling buzz.
That buzz continued to grow as two nights later, Yokozuna dropped the title to Jake Roberts, as he won the unified championship for the fifth time in short career in the USWA! But the fifth time would be the shortest of them all, as the very next night, Roberts dropped the belt back to Yokozuna! The fans were absolutely electric once again, but the biggest night of them all came on the fourth, where Santa delivered a second-title victory for Roddy Piper, who left that Christmas Eve as the USWA Unified World Heavyweight champion, and the real winner of the wild "Christmas of 1993".
As 1994 came around, and even more impactful debut took place in February, as SID VICIOUS officially left the National Wrestling Alliance, having essentially been black-balled from the promotion he joined a year prior to Vince McMahon's conviction. As a face of the steroid scandal, the NWA was adamant about getting Vicious out of their territory and off their television programs. When his contract expired, Vicious only found a home in the USWA, where he accepted a written contract, and a title run on his debut. Much of the year revolved around Vicious, who feuded with Kerry Von Erich, Roddy Piper and Jerry Lawler. JEFF JARRETT was also able to sneak in his first title run, defeating Roddy Piper in January of 1995 to only hold the title for a short-month.
1995 itself featured a wide-array of title changes, beginning with Jarrett's victory in January. The next month, Piper won the title back, but that very next month, lost to Sid Vicious, the man he had won it from just a few months back in December 1994. Vicious held the title for all of March and most of April, but Lawler was able to take the title in El Paso, Texas. Lawler's victory led to a short but hot program featuring he and Jeff Jarrett, from which resulted in Jarrett's second title-reign, but this one, only lasting a week. It was Jake "The Snake" Roberts who would cut Jarrett's title run short once again, before losing the belt to Lawler in September at the USWA Big Night in Little Rock. But, in the final title change of the year, "The King" was only able to hold on until the next big event, dropping the unified title back to Roberts in October at the USWA Big Night in Amarillo.