October 20, 2018
GFW Staff (65 articles)

The Legacy Of The NWA – Chapter Six: NWA Legend Magnum TA And The National Title

NWA Legend Magnum T.A. and the National Title

One of the premier titles in the NWA during the 1980’s was the National title. Some of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling held the belt, including Jack Brisco, Paul Orndorff, Larry Zbyszko, Ted DiBiase, Dusty Rhodes, Tully Blanchard, Wahoo McDaniel, and Nikita Koloff. Now, the NWA is reactivating the championship, with the winner of a one-night tournament taking place at #NWA70 this Sunday in Nashville being the recipient of a newly-redesigned title belt.

On hand to present the winner with the strap will be NWA legend Magnum T.A. In position to be the standard-bearer for the organization in the mid-1980’s, Magnum sadly saw his career cut short due to a tragic car accident. However, he is seeing his legacy live on in the business in the form of his step-daughter, rising star Tessa Blanchard. Now, he is making his mark once again in the NWA.

We spoke with him to get his thoughts on wrestling in the 1980’s, the recent resurgence of the NWA, the National title, and Cody-Aldis II:

The mid-1980’s were seen as of the greatest periods in NWA history, with wrestlers like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, the Four Horsemen and yourself at the top of the card. You were obviously in the thick of it…what was it like?

“It was the best of times. We were selling out all the major arenas we were going to all over the country. It was red-hot…we had just gotten onto the Superstation on TBS, which Dusty lovingly referred to as the “star-maker,” because that’s what he used it for, to make mega-stars. That position put us in every major venue across the country and made us a household name. So being in that little clique, that group, and being at the top of the food chain, so to speak…wrestling Ric probably 18 times in one month to hour draws all across the United States, and chasing him for the NWA title…it was a really exciting time for me and for the business.”

The NWA, with its successful “Ten Pounds of Gold” YouTube series, and recent heavyweight champions like Tim Storm, Nick Aldis, and now Cody, has seen a resurgence over the last year. Obviously, the organization was something close to your heart. How happy are you to see an organization you were so closely associated with back at the forefront of the wrestling business?

“I came from the territory age where everyone had their champions of their states or regional areas that they promoted. All those guys had made it up the ranks and became the champion of their territory, and they were each in line for a shot for the world title when the champion came to town. For the NWA, as it had laid its footprint all over the world, from Japan, to New Zealand, to Hawaii, and everywhere in between, it was the oldest, most prestigious, most respected organization recognizing a world’s heavyweight champion that anyone could be associated with at that time.

 “Looking at the lineage of the Funks, the Races, the Rhodes…everyone that had held that title…it just meant so much. It was what we all bled and sweat for, gave everything that we had, to try to get to the pinnacle and be recognized as the best performer on the planet, because that’s what you were when you held the belt. When you were the NWA world’s heavyweight champion, you were looked upon as the premier performer and the premier draw anywhere in the world. Your name on the marquee with that belt was going to do mega-business, and you could go sell out arenas anywhere with anybody’s champion. So to even brush shoulders with the champion, and have a chance to actually be the champion, was almost something made of myths and legends.”

On Sunday, you will be on-hand to present the newly-designed National title belt to the winner of a one-night tournament. The new National champion will be seen as the number one contender to the world title. What does it mean to you to be chosen to present the belt to the new champion?

“It’s exciting to me because I’ve been in that spot. I’ve been there, right at the pinnacle of reaching the plateau of the world heavyweight title. The NWA bringing back the National title to recognize the next contender to challenge for the world title…I couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of it. With the resurgence and what’s going on with the whole NWA culture, and how the guys are breathing new life into it, and from a different dimension and different perspective, it’s really an exciting time. I’m really optimistic about all this young blood and new thinking, the utilization of things like the internet and social media…what level can they take this thing to? These are truly exciting times, and I am very glad to be a part of it. I want to do everything I can to help.” 

Being that you’ve been in the position of being so close to the very top, do you have any advice or words of wisdom for the winner?

“Achieving the goal and gaining the belt is just the next step, because the ultimate trophy will always be the ‘ten pounds of gold.’ Nevertheless, the honor of capitalizing and being able to overcome all challengers to get to that level is so special. I know the lineage of people that fought their way up the ranks over history, and I see it going that way again as the National title becomes more coveted once again, and is restored to the esteem that it deserves. So, the new National champion will be a desired position to be in for sure, and it will be someone positioning themselves to challenge whoever will be the world heavyweight champion after Sunday night.” 

You were on-hand at “All In” to see your stepdaughter Tessa Blanchard, who you have helped mentor, compete in a women’s match that drew lots of attention and rave reviews from fans. You also got to see Cody and Aldis compete for the NWA title that night. Now we’re going to get to see the rematch at #NWA70. How excited are you for the rematch, and do you have any predictions?

“I think that Nick is going to bring a new level of intensity because he lost something very important to him, and he has some gripes about how he went about losing it. I’ve heard his interviews, and I saw the things he wanted to call out…the technicalities, times when the match could have been stopped prior to the deciding three count. So I think he’s going to bring his A-game, and I also think now that Cody has settled in and has felt what it’s like to represent as the world’s heavyweight champion, that a two out of three falls match is going to be classic. 

 “Obviously, either Nick or Cody is capable of beating the other one at any given time, if the stars line up just right. So it’s going to come down to who can pull off the two wins needed. Truly, I look for a classic confrontation. In my heart, I still have to believe that if the match goes for an extended period of time, which you would have to think would be possible with two out of three falls, that it will go more in Cody’s favor, as I think he has the better endurance and long game. As far as power goes, Aldis is a beast. He’s right in line, size-wise, with the guys I used to compete with, and I see his skills and the game that he brings to the ring. If Nick can implement his power game he can win two straight, but he’ll have to do it quickly. But if they split it and it’s going down to the third one, I think time is going to be in Cody’s favor.”

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