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NWF Heavyweight Championship
Promotion(s) New Japan Pro Wrestling
Date Established 1970
Date Retired January 4, 2004

The NWF Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling championship used as part of the National Wrestling Federation and later New Japan Pro Wrestling.


The NWF (National Wrestling Federation) Heavyweight Championship was created by wrestling promoter Pedro Martinez for his NWF promotion in New York in 1970. The title was mainly defended in the New York/Canada area, until then-champion Johnny Powers took the belt with him on a tour of Japan with Tokyo Pro Wrestling. Powers would lost the title to Antonio Inoki, who would take the belt with when he found New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Inoki became the wrestler most associated with the title due to his high profile defenses of the title, beating the likes of Stan Hansen, André the Giant, Tiger Jeet Singh and Ernie Ladd while champion. Recognized as a four-time NWF Heavyweight champion, between the years of 1973 and 1983, Inoki was champion for all but six months. Inoki's fourth reign was actually due to the decision to hold up the championship, following a defense against Stan Hansen on April 17, 1981 that ended in a no contest. Inoki later regained the title on April 23, 1981 by defeating Hansen in a rematch. He retired the NWF title immediately after the match due to his desire to enter the 1983 IWGP League.

As part of a NJPW storyline, the NWF Heavyweight championship was revived in August 2002. Mixed martial arts fighter Kazuyuki Fujita held a tournament to crown a new champion to rival the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. The tournament participants were announced to be wrestlers with a background in MMA, including Fujita, Yoshihiro Takayama, Tsuyoshi Kosaka, and Tadao Yasuda. Takayama won the tournament on January 4, 2003, beating Kosaka with a knee kick in the finals to become the first champion in over two decades. Takayama later lost the NWF Championship to Shinsuke Nakamura exactly a year later to unify the NWF and IWGP titles. Nakamura formally announced his vacating of the NWF Heavyweight title on January 5, 2004, retiring the belt for a second time during its history.

Title history[]

An (n) indicates that a title changes occurred no later than the listed date.

Wrestler: Reigns: Date: Place: Notes:
Johnny Powers 1 1973 (n) Location unknown Defeated Johnny Valentine and takes the title to Japan with him on a tour with Tokyo Pro Wrestling
Antonio Inoki 1 December 10, 1973 Tokyo, Japan
Title vacant February 12, 1975 Inoki vacates the title as refusal of an NWF ordered defense against Tiger Jeet Singh.
Tiger Jeet Singh 1 March 13, 1975 Hiroshima, Japan Singh defeats Inoki for the vacant title.
Antonio Inoki 2 June 26, 1975 Tokyo, Japan Ordered by the NWA to stop referring to belt as a world title at annual NWA meeting on August 7, 1976.
Stan Hansen 1 February 8, 1980 Tokyo, Japan
Antonio Inoki 3 March 3, 1980 Tokyo, Japan
Title held up April 17, 1981 After a defense against Stan Hansen ends in a no contest.
Antonio Inoki 4 April 23, 1981 Tokyo, Japan Inoki vacates the title following the match to enter the NJPW IWGP League.
Title Inactive
Yoshihiro Takayama 1 January 4, 2003 Tokyo, Japan Defeats Tsuyoshi Kosaka in a tournament for the vacant title at Wrestling World
Shinsuke Nakamura 1 January 4, 2004 Tokyo, Japan Nakamura officially unifies NWF title with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestling World
Title Inactive on January 5, 2004