On August 7th, 2002, Ron Killings captures the NWA World Championship as NWA-TNA held its eighth weekly pay-per-view from the Asylum in Nashville, Tennessee. In the second match on the card, Ron “The Truth” Killings challenged Ken Shamrock for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
Killings was freshly rebranded from his previous ring name K Kwik in the WWE. The name and gimmick change came during the build-up for the match.
In which Ron Killings stated that it was just “The Truth” that the powers that be in TNA were avoiding giving him a title shot because he is a black man. On this day, Ron ‘The Truth’ Killings captures the NWA World Championship.
Ron Killings would beat Shamrock in a fairly decent match. The match did suffer slightly from overbooked outside interference. But not enough to stop Killings become the first black wrestler to be recognized as NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Even though he was a heel at the time, the crowd was definitely behind Ron Killings. Much more work was done to progress his character.
So much so that it “got it over” more than Shamrock’s character, unfortunately. “The Truth’s” unique dance-inspired move set, and athletic ring work were also a welcome sight for disenfranchised wrestling fans looking for an alternative to WWE after the demise of WCW and ECW.
On this day in 2002 "The Truth" @RonKillings defeated @ShamrockKen to become the 1st (and to this day) only officially recognized African-American NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion. #NWAFam pic.twitter.com/Tz2BzQJO3M
— NWA (@nwa) August 7, 2021
Ron Killings Captures The NWA World Championship
The only downside about this otherwise historic moment was the immediate race-baiting promo by Jeff Jarrett after the match. Claiming he was a victim of reverse racism, which reminds you that the event took place in 2002. Killings would hold the title for 105 days before losing it to Jeff Jarrett at NWA TNA #22.
He would later recapture the championship once more at NWA TNA #95 in a fatal four-way match. This also included; Chris Harris, AJ Styles, and Raven, only to lose the title to Jeff Jarrett once again 14 days later.
A whole four decades prior, on August 18, 1962, Bobo Brazil, an African American, wrestled Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. As Brazil faced Rogers for the title, the match was stopped and ruled a no-contest.
It was due to Rogers’ apparent groin injury. On September 6th, after an examination from NWA’s doctors, it was revealed there was no injury.
The championship was awarded to Brazil, making him the first, albeit unrecognized, African American American Champion in history. There are conflicting reports as to why the reign was never recognized.
The most common one being that Buddy Rogers dropped the title without the blessing of the NWA. This was to further a big money feud between him and Brazil.
A Remarkable Moment
It goes back to what we talked about. This guy that came from a dream, from having an inspiration, a goal, or chasing glory that met this guy that believed in him. Crockett believed in me. Something told him to give back to me because I would make good of it.
I was at the point of my life where I was ready to accept and make good of something. The first time I was told I was gonna get that title, I didn’t realize how important or how special and how amazing it would be.
When I got it, to hear the feedback from it, and to feel it was another surreal moment because I didn’t see it coming, but I knew it would come. I always knew God had me pretty much protected and on this mission.
I knew great things were coming, but to be the first African American to hold that title, I felt like I reached the pinnacle of my career then. God just keeps giving more, keeps giving more.
I’m just trying to be as positive of an inspiration as I can be to anybody and everybody to where – if you respect, appreciate, and see where I came from, to where I’m at now – it’s because I believed, somebody else believed, and I chased.
– R-Truth on winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
(h/t Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone via Chasing Glory Podcast with Lilian Garcia)
To watch the match in its entirety, readers are encouraged to visit the video listed below.