Q: When is a title change NOT a title change? A: When it's a title change. (Unless it isn't)
An in-depth look at a title change that probably shouldn't be recognized as such.
UPDATE (1/11/2021): After reviewing the information in this article, wrestling-titles.com updated the title history of the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title to more accurately reflect its' status.
If you've listened to the monthly Charting the Territories podcast (http://chartingthepodcast.com), you have probably heard me discuss my views on title histories and the attempts by wrestling historians to present a clear and linear history.
While much of the time it is accurate to present title changes chronologically, there are numerous occasions over the course of professional wrestling history when this is misleading at best. In particular, I want to take a close look at two such reported title changes, involving Danny Hodge losing the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title to Lorenzo Parente in November 1965 and regaining it in January 1966.
Based on the exhaustive research I have conducted over the last couple of years into the Leroy McGuirk territory, I take issue with this. There are two factors at play:
- Whether or not the title change was actually a title change
- Whether or not the title change (if it was one) was recognized throughout the territory
We'll start with whether or not it was actually a title change. The two faced one another in a title bout on November 23, 1965 in Little Rock, AR. The "title history" listings on Wikipedia, wrestling-titles.com and wrestlingdata.com ALL list this as a title change (see below)
The results printed in the Arkansas Gazette, however, tell a different story.
The wording in this article strongly implies that, at best, the title was "held up". Parente won the third fall via disqualification, and as we all know, titles cannot change hands when the challenger wins that way.
So perhaps we should consider that the title was being held up pending a rematch? That seems well and good until we move forward two weeks, to the December 7th, 1965, card in Little Rock. The two are rematched, and the results follow.
Once again, we have something different from the previous week. Here, the results seem to state that the claim to the title was "undecided", which lends a little more credence to the idea that the title had been held up on November 23rd, and NOT won by Parente.
The results list Hodge as winning the match, and further say that he "captured the world's junior heavyweight championship" due to the victory. What this means to our original question on whether or not Parente actually won the title is unclear. In either situation (Parente winning the title or it being held up), Hodge's victory here would technically result in him "capturing" the title.