There are championship belts and then there are championship belts. Some have become so incredibly popular, they have created a life of their own. Such is the case with the title affectionately dubbed…’The Big Gold Belt.” There may have been titles with more prestige, but you’ll be hard pressed to find many others that hold as much in fans and wrestlers hearts than this very unique piece of wrestling history.
It all started in 1985, when the National Wrestling Alliance commissioned a brand new world title belt be created to replace the often referred to ‘Ten Pounds of Gold’ title belt. The NWA domed world title was in use since 1973. The NWA was looking for a modern, new look for their top title and assigned the job to wrestler Nelson Royal. Nelson Royal had often frequented a shop in Reno, Nevada that specialized creating rodeo and western belt buckles. The store was owned by a man named Charles Crumrine. Royal, who owned his own western apparel store, was a top customer and friend to the Crumrine family.
Royal offered the huge job to Crumrine who welcomed the challenge and opportunity. The belt was engraved by three people led by Crumrine himself. It was made with German silver and contained a number of Cubic Zirconia and fake rubies and a genuine leather strap. The actual belt weighed less than 10 pounds. It cost over $12,000 to make, and would have cost even more if the NWA board of directors allowed Crumrine to add the NWA logos on it. Since the belt was becoming way too costly, the promotion decided not to go ahead any further with its development.
The new NWA world title made its official debut on February 14th, 1986 on a card called “Battle of the Belts II” in Florida as Flair defended it against Barry Windham. The title made its television debut on the NWA’s Saturday night program on February, 22nd 1986. Flair came out with the belt covered in a blue velvet covering. Tony Schiavone and David Crockett were present for the unveiling on TV during an interview segment.
How exactly did the title get the nickname of ‘The Big Gold Belt’? That may be up for some debate. Some believe David Crockett called it that during a Flair match soon after it debuted. Flair himself, called it that several times during interviews. In either case, the name stuck and is still referred to that nickname to this very day.
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