The United States Wrestling Association or USWA was a professional wrestling promotion based in Memphis, Tennessee. It was founded by Jerry Jarrett, by merging his Continental Wrestling Association and newly acquired World Class Wrestling Association.
The USWA was founded as an attempt to create a third national promotion, alongside Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW, and the WWF (now known as WWE). The USWA was created through a merger of the WCCW (from Texas) and the CWA (based in Memphis). It originally promoted shows, usually headlined by Jerry Lawler, in both Tennessee and Texas.
A combination of a poor line up, sub-standard venue, lack of talent and holding the show on a Thursday night led to a show on October 3, 1996 drawing the smallest crowd in the history of Memphis wrestling: just 372 fans, paying $1,800, to the Big One Flea Market. The future of the promotion was being questioned, following the previous week's resignation of general manager Randy Hales. The Louisville and Nashville crowds had stayed consistent, but the Memphis crowds, which in the past had carried the promotion, had fallen over the past few months. In addition, the Big One (Flea Market) pavilion was less than inviting, the zigzag roof of its original owner (The Treasury Stores) causing its major leaking problem.
Although Lawler was working for the WWF, he and Larry Burton ended up buying the USWA from Jarrett and immediately selling it to businessman Mark Selker's company XL Sports Ltd. in early 1997, and the USWA went out of business by November of that year, resulting in a nasty lawsuit between Burton, Selker, and Lawler.
In a civil RICO trial, a Federal District Court jury in Cleveland, Ohio eventually returned a verdict on which judgment was entered. The jury determined that Larry Burton and his son Jason Bertman had engaged in racketeering and awarded XL Sports treble damages in the amount of $2,595,000. The jury also determined that Mr. Burton was liable for fraud and conversion, and awarded XL Sports $235,000 in compensatory damages and $3,300,000 in punitive damages. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld all these judgments.
Championships of USWA
- USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship - The USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship was formed in 1988, which consisted of the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship from World Class Championship Wrestling and the AWA World Heavyweight Championship from the American Wrestling Association. The title was unified on December 13, 1988, when AWA World Champion Jerry Lawler defeated WCWA World Champion Kerry Von Erich in a unification match. The title was primarily recognized by and defended in the United States Wrestling Association until 1997, when the company ceased operations. However, the AWA withdrew its recognition of the championship shortly after the unification match when Lawler was stripped of the AWA world title. The title was also contested in the World Wrestling Federation in 1993.
- USWA Southern Heavyweight Championship - The Memphis Wrestling Southern Heavyweight Championship is a major professional wrestling title in the Memphis Wrestling promotion. The title is part of a long lineage that is best known while the title was named the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship for Continental Wrestling Association during the 1970s and 1980s. It was made when the NWA Southern Junior Heavyweight Championship, in use since 1939, was renamed the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Memphis version) in 1974. The title's name changed again in 1978, when it was renamed the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship due to a partnership with the American Wrestling Association. It was also called the Mid-Southern Heavyweight Championship in Pro Wrestling Illustrated and its sister publications, in order for this title to not be confused with Championship Wrestling from Florida's version of the title. The title was revived in the United States Wrestling Association from 1989 until 1997 when the USWA closed. It was known as the USWA Southern Heavyweight Championship and later simply the USWA Heavyweight Championship during that time; however, unlike the previous Southern title in Memphis, this one played a secondary role to the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship. It was revived in Memphis Championship Wrestling as the MCW Southern Heavyweight Championship in 2000 and 2001. It was later revived and renamed in 2004 for use in Memphis Wrestling, where it is still defended today.
- USWA Tag Team Championship - The title was originally known as the WCWA World Tag Team Championship
- USWA Texas Heavyweight Championship - The NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship has existed since the 1930s. Though its exact date of creation isn't known, it is among the oldest championships used in professional wrestling today. The title has used a variety of different names over the years, which consists of initial changes to represent the various companies that have controlled the title at different times. Originally, it was simply known as the Texas Heavyweight Championship until its name was changed after the formation of the National Wrestling Alliance in 1948. For most of the title's existence, at least until the early 1990s, it was defended almost exclusively within the Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas of Texas. From the 1930s to the mid-1960s, these cities and the surrounding towns were within the territory operated by Ed McLemore, which was known simply as Southwest Sports, Inc. at the time. After McLemore's death, the territory came under the control of Fritz Von Erich and was renamed as Big Time Wrestling. However, the promotion would be renamed World Class Championship Wrestling in the early 1980s, which is the name the territory is best remembered under today. The championship remained an NWA affiliated title until February 1986. In 1986, WCCW withdrew from the NWA and changed their name to the World Class Wrestling Association, while still promoting under the WCCW banner. The title became the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship at this time. In August 1989, the title became the USWA Texas Heavyweight Championship in the United States Wrestling Association when WCCW was transformed into the USWA. It was renamed the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship in July 1990 after the WCWA split from the USWA, then became the USWA Texas Heavyweight Championship again from January 1991 until February 1992, when it became inactive. It then reverted to its original name when awarded to NWA Southwest, where it was used until that promotion shut down in September 2011. It then went to NWA Houston, where it was subsequently merged with the NWA Lone Star Heavyweight Championship in a title unification match when Jax Dane defeated Raymond Rowe, NWA Lone Star Champion Ryan Genesis and NWA Texas Champion Scott Summers to unify the titles on December 14, 2012 in Cypress, Texas.
- USWA Television Championship - The USWA Television Championship was a secondary title in the United States Wrestling Association that was primarily defended on their television show. It existed from 1996 until 1997.
- USWA Women's Championship - The USWA Women's Championship was a female-exclusive professional wrestling title in the American professional wrestling promotion, the United States Wrestling Association.
- USWA Junior Heavyweight Championship - The USWA Junior Heavyweight Championship was a short-lived title in the United States Wrestling Association that lasted from 1990 to 1991.
- USWA Middleweight Championship - The USWA Middleweight Championship was a short-lived title in the United States Wrestling Association for the lighter wrestlers in 1993.