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On this date in ECW history: Shane Douglas throws down the NWA title

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And "The Franchise" was born.

It may not seem like a big deal now, but on this date in Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) history, Shane Douglas threw down the belt sanctioned by the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and everyone lost their minds.

That's because of the history of the NWA title, which was held by such legendary performers as Lou Thesz, Jerry Brisco and Dory Funk, Jr., all of whom Douglas references in his championship speech to help sell the angle, which was known only to himself, Tod Gordon and (duh) Paul Heyman.

It worked.

He won the NWA title on August 27, 1994, in a tournament designed to crown a new heavyweight kingpin, but then junked it in his post-match promo before unveiling the ECW belt and declaring himself the promotion's new champion.

Soon after, ECW became Extreme Championship Wrestling and embarked on a bold new direction that, like dissing the NWA belt, was largely viewed by industry purists as an aberration.

The fans thought otherwise.

For those of you stuck at your dead-end jobs who can't watch videos:

"In the tradition of Lou Thesz, in the tradition of Jack Brisco of the Brisco Brothers, of Dory Funk Jr., of Terry Funk-- the man who will never die. As the real Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, upstairs tonight. From the Harley Races, to the Barry Windhams, to the Ric Flairs, I accept this heavyweight title. ... Wait a second, I'm Kerry Von Erich. I'm the fat man himself, Dusty Rhodes. This is it tonight, Dad. God, that's beautiful. And Rick Steamboat, and they can all kiss my ass."

Belt gets dumped.

"I am not the man who accepts a torch to be handed down to me from an organization that died seven years ago. The Franchise, Shane Douglas, is the man who ignites the new flame of the sport of professional wrestling."

Enter ECW belt.

"Tonight, before God and my father is witness, I declare myself, The Franchise, as the new ECW Heavyweight Champion of the world! We have set out to change the face of professional wrestling. So tonight, let the new era begin: the era of the sport of professional wrestling, the era of The Franchise, the era of the ECW."

The ECW "era" wouldn't last as long as it could have, but it's hard not to consider this angle one of the great turning points in pro wrestling history.

Any current ECW fans around at the time? What was your initial reaction?

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