Thursday, July 11, 2019

Wresrtle Art: The NWA World Title Recreated (Part 1)

The "Brisco Belt", the second version of the NWA World Title
"domed globe"  belt used in 1974-1976.

Graphic art created by David Williams © 2019

By Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Art by David Williams

Back in late February, a computer artist named David Williams contacted me wanting to source some photos for a graphic art project he was envisioning. "I’ve been obsessed for several years with the thought of accurately rendering the classic NWA belt," he wrote me. "The problem is I want to make it as perfect to original as possible, or not bother."

Given my love and appreciation for that old belt, this certainly seemed like a worthwhile endeavor and I wanted to enthusiastically support the project. The only thing David needed was some close-up hi-res photos of the belt, which I was happy to send him. Some of these photos I had taken myself, including the cover photo for the book "Ten Pounds of Gold" which showed close detail of the main plate, and others that showed the leather strap and details of the side plates.

With the help of some measurements Dave Millican made when he and I photographed the belt for the book back in 2008, Williams was able interpolate specific measurements for every element of the belt, all in perfect scale, in all of the title's iterations.

David Williams is a wrestling fan like the rest of us, growing up watching "Championship Wrestling from Florida," counting Jack Brisco and Buddy Colt among his favorites. Today he is a professional computer artist and career art director, as well as designer and publisher of the Ferrari Club of America’s Prancing Horse magazine. And let me tell you, this cat has mad skills.

Version 2A, end to end, every meticulous detail.
(David Williams)

After reviewing all the photos I sent him, he decided to attempt not only the original version, but a recreation of all four versions of the "domed globe" belt that were worn and defended by the great NWA champions of 1973-1986. The two images you see on this page are of the second version of the belt. It is always identifiable by several unique characteristics, primarily the white lettering on black background above the flags, the tight leather cut, and "NWA" letters that go straight across the globe (as opposed to the curved letters on later versions.)  You will also notice the "BRISCO" nameplate, which was on this version of the belt.

We collaborated on what should be included with regard to some of the details and in the end, David wound up with 10 different amazing images showing the progression of the belt from when it debuted in Houston, Texas on July 20, 1973 until it was retired in February of 1986. Each version features some change in the physical characteristics of the plates or the leather, even including the dents in the globes and the busted lacing around the edges of the leather strap.

In the coming weeks, I will present each of these 10 images, taking the opportunity to use David's amazing work to illustrate the evolution of the belt over the years, paired with information taken directly from the "Ten Pounds of Gold" book. You will see for yourself in some enlarged images the incredible detail of every single aspect of the belts, right down to the exact number of "beads" around the edge of the belt, the specific maps on the different globes, the lacing on the leather straps, the wrestlers on the plate, the fonts on the nameplates, and every other detail you can imagine. Just amazing work.

Coming up next in Part Two: Versions 1A and 1B of David Williams's amazing sequence of images, the belt as it first looked when it was presented to Harley Race before his match with Jack Brisco in Houston in July of 1973, the beautiful gold plates on the bright red velvet-wrapped leather strap.


PART ONE : Introduction & History of the Project
PART TWO: The Red Velvet
PART THREE: Black Leather and Dented Globe
PART FOUR: New Globe, Refurbished Plates
: The Final Version of a Classic