|Bob Geigel takes the NWA belt from the Midnight Rider when he refused to unmask after|
pinning NWA World Champion Ric Flair.
Another in our series of "Great Pretender" photographs, wrestlers photographed with the NWA World Heavyweight championship belt, but who never held the title.
Well, except, this one is a bit of a cheat. The man under the mask is none other the American Dream Dusty Rhodes who did indeed hold the NWA title (including the domed globe version of the title twice) on three different occasions.
Or was it Rhodes? We may never know for sure.
And I'm bound to keep on riding
And I've got one more silver dollar
But I'm not gonna let them catch me, no
Not gonna let 'em catch the midnight rider
The Midnight Rider pinned Ric Flair to apparently win the title on February 9, 1983 in Miami, Florida. But NWA President Bob Geigel, who served as special referee for the bout, ruled that the NWA would not recognize a masked wrestler as NWA champion without knowing their identity. If the Midnight Rider wanted to keep the NWA title belt and be recognized as champion, he must unmask.
This was a problem for the Midnight Rider.
You see, Dusty Rhodes had recently lost a loser-leaves-town match to Kevin Sullivan, and was barred from wrestling in the state of Florida for 60 days. If the Rider unmasked and proved to be Rhodes, he would be barred from wrestling under the NWA banner for a year. Stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Rider refused to unmask, and the title was returned to Flair.
One of our favorite wrestling stories ever, the entire story of the Midnight Rider (at least his first run) is told in great detail by Jason Tepper on the Kayfabe Memories website.