On July 12th 1992, Big Van Vader won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Sting at the Great American Bash. It was widely considered that it was time for Vader to have a lengthy title run and establish himself. That time would come in 1993, but not in 1992.
Instead on August 2nd, 1992, Vader lost the WCW World Heavyweight Championship to rising star Ron Simmons in Baltimore, MD. The title change was aired on The Main Event program on August 16th. Simmons became the first African American to win the heavyweight championship. Simmons was replacing an injured Sting in the match.
Simmons would have his first title defense at the September 2nd Clash of the Champions, which was a special edition for the series. Simmons successfully defended against Cactus Jack. Later on in the show, Jack revealed the return of Butch Reed. Reed had formed a successful tag team with Simmons three years previously as they were known as Doom. They split in 1991 and now Reed was back to take the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from his former friend.
For most of September, Simmons would be teaming with Sting and Nikita Koloff against guys like WCW United States Champion Rick Rude, Jake Roberts and the Super Invader. Simmons had several singles matches with Rude which he came out on top of, as well.
By the way, Butch Reed wouldn’t last in WCW for long as he lasted less than a month. So, instead, WCW booked the Barbarian to challenge for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Halloween Havoc in October.
On the September 26th edition of WCW Saturday Night, Simmons teamed with Barry Windham to compete in tag team action against Jake Roberts and The Barbarian. They won by disqualification due to Cactus Jack getting involved, but after the bout, The Barbarian attacked Simmons hitting a top rope diving head butt to add tension to their eventual title bout to take place a month later.
At Halloween Havoc ’92, Simmons retained the championship by pinning Barbarian with a power slam. According to a report, Simmons would suffer an injury on October 31st in a rematch with Barbarian, but wouldn’t miss any time.
Simmons defended the championship against Paul Orndorff on the November 28th edition of Saturday Night. Simmons lost the match by count-out due to Rick Rude delivering a piledriver on the floor to cost Ron the contest.
Ron was scheduled to team with Robbie Walker at Clash of the Champions against the trio of Cactus Jack, The Barbarian and Tony Atlas on November 18th. Walker was replaced by 2 Cold Scorpio, who made his surprise debut for the company and won the match with Simmons to effectively end Simmons feud with the trio.
Simmons teamed with Sting on the December 5th edition of WCW Saturday Night to compete against WCW United States Champion Rick Rude and Vader. Rude hit Simmons with a top rope knee drop and the Rude Awakening to earn a pin fall over the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Considering the interaction the two had back in November, it would appear that Simmons would be having a high profile feud with Rude on television moving forward.
At a November 26th house show at the Omni, Simmons teamed with Sting, Van Hammer and Dustin Rhodes to take on Vader, Cactus Jack, Rick Rude and Barry Windham in a steel cage match. Simmons and his team won thanks to Sting getting a pin fall over Cactus Jack.
On the December 12th edition of WCW Saturday Night WCW United States Champion Rick Rude issued a challenge to Ron Simmons for a title fight at Starrcade and held an X-Ray showing the injured shoulder that Ron had been previously hiding from the public.
Ironically, Rick Rude wouldn’t be able to compete at Starrcade due to injury. Thus, Simmons would defend the championship against Dr. Death Steve Williams. They wrestled to a double count-out but the decision was reversed and given to Simmons when Williams continued to attack Simmons following the bell.
The following night in Philadelphia, Simmons was scheduled to drop the WCW World Heavyweight Championship to Vader, but no-showed the event.
On December 30th in Baltimore, Maryland where Simmons won the belt he would also lose it to Big Van Vader ending his 4+ month title reign.
Quite honestly, the reign for Simmons started off feeling like a mid card act and not anything close to a main event level reign. His feud with the Barbarian wasn’t all that interesting nor entertaining.
Towards the end of the reign it looked like he had a promising feud setup with Rick Rude considering Rude was one of the top heels and most talented guys on the roster at the time. His injury derailed that and I wonder if that cost Simmons a longer run.
Prior to writing the article I thought Simmons has a bad reign and didn’t wrestle any credible acts, but I must have just been thinking about the Barbarian match at Halloween Havoc. Simmons had some decent television matches outside of Barbarian and had some strong main events (on paper) on the house show scene during the time, as well.
Simmons may not have had a successful run like Junkyard Dog had under WCW booker Bill Watts, but it was something different and unexpected, which in wrestling is never a bad thing to do.
After losing the championship, Simmons would never get back to the main event picture as he was virtually off major WCW programming by the fall of 1993. Simmons would be gone from WCW entirely by spring of 1994 before joining ECW for a brief time in ’95 and jumping to the WWF in ’96 where he would continue to wrestle for the remainder of his career.
What are your memories of Ron Simmons and his WCW World Heavyweight Championship reign? Leave your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.