The FTW Championship seemed to be a forgotten relic of a time gone by. An Attitude Era Championship that only had two holders, a handful of defences and very little legitimacy. It had not seen any use since it’s time in ECW, but Tony Khan decided to bring the title back into relevance and reinstitute the FTW Championship in AEW.
But what is the FTW Championship? What does FTW men, and which wrestlers have held the championship over the past 24 years of history.
What Is The FTW Championship?
The FTW Championship is an “Outlaw Championship” that was first created by ECW in 1998. Being an Outlaw title, it was not officially recognised as a championship in the promotion and was not considered on the same level as the ECW Championship.
The title was created by Taz in 1998 as a stand in for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. He was supposed to wrestle Shane Douglas, then ECW Champion, in a title match at It Ain’t Seinfeld in May 1998. However, Douglas was unable to wrestle at the event due to injury, causing the match to be cancelled.
Slighted by his missed opportunity, Taz declared himself the “uncrowned champion” of ECW. While the ECW Championship was out of his grasp, he instead crowned himself as the inaugural FTW Championship. While the title was an unofficial championship and not sanctioned by ECW, it still signified Taz’s reign as the top star in ECW and was defended on multiple occasions in ECW. The orange-and-gold colour scheme was also taken directly from Taz’s in-ring attire.
The FTW Championship was forgotten once ECW folded and was bought out by WWE. It was never brought in to WWE, likely because the trademark for the title was held by Taz, rather than WWE. Taz retired from wrestling in 2002 so had little chance to bring the title to WWE during his time in the company. Even during his stint as a commentator (and member of Aces and Eights) in TNA, he never brought forth the championship.
However, when Taz signed to AEW, he brought with him the legendary Championship. He signed a deal with AEW in 2020 and soon forged a relationship with “The Machine” Brian Cage. Cage won the Casino Ladder Match on his debut at Double or Nothing 2020, earning himself a shot at the AEW Championship at Fyter Fest.
Managed by Taz, an eerily similar situation did befall him. Due to Jon Moxley falling ill, he was unable to defend the AEW Championship, prompting Taz to award Cage the FTW Championship. It was the first time that the title had been used in 20 years and was a historic moment for AEW, despite the title still being seen as an Outlaw championship in the promotion.
The title has since become a fixture of AEW, defending on multiple shows despite it’s unrecognised status. Ricky Starks defeated Brian Cage for the title a year later at Fyter Fest 2021, holding the belt for over a year before he was also defeated, this time by Taz’s own son Hook.
What Does FTW Mean?
The FTW Championship is not named after a promotion, like most titles are. Instead it means F*** The World. The name comes from Taz’s general attitude during his time in AEW, with Paul Heyman claiming the belt represents Taz’s “bad-ass, no-nonsense” attitude”.
The title represents the uncrowned champion of the promotion it is in. Both times it was brought in to a promotion (ECW and AEW), it has been because the world title holder has been unable to wrestler and defend their championships (Shane Douglas and Jon Moxley). Due to their inability to take part in the match, Taz and Brian Cage were awarded the title as a sort of interim-championship, although one not recognised by their respective governing bodies.
The FTW Championship has remained a key part of AEW, having been defended multiple times in the promotion despite Taz disbanding “Team Taz” earlier this year. His son now carries on the legacy of the championship and is one of the fastest rising stars in the company.
List Of Champions
The FTW Championship is one of the oldest championships currently in American wrestling, although that does not tell the whole story. Despite being created in 1998 and persisting for 24 years and counting, the title has not been defended throughout that time.
The belt lay dormant between 1999 and 2020, not being defended and being kept safely in the possession of it’s inaugural champion Taz. It was active in ECW between 1998 and 1999 and has been an active title in AEW since 2020 and remains to be for the foreseeable future.
Every FTW Champion to have held the title can be read below;
- Brian Cage
- Ricky Starks
Hook is the current FTW Champion in his first reign. He currently defends the FTW Championship in AEW and mainly wrestles on AEW Rampage.
Will Taz Wrestle In AEW?
Despite being the first FTW Championship holder in history, Taz will not wrestle for the title in AEW. He has been retired from wrestling since 2002 due to injury, although he did come out of retirement for a brief match in 2006 against Jerry Lawler.
Taz spoke in an interview as to why he retired from the ring, not long after signing for WWE. He revealed that injuries were taking a toll and he wanted to be able to enjoy life with his son, which may not have been possible had he continued wrestling and hurt his neck even more than he already had.
“I felt burnt out in a way, and my neck was also a factor,” said Taz. “…So when certain opportunities arose, I had to think about the future. My neck wasn’t going to get any better and I had to think about my son…. I thought to myself, “When he’s 10, will I be able to throw a baseball with him?”
While it would be great to see Taz vs Hook in a retirement match for the FTW Championship, it seems very unlikely he would wrestle his first real match in 20 years in AEW.
What do you think of the FTW Championship? Let us know in the comments or click below to read about Dan Lambert in AEW
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.