AEW: What you need to know about the FTW Championship

AEW, Brian Cage (photo courtesy of AEW)
AEW, Brian Cage (photo courtesy of AEW) /

On night two of AEW Fyter Fest, Taz reintroduced the FTW Championship, an obscure nod to the subculture he and Paul Heyman created with ECW.

AEW has done a great job of creating something new and fresh but also rewarding longtime wrestling fans. The side plates of the TNT title reference the “Tara on Techwood” building, which was the birthplace of CNN, TNT, and TBS and the home of Georgia Championship Wrestling. Even more, Tully Blanchard gave Shawn Spears a black fingerless glove, an item synonymous with high profile antagonists of old. The FTW Championship is the latest excavation ripe for niche fans.

The former owner of ECW, Paul Heyman created the “unrecognized” title and its original 10-month lifespan as a vehicle to cement Taz as a legitimate world champion. In 1998, “The Human Suplex Machine” was unable to challenge the ECW World Heavyweight Champion, Shane Douglas, who was injured. In response, he debuted what would become the FTW Championship at It Ain’t Seinfeld in May. Sounds familiar, right?

Taz saw himself as the uncrowned champion and he grew tired of waiting for his chance to prove it. So, he commandeered an old custom ECW Television Championship belt with an orange strap and FTW stickers over the main and side plates. That night in Queens, New York, he called it a would-be Brooklyn World Championship but F*** The World (FTW for short) caught on.

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Over the next few months, Taz defended the title against the likes of Bam Bam Bigelow, Justin Credible, and Sabu as the self-proclaimed “real” world champion. Although ECW didn’t recognize the belt, Taz developed a cult following because of his brash attitude and vicious in-ring style.

“The Human Suplex Machine” stunned the fans when he intentionally dropped the title to Sabu on the Dec.19 episode of ECW Hardcore TV . As it turned out, Taz was ready to challenge Douglas, who returned from his elbow injury, for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.

In January, he did just that at Guilty as Charged 1999 and became the new champion. With several successful defenses under his best, Taz took on Sabu in a Falls Count Anywhere Unification Match two months later at Living Dangerously.

Sabu never legitimately beat Taz for his makeshift title, which boasting a status that Brooklyn-native created for himself. In the match, Taz targeted Sabu’s injured jaw and forced him to pass out with a submission hold that was later dubbed the Tazzmission. He successfully unified the FTW and ECW World Heavyweight Championship and held it for 252 days. His tenure with both titles made him an underground legend.

At Royal Rumble 2000, Taz made his WWE debut in the opening match as Kurt Angle‘s mystery opponent. He entered to a deafening ovation and proceeded to choke out the Olympic gold medalist in front of the crowd at Madison Square Garden. If you ever wondered why he received such a hero’s welcome that night, it’s because of the run he enjoyed a year prior.

The FTW Championship helped to put Taz on the map. Yesterday on night two of AEW Fyter Fest, Brian Cage was scheduled to challenge Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship in the main event. However, Moxley entered a self-imposed quarantine after his wife, Renee Young, tested positive for COVID-19. It’s so similar to Taz’s claim to the ECW title 22 years ago that he couldn’t help but see himself in Cage. So, he reinstated the fabled FTW title and gifted it to his client.

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This was more than likely AEW’s way of making the best of a bad situation. Moxley won’t be able to defend the title until next week at Fight for the Fallen. For now, the reintroduction of the FTW Championship was a nice touch that adds intrigue to Taz and Cage’s relationship. If it’s as beneficial for his client as it was for him then fans could be in for a treat.