In order to be crowned NWA champion, in its pre-nineties pomp, one had to be uniformly brilliant and legitimate.
Their act had to be diverse enough to grab and sustain the interest of several different regional audiences, who all demanded something specific in their wrestling diet. While wrestling had been exposed as a work long before Vince McMahon disclosed it to the world in 1989, fans still clung to the concept of suspension of disbelief. The champions who travelled to their territories had to be credible enough to prop up the system.
The venerated likes of Harley Race and Ric Flair did so by routinely wrestling hour-long marathons; in being taken to their limit, they put over the endurance and spirit of the regional stars while firmly establishing themselves as unbeatable Iron Men.
The title can also lay claim to being the prize for which wrestling's best ever matches were contested. The seminal Ric Flair Vs. Ricky Steamboat series of 1989 is a high watermark of the wrestling art.
Flair was the consummate heel, finding endlessly inventive and nefarious ways to stymie the offence of his heroic opponent, whose expert selling of a leg injury in their WrestleWar '89 match in particular retrospectively indicts the state of the modern product.