“During that era, in Japan, Ribera steakhouse, a small hole-in-the-wall place in Tokyo was a hangout of wrestlers, made famous by the Ribera jackets that the biggest stars would wear in public. The place featured autographed photos of the biggest stars as they ate there. Harley Race, Bockwinkel’s contemporary as NWA champion, signed his photo, ‘Harley Race, six-time REAL world champion,’ with the idea that the NWA always pushed that there were other champions, but the NWA belt was the real one, claiming its history dated back to the Gotch-Hackenschmidt days.

“The National Wrestling Alliance was actually the name of a regional world title in the 40s, which became the major worldwide alliance of promoters from a meeting in 1948, the top organization as it grew in popularity by 1949, and created the closest thing to a worldwide recognized world champion within a few years due to the booking and political savvy of President Sam Muchnick and the respect of perennial champion Lou Thesz. Muchnick had commissioned a history, not completely accurate, but not far from accurate, tracing an NWA world title lineage to those famous matches.

“Bockwinkel, in autographing a photo and seeing what Race wrote, signed his, ‘Nick Bockwinkel, three-time semi-real world heavyweight champion.’”

– Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer Newsletter (Nov. 23, 2015)