The visitors, who had their regular skipper and No.8 Lawrence Dallaglio parading the Webb Ellis Cup around a blustery Kingston Park, along with Newcastle star Jonny Wilkinson, began the match in sensational try when wings Paul Voyce and Kenny Logan ran in tries within the first 20 minutes.
Mark van Gisbergen, who has been in fine form with the boot for Wasps this season, struggled with the conditions and missed both conversions, but he did slot a penalty after Logan's try to put his side ahead by 13-0 after just 22 minutes of play.
The home side, however, hit back, Ben Gollings running in their first try of the day, with Dave Walder – playing in Wilkinson's No.10 shirt – adding the extras to cut the scoreline to 13-7.
Van Gisbergen slotted his second penalty before the break to put his side ahead by 16-7, but the second half nearly proved to be Wasps' undoing as the Falcons rattled up 10 unanswered points, which very nearly gave them the win.
First right-wing Tom May crossed for a try in the 55th minute – which Walder converted – before the latter added a penalty to his two conversions, putting his side ahead for the first time in the game.
With just under 20 minutes left on the clock, the visitors, who welcomed back three of their England RWC players, threw everything at the Falcons, with the dam wall eventually bursting just two minutes from full-time when replacement Richards crashed over.
Van Gisbergen slotted his first conversion of the day, allowing the defending champions to walk off with four crucial league points, despite a 79th minute penalty from Walder that narrowed the final scoreline to just three points.
For Newcastle Falcons:Tries: Gollings, MayCons: Walder 2Pens: Walder 2
For London Wasps:Tries: Voyce, Logan, RichardsCon: Van GisbergenPens: Van Gisbergen 2