The World Titles an Historical Perspectiveby Matt Benaka
Part 1: Lineage
It is no secret that the two most widely recognized World Titles are those of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and The World Wrestling Federation (WWF). My series will attempt to analyze the two titles and evaluate who has a truer claim to The World Heavyweight Title. In order to reach this end, I will evaluate the title's lineages, the former champions, the conduct and performance of former champions, an evaluation of both titles over the last year, and my conclusion.
The first in the series will be lineage of the titles. First, there is WCW. The WCW World Heavyweight Title came into existence on 01/11/91 in East Rutherford, NJ. Ric Flair defeated Sting to win The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Heavyweight Title. With the NWA no longer operating as an organization, Flair was recognized as the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
While six years is a brief amount of time to have existed, WCW does have deep roots. As was stated, WCW emerged from the NWA. There are several important dates to remember in NWA history. The first NWA World Heavyweight Champion was crowned during October of 1948. His name was Orville Brown, and he was the reigning Kansas City based Midwest Wrestling Association (MWA) World Heavyweight Champion. When the MWA merged with the newly formed NWA, Brown was recognized as the first NWA World Heavyweight Champion. 11/01/49 was the day that Brown's career was ended. He was in an automobile accident and was forced to forfeit his title to The National Wrestling Association (NWA) World Heavyweight Champion, Lou Thesz. The two were slated to face off on 11/25/49 in a unification match in St. Louis, MO. However, Thesz was awarded the NWA World Heavyweight Title on 11/27/49. This forced the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title to become abandoned.
Let's not forget about the MWA. This was The Kansas City based version of The MWA World Title. The first MWA World Champion was crowned on 01/19/40 when Bobby Brunns defeated Orville Brown in Kansas City, KS. Unlike the NWA, the MWA had no parent organization. Its history began in 1940 and continued until the two titles were merged in 1948.
So far, WCW can trace their roots as far as 1940 and The MWA. Can we go further? You bet. Let's look at The National Wrestling Association. The first NWA World Champion was Dick Shikat. He won the title on 08/23/29 after defeating Jim Londos in Philadelphia, PA. This title would continue until 11/27/49 when Lou Thesz unified the NWA World Title with the National Wrestling Alliance World Title.
Now WCW can trace themselves back to 1929. Trust me, it goes much deeper than that. Those are the titles that it is easiest to link WCW to. Now, if one were to connect all the different World Titles and the different unifications, it would be possible to trace the WCW history back to 01/19/1880. On that day, William Muldoon defeated Thiebaud Bauer in New York, NY for The first American Greco-Roman Title. Muldoon would go on to retire as champion on 12/31/1891. Ernest Roeber defeated Apollo to win the vacant title sometime during 1892.
On 03/14/1887, Evan "Strangler" Lewis defeated Joe Acton in Chicago, IL to win the Catch-As-Catch-Can Title. Joe Acton had been the first Catch-As-Catch-Can Champion by defeating Tom Cannon on 12/09/1881 in London, England.
In New Orleans, LA on 03/02/1893, Evan "Strangler" Lewis and Ernest Roeber would make wrestling history. The American Greco-Roman Champion and The Catch-As-Catch-Can Champion faced off in a best of five falls unification match in which both the greco-roman and catch-as-catch-can styles were used. Lewis came out on top and unified the two titles into the American Heavyweight Title.
On 04/03/1908, the reigning American Heavyweight Champion, Frank Gotch, defeated The World Heavyweight Champion, George Hackenschmidt, in Chicago, IL to unify The American Title with the World Heavyweight Title.
The World Heavyweight Title was last held by Steve "Crusher" Casey on 02/11/38. Casey was also The Massachusetts based American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Champion. Thus, the World and AWA World Titles merged together and the AWA version remained. This would not always be so. On 07/27/50, The AWA Title was unified with National Wrestling Alliance Title. Lou Thesz defeated Gorgeous George in Chicago, IL , and the AWA version was scrapped. Then, of course, the NWA would merge into The WCW. So, we are able to trace the WCW World Heavyweight Title as far back as January 19, 1880.
You are probably thinking that the WWF could never match that. You may be surprised. The WWF has been around longer than WCW. They broke away from the NWA in 1963. While WCW merged from the NWA, WWF left on bad terms. Buddy Rogers had lost The NWA World Title to Lou Thesz on 01/24/63. Several promoters contested that Rogers' loss had been in a one fall match, and the title could only change hands in a two out of three falls match. So, the disgruntled promoters broke from the NWA, formed The World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) and crowned Buddy Rogers as their first champion. In breaking from the NWA, the WWWF, later named the WWF, has the same history as the WCW. The only difference is that WCW can claim all the NWA Champions, while the WWF can only claim the champions up until Rogers.
That brings me to the next issue, former champions of each federation. Let's look at the scorecard after issue one. The question is who has a longer lineage. The answer is that they have the same lineage. This issue is a tie. I hope you enjoyed this brief breakdown of the title's histories. See you next time.........
Part 2: The Personalities
Last time, I looked at the lineage of The WWF and WCW World Heavyweight Titles. This chapter is devoted to the former champions of each promotion. I will start from the first champion of each organization and work my way down the list. I will provide the length of each reign, and any oddities surrounding these reigns.
First we will look at WCW's former champions. The first champion was "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. As was explained in issue 1, Flair defeated Sting for The NWA World Heavyweight Title on January 11, 1991 in East Rutherford, NJ. With the NWA no longer operating as an organization, Flair was recognized as the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He would be stripped of the title on July 01, 1991 when he was fired by WCW after signing a contract with The WWF. His reign lasted 5 months and 22 days.
WCW now had a vacant World Title. Flair was supposed to defend The World Title against The United States Heavyweight Champion, Lex Luger, in a steel cage. With Flair gone, and the title vacant, WCW inserted the number one contender, Barry Windham, to face Luger in the cage and fill the vacancy. Thus, on July 14, 1991, Lex Luger, with help from his new manager, Harley Race, and his bodyguard, Mr. Hughes, defeated Barry Windham for the vacant World Heavyweight Title. An interesting fact about Luger's title win is that, while he did win The WCW World Heavyweight Title, he did not win The WCW World Heavyweight Title Belt. The belt that had been used by Flair was the property of "The Nature Boy", and he took it with him to The WWF. Since WCW only had fourteen days between Flair's departure and Luger's win, they didn't have enough time to have the new belt created. In short, WCW had to pull a bait and switch. While the usual scene after a World Title win is that of celebration in the ring, Luger made a hasty retreat to the locker room. The reason for this was that the belt he was presented was the old NWA Florida Heavyweight Title with a makeshift plate so that people wouldn't notice. Luger won a World Title from a man that wasn't a champion and was awarded a belt that was formerly a regional title. A new belt was created during Lex's reign and was the first belt to say WCW World Heavyweight Title on it. Flair's title had merely said World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. Well, Lex would continue this awkward reign for 7 months and 17 days.
Who better to take the title from Lex than his former best friend, Sting? On February 29, 1992, Sting defeated Lex Luger to win The WCW World Heavyweight Title. This is an important reign for WCW as it is the first time that The WCW World Heavyweight Title was lost by the reigning WCW Champion in the middle of the ring. This simple fact helped to restore some much needed credibility to the title. Sting's reign lasted 4 months and 13 days.
On July 12, 1992 Sting would lose The World Title to the overpowering Big Van Vader. While Vader would do much for the WCW World Title, it wouldn't be during this reign which only lasted 22 days.
August 02, 1992 was Ron Simmons' greatest day. Sting was supposed to have a rematch with Vader for The World Title, but Jake "The Snake" Roberts injured Sting earlier in the evening. So, not wanting to disappoint the fans, WCW Commissioner Bill Watts put the names of the top contenders into a hat. He drew Simmons' name and one match later, Simmons' was the first black WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Simmons' style was a lot like a black version of Lex Luger. Needless to say, he would be WCW World Champion for an even 5 months.
Vader was given a late Christmas gift. A few days removed from Starrcade, Ron Simmons gave Vader a rematch. It would be on this day, December 30, 1992 that Vader would win his second WCW World Title. Now, he had a manager in the form of Harley Race, and he seemed unstoppable. Vader ushered in an aura of brutality the likes of which had not been seen in WCW before. As all good things, his reign would have to come to an end. After being the man for 2 months and 13 days, he lost The World Title.
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On March 11, 1994 Sting would become the second two time WCW World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Vader in London, England. This was the first time that the WCW World Heavyweight Title would change hands overseas. He would never get to show his World Title to his fans back home, as his reign only lasted 7 days.
On March 17, 1994 Vader would become the first three time WCW World Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Sting in Dublin, Ireland to reclaim the title. This was the second time that the World Title would change hands overseas. With Harley Race still guiding his career, Vader saw nothing but good times ahead. At least for a while. His third and final reign as champion lasted 9 months and 12 days.
Who better to beat the big man than "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair? Flair had returned to WCW and worked his way to a World Title match with Vader at Starrcade. Flair vowed that if he did not win The WCW World Title, he would retire from wrestling. It was December 27, 1993 when Flair became the third man to have captured this title on two occasions. His reign lasted 3 months and 28 days.
Oddly enough, Flair would be the next champion as well. A match with Ricky Steamboat on April 23, 1994 ended in a double pin situation. Flair would vacate the title and face Steamboat in a rematch for the vacant title. Thus, on April 24, 1994, Flair became the second man in WCW history to have held the World Heavyweight Title on three occasions by defeating Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. During this reign, he took on "Sensuous" Sherri as his manager. He also unified The WCW World Heavyweight Title with The WCW International World Heavyweight Title. WCW had bought Flair's old World Heavyweight Title Belt from him and turned it back into The NWA World Heavyweight Title. Then, WCW withdrew from The NWA and claimed the NWA World Heavyweight Title was now The WCW International World Heavyweight Title. Sting would be the eventual International World Champion. He would drop his belt to Flair in a unification match on June 23, 1994 at The Clash of The Champions. The International Title was abandoned in favor of the WCW World Heavyweight Title, and The WCW World Heavyweight Belt was replaced by The International World Belt (Flair's old belt). This reign lasted 2 months and 24 days.
On July 17, 1994 the "dream match of the 80's" occurred. It was on this day that Hulk Hogan would meet and defeat Ric Flair for The WCW World Heavyweight Title. With Jimmy Hart as his manager, he would hold the title for 1 year 3 months and 14 days.
On October 29, 1995 The Giant would win the World Title. The contract had been written up so that the title could change hands on a disqualification. So, Jimmy Hart got Hogan disqualified and The Giant won the title. The Giant was stripped of the title on November 06, 1995 due to the nature of his victory. Jimmy Hart and Kevin Sullivan managed The Giant during his 9 day reign as champion.
The WCW Executive Committee had decided that a new World Heavyweight Champion would be crowned in a sixty man, three ring battle royal. "The Macho Man" Randy Savage would win the battle royal by eliminating The One Man Gang on November 26, 1995. Savage's reign lasted 1 month and 22 days.
On December 27, 1995 Ric Flair would win The World Heavyweight Title for an unprecedented fourth occasion. Flair had defeated Sting and Luger in a triangle match earlier in the evening to determine who would get the subsequent title shot at Savage. Flair's fourth reign would last a mere 27 days.
Savage would become the fourth man in WCW history to win The World Title in two occasions on January 22, 1996. He was managed by Miss Elizabeth during this 21 day reign.
On February 11, 1996 Ric Flair became a five time World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Savage in a steel cage. Miss Elizabeth left Savage for Flair. So, The Nature Boy was led by Elizabeth and Woman for 2 months and 11 days as Champion.
The Giant became the fifth two time champion on April 22, 1996. With Jimmy Hart still as his manager, The Giant had a reign that could only be compared to that of Big Van Vader. He dominated the likes of Flair, Luger, and Sting. His second reign lasted 3 months and 19 days.
Hulk Hogan would become the sixth two time champion on August 10, 1996. He was handed the title on a silver platter by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash who helped in distracting the champion and the referee as Hogan cheated his way to The World Heavyweight Title. He would be managed by Elizabeth, Ted Dibiase, and Eric Bischoff during his reign. The NWO would lose it's top prize though. Hogan would have his second reign ended by Lex Luger. During his second reign, he defended his title only 3 or 4 times, spray painted NWO across The World Title Belt, and seriously devalued the title.
Lex Luger became the seventh man to wear The WCW World Heavyweight Title twice on August 04, 1997. He hoisted Hogan into The Human Torture Rack and made him submit. During his time as champ, he removed the spray paint from The Title Belt and regained some credibility for this title. His second reign would go down as the shortest ever of a WCW World Heavyweight Champion as he lost the title after a mere 6 days.
Hulk Hogan would become the fourth man in federation history to wear the title on three occasions. On August 09, 1997 he used outside interference to dethrone Luger and regain his title. As it stands, Hogan is the reigning World Champion of WCW.
That brings us to The WWF Champions. In the beginning there was "The Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. He had been NWA World Champion, but lost the title in a one fall match to Lou Thesz. Several promoters felt that the title could only change hands in a two out of three falls encounter. Thus, The World Wide Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Title was born during April of 1963. His would be a short reign though. After, approximately, 1 month and 17 days, Rogers was no longer Champion. He would enter the ring to face Bruno Sammartino after having a heart attack in the locker room and lose the title in 48 seconds via submission.
That brings us to Bruno Sammartino. On May 17, 1963 he began a domination of the WWWF/WWF World Heavyweight Title that has yet to be matched. For 7 years 8 months and 3 days he faced, and defeated, the top wrestlers of his era.
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January 18, 1971 would be the day that Bruno would lose his title to Ivan Koloff. Koloff would be managed by Lou Albano during his 22 day reign as Champion.
On February 08, 1971 Pedro Morales would win The WWWF World Heavyweight Title. It wouldn't remain The WWWF World Heavyweight Title though. During Morales' reign The WWWF joined the NWA. This reduced The WWWF Heavyweight Title to a regional title. None the less, it was the top prize of the WWWF. Pedro's run as WWWF Champion would last 2 years 9 months and 22 days.
December 01, 1973 was the day that The Grand Wizard would lead Stan "The Man" Stasiak to The WWWF Heavyweight Title. His reign was a brief 10 days, but he will be forever remembered as a champion.
Stasiak would fall victim to Bruno Sammartino. On December 10, 1973 Sammartino would defeat Stasiak to become the first two time WWWF Champion. He would stand as the only two time champion for approximately 6 years. Bruno's second reign marked the first time that Arnold Skoaland would manage a WWWF/WWF champion. His second reign lasted 3 years 4 months and 22 days. His combined reigns add up to 11 years 1 month and 25 days. That is a mark that no one is likely to challenge for a very long time.
Sammartino's days as champion ended when a young, muscular, superstar named "Superstar" Billy Graham took the title. Graham would be managed by The Grand Wizard during a reign that lasted 9 months and 21 days.
Graham would lose the WWWF Title to a much different wrestler. While Graham was the muscular wrestler who relied on sheer power, Bob Backlund was a small man who relied on technical ability and his wits to win, and keep, the title. Backlund's date with destiny was February 20, 1978. During March of 1979 The WWWF Heavyweight Title was renamed The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Heavyweight Title. On March 25, 1979 Backlund wrestled to a double count-out against the Minnesota based American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Champion, Nick Bockwinkel, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His first reign as champion would last 1 year 9 months and 9 days.
While it still has yet to be recognized in North America, the next WWF Heavyweight Champion would be Antonio Inoki. On November 30, 1979 he defeated Backlund in Tokushima, Japan. This marked the first time in the title's history that it had changed hands overseas. Backlund pinned Inoki in a rematch in Tokyo, JAPAN on December 06, 1979, but WWF President, Hisashi Shinma declared the match a no-contest because of outside interference from Tiger Jeet Singh. Shinma gave the title back to Inoki, but he would not accept the title after having been pinned. So, the title was declared vacant for the first time in its history. Inoki's reign was a brief 7 days.
On December 12, 1979 Backlund defeated Bobby Duncum for the vacant title. This made Backlund the second man to have won the WWWF/WWF Title on two occasions. It was during this reign that Arnold Skoaland began managing Backlund. On September 22, 1980 Backlund defeated The NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Harley Race in New York, NY by disqualification when Race struck the official. The WWF Heavyweight Title was held up on October 19, 1981 when Greg Valentine was mistakenly given the belt by a dazed referee after being pinned by Backlund. His second reign lasted 1 year 10 months and 9 days.
November 23, 1981 was the day that Bob Backlund became the first three time WWWF/WWF Champion. With Arnold Skoaland at his side, he pinned Greg Valentine in a rematch to fill the vacancy. He wrestled to a double count-out with NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Ric Flair, on July 04, 1982 in Atlanta, Georgia. During 1983, the WWF would leave The NWA and elevate their title back to World Title status. Thus, during 1983, Backlund went from WWF Heavyweight Champion to WWF World Heavyweight Champion. His third title reign lasted 2 years 1 month and 4 days. Backlund's dominance of the title would end after an amassed 5 years 8 months and 22 days.
Bob Backlund's legacy would come crashing down on December 26, 1983. He was caught in The Iron Sheik's camel clutch, but he would not give up. So, Arnold Skoaland threw in the towel for his man. The Iron Sheik won The WWF World Heavyweight Title without pinning the former champion or making him submit. "Classie" Freddie Blassie managed The Iron Sheik's 29 days as World Champion.
The Iron Sheik was merely a transition champion. He is what led to Hulk Hogan. On January 23, 1984 Hogan would pin The Iron Sheik for The WWF World Heavyweight Title. He would usher in a new era of wrestling to The WWF. He brought professional wrestling into homes all across America and was the first wrestler to be a household name. Hogan had the muscular build of "Superstar" Billy Graham and the longevity of a Bruno Sammartino. His first reign lasted an impressive 4 years and 14 days.
Hogan's reign ended on February 05, 1988. Andre The Giant pinned Hogan to win The WWF World Heavyweight Title. Andre was under contract with Ted Dibiase, at the time, and Dibiase had paid the referee's twin brother to work the match. Thus, even though Hogan lifted his shoulder, the referee counted a three count and presented Andre with the title. Immediately after winning the Title, Andre chose to award it to "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase. In doing so, he vacated the title. To make a long story short, Andre was champion for only a few minutes before he handed his dream away.
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WWF President, Jack Tunney, decided that the vacancy would be filled in a one night, sixteen man tournament to be held at Wrestlemania IV. On March 27, 1988 "The Macho Man" Randy Savage would go on to defeat Ted Dibiase to win The WWF World Heavyweight Title. With Miss Elizabeth guiding his career, Savage would remain champion for 1 year and 7 days.
On April 02, 1989 Hulk Hogan defeated Randy Savage at Wrestlemania V to become the third man in federation history to have held the title on two occasions. Hogan would enjoy his time at the top for 1 year and 1 day.
The Ultimate Warrior was the next man to wear The WWF World Heavyweight Title. On April 01, 1990 The Warrior entered the ring as The Intercontinental Champion. Both he and Hogan were putting their titles up in a first ever title vs. title match. At Wrestlemania VI, The Warrior would become the only man to simultaneously hold both The World and Intercontinental Titles. The Ultimate Warrior would reign as champion for 9 months and 19 days.
January 19, 1991 was The Ultimate Warrior's worst day. After several sneak attacks by Randy Savage, Sergeant Slaughter was able to put The Warrior away and win the WWF World Title. Slaughter's reign was focused around The Gulf War. Of course, Slaughter sided with Iraq and America needed a hero. Who better than Hulk Hogan? General Adnan was Slaughter's manager during his 2 months and 7 days at the top.
Hulk Hogan became the second man in federation history to win the title on three occasions when he defeated Slaughter on March 24, 1991 at Wrestlemania VII. This reign would last 8 months and 5 days.
Who could beat Hogan? The Undertaker. They met on November 27, 1991 and, after the smoke cleared, The Undertaker was WWF World Champion. It took outside help from Ric Flair, but the man from the dark side had pinned Hogan in the middle of the ring. Paul Bearer would manage The Undertaker during his 7 days as Champ.
Due to the manner in which the title changed hands, and instant rematch was called for. The two combatants faced off again on December 03, 1991. That was the day that Hogan would become the first man to have held The WWF World Title on four occasions. The match ended when Hogan blinded The Undertaker with ashes from his urn. Needless to say, WWF President, Jack Tunney, didn't appreciate the conduct of either athlete. So, on December 04, 1991 the title was stripped from Hogan. The new champion would be decided in a thirty man battle royal known as The Royal Rumble.
The WWF World Heavyweight Title would go to an unlikely candidate next. On January 19, 1992 "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair would enter the Royal Rumble as the third participant and would outlast everyone. In the end, he dumped Sid Justice over the top rope to become World Champion. This was the first time that a World Champion had been crowned by tossing his opponent over the top rope. Interestingly, Flair had been the dominant NWA World Heavyweight Champion of the 1980's and many thought that The WWF would use him as a punching bag for its superstars so as to prove the superiority of The WWF. Instead, Flair became the second "Nature Boy" in history to have held both The NWA and WWWF/WWF World Heavyweight Titles. For 2 months and 18 days Ric Flair was managed by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Mr. Perfect as WWF World Heavyweight Champion.
On April 05, 1992 Randy Savage would become the fourth man in WWWF/WWF history to win the title on two occasions as he defeated Flair at Wrestlemania VIII. Savage was, once again, managed by Miss Elizabeth as he spent 4 months and 28 days on top of the world.
Ric Flair wanted the title back though, and he would get his wish. On September 01, 1992 Flair became the fifth man in federation history to win the title on two occasions. The title change was marred by outside interference from Razor Ramon and Mr. Perfect. Ramon injured Savage's leg, and Flair put him in the figure four leglock. Savage would not submit though. He passed out from pain and his shoulders were counted for the pin. Flair's second reign was shaky from the start. He was still managed by Heenan and Perfect for his last 1 month and 12 days as WWF Champion.
Flair's successor would be Bret "The Hitman" Hart. On October 12, 1992, in front of a sold out crowd in Saskatoon, SK, Canada, the hometown hero would realize his destiny. Hart would defend his title against all comers and eventually lost his prize after 5 months and 24 days.
Yokozuna would defeat Hart on April 04, 1993 at Wrestlemania IX. Yokozuna would claim the shortest reign in federation history. After the match, his manager, Mr. Fuji would challenge Hulk Hogan to face The Champion for The Title. Hogan accepted and won an impromptu match in under thirty seconds. Thus, Yokozuna's first reign lasted a matter of minutes.
Hogan's win made him the only man to have won The World Title on five occasions. Jimmy Hart led him through 2 months and 10 days as Champion. During that time, he never defended the title.
Yokozuna would have his revenge. On June 13, 1993 he would end the last WWF Title reign of Hulk Hogan's career and become the seventh two time champion. Still under the management of Mr. Fuji, he became one of the most imposing champions in recent memory. Later in his reign, he would take on Jim Cornette as a second manager. He would be champion for an impressive 9 months and 8 days.
It was now Bret Hart's turn for revenge at Wrestlemania X. He won the title from Yokozuna on March 20, 1994 and became the eighth man to have held the title twice. The only thing worth noting about the title change is that "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was the special guest referee. Bret would be champion, again, for 8 months and 5 days.
November 23, 1994 would shock the WWF Title picture. Bob Backlund regained the World Title for a fourth time. That would make him only the second man in history to have done so. His title win was in a towel match. Bret Hart was seconded by "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith and Backlund was seconded by Owen Hart. The only way to win was for Bulldog or Owen to throw in the towel for their respective wrestlers. Owen knocked out The Bulldog and convinced his mom to toss in the towel on Bret's behalf. Thus, Backlund began his four day reign as champion.
Backlund was nothing more than a transition champion to get the title to "Big Daddy Cool" Diesel. Diesel disposed of Backlund in eight seconds for the fastest title win in history on November 26, 1994. He defended the title often. While his wrestling skills were limited, he was able to draw impressive heat from the fans and could work the microphone well. So, the WWF ran on Diesel power for 11 months and 24 days.
Diesel's tank would run out on November 19, 1995. On that day, Bret Hart would defeat Big Daddy Cool in a no disqualification; no count-out match to become the third man in federation history to win the title on three occasions at The Survivor Series. For 4 months and 12 days Bret tried to prove that he was "The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be."
On March 31, 1996 a boyhood dream would defeat The Hitman. It was a Marathon Match that went into overtime, and "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels used two superkicks to secure his place in history at Wrestlemania XII. As his name suggests, Shawn would have his heart broken. His boyhood dream came to an end after 7 months and 18 days.
Who would turn Shawn's dream into a nightmare? It would be "Sycho" Sid. On November 17, 1996 Sid would become The WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He used everything he had, including a video camera, in order to reach this point in his career. Sid would reign supreme for 2 months and 3 days.
Sid couldn't last forever. On January 19, 1997 Shawn Michaels would use all his ability, and, for the sake of irony, a video camera to become the eighth two time World Champion of The WWF. Michaels was not to be champion for long though. Injuries, that had been nagging him for quite a while, were the basis for his vacating The World Heavyweight Title on February 13, 1997. His second reign lasted only 26 days.
The WWF now had a vacant World Title. Fortunately, they had a quick way to fill it. There was going to be a four man match in which anyone could be eliminated by pinfall, submission, or being thrown over the top rope, at the next pay per view. This match was originally going to decide who would face The World Champion at Wrestlemania XIII. Now, it was to fill the vacant title. "Stonecold" Steve Austin would be the first man eliminated. Vader would go next. In the end, Bret Hart eliminated The Undertaker to become the third man to win the title on four occasions. This was the second time in history that this title changed hands by having the opponent thrown over the top rope. Bret's fourth reign would last only 2 days.
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On February 17, 1997 Sycho Sid would become the ninth man to win the title on two occasions. It looked as though Bret would defend the title successfully until Steve Austin arrived at ringside and hit him over the head with a steel chair. The referee didn't see the blow, and Sid powerbombed his way to another World Title. He would reign as champion for 1 month and 5 days.
That brings us back to The Undertaker. On March 23, 1997 he would become the tenth man in history to wear the title on two occasions. The scene was Wrestlemania XIII. The match was no disqualification; no count-out. Bret Hart tried to interfere. Sid grabbed Bret and powerbombed him. The Undertaker took advantage of the distraction and delivered a tombstone piledriver to win the WWF World Heavyweight Title. While his performance is not that of a Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart, he defended his title often. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels would combine to end The Undertaker's reign. In the end, his second reign lasted 4 months and 12 days.
On August 03, 1997 Bret Hart became only the second man in WWF history to win The World Heavyweight Title on five occasions. Not without controversy though. Shawn Michaels, the special guest referee, accidentally struck The Undertaker with a steel chair. Bret covered the prone Undertaker and became champion for the fifth time. As of now, he is still enjoying his reign at the top.
The question now looms as to which promotion boasts a better list. That is a decision of personal preference to be made be each and every reader. Personally, I think that The (W)WWF list is more impressive. Not only because of length, but because the title was around before wrestling focused around story lines. This is reflected in people like Backlund reigning for long period's of time. None the less, that is merely my opinion. I hope you each have one of your own and would like to hear them. That leads us to Volume Three. I will attempt to analyze the conduct of former champions as it relates to the words WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION. Till next time.......
Part 3: Rating the WCW Champions
World Heavyweight Champion. These are three words that have been used far too liberally in wrestling. Many promotions would make their top star a World Heavyweight Champion just to make him sound more important, and it became more of a gimmick than a reality. However, this series has focused on the World Heavyweight Champions of World Championship Wrestling and The World (Wide) Wrestling Federation. World means that the champion will face competitors anywhere on the planet. Heavyweight means that the champion will face opponents from any weight-class. Champion means that he has beaten the best there is, and carries his title with pride.
This installment will attempt to analyze the former and current World Heavyweight Champions of both promotions based off the meaning of those three words.
Let's start with WCW:
Sting is a two time former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title from Lex Luger and Big Van Vader. He also defended the title all over the world. During his first reign, he had a tour of Europe, and during his second reign, he won and lost the title in Europe. He was a Heavyweight wrestler as well. He faced everyone from Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Rick Rude, Steve Austin, and Cactus Jack to the likes of Big Van Vader and Vinnie Vegas--later known as Diesel and currently as Kevin Nash. Lastly, he was one of the greatest champions you could ask for. He faced all comers and never looked for an easy way out. Sting was a true World Heavyweight Champion.
Ric Flair is a five time former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title from Sting, Big Van Vader, Ricky Steamboat, and Randy Savage. Flair did indeed defend his title throughout the world. He wrestled a huge title defense in Tokyo, Japan and had a tour through Europe during his four reigns. He was a Heavyweight wrestler as well. He faced everyone from Sting, Hogan, Savage, and Steamboat to Big Van Vader and The Giant. As far as carrying his title with pride, it is a debatable issue. Ric cheated the title from Sting, accidentally headbutted Steamboat in the groin for a title, used Horsemen assistance to dethrone Savage on one occasion, and interference from Elizabeth to dethrone Savage on a second occasion. His one clean title win was over Big Van Vader. While he was quite proud of his championships, he was indeed the dirtiest player in the game and often kept his title by disqualification or count-out. So, Ric Flair hold true to the words World Heavyweight, but struggled with Champion.
Big Van Vader is a three time former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title from Sting, Ron Simmons, and Sting on a second occasion. Vader also defended his title on a global scale. He had a tour of Europe, and wrestled in Japan while he was champion as well. He was a Heavyweight wrestler too. Tipping the scales at around 450 pounds, he faced the likes of Sting, Simmons, Davey Boy Smith, Ric Flair, Cactus Jack, Tony Atlas, and anyone else that was thrown his direction. He was also a superb Champion. Having Harley Race as his manager helped to solidify his ties to the roots of the WCW World Heavyweight Title and showed that he respected those that came before him. As far as his matches, he wasn't a scientific wrestler. He defeated Sting in the middle of the ring after a powerbomb, beat Simmons with a shoulderbreaker, and used Harley Race to distract Sting so he could beat him with the powerbomb again. He would pound on his opponent until they were sufficiently weakened for his dreaded powerbomb. He did have some rather unfavorable moments however. He only kept the title from Davey Boy Smith by continuously getting DQed. Before their meeting at Starrcade, he would take an intentional DQ against Flair as well. Even though he established his respect for the title and its roots, he had those moments of weakness that soften his claim to the word Champion. In the end, he has a solid claim to the words World Heavyweight, but falls short of being a true Champion.
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Randy Savage is a two time former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He won his first title after eliminating The One Man Gang from the World War 3 Battle Royal. His second win came over Ric Flair. He wasn't champion long enough to establish himself as a global competitor. He would face anyone though. During his brief stint as champ, he defended against Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Mike Rotunda, and faced The Giant in tag matches. He shied away from no one, and established himself as a Heavyweight wrestler. As far as Champion, he was a sound champion. Overlooking the fact that he threw a man over the top rope to win the title, he had two good reigns as champion. He didn't rely on outside help and always gave the fans what they paid for. Savage is a strong Heavyweight Champion, but didn't have time to establish himself as a World champion.
Lex Luger is a two time former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. His second reign wasn't long enough to judge, but, during his first reign, he was in fact a World competitor. He defended his title against stiff competition in Japan. He has faced the likes of Hogan, Ron Simmons, Rick Steiner, Sting, Barry Windham, and The Z-Man. He proved that he was just as willing to face a power wrestler as a high flyer or brawler. He lived up to being a Heavyweight. Now comes the shaky part: Champion. He snuck by Barry Windham, Ron Simmons, and Rick Steiner with help from Harley Race and Mr. Hughes. He defended the title infrequently, and then had cheap victories. His win over Hogan is one of the few exceptions. As a champion, Luger left much to be desired. He was strong as a World Heavyweight, but weak as Champion.
The Giant is a two time former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair for his two titles. To my knowledge, he hasn't traveled outside of the U.S. as champ. As far as competition, he faced Sting, Luger, Hogan, Flair, Savage, and Benoit as champion thus establishing himself as a Heavyweight champion. Now, the word Champion is shaky with the big man. He defeated Hogan by DQ when Jimmy Hart interfered. The contract had been such that the title could change hands on a DQ, and he was champ. WCW stripped him of the title due to the nature of his win. This was not a good start. However, during his second reign, he cleanly pinned Flair, Luger, and Sting. Only when Hogan got the assistance of The New World Order did he lose the title. He established his claim to the word Champion. So, The Giant was a sound Heavyweight Champion, but probably not a World champion.
Ron Simmons is a one time former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Big Van Vader for the title, and lost it back to him in the same arena in which he won it. To my knowledge, Simmons didn't take his title overseas and thus failed to be a World champion. He faced everyone from Vader, Cactus Jack, The Barbarian, and Steve Williams to the likes of Rick Rude. He was a Heavyweight champion. Now we come to the tricky part. Was he a Champion? He fought all his matches cleanly, was proud to be the first African American World Heavyweight Champion, and never backed down. Yes. Ron Simmons was a true Champion. So, he was definitely a Heavyweight Champion, but probably not a World champion.
Hulk Hogan is a two time former WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and the current reigning champion. Hogan's reigns have been plagued by inactivity. He may have had a European tour during his first reign, but I can't confirm so. He has faced competitors such as The Giant, Savage, Flair, The Butcher, Kamala, Big Bubba Rogers, Sting, Luger, Vader, and Piper during his reigns. This makes his claim to being a Heavyweight contender valid. Then, there is the Champion part. Hulk hand picked his opponents during his first reign, but he always won cleanly. His second and third (current) reigns were marred by interference from The New World Order and inactivity. During the second reign, he only defended a handful of times, and used disqualifications to keep his title in many of those matches. His third reign has been very uneventful. He has not defended his title since he recaptured it from Luger in August. Overall, he scores low on World, high on Heavyweight, and barely registers at all as a Champion.
Part 4: Rating the WWWF/WWF Champions
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Note: During 1971, the WWWF World Heavyweight Title was secondary to the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Heavyweight Title. In fact, The WWWF Championship was reduced from World Title status to a regional title when Capital Wrestling Corporation, owned by Vince McMahon Sr., rejoined the NWA. Around 1981, the WWF withdrew membership from the NWA and re-elevated their title to a World Heavyweight Title. While the champions during this decade were not known as World Heavyweight Champions, this piece will view them as such. Many of those men met the criteria that I have used to determine each man1s worthiness of his title(s). Thus, the same criteria will be utilized for ALL past and current (W)WWF Champions.
Bruno Sammartino is a two time former World Wide Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Champion. He won his first title from Buddy Rogers, and his second from Stan Stasiak. He was champion for more than fourteen years. He defended his title in Asia, Europe, Australia, and anywhere else he was challenged. He fought men of all sized men from the size of Pedro Morales to the likes of Gorilla Monsoon. Lastly, he was a true Champion. He never backed away from a challenge, won his matches fairly, and always was proud to be the World Wide Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Champion. He was all of those words; a true class act as World Heavyweight Champion.
Bret Hart is a four time former and current WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He won his titles from Ric Flair, Yokozuna, Diesel, Steve Austin-The Undertaker-Vader in a four way, and The Undertaker again. He took his reigns to Asia, Europe, North America, The Middle East, and Africa. He has always been willing to defend his title in any part of the world and is the best representative of a World champion in the history of the title. He has faced everyone from Virgil, Michaels, Flair, Owen Hart to Yokozuna, Razor Ramon, Diesel, Sycho Sid, and The Undertaker. He has always been a sound Heavyweight champion. Then there is the word Champion. Even as a rulebreaker, his biggest violation of the rules is the figure four on the ring post. He has been proud to be a champion, and never backed away from a challenge. He earned the title Champion. Bret Hart is probably the soundest World Heavyweight Champion the WWWF/WWF has ever had grace the ring. He earned all three words.
Bob Backlund is a four time former WWWF/WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Billy Graham, Bobby Duncum, Greg Valentine, and Bret Hart for his titles. He defended his title in Asia, Europe, and North America. His status as a World champion was established when he lost the title to Antonio Inoki in Tokyo, Japan followed by a series of rematches in Tokyo. He faced everyone from Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Greg Valentine, The Iron Sheik, Ken Patera, and Jimmy Snuka to Don Muraco, Harley Race, Billy Graham, and Diesel. He truly was a Heavyweight champ. Lastly, he was always nothing short of a true Champion. Besides his last reign, he fought all comers, in all nations, and never resorted to taking shortcuts. He wore the WWWF/WWF strap with pride as a true World Heavyweight Champion.
Pedro Morales is a one time former WWWF World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title from Ivan Koloff and reigned as champion for 2 years 9 months 22 days. He took his title to Asia, Europe, and through North America. He established himself as a World champion. He faced all comers and is a true Heavyweight champion. Morales never took shortcuts and always showed himself to be a proud and powerful Champion. In short, Pedro Morales was a true World Heavyweight Champion.
Shawn Michaels is a two time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Bret Hart and Sycho Sid for his titles. He took his title through Europe and North America to earn his position as a World champion. He faced the likes of Owen Hart and Bret Hart to the likes of Vader, Sycho Sid, Davey Boy Smith, and Diesel. He was a true Heavyweight champion. While his second reign was cut short due to Michaels vacating of the title, I feel that his first reign more than made up for that. Many claimed that Shawn1s ring music was replacing Hogan1s old music with its ability to bring the people out of their seats. He was the greatest entertainer of the year and always gave 100% for the fans. In short, Shawn was a true Champion. He was one of the few men to wear the title that were able to be all three: World Heavyweight Champion.
Diesel is a one time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He took his title to Canada and into Europe so as to establish himself as a World champion. He faced everyone from Shawn Michaels, Jeff Jarrett, Owen Hart, Bob Backlund, and Bret Hart to Bam Bam Bigelow, Sycho Sid, Mable, and Davey Boy Smith. His willingness to face anyone of any size established him as a Heavyweight Champion. Lastly, he was able to parlay a limited number of moves and a smattering of charisma into a successful reign as champion. During his reign, he faced everyone head on and was never shy about proclaiming his pride of holding the WWF Title. Thus, he established himself as a Champion. Diesel was a genuine World Heavyweight Champion.
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Randy Savage is a two time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title from Ted Dibiase and Ric Flair. Savage took his title to Europe and Japan to establish himself as a World champion. He faced Dibiase, Flair, Virgil, Hogan, Bad News Brown, The Ultimate Warrior, Andre The Giant, Akeem, and The Big Boss Man to name just a few. He was a fighting champion and would face men from any weight class. He was a Heavyweight champion. Was he a Champion? He won his first title with the help of Hogan1s trusty steel chair, and his second came as he pulled Ric1s tights for the three count. Putting aside the fact that he wasn1t shy about breaking rules, he did face all comers. In the 1988 Survivor Series, he fought by himself against men twice his size for a long time (Until Hogan was released from The Big Boss Man1s handcuffs). He always was proud to hold the WWF Title, and made countless attempts at the title before getting the duke. In short, Savage was a World Heavyweight Champion.
The Ultimate Warrior is a one time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Hogan for the title. He took his title to Japan and may have toured Europe as well. Thus, he earns the designation of World champion. He faced Hogan, Savage, Dibiase, Sgt. Slaughter, Rick Rude, Dino Bravo, Mr. Perfect, Greg Valentine, and The Earthquake to name just a few. He was a fighting champion and would fight anyone from the size of Dibiase to Earthquake. Thus, he earned the Heavyweight distinction as well. Lastly, was he a good Champion? While he had a cartoonish gimmick and limited wrestling skills, he faced all comers for his title, and didn1t lose it until Savage interfered on behalf of Slaughter. He always appeared to be proud of his title reign, and thus earns the title Champion. He was a true World Heavyweight Champion.
Ric Flair is a two time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He won the 1991 Royal Rumble for his first title, and defeated Savage for his second reign. To my knowledge, Ric never ventured outside North America with his title and thus can1t be regarded as a World champion. He faced Sid Justice, Randy Savage, and Bret Hart as champion. By surviving over an hour in the Royal Rumble to win the WWF Title, he earned the title of Heavyweight champion. While he did cheat Savage out of the title, he did pride himself on being WWF Champion and seemed to be genuinely happy during his time at the top. This attitude along with the heart shown in winning The Rumble earned him the title of Champion. So, while he was a little weak in the World category, he was a Heavyweight Champion.
Buddy Rogers is a one time former WWWF World Heavyweight Champion. He was the first man to wear the title, but only for a short time. To my knowledge, The Nature Boy never took his title overseas, and fails as a World champion. He defended against the likes of Bruno Sammartino and Fred Blassie. He would face men in any weight class and earned the designation of Heavyweight champion. Rogers was a superb technical wrestler, but looked for rules to break as well. During his four month stint as champion, he passed as a Champion. In the end, he could be viewed as a sound Heavyweight Champion, but never made himself a World champion.
Ivan Koloff is a one time former WWWF World Heavyweight Champion. He spent less than a month as champion, and was unable to establish himself as a World competitor. However, he would face anyone from Sammartino to Morales. He didn1t care if it was a technique wrestler or a power wrestler. He was a Heavyweight champion. Lastly, is the area of Champion. He was able to defeat Bruno Sammartino cleanly, but was known for his knack at breaking the rules. In short, Koloff was a sound Heavyweight champion, weak as far as a Champion status, and doesn1t score as a World champion.
Hulk Hogan is a five time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated The Iron Sheik, Randy Savage, Sgt. Slaughter, The Undertaker, and Yokozuna to win his championships. He defended his title in Japan and North America, and may have had a tour of Europe. Thus, he is a World champion. He faced everyone from Savage, Paul Orndorff, The Iron Sheik, Ric Flair, The Ultimate Warrior, Roddy Piper, and The Great Muta to Andre The Giant, Big John Studd, Sid Justice, The Undertaker, Yokozuna, and King Kong Bundy. He was indeed a Heavyweight champion. That brings us to Champion. His first two reigns were his greatest. He faced everyone put before him and cleanly defeated them in the middle of the ring. His last three reigns were less admirable. He defended infrequently, and took too much time off to make b-rate films like 3Mr. Nanny2 and 3Suburban Commando2. Between the time that he beat Yokozuna, and the time that he lost to Yokozuna, he only wrestled in Japan. During a press conference, he claimed that the WWF Title was inferior to the IWGP Title. This defamation of the title that made his career counter-balances all his wins during his first two reigns. Hogan fails as Champion. He passes as a World Heavyweight, but failed as a Champion.
Yokozuna is a two time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan for his titles. He took his title on a tour of Japan to establish himself as a World champion. He faced Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, The Undertaker and Tatanka. He proved that he would face any competitor no matter their size or style to establish himself as a Heavyweight champion. He cheated the title away from both Hogan and Hart to start his tainted time as champion. While in the squared circle, he lost via count-out to Luger, utilized the services of about a dozen WWF wrestlers to beat The Undertaker in a coffin match, and had a general bad attitude. He always behaved as though he was better than the title and fails as a Champion. He was a true World Heavyweight, but never was a Champion.
The Undertaker is a two time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Hulk Hogan and Sycho Sid for his reigns. The Undertaker did take his title to Africa and may have had a tour of Japan as well. This makes him worthy of the title World. He faced Sid, Hogan, Vader, Bret Hart, and Steve Austin during his time at the top. This varied assortment of superstars earns him the title of Heavyweight champion. Lastly, was he a Champion? He cheated to beat Hogan. He had outside interference to beat Sid. However, he was cheated out of the title by Hart, and cleanly beat Steve Austin and Vader. It is contestable as to his deservedness of being a Champion. Personally, I don1t feel he was ever a Champion. He is nothing more than a gimmick and always will be. I feel he is not a Champion. So, he was a World Heavyweight, but, in my opinion, not a Champion.
Stan Stasiak is a one time former WWWF World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Pedro Morales for the title. He was champion for a brief ten days. This short time frame allowed for only one title defense, and it was in the United States. Thus, he wasn1t allowed to establish himself as a World champion. He faced the small Pedro Morales to win the title and lost it to a power wrestler named Bruno Sammartino. In facing the varied styles of those competitors, he established himself as a Heavyweight Champion. Lastly, he was a Champion. He could have laid low and stretched out his title reign. Instead, he won and lost the belt within a two week period and was still able to work a defense in as well. While it was one of the shortest reigns, he was a true Heavyweight Champion that was never allowed to be a World champion.
Antonnio Inoki is a one time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title in Japan but never defended it outside of Tokyo. He only defended the title against Backlund in rematches. Lastly, he vacated the title due to a controversial rematch with Backlund. This action illustrated the man1s class and deservedness of being named a Champion. So, he was a Champion, but not a World Heavyweight champion.
Billy Graham is a one time former WWWF World Heavyweight Champion. He gained his title from Bruno Sammartino and lost it to Bob Backlund. To my knowledge, he never took his title overseas, and thus didn1t earn the title of World champion. He faced everyone from Bruno Sammartino to Bob Backlund to Harley Race to earn the title of Heavyweight. As far as being a Champion, he used the ropes to defeat Sammartino and lost to the technically superior Backlund. While he passes as a Heavyweight, he fails as a World Champion.
Sycho Sid is a two time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He won his titles from Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. To my knowledge, he never carried the title overseas, and thus isn1t a World champion. He faced everyone from Michaels and Hart to The Undertaker. He was a Heavyweight champion. He is shaky as a Champion. He used a video camera to beat Michaels, and only beat Bret after Steve Austin hit him over the head with a chair. Even his title losses to Michaels and The Undertaker were marred with outside interference and foreign objects. He failed as a Champion. In closing, he was a Heavyweight champ, but failed as a World Champion.
Sgt. Slaughter is a one time former champion. To my knowledge, he never carried the title overseas, and fails as a World champion. He faced the likes of Jim Duggan, The Ultimate Warrior, and Hulk Hogan during his reign. He was a Heavyweight champion. Lastly, he was not a Champion. He cheated his way into the title, never defended it with honor, and lost it even as he broke every rule he could. He was a Heavyweight champion, but failed as World Champion.
The Iron Sheik is a one time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title from Bob Backlund when Backlund1s manager, Arnold Skoaland, threw the towel in for Backlund. He wasn1t a World champion. He only held the title for 29 days, and wasn1t able to establish a global reign. He was willing to face anyone from Backlund to Hogan and established himself as a Heavyweight champion. As far as being a Champion, he didn1t gain a pin or submission to win his title and never carried himself as though he were proud of the title. In short, he was a Heavyweight champion, but lacked the World and Champion characteristics.
Andre The Giant is a one time former WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Hogan for the title, and immediately vacated it by awarding it to Ted Dibiase. He was only champion for a few moments and fails in all categories. He was not a true World Heavyweight Champion.
Part 5: Book of Lists
This series has traced the lineage of the World Heavyweight Titles of WCW and WWF. Then, it looked at the different personalities to have worn the two titles. From there, it ranked those personalities based on the words World Heavyweight Champion. With all that having been said, it is time to conclude the series. Who has a stronger claim to the World Heavyweight Title? That is a matter of opinion. I feel that both promotions are worthy of having a World Heavyweight Champion. Everyone has their own opinion though. So, I will leave it to the readers to determine for themselves who has the strongest claim to the World Heavyweight Title.
In closing, I thank you all for reading as this series progressed. It has been a pleasure to write for Solie's Vintage Wrestling. I will end the series by merely providing a book of lists for both promotions, and a combined list. Enjoy.
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Number of (W)WWF World Heavyweight Titles Held
11.The Iron Sheik--1
11.Andre The Giant--1
11.The Ultimate Warrior--1
Length of Time as (W)WWF Champion:
1.Bruno Sammartino--11 years 1 month 25 days
2.Hulk Hogan--5 years 11 months
3.Bob Backlund--5 years 8 months 26 days
4.Pedro Morales--2 years 9 months 22 days
5.Bret Hart--1 year 9 months 21 days
6.Randy Savage--1 year 4 months 24 days
7.Diesel--11 months 24 days
8.Billy Graham--9 months 21 days
9.The Ultimate Warrior--9 months 19 days
10.Yokozuna--9 months 9 days
11.Shawn Michaels--8 months 14 days
12.The Undertaker--4 months 19 days
13.Ric Flair--4 months
14.Sycho Sid--3 months 8 days
15.Sergeant Slaughter--2 months 7 days
16.Buddy Rogers--1 month 17 days
17.The Iron Sheik--29 days
18.Ivan Koloff--22 days
19.Stan Stasiak--10 days
20.Antonio Inoki--7 days
21.Andre The Giant--1 day
Number of WCW World Heavyweight Titles Held
2.Big Van Vader/Vader--3
Length of Time as Champion:
1.Hulk Hogan--2 years 5 months 2 days
2.Ric Flair--1 year 3 months 22 days
3.Big Van Vader--1 year 17 days
4.Lex Luger--7 months 23 days
5.Ron Simmons--5 months
6.Sting--4 months 20 days
7.The Giant--3 months 28 days
8.Randy Savage--1 month 23 days
Number of (W)WWF & WCW World Heavyweight Titles Held
1.Hulk Hogan--8 (5 WWF & 3 WCW)
2.Ric Flair--7 (2 WWF & 5 WCW)
3.Bret Hart--5 (5 WWF)
4.Bob Backlund--4 (4 (W)WWF)
4.Randy Savage--4 (2 WWF & 2 WCW)
6.Big Van Vader/Vader--3 (3 WCW)
6.Shawn Michaels--3 (3 WWF)
8.Bruno Sammartino--2 (2 (W)WWF)
8.Sting--2 (2 WCW)
8.Yokozuna--2 (2 WWF)
8.The Giant--2 (2 WCW)
7.Sycho Sid--2 (2 WWF)
7.The Undertaker--2 (2 WWF)
7.Lex Luger--2 (2 WCW)
15.Buddy Rogers--1 (W)WWF)
15.Ivan Koloff--1 (W)WWF)
15.Pedro Morales--1 (W)WWF)
15.Stan Stasiak--1 (W)WWF
15.Billy Graham--1 (W)WWF)
15.Antonio Inoki--1 (WWF)
15.The Iron Sheik--1 (WWF)
15.Andre The Giant--1 (WWF)
15.The Ultimate Warrior--1 (WWF)
15.Sergeant Slaughter--1 (WWF)
15.Ron Simmons--1 (WCW)
Length of Time as (W)WWF & WCW Champion:
1.Bruno Sammartino--11 years 1 month 25 days
2.Hulk Hogan--8 years 4 months 2 days
3.Bob Backlund--5 years 8 months 26 days
4.Pedro Morales--2 years 9 months 22 days
5.Bret Hart--1 year 9 months 21 days
6.Ric Flair--1 year 7 months 22 days
7.Randy Savage--1 year 6 months 17 days
8.Big Van Vader--1 year 17 days
9.Diesel--11 months 24 days
10.Billy Graham--9 months 21 days
11.The Ultimate Warrior--9 months 19 days
12.Yokozuna--9 months 9 days
13.Shawn Michaels--8 months 14 days
14.Lex Luger--7 months 23 days
15.Ron Simmons--5 months
16.Sting--4 months 20 days
17.The Undertaker--4 months 19 days
18.The Giant--3 months 28 days
19.Sycho Sid--3 months 8 days
20.Sergeant Slaughter--2 months 7 days
21.Buddy Rogers--1 month 17 days
22.The Iron Sheik--29 days
23.Ivan Koloff--22 days
24.Stan Stasiak--10 days
25.Antonio Inoki--7 days
26.Andre The Giant--1 day
Note: This series was inspired by an article written by Norman H. Kietzer from the October 1971 issue of Wrestling Monthly. To read his article, go to http://www.albany.net/~hit/puroresu/titles/puzzle.html Most of the dates were provided by Royal Duncan and Gary Will's Wrestling Title Histories. To order a copy go to http://www.golden.net/~archeus/wresbook.htm#Titles
*If you have any questions, comments, or corrections feel free to mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Benaka's Wrestling Title Histories are a permanent part of the Solie's web site.
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