Pro Wrestling's Fastest Meteoric Pushes
You'll hear many traditionalists and wrestlers, who have been in the business for a number of years, talk about how long they had to wrestle to finally get that break they wanted their whole career. It's for the opportunity to be the No. 1 guy in the company as the world champion.
For Chris Jericho, it took 11 years; for Chris Benoit, it took nearly 20; for Randy Savage, it took 15; for Bret Hart, it took 14; and for Shawn Michaels, it took 12.
While these five Superstars worked long and hard to reach that brass prize, there are some superstars who used size, ability and charisma to cut that time frame significantly, and become world champion just a few years after they started wrestling.
Here are pro wrestling's fastest meteoric pushes.
Quick note: It is worth mentioning wrestlers such as Yokozuna, Undertaker, Sheamus and—seemingly—Ryback. However, they will not have an individual slide due to wrestling for a considerable amount of time before a certain gimmick became quickly popular.
Honorable Mention: John Cena
John Cena started wrestling for WWE's then-developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), in 2001 as the Prototype.
He made his WWE TV debut on SmackDown in 2002. Just three years later, after a stiff babyface gimmick, a heel "Thuganomics" gimmick and a "Chain Gang Soldier" babyface turn, he defeated JBL at WrestleMania 21, capturing his first WWE Championship.
What a better way to kick off your pro wrestling career by winning the biggest prize in your very first match.
Well, that is what Paul Wight did.
As the Giant, he was billed as Andre the Giant's son and intimidated Hulk Hogan a number of times before their 1995 Halloween Havoc match.
The Giant won that match by disqualification, which allowed him the win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship due to a match stipulation.
The Rock made his WWE debut in 1996, being the sole survivor in his respective Survivor Series match. Just three months later, he defeated Triple H to become Intercontinental Champion.
After a heel turn that completely shifted his gimmick, his push got even stronger. Eventually, the fans started cheering for him and he became a babyface again. However, at the 1998 Survivor Series, he won the vacant WWE Championship as a result of turning heel again and joining the Corporation.
Jack Swagger debuted in OVW in 2007. In 2008, he was elevated from WWE's developmental territory, called to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) and then to ECW, becoming the brand's World Champion just four months after his debut.
Eventually, he was drafted to the Raw brand and won the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania XXVI. Less than a week after he won the contract, he cashed it in on Chris Jericho on SmackDown, becoming the World Heavyweight Champion and defecting to the respective brand.
Kurt Angle made his WWE debut at the 1999 Survivor Series, defeating Shawn Stasiak. Just a few months later, in February 2000, he won both the European and Intercontinental Championship, calling himself the "Eurocontinental Champion."
At the No Mercy PPV on October 22, 2000, Angle won his first WWE Championship by defeating the Rock.
Brock Lesnar was almost immediately thrusted into the main event after his WWE debut.
Lesnar was called up from the developmental territory to the main roster more than a year after he started wrestling.
In 2002, he debuted the night after WrestleMania X8, attacking Maven, Al Snow and Spike Dudley during their hardcore match.
Three months later, he won the King of the Ring tournament, defeating Rob Van Dam in the finals.
Only five months after his WWE TV debut, he became WWE Champion, defeating the Rock at the 2002 SummerSlam. At 25, he became the youngest and fastest rising WWE Champion in company history.
Who would ever forget about the meteoric rise of Bill Goldberg?
For a considerable period of time, he was unquestionably the most electrifying wrestler in WCW. Seeing "Who Next" caused most fans to anticipate who was going to be another tally of the "Streak," totaling 173 wins before his first loss.
One of those wins was against Hollywood Hogan on an episode of Nitro. Goldberg became the WCW World Heavyweight Champion for the first time, less than a year after his wrestling debut.
I will be discussing more of this topic on the Pancakes and Powerslams wrestling talk show on Blog Talk Radio Tuesday night at 11pm ET. Call and tune in. The number is 347.884.8452.