With WrestleMania fast approaching, many people are looking at the heavyweight titles and the champions going into the event. There have been a number of great champions in wrestling, but I pose the question: Can any of our main eventers of today hold a candle to the longest reigning heavyweight champion in wrestling history?
To answer that, though, we have to remember who is the longest reigning heavyweight champion in wresting history.
I know what most wrestling fans that are not that acquainted with wrestling history are asking. Who has the longest world heavyweight title reign in professional wrestling history? For most of the fans that got into wrestling in the late '70s, they are thinking, “oh it’s Bob Backlund”; for those who got into it in the '80s, they are thinking its Hulk Hogan; and for the modern fans, they believe it to be John Cena.
While the three superstars above all have had long runs with the title and are fairly respected now and in their day, their title runs are nothing in comparison to wrestling's longest heavyweight title reign. Bob Backlund's stands at 2,135 days cumulatively.
Hogan's stands 1,474 days for his longest title reign, and Cena, hate to break this to the more modern wrestling fans, only stands at a measly 380 days but, to be fair, Cena is the sixth longest reigning champion in history of the WWE title.
The only man that can claim not only the longest championship reign in the history of WWE but all of Professional wrestling history is Bruno Sammartino, a living legend. Bruno Sammartino’s legendary title run started on May 17, 1963 and lasted until January 18, 1971. It lasted a total of 2,803 days.
That is seven years, eight months and one day. Now you are all asking that all important question. Who can break that record? Well I’m fairly certain that it isn’t possible but I’m going to list the people from this modern era in professional wrestling that I think have at least a slight chance at breaking it.
In the aspect of fairness I am going to list both people from WWE and TNA due to the fact that this is the longest Heavyweight title reign in professional wrestling history. Please note that this list is not the order of whom I think has the best chance of beating the record, just who I thought of first.
1. John Cena
I know I am going to get a lot of heat for this one but, let’s be fair, while he may not shine in terms of in-ring skills, which neither did Bruno Sammartino. His move-set may be the closest thing we have to Sammartino’s, which consisted primarily of brawling.
Cena is also the sixth longest WWE champion in history, as I mentioned before, and was the longest one since Hulk Hogan’s 1474-day title reign over 15 years ago. He is also one of the most popular wrestlers today, although he is definitely not one of the best pure wrestlers. If anyone could do it, he can.
2. Dave Batista
Batista is an unholy monster. He is physically one of the strongest wrestlers today. He dominates his opponents with his hard-hitting power style and he has beaten a lot of the bigger guys in WWE, like Umaga and more recently, John Cena.
What he lacks in pure wrestling he more than makes up for in his raw power, not to mention for a guy his size he can move fairly quickly. Now a lot of wrestling fans may have something against his finisher the Batista Bomb.
Well, if Sammartino can establish the longest reign in pro wrestling history with a running power slam and a bear hug , than Batista can do it with a power bomb. If he can stay uninjured then Batista might have a chance.
3. Samoa Joe
Mean, tough, ruthless and legit. These are four words we think of when we see Samoa Joe. Samoa Joe is easily the star of the TNA roster. He can compete with the best of them and win.
When he entered TNA he remained undefeated for 18 months, if that isn’t impressive, especially in this modern setting, than I don’t know what is. His move-set is expansive. It combines shoot fighting and submission wrestling to create a primarily MMA based combination. How many submissions you may wonder?
Well, let’s just say there is a reason they call him the Samoan Submission Machine.
4. Randy Orton
He has got a heck of a mouth on him and he is really controversial but, he is the “legend killer” and I can’t think of a more impressive legend for him to kill. One thing that Randy has on his side is talent, pure talent. He has the genes to prove it.
He is a third-gen wrestler living up to and surpassing the legacies his father and his grandfather had established. He is to date the youngest heavyweight champion in WWE history and one of the best in WWE today. The RKO, well that beats out most finishers that there are.
5. Kurt Angle
He was in WWE and is now currently with TNA. He is an eight-time World heavyweight Champion, consisting of six reigns as heavyweight champ in WWE and two in TNA. Not to mention the Olympic gold medal he won in 1996 that he hasn’t shut up about since.
He is also widely considered by most to be the greatest technical wrestler today. Not to mention the wealth of experience he has: he can reverse just about any move. His ankle lock and Olympic slam are both huge assets as well. The only thing he has working against him is his neck. It’s been broken making it a vital weak point.
6. AJ Styles
Another of TNA’s top stars, AJ Styles has been around the block more than once. He has held several tag team titles. He has also held the X-division title six times and the NWA heavyweight championship three times. His move-set consists of a lot of aerial moves.
The Frog Splash and the Springboard Forearm just to name some of the more impressive ones. He also has the more spontaneous moves that can win him a match rather unexpectedly, such as the Pele kick. His finisher, the Styles Clash, can’t be hit on a lot of the bigger guys but, he has so many more moves it doesn’t matter!
7. Triple H
He is the cerebral assassin. He is the game. He is Triple H. He is a 13 time World heavyweight champion. He has beaten just about everyone in WWE there is to beat and more so he has beaten them multiple times.
He is widely received as the best technical wrestler in WWE right now, which considering his style is a blend of power and wrestling, this is entirely true. He is definitely gifted with a move-set bred over years of experience. The Pedigree is absolutely deadly. He often gets a bad rep since he is married to Steph, but who cares?
8. Jack Swagger
I may not like the guy but I will admit he is good. He is one of the best technical wrestlers in WWE and he is still really young (26). He has an amateur background but not one as impressive as Angles or Shelton Benjamin.
He is good and has already had his first taste of major gold (or in this case, platinum) in the form of the ECW title. While Wrestling Uncovered did have some heavy criticism when he became champ after only being there a couple of months and comparisons between him and Lesnar, we will admit that he is pretty good and he may be the future of WWE.
For anyone interested in viewing Wrestling Uncovered, click here.
9. Frankie Kazarian
This is another one I might get a lot of heat for but Kaz is a great wrestler. If you aren’t convinced of that go and watch the match he had with Kurt Angle. I realize that he may not be worthy of a heavyweight title now but if you just look at the potential he has showed in the last few years.
His finisher, the Flux Capacitor, is an absolute thing of beauty and it is very powerful. Given time I think Kaz could develop into one of the greatest wrestlers of the modern era.
10. Chris Jericho
While I am not a fan of his current attitude, mainly because it quickly wears on my nerves, I cannot deny that Jericho is one of the best going today.
He seems to have picked up on having the heavyweight title winning it twice just last year, but that is not nearly as impressive when you realize that both reigns together were only 69 days total! Overall if Jericho has any hope of beating Sammartino’s record may I suggest he hold onto the title longer.
While not many of the WWE fans are “Edgeheads” anymore, the man definitely has ability. Now all he needs to do is stop running away from his battles or having other people fight for him. This is seriously tainting his legacy as a champion and a future legend.
Edge can wrestle but he only wrestles on screen at PPV’s and a couple times a year on one of the brands. All in all could Edge beat Sammartino’s record Yes…. would he need to shape up a little first.... Hell yes.
12. The Big Show
The big show is big! Really big! Did I mention that he is big? Well the Big Show made his return to WWE in 2008 after training in boxing making his already huge hands even more dangerous weapons than they were before.
He is a four-time World heavyweight champion. Another interesting fact to note is that he is the longest reigning ECW champion since WWE reintroduced the title. This reign lasted 152 days. It also stands as the 7th longest reign in the overall history of the title.
Well this list can really go on forever, No disrespect is meant toward anyone I left off that others feel should have been on this list. I’m going to be realistic for a moment. I’m well aware that Bruno Sammartino’s reign could quite possibly never be beaten. I just thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the guys I feel could beat it if it was possible, plus all the WrestleMania talk has been getting dry.
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