Analyzing the Odds of the Next Triple Crown Champion in WWE

Graham GSM MatthewsFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014

Analyzing the Odds of the Next Triple Crown Champion in WWE

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    The Miz is the latest Superstar to win the Triple Crown Championship in WWE.
    The Miz is the latest Superstar to win the Triple Crown Championship in WWE.(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Since 1980, a total of 25 of wrestlers have had the honor of winning the prestigious Triple Crown Championship in WWE. In order to become a Triple Crown champion, one must win a tag team title, a secondary title and a world title over the course of their career.

    In the last decade, it was much easier for wrestlers to win the Triple Crown with two world championships. However, now that there is an only one WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the odds of becoming a Triple Crown champion are much slimmer.

    The last wrestler to achieve the honor was The Miz upon winning his first Intercontinental Championship on Raw 1000 in July 2012. How long will it be until we see another Triple Crown champion crowned in WWE, and whom shall it be?

    This list will break down, in order, who from the active roster has the likeliest chance of being the next Triple Crown champion in WWE. Ranking criteria will include the probability of that Superstar achieving the honor, what stage they’re currently at in their career, how long before they retire and other factors.

    Please note that the following Superstars are only one title away from winning all three necessary to be recognized.

12. The New Age Outlaws

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    The New Age Outlaws
    The New Age Outlaws(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    Following a few brief appearances at the Slammy Awards in recent years, The New Age Outlaws made a full-time return to the active roster in January 2014. They quickly turned heel by betraying CM Punk and seemingly aligning with The Authority.

    From there, The New Age Outlaws went on to defeat Cody Rhodes and Goldust at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view to capture their sixth WWE Tag Team Championship. Having also been Intercontinental champions in the past, both Billy Gunn and Road Dogg require a world championship in order to win the Triple Crown.

    Needless to say, I don't see either man winning “the big one” at this stage in their careers, much less being on the roster for much longer. I don’t expect them to stick around after WrestleMania 30 once their feud with The Usos is finished.

11. William Regal

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    William Regal
    William Regal(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    Despite having a decorated career in WWE over the last two decades, William Regal didn’t win as many championships as one might think. A former World Tag Team and Intercontinental champion, Regal was unable to ever win a world championship, though he came close to doing so during his mega-push in 2008.

    That was the closest he ever got to winning the world title and he hasn’t come anywhere near the main event scene since. Regal formally retired from active in-ring competition in 2011 and has since done color commentary on NXT.

    Unless WWE was willing to give Regal one last run in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture before he hung up his boots for good (which I would love to see), it is unlikely that Regal will ever win gold again in his career.

10. The Undertaker

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    The Undertaker
    The Undertaker(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: Intercontinental Championship

    It’s funny to think that The Undertaker, one of the biggest icons in the history of pro wrestling, has never been a Triple Crown champion. Sure, he has held multiple world championships and even a tag title or two, but never has he captured the secondary title necessary (the Intercontinental Championship) to achieve the honor.

    Undertaker contended for the Intercontinental title on various occasions in the mid-’90s against the likes of Goldust and others, but was never able to actually win it. By the time he became a main event star later in the decade, the prestigious prize was beneath him.

    Now that Undertaker only wrestles once a year at WrestleMania (with the rare exception of an episode of Raw or SmackDown here and there), it is impossible to think that he will ever capture the championship so late in his career. Once Undertaker eventually retires, he will go down as one of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history to have never won the Triple Crown.

9. Goldust

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    Goldust
    Goldust(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    Widely known as one of the more underrated wrestlers in WWE history, Goldust has had quite the career over the last two decades. Goldust received the biggest push of his career in his first few years with the company, winning the Intercontinental Championship on three separate occasions.

    Despite the massive amount of heat he garnered during that time, Goldust never contended for world champion. He was used as an enhancement talent for most of the 2000s, but turned heads upon his comeback to the company in late 2013, winning the WWE Tag Team Championships with his brother Cody Rhodes.

    Per a report issued last month, it’s expected that Goldust will remain with WWE until his contract expires in August. As great as he has looked since his return, it is highly doubtful that he'll win a world title before leaving again, but anything is possible.

8. Santino Marella

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    Santino Marella
    Santino Marella(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    Despite being a talented wrestler, Santino Marella has been saddled with a comedic gimmick since the start of his career in 2007. He has won a plethora of championships including the United States, Intercontinental and WWE Tag Team titles, but he has never been seen as a legitimate threat inside the squared circle.

    Regardless, Santino has been known to score upset victories in the past over the likes of Sheamus, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler. He even came close to winning the 2011 Royal Rumble match and the Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship in 2012.

    With that in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me if WWE decided to give Santino a brief run with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to shock fans and reward him for his loyalty to the company over the last seven years, though the odds of that happening are fairly slim.

7. Drew McIntyre

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    Drew McIntyre
    Drew McIntyre(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    From the moment he debuted on the SmackDown roster in August 2009, Drew McIntyre was seen as a future World Heavyweight champion as touted by Vince McMahon himself. He was well on his way to living up to the hype when he won the Intercontinental Championship in a matter of months after his arrival.

    Sure, he wasn’t the most exciting act on the blue brand (most of his matches were rather dull and boring), but he had the look of a world champion and was improving on a weekly basis. However, McIntyre lost direction somewhere along the way and unfortunately hasn’t recovered since.

    McIntyre hasn’t held gold since the fall of 2010 when he reigned as one-half of the WWE Tag Team champions with Cody Rhodes. He is currently a member of 3MB alongside Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal.

    At the age of 28, there’s still time for WWE to correct the mistakes made with McIntyre and get him back on the path to Superstardom, but I’m not getting my hopes up. The first thing that must be done is to get him away from 3MB and put him back in singles competition so he can be taken seriously again.

6. Curtis Axel

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    Curtis Axel
    Curtis Axel(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    The artist formerly known as Michael McGillicutty was highly underutilized for the first few years of his career before being repackaged as Curtis Axel in May 2013. A former WWE Tag Team champion, Axel got one step closer to achieving the Triple Crown when he captured the Intercontinental Championship at June’s Payback pay-per-view, reigning as champion for a whopping five months.

    Last July, I predicted Axel would win one of that year’s Money in the Bank Ladder matches, given his various victories over the likes of John Cena, Triple H and Chris Jericho. It looked like WWE was grooming him for a future run with a world championship, but it surely doesn’t look like he’ll ever be a world champion all these months later.

    Axel has been teaming with Ryback in recent months and has shown no sign of being pushed any time soon. Personally, I don’t think he is world championship material, but he is definitely deserving of a higher place on the card than where he is right now, given his tremendous talent in the ring.

5. Kofi Kingston

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    Kofi Kingston
    Kofi Kingston(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    Since arriving on the WWE scene in January 2008, Kofi Kingston has won almost every active championship in the company. The only title that has eluded him his entire career has been the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    Kingston has won countless of midcard and tag team titles in the last six years, but has always come up short of winning “the big one” when it mattered most. He has the in-ring and mic skills to be a star in WWE, but his lack of character development and aggressive push in recent years has branded him a midcarder for life.

    Although there have been points in his career where it looked like Kingston would finally solidify himself as a main event star, it just wasn’t meant to be. With a clean win over current WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton on the January 13 Raw, perhaps a world title win for Kingston isn’t impossible after all.

4. Batista

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    Batista
    Batista(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: Intercontinental Championship

    While a part of Evolution, Batista reigned as World Tag Team champion on two separate occasions before immediately jumping into the main event scene with Triple H. He contended for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 2004, but never went for it again upon winning the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21 the following year.

    Batista was added to the fairly short list of top stars to have never become Triple Crown champion when he returned to the company this past January. He won the 2014 Royal Rumble match six days removed from his comeback and will more than likely spend the rest of his run in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture.

    There is the off-chance that WWE will throw Batista a bone by giving him the Intercontinental Championship at some point in the next two years just so he can win the Triple Crown, but it’s highly unlikely. Although he wrestles on a regular basis, unlike Undertaker, it is silly to think a part-timer would win the Intercontinental title, especially someone of Batista's caliber.

3. John Cena

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    John Cena
    John Cena(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: Intercontinental Championship

    Like with Undertaker and Batista, some fans might be shocked to learn that John Cena, a man who has seemingly done it all in the wrestling business, has never won the Triple Crown Championship. He spent a number of years in the midcard at the start of his career and held the United States Championship on various occasions, but since the star-spangled prize doesn’t qualify (it was originally territory of WCW), Cena was never able to achieve the honor.

    Cena reached super stardom when he won the WWE Championship from JBL at WrestleMania 21 and hasn’t looked back since. It is humorous to think he would ever contend for the Intercontinental Championship at this point in his career, especially given how much the title has been devalued in the last decade.

    It’s possible that Cena could enter the Intercontinental title picture at the end of his career (whenever that may be), but I don’t think that's plausible. The only way I could see Cena achieving the Triple Crown is if he were to win the belt in a title unification match while he was the WWE World Heavyweight champion, similar to Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior from WrestleMania VI.

    As previously mentioned, though, I wouldn’t put it past WWE to give him a run (albeit a brief one) with the Intercontinental title, just to say that Cena had been a Triple Crown champion.

2. Cody Rhodes

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    Cody Rhodes
    Cody Rhodes(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: WWE World Heavyweight Championship

    Cody Rhodes is a prime example of a wrestler that has been built up perfectly since his debut. He started out as an enhancement talent, moved into the tag team ranks with Hardcore Holly, Ted DiBiase and Drew McIntyre, broke out on his own in singles competition in 2010 and became Intercontinental champion twice.

    Additionally, he wrestled against some of the best talent that WWE has to offer. From John Cena to Triple H, Shawn Michaels to Randy Orton, Rhodes has been exposed to the main event picture before but has yet to win a world championship.

    He is currently involved a tag team with Goldust, but once that runs its course, I hope to see Rhodes where he rightfully belongs: in contention for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. After coming up short in recent years, I truly believe that 2014 will be the year that Rhodes becomes Mr. Money in the Bank and perhaps a world champion for the first time in his career.

    He has the complete package to be a top star in WWE and it is only a matter of time before WWE pulls the trigger on him. WWE has been smart to not rush into pushing him to the top like they have done to others (Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus come to mind). At the age of 28, there is still plenty of time left for the second generation star to win “the big one”.

1. Daniel Bryan

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    Daniel Bryan
    Daniel Bryan(Courtesy of WWE.com)

    Championship required: Intercontinental Championship

    When Daniel Bryan debuted on WWE NXT in February 2010 and said his ultimate goal was to headline WrestleMania, I laughed. I honestly never thought Bryan would become anything more than a midcarder in WWE at the time, but he has proven me and many others wrong in the last four years.

    For the better part of the last year, Bryan has built up a following so large that he is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) Superstars in the entire company. He has competed in several main event matches since SummerSlam and is a three-time world champion in WWE.

    In September 2012, Bryan won the WWE Tag Team Championships alongside Kane for the first time in his career, reigning as champ for a record-setting eight months. He also held the United States Championship for a lengthy period of time from 2010 to 2011, but that didn’t earn him Triple Crown status.

    Although he is (more than likely) set to contend for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMaina 30, I think the odds of him winning the Intercontinental Championship before Rhodes wins a world title are higher than the other way around. It may not be this year, but I’m sure there will come a time when Bryan will be back to being a upper-midcarder and contending for the Intercontinental title.

    When Bryan finally does capture the prestigious prize, he will solidify himself among the greats that have won the Triple Crown Championship.

     

    Read the original version of this article on Wrestling Rambles here.

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.