WWE's Best, Worst and Most Outrageous Stats from 2017

Kevin Berge@TheBerge_Featured ColumnistDecember 31, 2017

WWE's Best, Worst and Most Outrageous Stats from 2017

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    Credit: WWE.com

    2017 was a time of change in WWE. New stars emerged while old stars began to step back after reaching career-defining milestones.

    While it was not always perfect, with too many pay-per-views held and great wrestlers leaving, so much of the year was defined by the company going in a new and healthy direction.

    In just 12 months, the legacies of veterans such as John Cena and The Miz were solidified. Braun Strowman, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe were just a few of the new names who took over WWE. Meanwhile, the women of WWE got the best presentation on all programs of any time in the company's history.

    It has been such an impressively diverse and packed year it would be difficult to simply boil it down to a few points of interest. Luckily, there are certain statistics that stand out so strongly for 2017 they serve that purpose perfectly, creating a strong lens with which to look at this year in review.

    From the best and the worst title reigns to impressive milestones that may never be topped, these are the stats that defined 2017 and help to demonstrate just how unique a year this was for WWE.

The Miz on a Historic Pace with Intercontinental Championship Reigns

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Since the night after WrestleMania 32, The Miz has held the WWE Intercontinental Championship 406 days over three reigns, an identical number to Shawn Michaels' three reigns with the championship. It has brought his total record as champion to 523 days over seven reigns.

    These numbers place Miz second all time in total reigns behind Chris Jericho's nine and third all time in days holding the title behind only Pedro Morales and Don Muraco. He needs a mere 97 days as champion to pass Morales to take the No. 1 spot, which he could do in one reign if his recent pace with the title holds.

    It was not too long ago that Miz was drawing the ire of fans for headlining WrestleMania XXVII, but since that time, the A-Lister has grown into the role of a star, improving immensely in the ring while becoming just about the best mic worker in the business. His reigns with the IC title have revitalized the championship's importance while quietly establishing his legacy.

    Even if Miz never wins a world championship again, which would be a shame, he is on pace for a Hall of Fame career, becoming the most successful and influential IC champion in the modern era. It is possible that, by the time he retires, the championship will forever be known as the title The Miz once held.

Near-Record 9 United States Championship Reigns

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The United States Championship changed hands nine times in 2017, an abnormally high number of title changes for any WWE championship. In the history of the U.S. title, the only year to see the title change hands more often was 1999, a year in which the championship was won or vacated 13 times.

    In one year, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles won their first and second U.S. Championships, with KO even winning it a third time. While top SmackDown Live stars have held the title, it hardly felt like any have valued the title highly, with every reign undercut by quick title changes.

    Nothing represented the legacy of the title in 2017 better than the final few months, as Baron Corbin took the title off Styles so the Phenomenal One could win the WWE Championship a month later. Corbin lasted just 70 days as champion before being defeated by Dolph Ziggler, who seemingly vacated the championship two days later.

    In the 169 days of Miz's seventh Intercontinental Championship reign in 2017, the U.S. title changed hands four times, with reigns ranging from two days to 75. The brands seem to have fundamentally different ways of handling their midcard championships, and Raw's has worked much better. There is no reason KO or Styles could not have elevated the U.S. Championship this year in the same way Miz did with the IC belt.

Neville's Incredible Year Redefined Cruiserweight Success

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The cruiserweight division has not been an outright success for WWE since its return through 2016's Cruiserweight Classic, but one man came into his own and raised the standing of the division in 2017. Unfortunately, that same wrestler may not appear in a WWE ring again.

    Neville spent half of 2016 on the shelf. And the other half, he looked aimless until he ended the year with a heel turn that redefined 205 Live. After winning the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at the Royal Rumble, Neville held the championship for 233 days over two reigns, which is the most days as champion for any cruiserweight in their first two reigns, including during the previous incarnation of the title from 1991 to 2007.

    His record for the year was an incredible 71-14, which is over 83 percent, a number unmatched by all but the elite faces on Monday Night Raw. It is especially impressive given the relative win rates of other heels this year, including Owens at 33 percent and Miz at 20 percent. He was a dominant force in the division.

    Unfortunately, creative disputes following his title loss caused him to walk out on WWE in October, with no real news on whether the sides have found any common ground. If Neville has gone for good, he will have left a legacy in the cruiserweight division that everyone will struggle to match. Champion Enzo Amore would need to hold the title for 147 more days to match Neville's record.

As Good as the Division Can Be, Tag Teams Never Stay Together

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Tag team wrestling took over 2017 thanks to a few impressive efforts from dominant teams, but the process was not made easy. There were 13 times that teams considered part of the tag team division were disrupted by injuries or breakups. Including the times pairings were broken up in other divisions, the number rises to at least 23, which is a greater number than all the active tag teams in WWE.

    Granted, the disruptions vary in severity. Some may not even remember Rhyno turned on Heath Slater only to quietly reform the team soon after. However, there have been some serious shakeups in team makeup throughout the year, from each member of The Revival getting injured one after the other to a plethora of breakups.

    While many remember Enzo and Cass and Jericho and KO breaking up, it is easy to forget SmackDown's tag team champions going into the year are bitter rivals Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. The Golden Truth reached its ignominious end in 2017. As did The Vaudevillains, with Aiden English luckily finding a new partner by the end of the year in Rusev.

    Even outside the division, there have been countless team shakeups. How many times have Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax turned on one another? Was 2017 really the same year Dana Brooke turned on Charlotte Flair? It has become an exercise in patience to try to decipher who is on whose side on 205 Live.

    All in all, no matter how good tag team wrestling becomes, WWE will always break up tandems and shake up alliances because it is good TV. It may not help cohesion, but as long as The Usos, New Day and The Bar are still together, there's nothing to worry about. 2018 though could well see those teams break up just for the drama.

2017 Ties Record Number of PPV Events for Single Year

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WWE began airing pay-per-views in 1985. In the next 32 years, 16 is the most PPVs WWE has aired in a single year, with 2017 reaching that mark, previously only achieved during 2006. There were six Raw and six SmackDown Live-exclusive events, coupled with the Big Four cross-brand PPVs.

    In its first 10 years of hosting PPVs, WWE averaged under four shows per year. Since that time, there have been an average of 14 PPVs per year, with recent years under that number. From 2012 to 2014, there were just 12. However, 2015 had 13 before 2016 had 15, beginning a bad trend that was felt consistently in 2017.

    The difference in having a few additional shows in WWE is massive because of the pace at which fans have to follow. Sixteen shows led to stretches in 2017 when there were PPVs every two weeks, rushing the presentation of the matches and lowering their importance. How many fans can remember the card of each show this year or even just the PPVs main events?

    WWE likely hoped the extra shows would boost WWE Network's subscription numbers, but according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Raj Giri Wrestling Inc), that was not the case. Luckily, as Giri reported, 2018 will return to the average number of 14, cutting two extraneous brand-exclusive shows (No Mercy and Great Balls of Fire) from the lineup.

Women Main-Event Raw and SmackDown at Unprecedented Rate

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live's main events have long been exclusive to the top male heavyweights in WWE, which grew stale—especially with five hours of pro wrestling every week. Luckily, the headlining matches have been far more diverse in 2017 thanks to the women's division.

    The first and only time women had main-evented Monday Night Raw before 2016 was in 2004, when Trish Stratus fought Lita for the Women's Championship. Charlotte and Sasha Banks main-evented twice in 2016 and headlined Hell in a Cell that same year, showing the company was finally starting to change its formula.

    2017 still came as a shock, with women main-eventing one of the two major WWE programs nine times: five times on Monday Night Raw and four times on SmackDown Live. It may still be a small number given there are 104 shows each year, but it far outpaces any other year in WWE history.

    While it makes sense to generally headline Raw and SmackDown with the top heavyweights, the more times the brands change it up, letting other divisions headline will lead to a fresher product. More high-profile clashes, setting up contenders and defending championships, would spice up the whole product.

Women Also Continue to Get More Time to Perform Than in Any Other WWE Era

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The average time given to women's matches on PPV in 2017 was 11 minutes, which is an impressive number given that only two matches passed that number in 2014: the traditional Survivor Series elimination match (14:35) and Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella (11:06). By 2015, that number was up to six, but that still did not allow the average to get even close to 11 minutes.

    However, that number does not match up to 2016, when the average match was about 12-and-a-half minutes. That average was boosted by two huge matches between Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks, particularly their nearly 35-minute bout at Roadblock: End of the Line. Without those contests included, the average drops to just under 11 minutes.

    This shows that while 2017 was not clearly better for the division, it did not lose much ground, as the brand expanded and used more women rather than just relying on Charlotte and Sasha. This was also seen in how many women's matches were booked on PPV this year, 27 versus 24 from 2016. While there was one more PPV this year than last, it still raises the average number per event.

    Hopefully this number will continue to rise, with SmackDown especially needing to diversify the division rather than continually using the whole roster in just one match. With Asuka on the main roster alongside the Four Horsewomen, Natalya, Naomi, Nia Jax and more, the opportunities to give women chances to steal the show at every PPV are higher than ever.

    2018 will start on the right foot with the first women's Royal Rumble, which is almost guaranteed to be a 40-minute-plus bout (based on how many competitors are in the match), with every woman looking to make history.

The Undertaker Continues to Define WrestleMania with 25th Appearance

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Undertaker has forever cemented his legacy at WrestleMania, and 2017 was no different. In what looked like it might be his last match in WWE, Taker competed at 'Mania for the 25th time, facing Roman Reigns. That type of longevity at any major WWE event is simply unheard of, even without mentioning Taker's unbelievable 23-2 record.

    The only wrestler even close to that mark is Triple H, who needs to participate at four more WrestleManias to match Taker's record. It is likely he will take that mantle, but he will never be able to also equal Taker's record given he has nine wins and 12 defeats at The Showcase of the Immortals.

    As 'Mania season approaches, rumors will always swirl about Taker having one more match simply because it has been so long since there has been a WrestleMania without The Deadman on the card. While he could return, he has nothing left to prove and has clearly been worn down by time.

    It was not quite a storybook end for Undertaker this year, as he stumbled through his match with Reigns, but that only proves how integral he has been to the show that he still ended up defining the event when he left his gloves, coat and hat in the center of the ring. They were left untouched as fans filed out of the stadium.

John Cena Cements Legacy with 16 World Championships over 12 Years

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Before 2017, only one man had held 16 WWE-recognized world championships in his career: Ric Flair. He was the gold standard and created a legacy many thought no one could match. However, John Cena did just that in only 12 years after winning his first WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21 in 2005.

    His latest title victory—finally defeating AJ Styles, who had his number in 2016—was a huge moment. But it also showed the difference between Flair's record and Cena's, as he lost the title 14 days later. No one should doubt Cena's importance to the wrestling business, showcasing an unbelievable resiliency as WWE's top guy for these past 12 years, and he has earned the right to stand next to the greats.

    However, Flair's world title reigns are much more impressive than just the No. 16. He held a world championship for 3,739 days, which is over 10 years. Cena's reigns total up to 1,411 days, which is less than four years as champion. It is still an impressive number but hardly matches up to Flair's ridiculous legacy.

    Still, it is easy to nitpick and harder to simply give respect where it is due. The Champ has been champion in WWE for so long and so many times he has changed the business forever. With his recent success in Hollywood, though, fans may be witnessing the end of an era, with Cena's sixteenth world championship reign possibly being his last.

    If The Face That Runs the Place is stepping away for good and becoming a part-time attraction in WWE, it has been an impressive legacy he has left behind, showcasing a resilience and drive that outstrips those of many of the true greats.

WWE Begins Evolution with Impressive Number of Shows Headlined by New Talent

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The main event scene in WWE looked radically different in 2017 than any year before. This was proved by an unprecedented statistic, as 13 of the 16 PPV events in 2017 included at least one wrestler who had never main-evented a WWE PPV before.

    How did this happen? It begins with a few names who have quickly become major attractions in the business. Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Finn Balor were the multiple-time headliners for Raw in 2017, while Jinder Mahal, Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode were huge parts of SmackDown.

    The stories here differ from veterans finally getting their chances after being exposed to fans in NXT to new talent getting opportunities no one expected, but the story is clear. WWE is moving away from the old stars at the top of the card to focus on the evolving new roster.

    While Fastlane, Hell in a Cell and WrestleMania were outliers, those shows were not headlined by regular main eventers such as Cena or Orton but rather Goldberg, Shane McMahon and Undertaker in rare returns to the top of the card. Their stays were temporary, and two of them will likely never step into a ring to wrestle again.

    WWE's landscape is changing, and the company is evolving with the roster. It may still be a few years before a WrestleMania is not headlined by either Cena or Reigns, but that time is approaching, which would have been hard to believe just two years back.