Unbreakable: The Greatest Records in Wrestling History
Like any other sport or activity, there are records that give athletes in that sport immortal status. Baseball has the Ironman Record, homerun Record, and even records for the most stolen bases. Football has records for most touchdowns thrown in a season, most sacks, and longest field goal.
Pro wrestling is no different with records, many of which fans know by heart. So with that in mind, I wrote this list of some of the most memorable and even some that aren't as well known. There will be three categories of records: will be broken, may be broken, and never be broken. So click forward and enjoy.
Will Be Broken: Most World Title Reigns from Major American Promotions
Record: Ric Flair (16)
One of the most cherished records in all of pro wrestling is the record that Ric Flair has feld for as long as many fans can remember, the record for most world title reigns. His 16 world titles is a rare record as it is talked about in all of the major companies, where sometimes the bigger promotions (WWE, WCW, TNA) usually don't recognize each others title reigns.
Though while Flair's record is great, it unfortunately will be broken within the next couple of years. While Triple H is the closest to breaking it with 13 World Titles, he is not in the title picture though he may get one more run at the title before calling it quits. The person who will end up breaking the record is John Cena. With 12 World Titles and being the face of the WWE, added onto the fact that world title reigns aren't that long anymore, Cena will break the record eventually. And then pigs will fly and the seas will run red with blood.
Will Be Broken: Most Eliminations in a Royal Rumble Career
Record: Shawn Michaels (39)
Our next slide is that of a record that could be broken as early as next year. Shawn Michaels currently holds onto the record for the most eliminations in a Royal Rumble career with 39 eliminations. Unfortunately for him, the person that has the second most is Kane who has 37. With that small of a deficit, Kane is sure to break the record barring a career ending injury.
May Be Broken: Most Eliminations in a Single Royal Rumble and Times in Final 6
Record: Kane (11 and 7)
Here is a double shot of records both going to the same wrestler. The records of having the most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble and the record for most appearances in the final six of a Rumble match belong to the Big Red Monster Kane.
In 2001, the Royal Rumble was to decide who would go to the main event of Wrestlemania X-Seven. Kane would enter the match as entrant number six and watch as previous entrant Drew Carey would eliminate himself. Then throughout the match Kane would end up eliminating Raven, Al Snow, Steve Blackman, Perry Saturn, Grand Master Sexay, the Honky Tonk Man, the Rock, Tazz, Albert, Crash Holly, and Scotty 2 Hotty. Kane would then end up being the last man eliminated allowing Stone Cold Steve Austin to win.
Kane would also have the most appearances in the final six of the Royal Rumble, which is quite an accomplishment considering the how much the odds are stacked against any one wrestler in the match. He would make it to the final six in '96, '97, '00, '01, '03, '08, and '11.
The reason that these records are listed under the may be broken heading is that there are plausible ways for them to be broken. The final six record could actually go into the will be broken category since the closest person to breaking that record is John Cena who currently has five appearances in the final six, so it wouldn't be too hard for him to break that record.
The only way that works to break the most eliminations in a single Rumble record is to allow a wrestler who the WWE wants to make a monster out of. Kane worked perfectly as he was billed as the Big Red Machine or Big Red Monster, seven feet tall and just on a warpath. The most logical person to break the record would be Mark Henry, especially with his current heel gimmick. If he loses the World Title in between now and the next Rumble, it would be perfect time to break the record.
May Be Broken: Shortest Title and Wrestlemania Match
Record: Kane beats Chavo Guerrero for ECW belt in 8 seconds at Wrestlemania XXIV
And here are two more records going to Kane, both coming from the same match. These records are also shared with the man who apparently has the most heat for any wrestler, Chavo Guerrero, and if you don't believe me look at his feud with Hornswoggle. At Wrestlemania XXIV, Chavo was set to defend the ECW Championship against Kane and was waiting for him in the ring. Kane would instead come out from under the ring and then chokeslam Chavo. He pinned him and thus earned the record of shortest title match and shortest Wrestlemania match at 8 seconds.
The only way either record could be broken is if the same thing happens with like what happened between the Rock and Big Boss Man when the Rock rolled him up and pinned him in four seconds. Other than that happening, these records are safe for now.
May Be Broken: Highest Attendance for an American Event
Record: Wrestlemania III (93,173 in attendance)
No need to explain this record, at Wrestlemania III had for over two decades the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sports event. The touted number was 93,173 people attending the show, though many differing figures have come up in recent years. The record was eventually broken by the 2010 NBA All-Star game when it was held in the new Cowboys Stadium, yet the record still stands for a wrestling event.
There is a chance that this record could be broken. Since Wrestlemania is the biggest show of the WWE's PPV calendar and the show has been held in bigger venues, if a strong enough card was created and the event was held in the Cowboy Stadium since that is one of the bigger stadiums, the record is able to be broken.
Never Broken: Undertaker's Undefeated Streak at Wrestlemania
This is another self explanatory record as the record has never lost at Wrestlemania. This has become one of the pinnacle records of wrestling where even casual fans will discuss in detail the Streak and if it will ever be broken. There was a time when the Undertaker wanted Kurt Angle to break the Streak, but Vince McMahon refused to go with that storyline.
Now at this point it most likely will remain intact and the Undertaker will probably retire after going 20-0, it's only a matter of figuring out who number 20 will be.
Never Broken: Highest Single Show Ratings
Record: February 5, 1988, The Main Event I (15.2, 33 million viewers)
When a wrestling promotion gets a television deal, the most important thing for that promotion is ratings. Good ratings mean better paying advertisers which leads to more money for the promotion which leads to the promotion's survival. If you want a good example, look at the Monday Night Wars between WCW and the WWF. They were getting ratings anywhere from the 5.0s all the way up to the 8.0s. With those numbers, they were getting big name advertisers who paid really good money. Then when WCW's ratings started to slip, they started losing money from lagging ticket sales as well as from upset advertisers who weren't willing to pay money to advertise on a show getting low ratings.
Now that the WWE is in the mid 2s to mid 3s is has to get sponsorship from from B level toys like Paper Jamz. TNA has to do more for its sponsors, like having Direct Auto's logo everywhere and giving them ad time in the announcement before the main event.
But even the high ratings during the peak of the Monday Night Wars have nothing on the greatest rating for a single show for an American promotion. For the first episode of The Main Event, a spin off of Saturday Night's Main Event, the show gained an astonishing 15.2 rating, getting 33 million viewers.
The show was anchored by the match that was billed as a Wrestlemania III rematch between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant with the WWF Championship on the line. This was the infamous match where Andre won with help from referee Dave Hebner's "evil twin" Earl, who had been hired by Ted Dibiase. After Andre won the title, he would then sell it to Dibiase, the title change would be invalidated which would set up the tournament at Wrestlemania IV.
In today's current wrestling landscape, there is no way that this record ever gets broken. The only possible way it could is if the WWE airs Wrestlemania live and free on TV, which won't likely happen.
Never Broken: Shortest Match
Record: Rock beat Big Boss Man in 3 sec at Survivor Series '98
Survivor Series '98 was notable for a couple reasons. First, it was the first Survivor Series to not have an actual Survivor Series match on the entire card, in its place was a tournament to decide who the new WWF Champion was. Secondly, it had the shortest match in wrestling history.
In the first round of the tournament, the Rock was scheduled to take on long time rival Triple H to see who would move on to face Ken Shamrock in the quarterfinals. As the DX theme played Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco announce to the audience and the Rock who was in the ring, that Triple H wasn't there due to a knee injury so a replacement was coming. The replacement would be the Big Boss Man, who had been disqualified earlier in the night when he hit Stone Cold Steve Austin with his night stick. Boss Man ran into the ring and was instantly rolled up by the Rock and pinned in four seconds.
No way this record gets broken as it is such a short match. The only way it gets beaten is if one wrestler lays down in the ring, his opponent comes out and immediately pins him for a three second match, which is highly doubtful of happening.
Never Broken: Shortest Time in a Royal Rumble Match
Record: Santino Marella (1 second)
Being one of the fan favorite events of the WWE, the Royal Rumble has become a cornerstone match for the WWE. Each year offers many surprises and twists to the delight of the fans, including returning superstars and shocking eliminations. Yet one of the more shocking eliminations in Rumble history wasn't because of who was eliminated, but how quickly that person was eliminated.
In the 2009 Royal Rumble, Santino Marella was the 28th entrant and made his way to the ring. Yet just as he made it into the match, he was eliminated one second later by Kane, giving him the record for the shortest time in a Royal Rumble match. This record will never be broken since it is only one second, the only possible way it could happen is if Sin Cara tries to enter in his usual manner using a trampoline and someone hits him with a dropkick while he's mid air and that knocks him to the floor, other than that no chance this record gets broken.
Never Broken: Longest Undefeated Streak
Record: Dr. Death Steve Williams (10 years)
In wrestling, a one of the best way to make a monster fighter or super babyface is to have that person go on a winning streak. The best examples of this are Goldberg who had a 176 match win streak while in WCW, during which he won both the US and World Titles. Another streak is the Undertaker's undefeated streak at Wrestlemania which has become one of the most cherished records in all of pro wrestling. The main reason for doing these streaks is twofold; first, it builds up the person with the streak as a legitimate contender to any title. Secondly, fans will pay good money to see the streak continue to grow as well as see if anyone can break the streak.
Yet there is no undefeated streak greater in all of wrestling than that of the late "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, who went undefeated for TEN YEARS. Now before you go to the comment section to flame about how Andre the Giant had a streak of fifteen years, his streak was that he hadn't been pinned or submitted in fifteen years, but he lost quite a few matches by countout or DQ during that period.
Williams would become one of the most successful foreign athletes in Japanese wrestling history with his undefeated streak, earning multiple titles and three 5-star matches from Wrestling Observer during that time. He would also wrestle in many independent promotions in the U.S., and would eventually lose while working in ECW. After having a squash match with Axl Rotten, he would have an impromptu ECW World Title match with Raven and lose for the first time in a decade.
This is another record that will never be broken as fans will get tired of the same wrestler winning over and over for more than a decade. Fans would get turned off by that happening in the same way that many are turned off by Jonh Cena and how he is able to come back from incredible odds to win a match.
Never Broken: Most World Title Changes in a Year Period for a Major Promotion
Record: WCW (16 times)
If you are reading the title of this slide and wondering why I am only concentrating on major promotions is because with independent promotions, a title can change hands many more times per year as a way to build up ticket sales and to give the fans the feeling of seeing a world title match or a title change. Just look at the slide about Jerry Lawler and his 52 reigns as Southern Heavyweight Champion, that belt changed hands almost on a weekly basis.
That kind of treatment may be fun for fans at a local level, but when you get to a major promotion like the WWE, TNA, or WCW, it kills the fans desire to watch if done incorrectly. If done correctly and not to excess, the fans will tune in each week to see what happens. In 1999 the WWF Championship changed hands a total of 11 times. Yet with that high amount of change, the fans tuned in as the feuds behind those title changes involved some of the best storylines of the Attitude era along with top name wrestlers like the Rock, Steve Austin, Mankind, and the Undertaker.
Yet when WCW tried the same thing, the opposite result happened. Now granted some fans were already turned off by what WCW had become, but for those who were still watching, they witnessed the utter murder of the WCW Heavyweight Championship. On April 10, 2000, WCW went through what was called a reboot of the promotion where Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff had every title in WCW vacated and the Millionaire Club vs New Blood angle began, it would be less than a year to when the WWE would buy its biggest competitor.
In that time, the biggest title in the company, and at one time in all of wrestling, would change hands a total of 16 times. To put that into perspective, Ric Flair was a 16 time World Champion, so this is if he had every one of those reigns in less than a year's time.
Here is a rundown of the final year of WCW in the Heavyweight Title picture:
April 10, 2000 - All titles vacated, World Title Tournament announced
April 16, 2000 - Jeff Jarrett beats Diamond Dallas Page in tournament final (1)
April 24, 2000 - DDP beats Jarrett in cage match (2)
April 25, 2000 - David Arquette pins Eric Bischoff in tag match with Jarrett and DDP (3)
May 7, 2000 - Jarrett wins belt in a triple cage match (4)
May 15, 2000 - Ric Flair beats Jarrett to win title (5)
May 22, 2000 - Ric Flair stripped of title by Vince Russo
May 22, 2000 - Jeff Jarrett awarded title by Russo (6)
May 23, 2000 - Kevin Nash beats Jarrett for belt (7)
May 29, 2000 - Flair is given the belt by Nash (8)
May 29, 2000 - Jarrett beats Flair (9)
July 9, 2000 - Booker T beats Jarrett for belt after Hogan is fired by Russo (10)
August 28, 2000 - Nash beats Booker T (11)
September 17, 2000 - Booker beats Nash in caged heat match (12)
September 25, 2000 - Russo beats Booker in a cage match (13)
October 2, 2000 - Russo vacates title
October 2, 2000 - Booker beats Jarrett for vacant belt (14)
November 26, 2000 - Scott Steiner beats Booker (15)March 26, 2001 - Booker beats Steiner on final Nitro (16)
The problem here was the constant title changes along with the time the belt was given and vacated at will or given to another wrestler made the most important title in the company seem worthless. And when the World Title becomes unimportant the fans lose interest as they have no reason to watch because the wrestlers aren't fighting each other for a valuable belt. For that reason alone I feel that this dubious record will never be broken as neither the WWE or TNA will want to alienate the audiences that they have by having constant title changes.
Never Broken: Most Title Reigns for One Title
Record: Jerry Lawler (NWA/AWA Southern Heavyweight champion 52 times)
In pro wrestling, a person can hope to win a title in any promotion that they are in. Some are lucky enough to win many different titles, a few are lucky to win them multiple times, and an even fewer select wrestlers are able to get title reigns going into the double digits.
Yet there is one man who has held a single title more than twice what some guys may have in total reigns combined. Jerry "The King" Lawler has the record for most reigns for a single title for the Southern Heavyweight title at an astonishing 52 times. During a period from 1974-1987 Lawler would hold the title almost every other title change. Lawler has the distinction of being the first NWA Southern Heavyweight champ as well as the last when the title was unified with the AWA International Heavyweight belt and the NWA Mid-America Heavyweight belt to create the CWA Heavyweight belt.
This is a record that will never be broken as no major promotion would risk playing such hot potato with a title like the regional promotions used to do, out of fear of the title losing all prestige and value. And since it was a title from a territory promotion makes the record even more unbreakable as in the territory days, a bigger name wrestler was able to go from promotion to promotion and pick up championships, something that wrestlers today can't do, especially for one title.
Never Broken: Longest Match
Record: Ed "the Strangler" Lewis vs. Joe Stetcher (5 1/2 hour draw, July 4, 1916)
Another things in modern pro wrestling that fans have been made accustomed to is short matches. Today, the longest matches will go is around 10-15 minutes for a midcard match and 20-30 minutes for a main event on a PPV. Occasionally they can be longer if they are a stipulation match like Elimination Chamber or Hell in a Cell. The only hour long matches now are Royal Rumbles and the rare Iron Man match.
Yet even the longest regular match in WWE/F history, the Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels which ran slightly over an hour, or any 90 minute matches at your local indy show do not hold a candle to the longest pro wrestling match in history. This match was so long that it would take almost two whole PPVs to show it in its entirety. On July 4, 1916, Ed "The Strangler" Lewis fought Joe Stetcher for FIVE AND A HALF HOURS!
Just imagine sitting watching a single match for that length of time, take your time I'll wait. See, you couldn't even imagine for 5 1/2 hours about watching a match that was 5 1/2 hours long. What's even more astonishing is that the match ended in a draw, which had to feel like a real kick in the pants of those in attendance who were hoping for a more defining finish after all of that time.
There is no way in hell that this record would be broken by one of the major promotions due to how the WWE and TNA have made their fans used to seeing much, much shorter matches. The only way I could ever see this attempted to be broken is by an indy promotion trying to gets publicity by having the longest match in history, but that seems highly unlikely has wrestling itself is much more arduous that in 1916 where it was mostly grappling with no striking or high flying maneuvers. The vast majority of wrestlers would be completely exhausted 2 hours in.
Never Broken: Longest Intercontinental Title Reign
Record: Honky Tonk Man (454 days)
Aside from the world titles, the second tier titles of the WWE have really taken a backseat to some of the recent storylines, namely the Intercontinental and US titles. Again, that wasn't always the case as there have been much longer reigns in the promotions history. And as far as the Intercontinental title is concerned, there won't ever be a longer reign than that of the Honky Tonk Man.
Honky would win the IC title on the June 13, 1987 episode of Superstars when he beat Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. Originally meant to be a transitional champion to allow Jake "The Snake" Roberts, but Roberts was suffering the legitimate effects from being hit in the head with a guitar, Honky was booked for a year long run as champion while Roberts would never hold a title in the WWF.
Now Honky would not go undefeated during this run, getting himself counted out or disqualified when facing harder competition like Steamboat and Bruno Sammartino. He would then get in a strong feud with Randy Savage where the two would battle for months, each time with Honky retaining the belt.
After a short feud with Brutus Beefcake which ended at Summerslam 1988 where the two were supposed to fight. Beefcake was put into another feud prior to the match so Honky came out and gave an open challenge to anyone in the back to the title. Unfortunately, the Ultimate Warrior would accept the challenge, run to the ring, squash Honky in 31 seconds, and end Honky's reign as Intercontinental Champion. From then Honky would move down the card until he went to WCW for a year and returned to the WWF in 1997.
The record of one year, two months, and 27 days, will most likely never be broken unless there is a renewed faith in the Intercontinental title. Yet since many times the IC title match is considered an afterthought for many recent PPVs is reason enough to see that Honky Tonk Man's record is safe.
Never Broken: Shortest Title Reign
Record: Triple H (less than a minute)
While the longest IC title reign belongs to the Honky Tonk Man, the dubious record of the shortest IC title reign belongs to Triple H. The event was No Mercy in 2002 and it was a title unification match between World Heavyweight Champ Triple H and IC Champ Kane which was all part of the infamous Katie Vick storyline.
Triple H would win the match with help from Ric Flair and in turn become IC champion for less than 1 minute as the title was unified with his World Title. The IC belt would be brought back a few months later where it would be won by Christian.
This record has no chance of being broken due to how short it is. It may be tied if a similar series of events occur where two belts are unified, but that seems unlikely.
Never Broken: Longest Tag Title Reign
Record: Demolition (478 days)
Unfortunately, the IC and US titles are not the only titles to suffer in this new era, the Tag Team championship has probably fallen from grace the farthest. Back during the heyday of the 80s to early 200s there were numerous tag teams, each as entertaining as the next. You had the British Bulldogs, the Hart Foundation, the Brain Busters, and the Legion of Doom during the 80s and early 90s. Then you had the New Age Outlaws, Edge and Christain, the Hardy Boyz, the Dudley Boyz, and the Rock 'n' Sock Connection in the mid 90s to early 2000s.
Yet one team dominated the tag team title scene, and that was the original incarnation of Demolition. Ax and Smash won their first tag titles beating Strike Force at Wrestlemania IV. They would then tear through the tag division beating all comers and eventually turning face in a match against the Powers of Pain. They would hold onto the titles for 478 days straight before finally losing the belts to the Brain Busters in a 2 out of 3 falls match on Saturday Night's Main Event. The team would add third member Crush and win two more titles but neither of those reigns would be as long as the original.
This is another title record that won't be broken as the WWE's faith in the tag division seems to have dwindled to an all time low. The closest to breaking the record was a few years ago when Brian Kendrick and Paul London had a title reign of 331 days, still over 100 days short of the record. Over the past few years, the WWE has just put two random wrestler's together and hope that they have chemistry that will draw fans, yet most of those teams have failed. Now that they have realized the tailspin that they are in, they are putting together teams with similar qualities in order to develop chemistry, but it's too little, too late.
Never Broken: Longest World Title Reign
Record: Bruno Sammartino (2,803 days, May 17, 1963 to January 18, 1971)
These days wrestling fans have become accustomed to World Title reigns lasting only a few months, but in the early days of pro wrestling it was a completely different story. Wrestlers who became world champion would hold onto the title for a majority of a year up to many years, Hulk Hogan was even given a trophy for being the WWF champion for over four years. But none of the longer reigns hold a candle to longest reign ever of almost 8 years from when Bruno Sammartino beat Buddy Rogers on May 17, 1963.
The match against Rogers in of itself wasn't too spectacular, ending in 48 seconds. It was more memorable for the story behind it even happening. In what can be considered the MSG Screwjob, Rogers had expected to win the match by a DQ. Bruno would shatter that illusion by telling Rogers in the ring "We can do this the easy way... or the hard way." He would then run through Rogers and win the belt.
Rogers would claim until his death that he wasn't in the best physical condition having suffered a heart attack a week before the match, and that he had to be dragged out of the hospital to go through with it. This would be disputed by Sammartino and other wrestlers as each wrestler had to be medically cleared by the state athletic commission before being allowed to fight. It was also noted that Rogers didn't take any time off from wrestling after the fight, something he should have done if sick.
Sammartino would hold onto the belt for seven years, eight months and one day, before finally losing the belt to Ivan Koloff at Madison Square Garden. The incident was so stunning that the audience was dead silent after Koloff had won, so much so that Sammartino had thought that he had gone deaf. The announcer did not even hand the belt to Koloff as he felt that there would be a riot. Then as Sammartino had left the ring people were seen crying as he did.
This is a record that will never be broken in wrestling history. With how fickle fans have become about certain wrestlers staying in the top spot for any long period of time, an eight year run as world champ is simply out of the question. Add on the fact that wrestling is more mainstream than it was 50 years ago and is on television much more would make a longer title reign even more unlikely.