Awhile back I introduced B/R readers to my version of the "Invitational"—a tournament pitting the best of the best title winners against each other in fantasy matchups. The first invitational was a tournament crowning the best tag team in Smackdown history. The winning team was The Miz and John Morrison.
For the second invitational I thought we would take a look at WWE superstars who have won the elusive "Triple Crown." These superstars in their careers have won a World Championship, a Tag Team Title, and the Intercontinental Championship.
Eighteen men have accomplished this feat, the latest being new WWE Champion Jeff Hardy.
So these 18 men will be matched up at random against each other. Fourteen automatically advanced via bye while the other four will compete in a first round matchup.
Before we get started lets set some ground rules.
1. While I might make mention of accomplishments with previous companies, only WWE accomplishments will be considered when picking a winner.
2. I will factor in number of title reigns, length of title reigns and effectiveness as champion when deciding who advances.
Diesel vs. Kurt Angle
Ironic that these two men are actual stable-mates in Main Event Mafia in TNA. "Big Daddy Cool" held the IC and WWE Championship one time each while he was a two time Tag Champion with Shawn Michaels. Diesel has the ninth longest WWE Championship reign in history at 358 days.
Kurt Angle is a five time World Champion and held the Tag and IC Titles one time each. His longest WWE Championship reign was 126 days. He is a "grand slam" winner meaning he has won the three titles required to be in this tournament plus the Hardcore and European Championship. Angle's "grand slam" status plus multiple championship reigns give him the win.
Winner: Kurt Angle
Bret Hart vs. Eddie Guerrero
As I was making the brackets for this tournament I looked at some of the matchups and thought about how great it would have been to see some of them actually take place. This match is no exception.
Eddie Guerrero drew a tough matchup here but like Kurt Angle he is a "grand slam" winner something Bret Hart is not. He's a four time Tag Champion must notably with his nephew Chavo, as well as a two time IC champion. He won his first and only WWE Championship at No Way Out 2004 and held the title for 133 days.
Bret "The Hitman" Hart is one of the greatest WWE superstars of all-time. He is a five time WWE Champion, and held both the Tag and IC belts two times each. His longest WWE title reign was almost double that of Guerrero's and thus he gets the edge in this matchup.
Winner: Bret Hart
Steve Austin vs. Ric Flair
The man who ushered us into the "Attitude Era" is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. While Austin doesn't really boast any lengthy title reigns he is a six time WWE Champion, two time IC Champion and four time Tag Champion. He main evented countless Wrestlemania's and is arguably the biggest superstar of the 90's.
Ric Flair is considered by many the best in ring performer ever. His two WWE Championship reigns came during his first stint with WWE in the early 90's. He held the title at one point for 77 days. Though he never won the title during his second tour of duty he did manage to become a three time Tag Champion and held the IC title for an impressive 155 days. He is also a WWE Hall of Fame inductee.
This is a marquee matchup but the nod goes to Austin. (remember WWE accomplishments)
Winner: Steve Austin
Rob Van Dam vs. Triple H
Joey Styles dubbed Rob Van Dam the greatest superstar to NEVER win a world title. That all ended at ECW One Night Stand 2006 win Van Dam defeated John Cena to become WWE Champion. He was later also given the ECW Championship and held both titles at the same time. Both reigns however lasted less than a month. Though these title reigns were short Van Dam boasts a resume that includes three time Tag Champion and six time Intercontinental Champion.
Whether you like him or not "The Game" Triple H is a first ballot hall of famer. Sure his wife is the bosses daughter but there is no denying Trips talent. Of all the "triple crown" winners his 12 championship reigns are the most impressive. Top that off with a five time IC reign and him being the second ever "grand slam" winner and he advances.
Winner: Triple H
Randy Orton vs. Kane
This is a matchup of two guys who are among the record holders for shortest WWE Title reign.
Orton is the youngest World Champion ever winning at the age of 24 in 2004. He won the WWE title back in 2007 and held the title for an astounding 24 minutes!! He lost to Triple H but the good news is he won it back later that night and kept the title for 203 days. His IC Title reign was also over 200 days (210) and he won the Tag Titles with Edge one time.
Kane held the WWE title a little longer than 24 minutes. How about 24 hours! Kane was champ for one day. After defeating Stone Cold at Badd Blood, he lost the title to Austin the next night on RAW. Kane is a two time IC champ and an impressive nine time Tag Team Champion. What would have been more impressive is if Kane actually stuck with one partner. How many people has Kane teamed up with?
Winner: Randy Orton
Pedro Morales vs. Shawn Michaels
Pedro is the "OG" of the group having held the world title when it was known as the WWWF Championship. His title reign was nearly two years which is unheard of in this day and age. He is also the first two time IC champ and held the Tag Titles with Bob Backlund for one day.
HBK is another all-time great and another "grand slam" winner. I was surprised to see that he only has won a world title four times. Still he is one of the greatest WWE Champions ever. Couple that with four Tag Title reigns and three IC reigns and HBK takes down the "OG".
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Edge vs. Jeff Hardy
I swear these matchups were picked at random. When I pulled these two names I had to laugh out loud! The stars were just aligned I guess.
It's really unfair to Jeff Hardy because his WWE title reign has just begun but he is a "grand slam" winner having done something none of the other "grand slam" winners have done, he won the Cruiserweight Title in addition to every other belt. (Cruiserweight Champion is not required for "grand slam" status) Hardy also is a six time Tag Champion and a four time IC Champion.
Had Hardy been matched up against anyone else he might have had a shot but Edge trumps him in everything, including this tournament. Edge has six championship reigns, 12 Tag Team Title reigns and five IC reigns. Enough said.
Booker T vs. The Rock
The five time WCW Champion didn't have nearly as much success winning the world title in the WWE. He did have one reign of 126 days. He also held the Tag Titles three times and the IC title once.
He however is no match for "The Great One." The Rock holds the record for the seventh longest IC title reign at 265 days. He also won the Tag Titles five times. Most impressive though is his nine World Championship victories.
Winner: The Rock
Chris Jericho vs. Bret Hart
The matchup of two men from Canada is a great one!
Jericho's eight IC Title reigns is impressive but his Tag Title victories (three) are forgettable. He is a three time world champion and "The Best In The World Today."
"The Excellence of Execution" Bret Hart's resume is just a bit more impressive so he gets the nod.
Winner: Bret Hart
Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle
This matchup actually provided some real classic matches when both guys were in WWE. Benoit and Angle are two of the most technically gifted grapplers in history.
Benoit had the longer professional career. While in WWE he won the IC Title four times, the Tag Titles three times and had one World Title reign.
Kurt Angle's four WWE Championships gets him the victory for me.
Winner: Kurt Angle
Part II of this article will break down the Elite Eight, Final Four and crown the best "Triple Crown" Champion of all time. Who deserves to win? Feel free to comment and give your thoughts! I have listed the elite eight matchups below....
Kurt Angle vs. Bret Hart
The Rock vs. Edge
Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton
Triple H vs. Steve Austin