WWE Champion Series Top 10 United States Champions of All Time
Welcome to the second installment of my Champion Series Top 10. I will present you with my Top 10 United States Champions of All Time. First, there are some clarifications that need to be stated.
The United States Championship reigns that I will consider are from 1975-Present.
The United States Championship has been through several name changes and changes in companies. This slideshow will could cover wrestlers from the NWA, WCW, or the WWE.
The United States Championship has also been vacated many times and had many short reigns.
All of these factors made it that much harder to compose this list, but I feel that I have a solid Top 10. However, that will be for you to decide. So without further ado here is my Top 10 United States Champions of All Time.
The First United States Champion: Harley Race
In the early 1970s, Harley Race was restoring his long time feud with Terry Funk. Race was seen as a territorial wrestler until he won the NWA Heavyweight Championship from Dory Funk, Jr. Race would lose the title a few months later to Jack Brisco.
Determined to regain his NWA Championship, Harley Race competed in many promotions and territories across the United States and the world. It was during this time that he defeated Johnny Weaver in the finals of a tournament for the Mid-Atlantic U.S. Title. Today this title is known as the WWE United States Championship.
Harley Race would hold the title for 183 days before loosing it to Johnny Valentine. Race would then go on to feud over the Heavyweight Championship with his long time rival Terry Funk.
While Harley Race's impact on the U.S. Title may have been minimal, he is still the first recognized United States Champion.
No.10: Ricky Steamboat
Number of Reigns: 4
Total Days: 263
Ricky Steamboat captured three of his U.S title reigns in the Jim Crockett Promotions. His first reign came after he defeated Ric Flair. Steamboat would hold the title for 72 days until he lost to Blackjack Mulligan. Steamboat would defeat Flair ten months later for his second U.S. reign, this reign lasted 92 days. Steamboat would again lose the title to Ric Flair.
Steamboat's third reign was in 1984, that year he defeated Dick Slater. Steamboat's third reign was only another few months long. During his time in the JCP, Steamboat had memorable feuds with Ric Flair and Paul Jones.
Steamboat's fourth and final reign lasted only 25 days due to an injury that he suffered at Fall Brawl.
Steamboat was then fired from WCW by Eric Bischoff and would not return to the ring until 2005 where he returned to referee a few WWE matches. In 2009, Steamboat began his feud with Chris Jericho, during this feud Steamboat returned to the ring as a wrestler. Steamboat would make frequent appearances on WWE programming until last year when he was attacked by the Nexus. Before and after the attack, Steamboat felt pain in his neck and shoulders. The pain resulted in Steamboat's hospitalization.
No. 9: Sting
Number of Reigns: 2
Total Days: 234
After Sting's first world championship reign ended, he began to feud with Steiner Brothers and Nicitta Koloff.
Sting would win his first U.S. Title by defeating Steve Austin in a tournament final. Sting would hold the title for 86 days until Rick Rude defeated him for it at Clash of the Champions XVII. Sting would go onto to a high profile feud with the Dangerous Alliance, and eventually form his own stable nicknamed Sting's Squadron. The Squadron included Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes, Nicitta Koloff and Barry Windham.
Sting would then become involved in a feud with "Big" Van Vader. Sting would feud with Vader for three years, finally ending when Sting defeated Meng (AKA Haku). Sting would become involved with Ric Flair and the Four Horseman. Sting would eventually compete in a Battle Royal for the WCW Heavyweight Championship. He lost the match but was still United States Champion. This reign continued until Kensuke Sasaki defeated Sting in Japan.
After loosing his title, Sting began to change his appearance. Sting became involved in the formation of the nWo, and gained his trademark baseball bat. Sting would eventually go on to become a member of the nWo Wolfpac with longtime allies Nash and Luger.
No.8: Nikita Koloff
Number of Reigns: 1
Total Days: 328
Nikita Koloff became United States Champion after one of the most anticipated feuds of the Jim Crockett Promotions. The feud involved Koloff and then U.S. Champ Magnum T.A. Koloff began the feud by attacking Magnum. Magnum struck NWA President Bob Geigel, and was striped of his U.S. Title. Magnum and Koloff would now compete in a best of seven series, with the winner becoming U.S. Champion.
During the summer, Koloff and Magnum wrestled to six clean finishes and one no contest. Heading into August, the series was tied. The final match took place on August 17 and featured many run-ins and false finishes. The final winner was Nikita Koloff. He gained his first and only U.S. Championship and went on to unify his title with Wahoo McDaniel's NWA National Heavyweight Championship.
Koloff then became one of the biggest faces in the NWA. Koloff went head on into a feud with Ric Flair over his NWA World Championship. Koloff came close on many occasions, but Flair's Four Horseman bailed him out time after time. Koloff continued to defend his U.S Title but suffered a "neck injury" which set up his steel cage match with Lex Luger. In this match Luger hit Koloff with a steel chair to end the match and Koloff's 11 month reign as United States Champion.
No.7: Magnum T.A.
Number of Reigns: 2
Total Days: 302
In his first feud after his debut, Magnum took on Wahoo McDaniel for the United States Championship. Magnum would take the title off of McDaniel in 1985.
His first title defense occurred at The Great American Bash. At The Bash he defended the title against Kamala. His next feud involved the Four Horsemen, specifically Tully Blanchard. While still U.S. Champion, Magnum took on Ric Flair for his World Heavyweight Title. The match lasted nearly 30 minutes with Flair retaining his championship. Shortly after this match Magnum would lose the U.S. Title to Tully Blanchard. Magnum's first reign lasted 120 days.
Blanchard would carry the title for 130 days until Magnum got his rematch at Starcade 1985. The match was a Steel Cage (I Quit) match. Magnum regained his title and began feuding with Ivan Koloff. Ivan promised that his nephew, Nikita Koloff would one day be U.S. Champion. Manager Jim Crockett set up a contract signing between Magnum and Nikita for the U.S. Title.
During the signing, Nikita insulted Magnum's mother (who was present at the signing) and instigated a fight. NWA President Bob Greigel stated that Magnum had shown "conduct unbecoming a champion." Magnum's response was a clothesline to Geigel. Geigel stripped Magnum of his title and set up a best of seven series between Koloff and Magnum for the vacant United States Championship.
Magnum lost the first three matches of the series, but would not give up. Magnum won the next three matches and tied the series at 3-3. During the final match Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khruschev got involved in the match and allowed Nikita to pick up the win and the U.S. Title.
Months after the match Magnum was involved in a serious car accident. Several of his vertebrae exploded and he would never be able to return to the ring at wrestling capacity. Before the accident the plans were to have Magnum win the U.S. Title for a third time and then go on to become NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Because of the accident, the Koloff's sympathized for Magnum and they became on screen friends.
Magnum would return to NWA to be a commentator and carry those talents to WCW.
No.6: Rick Rude
Number of Reigns: 1
Total Days: 378
Rick Rude gained his first U.S. Title shortly after becoming leader of the Dangerous Alliance. For his first U.S. Championship reign he defeated Sting to gain the title. Rude would then go on to have many high profile feuds and matches. One of the most memorable is his bout with Ricky Steamboat.
During their feud, Steamboat was attacked and suffered a kayfabe broken nose. The rivalry ended with Steamboat defeating Rude in a non-title Iron Man match at Beach Blast.
After this feud Rude, along with Madusa, left the Dangerous Alliance. Rude then began his feud with Nikita Koloff. Rick Rude would eventually challenge WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ron Simmons for his title but came away empty handed numerous times. In December of 1992, Rude suffered a legitimate injury and had to forfeit his United States Championship.
Rude's reign lasted nearly 14 months, second longest in the history of the United States Championship.
Number of Reigns: 2
Total Days: 419
After his feud with Kane, MVP began his feud with then United States Champion Chris Benoit. During the build up of the match, MVP introduced and defeated various "champions" from around the world. When the time finally came MVP lost to Benoit at WrestleMania 23 and at Backlash. The feud continued for one last match at Judgement Day. The match was a two out of three falls match. MVP claimed the first two falls and came away with the first title in his career, the United States Championship.
His first major feud came against Matt Hardy. MVP claimed that he was better than Hardy at everything. The two competed in various gimmick games and competitions. As the feud continued, MVP began to get cocky. He told Teddy Long that he could win the tag titles with the next person to walk through his office. That person was Matt Hardy.
The two faced WWE Tag Team Champions Deuce 'n Domino the next week on Smackdown. Hardy and MVP won the match and MVP was now a double champion. Eventually, Hardy demanded a U.S. Title shot. MVP declined and the two lost the Tag titles to John Morrison and The Miz. MVP quickly issued the rematch clause but they lost again. MVP blamed Hardy for the losses and attacked Hardy's knee, putting out of action.
Hardy would return at the WrestleMania Money in the Bank match. Hardy cost MVP the briefcase by knocking him off the ladder with his signature move the Twist of Fate. Hardy got his U.S. Title match at Backlash. MVP lost the match and his title, ending his 343 day reign as champion. This is the longest reign in the WWE era and third longest in the United States Championship's history.
MVP then went on a loosing streak for five months. MVP snapped the streak by defeating the Big Show in a Last Man Standing match. MVP became a fan favorite and defeated Shelton Benjamin for his second U.S. Title reign. MVP would take the title to Raw when he was drafted. He would lose the strap to Kofi Kingston. His second reign lasted 76 days.
MVP eventually challenged The Miz for the U.S. Title but was unsuccessful. MVP then went on another losing streak. MVP lost many times to Drew McIntyre and requested his release from the WWE.
No.4: Chris Benoit
Number of Reigns: 5
Total Days: 357
Chris Benoit won his first WCW United States Championship by defeating David Flair. Benoit's reign lasted only one month. After he helped form the faction "The Revolution," Benoit was awarded the U.S. Title due to Scott Hall's injury. Benoit held the belt for one day before Jeff Jarrett defeated him for it. Wanting more than mid-card wrestling, Benoit wanted out of WCW. Benoit, along with Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn left the company for the WWF.
In 2004 Benoit won the Royal Rumble and gained a World Title match at WrestleMania. Benoit challenged Triple H for the World heavyweight Championship and defeated Triple H with the Crippler Crossface. Benoit held the title until August of that year when he lost to Randy Orton.
Benoit did not get his third U.S. Title reign until 2005 when he defeated Orlando Jordan in 25 seconds. This reign lasted 58 days before Booker T defeated him. Benoit would get it back just over a month later, but lose it after only 40 days.
Benoit's fifth and longest reign came after he won a triple threat match against Mr.Kennedy and Bobby Lashley. His fifth reign lasted 222 days. During the reign he feuded with Chavo and Vicki Guerrero. Benoit lost the title to MVP at Judgement Day.
No.3: Greg Valentine
Number of Reigns: 2
Total Days: 391
Greg Valentine's first recognized reign came when he defeated Wahoo McDaniel with assistance from his manager Sir Oliver Humperdink. Valentine held the title for 163 days until his feud with Roddy Piper.
The two participated in many dog collar matches and Piper took the title away from Valentine for two weeks until Valentine regained it. He won the match when the referee stopped the match due to Piper's excessive bleeding from his ear.
Valentine's second reign lasted 228 days. After he lost the belt to Dick Slater, he left NWA for the WWF.
No.2: Ric Flair
Number of Reigns: 5
Total Days: 626
Flair won his first U.S. Title by defeating Bobo Brazil in 1977. This reign would last only 84 days but over the next three years, Flair would hold the U.S. Championship three more times. For his second reign, Flair defeated Mr.Wrestling and began his feud with Ricky Steamboat.
Flair managed to hold the title for 265 days before Steamboat defeated him for it on December 30. Ninety-two days later Flair would regain the championship. Ric Flair would hold the title for another long reign, this time 133 days until he vacated the title due to winning the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
Flair would get his fifth and final reign when he defeated Konnan at Bash at the Beach in 1996. Only 56 days later, Flair was forced to vacate the title due to an arm injury.
The Nature Boy would go on to feud with the NWO and eventually become part of Evolution. Flair continued in the WWE for years until he retired in 2008.
No.1: Lex Luger
Number of Reigns: 5
Total Days: 948
Lex Luger's first big time feud was with Nikita Koloff. Luger challenged Koloff for the U.S. Title and won it in 1987. The match was a Steel Cage match and during the bout manager J.J. Dillon threw a chair into the cage. The chair struck Koloff on the head and knocked him out. Luger picked him up and put him in the Human Torture Rack for the victory. Luger would hold the belt for 138 days until Starcade, where he lost to Dusty Rhodes in a Steel Cage match.
After the loss, Luger left the Four Horsemen and began to feud with them. It was during this feud that he won his second U.S. Title from Barry Windham. He was defeated 76 days later by Michael Hayes. Hayes only held the title for 15 days before Luger won it back.
This reign would last a record breaking 523 days. This makes Luger the longest reigning United States Champion in history. During this reign WCW withdrew from NWA and the title was renamed the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. Luger would feud with Dan Spivey and a returning Nikita Koloff.
Luger began to challenge Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship but when Flair left the company the plans were changed. Now Luger and Barry Windham would compete in a Steel Cage match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Luger won and became WCW World Champion. Luger was forced to vacate his U.S. Title (now in his fourth reign).
Over the next year, Luger began to have problems with WCW management and left the company in 1992. Luger went on to be a part of Vince McMahon's WBF (World Bodybuilding Federation) and a regular on WWF. After a few years with the WWF, Luger returned to WCW to feud with the nWo and take down Hulk Hogan. His feud led him to join the nWo Wolfpack and win his fifth United States Championship from Bret Hart. His final reign lasted only one day as Bret Hart would win it back the next day.
Luger would become the "Total Package" and bring in Miss Elizabeth as his manager. During this gimmick Luger feuded with Booker T and Bill Goldberg.
That concludes my Top 10 United States Champions of All Time.
Did I leave anyone out? Does someone on my list not belong? Post your thoughts and ideas in the comment section.
Thanks for reading.