Next week Randy Orton and John Cena will face off to crown just one world champion in the WWE. Between the two of them they have 25 total World Title reigns, Cena with 14 and Orton with 11 respectively. That sounds crazy since neither has been in the business longer than 12 years. Just to put that in perspective the all time record holder is Ric Flair with 16 total times as the champ. Flair’s title runs began in 1981 and finished in the year 2000.
When I was a kid it was a huge deal for Flair to try to break Harley Race’s record for title reigns by becoming a 7 time champion. Just another spin on it for you, when Hulk Hogan won his 1st title in 1984 he held it all the way until 1988. I am saying all of this to say that being the world champ just isn’t what used to be. It can be argued that in this day and age you can actually be the man without being in the title picture.
The modern era of wrestling does not seem to value having long title reigns. I will admit that wrestling is a different business than what it used to be. Maybe we as fans with so much internet and 8 hours a week of television programming have very short attention spans. Wrestling does have yearlong feuds anymore between just two superstars. Having a pay per view every single month means that stories have to pay off a lot earlier. This has led to a lot quick title changes but that has also created a lot of meaningless champions.
There are some recent champions that we may never talk about 10 or 20 years from now just like Jack Swagger or The Great Khali. Alberto Del Rio has a total of four world title between the WWE title and the World Heavyweight Championship. By comparison Shawn Michaels only 4 world titles and Steve Austin is only a 6 time champion. To drive the point even deeper a guy like Sheamus is a 2 time WWE Champion just like Bruno Sammartino and Randy Savage. Now no disrespect to any of the modern champs but they will never be confused with legends that have been mentioned. The world title used to mean that you were someone really special and maybe step closer to a Hall of Fame career. Now the belt just means that you maybe hot this month and could never be heard from again.
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr