Hustle Is Posting Right Now - Lengthy Reigns
Aug 22, 2012 - 1:50:40 AM
"Week after week, month after month.."
If you've been following me on Twitter, you may have heard me mention that I wanted to do a column like this for the last two weeks or so. I was merely waiting for SummerSlam, and the night after SummerSlam, to get out of the way. Almost immediately after I mentioned the topic on Twitter, WWE began talking about the topic on television, even though they had eight whole months to mention it and never did. Those sneaky bastards.
Today, we're digging into some numbers involving title reigns. In the past, I've done a couple "random number hodgepodge" columns that went over pretty well, and today will be kind of the same, except for the focus on the one topic. Of course, the idea for today's column started because of one man..
By the time this is posted and most of you read this, it will be August 22nd. August 22nd will mark the 276th day of Punk's current WWE Title reign, winning the title on November 20th of last year, at Survivor Series. In the entire history of the title, dating back to 1963, here are the only reigns that have been longer than the one Punk is currently having..
- Bruno Sammartino, 2803 days (May 17th, 1963 to January 18th, 1971)
- Bob Backlund, 2135 days (February 20th, 1978 to December 26th, 1983) (WWE doesn't officially acknowledge the reigns between this time)
- Hulk Hogan, 1474 days (January 23rd, 1984 to February 5th, 1988)
- Bruno Sammartino, 1237 days (December 10th, 1973 to April 30th, 1977)
- Pedro Morales, 1027 days (February 8th, 1971 to December 1st, 1973)
- John Cena, 380 days (September 17th, 2006 to October 2nd, 2007)
- "Macho Man" Randy Savage, 371 days (March 27th, 1988 to April 2nd, 1989)
- Hulk Hogan, 364 days (April 2nd, 1989 to April 1st, 1990)
- Diesel, 358 days (November 26th, 1994 to November 19th, 1995)
- "Superstar" Billy Graham, 296 days (April 30th, 1977 to February 20th, 1978)
- The Ultimate Warrior, 293 days (April 1st, 1990 to January 19th, 1991)
- Yokozuna, 280 days (June 13th, 1993 to March 20th, 1994)
- John "Bradshaw" Layfield, 280 days (June 27th, 2004 to April 3rd, 2005)
- John Cena, 280 days (April 3rd, 2005 to January 8th, 2006)
That's it. This is the 110th reign in the title's history, and of the 109 previous reigns, only 14 have gone longer than Punk's current reign. Now, look closer at the numbers. Unless WWE has Punk drop the title at a random live event during the weekend, he's going to pass those last three reigns as soon as Monday rolls around, with his 281st day. Then, you almost have to assume Punk makes it to Night Of Champions with the title. Having a reign like this end on television at this point would be a big mistake, so let's run with Punk making it to Night Of Champions. The pay-per-view is on September 16th, which would be Punk's 301st consecutive day as champion, passing Billy Graham and The Ultimate Warrior on the list. So, even if Punk drops the title at Night Of Champions, like a lot of people are expecting him to do, that gives him the 10th longest WWF/WWE Title reign in the almost 50 years that the title has been around. That's not bad for an "indy darling".
Because we're playing this game, though, let's say Punk retains his title at Night Of Champions. Let's look at the next pay-per-views, and where Punk would be if he made it to those dates as the champion..
- Hell In A Cell would mark his 343rd day as champion, putting him close to knocking off some more names
- Survivor Series would mark his 364th day, putting him past Diesel and tying him with Hulk Hogan
- TLC would mark his 392nd day, putting him past Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and John Cena
If he makes it to January 1st as the champion, that would be his 408th day. Then, of course, comes the Royal Rumble. The Rock has already stated that he will be challenging for the WWE Title at the event, and with Punk's reign picking up plenty of steam, people had already begun the fantasy booking of Punk VS Rock, even before Punk attacked Rock at Raw 1000. Just for the sake of this column, let's say Punk does make it all the way to the Rumble as the champion. That would be his 434th consecutive day as the champion, which is an astronomical number to look at in today's wrestling scene. Since Triple H lost the title at the 2008 Survivor Series, there has been a grand total of one.. one.. WWE Title reign that went over 100 days, and that's The Miz holding the belt for 160 days, from November 22nd, 2010 to May 1st, 2011. We're in an era of relatively short reigns, and here's CM Punk, even before all of what "what if" talk, having a reign that is approaching 300 days in length.
For those wondering about dates even further into the future, let's say Punk survives the Royal Rumble. Let's say Punk actually walks into WrestleMania 29 as the champion. That would mark his 504th day as champion.. which is still about half as many days as the next longest reign in history, which really tells you a lot about how stupid dumb long the title reigns could be during the 1960s and 1970s. To put that into perspective, for Punk to pass Pedro Morales on the list of all-time longest reigns, he would need to hold the title until September 13th, 2014, which would be his 1028th day as champion. To pass the next longest reign, he would need to hold the title until April 11th, 2015, which would be his 1238th day as champion. For the next longest reign, he would need to hold the title until December 4th, 2015, which would be his 1475th day. For the next longest reign, he would need to hold the title until September 25th, 2017, which would be his 2136th day. Finally, to own the longest WWF/WWE Title reign in history, Punk would need to hold the title until July 25th, 2019, which would be his 2804th day as champion. So.. uhh.. good luck with all of that Punk.
Thinking about that made me wonder about Sheamus, too. Sheamus, as we've all seen, is in the middle of a multi-month World Title reign of his own, winning the title at WrestleMania 28. August 22nd will mark the 143rd day of Sheamus' reign, but upon looking at the numbers, he's even closer to making history than Punk is. Like I did with Punk and the WWE Title, let's look at the World Title reigns longer than the one Sheamus is currently having..
- Batista, 282 days (April 3rd, 2005 to January 10th, 2006)
- Triple H, 280 days (December 15th, 2002 to September 21st, 2003)
- Chris Benoit, 154 days (March 14th, 2004 to August 15th, 2004)
- KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE, 154 days (July 18th, 2010 to December 19th, 2010)
That's it. Now, admittedly, there are 40 less years that this title has been around, but Sheamus already has the fourth longest reign since the inception of the World Title in 2002, and unless he drops the title at a random live event or on television, he'll pass both Chris Benoit and KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE on September 3rd. People have been saying that Sheamus' reign has been "uneventful", "boring" and "pointless". To the people who feel that way.. does your opinion change, knowing that he is going into the record books as having one of the longest World Title reigns of all-time? Of the 48 total reigns before Sheamus, only those names rank ahead of him for having the longest reign. That's impressive company.
Because I did it for Punk, let's see when Sheamus would have to hold the title until to break the records. If he hold it until January 7th, he will pass Triple H, and if he holds it until January 9th, he will pass Batista. Basically, if he makes it out of TLC as the champion, the record is his. All of the negative remarks in the world can't take that away from the guy.
We, as the IWC, have often demanded wrestling promotions give out longer title reigns, especially for their top belts. Now that WWE, of all promotions, is giving us the very thing we've been demanding, how do we feel? Personally, I enjoy the longer title reigns. Even the ones that are where Punk is at now. If there are enough logical, credible opponents for the champion to face, and if the booking isn't poor or lazy, a year-plus title reign can be a glorious thing to watch. The most important thing, in a reign that long, is to find balance. There needs to be a proper balance between "we all know this guy isn't going to lose" and "nobody believes that this guy is going to win". The former is something that has plagued title reigns of the likes of John Cena and Triple H, while the latter is something that Rey Mysterio's title reigns have experienced. Punk is in an interesting spot there. He's bigger than Mysterio is, so he's more "believable" in the eyes of most fans, and he hasn't exactly been booked to look as strong as Cena or Trips have, even with the long title reign, so that hasn't been a problem for most of the last nine months, but that's slowly changing. More and more, I'm seeing people refer to Punk as "John Cena Lite" or "Super Punk", or something else along those lines. I'm not sure if I agree with those nicknames, though.
Yes, Punk wins a lot, but that's kind of a prerequisite for having a lengthy title reign, I would think. However, he hasn't steamrolled his way through opponent after opponent. He hasn't "overcome the odds" every single week. He hasn't "buried" anyone. All he has done is go out there, time and time again, and have entertaining matches with anyone stepping into the ring with him (except for Big Show). There were some matches where people expected him to win. There were some matches where people were sure that he'd drop the title. That's actually a well put-together reign, if you ask me. He had a lengthy feud with Daniel Bryan that everyone seemed to love, even after seeing them have several matches against each other. Now he looks to be feuding with John Cena again, and even though we've already seen that happen several times, we know the quality that comes with those matches. People are throwing around ideas on how to keep the feud going.. Two-Out-Of-Three Falls match, Iron Man Match, etc.. just so we can see them wrestle again. While Punk's character has certainly changed a bit from November 2011 to the current day, what that mainly affects are his promos. He isn't going to be going out and dropping "pipebombs" on a weekly basis anymore, but he still cuts promos that connect with live crowds, and that's what matters. Once again, we, as the internet fans, aren't that important in the grand scheme of things. As long as Punk continues to go out there and get big reactions, he'll continue to get pushed the way he does.
My main concern with Punk VS Cena are the reports that the company is looking to have those two feud for the rest of 2012. There are four pay-per-views remaining on the 2012 calendar, as well as 19 episodes of Raw. That's a whole lot of opportunities for those two to face each other, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for Punk to keep winning those. How exciting would it be if Punk retains the title at Night Of Champions, Cena wins a #1 Contender's Match to face Punk again, Punk retains the title at Hell In A Cell, Cena wins a #1 Contender's Match to face Punk again, Punk retains the title at Survivor Series, etc? The more logical way of thinking with them having so many potential matches is to pass the title back and forth a bit, but after seeing this lengthy reign, does anyone really want to see the WWE Title change hands every three or four weeks again? I certainly don't.
I'm going to propose something here. It's a little bit out of the ordinary. I'm not necessarily saying I want it to happen, or that I think it will happen. I just want to put it out there and see what you all would think if it did happen. Let's go step-by-step..
1. CM Punk VS John Cena at Night Of Champions. No wacky stipulations added to it. Just Punk and Cena, one-on-one. After another lengthy match, Punk wins and retains the title, but not by any clean fashion. He doesn't necessarily cheat to win, but something has to happen to give Cena a gripe. Bad call by the referee, both men having shoulders on the mat.. something.
2. The following night on Raw, Cena wants a rematch because of what happened. Punk, while not outright denying him a rematch, says that he has already beaten Cena on numerous occasions.
3. AJ, in her "quirky" fashion, and wanting to do things seemingly at random, decides to put together something that has never been done in WWE before. A Two-Out-Of-Three series stretched out over three pay-per-views.. Hell In A Cell, Survivor Series, and then, if necessary, TLC. The series will play out much like the Championship Scramble matches used to, in that the title doesn't officially change hands until the series is over. So, if Cena wins at Hell In A Cell, he does go up 1-0 in the series, but Punk is still the WWE Champion. Considering the pay-per-views involved, giving the matches stipulations would be relatively simple. Hell In A Cell at Hell In A Hell. TLC Match at TLC. Survivor Series could be anything, from the Iron Man Match to a Last Man Standing.
4. Cena wins the first match. Or Punk. It doesn't really matter. The other one wins the second match, setting up the final showdown at TLC, which Punk would win, officially retaining the WWE Title.
This would allow for Punk and Cena to feud for the rest of the year. This would allow the title reign to (cheaply) continue on for a few more months, taking us beyond a year. This would give Punk added momentum heading into his match with The Rock at Royal Rumble. This would appease the portion of wrestling fans who accept that Cena will be involved in the WWE Title picture, but don't feel he should have the WWE Title again, at least not yet. This would put an extra focus on the WWE Title, and on the men competing in the matches, which would (kayfabe) make Punk happy.
Again, I have to point out that this is just something I'm testing the waters on. I want to see what all of you think about that. Could it happen? If it did, would you be for it or against it? I'm not predicting it. I'm not saying it's what I want. It's just something that came to me as I was typing all of this out. It's similar to what Tito mentioned in his most recent column, but with a few tweaks here and there.
What this all boils down to is that I do think Punk is catching too much shit from people about this current title reign. I don't want it to go on for years and years, but for where it is now, and what we've seen during his time as champion, I think things have gone very well, and I wouldn't mind seeing things continue.
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