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Could WWE Book A Modern Day Bruno Sammartino?

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Bruno Sammartino
Credit: Sports Illustrated

On April 18, 2018, at the age of 82, Bruno Sammartino passed away, taking away one of the greatest legacies of any WWE (then WWWF) performers in history. I wanted to write about it, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t there for it. At least not the important part.

But write is what I do. It’s what I am good at. (Shut up, you!) Bruno Sammartino essentially gave us the gift of the modern day WWE, and the only gift I can give is this.

You don’t have a receipt, you can’t return it. So check it out…

The Legend That Is Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino was WWWF Champion (at times called Heavyweight Champion, at times World Heavyweight Champion) for a combined 4,040 days. Four thousand and forty. Typing it out, and reading the written words really drives home the length of his reign. That’s over eleven years, and my own daughter is only nine. Bruno Sammartino held the WWWF Championship for a longer period of time (combines) than my daughter has been alive.

Bruno’s first reign started on May 17, 1963, and ended on January 18, 1971 when he lost the championship to the late, great, Ivan Koloff (who also deserves to be in the WWE Hall Of Fame, but that’s another article). His 2,803 day long reign legitimized a championship that, before him, was held for 22 days by Buddy Rogers. That belt was awarded to Rogers (yes, another fictitious tournament in Rio de Janeiro) due to a dispute with the NWA, but the actual number of days is reported differently than what WWE reports. Still, even adding a few months doesn’t change much.

Bruno was the second champion, and his 2,803 reign is a thing of record. Legitimate record. Many sold out houses. Entire cities coming out to see him defend his championship. Bruno Sammartino is the reason a “world title” is so important today.

Take a look at those “other” reigns, including Bruno’s:

  • Bruno Sammartino – 2,803 days
  • Bob Backlund – 2,135 days
  • Hulk Hogan – 1,474 days
  • Bruno Sammartino AGAIN – 1,237 days
  • Pedro Morales – 1,027 days
  • CM Punk – 434 days

That’s right, Bruno holds two of the top six reigns, and Backlund’s can actually be considered two shorter reigns put together (look it up). There is 668 days between Bruno’s first reign and Backlund’s first reign. That’s almost two years.

But let’s take Bruno’s longest reign, 7.67 years in length, into consideration for a moment. Yes, it’s the greatest reign ever put together. But this is 2018, and we have to ask the question: Could you do it now?

Think about the time frame of seven years ago. Seven years ago we watched WrestleMania 27, hosted by The Rock and headlined by John Cena challenging The Miz for the WWE Championship. The Miz would retain, holding that title for a grand total of 160 days. To many, that felt like a long reign.

And you could argue that it was.

But you have to go backwards over two years to find a reign longer (Triple H’s 210 day reign in 2008). You also have to fast forward a year to get to CM Punk’s 434 day reign.

Think about those numbers: 210, 160, 434. In total those three reigns are 804 days long. Bruno’s first reign alone was 3.4 times as long. For someone to surpass Bruno Sammartino’s reign today, they’d have been champion at WrestleMania 27, WrestleMania 28, WrestleMania 29, WrestleMania 30, WrestleMania 31, WrestleMania 32, WrestleMania 33, and WrestleMania 34. They’d have had to survive a title unification, a brand split, The Rock’s return, Brock Lesnar’s return, The Shield, The YES Movement, The Authority, Roman Reigns, potentially eight Royal Rumble winners, and ten Monday In The Bank cash-ins.

TEN Money In The Bank Cash Ins??? That’s ludicrous, and is basically irresponsible booking.

In this day and age of weekly episodic television, brand splits, the internet, social media, and co-branded PPV events, it’s impossible to even fathom such a reign. At the time of this writing, Brock Lesnar has been WWE Universal Champion for 387 days. He would still have another 2,416 days left to go, or 6.6 years. That means making it past WrestleMania 41 as Universal Champion.

WrestleMania 41.

Had Brock Lesnar retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31, We’d still be waiting until after WrestleMania 38 for him to lose!

There is but one man on the current WWE roster capable of such a feat, a man who talks with his actions and is such a throwback–yet believable today. That man is Cesaro. And as his biggest fan, I can’t imagine him winning the WWE Championship today and holding it beyond WrestleMania 42.

Brock Lesnar?

In fact, there’s only one man in the modern day WWE who could have done it, and as much as you hate this, it’s Brock Lesnar! Had Brock Lesnar retained his championship against Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out on February 14, 2004, his 152 day reign (which started on September 16, 2003) would have had to continue until May 19, 2011. A full 30 different WWE Championship reigns happened during that time, including 8 over 100 days, and John Cena’s 380 day run.

(For those of you hating the suggestion of Brock Lesnar because he’s lazy and doesn’t do much, know that he does more in the ring than Bruno Sammartino did. And Bruno’s finisher was a Bear Hug.)

The title of this article is “Could WWE Book A Modern Day Bruno Sammartino?” The answer, quite simply, is no. And they don’t have to.

That’s why Bruno was, and should still be considered, the man.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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Opinion

The Case For Ronda Rousey To Lose

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Ronda Rousey WWE Lose

“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey may be one of the hottest commodities in wrestling right now but she should lose her first title match.  I know this is a very hot take but I think the best thing the WWE can do for Rousey’s character development, if she plans on joining the roster full time, is to lose to Nia Jax at Money in the Bank. I’m not saying by Pinfall or Submission, as that could hurt her character, but a well executed DQ finish. More on that later.

If, and most likely, when she beats Nia at Money in the Bank, she would become the third fastest WWE SuperStar to win a premier title at 141 days. The fastest being “The Dirtiest Player in the Game”, Ric Flair. He accomplished this feat at the 1992 Royal Rumble by eliminating Sid Justice and becoming the only one to win the Heavyweight strap by doing so. This was 113 days after he debuted but “The Nature Boy” was a 9 time Heavyweight champion at this point, 8 times in the NWA and 1 WCW reign. She has her accomplishments to this point, former UFC/StrikeForce Women’s Bantamweight champ and two Olympic medals, but this is Professional Wrestling. As much as I like “Rowdy” Ronda, she is not even on the same playing field as Flair was when he earned The Strap so quick. If Rousey beats Nia Jax it would slot her between Sheamus, at 116 days, and Brock Lesnar, who at 126 days beat The Rock at SummerSlam ’02. She and Lesnar have similar pedigrees, but the difference is we actually saw something in the ring from Lesnar first. All we have gotten from Rousey is a gimmick match at WrestleMania, which was great by the way but a gimmick still, and NO singles matches. Don’t get me started on the mic skills.

Ronda Rousey WWE

I think the only way to end this and still leave credibility for Ronda Rousey’s character is to have her loose by DQ. Be it by Alexa Bliss having a “Moment of Bliss” and trying to regain the trust of Jax after the “bully angle’ or whatever the “Road Dogg” throws together over there at Titan Towers.With this angle we would get the hype, like we have had with the Styles/Nakumara feud of late, and they could even finish in a cage match at Extreme Rulez. Imagine “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey winning her first WWE Women’s Title in the cage. That would make for good TV.

But we won’t get this. The same “Marks” who BOO Roman Reigns will cheer to the high heavens when Ronda wins from a premature, undeserved push. Roman deserves it. He has been around for awhile now and even came up through the NXT system. But because he comes from a wrestling family, The Anoa’i Dynasty, and has the proverbial “Machine” behind him the fans don’t give him the time of day. Or, maybe it’s because he falls in the “MAN” category (more on that here)  That’s a discussion for another day. We will most likely see her become a Brock Lesnar type champ, with part time appearances and this guy as her mouthpiece.

Make sure to tell me what you don’t like about my opinion on TWITTER @james_callear


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Opinion

What Happened To The Heels?

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Ric Flair Heel WOOO

Where have all the good heels in professional wrestling gone? Why aren’t there characters like the ones from my youth that struck fear in me while watching the NWA on Saturday mornings with my father?

Granted, I am a bit older than I used to be and I know what professional wrestling is now as opposed to being seven years old. Still, the heel wrestler has been eliminated like the “Loser Leave Town” matches from the days of territorial promotions.

After finally watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on Ric Flair, it has occurred to me there will never be a heel as solid as the “Nature Boy” and a generation will never know what “real” wrestling was about.

I will need a moment of silence to get over this pain I feel.

Back in the day, when Kayfabe was alive and well, Kevin Sullivan terrorized my mind at night with his cryptic messages on Championship Wrestling from Florida. The Wild Samoans scared fans in the stands at Madison Square Garden. Gary Hart and his band of Japanese heels proved to be evil. They were just a few of the “bad guys” fans hated with a passion. There was no blurred line. Heels were hated, babyfaces loved. It’s a phenomenon that is scarce in WWE or TNA or even ROH.

We can thank Vince McMahon for that and the creation of Sports Entertainment. The name on the marquee used to be “wrestling” and that is what superstars did, helping to create my childhood memories of Dusty Rhodes and Sullivan, Dory Funk, Jr. and Jack Brisco.

Blake Oestriecher of Forbes.com wrote a story recently about the deficiency of heels in WWE. He makes a valid point, addressing the issue of fan support for the bad guys while the scales are tipped toward the babyfaces on both Monday and Tuesday nights. This would never have been the case if McMahon had just let wrestlers wrestle and honored the traditions of 1970s grappling.

Those days are gone forever.

“Overall, WWE has a lot of depth on the heel side. There are quality villains on Raw in the form of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin and Jinder Mahal and on SmackDown with guys like Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and The Miz,” Oestriecher writes. “It’s not the number of heels that is the issue. Rather, it’s WWE’s presentation of those heels and the creative team’s inability to establish them as bona fide superstars in that role that have really hurt the quality of WWE’s programming.”

Oestriecher hits it out of the park with that one paragraph.

Mahal is as close to a throwback heel you will find in WWE. His look, his gimmick, the venomous dialogue he spews and takes heat from the fans. It’s a perfect combination. Mahal, who has become a fringe main event star, would be successful in the 1980s NWA with Rhodes championing the cause of fighting good versus evil.

Other than the former WWE champion, who else besides Brock Lesnar, who is back hibernating with the Universal Title under his pillow, is there to fill that role? Even Lesnar, who by all accounts is a heel based on his gimmick, his look, and his mouthpiece Paul Heyman, is cheered simply because of size, power and his ability in the ring.

“Now, with Brock Lesnar, who is widely viewed to be WWE’s No. 1 heel, apparently not set to wrestle again until at least July, WWE finds itself with a gaping hole on the heel side of Raw,” Oestriecher adds. “There is not one particular thing that will make up for the loss of Lesnar, who many still consider to be WWE’s biggest draw, and doing so on Monday nights won’t help the blue brand.”

This might be a case of fans learning to deal with deficiencies in booking, that creative writers don’t see three steps in front of them and the bad guy is really the good guy and the good guy is really bad because he doesn’t have the qualities fans want in today’s business. If that is the case, then why is Roman Reigns so hated by the wrestling community?

That’s another column for another time and place.

No matter what WWE does to try and correct its problem, there will never be a viable solution. The present and future dictate the company sticks to the script of uneven booking. And until the problem is eased – not fixed – we will all wonder whatever ever happened to the “real” heels of professional wrestling?


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Will ‘All In’ Be All The Smarks Want It To Be?

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Young Bucks All In

So the biggest thing the wrestling world seems to be talking about is All In, the one off indie show that Cody (Rhodes) and the Young Bucks have put together and are saying that it’s sold 10,000 tickets. If this is true, it’s quite a feat and would make it the first non-WWE show to sell that many since WCW folded in 2001. Since this news came out on Monday, smark fans have trumpeted this a the salvation of pro-wrestling because it’s supposedly a shot against WWE’s monopoly on the business, but is it really? Or are the smarks so desperate to prove their coolness that they’re ignoring some issues with this situation?

I’m going to preface the following by saying that I have nothing against Cody or the Bucks. I’m not a fan of either him or the Young Bucks and have no intention of watching All In, but I wish them luck on this thing. However, I feel the need to point out the problems I see with this whole thing.

1. The Lack of a Card. I realize that it’s a little early to be griping about the lack of a card, and if it were an actual promotion, WWE or not, I wouldn’t be, but the fact that as of right now, the only match on the card is Cody vs Magnus/Nick Aldis for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship is a little concerning to me. The Young Bucks, Rey Mysterio, Kenny Omega, Okada, Skrull, Tessa Blanchard, Pentagon Jr, Fenix, and Deonna Purrazo are going to be involved in some way, but there’s no other matches lined up.

2. The Title Match Itself. This is based on what I’m reading about the title match. Nick Aldis is actually scheduled for an NWA title match against PJ Black (Justin Gabriel) before competing at All In, though the article didn’t say when. Which means, if Aldis loses, All In’s main event will be a ‘Special Non-Title Match’, which is nice, but doesn’t have the same drawing power as an NWA Title Match. Do I think Aldis will lose to Black? No, but given that it’s the only match on the card so far, it’s a big risk to take.

3. The Emphasis on Cody and the Bucks. I’m willing to admit that I’m not into indie wrestling. I watch WWE and I used to watch TNA back when it was good, but even not knowing a lot about a lot of the people scheduled to appear, I’m worried about what the back up plan is if Cody and/or the Bucks get hurt, which is a distinct possibility in the wrestling business. Do they have a backup plan? We’ve all seen WWE have to throw out almost an entire WrestleMania card because of a rash of injuries, and that’s with a roster of around 50 guys. What do Cody and the Bucks have in reserve in case s**t happens?

4. The Lack of a Plan to Build On It. I think this the think I find puzzling about this whole thing: Is there a long-term plan for this? Does Cody have a plan of building on this, maybe making deals with other promoters and making it the WrestleMania or Starrcade of the indies? Given Cody’s background, I assume he wouldn’t do this without some kind of plan for the long-term.

5. What Kind of An Event Is This?  I ask this because as I was looking through the people who are scheduled to appear during All In and I noticed that there are a lot of Legendary performers listed. In fact, it seems that there are more people making appearances than are scheduled to wrestle on the show. So that begs the question: Is this a wrestling show with a fan convention attached, or a fan convention with a wrestling show attached? I will give Cody props for having the good sense to BAR Vince Russo from the Starrcast event.

Again, I’m not knocking this event, if Cody and the Bucks can actually pull this off in September, kudos to them, and I understand that fans who are not necessarily hardcore WWE fans are wanting to bask in the moment of somehow striking back at WWE, but let’s not get so caught up in the moment that we ignore the issues.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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