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10 great streaks that came to an end
March 21, 2012
Records are made to be broken, but that fact of life doesn't make it any more comforting when we see our heroes fall. If the sight of Kevin Nash standing over a defeated Goldberg is still burned in your brain almost two decades removed from that infamous night, then congratulations you're a wrestling fan and you can appreciate that unfortunate truth that even the best things don't last forever.
WWE.com looks back at 10 memorable streaks that defined Superstars and sports-entertainment, but that each eventually met an end.
The Honky Tonk Man's Intercontinental Title reign meets an ultimate end
The Intercontinental Championship is one of the most prestigious titles in WWE history. Often a stepping stone to the WWE Championship, many legends and Hall of Famers have held the coveted title. But no other Superstar has held the title longer than The Honky Tonk Man. His reign began on June 3, 1987 with a victory over Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and he proceeded to shake, rattle and roll his way into the history books.
Throughout the remainder of 1987 and into 1988, The Honky Tonk Man did whatever was necessary to keep the Intercontinental Championship intact, even if it meant losing by disqualification or count-out. But at SummerSlam 1988, the 14 month, 27 day title reign came to an end in roughly 30 seconds when The Honky Tonk Man squared off against The Ultimate Warrior. To his credit, the Memphis-native thought he was going to face Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, but in the end, he ultimately felt the power of the Warrior.
Wendi Richter ends The Fabulous Moolah's 28-year title reign
On September 18, 1956, The Fabulous Moolah defeated Judy Grable to win the vacant Women’s World Title. This victory would set her on the path to become one of, if not the greatest female competitor in sports-entertainment history.
Moolah held the title for 28 years until an ambitious contender named Wendi Richter challenged the champion. As pop icon Cyndi Lauper traded insults with Captain Lou Albano, the two decided that Richter and Moolah would settle the score for them. With Lauper in her corner, Richter made history at The Brawl to End it All and ended Moolah’s nearly three-decade long reign. With Richter's impressive victory and The Fabulous Moolah's pioneering career, both Women's Champions would eventually be immortalized in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Ludvig Borga blemishes Tatanka's record
Throughout WWE history, there have been a number of Superstars who made dominant debuts and managed to build impressive undefeated streaks in the time following their initial contests. This list includes WWE Hall of Famers such as Mr. Perfect and former Superstars such as Umaga and Kurt Angle. However, one of the most memorable undefeated streaks - and a WWE.com favorite - belongs to Native American ring warrior Tatanka. In his first WWE match, the Lumbee tribesman defeated Pat Tanaka and would remain undefeated for nearly two years, even defeating then-Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels via count-out.
However, like all undefeated streaks in WWE history, Tatanka's reign of dominance came to an end. In a clash with powerhouse Ludvig Borga, Tatanka's unblemished record fell with a thunderous blow from a steel chair. With the referee distracted, Borga hit the Native American Superstar with the chair and pinned him with one finger. Adding insult to injury, Yokozuna attacked Tatanka after the match, sidelining him for months.
Barry Horowitz finally wins a match
Not all streaks in WWE history are particularly dominant. In fact, some are just as downright embarrassing, making them all the more memorable. From 1987 to 1990, Barry Horowitz could not score a victory inside the squared circle. Horowitz was a formidable competitor but could not ultimately seal the deal and holds one of the most remarkable losing streaks in WWE history.
However, after leaving WWE for a few years, Horowitz returned in 1995 with renewed vigor and refined in-ring abilities. He would go on to shock the WWE Universe by earning his first victory against Bodydonna Skip. Although Skip and his valet, Sunny, were utterly dumbfounded by the win, perhaps no one was more shocked than Jim Ross who enthusiastically exclaimed “Horowitz wins! Horowitz wins!” Horowitz would later successfully complete a 10-minute challenge against the Bodydonna, and defeated Skip again at SummerSlam 1995.
Hulk Hogans crumbles in The Ultimate Challenge
Hulk Hogan has had a number of streaks throughout his Hall of Fame career including being a part of the main event of the first nine WrestleManias. However, The Immortal One’s most impressive streak began at the inaugural WrestleMania. From 1985 until 1990, The Hulkster did not lose a WWE pay-per-view match. It seemed as though no one could defeat Hogan at these major events.
In 1990, Hogan was still one of the most popular Superstars of all-time and the WWE Champion. But rising through the competition and into the hearts and minds of the WWE Universe was then-Intercontinental Champion, The Ultimate Warrior. The two legendary Superstars could not avoid each other forever. At WrestleMania VI, The Ultimate Challenge was made pitting champion against champion with both titles at stake. Inside the Toronto SkyDome, the course of WWE history was altered forever. In one of the most competitive matches that would inspire a generation of future WWE Superstars, The Ultimate Warrior stood victorious, proving that anything can happen on pay-per-view, especially on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Raw changes the tide of The Monday Night War
On June 10, 1996, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash - presumably still under WWE contract - appeared on WCW Monday Nitro. After insulting WCW’s top competitors, Nash unceremoniously Jackknife Powerbombed WCW President Eric Bischoff through the entrance stage to the shock of everyone watching. Planting the seeds of the onslaught of the infamous New World Order, this moment sparked the “Monday Night Wars” and the beginning of WCW’s 83 consecutive weeks of television ratings dominance over WWE’s Raw.
But starting in 1996, new WWE Superstars such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H took sports-entertainment by storm. With the “Attitude Era” underway, WWE slowly started to build momentum and finally snapped Nitro's streak on April 13, 1998 when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin clashed with Mr. McMahon in Raw's main event. While Nitro did have a handful of ratings victories in the following year, they could not regain their momentum and ultimately lost The Monday Night War.
Andre the Giant suffers his first defeat in 15 years
WWE Hall of Famer Andre the Giant was one of the most dominant competitors in history. The larger-than-life Superstar towered over his opponents and for 15 years dominated anyone brazen enough to stand up to him. The Eigth Wonder of the World proved his supremacy at the inagural WrestleMania defeating the imposing Big John Studd in a Body Slam Challenge. At WrestleMania 2, Andre won the 20-Man Battle Royal that included NFL players as well as WWE Superstars.
Under the guidance of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Andre challenged WWE Champion Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. Heenan was so confident that Andre would defeat The Hulkster that he spent $30,000 on a custom made title to fit Andre’s massive waistline. Alas, with a mighty scoop slam and Atomic Legdrop, Hogan defeated The Eighth Wonder of the World, serving up Andre’s first loss in 15 years. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ivan Koloff ends Bruno Sammartino's eight-year title reign
On May 17, 1963 inside Madison Square Garden, Bruno Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers to win the WWE Championship in only 55 seconds. This dominant performance would set the tone for the next eight years as Sammartino established the record as the longest reigning WWE Champion to date.
Although, this reign would not last forever as Sammartino could not eternally quell the high-caliber competition of WWE. On January 18, 1971, the WWE Champion battled the powerful Ivan Koloff at Madison Square Garden. With a devastating Russian leg drop from the top rope, Koloff secured the win and ended Sammartino’s record-setting WWE Title reign. The most famous arena in the world was silenced and in shock as the crowd witnessed Koloff celebrate his victory. Sammartino eventually reclaimed the title in 1973 and remained on top for more than three years.
Aside from The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak, the most impressive string of victories in sports-entertainment history is undoubtedly Goldberg’s undefeated streak. Beginning with his WCW debut in 1997, the former NFL player speared and Jackhammered his way through each of his opponents, amassing an unbelievable 173-0 record. Goldberg even defeated Hulk Hogan to win the WCW Title in a sold-out Georgia Dome in the summer of 1998. Throughout the remainder of that year, Goldberg would defeat the likes of Sting, Diamond Dallas Page and Big Show.
Then came the infamous main event of Starrcade 1998. In a No Disqualification Match against nWo Wolfpac leader Kevin Nash, it seemed as though Goldberg would be extending his streak to 174 wins. Following failed attempts at interference from Disco Inferno and Bam Bam Bigelow, Goldberg prepared to spear Nash when Scott Hall - dressed as a security guard - appeared on the ring apron and used a taser to take down the champion. Taking advantage of the situation, Nash Jackknife Powerbombed the champion and Goldberg’s streak came to an end.
Brock breaks The Streak
There’s only one streak on this list that we refer to with a capital “S” and that’s The Streak. As in The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak. As in the most impressive accomplishment in the history of WWE. For more than two decades, The Deadman went undefeated on The Grandest Stage of Them All, besting icons like Ric Flair, Triple H and Shawn Michaels while attaining the staggering record of 21-0. The WWE Universe came to believe that The Undertaker was unbeatable at WrestleMania — although the drama of his yearly match did a number on every fan’s blood pressure — but that was before The Phenom met The Beast.
By now, we all know the story, but for the sake of clarity let’s remember the events of WrestleMania 30 where Brock Lesnar did the unthinkable by pinning The Undertaker after a third F5 to snap The Streak. It was, without hyperbole, the single most shocking moment in WrestleMania history — a statement which can be backed up by the eerie silence that fell over the nearly 80,000 people in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Months later and we’re still struggling with seeing our hero beaten on The Grandest Stage of Them All — and we will be for a long time to come.