15 strange (but true) WWE facts
A quick glance at the WWE history books can yield all sorts of interesting and useful information. From championship legacies to competitive rivalries, revisiting the company’s rich tradition of ambitious efforts can entertain the WWE Universe just as much as an instant classic taking place on the latest edition of Raw or SmackDown.
However, taking only a cursory glance at title reigns and win-loss records may lead a reader to miss some subtle points and strange phenomenon that make a visit down WWE’s memory lane so fulfilling. What about the anomalies, the once-in-a-blue-moon occurrences and unobserved trends that make the journey that Superstars and Divas pursue just as important as their results in the end?
What follows on these pages is dedicated to those chronicled outliers. Take at look at 15 strange (but true) facts in WWE history.
The only WrestleMania match to go to the limit
Part of the reason that the WWE Universe recognizes WrestleMania as The Grandest Stage of Them All revolves around the legendary event’s ability to host an epic battle between bitter rivals. All of those bouts came to a definitive conclusion for better or worse, with one exception.
Competing in the first round of the storied WWE Championship Tournament at WrestleMania IV, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and “Ravishing” Rude renewed acquaintances in hopes of winning championship gold at their longtime rival’s expense. Roberts and Rude each displayed a fighting spirit befitting an event known as The Showcase of The Immortals, but neither could connect the knockout blow in the 15 minutes allotted for their clash. Instead, the WWE Universe will forever recognize their match as the first and only match in WrestleMania history to end in a time-limit draw.
The stage where more World Champions are crowned
When the WWE Universe thinks of World Title transfers, they undoubtedly conjure up memories of championship wins by the likes of Shawn Michaels, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena at WrestleMania. Yet those milestones should not cloud what happens during the best shows on Monday and Friday night.
In fact, more World Titles — the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship — have changed hands on Raw and SmackDown than on The Showcase of the Immortals. The 25 World Title wins during the longest running weekly episodic television show in history and its blue brand counterpart total up to one more than the 24 changes at WrestleMania.
Of course, it took Raw and SmackDown nearly 1,700 episodes to accomplish those 25 championship changes. With 24 new World Title holders crowned in the 28 editions of WrestleMania, it’s still safe to say that championship dreams are more frequently realized on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
A puncher’s chance at championship gold
Nothing lasts forever, especially championship reigns in WWE. Even the most talented competitors lose eventually, costing them a title they worked so hard to attain in the first place. Few champions go down without a fight, but, then again, few of them also experienced what William Regal did during Raw on April 8, 2002.
Looking to stack the odds in his favor before defending the European Title against Spike Dudley, Regal hid a set of brass knuckles in the padding of one of the ring posts. The plan backfired in a big way as Regal, mired in a heated exchange with the referee, never saw Dudley enter the ring or retrieve the knucks. The 5-foot-9 challenger promptly laid out Regal with one brass-enhanced punch.
With Dudley pinning the European Champion at the bout’s outset, the referee promptly started the pinfall count in tandem with the opening bell. Less than three seconds later, the diminutive grappler grabbed the spotlight and a place in the WWE history books by becoming the fastest challenger to seize championship gold from a reigning titleholder in a WWE match. ( WATCH)
The one time Raw felt the bang
At first, Heath Slater likely didn’t mind seeing Diamond Dallas Page at ringside following The One Man Band’s victorious effort against Doink the Clown during Raw on July 2, 2012. Slater, hoping to prove his worthiness as a modern-day Superstar, was reveling in his recent win over a Raw legend. Now, he could celebrate with another. What could go wrong?
Naturally, Page knocked out his young counterpart with a Diamond Cutter. And if Slater just used the win-loss records of Raw to scout the show’s legends, he might never have seen the three-time WCW World Champion coming.
That’s because Page only achieved one win on Raw in his grappling career, having done so as The Godfather’s partner in a tag team bout on Jan. 28, 2002, against Lance Storm & Christian. It wasn’t the master of the Diamond Cutter’s fault, as Page competed regularly on SmackDown and his few matches on Raw in his brief WWE tenure all ended in defeat. And it certainly wasn’t obvious to Slater, who was forced to feel the bang by a WWE and WCW legend who, thanks to his DDPYoga.com regimen ( MORE), looked to be in the best shape of his life on that fateful Monday night in July 2012. ( WATCH | PHOTOS)
Lesnar’s last night as Undisputed WWE Champion
Brock Lesnar rewrote the history of the WWE Championship when he seized the title from The Rock at SummerSlam 2002. ( WATCH) In addition to becoming the second fastest Superstar to win the WWE Title ever, the 25-year-old challenger also earned the distinction of being the youngest WWE Champion in history. Realizing all of those achievements in such a short period of time certainly helped Lesnar prove himself as “The Next Big Thing.”
Lesnar’s reign as Undisputed WWE Champion was short lived, however. One night after seeing the fledgling brute collect the biggest win of his career to that point, the WWE Universe learned on Raw that, due to Lesnar’s contract guaranteeing him exclusivity to SmackDown, the title would be split into two: the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship. Lesnar would continue to defend the former on the blue brand while the latter was awarded to Triple H one week later by then Raw General Manager, Eric Bischoff. ( WATCH)
The only champions to conquer Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden is the building where Hulkamania was born. It provided the backdrop for the first WrestleMania and two later editions as well. It set the stage for legendary competitors like Pedro Morales, Ultimate Warrior and John Cena to get their first claims of championship gold in WWE.
Yet there’s one currently active title that remains immune to the mystique and aura of the World’s Most Famous Arena. The Divas Championship has never changed hands in MSG since the title’s inception in 2008. That includes challenges on Monday night, like Melina’s successful defense during Raw on Nov. 16, 2009, and Beth Phoenix retaining the title against Eve at Survivor Series 2011. ( WATCH)
A future challenger may one day become the first to claim the Divas Title in the home of the NHL’s New York Rangers and NBA’s New York Knicks, but history continues to favor the reigning champion.
The Grandest Santana of them all
The earliest editions of WrestleMania became known for two traits: the biggest stage for the best competitors in sports-entertainment, and Hulk Hogan. Hulkamania ran wild over the first nine WrestleMania events consecutively, giving the WWE Hall of Famer a significant streak that no one can match.
One other WWE Hall of Famer comes close, though. Tito Santana fought in the first eight consecutive WrestleMania events, pairing him with Hogan as the only two Superstars to accomplish that feat. Santana’s success on The Grandest Stage of Them All does not fare as well as The Hulkster’s, but the two-time Intercontinental Champion did compete in and win the first match in WrestleMania history when he defeated The Executioner (who was actually a masked “Playboy” Buddy Rose) at Madison Square Garden in 1985. ( WATCH)
Ten minutes to rule the Royal Rumble
To win the Royal Rumble Match, a Superstar needs to outlast 29 other competitors in the unique bout that can last more than one hour. Through the 2012 edition, 750 entrants have attempted to do just that. Only 22 succeeded in joining the exclusive club of Royal Rumble Match winners, a list that includes nine WWE Hall of Famers.
So how long does a Superstar have to make his mark in this particular challenge? The average Royal Rumble Match combatant lasts approximately 10 minutes and 43 seconds, which may not be long enough for a competitor to work up a sweat. Sometimes, a grappler can defy that average, just as Rey Mysterio did by lasting more than one hour to win the 2006 edition. ( WATCH) Other times, it backfires as it did for Santino Marella, who was eliminated from the 2009 bout in 1.9 seconds. ( WATCH)
Or, there’s the rare instance like Batista’s big win in 2005. The Animal outlasted John Cena and claimed victory in the Royal Rumble Match in just less than 11 minutes. ( WATCH) Then again, would you want to be the one to tell Batista his time spent in the ring was just average?
When the Pink and Black Attack didn’t wear pink
From their rock star look to their tactical superiority in the ring, The Hart Foundation had all the bases covered when it came to leaving a lasting impression on the WWE Universe. However, WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hit Man” Hart and his longtime partner, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, became known as the “Pink and Black Attack” not for their cool demeanor or the skills they acquired by training in the Hart Dungeon, but instead for their hot pink tights.
It wasn’t always that way. Before The Hart Foundation debuted their pink and black outfits against the Killer Bees during Saturday Night’s Main Event on Oct. 29, 1986, the two-time WWE Tag Team Champions frequently wore all-black uniforms or variations that included a stripe down the side. ( WATCH) They wore blue tights when competing in the 20-Man Battle Royal at WrestleMania 2, but this legendary combination will always be known for making pink a feared and revered sight by tag teams everywhere.
The McMahon Family’s physical mark on WWE
The contributions made by The McMahon Family to support sports-entertainment are incalculable. So it seems fitting that the first family of WWE made an indelible mark on WWE’s most precious metal in the midst of the Monday Night War.
The introduction of the so-called “Big Eagle” version of the WWE Title in 1998 included a very personal flourish by McMahon family standards. That’s because the side panel immediately to the right of the sculpted eagle features a shield displaying three lions and the inscription “Sic nos sic sacra tuemur.” So what’s the significance of this very peculiar touch on the title?
It recreates the McMahon family crest and motto. The crest, which also appeared on the Undisputed WWE Title as well, and the motto, which translates from Latin to “Thus we guard our sacred rights,” let the WWE Universe know that its World Champion was ready to fight the good fight, even if that meant taking the fight to WCW and ECW.
The attendance record before the “Grandest” record
One of the most significant milestones in WrestleMania history occurred in 1987 when 93,173 spectators packed the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan for the third edition of The Showcase of the Immortals. Storied battles including “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s epic clash against Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Hulk Hogan’s main event bout with Andre the Giant entertained a capacity crowd the likes of which had never been seen before.
What had been seen before were the 74,080 fans that filled Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on Aug. 28, 1986, for “The Big Event.” That audience, which held the WWE attendance record prior to WrestleMania III, saw Hulk Hogan retain the WWE Title against “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff as well as Ricky Steamboat’s Snake Pit Match against Jake Roberts. The size of that crowd seemed impossible to duplicate, but the WWE Universe just kept on growing.
In fact, The Big Event has seen its attendance dwarfed by four WrestleMania events including the 2007 edition, where 80,103 fans showed up just a short drive from the Silverdome at Ford Field in Detroit. Also, SummerSlam 1992 now ranks second all-time in attendance for a WWE event behind WrestleMania III, thanks to the 80,355 members of the WWE Universe who claimed seats at Wembley Stadium for the midsummer marquee event.
The ‘X Factor’ behind a WWE album
Music makes the WWE Universe go round, whether it plays in the form of a Superstar’s entrance theme or a one-of-a-kind tune designed to capture the essence of sports-entertainment. The latter certainly describes the spirit of “WrestleMania: The Album,” a record released in 1993 featuring original songs that were heavily inspired by the Miami Bass genre that was popular at the time.
What music mogul helped bring that album to fruition and ultimately led it to reach No. 10 on the Billboard charts in the United Kingdom? Simon Cowell, the A&R executive and television personality known for his stints as a judge on “American Idol” and “X Factor,” lent his talents to the production of “WrestleMania: The Album” as a producer. His effect is visible, especially on the tracks “Slam Jam” and “WrestleMania” which reached No. 4 and No. 14 on the UK singles charts, respectively.
A rapper that’s as ‘Cool as Ice’
John Cena may not have a Ph.D. in hip hop, but the 12-time World Title holder has displayed a degree in lyrical mastery that has impressed music mavens and grappling fans alike. But even The Doctor of Thuganomics’ rapping roots include an early lesson learned in the school of hard knocks.
Still an up-and-coming competitor in 2002, Cena looked to make a positive impression on Stephanie McMahon during the Halloween edition of SmackDown by introducing his ability to lay down some original rhymes. His flow felt fine, but the outfit he wore just hurt Cena’s street cred at a time where he had yet to adopt throwback jerseys and a padlock chain as his signature look.
Instead, Cena rapped while donning a costume and bouffant hairstyle in the spirit of early 1990s rapper Vanilla Ice. ( WATCH) Cena shed the look for his Thuganomics persona in the weeks that followed, learning a valuable lesson early as to why no one should ever adopt the look of the guy who sang “Ice Ice Baby” and “Ninja Rap.”
A champion’s solid chances in a Hell in a Cell Match
Only the bravest Superstars willingly elect to settle an ongoing rivalry in a Hell in a Cell Match. The unforgiving steel structure may encase the battles where legends are made, but the only way out of one is by winning the feared bout or enduring an epic defeat.
Curiously, many of those legendary losses were racked up the No. 1 contenders in countless title opportunities over the years. In the years that followed the introduction of the Hell in a Cell Match in 1997, no challenger managed to seize a World Title inside the intimidating cage. In fact, it took 12 years for a grappler to topple a titleholder.
Which challenger did it first? The Undertaker accomplished the feat by seizing the World Heavyweight Title from CM Punk in the caged clash as the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in 2009. ( WATCH) How fitting, considering that The Deadman has raised the bar in WWE competition through his many appearances in a Hell in a Cell Match over the years.
The first attempt of an invasion?
The sight of Shane McMahon appearing on the final episode of WCW Monday Nitro on March 26, 2001, will forever be etched in the collective memory of the WWE Universe. It simultaneously marked the end of the Monday Night War and the onset of an invasion of WCW and ECW stalwarts within the comfy confines of WWE. While the battle between WWE and its rival promotions lasted for years, it only picked up steam in the late 1990s. But what if WWE attempted to finish off WCW and others with a pre-emptive strike?
During the May 2, 1992, edition of WCW Saturday Night, a press conference was held to announce an impending NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament designed to fill the titles left vacant by The Steiner Brothers. It played out like a press conference would, but something didn’t quite look right in the microphones included on the podium.
That’s because two of the microphones featured flags with the classic WWE block logo on them. WWE did not participate in the tournament and was not aligned with NWA nor WCW, so it’s unclear why the company’s iconic logo appeared on the podium. Did WWE commissioner Jack Tunney intend to send the WWE World Tag Team Champions Money, Inc. to compete? How would they have fared against the likes of “Stunning” Steve Austin & “Ravishing” Rick Rude or Ricky Steamboat & Nikita Koloff?
The WWE Universe will never know, but it will always wonder what could have been.