10 longest current tenures in WWE
To paraphrase an old piece of Woody Allen wisdom: 80 percent of success is showing up. That oft-quoted idiom certainly applies in the WWE Universe, where a Superstar or Diva is expected to compete night-in and night-out against the best in sports-entertainment. Rattle off the ring’s biggest names and you’ll quickly find a common thread of stability and longevity among them.
What defines WWE’s steadiest hands? WWE tenures take all shapes and sizes, but this list celebrates those who only stepped away from WWE to rehabilitate an injury or simply recharge their batteries, spending no more than two years away from the WWE Universe. (Though that doesn’t lessen the many achievements realized by the likes of Goldust, Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar, it does remove those storied Superstars from this specific conversation.)
Check out the 10 Superstars who, as of Nov. 25, 2015, currently own the longest consecutive tenures in WWE.
The Miz (3,463 days; debut; SmackDown, June 2, 2006)
Consider this: The Miz has been in WWE long enough to have wrestled John Cena, The Rock, Jerry Lawler, Kane, Bret Hart, DX, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton. The Miz has been in WWE long enough to have won every active championship he is currently eligible for, including all three iterations of WWE’s Tag Team Championships. (Given that the WWE World Heavyweight Title is descended from the WWE Championship, The Awesome One’s lack of a World Heavyweight Championship reign doesn’t hurt him in this regard.)
The Miz has been in WWE long enough to have main-evented WrestleMania and won. The Miz has been in WWE long enough to have actually retired somebody (John Morrison, who was fired by “Big Johnny” after a particularly grueling loss to his old partner). The Miz has been in WWE long enough to have won the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. The Miz has been in WWE long enough to have been on ECW, Raw and SmackDown. The Miz has been in WWE long enough to have mentored not one, not two, but three Superstars: Daniel Bryan, Alex Riley and Damien Mizdow.
The Miz has been in WWE long enough to be a 10-year veteran of sports-entertainment, and The Miz is just getting started. End scene. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
Hornswoggle (3,470 days; debut: SmackDown, May 26, 2006)
Hornswoggle’s diminutive stature may make him easy to miss upon first glance, but the larger-than-life achievements realized by the compact competitor remain much harder to miss in the annals of WWE history.
After introducing himself to the WWE Universe in 2006 as a troublemaking leprechaun, Hornswoggle promptly started making noise by meddling in the events of the squared circle. That put the pint-sized rascal in position to become the final Cruiserweight Champion in history, the official mascot of D-Generation X and even a controversial heir to the McMahon family legacy.
There’s an old saying that “it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the size of the fight in the dog.” With his effort in the WeeLC Match at Extreme Rules 2014 serving as the most recent example, Hornswoggle is living proof that size doesn’t matter when it comes to claiming a spot among the greats in WWE. — MATTHEW ARTUS
Dolph Ziggler (3,593 days; debut: Raw, Jan. 23, 2006)
A Superstar doesn’t learn how to steal the show overnight.
Dolph Ziggler’s uncanny ability to make everything look effortless in the ring is a direct result of just how long he’s plied his trade in WWE. After the breakup of The Spirit Squad, The Showoff started to blaze his own trail by balancing his cocky swagger and competitive fire to great effect, putting him in the picture for storied titles as well as swooning allies like Vickie Guerrero and AJ Lee.
While the ups-and-downs of his WWE career have appeared more tenuous than most, Ziggler still manages to remain relevant in the WWE Universe through his unbridled passion and his knack for giving his all whenever he sets foot in the squared circle. That attitude has made Ziggler a World Champion two times over, and leaves him well entrenched in WWE’s main event picture. — MATTHEW ARTUS
John Cena (4,899 days; debut; SmackDown, June 27, 2002)
Anyone who goes back to watch the June 27, 2002, episode of SmackDown should use the benefit of hindsight to ask one question: Did the kid with the crew cut who answered Kurt Angle’s open challenge offer any hints that he would become the most steady presence in WWE today?
That rookie, known affectionately these days as John Cena, had yet to utter his first rap lyrics or deliver his first Attitude Adjustment. He just wanted to make a name for himself and prove his ability to succeed by way of “ruthless aggression.” And in the dozen years that followed, that greenhorn grappler certainly removed any doubt about his capabilities.
The accomplished tenure of the Cenation leader is well-documented, but another lesson from the career of WWE’s most consistent competitor bears repeating: Not just anyone can survive in the squared circle, but the greatest and most durable WWE Superstars can seemingly come from anywhere. — MATTHEW ARTUS
Randy Orton (4,962 days; debut; SmackDown, April 25, 2002)
With an influx of talent hoping to make a mark in the post-Monday Night War era of sports-entertainment, a fresh-faced rookie named Randy Orton walked into Mr. McMahon’s office before his official tryout match. The Chairman raved about Orton’s pedigree, but even he couldn’t have guessed what The Legend Killer-turned-Viper-turned-Face of WWE would accomplish in his career.
He’s the youngest World Champion in history, capturing the title at age 24. He unified the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships to form the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 2013. He’s risen through the ranks of Evolution and led the charge with The Legacy and The Authority.
Twelve years and 12 World Championship reigns after first walking onto WWE TV, Orton has matured into a sports-entertainment icon. — JEFF LABOON
Big Show (6,128 days; debut; St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House — 1999)
The WWE Universe knows Big Show is The World’s Largest Athlete, but what isn’t as well-recognized is how the multi-time World Champion is one of WWE’s longest tenured Superstars.
After beginning his career as The Giant in WCW, Big Show transitioned to WWE on Feb. 14, 1999, at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, ripping through the ring and inserting himself smack dab in the middle of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon’s legendary rivalry.
The 7-foot, 400-plus-pound giant has gone on to compete inside a WWE ring for 16 years and counting, battling everyone from The Undertaker to Floyd Mayweather Jr. Few grapplers have lasted as long as this larger-than-life Superstar, whose decade-and-a-half of dominance inside WWE’s squared circle has accounted for some of the organization’s most memorable moments. — SCOTT TAYLOR
Kane (6,625 days; debut; In Your House: Badd Blood — 1997)
On Oct. 5, 1997, Kane made one of the most memorable debuts in WWE history, interrupting The Undertaker’s Hell in a Cell Match against Shawn Michaels by ripping off the cage door and executing the Tombstone. Since then, the monstrous Superstar has been a mainstay in WWE. Whether he’s wearing a mask or tie, he has carved himself out a reputation as one of the most reliable figures on the WWE roster.
With a WWE career spanning three separate decades and nearly 20 years, Kane continues to perform at the top of his game and many WWE Universe members feel he’s in the best shape of his life. The Big Red Monster has held almost every major championship, including both the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles, plus held 11 tag team championships and a Money in the Bank briefcase.
Debuting during the Attitude Era and still going strong, Kane’s imposing figure, preternatural ability and supernatural health has kept him going as one of WWE’s most recognizable and longest tenured Superstars. — KEVIN POWERS
Mark Henry (7,198 days; debut: Raw, March 11, 1996)
Mark Henry’s emotionally wrought retirement speech on the June 17, 2013, episode of Raw, had many in the WWE Universe shedding a tear along with The World’s Strongest Man. After shockingly attacking John Cena during the farewell, however, Henry revealed it was all a cruel hoax and that he was far from riding off into the sunset. And for that, we couldn’t be more grateful.
Since his WWE debut on March 11, 1996, the former Olympic power lifter has not only left us in awe (pulling two tractor trailers by himself!), he’s also left us in stitches (“Sexual Chocolate,” anyone?). Even after logging nearly 19 years with WWE and amassing a wealth of accolades, including the World Heavyweight Championship, Henry appears unrelenting in his drive to be both a source of intimidation and inspiration. As The World’s Strongest Man might say, “That’s what I do!” — GREG ADKINS
Triple H (7,514 days; debut: Wrestling Challenge, April 30, 1995)
Triple H should never have been a success. Following a forgettable tenure in WCW, Hunter Hearst Helmsley arrived in WWE as an over-the-top aristocratic cartoon character. And following The Kliq’s famous Madison Square Garden “Curtain Call” in 1996, Helmsley struggled to make a dent on the roster. Calling his WrestleMania XII loss to the returning Ultimate Warrior embarrassing would be the understatement of the year.
Slowly but surely, though, Helmsley turned things around. He nabbed the Intercontinental Title, showed off his edgy side in D-Generation X, and rose to the top of the mountain to become the best in “the game” — yes, that’s where the nickname comes from. Suddenly, the onetime caricature was The Cerebral Assassin, hell-bent on causing destruction with a sledgehammer. And 16 years after winning the WWE Title for the first time, Triple H is The Chairman’s son-in-law with a corner office and a prominent spot at the boardroom table. Like him or not, he’s one of the all-time greats. How’s that for success? — ZACH LINDER
The Undertaker (9,134 days; debut: Survivor Series 1990)
It was nearly a quarter of a century ago that The Undertaker took that slow, haunting walk down a WWE aisle for the first time. His Nov. 20, 1990, debut at the Survivor Series immediately made an icon of The Deadman, and never once did his influence over the WWE Universe — or the WWE locker room — falter.
The Phenom became a seven-time World Champion in the decades that followed, but it was his legendary — and, ruefully, now defunct — 21-match WrestleMania winning Streak that best defined the grit, durability and untouched consistency of WWE’s single most enduring Superstar. The WWE Universe has seen The Undertaker many times since his loss to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. And they can rest easy in knowing that a time will come when the lights dim, the bells toll and The Phenom rises again. — MICHAEL BURDICK