Fastest rises in WWE history

Fastest rises in WWE history

Think Ryback’s the first newcomer to scale the mountaintop in a matter of months? Think again, dear reader.

While it’s true that the human wrecking ball is a rarity — both physically and in terms of the speed of his rise — there have been plenty of Superstars who found themselves competing for, and in some cases winning, championships within a few months (if not days, hours or even seconds) of their WWE debut. So following Ryback's vicious WWE Title Match against CM Punk at Hell in a Cell only six months after he first thundered onto the scene, looks back at some of the fastest rises to prominence in history. Buckle your seat belts and get ready.

Fastest to receive a title opportunity

Santino Marella wins Intercontinental Title in WWE debut: Raw, April 16, 2007

Santino Marella, Vince McMahon's hand-picked opponent for Umaga, shocks the Milan, Italy, crowd and the WWE Universe by winning the Intercontinental Championship in his Raw debut.

This one is surprisingly difficult to quantify since there are instances of Superstars making their debuts in championship matches (Carlito, Christian and MNM among them), and in some cases, even winning them. Our statistician team here at, however, decided to give the award to one Superstar in particular who had no hype, buildup or experience to speak of when he found himself challenging for the Intercontinental Championship: Santino Marella. Santino was literally handpicked by Mr. McMahon from the crowd when Raw went to Milan and ended up walking, quite literally, into a championship match. What made it even crazier was that Santino prevailed, defeating Umaga for the storied championship only minutes later. And lest the WWE Universe think the win was a fluke, The Italian Stallion went on to win the title a second time a few years later, as well as the WWE Tag Team Titles and, most recently, the United States Championship.

Quickest victory

Shawn Michaels & John Cena vs. Triple H & Shane McMahon: Raw, March 20, 2006

Mr. McMahon calls for a disqualification early to end a huge main event on Raw.

Another difficult one, since these all took place in a matter of seconds and the separation gets a little bit fuzzy. In terms of tag team action, the winner as we counted it was Triple H & Shane McMahon, who defeated Shawn Michaels & John Cena in roughly two seconds on the March 20, 2006, episode of Raw. Singles competition is where the distinction becomes difficult, as The Rock, Trish Stratus, Bret Hart and Spike Dudley can all lay claim to victories that occurred in the realm of about three seconds (for the record: Rock def. Big Boss Man; Trish def. Nidia; Hart def. The Mountie and Spike def. William Regal).

Quickest cash-in of Money in the Bank

Kane cashes in his Money in the Bank contract in 2010

Kane cashes in his Money in the Bank contract in 2010

This one belongs to the devil, or more accurately, his Favorite Demon. Kane was in the midst of a 12-year World Championship drought when he captured the coveted Money in the Bank briefcase in 2010, outlasting a rogue’s gallery of fellow Superstars to snatch the World Heavyweight Championship contract from the rafters. The Big Red Machine wasted no time in making good on the contract’s worth, either. Later that same evening, Kane chased off Jack Swagger following The All-American American’s loss to World Heavyweight Champion Rey Mysterio, only to return moments later, contract in hand, and cash in on the hobbled Master of the 619. The Big Red Monster drove poor Rey to the mat with a Chokeslam, taking the World Title for himself only hours after claiming the contract.

Fastest championship match

William Regal vs. Spike Dudley - European Championship Match: Raw, April 8, 2002

Spike Dudley steals Wiliam Regal's brass knuckles to knock out William Regal.

This one belongs to the underdog: little Spike Dudley came up big in his European Championship Match against William Regal on Raw in 2002, defeating the wily Englishman in less than three seconds to wrest the title from Regal’s persnickety clutches. It was truly a win for the little guy. Cheerio.

Fastest to win the World Heavyweight Championship

Daniel Bryan cashes in his Money in the Bank contract at WWE TLC 2011

Daniel Bryan cashes in his Money in the Bank contract at WWE TLC 2011

Kind of a tie here. If we’re talking in terms of pure time, then the record here belongs to Triple H. The King of Kings was memorably  awarded the title by default only seconds following its unveiling after the Undisputed WWE Championship became SmackDown-exclusive. If we’re looking at the length of an actual, bell-to-bell match, though, the winner is another underdog: Daniel Bryan. The submission technician memorably ended Big Show’s World Heavyweight Championship reign in 45 seconds last year at WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, but the length of the actual match was more in the neighborhood of seven seconds (Show, you’ll remember, was unconscious at the time, so all Bryan had to do was make the cover after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract). That’s a record that’d make anyone say “Yes!”

Fastest to win a non–WWE Championship

Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant - WCW Championship Match: Halloween Havoc 1995

Hulk Hogan defends his World Heavyweight Championship against The Giant with surprising results.

You’d think this one would belong to Hulk Hogan, who won the WCW Title his first match with that company. But here is where the big man finds redemption: Big Show won the WCW Championship in his professional debut, when he was known as The Giant (to quantify the difference: Hogan won the title in his first match with WCW while Show did it in his first professional match, period). In his first match at WCW Halloween Havoc (and no, we're not counting the Monster Truck Match), The World’s Largest Athlete dethroned (ironically enough) Hogan himself en route to capturing the “Big Gold Title,” though corporate skullduggery soon stripped The Giant of his championship and returned it back around the waist of The Immortal One. Show would, of course, find his way back to the title and eventually capture the WWE Championship when he jumped ship. He’s also the only active WWE Superstar to have won every current title — his Intercontinental Championship win over Cody Rhodes rounded out his trophy case — proving, if nothing else, that you can’t keep the big man down for long.

Fastest to win the WWE Championship

Ric Flair wins the 1992 Royal Rumble Match and the WWE Championship

With an assist from Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair eliminates Sid Justice to win the Royal Rumble Match and become the undisputed WWE Champion on January 19, 1992.

Common perception attributes this mark to Brock Lesnar, who debuted in March 2002 and won the Undisputed WWE Title in August, a scant four months after first stepping through the ropes as The Next Big Thing for his debut match (though Lesnar first appeared on WWE TV in March, he didn’t compete for a month). That’s about 160 days from the first time we saw the big man, and 126 from the first time he wrestled. However, there’s one Superstar who wheeled, dealed, kiss-stole, limousine-rode and jet-flew his way past The Beast and captured the title a full month sooner than Lesnar.

Do we have to say his name? DO WE HAVE TO SAY HIS NAME?

Of course we do. It’s Ric Flair, people. The Dirtiest Player in the Game wrapped his immaculately manicured hands around the WWE Championship 132 days after his WWE debut, and 112 days following his first match. Flair’s record has stood for 21 years already, and since then, only Lesnar came the closest to matching it. For all prospective Superstars looking to pass “The Nature Boy’s” benchmark, though, in the words of the man himself: If you wanna be the man … well, you know the rest.

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