wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: If Cody Rhodes Doesn’t Win the Royal Rumble, Who Should?

December 26, 2022 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Cody Rhodes Image Credit: WWE

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

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Mike Inferno wonders what Ted DiBiase Jr. is doing these days:

Assuming Cody isn’t ready for the Royal Rumble, who would be the best bet to win assuming the belt comes off Roman at Wrestlemania?

Granted, this is a huge “if,” but IF WWE can work things out with the Rock, the best bet is the Rock winning the Royal Rumble and going on to Wrestlemania to face Roman Reigns. It’s also the best answer for business if Rocky is willing and available, no matter what a vocal minority of internet fans and CM Punks may have to say about how unfair it is for an outsider to receive a Wrestlemania championship match.

But let’s say that Rhodes is out, and let’s say that Rocky is also a no-go. Who else do we turn to on the promotion’s full-time roster?

In my mind, there are two options, though unfortunately they’re both a fair step down from Rock or even Rhodes.

The first is, much like Cody Rhodes, is health dependent. He’s also a former running buddy of Rhodes. I’m talking about one Randall Keith Orton. Reigns and Orton have not had a singles match since 2015, and, the last time that we saw the Viper on WWE television, he was in the midst of a feud with the Bloodline. He’s the last top guy of the current crop that Reigns has not already beaten, and you’ve got a ready-made storyline because you can blame the Samoan crew for his injury. Assuming his back recovers, the master of the RKO seems to be a solid fill-in for one of the more likely stars to main event the show.

The second is Kevin Owens. Unfortunately, Owens hasn’t had a sustained push as a main event guy, but he is somebody who got a tremendous rub from working with Stone Cold Steve Austin at last year’s Wrestlemania. There are some fans whose attention to WWE piques during Wrestlemania/Rumble season and then falls off, and those fans might be willing to buy K.O. in a big role if they missed goofy things like him feuding with Elias Samson. Plus, Owens is set to get another rub as of this writing by teaming with John Cena.

Tyler from Winnipeg is asking about . . . whatever:

Biff Wellington and Chris Benoit were friends that died a few days apart; any connection to be made here?

It depends on what you’re talking about in terms of connections.

There is a loose connection in the sense that they were both professional wrestlers who lived hard lives and, more likely than not, those lifestyles contributed to their deaths. Wellington died from a massive heart attack at the age of 42 years old, and that is something that only rarely happens barring substance abuse issues – which Biff reportedly had. Meanwhile, though we will never be entirely certain what caused Chris Benoit to kill his wife, child, and himself, the leading hypothesis is that brain damage from years of wrestling was a contributing factor. So, there is a connection.

However, any more direct tie is tenuous at best. It is true that people have speculated that Benoit had become depressed and withdrawn due to many of his friends, including Eddie Guerrero and Johnny Grunge, dying young. Wellington would not have been part of that trend, though, as it would have been virtually impossible for Benoit to know that Biff was dead before Benoit died himself. Though Wellington’s date of death is listed as June 24 in many places, that is actually the day his body was found and he was declared dead. Reports are that he had actually been deceased for several days by that point but nobody had located him. Meanwhile, Benoit was most likely to have died on June 24, having been discovered on June 25. With Wellington’s body not being found until the day Benoit died, there is almost certainly no direct link.

Giles is having his eyelids uncomfortably spread apart:

Has there ever been a Clockwork Orange wrestling gimmick?

Not at a high level.

I was able to locate one tag team called the Droogs, who were active for about a year between 2016 and 2017 in Coastal Championship Wrestling, a Florida independent group that still runs to this day. The wrestlers that made up the team were called Alex and Nicky (the latter I guess being a take on Georgie), though I don’t know to what extent they adopted the look and mannerisms of the novel or movie’s Droogs as opposed to just using the name. For what it’s worth, the wrestler who competed as Alex on the team has recently received some wider exposure under the name Jai Vidal, having matches for both Game Changer Wrestling and TNA.

There have been some other passing influences of A Clockwork Orange on professional wrestling, though. Perhaps most notably is the Clockwork Orange House of Fun match, a bout designed by Raven in the early days of TNA and periodically trotted out by the company. For those not familiar, this is essentially a no disqualification match with weapons hanging from chains around ringside and, in some but not all permutations of the bout, a partial steel cage being erected.

It has also been reported that Alex Shelley took his ring name from the novel, and I would be surprised if Combat Zone Wrestling and other deathmatch promotions didn’t lift their use of the phrase “ultraviolent” from the work.

Rex has snapped:

Why didn’t WWE or Ken Shamrock renew his contract when it expired?

The very short answer is because he wanted to go back into mixed marital arts.

The longer version of the answer is that Shamrock’s last feud in the WWF was with Chris Jericho, which occurred throughout September 1999. At the time, Curtis “Mr.” Hughes was Jericho’s on-screen bodyguard, and there was a segment that involved some physicality between Shamrock and Hughes that resulted in the big guy throwing a stiff kick and injuring Shamrock’s neck. The World’s Most Dangerous Man was already making noise about wanting to try his hand at shoot fighting again at this point, but it was the injury that took him off WWF television. While dealing with the neck injury, he also had knee surgery, which compounded his time away from the ring.

According to the November 15, 1999 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Shamrock’s contract with the Fed was set to expire in February 2000, but it contained an option that allowed the promotion to elect to keep him for two more years if they liked. The WWF in fact exercised that option, so Kenny shouldn’t have been departing until February 2002. (That would have kept Shamrock around through the entire WCW/ECW Invasion, which is an interesting thought.)

There were plans bandied about for Shamrock to return in December 1999 and then around the Royal Rumble in 2000, but it never happened due to further negotiations and injury issues.

Later in January, a new player entered the discussions . . . PRIDE Fighting Championships. PRIDE really wanted Shamrock’s name value to bolster their shows, and ultimately there was a three-way deal leveraged between the WWF, Shamrock, and PRIDE in which the wrestling company would release Shamrock from his contract and Shamrock would then sign a very lucrative two-fight contract with PRIDE. Probably because WWF was still a private company and not publicly traded at the time, I’ve not seen what perks, if any, PRIDE gave to the WWF to make this all happen.

That all went through, and Shamrock had those two matches with PRIDE, winning his debut against fellow pro wrestler Alexander Otsuka and then suffering a TKO loss to Kazuyuki Fujita.

Donny from Allentown, PA wants to unleash the big guns:

I remember hearing a few months back that King Kong Bundy versus Big John Studd was supposed to happen at Wrestlemania III but then course Studd left the company. Have you ever heard or read about this as well or is it just a clever rumor? I mean it would have made sense.

There were tag team matches in 1986 after which Bundy and Studd got into shoving matches, which was certainly an indication that the two were going to split up and feud. I have never read or heard anything credible that confirmed the match was on the books for Wrestlemania III. I suspect that people may have just been making an educated guess the match would happen there based on the timing of their team’s teased dissolution.

Shaun would like, if he may, to take us on a strange journey:

Who is the lineal holder of the TNA Hard 10? The Hard 10 tournament was held in 2003.

For those not familiar with the concept of a lineal championship, the idea is that you start with a real-world championship but track its history in such a way that it only “changes hands” when the champion is pinned or submitted in a one-on-one match. We’ve run through several lineal championships during my tenure in this column, to the point that I’ve forgotten the majority of them. However, here is one example, in which we determined that, as of October 2021, Big E was the lineal WWE Women’s Champion. No, seriously.
For those not familiar with the Hard 10 tournament, it was an idiotic early TNA idea in which wrestlers faced each other in hardcore matches with an overly complicated scoring system in which wrestlers would earn points for hitting each other with various objects and the first person to 10 points would be declared the victory.

The Sandman was the first and only Hard 10 tournament winner, defeating New Jack in the finals at the tapings for TNA’s fifty-second weekly pay per view event on July 2, 2003.

The first person to defeat the Sandman after his Hard 10 victory is Justin Credible, who beat him on an indy show for a company called USA Pro in Lawrence, New York on July 20, 2003.

On August 9, 2003 in Dayton, Ohio, Ring of Honor held a card entitled “Wrath of the Racket” (named for Jim Cornette, who guested on the show), where Matt Stryker defeated Justin Credible. That’s the Matt Stryker with a unibrow who came out of the HWA, not the Matt Striker who was an obnoxious WWE commentator.

Jumping from the Midwest to the west coast, Frankie Kazarian pins Stryker on an All Pro Wrestling card in Newhall, California on October 18, 2003 to become the lineal Hard 10 champion.

At this time, Kazarian is also the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Champion, and he loses both the PWG Title and the Hard 10 title to Scrap Iron Adam Pearce at a show called “Taste the Radness” on February 22, 2004 in Santa Ana, California.

While holding the PWG and Hard 10 titles, Pearce also becomes the champion for a California indy called AWS, but he loses the AWS and Hard 10 championships to SoCal indy guy Babi Slymm on May 29, 2004 in the City of Industry.

From one obscure SoCal indy guy to an even more obscure SoCal indy guy, Antonio Mestre defeats Babi Slymm at UPW Mat Wars on June 12, 2004 in El Segundo, California.

Now the Hard 10 championship transitions to Bo Cooper, who beats Mestre on August 27, 2004 for the Empire Wrestling Federation in Covina, California. (Not to be confused with West Covina, California, where you can get some great pretzels.)

Cooper gets a pretty solid run with the Hard 10 title, ultimately losing on January 15, 2005 to Al Katrazz in Cudahy, California for Southern California Championship Wrestling.

Later that month, Rock Superstar Kaos unseats Katrazz on January 29, back in the City of Industry for AWS.

The Hard 10 title moves back from the west coast to the east coast, as Kaos appears for Combat Zone Wrestling and loses to Adam Flash on February 5, 2005 at the former ECW Arena in Philadelphia.

A month later at the same venue, Franky the Mobster, a Quebecois wrestler, beats Flash on the March 12, 2005 CZW show.

Franky goes back to his native Montreal with the Hard 10 title, where he loses it to Manuel Vegas, a wrestler who I have literally never heard of, on an April 16, 2005 show for Northern Championship Wrestling.

Several months later, also for NCW in Montreal, Jake Matthews pins Vegas to win not just the Hard 10 title but also the prestigious NCW Quebec Championship on September 10, 2005.

On October 1, 2005, Damian Steele pins Matthews on a show promoted by Elite Wrestling Revolution, Quebec City, Quebec.

The Hard 10 title remains in EWR, as Excess defeats Steele on the promotion’s November 5, 2005 card, also in Quebec City.

Later on the very same November 5 EWR card, Petey Williams defeats Excess to get the Hard 10 title back on a wrestler who I actually have some familiarity with.

In the main event of that card, we get our third Hard 10 title change on the same show, as Kevin Steen (now known as Kevin Owens) beats Williams. All of these matches are part of the same one-night, single elimination tournament, hence the repeated title changes.

Colt Cabana is the next man to beat Kevin Steen, pinning him on November 25, 2005 in Mississauga, Ontario on a UWA Hardcore show. I have a feeling that Colt is a guy who would appreciate being a former Hard 10 champion.

Bringing the Hard 10 title back to the United States, Glenn Spectre defeats Cabana in McKeesport, Pennsylvania for the International Wrestling Cartel on on November 27, 2005.

Spectre goes undefeated in singles competition for several months, not losing until March 4, 2006, when Brandon X (another wrestler unknown to me) beats him in North Ridgeville, Ohio for a promotion called Mega Championship Wrestling.

On March 17, 2006, Jason Cage beats Brandon X for Black Diamond Wrestling in the uniquely-named town of Brilliant, Ohio.

No foolin’ – on April 1, 2006, Shiima Xion becomes Hard 10 champion by beating Cage on another Black Diamond show, this time in Martins Ferry, Ohio. For those who don’t know, Shiima Xion later joined TNA and changed his name to Zema Ion and then DJ Z before signing with WWE and becoming NXT’s Joaquin Wilde.

Going back to the relative unknowns, Dennis Gregory beats Xion on May 12, 2006 in Cranberry, Pennsylvania for Far North Wrestling to become Hard 10 champion.

The very next night, Shirley Doe beats Gregory on an International Wrestling Cartel show in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.

On June 9, 2006, Dennis Gregory becomes our first ever two-time lineal Hard 10 champion when he beats Doe on another IWC show, again in Elizabeth, PA.

The Hard 10 title remains in IWC and remains in Elizabeth, though on March 23, 2007, Sterling James Keenan defeats Gregory to take our lineal title. Keenan no longer wrestles, but these days he does do commentary under the name Corey Graves.

Brent Albright defeats Keenan on April 14, 2007 on yet another IWC show in Elizabeth, PA.

After the last four Hard 10 title changes take place in Elizabeth, we finally leave as Tank Toland beats Brent Albright on April 21, 2007 in Marion, Indiana for the Extreme Wrestling Federation, perhaps the most generically named promotion in existence.

On May 5, 2007, Troy Van Zant pins Toland in Columbus, Indiana on a show for Hoosier Pro Wrestling, so we once again have a Hard 10 champion with whom I have no prior familiarity.

Troy Van Zant ventures out to Shelbyville, Indiana for a New Era Wrestling card on September 8, 2007, where he loses to Damian Cole, our second lineal Hard 10 champion named Damian.

We don’t have a lot of results in the career of Damian Cole to go off of, so he remains unbeaten until September 5, 2009, when, on a Hoosier Pro Wrestling show in Columbus, Indiana, Gary Cherry defeats him. Now that’s a great ring name.

On November 22, 2009, Jeff Ryzer defeats Gary Cherry, also for Hoosier Pro Wrestling and also in Columbus, Indiana.

In a bit of an oddity, we don’t have any other match results in the career of Jeff Ryzer. When this has happened in the past with lineal championships, we’ve just had the title revert back to the prior champion as of the date of the last match of the individual who dropped off the face of the earth. However, for the first time in one of our lineal title histories, the match in which an wrestler won a title is also the wrestler’s last match, so the Hard 10 title just goes right back to Gary Cherry on the same day that he lost it.

Cherry spends quite some time as a tag team wrestler, so he doesn’t suffer another defeat until May 1, 2010, when he is beaten by TJ Kemp for Hoosier Pro Wrestling in Columbus, making me wonder when this Hard 10 title will ever leave south central Indiana.

I don’t get that wish right away, as Hillbilly Jed, not to be confused with Hillbilly Jim, is our next champion, taking the title on yet another HPW show in Columbus, this one on August 7, 2010.

During his run as lineal Hard 10 champion, Hillbilly Jed undergoes a bit of a personality overhaul and is repackaged as JD Marioni. As Marioni, his next loss is to Donny Idol on December 4, 2010. What promotion is that loss for? Hoosier Pro Wrestling. What city does it take place in? Columbus, Indiana.

Donny does take the Hard 10 title away from Hoosier Pro, as his next loss comes at the hands of Jake Omen on December 11, 2010 on a New Era Wrestling show. We’re still in Indiana, though. It’s just that we’ve moved from Columbus to Shelbyville.

April 23, 2011 is our next title change, as Bobby Black unseats Omen, again for NEW in Shelbyville, IN.

Jake Omen regains the lineal Hard 10 title when he defeats Black on NEW’s May 21, 2011 card. (That’s my birthday for anybody keeping track at home – and also Mr. T’s birthday.)

I’ve got big news here, guys. WE HAVE LEFT THE STATE OF INDIANA. Jake Omen travels to Kalkaska, Michigan for an oddly-named indy group: Mr. Chainsaw Productions Wrestling. While there on May 28, 2011, he loses to Caden Ames. So help me, Caden, if you start wrestling in Indiana . . .

Ames spends a lot of time wrestling in four-way matches and tag team matches, so he doesn’t lose another singles encounter until January 25, 2013 for a promotion called UCW/RCW. The loss is at the hands of one Jeremy Hadley, and it takes place in Mishawaka . . . Indiana . . . dammit.

Hadley remains undefeated for almost eleven months, not losing until December 6, 2013 to Ruff Crossing on a Pro Wresting King show, also in Mishawaka, IN.

On January 26, 2014, Crossing drops the lineal Hard 10 title to Vic Capri on a Pro Wrestling Blitz show in Joliet, Illinois. Not only does this get us out of Indiana again, it also puts our fake belt back around the waist of a wrestler that I’ve heard of before, though I still don’t have a ton of familiarity with him.

A few months later, Ruff Crossing gets his revenge, defeating Capri on the May 24, 2014 Pro Wrestling Blitz show in Joliet to become a two-time lineal Hard 10 champion.

Marshe Rockett of Da Soul Touchaz defeats Crossing on June 8, 2014 in LaMoille, Illinois for DREAMWAVE Wrestling to capture the lineal Hard 10 title for the first time.

Later that week, Da Cobra beats Rockett, specifically on June 13 for Resistance Pro Wrestling, a promotion noteworthy because it was founded by Smashing Pumpkin and NWA owner Billy Corgan in one of his earliest pro wrestling endeavors. The match takes place in Willowbrook, Illinois.

Marshe Rockett gets his win back over Da Cobra on July 26, 2014 in Elkhart, Indiana for a promotion called Strong Style Wrestling.

Jumping back to DREAMWAVE, Shane Hollister gets a win over Rockett to become the lineal Hard 10 champion on August 2, 2014 in LaSalle, Illinois.

We finally get our fake championship back around the waist of somebody who has had a bit of national exposure in recent years, with Eddie Kingston beating Hollister on September 12, 2014 in Berwyn, Illinois on an AAW show. Hollister’s AAW Heavyweight Title is also on the line here.

For the first time in a long time, the Hard 10 title leaves the Midwest and goes back to the east coast, as Kingston loses the title the day after he won it, dropping a fall to Jack Gallow on September 13, 2014 for Fight the World Wrestling in Elmhurst, New York.

Gallow goes on a pretty solid run of being undefeated in one-on-one competition, finally losing on April 18, 2015 to Jody Kristofferson on a Full Impact Pro show in Orlando, Florida. For those not familiar with him, Kristofferson is the legit son of musician Kris Kristofferson and had a cup of tea in WWE developmental under the name Garrett Dylan.

Jody only remains Hard 10 champion for a week, losing on April 25, 2015 to Rhett Giddins, another wrestler who I’ve never heard of, on a show for Southern Championship Wrestling, also held in Orlando.

The very next day, April 26, Giddins loses to Rome on a BRAWL USA card in Spring Hill, Florida.

Rome makes it through the entire summer of 2015 undefeated, ultimately losing to the similarly-named Romeo Quevedo on September 15 in Brandon, Florida for an NWA-affiliated promotion called Florida Underground Wrestling.

Aaron Epic defeats Quevedo on October 10, 2015 for American Combat Wrestling in New Port Richey, Florida.

The Hard 10 title changes hands but remains in American Combat Wrestling, as Sideshow beats Epic on that company’s November 6, 2015 card in Ybor City, Florida.

Sideshow’s reign is short-lived, as he is undone by CJ O’Doyle on November 14, also for ACW though this time in New Port Richey.

O’Doyle makes it into the new year as Hard 10 champion but not that much further, as he loses on January 15, 2016 to Zack Monstar in Port St. Lucie, Florida for IGNITE Wrestling. If I’m not mistaken, Zack Monstar played point guard in that basketball game against Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes.

Sideshow becomes a two-time lineal Hard 10 champion in Fort Myers, Florida, beating Monstar for REAL Pro Wrestling on April 5, 2016. Damn, there are a lot of small independent promotions in Florida.

We’re back in ACW, and we’re back to CJ O’Doyle as he beats Sideshow on July 9, 2016 in New Port Richey in a last man standing match.

At this point, I got a bit excited in reviewing the results, as I saw that James Storm got a victory over O’Doyle and I was hoping that he might return the lineal Hard 10 title back to TNA, but unfortunately the win was by count out, so the lineal title does not change hands. Instead, Taino is the next champ, beating O’Doyle via pinfall on September 1, 2016 on an ACW show in Port Richey, Florida . . . not to be confused with New Port Richey, Florida.

On February 18, 2017, Jon Davis of the Dark City Fight Club beats Taino in Daytona Beach, Florida for a company called Go Wrestle.

Speaking of TNA wrestlers potentially bringing the Hard 10 title home, Rob Terry defeats Davis on March 4, 2017, also for Go Wrestle in Daytona Beach.

Unfortunately, my hopes that Terry might guide this championship back to a major promotion are dashed in short order, as his next loss comes to Blain Rage on July 8, 2017, once again for Go Wrestle in Dayton Beach.

Our run in Go Wrestle’s Dayton Beach shows continues, as Biff Slater beats Rage for that promotion and in that city on September 16, 2017.

November 25, 2017 sees our next lineal Hard 10 title change, as Gabriel Lacey goes over Slater, again for Go Wrestle in Dayton Beach.

After quite the run in Go Wrestle, we leave that promotion, with the other member of the Dark City Fight Club, Kory Chavis beating Lacey on December 9, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida for Destiny Christian Championship Wrestling.

Speaking of the Dark City Fight Club, Jon Davis beats his partner on January 20, 2018 in Jacksonville on a United States Wrestling Alliance card to retake the Hard 10 title.

We’re back to ACW and we’re back to Port Richey at this point, as Jon Davis suffers a loss to Eddie Taurus on April 14, 2018. (Taurus, for what it’s worth, made a one-off appearance as an enhancement guy on AEW Dark back in August.)

Jon Davis becomes a three-time lineal Hard 10 champion on May 25, 2018 in Ybor City, Florida, defeating Taurus on an FIP/World Wrestling Network iPPV show called Ascension.

On July 7, 2018, Davis is defeated by Chance Champion, which I suppose is an appropriate name for somebody who is going to hold a pro wrestling title, even if it’s a fake one. This match is on another USWA card in Jacksonville, Florida.

Chance Champion also wrestles under the name Chance Auren in other promotions, and it’s under that moniker that he drops the lineal Hard 10 title to Tony Storm on July 28, 2018 in Macclenny, Florida for Destiny Christian Championship Wrestling. For the record, that’s Tony Storm, the male wrestler from Tampa and not Toni Storm, the female wrestler from New Zealand.

Storm loses the Hard 10 title to Saieve Al Sabah on August 18, 2018 in Seminole, Florida for a company called Full Throttle Pro Wrestling.

It’s time for the Hard 10 championship to finally move out of the state of Florida, as Al Sabah heads up to independent promotion Premiere Wrestling Xperience in Concord, North Carolina, where he loses to Serpentico on October 21, 2018. That’s the same Serpentico who currently wrestles in AEW.

We’re right back in Florida, as Samuel Shaw, currently known as Dexter Lumis in WWE, beats Serpentico on a Generation Championship Wrestling show on December 15, 2018 in Tampa.

I thought that there would be a chance Shaw/Lumis would take the Hard 10 title with him in to NXT, but he actually loses it in his final bout before making his NXT debut, with TNA alumnus Crazy Steve pinning him on on January 5, 2019 in Clarksville, Tennessee on a show promoted by Tried-N-True Pro Wrestling.

After tracing its lineage for almost sixteen years, the lineal Hard 10 title finally leaves North America, as Crazy Steve travels to West Yorkshire, England for 4th Generation Wrestling (4GW) where he loses to Andrew Everett on February 2, 2019.

On February 9, AEW’s Kip Sabian defeats Everett in South Yorkshire, England on a show promoted by Southside Wrestling Entertainment to become the Hard 10 champion.

And now things take what could be an interesting turn, as the Hard 10 title moves from an American wrestler touring in the United Kingdom to a native U.K. wrestler, with MK McKinnan beating Sabian on a Revolution Pro Wrestling (RevPro) show at York Hall in London on February 15, 2019.

Now we’ve got a Canadian with a Spanish name taking an American fake title from a Brit, with El Phantasmo pinning McKinnan on March 3, 2019 in London, also for RevPro.

Things take an even more international turn, with New Zealand’s Travis Banks winning over Phantasmo on a March 9, 2019 PROGRESS show in Dorset, England.

It took almost sixteen years, but the Hard 10 championship has finally found its way under the WWE umbrella, as Banks becomes part of the NXT UK brand and his next loss occurs there on June 15, 2019 in Leicestershire to then-reigning NXT UK Champion WALTER, now known as Gunther.

WALTER is fairly well-protected and doesn’t lose a singles match clean in the middle for over two years, when he drops both the NXT UK Title and the lineal Hard 10 Championship to Ilja Dragunov on August 22, 2021 at Takeover #36.

That brings us fairly close to present day, with JD McDonagh going over Dragunov on NXT television taped on October 25, 2022 at the WWE Performance Center.

However, McDonagh’s reign is short-lived, as he pops up on the WWE main roster for a Main Event taping but loses the match to Cedric Alexander, that occurring on November 14, 2022 at the stupidly-named KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

And that’s it. Cedric is your current lineal Hard 10 Champion, because, as of this writing, he has been undefeated since that time. For the record, I am writing this on December 23, which I note because given how often WWE runs shows, there’s a small chance that between my writing this column and it running, the fake belt could change hands again.

We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.