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Ask 411 Wrestling: Was Roman’s Reign an FU to CM Punk?

April 6, 2022 | Posted by Ryan Byers
CM Punk Hook AEW Rampage Image Credit: AEW

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.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Adrian from Donegal, Ireland may not be the head of the table, but at least he’s the head of this column:

I may be wrong, but if Roman Reigns makes it to WrestleMania 2022 as champ he will overtake CM Punk as the longest reigning champ of the modern era. Do you think this may have been planned by WWE as an FU to Punk ? Or is it merely coincidence?

First off, you are correct when you say that Roman’s current title reign is now longer than CM Punk’s. However, it happened a long time before Wrestlemania. Punk’s lengthy title run was 434 days long, whereas, as of night two of this year’s Wrestlemania, Reigns hit 581 days – so he eclipsed the Punker almost 150 days ago.

Does the length of Roman’s reign have anything to do with trying to take CM Punk’s record off the books?

The answer is probably not. There are three reasons for this.

First, Punk and Roman technically held different championships. Reigns is the Universal Champion, whereas Punk’s long run was with the original WWE Championship. Thus they technically were never competing for the same record unless you want to talk more broadly about length of reign with a “primary singles championship” in WWE as opposed to talking about records related to particular belts.

Second, though you’ve characterized Punk’s reign as being the “longest of the modern era,” that’s really not how WWE tends to categorize things. Though some WWE sources have referenced the Punk run as being long for this day and age, it is more common for WWE to acknowledge the entire history of the championship as opposed to breaking it up into eras. Thus you don’t often see Punk portrayed as a true record holder. You usually see him towards the top of the pack but still well behind guys like Hulk Hogan, Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund, and Bruno Sammartino.

Third – and this is the biggest one – Roman Reigns isn’t even the first guy to surpass Punk’s 434 number since it happened. Assuming that you are counting all major WWE championships, and you would have to be since the original question compares Reigns and Universal Title to Punk and the WWE Title, Brock Lensar already surpassed Punk when he held the Universal Title from from April 2, 2017 through August 19, 2018, a total of 504 days.

John is new to New Japan:

So this was the first year I really followed the whole G1 tournament, and it was awesome! I did catch some of the Super Juniors as well and that was almost better than the G1 IMO! Does NJPW do other tournaments like this throughout the year? I see something about the tag team league, and multiple other shows that seem to all have similar titles (Example: Road to Power Struggle). Are these all awesome tournaments like the G1 or are they just similar to PPVs? I was curious on how NJPW sets up their shows and if they are all as good as the G1 and BOSJ.

This has varied throughout the company’s history, but these days the regular tournaments in New Japan Pro Wrestling are:

The New Japan Cup (a single-elimination tournament usually in March)
Best of the Super Juniors (a round robin junior heavyweight tournament in May-June)
G1 Climax (a heavyweight round robin tournament in July-August)
Super Junior Tag League (a round robin junior heavyweight tag tournament in October-November)
World Tag League (a heavyweight tag team tournament in November-December)

The promotion also does a ton of major/pay per view style events throughout the year that have no connection to ongoing tournaments.

However, if you’re somebody who just can’t get enough of tournaments in Japanese professional wrestling, you’re in luck! NJPW isn’t the only puroresu company that is tournament-heavy.

If you’re willing to track down some All Japan Pro Wrestling, you can see:

Junior Battle of Glory (historically a junior heavyweight round robin tournament held in February but most recently converted to a single elimination tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
Champion Carnival (a heavyweight round robin tournament in April-May)
Junior Tag Battle of Glory (historically a junior heavyweight round robin tournament held in a variety of different months but most recently converted to a single elimination tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
Odo Tournament (a heavyweight single elimination tournament in September)
World’s Strongest Tag League (a heavyweight tag team round robin tournament in November-December)

But wait, there’s more! In Pro Wrestling NOAH, you’ve got:

N-1 Victory (formerly known as the Global League, heavyweight round robin tournament in the fall)
Global Tag League (heavyweight tag team round robin tournament in April-May)
Global Junior Heavyweight League (junior heavyweight round robin tournament in a variety of months)
Global Junior Heavyweight Tag League (junior heavyweight round robin tag team tournament usually held in the summer)

In other words, if you love a good professional wrestling tournament, Japan is the place to be . . . unlike WWE, where they won’t even let you use the word “tournament” and instead prefer to go with “championship opportunity ladder” or whatever similar contrived, branded term they’ve managed to come up with.

unhappy_meal misses hanging out with his buddies:

Paul Heyman put together various “Dangerous Alliance” groups (mostly distinguished by which organization he was in) over the 80’s-90’s, with my favourite being the WCW version. Over the last +/- 20 years, he’s mostly dedicated his on-screen persona to one rassler at a time. Might you be able to enlighten us and/or offer your take as to why he’s taken this approach? I think a modern Dangerous Alliance could be great if Heyman’s given appropriate control.

I don’t think that this is something that is exclusive to Paul Heyman. It’s really a shift in how professional wrestling mangers overall have been used. Particularly in WWE, you simply don’t see groups of four to six wrestlers sharing the same manager these days as you used to with the Dangerous Alliance, the Heenan Family, or, going back even further, the unnamed stables of the Grand Wizard or Captain Lou Albano.

Did Steve tell you that perchance? Steve . . .

Wrestling has more than one royal family, as Cody Rhodes tells us — but who is wrestling’s most prolific family? Certainly not Cody’s, what with contenders like the Anoa’i, Hart, Guerrero and Von Erich families. But which family has made its mark on wrestling the most?

It’s a bit of a tricky question, because surprisingly, there’s no obvious way to measure it. You run into unexpected issues like the definition of “family” being unclear — is the Rock an Anoa’i? Is Vickie Guerrero a Guerrero? And does she count as a wrestler?

I suppose my standard would be to count only acknowledged blood relatives who have ever worked a match in front of a paying audience. But please feel free to use your own measuring stick.

If you use the dictionary definition of the word “prolific,” i.e. being the largest or most numerous, the answer is not nearly as difficult as you portray it as being. It’s the Anoa’is and it’s not even close.

Even if you disregard their claimed link to the Maivias (which I agree you should), I count 17 blood relatives who have become professional wrestlers, and you’ve got two other wrestlers – Gary Albright and Naomi – who have married into the family.

On the Hart side of things, you have 11 blood relatives plus five wrestlers who have married into the family.

I personally cannot think of another wrestling family that has nearly as many members as these two. The other “large” wrestling families tend to have about half a dozen members.

James has a question about hold #723:

Has Chris Jericho ever won a match with his “Cocky Pin”?

If he has, I couldn’t find a record of it, and I certainly doesn’t seem to be a major match. Part of me feels like he should’ve knocked out a job guy and won with it a least once in WCW, but, if it happened, it appears to have been forgotten to the ages.

Ruari is lacking a solid moral compass:

A thought recently crossed my mind: Has Natalya turned face/heel as many times as The Big Show? I know Kane is close but he’s pretty much done.

Pro wrestling website The Smackdown Hotel includes a database of professional wrestlers that logs turns on their individual profiles. According to TSH, Natalya has had 10 turns during her WWE career, while Big Show has turned 21 times between his WCW, WWE, and AEW stints. Even if you eliminate WCW and AEW, there are still 20 turns, so Mr. Wight has turned twice as many times as Ms. Neidhart in major promotions.

Uzoma is an elder millennial:

Was Jimmy Yang the only wrestler born in the 80s to compete in WCW?

The answer is . . . kind of.

Yang, who was born on May 13, 1981, is the only person that would be considered a regular member of the WCW roster who I found with a date of birth in the 80s. However, there are a couple more individuals who technically stepped foot in a WCW ring who were born in the decade of Rubiks cubes and hair metal.

The first is Pro Wrestling Guerrilla founder, early 2000s indy superhero, and Botchamania meme star Super Dragon, who was born on June 8, 1980 in Orange County, California. The masked man wrestled a dark match before a July 16, 1998 taping of WCW Thunder. He teamed with the spectacular cruiserweight Blitzkrieg to defeat indy wrestlers American Wild Child and Dragon Yakzua.

Finding himself in a similar situation is “Miracle” Mikey Henderson, who is perhaps best known for his time in SoCal indy Ultimate Pro Wrestling at around the time that company was regularly booking future standouts like John Cena, Brian Kendrick, and Samoa Joe. Henderson’s brush with WCW greatness came on January 24, 2000, when he had a dark match before an episode of Monday Nitro, losing to fellow UPW regular Christopher Daniels. Henderson, for the record, was born on April 22, 1980.

The third and final qualifying wrestler that I was able to find might be considered a bit of a stretch by some. Born on February 26, 1988, I’m talking about Reid Flair. Though they were more angles than true matches, the then-twelve-year-old son of the Nature Boy had two “matches” in WCW, the first coming on May 30, 2000 for Thunder and the second coming on the June 12, 2000 Nitro. The bouts, which played off of Reid’s status as an outstanding youth amateur wrestler, both saw him team with his father Ric against Vince Russo and David Flair.

For those who don’t know the story, Reid eventually started training for a proper professional wresting career in the late 2000s, when he was in his early 20s. Ric originally sent him to train with respected enhancement wrestler George South, and he wrestled throughout the southern indies for a few years before embarking on tours of All Japan Pro Wrestling in 2013 that were meant to really get some seasoning. Unfortunately, he was found dead as a result of a drug overdose on March 29, 2013, less than two weeks after returning to the U.S. from his last AJPW match.

Just missing the cutoff for this question are David Flair, Air Paris, Stacy Keibler, and Shannon Moore, all of whom wrestled in WCW and were born in Billy Corgan’s favorite year . . . 1979.

Matt P. has a lineal title question of a different stripe:

I’ve seen in the past using “to be the man you have to beat the man” to follow title lineage and crown who the real champion is. Is there anyway to do that with the Royal Rumble? Pretend, for argument’s sake that if Hacksaw Jim Duggan won the first Rumble and the man who threw him out in his next Rumble appearance becomes reigning Rumble champion, who is the current king of the Rumble?

Got it. So, essentially, we’re treating every Royal Rumble in history as though they are one long, continuous match as opposed to being separate contests.

As Matt mentions, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan wins the first ever Royal Rumble on January 24, 1988 in Hamilton, Ontario. Fun fact: Some resources online list the ’88 Rumble event as being a “pay per view” simply because all of the other Rumbles have been, but this first installment was actually a special event aired on the USA Network.

Duggan actually skips the next two Royal Rumble matches, so nobody has an opportunity to throw him out until 1991, when Mr. Perfect tosses old Hacksaw and becomes reigning King of the Rumble.

Later in the same match, Davey Boy Smith tosses Perfect to become our lineal Royal Rumble champion.

And now things get a little bit screwy. See, there’s not just one person who eliminated the British Bulldog from the 1991 Royal Rumble. Instead, he was jointly eliminated by Brian Knobbs and Earthquake, which might be a circumstance that Matt was not counting on. So, I guess for the time being, Knobbs and ‘Quake are co-champions.

Fortunately for my sanity, that co-champion malarkey does not last long, because Hulk Hogan eliminates both Knobbs and Earthquake from the 1991 Royal Rumble, making him the undisputed champion. He also closes out the ’91 Rumble with the crown, since he won the match.

In perhaps one of the most famous Royal Rumble finishes in history, Sid Justice dumps the Hulkster out of the ring in the 1992 Royal Rumble to make him our lineal champion, but . . .

Seconds later, with an assist from Hogan, Ric Flair eliminates Sid to not only become our lineal King of the Rumble but also win the vacant real-world WWF Championship.

Flair returns for the 1993 Rumble match but is dispatched by then-rival Mr. Perfect, making Perfect our first two-time lineal Rumble champion.

Oh no. It’s another co-championship. It takes two men to eliminate Perfect from the ’93 Rumble, and it’s the unlikely duo of Koko B. Ware and Ted DiBiase. Jerry Lawler also assisted, but that was only after he had been eliminated by Perfect himself, so we won’t add him to the roster of co-champs.

In another bit of good news, this co-championship is also resolved quickly, because Ted DiBiase tosses Koko Ware to make the Million Dollar Man the undisputed champion.

DiBiase’s fate is sealed by The Undertaker, who somewhat ironically was introduced to the World Wrestling Federation by the Million Dollar Man just a few years earlier.

This leads us to a little bit of a head-scratcher. The Undertaker is eliminated from the 1993 Royal Rumble when he is tossed out of the ring by the Giant Gonzales, BUT Gonzales was not actually an entrant in the match. He was just doing a run-in. Does this mean that Gonzales becomes a lineal champion? I can see it being argued either way, but I’m going to go with no, simply because one can’t typically win a championship when he is not an official entrant in a title match.

This means the Undertaker leaves 1993 as the King of the Rumble, and he misses the 1994 version of the match because a dozen heels murdered him earlier on the show. No, seriously.

Taker is also absent from the 1995 and 1996 Royal Rumbles, meaning we don’t have any action until 1997, when Steve Austin eliminates the Dead Man in order to become our lineal champion for the first time. Austin goes on to hold the title through 1998 not because he skipped the match but rather because he accomplished the rare feat of winning the Rumble in consecutive years.

In 1999, Vincent Kennedy McMahon tosses Stone Cold and becomes the King of the Rumble, also winning the Rumble match itself.

Here we face another conundrum. Vince has never competed in another Royal Rumble match. He is still alive and I suppose could technically do so, though it seems highly unlikely. One could argue that, as a result, Vinnie Mac continues to hold the title to this day.

However, for the sake of keeping this exercise going, I think we’ll consider McMahon to have retired from active in-ring competition. In prior lineal title histories we’ve done in the column, when a wrestler retires with a lineal title, we revert the championship back to the back to the prior titleholder.

So, if Steve Austin is champ coming out of 1999, we fast forward to 2002, because Austin skipped the 2000 Rumble and won the 2001 Rumble. Kurt Angle eliminates him in ’02, making your Olympic hero the King of the Rumble.

Triple H eliminates Angle from the 2002 Royal Rumble and goes on to win the whole match.

There are no Hs in any Rumbles until 2006, where he enters at number one and is eliminated by eventual winner Rey Misterio, Jr. Weird that Rey eliminated somebody as prominent as HHH and was then buried so deep as World Heavyweight Champion.

Rey sits out 2007 and 2008, but, in 2009, he returns and falls victim to The Big Show, going from a very small King of the Rumble to a very large one.

And here’s another moment where things get weird. The Undertaker and The Big Show simultaneously eliminate one another. For lack of a better option, I guess I’ll make them co-champions. There is substantially more weirdness in this than I ever would have imagined.

In 2010, Big Show is tossed out of the Royal Rumble by R-Truth of all people, while the Undertaker is not in the match, so Truth and The Undertaker are now our co-champions.

Later in the same match, Kofi Kingston puts an end to Truth’s run, making him a co-champion alongside The Undertaker.

Kofi’s 2010 elimination comes at the hands of John Cena, who takes his turn holding our King of the Rumble Crown with The Undertaker.

Let’s get in one more title change in ’10, with Edge eliminating his old rival Cena and becoming co-champs with his other old rival, The Undertaker.

Aaaaaand now we’ve got quite a bit of a gap, as both Edge and the Undertaker go on a Royal Rumble hiatus. The next time we see either one of them, it’s 2017, when Taker is eliminated from the Royal Rumble match by Roman Reigns, who becomes co-champions with Edge, who is still MIA.

Reigns is eliminated by eventual match winner Randy Orton, who is now a co-lineal champion with his former Rated RKO partner Edge.

Roman Reigns comes right back into the mix in 2018, eliminating Orton but remaining co-champions with a still-retired Edge.

In perhaps one of the more surprising Royal Rumble wins in history, Shinsuke Nakamura ousts the Big Dog and takes both his lineal championship in addition to the actual Rumble match itself. Oh yea, and, we’ve still got Edge hanging out there as a co-champ.

Nakamura skips the 2018 Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia, which I totally would have counted had there been a title change there. However, he is back in the 2019 mainline Royal Rumble, where he is eliminated by Mustafa Ali of all people. Edge still hasn’t made his comeback, so he continues to be a loose thread.

Did you expect to see Nia Jax pop up in this answer? You probably didn’t, but she eliminates Ali from the 2019 Rumble to become co-champion with Edge.


Fortunately, Nia Jax did not win the 2019 Royal Rumble match. Instead, she was sent packing by Rey Misterio, Jr. now a two-time lineal King of the Rumble as well as a co-champion with his former Smackdown Six tag team partner Edge.

Speaking of two-time champions and speaking of people who used to team with Edge, Randy Orton is back to throw Rey over the top rope, making the St. Louisan Edge‘s latest co-champion.

Did you think we’re done with the 2019 Rumble? We’re not. Orton is sent packing by Andrade Almas during one of the starts in his start-and-stop push, meaning that we’ve now got Andrade and Edge holding our fake title together.

And keeping on the theme of late 2010s wrestlers who seemingly didn’t live up to their potential in WWE, Braun Strowman flings Andrade out of there, taking his spot alongside Edge. I’m running out of creative ways to incorporate Edge’s name into these blurbs.

Though he was probably one of the favorites to win the 2019 Rumble, Strowman just can’t do it, as Seth Rollins has his number. Rollins also wins the 2019 Royal Rumble match, so we can finally put that one behind us . . . even if Edge is still a co-champion.

Hey, it’s 2020! Hey, do you know who made a surprise return in that year’s Royal Rumble? Edge did, and he was eventually eliminated by Roman Reigns, now our first three-time lineal champion. Unfortunately, Reigns did not also eliminate Seth Rollins to put an end to our co-championship conundrum. Instead, Rollins is ousted by Drew McIntyre, making Reigns and McIntyre co-champs for a time, until . . .

Drew McIntyre eliminates Roman reigns and wins the 2020 Royal Rumble, meaning that we do not have to deal with co-champions for the first time since 2009.

McIntyre sits out the 2021 Royal Rumble match but is back in this year, making a “surprise return” that most people I know were not surprised by simply because they did not realize he had gone anywhere. He was eventually unceremoniously dumped by Brock Lesnar, who becomes the King of the Rumble for the first time. He also wins the 2022 Royal Rumble match, meaning that he’s got our lineal title until at least next year, barring something weird happening in Saudi Arabia.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. 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.