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Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Was Kane’s WWF Title Reign So Short?

July 17, 2023 | Posted by Ryan Byers
WWE Untold Kane Hell in a Cell 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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Rex walks through hellfire and brimstone, and I can’t decide whether that is more or less impressive than walking for miles inside a pit of danger:

Why did Kane only get one very short title reign with the WWF Championship?

Because he didn’t need it anything more than that. The character was able to be dominant and remain over at a high level without the belt. Plus, during the era when he was most likely to have a longer championship run (the late 1990s/early 2000s), there were significantly bigger stars who kept the belt occupied.

Brad is throwing in the towel:

How many times has the WWE Heavyweight strap changed hands from a submission?

You’d think that I could answer this question quickly and simply with a number, but this is professional wrestling, where everything is much more convoluted than it needs to be.

The first thing we have to address is the fact that the WWE Title lineage is kind of a mess right now, but I assume the championship that Brad is referring to is what is now referred to as the “Undisputed WWE Universal Title,” which I guess includes the lineage of he original WWE Championship, even though it is still referred to as the “Universal Title,” which was a separate championship from the original WWE Championship.

If that is the championship that we are talking about, I’ve gone through and counted seventeen times where a submission was involved in a change of the mainline WWE Championship. We’ll run them on down and, in the process, explain why some are questionable entries on the list.

Number One: The very first change of the WWWF Championship was via submission, with Buddy Rogers giving in to Bruno Sammartino’s bear hug on May 17, 1963 in Madison Square Garden.

Number Two: We have to fast forward over twenty years for our next submission title change, as manager Arnold Skaaland throws in the towel for his charge Bob Backlund, handing Backlund’s WWWF Title to the Iron Sheik.

Honorable Mention: On September 1, 1992 in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Ric Flair wins his second WWF Championship by defeating Randy Savage with the figure four leg lock. However, I’m only listing this as an honorable mention because, even though Flair beat Savage with the figure four, Savage passed out in the hold and had his shoulders counted down rather than submitting.

Number Three: We’re still in 1992, as Bret Hart ends Flair’s second reign with the sharpshooter on October 12 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Number Four: The 1994 Survivor Series brings us our next submission title change, as Bob Backlund defeats Bret Hart, though there are some caveats as this is a “throw in the towel” match and Owen Hart pulls out some crocodile tears to convince he and Bret’s mother, Helen, to do the deed from ringside.

Number Five: It’s the Survivor Series again, this time in 1997 . . . and we all know what happens here. Shawn Michaels locks WWF Champion Bret Hart in Hart’s own Sharpshooter, Vince McMahon tells timekeeper Mark Yeaton to ring the fucking bell, and there is a new titleholder. Should this count as a submission loss? Arguably, it does, arguably it doesn’t, but I figured I’d list it so you could make your own call.

Number Six: One year later at the Survivor Series, the WWF reenacts the Montreal finish when the Rock locks Mankind in the Sharpshooter and Vince McMahon calls for the bell in the finals of a tournament to crown a new WWF Champion. Again, it’s questionable as to whether this belongs here, but in my mind it’s better to be over-inclusive than under-inclusive.

Number Seven: Here’s another questionable entry, this one taking place at the 1999 Royal Rumble. Rock defeats Mankind again, this time in an “I Quit” match but by playing a recording of Foley saying “I quit” in an earlier promo.

Number Eight: Moving past the screwy finishes of the Attitude Era, we’re into the Invasion, and we’re into Kurt Angle submitting Steve Austin at the 2001 Unforgiven pay per view in a finish that frankly may not have happened but for the September 11 terrorist attacks occurring earlier it the month and the WWF wanting to give its red, white, and blue-clad star a big win as a feel good moment.

Number 9: Here’s another entry that you could argue doesn’t belong on the list. In a bout taped for Smackdown on September 16, 2003, Brock Lesnar defeats Kurt Angle to win the WWE Championship in an Iron Man Match. Lesnar wins 5-4, and the third fall is via submission, tapping Angle with his own ankle lock. The finish of the match sees Brock up 5-4 and caught in the ankle lock himself, refusing to tap and running out the clock. It wasn’t the last fall of the match, but this is a WWE Title change, and it does involve a submission, so you make the call.

Number 10: John Cena submits Edge to win the WWE Title at the 2006 Royal Rumble PPV.

Number 11: John Cena submits Randy Orton to win the WWE Title at the 2009 Breaking Point PPV.

Number 12: John Cena submits Randy Orton to win the WWE Title at the 2009 Bragging Rights PPV. Is anybody noticing a pattern here? (And I suppose I should note that Cena actually submitted Orton twice. This was another Iron Man match, and Cena won his first and last falls with the STFU.)

Number 13: John Cena wins the WWE Title in an Elimination Chamber match at the 2010 Elimination Chamber pay per view, last defeating Triple H with the STFU.

Number 14: John Cena wins the WWE Title over Dave Batista at Wrestlemania XXVI, again with the STFU.

Number 15: Can you guess who wins this match? Yes, that’s right, it’s John Cena. This time, he taps out Alberto Del Rio to win the WWE Title at the 2011 Night of Champions pay per view.

Number 16: JOHN CENA’S STREAK IS BROKEN! This time, CM Punk gets a submission victory to win the WWE Championship, defeating Alberto Del Rio at the 2011 Survivor Series with the Anaconda Vice. This was the beginning of Punk’s big ole’ 434-day championship reign.

Number 17: In our final match on this list, Bobby Lashley slaps the Hurt Lock on to Mike the Miz to win the WWE Championship on the March 1, 2021 episode of Monday Night Raw. It was fun to see Mike be used as an old school transitional champion.

And there you have it. There are seventeen matches that at least arguably belong on the list plus an honorable mention for good measure. Of the seventeen, nine are straight submission victories. Two involved a second for a wrestler throwing in the towel. One was a legitimate screwjob finish. Two were worked screwjob finishes. One was an Iron Man match that involved a submission but not as the final fall. One was an Iron man match, though the submission was the final fall. One was the final fall of an Elimination Chamber match.

Marky Mark has taken time out from his busy schedule of funky bunching and hamburger-based reality shows to send in this question:

Steve Cook wrote an article on top seven interviewers in wrestling. Under Roddy Piper, he stated, “Piper’s Pit might not have been the first interview segment hosted by a wrestler, but it was definitely the most significant.” If Piper’s Pit was not the first who was?

Piper’s Pit was predated by Rogers’ Corner, which featured WWF stars being interviewed by the first WWWF Champion, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers – also the first guy to lose the WWWF/WWF/WWE Championship via submission, as we explored above. Rogers’ Corner was part of the Fed’s shows in 1982, whereas Piper’s Pit wasn’t on the air until 1984.

I’ve been watching The Righteous Gemstones lately, so I almost accidentally referred to Kevin as Kelvin:

I’ve been watching 1996 WCW and remember from later years, why did they never hype up the undercard on their PPVs? You never really even knew who would be on it.

It’s just a different philosophy of booking. The idea is that you don’t have to worry about the undercard because it’s just the top couple of matches on the show that actually draw the house and the PPV buys.

Jon is historically significant:

Please rank these events not by how memorable or cool they were, but by how much they changed the trajectory of pro wrestling and why. Feel free to add more that I may have missed:

WrestleMania 3
Montreal/Mr. McMahon character
Hall and Nash going to WCW
The Elite/founding of AEW
Vince eliminating the territories
Ted Turner buys WCW/puts Bischoff in charge

I would place them in the following order, from least important to most important:

6. The Elite/founding of AEW
5. Wrestlemania III
4. Hall and Nash going to WCW
3. Ted Turner buys WCW/puts Bischoff in charge
2. Montreal/Mr. McMahon character
1. Vince eliminating the territories

The founding of AEW is at the bottom of the list in large part because it’s still so early in the company’s history that its true impact on the wrestling industry is still developing. We may not truly know what it has meant for another ten years.

As far as Wrestlemania III is concerned, it was a massive pro wrestling show, but it was massive because Hulk Hogan and the WWF were already massive. Mania III is a big part of the company’s mythology, but it’s not as though it didn’t take the company anyplace it wasn’t going anyway.

Hall and Nash going to WCW was the starting point of the nWo, which changed the face of wrestling in a lot of ways, but Hulk Hogan turning heel and joining the group was of significantly more importance than the Outsiders themselves.

You could argue that Ted Turner buying Jim Crockett Promotions (it wasn’t called WCW yet) and Eric Bischoff being put in charge should be two different entries, because the latter didn’t happen until several years after the former. However, if you combine them, it’s pretty big because Bischoff’s ascendancy resulted in the Monday Night War, which didn’t appear to be in the cards until Easy E came up with the idea.

Montreal and Vince McMahon turning heel was a significant development in the saga of Steve Austin, who had the hottest business run (for a brief period of time) in the history of the WWF/WWE, the largest wrestling promotion in history. That’s pretty damn significant.

And, finally, the death of the territories tops the list. It totally restructured wrestling on a national level, which also had some international fallout. Had there been multiple wrestling promotions throughout the U.S. for the last forty years, things would be remarkably different than they are now – in many ways that we probably can’t even predict.

Tyler from Winnipeg is asking about . . . wait, what?

Happy to see PAC back in AEW, glad his travel issue is resolved.

Hold on, is there a question here?

Big Al thinks Saturday night may not be the best night for fightin’ after all:

Why are all the PPVs (or PLEs as they like to call them) now on Saturdays? I understand events like Wrestlemania are two-day events but the others are not. I used to like sitting in on Sunday night watching them. On Saturday nights the last thing I’m doing is watching TV and if I am it’s the UFC PPV’s. So what gives?

It was a conscious choice by the Khans – Tony and Nick – to try to create events with bigger live gates by targeting people who will fly in for the shows and pay more money for tickets because they consider it part of a larger experience / vacation. The idea is that fans will be more likely to fly in if you have the event on Saturday and they can, if needed, travel home on Sunday to make work on Monday . . . or at the very least get back by Tuesday and minimize time away from their jobs.

As it relates to WWE, they’re really not even selling PPVs/PLEs any more. They’re using them to draw eyeballs to Peacock and thereby justify the ludicrous amount of money NBC/Universal is paying them. Because of this, WWE doesn’t even really care when you watch the shows anymore. They just care that you subscribe to Peacock to watch them.

HBK’s Smile wants to play the name game. That’s smile, smile, smo-smile, bananan fanna bo bile . . .

What men’s and women’s World Champions from the same federation share a (kayfabe) last name, whether coincidentally or otherwise? The ones I thought of were Flair (Ric & Charlotte – WWE), Martel (Rick & Sherri – AWA), and McIntyre (Velvet and Drew – WWE).

There haven’t been a ton of these, and Mr. Smile probably nailed the biggest examples in the question itself, but here are a few more he didn’t account for.

When she held the WWF Women’s Title, the individual who we regularly refer to as Stephanie McMahon-Levesque these days was known as Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, which would give her the same last name as two different WWF Champions on the men’s side of the card, namely her father Vince McMahon and her husband, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, a.k.a. Triple H.

Mad Dog Vachon was, at the very least, a three-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion and possibly a four-time champion depending on how you want to count a weird title win that was only recognized in limited markets. His legitimate sister, Vivian Vachon, was also once recognized as an AWA Women’s World Heavyweight Champion in 1971, though it was during a period when the title faded in and out of existence and had little established continuity.

This might be a little bit of a loophole, but there was a TNA Women’s Champion and a TNA World Champion who both had the last name of Blanchard . . . but they were also the same person. This results form Tessa Blanchard having held both the men’s and women’s titles in TNA.

I’m beginning to question whether Night Wolf the Wise is really a wolf:

WWE refuses to build megastars because they don’t want them being bigger then the WWE. Who is to blame for WWE having that mentality? My guess would have to be Brock Lesnar. And will WWE ever move on from that mentality and create Stars again?

WWE’s reluctance to build a star who is bigger than the company has to be blamed on Vince McMahon. He’s the one who was making all their creative decisions at the time.

I believe we may have seen some deviation from the mentality of not wanting a star bigger than the company in that the promotion is putting Roman Reigns over as a regular character who is bigger than any of the others, but, at this point, there are so few people watching WWE compared to where it was at its peak that it will be remarkably difficult for anybody to become a transcendent megastars, regardless of how the company builds them.

Robert has his mind on WWE’s money and WWE’s money on his mind:

I’ve always heard about the Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man being bad draws as Heavyweight Champ, but how long does it take to determine such a thing (or how long in the late-80’s, early 90’s). Especially with Warrior, he won the belt at Wrestlemania but had it for less than a year. That seems like an incredibly short time to determine that he’s not drawing.

During the period of time those men were WWF Champion, the promotion was running at least five live shows a week. Also, cards were announced and promoted to local fans in advance, and fans would make decisions about whether to attend the show based on what the cards were. The title match was the most important match on the show, and it was the main thing that people were making their decision to buy tickets on.

So, yeah, you could actually tell pretty quickly whether somebody was or was not drawing. It’s a matter of analyzing the ticket sales week over week.

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.

article topics :

Ask 411 Wrestling, Kane, WWE, Ryan Byers