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Ask 411 Wrestling: Who is the Most Decorated Wrestler Not in the WWE Hall of Fame?

June 16, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Christian

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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Michael K. is looking forward to a New Day:

Do you think Kofi Kingston is the modern day Ronnie Garvin and that he only got the title due to being a reliable, long time company man who was a safe option with many top names being out of the picture? Not saying he doesn’t deserve it, and the build was great, but he went from career midcarder to basically unstoppable overnight.

No, I don’t see many valid comparisons between Kofi Kingston and Ron Garvin. They won their respective championships for completely different reasons.

Garvin became the NWA World Heavyweight Champion in 1987 essentially because the powers that be who made decisions regarding the identity of the titleholder wanted Ric Flair to have a championship victory at that year’s Starrcade event. Once that decision was made, the question was who was going to beat the Nature Boy only to drop the championship back to him a couple of months later. Garvin, who had been working a pretty darn good series of championship bouts with Flair around the time, got the nod. Essentially, Ron Garvin was a transitional champion, though he was an odd transitional champion in that the two guys who he was transitioning the belt between both just happened to be Ric Flair.

Meanwhile, Kofi Kingston became champion because he got over, somewhat unexpectedly. Mustafa Ali was originally supposed to have been part of this year’s Elimination Chamber match for Daniel Bryan’s WWE Championship. However, Ali was scratched from the match, and Kingston got the spot as a last minute replacement. In obtaining the spot and in being the last man standing in the Chamber with Bryan, Kingston (who was already pretty darn popular due to the New Day’s schtick) elevated himself in the fans’ eyes to the level of someone that they wanted to see with the championship.

Continued strong performances and crowd reactions in the weeks after that Elimination Chamber match lead to WWE changing its plans for Wrestlemania. Kingston was made the opponent for Bryan when the original plan had been for Bryan to defend against Kevin Owens at Mania.

With the Kingston/Bryan match booked for Wrestlemania, WWE had to make a call regarding who would walk out of the show with the belt. In what has been a rare move for the company as of late, they actually read the room pretty well and gave the audience what it was clear from their reactions they wanted . . . Kofi Kingston winning the championship.

So, no, Kofi is not the new Ron Garvin. Garvin was a guy who was selected to win the title for the express purpose of losing it back. Kingston is a guy who was given the title because he got himself over in a big way when he was not expected to do so, and there were not, as far as we know, plans for him to drop the title even before he won it.

IMissMarkingOut wonders who is standing just outside the Hall:

Who is the most decorated pro wrestler not in the WWE Hall of Fame? Some names that have popped up for me were Ultimo Dragon, Christian and even Raven (counting his 27 reigns with the Hardcore Title if that qualifies), but who is at the top and what’s the odds of them being inducted?

On October 16, 2014, WWE.com published a list of their most decorated champions of all time, which counted not just titles from WWE but also promotions whose intellectual property that they own.

Though the list is a few years old, I highly doubt that too many people (if any) have cracked into the rankings over the past few years. Based on this list, the individuals with the most title reigns who are not in the WWE Hall of Fame are:

1. Raven
2. Chris Jericho
3. Crash Holly
4. John “Bradshaw” Layfield
5. Big Show
6. John Cena
7. Stevie Richards
8. Rey Misterio, Jr.
9. Christian Cage
10. Goldust

Another source for determining the most decorated champion in wrestling history is this thread by Reddit user SwingDingeling, which he says is current through the 2019 Royal Rumble. By his stats, the wrestlers who have held the most championships but not gotten the nod for the Hall of Fame are:

1. John Cena
2. Chris Jericho
3. Christian Cage
4. Mike the Miz
5. Jeff Hardy
6. The Rock
7. Kane
8. Randy Orton
9. The Big Show
10. Kofi Kingston

One difference that you’ll notice between the two lists is that the WWE.com article includes Hardcore Championship reigns earned during the title’s 24/7 Rules period, whereas the SwingDingeling thread does not.

Regarding the odds of these individuals making it in to the WWE Hall of Fame someday, I would say that just about any of these men has at least SOME chance of making it in. As we’ve seen over the years, WWE will let wrestlers from all positions of the card in to the Hall. In some respects, getting in feels like it’s just a matter of being on the right person’s mind at the right time. However, I think that you can place the men in to three broad categories when discussing their odds. Those categories are:

Definite, Definite Hall of Famers: John Cena, The Rock

Almost Certain Hall of Famers: JBL, Rey Misterio, Christian Cage, Randy Orton, The Big Show, Kane, Jeff Hardy, Mike the Miz, Kofi Kingston

Up In the Air: Raven, Chris Jericho, Crash Holly, Stevie Richards, Goldust

You could almost divide the “Up in the Air” category into two separate subgroups, as I’ve placed Jericho and Goldust there because I think that their inclusion in the WWE Hall of Fame is pretty likely except that there’s now some chance that there may be a political issue with putting them in if All Elite Wrestling really winds up having legs. Meanwhile, Raven, Crash, and Richards are all unlikely due to their being lower card performers in the Fed. Plus, Raven was reportedly never well-liked by Vince McMahon, which works against him, while Crash has another strike because, at least reportedly, the company doesn’t like to induct too many wrestlers who died at a young age.

Richard U. wants this internet wrestling column to get meta:

How about some biographical information on Larry Csonka and Scott Keith? Which reviewer do you think is better?

Scott Keith originally rose to prominence in the so-called internet wrestling community in the early 1990s through his posts on rec.sport.pro-wrestling, a Usenet group established for the discussion of, you guessed it, sports entertainment. After gaining a following on RSPW, he started writing for sites such as Wrestleline (an offshoot of CBS’s Sportsline), Rantsylvania, The Smarks (a Rantsylavnia replacement created when Sean Shannon ran off with the Rantsylvania domain name), 411 Wrestling (wonder whatever happened to them), and currently Inside Pulse and his own blog.

He’s also written five different books on professional wrestling (I once reviewed one here, and it didn’t go well) and currently sells compilations of all of his old “rants” about professional wrestling as self-published eBooks on Amazon.

Keith is married with at least one daughter and lives in Canada, I believe Saskatchewan more specifically.

Larry Csonka slummed it at some smaller websites for a couple of years before making his 411 Wrestling/Mania debut in 2004 (the same year I did, actually), and he’s been here ever since. Prior to writing about professional wrestling on the internet as a career, Csonka actually had a background as a musician, having studied music in school and worked as a church choir director for a period of time. In addition to 411, his work has been featured in other locations from time-to-time, including a brief stint on the Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online website if I recall correctly.

Larry lives in North Carolina with his wife – who actually used to co-host a podcast on 411 with him for a period of time – and two daughters. He’s recently been dealing with a medical issue that resulted in one of his legs being amputated, and he’s been a FUCKING BEAST in training to rehab and learn how to use a new prosthesis. You can follow is progress on his Twitter account.

(And, before anybody accuses me of doxing anyone, all of the above was compiled from publically available information about both men.)

Which of the two reviewers do I prefer?

You know what website I’m writing for, don’t you?

Seriously, though, even though my opinions on his writing have cooled over time, I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that Scott Keith wasn’t the first online wrestling commentator whose work I regularly and vociferously read, and his recaps had quite a bit of influence on the early writing that I did about professional wrestling on the internet.

However, over time, I’ve become more of a Larry Csonka guy. In terms of pure output and following the professional wrestling business, L-Zonk is much more prolific, as if there’s a show going on in the world that you can even barely argue is of some significance, Larry is going to be covering it. Also, though Larry will call a spade a spade when he watches a bad show, there’s an overall feeling in his work that he is still a fan and still loves this genre of entertainment. Keith, meanwhile, comes off as a guy who tolerates professional wrestling and continues to write about it because that’s what he’s known for.

One of those styles is a far more enjoyable read than the other, and I’ll let you guess which is which.

Night Wolf the Wise is backing the Mack with two questions:

1. Teddy Long’s theme song Mack Militant, wasn’t that the theme song of the wrestler he was managing in the early 2000s, Rodney Mack? When exactly did Teddy take over using that theme?

Yes, “Mack Militant” was originally the theme song for Rodney Mack, though Rodney and Teddy were a package deal when the song was debuted, so you could argue that it was really a shared theme.

The Mack/Long duo was split up in late 2003, when Mack suffered a knee injury that put him on the shelf for a period of time. While his charge was out, Long was moved from the Raw side of the then-split WWE roster to Smackdown, where he managed Mark Jindrak for a short stint. Mack would eventually return to action on the Raw brand in 2004, though he appeared primarily in dark matches and on Sunday Night Heat.

Interestingly, during the period of time where Mack was on Raw and Long was on Smackdown, they both used the “Mack Militant” theme despite having no affiliation with one another. If you poke around on YouTube, you can see matches from Heat as late as September 2004 in which Rodney enters to that music. Meanwhile, Long had become the general manager of Smackdown for the first time in July 2004, and, when that angle was shot, he entered to “Mack Militant.”

Mack was ultimately released from his WWE contract on November 4, 2004, at which point Teddy Long was the only one using the ring music in question.

Mack did have a second, brief WWE run during 2006, where he wrestled exclusively on ECW brand house shows. However, I haven’t been able to find any record of what music he entered to during that period.

2. Speaking of Teddy Long and Rodney Mack, they formed a stable with Jazz and Mark Henry. Wasn’t that stable similar to what the New day became years later?

No, not really.

Sure, Long, Mack, Jazz, and Henry are all black, as are the members of the New Day . . . but that’s about where the similarities end.

The gimmick of the Long-lead stable was based on Teddy being a militant (hence the title of the song) attempting to get back at “the man” for perceived slights against him, with the wrestlers being his soldiers in that war. Meanwhile, the New Day started off as some sort of gospel-inspired group before becoming sarcastic heels who eventually gained in popularity to the point that there was an organic babyface turn.

If anything, Teddy Long’s stable from 2003-2004 is more similar to the Nation of Domination. Heck, they even counted Christopher Nowinski as one of their members for a period of time, filling the same “token white guy” role that Owen Hart did in one version of the Nation.

Well, we’ve come full circle by starting with the New Day and ending with the New Day, so that ought to do it for this installment of the column. We’ll return in seven days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers