The Heir To Flair
August 21, 2007 by Logan H.
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Nothing comes more naturally to me in a sports discussion than breaking down and analyzing statistics. So when I decided to start writing a column, the decision to focus on various stats in pro wrestling history was easy. To kick things off, I figured we could all take a look at arguably the single most important stat in all of professional wrestling: Ric Flair's 16 world titles.
One could say Flair is the Hank Aaron of pro wrestling. Of course as I write this, Barry Bonds is in the process of dethroning Aaron as baseball's home run king and owner of baseball's greatest individual achievement (or so it is believed). All of this begs the question: who is pro wrestling's next Barry Bonds? Who's going to be the guy that ultimately challenges Flair for his spot in pro wrestling history? Will there ever again be anyone asked for the 16th time to carry the flag of their organization? Surely we'll have to wait and see, but until then, let's take a look at the candidates.
What makes a candidate? Well, for the sake of sanity, let's include only active wrestlers. This removes guys like the Rock, who would not only be the ultimate favorite if he returned to wrestling today and never left again, but would have more than likely reached #3 on the all-time list before the age of 35 if he hadn't left at all four years ago. In another effort to keep the list modest, we only want wrestlers that have held a world title at least three times. This might upset Christian Cage fans, but to be a candidate you obviously have to show that your employer trusts you with its highest honor on a regular basis. I'm also throwing out anyone over 40. Guys like Hogan and Sting are pretty much done, while guys like Booker T, the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels would have to start winning titles at a ridiculous pace to catch up with Flair. In Hogan's case, while he is very close, in order to reach Flair he would more than likely have to surpass Verne Gange as the oldest wrestler to win a world title. It's highly unlikely, although it maybe wouldn't be that surprising.
Good news: all this leaves us with a nice list of six candidates for Flair's record. Without further adieu, the list:
Wrestler Titles Age
Triple H 10 38
Jeff Jarrett 10 40
Kurt Angle 7 38
A.J. Styles 3 29
John Cena 3 30
Edge 3 33
Now, it's recommended that you look at this list with the notion that these guys have until the age of about 50 to make their run. One could argue 45, but if one of these guys is in his late forties, is close to catching Flair and can still go in the ring, they will certainly be in the hunt.
Triple H appears to be the top candidate. He needs six title wins in about the next 12 years to tie Flair. Jarrett is not far off the pace either, but with the passing of his wife along with his responsibilities in the management of TNA, he's finding reason to call it a career. Angle's days in the WWE have cost him a few years of his career, so we can lump him with Jarrett as long shots. Finally, there are the young guns. The road schedule is something that Styles won't have to worry about as much as Cena will, assuming Styles isn't lured into the WWE, while Cena's wrestling style presents less of a risk to injury. Edge is the dark horse of the group as he is a bit older.
While it will be fun in the years to come to see if the younger guys can bring themselves closer to greatness, and maybe even witness guys like CM Punk or Randy Orton (with an attitude change) start to build a legacy that would put them next in line to challenge history, all eyes are focused on Triple H. Quad injuries aside, the man is in great shape. He's still a top draw, and should be for years to come. He's in such good standing with Vince that if, at some point, he wants a work schedule like the Undertaker gets, he will get it regardless of whether or not he needs it. But should Triple H do the unthinkable and surpass Flair to become a 17-time world champion, what will it mean? Will Flair still be considered the better wrestler? It could be a controversy that very much resembles the Aaron/Bonds saga of today. Difference being this controversy would actually be good for business.
That's all I got.
by Logan H. (View/Submit your feedback here)..
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