June 23, 2006 by B.G. Edgington
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Some famous moments in wrestling have been planned (i.e. Goldberg's 175-0 winning streak), but most simply happened and were not realized for their greatness until afterwards (The "Guerrero-Malenko classic" feud from ECW days). One such unnoticed moment usually occurs when a wrestler achieves what is known as a "Triple Crown" award in a particular promotion.
This is a term used to describe a superstar who has, at various points throughout his career, held the promotion's top three titles. These usually consist of a heavyweight championship; a secondary singles championship, and the promotion's tag team titles. WWE legends Pedro Morales, Steve Austin, and The Rock are all "Triple Crown" winners as is WCW sensation Goldberg.
Bret Hart is considered a "triple crown" winner in both WWE and WCW.
Superstars having achieved this level of success almost always find their way to legendary status in the annals of sports entertainment.
Before WCW folded and WWE split their roster, there was still one higher award for superstars to achieve and again it was often not planned, seeming to occur more by chance, and generally after a lengthy period of time within a promotion. I'm of course speaking of the famous "Grand Slam" champions. A "grand slam" is a term coined by the WWE to describe Shawn Michaels' status after winning all the promotions top titles. Simply put; a WWE "Grand Slam" champion is any superstar having captured "triple crown" status as well as the now inactive European championship. And although it was never mentioned on air, there was a WCW equivalent consisting of the World, U.S., Tag Team, and TV championships. With Rob Van Dam winning the WWE title at ECW's One Night Stand, the total number of superstars to have achieved WWE "Grand Slam" status now stands at six. When the promotion was bought out by WWE in 2001, WCW also registered six "grand slam" recipients.
And if one is to look closely at just who the "triple crown" and "grand slam" superstars in both companies were, one would notice perhaps on of professional wrestling's biggest missed opportunities ever; Chris Benoit!
As a great deal has already been written concerning the other fine points of Benoit's career on this website, I will forego a detailed career review and simply progress to my focal point. While in WCW, Benoit would hold all the promotions top titles culminating with his World title victory over Sid Vicious. His two most notable title reigns are his Television title run because it lead to what many modern wrestling fans consider one of the better "best of seven" series programs of all time with Booker T. And his controversial decision to vacate the World championship just one day after winning it citing backstage politics and a desire to move to WWE as his primary reasons for dropping the belt. After making the move to WWE, Benoit's title catching ability only continued with first several successive Intercontinental and then a Tag Team championship reign to his credit.
Things continued upward and, after dedicating 18 years of his life to the industry, Benoit was standing tall as the World champion at WM XX after a spectacular triple threat match versus both Triple H and Shawn Michaels, arguably two of sports entertainments finest performers. And this is where one of Vince McMahon's "creative" writers should kick themselves for dropping the ball. Were it but for one title, Chris Benoit would be the only man in history to have achieved "grand slam" fame in both WCW and WWE! And with WCW being defunct, no other superstar would ever be able to take away from Benoit's achievement by duplicating it.
Now, when investigating title histories for this article I discovered that "The Crippler" is by no means the only superstar to come close to duel "grand slam" status. Other noteworthy runner ups include; Bret Hart (never held European or TV gold.), Steve Austin (missed out on that WCW World and WWE Euro title reigns.), Kurt Angle (never a WCW Tag Team or TV champ.) and the late Eddie Guerrero (WCW never saw world champ or tag team potential I guess!). So while Benoit is not alone in this failed quest, he is the only one to get as close as he did. All he needed was just one quick run as the WWE European champion and "The Rabid Wolverine" Chris Benoit would have a special place in wrestling immortality all to himself.
Now, however, the European belt has been retired (Rob Van Dam being the last recognized champ after a title unification with the IC belt) and Benoit's chance at what undoubtedly would have proven a career boost as far as marketability and storyline value goes has been lost forever. But, as they say, hindsight is twenty-twenty and I guess this was just a quick glance in sports entertainment's rear-view mirror to ponder what might have been.
For those of you who are curious about the subject, the complete list of "triple crown" and "grand slam" champions for WWE, WCW, and ECW and the order the belts were attained is as follows;
"Triple Crown" Championships
WWE "Triple Crown" Champion
Achieved by any superstar having held the either main title
(WWE or World), either secondary title (U.S. or IC), and either Tag Team (WWE or World) championships throughout the span of their career.
By default, all WWE "Grand Slam" champions are also considered "Triple Crown" champions.
To date, seven superstars have achieved this honor:
- Pedro Morales
- Bret Hart (retired) - WWE Tag, IC, WWE
- Diesel (Kevin Nash) - IC, WWE, WWE Tag
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (retired) - IC, WWE Tag, WWE
- The Rock (inactive) - IC, WWE Tag, WWE
- Kane - WWE Tag, WWE, IC
- Chris Benoit - IC, WWE Tag, World
ECW "Triple Crown" Champion
Achieved by any superstar having held of the World, Television, and Tag Team championships throughout the span of their career.
To date, five superstars have achieved this honor:
- Johnny Hotbody (retired)
- Mikey Whipwreck - TV, Tag, World
- Taz (retired)
- Rob Van Dam - TV, Tag, World
WCW "Triple Crown" Champion
Achieved by any superstar having held of the World, United States, and Tag Team championships throughout the span of their career. By default, all WCW "Grand Slam" champions are also considered "Triple Crown" champions.
With the folding of WCW in 2001, two superstars had achieved this honor:
- Goldberg (inactive)
- Bret Hart (retired)
"Grand Slam" Championships
WCW "Grand Slam" Champion
Achieved by any superstar having gained possession of the World, United States, Tag Team, and Television championships throughout the span of their career. By default, these superstars are also considered "Triple Crown" champions.
With the folding of WCW in 2001, six superstars had achieved this honor:
- Lex Luger (semi-retired)
- Scott Steiner
- "Diamond" Dallas Page (retired)
- Booker T
- Chris Benoit
WWE "Grand Slam" Champion
Achieved by any superstar having gained possession of the either main title (WWE or World), either secondary title (U.S. or IC), either Tag Team (WWE or World), and the European championships throughout the span of their career. By default, these superstars are also considered "Triple Crown" champions.
To date, six superstars have achieved this honor:
- Shawn Michaels - IC, WWE Tag, WWE, European
- Triple H - IC, Euro, WWE, WWE Tag
- Chris Jericho (inactive) - IC, Euro, WWE Tag, World
- Kurt Angle - IC, Euro, WWE, World Tag
- Eddie Guerrero (deceased)- IC, Euro, World Tag, WWE
- Rob Van Dam - IC, Euro, WWE Tag, WWE
by B.G. Edgington ..
Ryan McLear wrote:
I think that you may have forgotten one other Grand Slam winner, of sorts. JBL has won the Us, European, WWE and World Tag Team Titles.
Pedro Guiterra wrote:
I don't really understand this article. Why is the title "Missed Opportunites"" All you talked about was "Grand Slam Champions" and "Triple Crown Champions". Who really gives a s***"
Johnny Boy wrote:
I' afraid i have to point out a name of a WWE 'Grand Slam' Champion. The man you just missed is none other than Bradshaw/JBL. As a matter of fact, JBL managed to win once the WWE Championship, the US title at Wrestlemania 22, the European Champion at October 2001 and he is a several-time Tag-Team champion, with the APA.
Bruce Keddie wrote:
Lance Storm held the US TV Cruiserweight title all at once i beleive
Lance Crucifix wrote:
You're wrong, a grand slam champion is someone who has won every belt they could be offered, Shawn did it for his time, Triple H did it for his time, Jericho did it, Angle did it. However, Eddie and Rob are not Grand slam champions, Granted Rob and Eddie both have held the WWE title, neither have held the World, and Rob has never held the united States, where as Eddie has, Edddie was one belt away from holding every belt the WWE could offer him.
TAZ23JS wrote: The Rock also held the WCW! title
Jon Rosaler wrote: You missed a few and not just JBL.
Kurt angle won the WWE Tag Team championship, not the world.
Also, Rey Mysterio is a WWE Triple Crown Winner as well WWE Tag Team,CW, and World.
Edge is a Triple Crown, Winning The Tag Team (more than anyone else) IC,WWE title
Big Show is a Triple Crown WWE Champion US,Tag Team and WWE title..
TNA has but 1 Triple Crown Winner: "The Phenomial" Aj Styles. 3-time NWA Champion, 5 time X-Division Championn, 2-time NWA Tag Team Champion.
I think it's called a Quadrouple Crown winner instead of Grand Slam. There is one more Triple Crown WCW Champion: Diamond Dallas Page. God, he was in R2R for godssake. He's won WCW World,US and Tag Team 2 rtimes each.
Tazz and Sabu were ECW Grand Slam Champions not Triple Crown. They Were the only ones to ever with 4 titles including the FTW.
Jon Rosaler wrote (a second email):
Oh, Wait, NVM, DDP won the Television as well, sorry my bad. but wait, you for got yet another Triple Crown Champion. WOOOOOOOOO! Ric Flair, WWE,Tag Team,IC
Jose Aguirre wrote:
Chris Benoit's legacy as champion is still a great one, he will not be forgotten and although he could of been a Grand Slam Champion in the WWE you cannot diminish what he has done in the business, plus if Chris Benoit's run as champion will be his only one(although i hope not) then it was well worth it.
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