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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wrestling's Elite Eight

The hilarious NBC sitcom 30 Rock has recently helped popularize an entertainment industry term - the EGOT.

The word is used to refer to the elite few performers who have achieved the grand slam of entertainment achievement: winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.

In the entire history of show business, only a dozen people have earned the distinction of being an EGOT. They include such heavyweights as Mel Brooks, Audrey Hepburn and Whoopi Goldberg.

Caught in the throes of awards season, I got to thinking: What would be the wrestling equivalent of an EGOT?

It would be the few wrestlers who have accomplished four of the most prestigious feats in the sport. I'm not talking winning a world championship, which is something of a given for wrestling headliners. Rather, it would have to be an achievement that relavtively few people in history have accomplished.

And so I came up with these four criteria: Having won a Royal Rumble match, having competed in a world title match at WrestleMania, Having won a PWI Wrestler of the Year Award, and having been ranked number 1 in the "PWI 500."

Unfortunately, there's no snappy acronym for the short list of wrestlers who have accomplished those four feats, so we'll have to settle for WRM1's (Wrestler of the year, Rumble winner, Mania headliner, and #1 ranked.)

And so, let me unveil, for the first time ever, wrestling's WRM1's!

1. Hulk Hogan
2. Steve Austin
3. Triple-H
4. Brock Lesnar
5. Chris Benoit
6. Batista
7. John Cena
8. Randy Orton

It's an interesting list, both for who is on it, and who is not. Lesnar, whose national wrestling career lasted just two years, makes the list, but some all-time greats, including Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels, do not. (Flair is missing a #1 "PWI 500" ranking. Michaels, surprisingly, has never been voted Wrestler of the Year.)

Obviously, there are several reasons why the list is far from a perfect gauge of wrestling greatness. For one, since 1993, winning the Rumble and headlining WrestleMania largely go hand-in-hand (although two Rumble winners, Austin in 1997 and Vince McMahon in 1999, did not go on to get their world title matches at the big show.) But Hogan and Flair both won Rumbles and headlined WrestleManias before the two feats became synonymous.

Also, some of these achievements have longer histories than others. For example, the "PWI 500" began in 1991, disqualifying some all-time greats whose wrestling primes came before then (including, arguably, Flair).

Nevertheless, considering the stature of the eight wrestlers on the list, I think my WRM1 concept has some merit.

Some trivia about the elite eight:

. Steve Austin is the only one to have accomplished all four achievements at least twice. (Two Wrestler of the Year awards, two "PWI 500" #1 rankings, three Rumble wins, and three WrestleMania world title matches.)

. Three of the eight men have also won WWE's "Triple Crown" - the WWE heavyweight, Intercontinental, and tag team championships. They are Austin, Triple-H, and Orton. (Benoit never won the original WWE heavyweight title, but rather the World title version created in 2002.)

. Three of the men are also past King of the Ring tournament winners: Austin, Triple-H and Lesnar.

. Six of the men have worn more than one version of a pro wrestling world title. Hogan and Benoit both won world titles in both WWE and WCW. Triple-H, Batista, Cena, and Orton have each worn both the WWE heavyweight and World titles.

. Lesnar is the only one to have won a world title in UFC.

. All have been WWE wrestlers. Four once competed in WCW: Hogan, Austin, Triple-H and Benoit. Only one of the men, Hogan, has ever competed in TNA.

. Two of the men - Hogan and Austin - are in the WWE Hall of Fame. Four are in The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame: Hogan, Austin, Benoit and Triple-H.

. Lesnar was the youngest to earn all four achievements. He was 26 in 2003 when he won Wrestler of the Year. Hogan was the oldest, having been 38 when he was ranked #1 in the inaugural "PWI 500."

. Just one full-time wrestler is one feat away from making the list. That's Kurt Angle (#1 ranked, Mania headliner, Wrestler of the Year). The semi-active Kevin Nash needs a Rumble win to make it. As I mentioned before, the largely-retired Flair is missing a #1 "PWI 500" ranking.

. All eight men, in my opinion, are infinitely more talented than Whoopi Goldberg.

- Al Castle
PWI Senior Writer

5 comments:

Lou said...

Al,

Fabulous blog, love it a million times.

As carny as it sounds, I think that being a "WRM1" is in a way a much greater accomplishment.

Categorically, there are two dozen Oscars, 60ish Grammys, and dozens of Emmys/Tonys given out every year, and people can and are often nominated for more than one at a time.

But in achieving the WRM1, the only "category" you have more than one crack at every year is Mania headliner.

While it's true that a modern Rumble winner gets halfway there in the span of 10 weeks, it's still a much less mathematical probability to reach all 4.

-Louie Dee

Pro Wrestling Illustrated said...

Thank you, sir. I think I'm equal parts proud and ashamed of having come up with this.
-Al Castle

February 16, 2011 2:35 PM

Jimmy Quirion said...

Nice blog to read.

I like the rule about "Headlining Wrestlemania" instead of "Winning the Wrestlemania Main Event". Since results are predetermined for the sake of entertainment value, I believe it would have been unfair to only consider the WM main event winner.

The only problem would be the fact that we include 2002's Chris Jericho (the worst championship reign ever in terms of cheap wins) and maybe 2011's The Miz, if he ever gets to headline WM27.

But like I said, nice blog to read.

Have a nice day.

Jimmy Quirion

Le'on Edwards said...

I hate to correct writers who cover this sport,and people i admire,but jonh cena was never intercontinental champion.

Pro Wrestling Illustrated said...

Right you are, Le'on. I was thinking of the U.S. title. Correction appended.
-Al