February 27, 2010
Graham Cawthon

I don't usually find the time to write a column for the site - torn between updating the site with batches of results (thanks for the continued support!), a more than full-time job helping lead a newsroom, and an actual life apart from either of those. But I'm going to try my best to do one every now and then, based on time and material to work with. A little commentary never killed anyone.

Mania Build

I've really enjoyed the overall direction the WWE is going heading into WrestleMania. I've said this for a few weeks now on the podcast and on Monday Night Mayhem, but just about everything they've done since the TLC pay-per-view has been with a solid direction in mind. There is less filler on a week-to-week basis and while we still have celebrity guests, their interactions with the wrestlers seem to be more focused than, say, last summer when we had to deal with Santino Marella, Chavo Guerrero Jr., and Hornswoggle time killers, pretty much all of which involved the weekly hosts.

Shawn and Taker stole last week, both via that incredible montage video (Placebo's "Running Up that Hill") and their segment Monday in which Michaels agreed to put his career on the line at Mania. The safe bet is Taker. But we don't always get the safe bet. And I see nothing wrong with the streak ending, even if it isn't this year. As a fan, I'd be a lot more interested to see how Taker takes a loss at Mania than how he takes a win. I've heard several claiming they would stop watching on a regular basis if the streak ended. I don't understand that viewpoint, but then again I'm not a diehard Taker fan (and I'm not saying that sarcastically - I think he's awesome, but I'm not going to swear off wrestling if he takes a loss).

One thing we are almost guaranteed, since HBK's career is at stake and will probably end, is a series of vignettes or montages recapping his 25-year career. Expect the WWE to tug at the heartstrings in the final weeks leading into Mania, perhaps making Shawn into the sympathetic favorite, ala Flair in Orlando. But expect this to be a lot better, match-wise, than HBK-Flair. Flair could still put on a good match in '08 but that match is remembered more for the finish than anything else.

You know one thing that hasn't been done in a while on a big stage like WrestleMania? A draw. Would the fans go home pissed off or would they be so amazed at the qualify of the match that they could live with the outcome? Just something to consider when it comes to Shawn-Taker.

I'd be very interested to see a Beth Phoenix-Michelle McCool match on the undercard. They've slowly been pushing Beth as a babyface, with her tweener interactions with McCool and Mickie dating back to the fall. I said a few weeks ago on the podcast - immediately following the Rumble - that I'd like to see McCool win the belt back from Mickie and go on to face Beth at Mania. Half of that has come true so far. We'll see how the rest goes. Beth could make for a good top diva babyface, but she needs some other larger women to work with. So far, that's not in place.

Wrestling Observer

We got a plug in this week's Wrestling Observer newsletter. I'll be the first to say the Observer has been an invaluable asset for this website. Without Dave Meltzer's efforts and the efforts of those like him, I wouldn't have much to work with.

Chris Harrington, who recently started helping out the site by breaking down year-by-year win/loss numbers according to figures on The History of WWE, provided a list of who wrestled the most documented matches from 1980-2009. It's insane to think about how much work went into this. I'd hate to think about having to detail every match on this site. My head would explode.

Here's the piece from the newsletter:

Reader Chris Harrington had an interesting list using results compiled in the History of WWE web site to find out what wrestlers have had the most matches in WWE from 1980-2009. It should be noted that there is no such thing as complete records. These numbers probably make up, depending upon the year, anywhere from 70 percent to 95 percent of the matches. So the numbers arenít perfect, but the order is probably pretty close. The top 15 for matches historically have been:

Wrestler Yrs Matches

1. Bret Hart (1984-97) 14 2,403

2. Undertaker (1990-09) 20 2,226

3. Tito Santana (1980; 1983-93) 12 1,885

4. Shawn Michaels (1987-98; 2002-09) 20 1,862

5. HHH (1995-09) 15 1,799

6. Kane (1995-09) 15 1,748

7. Greg Valentine (1980-94) 15 1,629

8. Randy Savage (1985-94) 10 1,614

9. Davey Boy Smith (1984-88; 1990-92; 1994-97; 1999-00)14 1,602

10. Billy Gunn (1993-04)12 1,444

11. Owen Hart (1986-89; 1991-99)13 1,439

12. Matt Hardy (1997-09)13 1,432

Hulk Hogan (1980-81; 1983-93; 2002-03; 2005-06)17 1,432

14. Steve Lombardi (1983-03)21 1,409

15. Edge (1996-09)14 1,406

The remainder of the top 30 would be Jim Neidhart, John Bradshaw Layfield, Big Bossman, Bob Holly, Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase Sr., Chris Jericho, Big Show, Christian, Brutus Beefcake, Jake Roberts, Mike ďIRSĒ Rotunda, Jeff Hardy, Rick Martel and Val Venis.

Again, this is using data that isnít comprehensive. Iíd estimate they have about 50-60% of the results from 1980-83 (and perhaps even less than that), closer to 70% from 1984 on, and Iíd guess 85-90% in recent years. So someone like Bob Backlund, who was champion from 1980-83, should be significantly higher.

In looking at the list, it looks like Hartís record is safe for several years. Undertaker working full-time could beat it in two years, but given the condition of his body, heís not going to work full-time and lasting three more years part-time is a question. Michaels has been trying to retire for years and gets guilt tripped into coming back, but he probably doesnít have 550 matches left in his career. HHH is the best bet to break it because heís going nowhere, but itís going to take him close to five years without an injury to get there. Kane is still working full-time and barring an injury could hit the mark in four or five years, but at 42, itís questionable if heíll last that long. It is possible that Edge or Matt Hardy could eventually last that long. Edge has had a lot of injuries, but has also established himself as a major name who can establish himself as an all-time legend. That can help him stick around when heís physically past his prime and also be like someone Michaels who picks up the mental tricks to make up for not being able to do as much physically.

I'll be the first to agree that the website isn't complete. It is a constant and daily work-in-progress. At the same time, there aren't many other avenues to find this information. So, for what it is, it's the most complete of its kind and I strive to improve what we have every day. I do need to improve the data from 80-83. That will come in time. I'm not in a rush. If I was, I would have driven myself crazy with this website years ago.

That's what I got for now. Any feedback or comments, shoot me an e-mail at the link above.

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