And I am referring to his heavyweight title reigns only. Not his collective overall amount that he has won in his illustrious career. Just the amount of times that he has won the heavyweight title, no matter what organization he won it with. According to his Wikipedia page, Ric Flair is officially recognized by WWE, TNA, and PWI as a 16-time heavyweight champion. That includes 8 times as NWA champion, 6 times as WCW champ, and 2 as WWF/E champion. Of course, Flair says it is 21 time champ. But nonetheless, 16 times as champ is still something to be proud of. Especially when it is held by Ric Flair. One of the most well known names in the business. Just as well known, if not more, than Hulk Hogan himself. Now, I know, that is debatable. But, in my mind, Flair is just as instrumental to this business as Hogan is and is still just as relevant to the business as Hogan is. Hogan may have been the one who was Vince's chosen golden boy to take the industry to new heights during the entire decade of the eighties and a little into the 90's till he switched brands, but Flair was having epic matches during that time that would put him on the path to capturing 16 world heavyweight titles as well as being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice. Once for his singles career and another for his involvement in the greatest ever known stable in professional wrestling history...the Four Horsemen. I could go on and on about the man Ric Flair, but I won't. That is not what this blog is about. The purpose of this blog is to look as some superstars, TNA and WWE (sorry RoH), who have the potential to surpass his 16 title reigns. As far as I am aware of, this reign is the record to beat. If I am wrong, please correct me. Just like Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s 7 NASCAR titles is the record to beat. (Yes I know he shares that record with Richard Petty, but Dale is better.)
The first superstar we will take a look at is the one who has the closest amount of heavyweight titles to Flair. That person is none other than HHH. Currently, Paul Levesque is a thirteen time heavyweight champion. That is the all time record alone in that company. And if you look at his championships and accomplishments on his Wikipedia page, he is actually a 14 time heavyweight champion overall, with a title reign in IWF. Should we count that one? Might as well, since we are looking at overall championships. Does WWE count that in his overall count? Not sure. Highly doubtful that they do. Nonetheless, it has been quite a while since HHH's last title reign as a heavyweight champion. Currently on a kayfabe retirement/leave status and only on a limited wrestling schedule when he does return, one wonders whether he will even put himself back into the title chase again in order to at least match Flair's record, if not surpass it. I think we all know HHH's admiration for Flair as we saw at the retirement episode of Raw for Flair the night after Michaels retired him at WM24. He even grew up watching wrestling and being a fan of Flair. So, even if Hunter were to write himself back into the title chase, I would think, out of his respect and admiration for Flair, he would not try to surpass him. But, then again, I may be dead wrong. Flair may give HHH his blessings. That would actually be an interesting storyline to go with. Once HHH comes back and goes through his feud with Lesnar and Flair is back in the WWE, HHH will make his intentions known to the WWE Universe that he plans on surpassing Flair's heavyweight title reign record of 16. And they can either allow for Flair to bless it or go against it.
The next person on the list that is close to Ric Flair's 16 time title reign is none other than John Felix Anthony Cena with a total of 12 world title reigns. That is in WWE alone. Overall, with the addition of the OVW title reign, he is actually a 13 time champion. And to be fair across the board, let's count that one as we counted the IWF title for HHH. Now, unlike HHH, Cena is still on an active wrestling schedule. And no doubt, he has a lot more in him to go being 35 years old, where HHH is 43. So it is definitely possible, maybe even more probable and plausible, that Cena has more of a chance to gain a few more title reigns and possibly surpass Flair's 16. With him almost always being put into the title chase picture, especially with his current feud with CM Punk for the WWE title, I say he has a better chance over HHH to either tie or surpass that record.
Before we look at the last two WWE stars that have the chance to surpass Flair's record, let's take a look at at least one TNA star that has that potential as well. That person is none other than AJ Styles. Now if we looked just at his career in TNA since it first began, I would not even consider him. But since we are looking at his overall career in pro-wrestling as a heavyweight champion, then we should definitely consider him to be another candidate to pass or tie Flair's record. Technically, if you were to look at all the championships he has won over his career in the business in every promotion he has been in, including a few independents, he has won 16 championships. And in the interest of fairness to the others mentioned, those have to be considered. Even though, looking at the championships mentioned on his Wikipedia page, some of those don't say heavyweight which is why I was skeptical of counting them in this enumeration. But I added them nonetheless due to the fact that if they were anything but the main championship, such as television or cruiserweight or whatever division, it would have been described as such. So, with all of that said, all AJ has to do is win one more title and he will have surpassed Ric Flair's record of 16 title reigns in his career. And he definitely has age, speed, stamina, and talent to do so, just as long as TNA decides to put him back into the title picture and allow him to reign a few more times. And don't get me wrong, I am sure there are other TNA stars who have also amassed a good amount of titles over their career to have the chance to surpass Flair's record, but I wanted to keep this blog as short as possible.
My next superstar that could have that opportunity to surpass Flair's record is CM Punk. As with the others in this list, counting all heavyweight titles in his career as a pro-wrestler in all promotions he has worked in, CM Punk currently stands at 16 title reigns as well. That is including his current reign as the WWE champ. So, like AJ Styles, one more reign for CM Punk and he will be at 17 reigns and surpassed Flair's record. Also, like AJ, he has age, speed, stamina, and talent on his side to surpass the record. And even if he were to eventually lose this title down the line, I am pretty sure that he will no doubt remain in the title picture and regain it for that 17th time.
Last, but not least, let's take a look at the third generation superstar known as Randy Orton. Orton, the youngest of all those mentioned in this list, is also the one with the least amount of title reigns with only 9 over his career. His career also does not span a whole bunch of indy promotions like those of Punk and AJ. Before he came to WWE, he was in OVW but never held the actual title. He was the OVW hardcore champ twice. Unfortunately, for this blog, that title does not count. But again, Orton has a couple years more than the rest of them to be able to regain the title 8 more times. I know that seems like a lot and that he has the lowest odds of tying or surpassing Flair's record of 16 titles. But I would say that he has better odds than HHH does, cause he is still more of a full-time active wrestler than HHH these days. And if he were to remain as active as he is, and stay away from doing the movie thing like Hogan and Rock went to do and stay out of trouble as well, he definitely has a lot more years ahead of him to be able to capture those 8 title reigns. And even if he were to jump over to another promotion, say TNA or RoH, he still has enough in him, barring any serious career threatening injuries, to get those title reigns there as well.
As I am very well aware of the fact that I have left out several other wrestlers who have the same potential as these guys do to surpass Flair's record, these are the ones who I believe are in a position in their careers to be able to continue on for at least another 10 or more years in order to surpass that record. That is except for HHH. He may have a few more years left in order to do the trick, but not nearly as much as the rest of them. And we must also ask ourselves this question, would it be considered almost taboo to even think of surpassing Ric Flair's title reign record? I know that sounds silly, but is Flair considered almost royalty to WWE and TNA and all the wrestlers within the promotions that they wouldn't dare try to push any of these stars or others to surpass that record? Definitely something to think about and comment on. I also you leave you with this last tidbit of info. If you look at all the championships held by Ric Flair, heavyweight that is, I am counting way more than the official count given by TNA, WWE, and PWI. I counted a total of 27 title reigns all together. I will add his Wikipedia page as a link for you all who read this to count for yourselves. I also ask that you visit the Wikipedia pages of all those wrestlers I mentioned in this blog and challenge you to confirm or dispute my numbers of title reigns.
As always, I invite and encourage all comments, constructive criticisms, and suggestions to this and all of my previously written blogs. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing this, and I look forward to hearing back from you all. Til next blog, God bless and take care.
Adam T. Brown