You have to give WWE.com credit. Even when the give us a clickbait list, it's always food for thought because it's coming from the company that controls so much of pro wrestling history.
Yesterday, they published a list (that's still accessible via their main page) of who has been WWE champion for the longest amount of time over their total runs with the belt. Under the heading of "Where does John Cena rank among the longest reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champions?", it breaks out the top ten current and former WWE champs in order of days holding the company's main prize.
Before observations, here's the list:
10. "Macho Man" Randy Savage, 2 reigns spanning 520 total days (longest 371)
9. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, 6 reigns spanning 529 days (longest 175)
8. Triple H, 8 reigns spanning 539 days (longest 210)
7. Randy Orton, 8 reigns spanning 609 days (longest 203)
6. Bret "Hitman" Hart, 6 reigns spanning 654 days (longest 248)
5. Pedro Morales, 1 reign spanning 1,027 days
4. John Cena, 12 reigns spanning 1,198 days and counting (longest 380)
3. Bob Backlund, 2 reigns spanning 2,138 days (longest 2,135)
2. Hulk Hogan, 6 reigns spanning 2,185 days (longest 1,474)
1. Bruno Sammartino, 2 reigns spanning 4,040 days (longest 2,803)
Obviously, the thing that jumps out the most are the 1,000+ day reigns that dominated the 60s, 70s and 80s. Those are remnants of the days before WWE had to fill a minimum of five hours of television a week. That top three could probably be etched in stone, and it's debatable if Cena or Morales will ever be passed, either.
The other thing that struck me about the list and the entire article is just how malleable kayfabe history is. For a week we've heard Michael Cole crow about Cena being a "fifteen time World champion", then for the purposes of this post, they decide to only count times holding a belt with the company logo on it.
That also serves the purpose of putting some space between Cena and Ric Flair on WWE's all-time list and names like Triple H and Randy Orton. Going by the accounting that makes this the current champ's 15th run, Hunter would be right behind him at 13 with The Viper on his heels at 12.
If/when the decision is made to re-split the WWE and World Heavyweight championships, it will give the Stamford statisticians and storytellers a whole 'nother way to spin the numbers.
What do you make of the list, Cagesiders? Will any current stars break the top five of this list? Is WWE angling to keep Flair the man with the most top runs in company history?
Kick it around in the comments.