Due to wrestling’s scripted and pre-determined nature, it – unlike other forms of sport – can largely write its own stories with its own narratives. Despite this, or maybe because of it, information can be manipulated and changed over time with historical fallacies and record inaccuracies that lead the larger wrestling audience to believe them even if untrue. The following are bits of those common misconceptions that no sell the truth.
(A no-sell in wrestling means when a move or action is deliberately ignored, taking place without a reaction.)
Ric Flair Is A 16-Time World Champion
Although adamant to not break his record, John Cena equaled Ric Flair’s 16 world title reigns in 2016. Yet in reality, “The Nature Boy”’s total world title reigns is at least 21 and likely far beyond that.
The WWE’s line is as follows, Flair has won eight NWA titles, six WCW titles, and two WWF titles – totalling 16.
These dubious figures discount unofficial losses in overseas territories such as Jack Veneno in the Dominican Republic, Carlos Colon in Puerto Rico, and Victor Jovica in Trinidad. The National Wrestling Alliance does not recognise these wrestlers as NWA World Heavyweight champions with the decisions only made to prevent riots after the national hero came up short. Less spoken of Dusty finishes include against stars such as Bruiser Brody and Wahoo McDaniel.
There are also cases of brief title switches unrecognised by WWE such as a loss to Harley Race in New Zealand and regaining three days later in Singapore. Furthermore, Flair lost but then was regifted the belt amidst The Midnight Rider (Dusty Rhodes) saga. The belt too was held up in 1994 after a controversial Spring Stampede finish between Flair and Ricky Steamboat leading to vacation and a subsequent regaining by Flair. All are not part of WWE canon.
Then we have his two reigns with the WCW International title. A de facto world title, the belt was represented by the same title as the physical WCW belt, with the belt created when the NWA and WCW ceased their partnership.
Event the WWE unknowingly acknowledged a 17th reign in 2015 with Hall Of Fame inductee Tatsumi Fujinami recognising his NWA title reign which he lost to Flair, one WWE does not count.
Generally, the true status of each reign is questionable but the real figure of world title reigns is considered to be in the bracket of 21-25 and certainly not 16.
Goldberg Was Undefeated For 173 Matches
The story goes that in 1997, Goldberg rocked up in WCW, quickly demolishing his way through the roster to the top of the card, going unbeaten in 173. Figures reflect nothing like this figure.
The obvious question is do we count wins at house shows and dark matches and the like? If we do, we get closer to the figure but the streak actually halts at 5-1, having lost a dark Saturday Night taping to Chad Fortune, perhaps better known as Travis when teaming alongside Erik “Troy” Watts in the laughably camp and short-lived Tekno Team 2000 in the WWF.
Say, we disclude those and only count televised programmes – of which WCW had many – including A, B, and C-shows as well as PPVs, the number does not crack 100.
Colleagues and WCW workers have poured scorn over his 173-win streak with Chris Jericho saying the real figures do not “even come close to the number of matches they were claiming” whilst Hugh Morrus – Bill’s first televised opponent recalls “We’re in the back of these live events going, ‘He’s not even on the road! How’s he getting wins?!’ It became one of those things. We started believing his hype, like, ‘Where are these wins coming from?!’”
The Bryan Alvarez-penned book The Death Of WCW recounts: “One week, announcer [Tony] Schiavone’s number didn’t jive with the number the hardcores [fans] had. Then, the next week, it was even farther off. As it turned out, in a lame effort to make his streak appear more meaningful, the company had started to add imaginary numbers to the total.”
There was gross exaggerations with inflated numbers but this hyperbole did aid WCW ratings, with Goldberg made one of the biggest stars – albeit built on tampered statistics.
Hulk Hogan Was The First Person To Slam André The Giant
It is well established that the WWE is more than prone to some revisionist history. It was much easier to fabricate the truth in the 1980s with no social media or internet which could pass information as widely and as accessibly as today.
Leading into WrestleMania III, there were two leading plot points going into the colossal André The Giant versus Hulk Hogan match: “The Eighth Wonder Of The World” was undefeated, and also had never been slammed. Both of which were completely untrue.
To first cover the bodyslam, the seven-foot Frenchman had been slammed as early as 1972. Those to slam the Frenchman include Butcher Vachon in ’72, Stan Hansen in 1981, The Wild Samoans in 1982, Harley Race twice in 1983 and 1984, Kamala in 1983, Riki Choshu in 1984, and Otto Wanz in 1986.
Even Hulk Hogan himself had slammed the star of The Princess Bride on multiple occasions before ‘Mania in 1987, most notably at 1980’s Showdown At Shea in front of over 35,000 fans.
WWE has since admitted Hogan being the first to slam André is a myth.
As for those who beat The Giant, there are of course many examples before 1987:
- In 1974, The Sheik beat André in less than three minutes in Maple Leaf Wrestling.
- El Canek beat André in a two out of three falls match in the UWA in 1984.
- Antonio Inoki bested “The Eighth Wonder Of The World” multiple times including the semi-final of the IWGP League 1986.
- Baron von Raschke retained his WWA World Heavyweight title against the then-André Roussimoff in 1972.
- In IWE in 1970, Strong Kobayashi defeated André in a two out of three falls match.
The WWF later changed the claim to the more believable yet still disprovable claim he was undefeated for 15 years.
Nonetheless, the false accolades made the match seem like a much greater deal even if the claimed records were total twaddle.
Also, André was not the 7’4 the WWF claimed he was, more likely around 7′. Is anything real, it is almost as if his real surname is not The Giant(!).
The First WWE Ladder Match Was At WrestleMania X
The first known ladder match in pro wrestling took place in Canada’s Stampede Wrestling in 1972, with promotions like World Of Sport and Smoky Mountain Wrestling launching the concept before the WWF did. Contrary to popular belief, the first WWF ladder match was not contested between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X for the Intercontinental title; the first had taken place two years earlier in 1992.
On July 21st at the Civic Center in Portland, Maine, Bret Hart defeated Shawn Michaels in a ladder match for the IC title which served as a try-out for the match concept so Vince McMahon could get to grips with the idea.
Bret handpicked Michaels for the match after spending a lengthy amount of time trying to persuade McMahon to give it a shot. Michaels used the match afterwards but don’t worry, Bret is not salty about it only saying: “Had I known at WrestleMania X that Shawn and Razor were gonna steal my ladder match idea, which they did, it was just a flat out theft, and I was always kind of disappointed by that because it was my match.” Chin up though, eh, Bret?
The match was taped but never aired, circulating on VHS tapes. It only gained popularity when released on various pro wrestling DVDs.
Since the first televised match the 10th ‘Mania, WWE has played host to over 70 ladder matches featuring everybody from Sabu to Dave Taylor and The Big Boss Man to Gigi Dolan.
Just remember that Shawn and Razor – and even WWE – were both not first at the ladder match game. Talking of Razor Ramon…
No One Has Ever Kicked Out Of The Razor’s Edge
Until a few weeks ago, this was a fact I was sure of myself.
Few finishers really look as world-beating as the Razor’s Edge. Especially under Sheamus’ employment as the High Cross, the height and force of the move always looked deadly. A move pioneered by Ramon (introduced in his WWF debut, a match against Paul Van Dale, the father of Carmella), “The Bad Guy”’s iteration does look weaker in hindsight with him kneeling to break the fall – but boy, was it protected, or what?
Ramon simply said that if he was not going to win the match, he would not hit the move. Thus it follows that no soul ever kicked out. Well, except one…
The only person to ‘Get Up’ from the move is Brian Adams. Not the singer of the same name who laid down tracks like ‘Summer Of 69’ and ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ but instead the wrestler who was then playing the character of Crush.
Then-Kona Crush amidst his surfer phase, the June 6th 1993 episode of WWF All-American Wrestling saw Crush kick out of the Razor’s Edge after Hall hit the move followed by a noticeable delay. The match ended in a double count-out to protect both guys.
Yes, of all people: Crush. And not just that, on a random televised event. It is truly bizarre in hindsight.
Taka Michinoku Was The Inaugural Light Heavyweight Champion
Much in the same way that the 1896 Olympics were not the first installment of the modern games and Dickens was not the first person to use the term ‘boredom’, the true history of the Light Heavyweight title division is much earlier than often presented, obscure as it may be.
It is regularly depicted that the WWF hastily created the Light Heavyweight division to counteract WCW’s revolutionary Cruiserweight division, something reflected by the WWF’s lack of workers and general malaise of the division. It would be more accurate to say however that the WWF instead started putting it on television.
Indeed, when Taka raises the belt after defeating Brian Christopher in a tournament final, he was the 33rd champion.
The belt was first won as far back as 1981 when Perro Aguayo won the belt in Shizuoka, Japan. The belt’s longest combined reign was by Villano III whilst passing through the hands of noted workers such as Shinjiro Otani and Jushin Thunder Liger. Even though neither of the aforementioned stars worked a day in WWE, they held a WWE title belt.
Away from WWF fans’ eyes and only contested in external foreign wrestling hotbeds such as Mexico and Japan, the WWE does not count these reigns although that does not mean they never happened.
Despite move to the mainstream, the Light Heavyweight title was never treated with anything more than apathy even if there were great workers and thus great matches between wrestlers.
If you want to know how prestigious the belt was, long-time journeyman Duane Gill, portraying a hapless jobber parody of WCW’s Goldberg, was given the belt for 15 months. This was longer than Jerry Lynn, Christian, Dean Malenko, and Tajiri combined – that’s just stupid.
Fabulous Moolah Was Women’s Champion For 28 Unbroken Years
As TV Tropes put it, “The WWF promoted Moolah as holding the championship for the previous 28 years, meaning that (for WWF at least) she held the longest title reign by any athlete in any professional sport.” Yet, as you probably guessed due to the nature of this list, that figure is rather misleading.
The WWF claim The Fabulous Moolah was WW(W)F Women’s champion for 10,170 days, a figure which is impressive until you find out a) it is not at all true and b) the state of women’s wrestling, over which Moolah had a stranglehold.
It is undeniable Moolah had lengthy runs as women’s champion. The longest was a 3,841-day run (over a decade) from 1968-1978 but there were definite albeit short interruptions.
Moolah first won the belt in 1956 crowned the first NWA Women’s World champion but lost it in 1966 to Bette Boucher although she won it back 16 days later. A year and a half later, Yukiko Tomoe won the belt in Japan and lost it back after three weeks. In 1978, she lost the belt to Evelyn Stevens for two whole days before regaining the belt. A great piece on the subject by Justin Cummins documents a fourth as well, a contentious two interruptions of Moolah’s title reign by Sue Green – in one of which she shoot submitted Moolah.
Moolah’s belt loss was only official in 1984 when she lost to Wendi Richter at The Brawl To End It All with the new spotlight on the ‘Rock’N’Wrestling Era’ needing the company to modernise from the Moolah of old.
Holding the belt into her 60s, it raises the question as to why she was retained so long as champion, the simple answer is she was basically the only credible women’s wrestler at the time.
It may have also helped that she was allegedly an utter bastard who did more to hinder pro wrestling to keep herself on top rather than naturally let the female American wrestling scene flow smoothly. As one of the only female stars at this time, she basically trained everyone so all had the same wrestling training and style. So dominant was Moolah that she largely chose who she would lose to, which was practically no one, exploiting workers and forcing them to lower themselves to being at her disgusting mercy. For more, see the Dark Side Of The Ring episode about Moolah.
So yes WWE, accumulatively she is a 28-year-long titleholder but that is far from telling the truth between the dismal state of women’s competition at the time and the numerous title reign terminations.
Shawn Michaels Did Not Wrestle From 1998-2002
In the ‘New Generation Era’, Shawn Michaels made more than a few enemies who would revel in giving “The Heartbreak Kid” a good beating but he was just such a good in-ring performer that he could seemingly get away with his credentials in the world of backstage politics.
In 1998, those antagonised towards the WWF champion would get their wish when Michaels broke his back at the Royal Rumble, a moment pinpointed by many as when backdropped onto a coffin. Although threatening to walk away (like he did at WrestleMania 13), Michaels did the right thing and put Steve Austin over before walking out, a decision made much easier by threats from The Undertaker. His back cream crackered, Michaels did not wrestle again for four years, staying prominent as an on-screen commissioner for a period.
Except Michaels did have one match during his retirement, a supposed send-off in 2000 and he did not do it by halves.
Proving he could still go, in April 2000, “HBK” would wrestle at TWA Total Impact 2000 in a TWA Heavyweight title Bunkhouse Brawl. Lasting 17 minutes, it did heavily protect Michaels due to his injury status but still felt like a hectic hardcore encounter, filled with ladders, tables, and buckets of blood.
His opponent is this bout was a match who had grown up alongside Shawn so to speak in the business: Venom. Better known as Paul Diamond, both he and Michaels got their break when teaming in the tag team American Force. Crucial to each other’s early career, the two fought again when teams feuded as Michaels’ Midnight Rockers fought Diamond’s Badd Company in the AWA. Both teams, albeit with different gimmicks, found themselves in the WWF in the early ‘90s with The Rockers waging war with The Orient Express. The two engaged in combat again on the very first episode of Raw when Shawn defended his IC title belt against Max Moon, played but yours truly (but which I, of course, mean Paul Diamond – not myself). Suffice to say, big Pauly D seemed like a fair choice for the supposed small-scale curtain closer for the career of “Mr. WrestleMania”.
As it goes, Michaels was able to return for WWE’s SummerSlam in 2002, putting in the performance of a lifetime in a brilliant display for Michaels as he managed to beat long-time ally-turned-rival Triple H. Such would kickstart the best run of his career as he managed to permanently return to the ring.
On the topic of match disinformation, Bret Hart’s last match prior to his “matches” in 2010/11 was not against Goldberg at Starrcade but a January 2000 Nitro match against Kevin Nash which ended in a no contest. Moreover, Edge’s retirement did not come after retaining his World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania XXVII but after a 10-man dark match in which a team consisting of “The Rated-R Superstar” would emerge victorious over Alberto Del Rio and The Corre.
The “This Is Your Life” Segment Is The Highest-Rated Segment In Raw History
The “This Is Your Life” segment between The Rock and Mankind (not the crap Alexa Bliss/Bayley iteration) is one of the most memorable moments of the Monday Night Wars and although it is admittedly worse than you remember, lasting 20 minutes, it is undeniably an iconic moment.
The ludicrous segment led by Mick Foley was a huge ratings grab, garnering a 8.39 quarter-hour rating – numbers beyond the imagination of any wrestling company today. To compare, rival wrestling show Nitro did a 1.58, with the WWF nearly 7.00 ahead in viewers.
It is not quite clear why people think it is the most viewed segment but it is not, in fact, it barely breaks the top five. The Rock himself had already topped this previously in May 1999 with the most viewed Raw main eventer ever as he, Austin, and McMahon wrestled Triple H, The Undertaker, and Shane McMahon with guest referee Shawn Michaels (Rock would again beat 8.39, getting an 8.46 in July 2000 during an intergender tag affair).
The actual highest rated segment came on June 28th 1999 after the King Of The Ring PPV. In this, Austin challenged The Undertaker for “The Dead Man”’s WWF title, a match which drew a staggering 9.5. This became the most-watched wrestling match on cable of all time as 10.7 million people tuned in to watch the match. As Nitro aired a Kevin Nash versus David Flair world title lumberjack match that ended in DQ, WWF utterly trounced WCW, earning a historic high rating that has and will never be challenged again.
The Rock and Mick Foley’s “This Is Your Life” is, to not dismiss its high rating, an extremely highly-rated moment. That said, it did not even manage to outdraw a sub-90-second comedy match in which middle-aged Stooges Patterson and Brisco wrestled The Mean Street Posse. Yes, really.
David Schultz Was Fired For Slapping John Stossel
“Dr. D” David Schultz very well could have been one of the biggest stars of the WWF during the professional wrestling boom but will forever be memorable for one thing and one thing only: slapping 20/20 reporter John Stossel.
Whether you think the wrestler was justified in protecting the reputation of the sport or an overly-hostile and aggressive bully picking on an innocent outsider, the fallout from it was grave. Not grave enough to get Schultz fired though. Especially since the rumour is that Vince McMahon told Schultz to “knock this motherf**ker out if he gets out of line” in “Dr. D”’s words, presumably paraphrasing.
As mentioned here before, Schultz was instead fired not because of this event’s backlash but after an altercation with Mr. T. The fool-pitying star of The A-Team was so integral to the first WrestleMania which would have sealed the Federation’s fate that any potential conflict could not be tolerated. Being fired for this even lost Schultz a potential main event position at that event.
Events differ based on the source. Even the location is contested with a previous work here saying it was in Los Angeles but other accounts state it was at Madison Square Garden (in New York).
Stossel claims “They threw me out of the building with guns drawn to my head” after a confrontation was started, leading to his firing. Apparently, Chief Jay Strongbow reported the incident although it was fictionalised as a story to remove him.
Hogan however states in his autobiography that Stossel slapped T for which he was fired. Although to cite Hulk Hogan as a credible source would be like trusting Jimmy Carr’s advice on tax returns. Hogan was not on the card that night according to then-employee Bill Anderson.
Furthermore, the slap was aired in December of ‘84 and surely the WWF must have known a publicity shitstorm and lawsuit was coming up but decided to keep him hired. This would help get further attention and heat too. Schultz remained with the WWF for three more months.
No matter which version you believe, it is clear that David Schultz was not fired because of John Stossel.
This piece should dispel some of those myths that have come into common belief within the wrestling community.
From fake statistics to incorrect firsts and everything in between, it is clear that not everything believed is to be true in the creative and versatile world of pro wrestling. A storytelling technique, the audience is to accept facts in order to create a more compelling story even if what is being fed to the watcher is not the actual truth.
Of course, wrestling is based on constantly trying to create hype through a revisionist history so expect the misconceptions to just keep expanding going forward.