Pro Wrestling's most unlikely World Champions: Part III
It’s safe to say before his main event program that at one time nobody would believe a big bearded man with no real muscles that’s near 300lbs could ever be WWE Champion. How wrong they were. Mic skills? Check. Ability to make you laugh, cry, and say holy s***? Definitely check.
On Dec. 29, 1998, Mrs. Foley’s baby boy defeated The Rock to become WWE Champion.
All the sacrifices Foley made finally paid off. What’s more interesting is that Foley is probably the most unlikely New York Times best selling author too.
Fast forward to 2009. Foley had a brief falling out with WWE and chose to defect to TNA Wrestling for a more significant on-air role.
I don’t think Foley even expected he would be wrestling as often as he did in 2009. His TNA career highlight was winning the World Heavyweight Title from Sting on April 19, 2009 in cage match.
At that time, Foley was 43 and far past his prime. That big specialty match every few months was fine for Foley, but for him to carry a company as their World Champ after years of physical punishment and not wrestling full-time since 1999......
Terrible move for TNA.
Nice move for Foley, who had his longest World Title run. He was probably compensated pretty well too.
Indeed, those were some nice days.
Ivan Koloff: WWWF Champion (1971)
For nearly eight years, Bruno Sammartino held the World Wide Wrestling Federation Title.
Yes, surprisingly someone has held the WWE Championship longer throughout their career than John Cena. Shocking, I know. At least Bruno didn't wear gear on the purple or orange side of the color wheel.
On Jan. 18, 1971, the longest title reign in wrestling history came to an end at the hands of Ivan Koloff.
“The Russian Bear” shocked the world at MSG, but was booked as a transitional champion, losing the title less than a month later to Pedro Morales. The title change was done mainly to give Morales the belt without booking a face vs. face match against Sammartino.
Koloff’s reign may have been brief, but to lay claim to ending the most dominant title run in wrestling history is a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment in itself.
Bob Backlund: WWE Champion (1994)
Bob Backlund was WWE’s poster boy in the late-1970s, but in 1994, he was a crazed veteran who missed the taste of gold.
On Nov. 23, 1994 at Survivor Series, Backlund faced WWE Champion Bret “Hitman” Hart in a “Throw in the towel” submission match. Hitman may have refused to give up in the crossface chickenwing submission hold, but that didn’t stop his family from throwing in the towel.