Top 5 WWE Wrestlers Never World Champ
by, 12-15-2011 at 04:48 AM (9553 Views)
Before getting to the top 5, he is a quick rundown of #'s 20-6. Check out the past editions of this blog series to read the commentary on each wrestler.
20. Jesse "The Body" Ventura
19. Terry Funk
18. King Kong Bundy
17. Superfly Jimmy Snuka
16. Magnificent Don Muraco
15. Ravishing Rick Rude
14. Scott Hall
13. Kerry Von Erich
12. Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff
11. The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase
10. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
9. Bruiser Brody
8. Stan Hansen
7. Rowdy Roddy Piper
6. Freddie Blassie
...and now, the Top 5
5. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
Closest he ever came: Wrestlemania IV, Atlantic City, NJ, 1988
Ricky Steamboat will forever be remembered as the winner of the single greatest match in the history of the WWF on the single biggest card in the history of the WWF. In a match against Macho Man Randy Savage, which words cannot do justice to, Steamboat won the WWF Intercontinental Title. Despite winning the NWA World Title two years later this victory over Savage remains the peak of Steamboat's professional wrestling career. Steamboat wrestled in the company during Hogan's entire first four year run as champ - which unfortunately for Ricky, meant that he'd never ever get a chance to be champ, yet alone even compete for it. Common sense would have led anyone to believe that the IC title win at Wrestlemania III would have been a springboard to an eventual world title reign - perhaps even a feud with Savage through 1988 involving the belt. Sadly, Steamboat's last match during his 80s run with the WWF took place before Savage ever won the title. It was at Wrestlemania IV, the tournament for the vacant belt which Savage eventually won, against Greg "The Hammer" Valentine where we can say Steamboat ever came closest to getting a chance to win it. He lost the match in the first round of the tournament bracket and that would be that for Steamboat. That was his farewell match. In retrospect, had the WWF been smarter - what they should have done even if they never intended to crown him, was to have kept Steamboat alive until the tournament finale against Savage where the two could have put on an impromptu face vs face rematch from the previous year which would have had everyone on the edge of their seat. This would have been a more impressive victory for Savage, as he'd be avenging the previous year's defeat and a far more fitting end to Steamboat's WWF run. Not to mention that it would have helped to preserve the heat DiBiase had up until that point, which was greatly diminished and never fully restored after losing to Savage in the finale. As it stands The Dragon will go down as one of the greatest performers anyone has ever seen, even if he never got to wear the most prestigious belt of his time.
4. Bobo Brazil
Closest he ever came: The Coliseum, Washington DC, May '63
Let's not beat around any bushes and tell it like it is. Bobo Brazil never achieved world champion status in the WWF because he was black. He was by far his era's most gifted and talented athlete/wrestler, and by all rights he should have been champ. He was with the company from the beginning and served as the top babyface beneath Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales for over a decade. If Bruno or Pedro wasn't in the main event on a given card, Bobo would be. More often than not Bobo would main event a card anyway - tagging with Bruno or even matched up against him in very rare face vs. face main events. You have to go back to the first few months of the WWF's inception to find the closest legitimate shot Bobo ever had to become world champ, and it wasn't against Bruno - it was against the very first WWF champ, the great Nature Boy Buddy Rogers. Bobo defeated Rogers in the main event via DQ, so of course no title change took place. A missed opportunity for all involved.
3. Owen Hart
Closest he ever came: SummerSlam '94, The United Center Center, Chicago, Il.
Owen's tragic death is really the only reason why he never won the world title. He was so great at every single aspect of the business there is no way the WWF could have preserved any legitimacy without having Owen have a run with the belt. Owen's hesitancy to sign a long term deal with the WWF in the midst of the Monday night wars with WCW is what kept Owen from being the one to dethrone Michaels, but after the controversy in Montreal there was no way Owen was looking to re-up with Vince and had his bags packed for Atlanta two years before his contract would have been up. Had Owen lived most certainly he would have been part of the WCW roster the WWF would have brought back into the fold after the purchase and then it would have only been a matter of time after 2001 before he would have won the title then. But we all know what happened to Owen, and so there is no world title credit to his name - and it's the title's loss, not Owen's. The closest Owen ever came to winning the title came early in his career with the WWF - in a main event steel cage match against the greatest performer in the history of the SummerSlam pay-per-view: his brother Bret. It will remain as one of the greatest steel cage matches in wrestling history, and when it was all said and done Bret retained his belt. Owen was young and had a long career ahead of him at the time, so we thought. It's hard to believe looking back now that this match would be the closest Owen would ever truly come to being crowned WWF champion.
2. Larry Zybyszko
Closest he ever came, tie: The Armory, Washington DC, Nov. '77
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, Jun. '80
The schism between Zybyszko and the WWF is one of the great unsung shames in company history. If Macho Man Randy Savage absence from their Hall of Fame is the most puzzling omission to date, Larry's is #2. And when Savage goes in next year Larry will be #1. Larry Zybyszko was a staple of just about every card the WWF held for most of the 1970s. He began as a top mid-carder/tag-teamer and developed into perhaps the most hated heel the company has ever seen. His feud with Bruno was the last great program Sammartino had with the company as an active wrestler. In a perfect world Zybyszko would have been the one to dethrone Backlund, as nobody else at the time was more deserving, and would have kept the belt for a year or so before dropping it to Hogan to get Hulkamania kick started instead of Iron Sheik. Zybyszko came close a number of times to winning the title both as a face and a heel. He feuded with the legendary Superstar Billy Graham on and off again, and during one night at the Armory in Washington DC in 1977 he grappled with the Superstar for nearly 20 minutes before being pinned. But the absolute closest Zybyszko ever came to winning the title was in the main event at the Garden in June of 1980 when he defeated the defending champion Bob Backlund after nearly 30 minutes when the match had to be stopped due to blood. It wasn't a pin or a submission so the belt didn't change hands and one of the greatest WWF stars of all time went without ever having won the title.
1. Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig
Closest he ever came: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, Jan. '90
When Curt first came to the WWF in mid-1988 he and manager Bobby Heenan would have been the first two people to tell you he was better than everyone else. The fact was, they were right. In terms of pure in-ring ability there was nobody better than Perfect. Nobody. To watch Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig work in the ring was to literally witness poetry in motion. Every move he executed was performed with excellence, every dropkick he unloaded was performed with unparalleled athleticism, and every bump he took was an aesthetic work of art. It's no wonder why he was labelled with the moniker 'Perfect,' because that is indeed what he was. Back injuries went a long way in helping to keep Hennig from achieving world title holder status in the WWF, as he spent most of his last few years with the company healing. Consequently, Hennig never truly had an opportunity to work a high profile program as a legitimate threat to actually dethrone a champion at any time while with the WWF. As 1989 came to a close Hennig was the company's top heel - and so as 1990 was ushered in he did work a number of main event matches across the country with Hulk Hogan pre-Wrestlemania VI and The Ultimate Warrior post-Wrestlemania VI. The closest he would come to actually winning the title was in January of 1990 at the Garden when he'd defeat Hogan via DQ after Hogan was caught using brass knuckles Perfect had brought to the ring. Hennig would close out the year feuding primarily with Kerry Von Erich and would suffer the first of his many back injuries soon thereafter and his window of opportunity closed - and as a result we can comfortably view Mr. Perfect curt Hennig as the 'greatest-WWF/WWE-wrestler-of-all-time-to-have-never-won-the-title.
Thanks to all who read each post in this series. One question I was asked would be who would 25-21 be. So as an honorable mention I'll say 25-21 would be: 25. Tito Santana 24. The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith 23. Chief Jay Strongbow 22. Gorilla Monsoon 21. Killer Kowalski