Top 20 Wrestlers in WWE history to have never won the belt: #10-6
by, 12-04-2011 at 03:58 PM (6514 Views)
For #'s 20-16 & #15-11 check out my earlier posts.
10. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
Closest he ever came: Madison Square Garden, Oct. '81
What can be said about the "The Hammer"? He is a wrestling legend with a storied career that can be matched by few others on this list. Valentine had two runs in the WWF, and his second run is far more known and remembered than his first as it was the most recent of the two and the longer. Upon his return to the WWF in 1984 he was a top heal and quickly won the IC title - becoming the best talent to have held that title up to that point - and later formed one of the company's top tag teams of the decade with Brutus Beefcake. He was a master technician of the highest levels and employed one of the best figure-4-leglocks the industry ever saw. Greg never received a legitimate feud with Hulk Hogan during the Hulkamania run in that second stint with the WWF (though he did wrestle Hogan at The War to Settle the Score in '84), a program which Valentine had more than earned even if there were no plans for him to topple Hogan (I'm sure Valentine would have appreciate the bump in pay a Hogan feud would have brought), but he did come very close a number of times during his first run with the company. It was at Madison Square Garden in October of 1981 when he was pinned by Bob Backlund but awarded the world title by a dazed referee who had been clobbered by Valentine's foot while he was in the midst of a Backlund propeller spin. Subsequently the belt was held up for a rematch the following month which Backlund won cleanly.
9. Bruiser Brody
Closest he ever came: The Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, NY, Jan. '77
Bruiser Brody is bar none the greatest professional wrestler to NEVER hold a major world title in any promotion anywhere: North America or Japan. The only justification for this was the mercurial nature of Brody's business decisions. Brody played by his own rules - and that meant that he was looking to make the money. He was an old school journeyman. He'd wrestle in one territory one month only to go to another one the next, then come back again. He was a guaranteed draw anywhere in the world, and he knew it, so he wanted to capitalize. So Brody was never going to play ball long term with any one promoter to where a promoter would want center their promotion around him as champ - because with a simple storyline tweak, Brody easily could have been a great face and champion. That said, Brody had a number of main event matches for the WWF world title as the heel against Bruno Sammartino. Sammartino successfully defended the title each and every time, but the most memorable match between the two is arguably the steel cage war the two waged at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island early in 1977 for the WWF title. Brody left the company a few months after and the rest was history.
8. Stan Hansen
Closest he ever came: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, Apr. '76
Another wrestling titan known throughout the world for his accomplishments outside of the WWF. Yet it was his brief but memorable year-long run in the WWF in 1976 which elevated Hansen into a main eventer everywhere else he ever wrestled after leaving. In that single year Hansen, along with his tag-team partner Bruiser Brody, were essentially the company's top heals. Hansen's legacy was minted the night he wrestled Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden for the world title in the main event - a match which he won when the ref stopped due to the blood Sammartino was losing. It's also the match which Stan broke Bruno's neck from a bodyslam. Of course the broken neck would be attributed to Hansen's lariat clothesline and a legend was born, a legend who never won WWF world title.
7. Rowdy Roddy Piper
Closest he ever came: War to Settle the Score, Feb. '85
Rowdy Roddy Piper was the quintessential foil to Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania in the mid 80s. His heat with the fans is as responsible for the launching of Hulkamania into the stratosphere almost as much as Hogan and McMahon were. This was one hated man, and he knew how to milk that hate into the biggest most widely known feud the company had known up until that point. In fact, as far as mainstream cross over media attention goes the Hogan-Piper feud is still the highest profile feud in WWF history. Piper wasn't the greatest athlete in the ring, but he was a solid performer regardless. But it was Piper's heel persona which really separated hum from the rest of the crowd. His Rowdy persona juxtaposed Hogan's charisma is what fueled that feud for a year, even helping give birth to the Super Bowl of wrestling: Wrestlemania. After a memorable run as a heel in the mid-80s Piper became a beloved face later in the decade and early 90s - both turns easily could have warranted a world title run. Particularly as a villain. In a just world Hogan's four years during his first run as champion would have been cut into two reigns with a short stint where Piper would have held the belt. It didn't happen (and for the better - sometimes what is just isn't what's best for the company or for business) and Piper would have to wait until 1992 before he'd ever see any WWF gold - but only in the form of the IC title. But in February of 1985 at The War to Settle the Score on MTV Piper came closest to ascending professional wrestling's summit than he ever would in a main event singles match against Hogan, which he lost via DQ. This match set the stage for an epic tag-team encounter the following month which forever changed the industry.
6. Freddie Blassie
Closest he ever came (tie): Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug. '64 &
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pa., New Year's Day '72
The first heel of any notoriety in the WWF's storied history OTHER than Buddy Rogers, Freddie Blassie was a heat generator no matter what promotion you found him wrestling in. He'd make up his own championship belts, file his teeth down in interviews to bite his opponents with during matches and was an absolute demon on the mic. If someone were to erect a Mt. Rushmore to professional wrestling heels there is no doubt that Blassie's likeness would be included on the monument. Blassie's feud with Bruno Sammartino in 1964 was the first great feud in WWF history and culminated in a many main events across the north east. Blassie never won the title, but he came close a number of times. The two most notable instances happened in Pennsylvania. The first was in Pittsburgh at old Forbes Field. Blassie was actually declared the winner of the match by 'TKO' after head-butting Sammartino's groin, rendering the champion unable to continue for a third fall (Sammartino had won the first fall). Since it was a best 2 falls out of 3 match, the title didn't change hands. Blassie left the company soon thereafter but returned five years or so later to feud with Pedro Morales. On New Year's Day at The Spectrum in Philadelphia Blassie wrestled Morales to a draw in one of the great matches in company history in the main event for the world title.