Like many of you, I regularly listen to the variety of wrestling podcasts out there. My commute to and from work is around two hours a day, so I catch up on the great shows by Joe Rogan, Chris Jericho, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Wrestling Soup and Don Tony & Kevin Castle almost on a daily basis. It was when I was listening to the DT & KC show this week and heard both guys discussing Asuka and her undefeated streak in WWE. The conversation was great as always and both men made some really good points. It got me thinking; are streaks and records that special in wrestling and should we care about them? Are they that important and do they matter?
Let’s begin with the biggest streak of all, The Undertaker’s. His Wrestlemania streak is legendary and likely something that will never be topped in WWE. There are two schools of thought on this; those who think the streak should have ended and those who thought it shouldn’t. I have a foot in both camps as I was upset when Taker lost out to Brock Lesnar, but from a business and story-line perspective, it made sense. If anyone was going to beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, why not Brock? Couple the loss with the Dead Man’s age, and I can understand WWE’s thinking. A lot of fans grumble that WWE is too predictable and boring; well hardly anybody saw that loss coming did they? Perhaps that should’ve been that, and Taker should have retired, being carried out on his shield as the fallen warrior. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and his second Wrestlemania loss to Roman Reigns didn’t have an ounce of the gravitas and shock that the first loss did. Would it have been nice for Taker to retire with the streak intact? Yes, but had it only been the one loss followed by retirement, then I believe many would’ve accepted it. Incidentally, before Brock’s victory, some bookmakers had him at 20/1 to win the match. Wish I’d bet on that one.
To another recent streak that was broken in Asuka’s. Now this one I understood and was fully behind. The danger in having Asuka stay undefeated for any length of time – especially considering she’ll be in WWE for many years – is that it would harm both her and the women’s roster to have her undefeated all the way through her WWE career. If her destiny was to win a title, then we know she’s going to overcome all comers until her title shot. By having her lose to Charlotte – who was one of the very few wrestlers many WWE fans ‘believed’ could beat Asuka – it made the Japanese import vulnerable and human. She could be beaten. That’s not to say she’d automatically be a jobber and lose every week, no, she’d be more in the mold of the afore-mentioned Charlotte who has lost matches, but rarely does. She’s both a credible competitor and a believable champion. I was all for Asuka’s streak running from the moment she joined the main roster right up to where she would face Charlotte, but for me it made sense to have that aura broken to such a worthy opponent.
But what is the difference between a streak and a record? Undertaker’s streak consisted of a run of wins at a particular PPV, a streak without blemish before he fell to Brock. One could argue he also holds the record for most consecutive Wrestlemania wins, but Taker didn’t wrestle twenty-one consecutive Mania matches. Is that what makes a streak and not a record? So what is a record? Does it have to have that consistency and cumulativeness within it? Take a former WWE Champion and his wife, a former WWE Women’s/Divas champion as examples; CM Punk and AJ Lee.
Punk, as has been broadcast many times in recent months as a shot at Brock Lesnar, defended his title on numerous occasions during a 434 day reign. That was, until recently, the longest record of holding a top-level WWE Title in the modern era. Depending on what belt you count as the ‘main’ title, one could argue that Punk’s record was the longest since 1984, when Hulk Hogan held the title for 1,474 days until dropping it to the legendary Andre the Giant in 1988 in controversial fashion. Regardless, Punk’s modern record was broken by Brock Lesnar (the Universal Champion) earlier this year. One would think WWE wouldn’t be so petty to have their fan base endure an absent champion with a handful of title defenses just to prove a point against a former employee who is less than keen to work with WWE again. One would be mistaken. If proof were ever needed on how WWE will seek to break their own records to prove a point, just remember that AJ Lee’s record of 295 days was eclipsed by Nikki Bella who then proceeded to lose the title within a week of taking said record.
Does WWE have value in records or streaks? When it comes to action in the squared circle, they can conveniently forget about some aspects if it suits, for example, for all the grief the WWE Universe gave Brock last year and this, Alexa Bliss held her WWE Women’s Raw Title for over three months between defenses without the same outcry. I suppose it comes down to what we the audience view as important or sacred when it comes to streaks or records. As the old adage tells us, records are made to be broken. Perhaps that’s the whole point; WWE will create records only smash them for us to enjoy. But some records stand the test of time and reflect true greatness in a bygone era. For all the hype about Undertaker’s streak being broken, he will forever be remembered as the man who had 21 Wrestlemania matches and won them all before his first loss. The same could be said too about the late Bruno Sammartino who holds the record of consecutive days as a major title holder. Perhaps if both Bruno and Taker had at some point irked WWE in some capacity, we wouldn’t be talking about their legacy in such high regard. Then again, let’s be glad that Bruno didn’t annoy Vince McMahon, or we’d be looking at another 2,400 – odd days with Brock Lesnar as champion – that’s another six and a half years. I shudder at the very thought.
So what do you think? Do records or streaks matter in the modern day era? Should ones that have held up over time be revered and protected? Were you dismayed at Asuka’s loss as much as you were about Undertaker’s, or should we not class both competitors with the same aura as one another? Were their losses best for business? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.