One fun debate in professional wrestling is who deserves to be on the Mount Rushmore of the industry, with most names suggested being former WWE stars. The top names listed for the honor include Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bruno Sammartino, and The Rock. However, in an interview with Forbes, Kurt Angle called John Cena the greatest of all time.
“I don’t know anybody else who has gone 13 years on top…I’m not going to say he’s was greatest athlete in WWE history, but he will go down as the greatest of all time in WWE history.”
It is a little controversial since John Cena has many detractors over his career, but Angle is right about the length of time that John Cena spent on the top of the sport.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE history. However, if you eliminate his first six years in the business where he was learning his craft and the first year in the WWE as The Ringmaster, he only had seven years on top as a main event star, half the time that John Cena has spent on top.
Hulk Hogan is the reason professional wrestling went mainstream, and without him, there would be no WWE today — at least not to the level that it has reached. However, Hogan won his first world title in 1984 and was out o the WWE by 1993, a nine-year run on top. Of course, Hogan did have his WCW run and later returned to the WWE in a smaller role in 2002. If added together, Hogan’s WWE and WCW runs is comparable to John Cena.
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair was the biggest star in the NWA and WCW for many years and then crossed over to prove he was a true main event star by making it big in the WWE as well. Flair won his first world title in 1981 and spent 10 years as the biggest name in the NWA. He then won a world title in the WWE before returning to WCW. After that, he was a legend in the ring but was never up to the same level as the top guy in the company. In all, it was about 12 years on top, less than John Cena.
Bruno Sammartino is one name that John Cena will never touch regarding success. While John Cena has held a world title on 16 occasions, Bruno only held it twice but for a total of 4,040 days. John Cena has been the top star in the WWE for 13 years, but Bruno held the world title for 11 total years – an unheard of accomplishment.
As for Andre the Giant, he never needed a world title. He was a special attraction and one of the most beloved wrestlers in the history of the WWE. His career, in total, lasted for almost 20 years.
On the other hand, John Cena started his career in an indie promotion called Ultimate Pro Wrestling but moved to WWE developmental in 2001. He made his main roster debut in 2002 and won his first world title in 2005. John Cena has spent 12 years as a main event star since that first world title win.
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Interestingly, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair has often called John Cena the best in the ring today and said that Cena deserves all the success he has received. However, when it comes to the Mount Rushmore of wrestling, Flair had four names for that honor, and none of them are John Cena.
“I’m just going to be straight up and down with you. In terms of notoriety, it would be Hulk, Austin, Rock, and Undertaker. Not really me because I’m very honest about it… For ability, I have myself, Shawn Michaels, Austin, and, only because of longevity, I’m not saying the other guys didn’t have the technical skills, and Undertaker.”
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