One of the most admired and recognized records in professional wrestling is "Nature Boy" Ric Flair's combined 16 reigns as World Champion (though Flair himself will tell you he is a 21-time World Champion, Pro Wrestling Illustrated, NWA, TNA and WWE all recognize only 16 of those reigns/title changes) since his first reign in 1981 when he defeated Dusty Rhodes for his first reign. While some of those reigns lasted only scant hours, others lasted a year or longer and saw Flair face down and defeat the biggest names in the history of wrestling including Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Magnum TA, Sting and many, many others proving that Flair truly was the man to beat and while there were always several promotions touting world champions at the same time, the title held by Flair (be it NWA, WCW or WWE) always seemed to bear more legitimacy thanks to it sitting high on Flair's shoulder or snugly around his waist. Flair was undoubtedly the greatest wrestler of the 1980s and 90s and while it seemed like he always had the championship, especially during his time in NWA and WCW in the 1980s, it was actually a collection of 16 reigns spread out over the two decades that helped to convey that image and while several of those reigns were clearly a Flair past his prime tenaciously clinging to whatever remaining time in the spotlight he had, some of those reigns established Flair as the dirtiest player in the game and one of the all-time greats in the ring.
16. WCW World Championship (8th WCW, 16th Overall) May 29, 2000
The date on the reign, Flair's final as World Champion in any promotion, should honestly say everything that needs to be said about this reign. Other than the fact that it lasted less than 24 hours, this capped off a two week period that saw the title get passed around between Flair, Kevin Nash and Jeff Jarrett like a hot potato over the course of two weeks all thanks to Vince Russo. On the May 29, 2000 edition of Nitro, then WCW Champion Kevin Nash, who won the title from Jeff Jarrett the previous Thursday in a triple threat match also involving Scott Steiner, gave the championship to Ric Flair on the grounds that Flair never lost the title to end his seventh reign as WCW Champion the prior Monday, but rather had it stripped from him and awarded to Jeff Jarrett by Vince Russo who was the authority figure of WCW at the time. The reign wouldn't last through the end of the telecast from Salt Lake City however as Flair was defeated by Jarrett later that night. This reign is basically an afterthought and the fact that it's recognized is very comical when considering some of the reigns and title changes in wrestling history that are not recognized.
Start your WhatCulture Crowd subscription
Exclusive New Videos, Documentaries, Browse WhatCulture.com Ad Free, View Articles On A Single Page & Member-only community forum.
JV Vernola has been a wrestling fan since he was three (around the same time Hogan was bodyslamming Andre) and has been able to write almost as long. He lives in the scorched earth that is the Arizona desert while trying to maintain awesomeness.