Greatest Reign Ever?

Hi Scott, Let me start with the usual and say I’m a long time reader, first time emailer, so many thanks for the entertaining rants and reviews down the years. I was thinking about this the other day and thought your take would be interesting and all those on the blog might enjoy discussing who actually had the greatest single title reign in wrestling history? By this I mean a recognised World Heavyweight title reign anywhere in the world rated in terms of money made, future influence, match quality, storytelling, character development and other tangibles. But it must be a single title reign, so for example, while Austin’s run with the WWF Championship in 1998 was brilliant, it was split between two reigns so can’t count collectively but each of the two reigns could be considered on their own merits. Now apologies if I seem ignorant but my wrestling knowledge is really North American and late 80’s onwards, so if it was just about money made I’m sure Hogan’s 84-88 reign is the one, and I’m sure in terms of match quality, Ric Flair probably had a crazy good reign in the 80’s and finally in terms of drama and storytelling, Savage’s year with the title Wrestlemania IV to V is up there. But if you take everything into account, who had the greatest single title reign? I’ve been going back and forth between Savage’s Wrestlemania to Wrestlemania reign and Austin’s run from Wrestlemania 17 to Unforgiven 2001. Keep up the good work!

Yeah, the conversation pretty much begins and ends with Bruno Sammartino.  Eight years as WWF champion from 1963-71, and he pretty much invented the power wrestler template from which everyone else followed.  Drew money hand over fist as well.  Came back in the 70s and got another three years as champion just because Vince Sr. needed another couple of million dollars in his vault to dive into like Uncle Scrooge.  Runner-up:  Hulk Hogan’s first reign.  If you’re expanding to other, non-World titles, then I’d also nominate Honky Tonk Man.