The importance of finding the perfect length for a match to run is an often overlooked aspect when it comes to putting together a pro-wrestling bout. Sometimes you want that perfect blink-and-you-miss-it match that is designed to shock the audience and prove that the winning superstar is a force to be reckoned with. 2017, in particular, has been a banner year for these matches, with two of the shortest ever happening within the past 12 months.
Other times, you want to show that both performers have what it takes to go the distance and give them all the time in the world to tear the house down. This can be used to show how equally impressive two wrestlers are and really give the audience their money’s worth. Matches like this are few and far between, especially one on one bouts. This gave us a great reason to look back to the ‘60s and ‘70s for some record-breaking matches.
With all of that behind us, let’s take a look at the eight shortest and seven longest matches in World Wrestling Entertainment history.
For the record, when it comes to short matches, I’m leaving out all of the bouts that were ruled no contests before they even started or ones that ended right after the bell rang due to disqualification.
When it comes to long matches, I’m not including any Iron Man matches that HAD to go an hour and Royal Rumbles that tend to break the 60 minute mark. I’m also leaving out all time limit draws, as they were fairly commonplace in the early years of wrestling and am focusing on instances where there was an undisputed winner.
15 Short - Rusev Vs. Randy Orton, SummerSlam 2017
Time: 9 Seconds
This less-than-10-second match seemed to be a way to repay Orton for spilling his brains all over the Barclays Center in his main event against Brock Lesnar the year before. Good for him, after one of the most uncomfortably bloody matches in SummerSlam history, the Apex Predator earned an easy payday. It’s just a shame that Rusev was on the other side of the ring. It seems like the Bulgarian Brute can’t catch a break nowadays. He’s one of the most ruthless grapplers in the ring, and is surprisingly hilarious outside of it. Despite getting the jump on the Viper, the match ended up being an excuse for another one of Randy’s “RKO outta nowhere!™” moments. The thing that makes this saddest of all is that it happened to fall on Rusev Day. We just didn’t know it yet.
14 Long - Shawn Michaels Vs. Triple H, Bad Blood 2004
Time: 47 Minutes 26 Seconds
When Shawn Michaels initially retired from wrestling after WrestleMania XIV in 1998, few people thought he would ever return to in-ring competition. When Michaels did return in 2002, he was better than ever. He had kicked his demons to the curb, cleaned himself up, and went on to have arguably better matches in the 2000s than he did in the ‘90s. A lot of these were thanks to his blood feud with former best fried Triple H. Their rivalry lasted two years and all came to a head at 2004’s Bad Blood pay-per-view, where the former DX members met inside Hell in a Cell. The match was brutal and violent; everything a Hell in a Cell match should be. The pair gave it everything they had. Not only was the cage itself used as a weapon, but tables, ladders, and chairs (and stairs) as well. Triple H eventually picked up the win after three Pedigrees, giving the audience over 47 minutes of action.
13 Short - Bob Backlund Vs. Diesel, MSG House Show 1994
Time: 8 Seconds
Admittedly, this one breaks my heart. Bret Hart is my favorite wrestler of all time, but there are only two people I ever cheered for over the Excellence of Execution, his brother Owen, and Bob Backlund. Backlund’s second run with the WWE is one of my favorites of all time. Portraying an insane grappler with limitless old-man strength (which isn’t much of a stretch), Bob was able to take the WWE Championship from Bret almost 11 years after he lost it to the Iron Sheik. His renaissance sadly wasn’t meant to be. Three days later, he would lose the belt to the up-and-coming Diesel at a house show at Madison Square Garden. Watching Mr. Backlund puff his chest at the near-7-footer brings a smile to my face, which is instantly removed when Big Daddy Cool kicks the champ in the gut and delivers a devastating jackknife powerbomb to claim the title.
12 Long - Pedro Morales Vs. Stan Stasiak, MSG 1973
Time: 52 Minutes
There are conflicting reports as to whether or not the match actually lasted 52 minutes when Pedro Morales took on Stan Stasiak at the world’s most famous arena in August of 1973. Since the video that had been floating around YouTube for years has since been deleted and the WWE Network has yet to put it up, we’re going to take their word for it. Morales and Stasiak were a match made in heaven, with Pedro portraying the fiery babyface against Stan’s hard-nosed, rule-breaking heel. They would meet three times that year at Madison Square Garden. Morales won the first two encounters ,with the 50-plus minute bout being their first. It would be in their third match at the Garden that Stan “The Man” would dethrone Morales, ending his 1,027 day reign. Pedro would rebound, winning the Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships, thereby becoming WWE’s first ever Triple Crown Champion.
11 Short - Great Khali Vs. Damien Sandow, Raw 2014
Time: 6 Seconds
Here’s a match that didn’t do anything for anybody. By the time these two went head to head in June of 2014, the Great Khali was already seven years removed from his World Heavyweight Championship run that saw him at his most credible. This was also after Sandow had become the first person to lose during their Money in the Bank cash-in, but before his incredible run as Damien Mizdow. Sandow was smack-dab in the middle of an impersonator gimmick that is as trite as a Big Show face/heel turn, as the former Intellectual Savior was mimicking Vince McMahon in his home state of Connecticut. This caught the ire of Stephanie McMahon, who sent out the Great Khali to literally squash the faker. Khali could have shaved some time off the match had he pinned the downed "McMahondow" with his foot instead of going for the lateral press and hooking the leg. But hey, good for the Punjabi Playboy for retaining something from wrestling school.
10 Long - Team SmackDown Vs. Team Raw, Survivor Series 2016
Time: 52 Minutes 55 Seconds
When I was originally tasked with writing this list, I had planned on leaving out traditional Survivor Series matches, as I figured a bunch of them would populate this portion of the article. Surprisingly, I was wrong and only one SS match cracked the top seven longest matches of all time. What isn’t surprising, is that it was 2016’s epic five-on-five elimination match that made the cut.
Pitting the best men that Raw and SmackDown had to offer against each other, the near-53 minute bout featured big spots like Shane McMahon putting Braun Strowman through the announce table and a surprise Shield reunion. All in all, the match was a love letter to one of WWE’s most famous pay-per-views. Unlike the 2017 version that featured many competitors past their prime, the majority of 2016’s wrestlers, like Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and even Chris Jericho were in the middle of having some of the best matches of their career and left everything on the table when it came to this incredible main event.
9 Short - The Rock Vs. Erick Rowan, WrestleMania 32
Time: 6 Seconds
When we think about The Rock’s greatest WrestleMania matches, we think of his trilogy of matches again “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, his epic double turn with Hollywood Hogan, or even his bouts against John Cena. His match against Erick Rowan at ‘Mania 32 isn’t one that normally springs to mind. In all fairness, the segment does include The Rock’s most electrifying entrance of all time. Accompanied to the ring by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Dwayne brandishes a friggin’ flamethrower and sets his own name ablaze before making it to the ring for some good old fashioned “Sing-Along With the Rock.”
Not to be outdone by an amazing entrance, The Wyatt Family strolled down to the ring to interrupt the People’s Champ. This sparked an impromptu match between Rocky and the worst Wyatt, Erick Rowan. The Rock, who was ready to set records that night not only informed the audience they had broken the WrestleMania attendance record, but set a record for shortest WrestleMania match when he pinned Rowan in six seconds.
8 Long - Shawn Michaels Vs. John Cena, Raw 2007
Time: 55 Minutes 49 Seconds
If Shawn Michael’s feud against Triple H showed the world he was capable of a comeback, his matches against John Cena three years later showed them that he was here to stay. A mere 22 days after HBK and the Leader of the Cenation closed the show of shows at WrestleMania 23, they were ready to do it all over again. I remember thinking it was a bit odd that the main event of Raw would start with about an hour of the show left. I figured the match would end in some sort of schmoz involving Edge and Randy Orton, who were set to join the two in a Fatal 4-Way match the next Sunday at Backlash. Thankfully, that was not the case, and Michaels and Cena went on to wrestle for nearly an hour. It was an amazing back and forth war that outdid their match from earlier in the month. Michaels even shocked the WWE Universe when he picked up the non-title win over the WWE Champion, countering an F-U into a Sweet Chin Music.
7 Short - The Rock Vs. Big Boss Man, Survivor Series 1998
Time: 5 Seconds
At the time, I thought Survivor Series: Deadly Games was going to be one of the coolest pay-per-views of all time. I’m a sucker for one-night tournaments, and the Attitude Era had one of the deepest roster the company has ever seen. It was all set to be a tremendous night of wrestling, with huge names duking it out to be the WWE Champion. In reality, it was a rushed and overblown show, cramming 13 matches into its 2 hour and 44 minute runtime. It was full of DQ finishes, and of course, a screwjob ending. Only three matches went over 10 minutes. Two went less than one minute. The first was when Mankind beat surprise entrant Duane Gill in 30 seconds. The second, is why we’re here today.
In his first round match, The Rock wrestled Big Boss Man (who had already lost to Steve Austin earlier that night). As The Corporation’s corrections officer entered the ring, The Rock caught him with a small package and the rest was history. Of course, by the end of the night when Rocky had joined Vince McMahon’s stable, it was clear that this match was set up to be quick to save Dwayne from being exhausted during the finals.
6 Long - Dean Ambrose Vs. Luke Harper, Extreme Rules 2015
Time: 56 Minutes 10 Seconds
The battle was a great callback to when the two wrestled over Ambrose’s (then Jon Moxley) CZW Heavyweight Championship for Combat Zone Wrestling in 2011. Although it was not nearly as intense as their earlier ultraviolet outing that saw the use of both thumbtacks and broken glass, this match is still one you need to see. The best word that can be used to describe this is “donnybrook.” In a great tease at a no-contest, the Chicago Street Fight did indeed take to the streets. After about eight minutes of brawling, Haper and Ambrose got in a car that sped off from the arena. They wouldn’t return for another 40 minutes. With the clock still ticking and two matches happening in between, Ambrose and Harper spilled out of the car and made their way back to the ring. They continued to have as good of a hardcore match the PG-Era would allow. In the end, the Lunatic Fringe was able to pick up the duke over the Prodigal Son.
5 Short - Jerry Lawler & Chris Jericho Vs. Tazz & Naked Mideon, Raw 2000
Time: 3 Seconds
Remember when Tazz first made his debut in for the WWE at the 2000 Royal Rumble and beat the Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, ending his undefeated streak? As one of the most popular ECW wrestlers of all time, the Human Suplex Machine was a great addition to WWE’s Attitude Era. It seemed like he had so much ahead of him.
That was January of 2000. By the time September rolled around, he was lying flat on his back, getting pinned in three seconds by a 51-year-old Jerry “The King” Lawler. Tazz was promised a tag team match against Lawler and Y2J and was given a mystery partner to be on his side. Then, the iconic Real American theme hit and out came… Naked Mideon. As Tazz was distracted by his fanny pack-wearing partner, the bell rang, and Lawler schoolboyed the One-Man Crime Spree. Within three seconds, it was all over.
4 Long - Bruno Sammartino Vs. Dr. Bill Miller, MSG 1965
Time: 60 Minutes
We all know Bruno Sammartino, the Hall of Famer who spent over 11 years as World Champion over two reigns. During his time at the top of the company, he had countless matches that went past the fifty minute mark against the likes of Nikolai Volkoff, Pedro Morales, and Gorilla Monsoon. The bulk of them however, would end in a a time limit draw. The name Dr. Bill Miller isn’t nearly as well-known (unless, that super-common name happens to be your doctor’s name too). He was a 6-foot-6-inch real-life veterinarian who also loved kicking the crap out of people. The two would face off at Madison Square Garden, of course, where they would tussle for a full hour before Bruno scored the win right before time expired.
This is probably the second most famous encounter between Sammartino and Miller. The more popular tale about the two came years later and took place during a tag match when Bruno teamed up with Tony Parisi to take on Miller and Baron Scicluna. For some reason, the good doctor decided to take liberties with Parisi, and shot on him. This caused Sammartino to enter the ring and put Miller in a front face lock, which caused him to pass out. As the story goes, Miller apologized to Bruno when he eventually came to.
3 Short - Spike Dudley Vs. William Regal, Raw 2002
Time: 3 Seconds
Legally, the shortest amount of time a match won via pinfall can go is three seconds. We all know referee’s are trained to have perfect cadence, so that each time their hand hits the mat, there is exactly one second in between each count. I already wrote about Diesel vs Backlund being the shortest World Championship match ever, but here we have the shortest title match ever, period.
William Regal is one of the most brilliant in-ring performers of all time. Not only was he an incredible technical wrestler, but his psychology was unmatched. In less than a minute, we get a crash course from the master himself. Before the European Championship match begins, the brawler from Blackpool “accidentally” drops his patented brass knuckles in front of the referee. As the ref is removing the foreign object from the ring, Regal procures a second pair from his trunks and tucks them away in a turnbuckle. Since evildoers tend to get their comeuppance in the squared circle, Spike Dudley runs to the ring and coldcocks Regal with the hidden knuckles. Unwise to the shenanigans in the ring, the referee counts the three as soon as the bell rings.
2 Long - Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns Vs. The Miz & Damien Mizdow Vs. The Usos Vs. Los Matadores Vs. Slater Gator Vs. The Ascension Vs. Big Show & Kane SmackDown 2o15
Time: 65 Minutes 15 Seconds
2015 was a tumultuous time to be both Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan. The Big Dog had just won the Royal Rumble a few weeks prior but was soundly rejected by wrestling fans. D-Bry had been trying to bounce back after being forced to vacate the WWE Championship the previous year. He had the WWE Universe behind him, but not the behind the scenes folks who supported Reigns. The two were set to go head to head at the upcoming Fastlane pay-per-view over who got to challenge Brock Lesnar for the biggest prize in sports entertainment.
Both men had butted heads with The Authority, who put them up against just about every team WWE had to offer in a tag team turmoil gauntlet match. Despite constantly trying to one up each other, the Goat and Big Dog proved to be a formidable duo and were able to prevail over six other teams (including the Tag Team Champion Usos) in a match that lasted over half of SmackDown.
1 Short - Asuka Vs. Dana Brooke, Raw 2017
Time: 2.5 Seconds
“If I were you, I wouldn’t even blink an eye.” Those famous last words were spoke by Dana Brooke during an insert promo as she headed down the the ring to once again face off against Asuka. In the ring, Brooke was confident. She was calm, cool, and collected. In her mind, it was her night. It was the night she was going to snap Asuka’s long-running undefeated streak. Dana Brooke was all set to make history and shock the world.
Then, the bell rang. Unfortunately for Dana Brooke fans like me (Daniacs?), the only history that was made was a new shortest match ever in the WWE. Those who blinked didn’t miss the upset of the century, but instead missed the entire match. Dana charged at Asuka, who caught the bodybuilder with a beautiful flying cross armbar. Brooke had no choice but to tap out immediately, giving The Empress of Tomorrow a new accolade to go along with her unbeaten streak.