Have you noticed in WWE how everyone is always introduced by the number of championships they’ve won? John Cena is a fifteen-time world champion; The Dudley Boyz are nine-time tag team champions; Tyler Breeze is a... oh, wait, never mind. However, what WWE seem to not realize is that quantity isn’t always everything. Winning a title fifteen times means you’ve also lost it fifteen times and you could reign for one year or one day and it all still mean the same. And that’s the point I’m trying to make; holding the title for more days is surely more impressive than holding it more times and these reigns all go to prove that theory. Sometimes in wrestling, for whatever reason, a championship reign can begin and end on the same day. Sometimes it’s used to further storylines, sometimes it can be used as a way of passing a title quickly from one wrestler to another and sometimes it’s just insane booking or complete random turns of events.
For whatever reason, these men’s histories will forever be blemished by these tiny title reigns. The world championships included on this list are the WWE, World Heavyweight (from WWE), WCW, NWA and ECW (no, not the one Ezekiel Jackson won, never that one). So, without further ado, let’s get on with it shall we? Here are fifteen world championship reigns that lasted less than a single day.
15 Seth Rollins – Money In The Bank 2016
We’ll begin with the most recent one, shall we?
Seth freakin’ Rollins became one of the top singles stars in WWE when he broke away from The Shield in June 2014. WWE got fully behind The Architect, giving him the Money in the Bank briefcase just weeks after the split and primed him for a run with the company’s top belt that not even some leaked naughty photographs could stop. Such is the power of cross-fit Jesus. Rollins’ first world title run came about at WrestleMania 31, cashing in the briefcase in the main event in dramatic fashion and saving what promised to be a disappointing end to a great show. Rollins’ title run came to an abrupt end in November 2015 when he blew out his knee at a house show, forcing him to vacate the belt after 220 days as champion. Damn you, Kane! This is almost as bad as that damn Katie Vick angle!
Rollins returned a few months later at Extreme Rules 2016, attacking new champion Roman Reigns after the main event. The match was set for Money In The Bank and the two put on an incredible match that ended with Rollins shockingly defeating WWE’s golden boy to win the belt. Actually, I think, technically, the wellness policy defeated Roman Reigns. Awkward. With Rollins celebrating his title win, everyone was in surprise as to where WWE were going next. Luckily, they didn’t have to wait long. As Rollins celebrated with his new belt, whose music should hit but Rollins old enemy, Dean Ambrose’s. Ambrose snuck into the ring and knocked down Rollins with his newly won Money in the Bank briefcase and, to the pleasure of everyone in the arena that night, cashed in the briefcase he had won that night on Rollins to win the championship, ending Rollins’ second title reign in a matter of minutes. He may be Raw’s top babyface right now, but Rollins was a heel at the time and had screwed over Dean Ambrose worse than WWE creative. To see Dean get one over on his oldest foe was an incredible sight and it made it even better to see the evil Rollins regain his title for less than one day. Not to say that I don’t love you Seth, but this was a cool moment.
14 Roman Reigns – Survivor Series 2015
Damn, ex-Shield members don’t have the best luck, do they?
It was apparent right from the break-up of The Shield that Reigns was the company’s next pet project. Whilst his two former stablemates were feuding with each other, Reigns was placed in the main event of the next two Pay-Per-Views, both for the world title. His first championship reign would have undoubtedly come at WrestleMania 31 had fans taken to him better, but, as we all know, they didn’t and the night ended with a Rollins title win instead. Thank god for that. Over the next few months, Reigns dropped back into the upper-midcard scene, but, when Rollins got hurt, WWE went back to their old ways and slapped a rocket on Reigns’ back. Here we go again.
Reigns’ crowning moment came at Survivor Series 2015 when he defeated Dean Ambrose in the finals of a tournament for the vacant WWE Championship, claiming the illustrious prize for the first time. The confetti was raining down and everyone was cheering for their new champion, who had finally made it to the top of the mountain. At least, that’s what WWE wanted to happen. Instead they booed him. They booed him a lot. Reigns’ happiest moment (and the crowd’s worst nightmare) all ended suddenly when Reigns refused to shake the hand of Triple H. After Reigns knocked The Game down, who should pop up out of nowhere by Mr. Money In The Bank and mohawk-enthusiast, Sheamus. After two Brogue Kicks, Reigns lost the title just over five minutes after he won it and thus began the most blatant attempt at a sob story, most disappointing WrestleMania endings and worst WWE t-shirt designs of all time (Sheamus 5:15). For goodness’ sake.
13 Chris Jericho – Vengeance 2001
I don’t think he brings this up too often, but did you know that Chris Jericho was the first ever Undisputed Champion?
Y2J made his WWE debut in 1999 to a huge fanfare. Under-utilised in WCW as a part of their mistreated cruiserweight division, WWE looked like they were putting the full force of their creative powers behind Jericho as he debuted interrupting The Rock of all people. And you don’t interrupt Dwayne when he gets going. Jericho won the Intercontinental Championship shortly after his debut but didn’t make much of an impact on the main event scene until the final Pay-Per-View of 2001. Vengeance took place the month after the end of the Invasion angle (don’t, don’t get me started). The company had brought an end to the war between WWE and The Alliance, but now had a huge amount of leftover championships, including the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. With two world titles in the company, WWE decided to merge its world championship with WCW’s in a one night tournament at Vengeance. WWE Champion, Steve Austin, would defend his title against Kurt Angle and WCW Champion, The Rock, would battle Jericho for his championship with the two victorious champions battling each other in the main event with the winner unifying the two belts.
Austin retained against Angle in what many people thought would be to set up a final battle against his old foe, The Rock. However, through some interference from that dastardly old Mr. McMahon, Jericho managed to defeat The Rock with his own finisher and win the WCW Championship, a title that, had he won in WCW, might have saved the company. Mmm, delicious irony. Almost immediately after this, Austin came down to the ring and the final of the tournament began. Despite having just fought The Rock and being the underdog, the unthinkable happened when, thanks to a little help from Booker T, Jericho pinned the Rattlesnake and became the first ever WWE Undisputed Champion. The moment Jericho defeated Austin, the WWE and WCW titles became one, or, more technically, the WWE Championship absorbed the WCW Championship. We get it Vince, you won the war. Jericho’s reign as WCW Champion lasted about thirteen minutes, making him the shortest reigning WCW Champion of all time. Jericho, the shortest reigning WCW Champion of all time? That makes me so angry, in fact, I’m so angry... IT JUST MADE THE LIST! Love Y2J.
12 Dolph Ziggler – Smackdown 15/02/2011
You know how, whenever WWE mention Dolph Ziggler, they call him a two-time World Heavyweight Champion, that’s true, but doesn’t tell the whole story.
Dolph Ziggler has been a WWE employee for twelve years in one capacity or another and has won multiple championships and put on some pretty good matches. However, many fans feel like he’s been under-utilised, so much so that it became a storyline following the 2016 brand split, and even though he’s the current Intercontinental champion, many fans still feel like he deserves more. His second world title win showcased just how big of a star he could be; cashing in Money in the Bank the night after WrestleMania 29 after months of fans chanting for Ziggler during World Heavyweight Championship matches. The pop Ziggler received after this was one of the biggest of recent history and, had an injury not taken him out just a few weeks into the reign, maybe Dolph would be a main eventer today. This couldn’t have been more different from reign number one.
This came on the 600th episode of Smackdown in February 2011. With WrestleMania 2011 just around the corner, fans were not expecting a world title change so close to the biggest event of the year, but what they got was two. Edge had won the world title at TLC and looked set to meet Royal Rumble winner, Alberto Del Rio, at Mania. However, Smackdown’s interim General Manager, Vickie Guerrero, stripped Edge of the title for using the Spear, a move that she had banned. Yay, a screwy finisher from a corrupt Gm. How original (all the sarcasm in the world intended). Guerrero didn’t bother setting up a match for a new champion, she just gave the belt to her then-storyline boyfriend, one Mr. Dolph Ziggler. Great. So this young, talented performer gets the world title for kayfabe getting it on with the General Manager. Hooray? Anyway, just as it looked like Dolph was in for a WrestleMania moment, former GM, Teddy Long, made one of his many pointless returns and set up a match between Ziggler and Edge for that evening’s main event with the belt on the line. Why he couldn’t have just reversed Guerrero’s decision, I don’t know, I mean, he was the actual GM, surely he had that power? I guess I should be glad he didn’t just make a six-man tag. Anyway, Edge won the match because of course he did and Dolph Ziggler ended up fighting John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki in a six person tag match with LayCool at WrestleMania XXVII. I hate wrestling sometimes.
11 John Cena – Elimination Chamber 2010
Even the face that runs the place isn’t immune to a dodgy title reign.
What can I say about Johnny the Wonderkid that hasn’t already been said a thousand times? Five time US Champ. Two-time Royal Rumble winner. Multiple time WrestleMania main eventer. Future Hall of Famer. More wishes granted than anyone in Make-a-Wish history. Has seen Nikki Bella naked. The guy has done it all. He’s also a fifteen-time world champion, however, not all of those title reigns have been golden.
Cena’s shameful world title came at Elimination Chamber 2010. Cena entered the Elimination Chamber alongside Triple H, Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase Jr. and Kofi Kingston to battle Sheamus for his WWE Championship. Cena entered last and submitted Triple H with the STF to win his eighth world title. However, this was not the end of our tale. As Cena celebrated, whose music should hit but one Vincent McMahon. The chairman made his way down to the ring. You see, Vince didn’t really like Cena (despite the fact that he was making his company millions of dollars) because he had sided with then-Raw GM, Bret Hart, over a dispute. To punish Cena, he forced him to defend his championship directly after the Chamber match against the man who had defended Vince, Batista. The Animal strode to ringside and took Cena out with a Spear. One Batista Bomb later and this impromptu match was over with Batista winning his second WWE Championship just minutes after Cena had won the belt. The two would have a rematch at WrestleMania XXVI with Cena going over (of course) and Vinnie Mac would lose to Bret Hart at that same WrestleMania in what was a dumb, dumb, dumb match. And that’s really the nicest thing that can be said about it. Moving on.
10 The Sandman – Guilty as Charged 2001
Our first non-WWE entry now and it comes from the last ever ECW Pay-Per-View. Get the tissues, because this is getting emotional.
The Sandman holds the record for the most reigns as ECW Champion with five title victories to his name. Sandman was one of a handful of people to hold the title under both of its names – the Extreme and Eastern Championship Wrestling Championship – and defended the title numerous times on Pay-Per-View, spending a total of 446 days as champion, the second most in history. Sandman’s final reign with the ECW title came at Guilty as Charged 2001, when he defeated then-champion, Steve Corino, and Justin Credible in a Tables, Ladders, Chairs and Canes match. At least there weren’t any stairs involved.
Sandman won the bout and the title to a huge ovation. However, his night was not over as he was then interrupted by none other than The Beast. No, not Brock Lesnar, the Man Beast, Rhyno. The Television Champion at the time, Rhyno decided he wanted another belt for his collection and challenged old Sandy for the world title. Sandman accepted the match, presumably because he is completely insane, and, of course, the Man Beast won the ECW Championship for the first and only time in his career. What plans ECW had for this reign never came to be as Guilty as Charged was ECW’s final Pay-Per-View and Rhyno’s reign ended just 94 days later. Such an interesting concept that never reached a real conclusion that all began with a miniscule title reign. Gotta give kudos to Paul Heyman for this. I wouldn’t wanna tell Sandman he was losing the belt so quickly. He’s terrifying.
9 Rey Mysterio – Raw 25/07/2011
Booyaka, booyaka! Actually, just boo, really. Because this moment was bad.
Mysterio made a huge name for himself in Mexico and later WCW, leading its Cruiserweight division until WCW closed down in 2001. Mysterio turned up in WWE in 2002 and would tear up the cruiserweight division further, as well as winning the Intercontinental and Tag Team titles a handful of times. Mysterio’s biggest moment in WWE to date would come at WrestleMania 22 when he would win the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time, following on from his win at the Royal Rumble that year, dedicating said victories to his late friend, Eddie Guerrero, who WWE paid tribute to in a civilised, respectful... who am I kidding, they said he was going to hell. Bleugh.
Mysterio would win the world title once again in 2010, but his biggest accolade came on the July 25th 2011 edition of Monday Night Raw. CM Punk had won the WWE title at Money in the Bank just eight days previously and famously absconded with the belt, leaving WWE with no champion. A tournament was held over the next two weeks to crown a new champion that culminated in Mysterio defeating The Miz in the final to win the belt for the first time in his career. A huge moment in Rey’s long career, fans were overjoyed to see Mysterio finally hold the most prestigious belt in wrestling history after so long. Then John Cena happened. Cena, whom Punk had beaten for the title at Money in the Bank, challenged Rey to a match that evening for the title, because I guess he was owed a rematch, but come on, John, the guy literally just won the belt. Couldn’t you have given him just a few seconds to enjoy his new title? You terrible human, you. Anyhow, Cena beat Rey in that night’s main event, then Punk returned with the original title setting a unification match for the next Pay-Per-View, SummerSlam (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten that). Did Rey Mysterio get a rematch? No, not ever. He was in a six-man tag match at SummerSlam against The Awesome Truth and Alberto Del Rio. Poor Rey Rey.
8 CM Punk – SummerSlam 2011
Told you we hadn’t forgotten.
As I mentioned earlier, CM Punk had won the WWE title at Money in the Bank 2011 from John Cena, but what some of you might not really understand the significance of that win. In the weeks leading up to this match, Punk had exploded into the main event scene with his infamous “pipebomb” promo; a mix of scripted and real-life gripes Punk had with the WWE that blurred the lines between fiction and reality in a way not seen before. Add in the fact that Money in the Bank took place in Punk’s home town of Chicago, where he is basically worshipped as a God, and you have all the ingredients for a five-star match.
As I mentioned, Punk kayfabe left with the belt, only to return once John Cena had become WWE Champion. This set up a championship unification match at SummerSlam 2011 – Cena vs Punk to determine the true champion. Thanks to some less-than-perfect refereeing from Triple H, Punk took the win and the title to huge ovation. Whilst it could be argued that this was a continuation of his first reign, Punk technically began a new reign with the unified titles at this show, but that happiness was not to last for the Second City Saint. Who should come into the ring and spoil the party for Punk, but Kevin Nash. It’s fine, no one else understood it either. Nash Jacknifed CM Punk and allowed Mr. Money In The Bank, Alberto Del Rio, to cash in on the helpless champion, winning the title and ending Punk’s new reign in a matter of moments. The Summer of Punk may have started off with a bang, but it soon turned into a big mess of confusion, bad booking and, worst of all, Kevin Nash. Why?
7 Jeff Hardy – Extreme Rules 2009
Jeff Hardy’s ill-fated first reign as World Heavyweight Champion! I knew you’d come!
In a time long before the name “Brother Nero” meant anything, Jeff Hardy was the Hardy boy everyone wanted to be and had the honour of closing out the first ever Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View against Edge. The two long-time rivals squared off in a ladder match for the Big Gold Belt, with the Charismatic Enigma was chasing that title for the first time. Fans had wanted to see Hardy as world champion for a while, especially after his run with the WWE title a few months previously had not been very long. Hardy and Edge took each other to war in this battle and it still ranks amongst one of the best matches ever to take place at Extreme Rules. After a brilliant closing spot that saw Hardy trap Edge’s legs in the rungs of the ladder and climb over him, Jeff won the title to huge applause from his fans.
As Hardy celebrated however, the credits didn’t roll on this show. Instead, out to the ring came none other than Charles Montgomery Punk (that’s not actually what it stands for), Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. Punk cashed in and hit the Rainbow Warrior with two GTSs before going for the pin, securing his second world title and ending Jeff’s first reign at mere minutes. The two would go on to have one of the best rivalries of the year over the coming months, trading the title back and forth and leading to an epic TLC match to close out SummerSlam with Punk eventually taking the belt. The use of Money in the Bank to end Hardy’s reign just minutes after it began set Jeff up as the perfect challenger to Punk’s title and moulded this rivalry into the personal, bitter one it would become. Whether making the drug-taker the babyface was the right idea is still up for debate, but we just don’t have the time. Trust me, we don’t.
6 Tommy Dreamer – Cyberslam 2000
Back to the land of Extreme now and one of the most confusing title changes in all of wrestling.
CyberSlam 2000’s original main event was between the Human Suplex Machine, Taz (or Tazz if you’re a WWE fan, in which case, don’t admit that or the ECW faithful will hunt you down) and The Heart and Soul of ECW, Tommy Dreamer. Taz was ECW Champion at the time, but the story of how he got the belt was a little confusing. Taz had signed for WWE in late 1999 and debuted at the 2000 Royal Rumble. The man he lost his ECW Championship to before leaving for WWE, Mike Awesome, was in his second reign as champion when he decided he didn’t like living in Philadelphia and wanted to live in Atlanta instead (I assume this was the reason) and jumped ship to WCW, still holding the ECW Championship. With his back against the wall, ECW booker, Paul Heyman, needed a credible challenger to beat Awesome for the belt before he left for WCW and what better way to do this than bring back one of your legends. After a deal was struck with Vince McMahon, Taz returned to ECW to defeat Awesome for the title; a WWE wrestler beat a WCW wrestler for the ECW Championship. The Monday Night Wars were messed up.
Anyway, since Taz wasn’t ECW, Heyman now had to get the title off him and it would go down nine days later at Cyberslam. Dreamer had never been ECW Champion before and was beloved by fans, so a big win for Tommy would be a great way to close the show. Sure enough, Dreamer picked up the win and the title to a huge ovation. However, this was not the end of the night. From out of nowhere (hold your Randy Orton jokes, please), Justin Credible, one half of the tag team champions, attacked Dreamer and challenged him to a match for the world title. Presumably Dreamer had taken one too many shots to the head that night, because, for some unexplained reason, he accepted. Why? Why would you do that? That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Actually, forget that. I forgot about the Gobbledy Gooker. Anyhow, Credible won the match and the title after Tommy’s valet, Francine, turned on him, ending Dreamer’s title reign in mere minutes. From all accounts, Tommy never wanted to be a champion of any sorts in ECW, so that’s probably why the belt was taken off of him in the first place. Why Justin Credible couldn’t have just won the belt in the first place is beyond me, but I’m smart enough not to argue with Paul Heyman. After all, he is very good friends with Brock Lesnar.
5 Randy Orton and Triple H – No Mercy 2007
If you thought the Tommy Dreamer thing was baffling, brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Going into No Mercy 2007, Randy Orton and John Cena were engaged in a bitter feud that was actually pretty bitter because we hadn’t seen them fight 104,678 times at this point. Cena had been WWE Champion for over a year at this point, something Randy looked to put an end to in a Last Man Standing Match at No Mercy. However, one week before the show, Cena tore his pectoral muscle in a match on Raw and the title was held up as vacant. Despite the Cena vs Orton match being cancelled, Vince McMahon promised a “new champion” would be crowned at No Mercy and, in some of the laziest booking ever seen, he awarded Randy Orton the title at the beginning of the show. Yep, the first ever WWE Championship reign of Randy Orton did not start by pinfall or submission or, hell, even a wrestling match! He may as well have won the title in a Christmas cracker! Jesus. Anyhow, as Orton was celebrating his *sarcastic cough* “title win”, who should come out but the King of Kings, Triple H. What? What do you have to do with any of this, Hunter? Go back to plotting to take over the company. Trips challenged Orton to a match and, for the first time on this list, the wrestler said no, but mean old Vinnie Mac did his son-in-law a favour and made the match official. In the opening contest of No Mercy 2007, Triple H defeated Randy Orton for the WWE Championship via roll-up, ending the upstart’s title reign at just under fifteen minutes. Wow.
But, wait, there’s more! After defending the title against Umaga (again, who knows what the reason for this was), The Game was informed backstage that Orton was using his rematch clause immediately and challenged Triple H to a Last Man Standing match. What?! Were they that desperate to see a Last Man Standing match that they just threw one together last minute? Did they have to pay for the rights? Who knows. To be fair, Orton and Triple H put on a great match and, in a brutal final spot, Orton countered a Pedigree and delivered a vicious RKO through the announce desk to lay Trips down for the ten count, regaining the WWE Championship in the same night as he lost it. So, to recap, because one man hurt his shoulder, the WWE Championship was fought for in three matches and changed hands twice in a night that saw two world championship reigns of less than one day. And Money in the Bank was nowhere to be seen. I think I need to lie down.
4 Daniel Bryan – SummerSlam 2013
The moment that began a thousand “Yes!” chants.
Daniel Bryan’s story in WWE is an incredible one. From being fired on his first day on the main roster for choking a man with his tie to main eventing WrestleMania XXX, D-Bry’s journey to the top was a fairytale story, but, as we all know, not all fairytales are as beautiful as they seem. After being fired from his role in The Nexus, Bryan made a shocking return at SummerSlam 2010, siding with Team WWE and effectively turning face. He would defeat The Miz for the US title later that year, the first of many title pushes for the Bearded One. Bryan’s first taste of the big time came at TLC 2011 when he cashed in Money in the Bank to win the World Heavyweight Championship, a title he took to WrestleMania and then lost in 18 seconds... whoops. Anyway, after a run with the tag titles alongside Kane got him over as a face, Bryan was selected by then-WWE Champion, John Cena, to face him at SummerSlam for the title after resounding fan support. In the weeks leading up to the Pay-Per-View, Bryan would be berated by Vince McMahon and corporate stooge, Brad Maddox, for not being championship material. Oooh, little too close to home there, guys.
On the night itself, Bryan did the unthinkable and defeated Johnny-boy clean as a whistle, debuting the Running Knee in the process. The fans couldn’t believe their eyes as the American Dragon raised the most prestigious title in WWE history above his head, special guest referee Triple H holding his hand up in victory. However, in some horrific foreshadowing for Bryan, his moment of triumph would not last long. Slithering down to the ring, Money in the Bank briefcase in, umm, whatever snakes have instead of hands, came Randy Orton, ready to cash in. As Bryan stood tall, ready to fight, Triple H grabbed him and delivered a shocking Pedigree, despite defending Bryan in the lead up to the Pay-Per-View. Orton entered the ring and Hunter called for the bell. Eight seconds later and Orton was champion. BOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Bryan would become WWE Champion again at Night of Champions only to have it vacated the next night on Raw. It’s amazing to think how close Bryan came to not being in the main event of Mania XXX, especially when the story was right there. He may never wrestle again, but WWE fans will always have those amazing years and for that, Bryan deserves to be remembered as a true great.
3 Yokozuna – WrestleMania IX
Everyone got their stupid hats on? Good! Because things are about to get, really, really dumb.
What can I say about WrestleMania IX that hasn’t already been said? Easily one of the worst Manias ever, the show featured no real memorable moments besides this one, but here some fun facts you might not know about this show. It was the only time the Steiner Brothers competed at WrestleMania, it was the first time Jim Ross worked a Mania and it was the first WrestleMania to be held outdoors. None of those are very interesting, are they? I’m sorry. Back to the point, Yokozuna had won the 1993 Royal Rumble by being fat and became the first man in WWE history to receive a world title shot at Mania for doing so. He was set to face Bret Hart for The Hitman’s WWE Championship and boy, if you thought a fat Samoan pretending to be Japanese battling a technical master for less than nine minutes would be awful, then you would be 100% correct. It was terrible; Hart could usually carry anyone to a passable match, but Yokozuna was not only out of shape, he skipped a huge part of the match because he was out of breath. Come on! Anyhow, the match ended when Yokozuna’s manager, Mr. Fuji, blew salt in the eyes of Hart, allowing his client to pick up the win and the title, because Yokozuna was foreign and, therefore, evil. Obviously.
However, just as the show was about to end as just everyone was about to go home feeling generally feeling “meh”, who should rush to the ring but the Immortal Hulk Hogan! Hoora-wait a second, Hogan just lost a tag title match earlier in the night, what the hell was he doing here? Hogan went to console his, ahem, “friend”, Bret after the defeat, when Fuji took to the microphone and challenged Hogan to a match on Yokozuna’s behalf. Seriously! Will no wrestler learn that competing twice in one night never ends well? It’s not difficult! Hogan accepted the challenge (because of course he did) and, after another salt shot from Fuji hit Yokozuna by mistake, Hogan dropped the leg and pinned the new champ in 22 seconds, leaving with the title and leaving everyone wondering what the hell had happened. Money in the Bank wouldn’t be invented for another twelve years. Hogan had not earned any sort of opportunity at the belt. So why was he allowed to just mince down to ringside and compete for the company’s most prestigious championship? That’s it, I’m taking my stupid hat off now. This is too much.
2 Andre the Giant – The Main Event 1988
A classic example of old-school heeling at its best from two Hall of Famers and, for once, we won’t need our stupid hats.
Andre the Giant was a large man. A large man who did not get beaten in the wrestling, because it is hard to beat a large man at the wrestling. This was basically his character for about fifteen years. Someone did beat the large man at the wrestling at WrestleMania III and that man was Hulk Hogan, who defeated Andre to retain his WWE Championship in one of the most iconic matches in WWE and, indeed, wrestling history. Eager to challenge the Hulkster again, Andre was granted a rematch on an NBC special, The Main Event, in February of 1988, almost a year on from their WrestleMania match. Guess he can’t have been that keen. The show drew 33 million viewers (thanks in no small part to Andre vs Hogan) a record for American televised wrestling and these fans got one hell of a surprise when they tuned in.
After your typical shtick from both men, Andre looked like he had the match won when he delivered a Butterfly Suplex to the Hulkster. At least, that’s what his finisher is on the PS4, so I guess that’s what it was meant to be. Andre covered Hogan, with victory in sight, but, using the power of America and definitely not steroids, Hogan kicked out. Yay! But, hang on, referee Dave Hebner is still counting and he just counted three. The match is over. Andre is champion. Dun dun dunnnnnnnn! Yes, thanks to a bribe by Andre’s manager, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, and some trickery involving Dave’s twin brother, Earl, Andre successfully screwed Hogan out of his title and was WWE Champion for the very first time. However, just as Andre won the title, he sold the belt to DiBiase, as was the plan all along. Kayfabe-WWE President, Jack Tunney, would vacate the title that night, nullifying DiBiase’s reign and, more importantly, ending Andre’s at about thirty seconds, the shortest WWE Championship reign of all time. The belt would eventually be won by Randy Savage at WrestleMania IV and Andre would never see the belt again, but this was a great piece of drama in the over-the-top campy era of wrestling. As for that Earl Hebner, he’d actually become employed by WWE in the future and would never screw anybody ever again... hang on a second...
1 Shane Douglas – NWA Title Tournament, 27/08/1994
Yes, folks, we’ve saved the best for last; truly, one of the most ground-breaking and surprising moments in wrestling history and it all began with a title reign of less than 24 hours.
Back before it was filled with Sandmen and Dreamers and other crazy people with a death wish, ECW was called Eastern Championship Wrestling and was a part of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), a conglomerate group of many different wrestling territories across America. Their world championship had just been vacated and, to set up a new champion, a tournament was put on culminating in a match between 2 Cold Scorpio and Shane Douglas, the face of Eastern Championship Wrestling. Douglas was very popular and the NWA thought they could use this to their advantage in their struggle to compete with WWE and WCW. However, Douglas and ECW booker, Paul Heyman, had very different ideas. Heyman thought the NWA was stifling his promotion and wanted to go independent. However, he knew that if he wanted to make an impact, he had to declare his independence in a big way and what better way than defiling one of the most treasured titles in wrestling history.
Douglas won his match and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship to huge applause. However, what should have been the end of the evening was only the beginning. Douglas gave an impassioned speech, name-dropping former NWA Champions such as Dory Funk, Ricky Steamboat and, Douglas’ best friend, Ric Flair (if you don’t get that joke, just google Douglas and Flair’s relationship, it won’t take long to sink in). Douglas sounded like he was accepting the title with grace; however, after reciting these legendary names, he then said they could all “kiss his ass” and threw down the title, proclaiming the NWA had “died” three years ago and that he refused to wear the strap of a dead company. Douglas then held up the ECW Championship and proclaimed it to be the only title worth fighting for, starting the process of withdrawal from the NWA that would transform ECW into the promotion we know and love. This is arguably one of the most significant points in wrestling history as it not only set up ECW as a credible wrestling organization, but also exemplified the decline of the NWA which, despite still being active today, is a shadow of what it once was. Safe to say Douglas has his reign revoked almost as soon as it began, but it will still show in the history books that Shane Douglas is a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion. What it won’t show, however, is the impact that had on the business as a whole. A lot can change in less than twenty-four hours.