The art of the championship in pro wrestling is the most important aspect in creating a great product. Wrestlers compete for the honor of holding titles that indicate they are the best at their profession and make more money. Professional sports features teams competing all season for one title. Wrestling doesn’t have that luxury as there’s no offseason and a larger slate of performers so the titles become a huge deal when looking at the product as a whole. The titles need to be respected by the booking and only credible talents should win the belts. That sadly isn’t always in the case in the WWE and some terrible wrestlers have pulled off the impossible.
We’ll look at the negative side of things with the names that had no business winning the championships they managed to secure. All of these performers hurt the credibility and prestige of the belts via a poor body of work or failing to earn the honor. For whatever reason, the company decided to put their fate in these performers not ready for the moment and it fell apart. These are the fifteen wrestlers that definitely didn’t deserve to win a WWE championship.
Note: The WWE Hardcore Championship is not included because the list would just consist of the silly names to win that title through shenanigans.
15 Ahmed Johnson
The instant push of Ahmed Johnson brought him slight popularity among the WWE fan base but his talent didn’t dictate the hype. Johnson could not wrestle his way out of a wet paper bag and looked downright clumsy in the squared circle. His inability to speak coherently also damaged him from blossoming into a bigger star. WWE still felt his muscular physique and intimidating presence would be enough to make it work by booking him as Intercontinental Champion.
Johnson did not improve like most do when winning their first important wrestling title. The Intercontinental Championship was still viewed as the workhorse title and the champion was responsible for delivering good matches. Johnson couldn’t hang with the respectable talents in the ring and some of the wrestlers claimed he was lazy. Being a flop as the IC Champ, along with injury issues, ended any momentum Johnson developed. Vince McMahon finally realized he wasn’t worthy of a title and ended the experiment by relegating him to the lower card until his contract expired.
Duane Gill spent the majority of his career as an enhancement talent looking for work in the wrestling business. The less than exciting personality found his role when WWE searched for someone to portray a parody of Goldberg. WCW’s newest Superstar was mocked on WWE television with Gill playing Gillberg. Instead of quickly destroying his opponents for fast victories, Gillberg would be the one on the losing end in quick fashion.
WWE decided to give him a moment via a comedic victory of winning the Light Heavyweight Championship thanks to his friends in The J.O.B Squad. Gillberg actually became a title holder in the WWE. It provided laughs but it completely destroyed any hopes of the belt becoming credible. WWE could never match the success of the WCW Cruiserweight division due to shenanigans like this in their version of it. Gillberg will always go down as one of the most forgettable and undeserving champions in WWE history.
13 The Godfather
The Godfather is a well-respected person in the WWE family due to his years of service and legitimate toughness. No one would dare step to Charles Wright in a fight regardless of which character he was playing. He achieved the highest success as The Godfather during the Attitude Era. The act of a pimp with an army of “escorts” by his side is something you’d never imagine on today’s show but it was just another part of the product in the late 90's.
WWE rewarded his loyalty during the popularity of the gimmick by putting the Intercontinental Championship on him. The Godfather was definitely one of the worst wrestlers to ever hold that title given his basic in-ring style. His talent level never indicated someone that could carry a title with credibility but rather a fun gimmick to add variety to a show. Very few remember anything from Godfather’s Intercontinental Title reign and that’s all you need to know about how it went.
12 Chuck Palumbo
Vince McMahon purchasing WCW led to many young wrestlers from the company getting a chance to earn a spot in WWE. The big name veterans waited out their contracts with Turner before heading to WWE, so guys like Chuck Palumbo were afforded an opportunity. Palumbo was perfectly average but lacked a special “it factor” to connect with the audience. The work of Palumbo was used by many fans in attendance as a popcorn break to head out of their seats.
Palumbo still held a spot in WWE for a few years and held tag team gold with Billy Gunn. The storyline of Billy and Chuck playing a couple led to them winning the WWE Tag Team Championship and achieving success as a unit, before revealing it was all just a publicity stunt. Palumbo was one of the least memorable members of the roster but somehow lucked his way into holding a prestigious title with a tag team legend as his partner.
11 Marc Mero
WWE expected huge success after signing Marc Mero away from WCW and giving him a big push as a singles face. Mero was portrayed as someone to get behind, but fans remained apathetic until his actual wife Sable joined as his valet. The fans cared more about the stunning Sable than anything Mero could pull off in the ring. The big push of Mero resulted in many boring matches against Hunter Hearst Helmsley that helped neither man.
Mero captured the Intercontinental Championship as a test to see if he could succeed and move up the card. The lackluster results hurt his value and WWE transitioned him into a heel that would verbally abuse Sable until she started powerbombing every week. Mero’s career went downhill quickly and there’s no doubt the company regretted putting the IC Title on him. There were so many more talented performers in the industry at the time and Mero was not deserving of the honor.
10 Vladimir Kozlov
Vladimir Kozlov was signed with hopes of becoming a future main event Superstar for the WWE. The Ukrainian had a background in Sambo, kickboxing and other forms of athletics. We all know how much the WWE loves athletes from other sports with a larger stature and Kozlov fit the bill. The company wanted to make him a top heel instantly and he entered feuds with Triple H and Jeff Hardy during his first year on the main roster.
Naturally, fans rejected the push and chanted “Boring” during his one-dimensional matches. WWE was forced to change plans and completely quit on him becoming a future WWE World Champion. Kozlov somehow evolved into a comedic character as the tag team partner of Santino Marella. The team represented WWE’s odd couple and went on to win the WWE Tag Team Championship together. Kozlov showed no signs of improvement and was still stiff in the ring. The short reign ended in a few months and he luckily never held another title in with the company.
9 David Otunga
The signing of David Otunga was a combination of great look, educated background from Harvard days and his relationship with popular singer Jennifer Hudson. Otunga always expressed an interest in wrestling and made his debut as part of the original NXT competition. The Nexus was born from the show and gave him a consistent spot on television for the first few months of his career. Otunga sadly always appeared to be the weakest link of the faction from an-ring perspective.
WWE’s roster started to feature a better quality of wrestling and Otunga never improved to match the work necessary for a star of the era. Otunga was relegated to the tag team division with Curtis Axel and they won the WWE Tag Team Championship at one point. They desperately wanted Otunga to live up to his potential but the addition of gold didn’t help. Following a few more failed stints, Otunga was transitioned into a broadcasting role. Thank goodness we won’t see him in the ring any time soon, let alone holding a title.
8 Rob Conway
La Resistance was a heavily pushed heel group of Frenchmen mocking Americans. Wrestling fans are always worked up by patriotism so it led to the act having legs with various combinations. Rob Conway entered the fray as a turncoat joining the foreign group and actually won the World Tag Team Championship on three occasions with Sylvain Grenier as his partner after Rene Dupree was drafted to SmackDown.
Grenier and Dupree at least had potential that gave you an understanding of why they were a part of the group. Conway had nothing that stood out and was clearly the weakest link of La Resistance. Fans resisted having an interest in him and his singles career after the tag team ended was a complete bust. Conway is among the most bizarre names to have three WWE titles on his resume and is someone that truly had no business achieving what he did as a Superstar.
Jimmy Snuka’s son Sim Snuka was signed by WWE to portray Deuce during the time when the company would give an opportunity to almost any second generation prospect. Deuce tagged with Domino (Cliff Compton) and played a duo of 1950s greasers coming to SmackDown with their valet Cherry. Domino delivered his end of the bargain but Deuce failed to showcase any wrestling skills. Paul London and Brian Kendrick each named Deuce as the worst wrestler they ever worked with during a tell-all shoot interview.
Deuce and Domino won the WWE Tag Team Championship together but had one of the least memorable title reigns during the brand split. Someone as terrible as Deuce holding the title showcased the flaws of the original brand split. Opportunities opening up are great but poor talent can sometimes be the one that benefits with more pushes needing to take place. Following the tag team failure, Deuce made his new legacy in wrestling after playing a cameraman that failed to catch The Undertaker during a dive in his classic match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXV. You know you’re awful when your ineptitude is remembered in a legendary match.
6 The Kat
The women’s division during The Attitude Era is one of the sadder things to look back on when watching old WWE content on the WWE Network. Most of the matches involving female talent revolved around ripping the clothes off of each other and showing as much skin as possible on cable television. This led to many horrible talents getting pushes due to their looks and desires to show it off. The Kat is the classic example.
Jerry Lawler discovered The Kat at a strip club and ended up marrying her. The King used his clout in WWE to get her a job and she became one of the more heavily pushed women in the company. The Kat won the Women’s Championship after dozens of matches showing off her goods. There’s no doubt she is one of the worst performers to win gold in the WWE and had no business being a champion. The current women's revolution is helping erase the past shames, such as Kat holding the Women’s Title.
Heidenrich’s story is among the worst on this list for a variety of reasons. First of all, he just wasn’t very good. WWE pushed him as a monster heel to start his main roster career, but not even a feud with The Undertaker could make him look good. A gradual face turn changed his character and he later received a huge opportunity by teaming with a legend. Road Warrior Animal returned to the WWE in a full-time capacity and they decided to bring back with L.O.D.
Road Warrior Hawk passed away years, before so WWE went with trying to make Heidenrich a star by making him the new partner of Animal. They defeated the very talented MNM to become the WWE Tag Team Champions. It was a cool moment seeing Animal get one more moment in the spotlight, but Heidenrich ruined any chances of enjoying it. His wrestling skills still were non-exsistent and he stood out as a stiff rather than deserving champion.
4 Ezekiel Jackson
This list has featured some terrible performers that were afforded opportunities due to Vince McMahon liking their physiques and that applies perfectly to Ezekiel Jackson. The big man received a push as the final person to ever hold the ECW Championship during WWE’s project of it as a third brand by defeating Christian. Jackson transitioned into SmackDown as part of The Corre after retiring the title. WWE put more gold on him by having him win the Intercontinental Championship.
Jackson was arguably the worst wrestler on the roster and looked out of place any time he was forced to try working an actual match. The strengths of Big Zeke can de described as standing around, flexing and looking tough, kind of like Ahmed Johnson. It all disappeared when the bell rung and he was exposed for his limited talent. Jackson’s name glaringly stands out as one of the worst IC Champions when looking at the history of the title. Very few wrestlers will ever deserve winning a WWE championship less than Ezekiel Jackson.
As WWE’s resident little person for many years, Hornswoggle played a big role in bringing a comedic aspect to the television shows. WWE wants to provide an entertainment form that reaches all demographics and kids loved Hornswoggle. The act received among the biggest fan responses at live events and you can’t argue against his success as a performer. Hornswoggle earned his spot on the roster, but he definitely didn’t deserve one specific accolade.
The WWE Cruiserweight Championship belt lost its prestige through the years and the company decided to do away with it altogether in 2007. Hornswoggle made a shocking appearance to defeat a slew of great talents such as Chavo Guerrero, Funaki, Jimmy Wang Yang, Shannon Moore and Jamie Noble to be the final champion. The decision was a slap in the face to the cruiserweights of the company. Hornswoggle likely didn’t want to be the one disgracing a once respected, title but the booking made him become an accomplice.
The stunning Debra was definitely popular in The Attitude Era following her coining of the term puppies but she was never an actual wrestler. Debra spent the majority of her career as a manager for wrestlers like Steve “Mongo” McMichael, Jeff Jarrett and Steve Austin. WWE clearly didn’t care about the women’s division at the time and it showed when she won the Women’s Championship. The way in which Debra won the gold is what makes it stand out here.
Debra lost a Bra & Panties match to Sable, but Commissioner Shawn Michaels reversed the decision because Debra looked great in the aforementioned lack of clothing. This would lead to Debra holding the title for an entire gender of performers, despite not even being a trained professional. Many of the current wrestlers and fans refer to the past terrible days of women’s wrestling when discussing why today’s “revolution” is important and Debra holding a title sums it up best.
1 The Great Khali
No one on this list until The Great Khali can say they achieved the pinnacle of success in WWE as a World Champion. Most of the terrible wrestlers to hold WWE gold did so as a midcarder or tag team performer. Khali somehow convinced the company he was worthy of being the World Champion on the SmackDown brand. The unbelievable size of Khali obviously is the reasoning, with WWE hoping to build the next monster heel, but he was atrocious.
Khali is arguably the worst wrestler in WWE history and could barely even move in the ring. Anyone to get an average match out of Khali deserves a medal. John Cena’s reputation grew when he pulled off the impossible against the big man, but it was an extremely rare occasion. Between the worst in-ring skills and an inability to speak any English, no one wanted to see Khali on WWE television, yet he won the big gold. No one in the history of WWE was less deserving of a championship than The Great Khali.