Can anybody imagine Babe Ruth without a World Series? Wayne Gretzky without a Stanley Cup? Michael Jordan without an NBA Championship? No. Because these things are unimaginable.
These legends elevated their respective sports. They changed the way people watched the game. They broke records. They are the men who will live forever. And, on top of all that, they are champions.
But, what about professional wrestling legends? (Here is your chance to point out how champions in wrestling are predetermined. Go ahead. You will be the first person to ever explain that concept.)
It's difficult to imagine "Stone Cold" Steve Austin or John Cena without the WWE Championship. (Now, here is your chance to explain how Cena is not a legend, as sixteen World Championships obviously do not qualify one for legendary status.)
However, there have been many great WWE Superstars who were never given the chance to represent the company as its top champion, and, on the flip side, there are many current stars who will never be afforded the opportunity.
Here Are 8 Legends Who Surprisingly Never Won The WWE Championship, And 7 Current Superstars Who Never Will.
15 Legend: Mr. Perfect
Apparently, perfection is not enough for one to become WWE Champion. Nevertheless, Mr. Perfect was one of the greats; a true in-ring technician who could put on a match with anybody at any point of the card and make it look good.
Perfect would attain the Intercontinental Championship during his WWE tenure, but was never pushed above that point. While many believed that the WWE Championship was next for Perfect, it just never came.
Perfect is part of a long line of deserving WWE Superstars who were pushed aside in favor of the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Which is simply the way it goes in WWE.
Even though Perfect never held the WWE Championship, the man (Curt Hennig) and the character are remembered fondly.
14 Current: Samoa Joe
There is one thing to always keep in mind when discussing Samoa Joe; Vince McMahon's opinion. McMahon views Joe as nothing more than a "fat Samoan" who is not truly part of the long Samoan influence on professional wrestling.
Sure, Joe was given a small spot in the main event picture on Monday Night Raw, when challenging Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, before ultimately losing. Of course, even if Joe had won, that was only the Universal title.
As it pertains to the WWE Championship, Joe is and will remain far away from that scene. It's not to say that Joe won't become a champion in WWE, but you're looking Intercontinental Championship at best.
When Joe's run with the company concludes, his highest accolade will be NXT Champion (the title McMahon doesn't care about).
13 Legend: Ted DiBiase
On February 5, 1988, WWE and NBC presented The Main Event. The card featured the highly-anticipated WrestleMania III rematch between WWE Champion, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.
This time around, Andre managed to defeat Hogan for the WWE Championship due to some referee Twin Magic (Earl Hebner replaced his brother Dave in order to screw Hogan out of the title).
Following this tainted victory, Andre, while stating that he had just won the "World Tag Team Championship" would attempt to hand the title over to "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, who had purchased Andre's services. The title was then ruled vacant.
This set up a tournament at WrestleMania IV, where DiBiase lost in the final match to "Macho Man" Randy Savage. DiBiase never again came that close to the title.
12 Current: Baron Corbin
At the Olympic Games, you will see a silver medalist "win" in each category. There are those who take pride in this, but in reality, the silver medal is the ultimate consolation prize. The one medal that says you were good but not quite good enough.
Such is the case with Baron Corbin in WWE. In 2017, Corbin was awarded the male Money in the Bank briefcase; almost guaranteeing himself a run as WWE Champion. However, things went awry and Corbin's cash-in attempt was a failure.
There have been reports that Corbin's loss was a result of a tweeting incident with army veterans. There have been other reports stating that the true nature of the loss was a result of an altercation at a backstage talent meeting.
Either way, Corbin lost his chance at the WWE Championship, but was handed the WWE's version of the silver medal: the United States Championship.
11 Legend: Dusty Rhodes
When WWE finally brought in "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, the former NWA World Heavyweight Champion was slapped with polka dots and made to dance around like a true fool.
Once again, the blame falls directly in the lap of Vince McMahon who was believed to have had some long-standing vendetta against Rhodes due to rival booking. But, that's just McMahon's way.
Rhodes was referred to as the "common man," and for good reason. Rhodes looked like the everyday, blur-collar, common man (big belly, scars, jiggling cheeks). Rhodes was very much a representation of the nine-to-five working class.
Rhodes would have been a related WWE Champion to a brand new audience, but we all know about McMahon's feelings on body types.
10 Current: Cesaro
If you're still holding on to the hope that Cesaro will someday be pushed to the top of the card, then it's time to face reality. It's not happening. Cesaro has peaked in WWE, and it's just that simple.
While proving to be one of the best workers in the company, those in power do not view Cesaro as WWE Championship material. United States and Tag Team Championship material? Absolutely. And, that's where it ends.
Cesaro is a workhorse that WWE depend on to help carry a match. And, Cesaro delivers. In recent years, Cesaro's pairing with Sheamus to form The Bar has been successful, but what happens when they go their separate ways?
Cesaro, now in his late thirties, still has some good years ahead. Just don't expect them to be at the top of the card.
9 Legend: Rick Rude
"Ravishing" Rick Rude; an innovative heel and underrated performer. Having your opponent's face on your tights during a match? What a great, psychological move. One that would now be overlooked.
These days, ring psychology can often go unnoticed (when actually applied to a match). The problem with modern fans of professional wrestling is their inability to maintain focus on what is taking place directly in front of their faces.
Far too often, far too many fans are more concerned with capturing matches on their phones. Put it down and pay attention. Luckily, fans of Rude's era were not as distracted by gadgets and able to appreciate the subtle psychological torment.
It's a shame Rude was never given the opportunity to run with the WWE Championship around his waist.
8 Current: Enzo Amore
While you may find yourself feeling bad about certain individuals not becoming WWE Champion, this next guy is a different case all together. Enzo Amore. The permanent wart on professional wrestling.
If you listen to Amore speak during off-air interviews, it's clear that he is trying to rattle cages for his own benefit. And, there's nothing wrong with placing yourself first in the wrestling industry. It's the most beneficial move.
However, Amore comes across as cheap version of Shawn Michaels from the '90s. The only problem being that Michaels is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Meanwhile, Amore makes The Great Khali's skill-set look like something luchador.
The Cruiserweight Championship and being the "star" of 205 Live is about as high as Amore will climb, despite his own delusions.
7 Legend: Razor Ramon
It's hard to believe that as a member of the infamous Kilq - and with the influence the group had on the company back in the '90s - Scott Hall never pushed for his Razor Ramon character to become WWE Champion.
Ramon was mainly focused on the Intercontinental Championship, but did find himself involved in main event feuds and challenging for the WWE Championship. However, the title was never handed over.
It is entirely possible that Ramon would have eventually became WWE Champion had he not left for rival company, WCW. Hall was more than willing to drop the Ramon character and possible title run in favor of more money.
And, even though Hall helped kick-start the Monday Night War, he was not awarded the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, either.
6 Current: Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods
At some point, The New Day will have to split up and attempt to succeed on their own. And, not all will triumph. If one member of the trio is bound for a main event push, it's definitely Big E.
But what about Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods? (We will include them as one entry since everything is shared among The New Day.) Well, it's looks mid-card at best for these two Superstars.
Kingston, the oldest member of the group will likely move into the role of helping younger talent get over. Meanwhile, Woods will find himself hanging around the Intercontinental or United States Championship scene.
So, when The New Day split, will their solo runs continue to have the excitement of Booty-O's, or will this trio become bland All-Bran?
5 Legend: Jake Roberts
Back to the subject of ring psychology. If there is one true, head-above-the-rest, professional wrestling psychologist, it's Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Nobody can match what Roberts brought to the business in terms of mind games.
The Undertaker was great at getting into an opponent's head, and the closest thing to Roberts at the current WWE level is Bray Wyatt. However, both take a backseat to Roberts and his approach.
Fake lighting and the spirit of Sister Abigail are one thing. Bringing a real, live snake down to the ring is another. Roberts didn't produce production-style fear. Roberts presented fear in real time.
In the end, the company would never allow Roberts an opportunity to carry the WWE Championship inside of his snake sack.
4 Current: Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy's case for the WWE Championship is a little different. As the new "Woken" character continues to grow, fans of Hardy (and there are many) would love to finally see him reach top level in WWE.
However, while the WWE Championship in the ultimate goal, Hardy would make a great Universal Champion, or Champion of the Multiverse (as Hardy put it during a promo). The possibilities are endless.
And, let's face facts: the Universal Championship has been nothing but a bore since its inception. Those who lose the title are not granted rematches, and the red strap is rarely seen on Monday Night Raw.
Yes, Hardy would make for an excellent WWE Champion, but if you want a compelling storyline, root for Hardy becoming Champion of the Multiverse, instead.
3 Legend: King Kong Bundy
If you don't think King Kong Bundy is a legend, then you don't understand old school professional wrestling. Back in the '80s, Bundy became one of the first truly feared monsters in WWE.
At WrestleMania II, Bundy challenged Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship inside of a steel cage. Naturally, Hogan was victorious, because this was the '80s after all; a decade in which Hogan was untouchable.
In fact, Bundy spent a lot of time in the main even picture, and it's surprising to learn that WWE never took a chance on him as their top champion. The company could have at least made Bundy a paper champion, before losing the title back to Hogan.
Bundy would once again work for WWE in the '90s as a member of the Million Dollar Corporation, becoming one of the early victims of The Undertaker's Streak.
2 Current: Finn Balor
Finn Balor was the first-ever Universal Champion; for twenty-four hours. Balor was forced to vacate the title following a shoulder injury and as alluded to earlier, is one of the former champions who was never granted a rematch.
That said, Balor could very-well hold the Universal Championship once again, and in the near future. However, it's difficult to believe that Balor could become the WWE Champion (the title that truly matters).
Balor is small in size and not exactly on Vince McMahon's push list. If Triple H took over the company tomorrow, then you would likely see Balor as WWE Champion, but we all know that is not going to happen.
Regardless, another run with the Universal Championship would at least (almost) make Balor the top guy on Monday Night Raw.
1 Legend: Roddy Piper
It is a common opinion that "Rowdy" Roddy Piper is the best heel in the history of professional wrestling. And, it's a damn hard argument to fight against. Piper truly was the best a-hole of the '80s.
Piper made talking matter in WWE. And, with just a microphone in his hand, could do more to sell the product than most guys could do in the ring. Piper was a true original. The first WWE badass.
It's a travesty of wrestling justice that Piper was never allowed to run with the WWE Championship. The title, sitting on Piper's waist, above his kilt, would have looked more dangerous than ever.
Undoubtedly, Piper should have been WWE Champion while he was the hottest heel in the industry.
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