WWE has been the top wrestling promotion for over two decades now. WCW’s end at the top came in early 1998 and WWE has had no real competition since taking off. This should mean that we only get true top stars as champions in WWE across the board, but that isn’t always true. There have been many misses with the titles throughout the years. Each title is meant to have honor. The World Titles are the main ones that signify the top champion on the show. Mid-card titles help add depth for a rising or consistent star. WWE now has multiple Women’s Championship titles for that important division. Tag titles have been around for the two decades as well for the duos.
We will look at the most overrated champion to come from each year in WWE. These aren’t necessarily the worst champion of every year, but there may be some instances where they will hold that crown as well. Overrated means there was some hope for these champions. Many pundits, wrestlers, and fans had high hopes for them to deliver great title reigns. It didn’t work out that way as they either disappointed or just failed to live up to the expectations. Find out which wrestlers just could not create the legacy they desired. These are the most overrated champions in WWE for every year since 1999.
20 1999: Big Show (WWE Champion)
Big Show is at the end of his Hall of Fame WWE career these days with many great accomplishments in the past. The first WWE Championship win for Big Show came at Survivor Series 1999 defeating top stars The Rock and Triple H for a huge moment in his career.
Most fans assume it was a great title win since Big Show is a legend and that was his first title reign. However, fans of the Attitude Era were quite disappointed when Show replaced an injured Steve Austin in the dream match. Big Show just wasn’t ready for the WWE Championship and had a failure of a run before dropping it to Triple H in early 2000.
19 2000: Chyna (Intercontinental Champion)
Chyna winning the Intercontinental Championship was a huge moment for the WWE. No other woman has held that title before or after Chyna. WWE made the bold move due to Chyna possessing great star power in 2000. Unfortunately, the Ninth Wonder of the World's title reign was quite overrated, looking back at it.
The biggest storyline had her working with Chris Jericho as they feuded over the title and were co-champions at one point. Chyna was not the most entertaining inside of the ring and it led to clunky matches. Jericho revealed this was the least favorite time of his career and it’s understandable when you watch it back today.
18 2001: Chris Jericho (Undisputed Champion)
Chris Jericho deserves credit for being one of the all-time WWE legends. The first major title win came when he defeated both Steve Austin and The Rock on the same night to win the WWE and WCW Championship belts to become the Undisputed Champion.
Sadly, the great talent of Jericho was still not ready for such a role and he’s even admitted it. This title reign was a flop as Jericho was portrayed as a weak champion lucking into wins after others cheated for him. Jericho stated he felt his first real title reign came in 2008 when winning the World Championship. We romanticize the 2001 reign, but it was a huge disappointment.
17 2002: Hulk Hogan (Undisputed Champion)
Hulk Hogan’s return to WWE in 2002 saw a change of plans due to fan support. Upon his return, Hogan joined Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to reform the New World Order as heels. WWE fans, however, wanted to cheer the iconic Hogan, and that forced a face turn.
Hogan would win the Undisputed Championship from Triple H one month after turning face. The nostalgia wore off quickly, as Hogan had terrible matches against Triple H and The Undertaker. WWE had him drop the title within a month and move into the mid-card against with workers that could carry him, like Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho.
16 2003: Triple H (World Champion)
The legacy of Triple H has seen him earned the reputation of being a legend in WWE. However, there was a time when Triple H was viewed as the most overrated wrestler in the company. The peak of this came around 2003 during the infamous title reign of doom on Raw as World Champion.
Triple H defeated popular stars ready for the next level like Booker T and Rob Van Dam. Most of his matches were huge disasters as well. His feuds with Goldberg and Scott Steiner each delivered some of the worst matches of Triple H’s career. The 2003 World Championship reign is among the most overrated title runs of all-time.
15 2004: JBL (WWE Champion)
The WWE Championship reign of JBL is polarizing when looking back at it. Many appreciated the idea of a mid-carder getting pushed to the top, but the overall results provided negatives. JBL was never a great in-ring worker compared to most other top names on SmackDown like Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Kurt Angle.
The title defenses of JBL are mostly unwatchable, looking back today. It didn’t help that he had such a long reign that grew stale. Guerrero lost the title too soon to JBL and the reign went all the way into 2005 so John Cena would be the one to end it. JBL never had another world title reign in WWE for good reason.
14 2005: Carlito (Intercontinental Champion)
Carlito was once viewed as a huge prospect for WWE, with plans of him ultimately moving into the main event picture. 2005 was the year he started to trend downhill during his reign as Intercontinental Champion. Rumors started to leak that WWE lost faith in Carlito, viewing him as lazy and unmotivated during the IC run.
Veteran Ric Flair was paired with him in an angle in hopes of the partnership waking him up. Flair destroyed Carlito in promos for his lack of desire and eventually ended his Intercontinental Championship reign. Carlito deserves to be viewed as an overrated champion since it all turned out negatively for him.
13 2006: Rob Van Dam (WWE Champion/ECW Champion)
The title wins of Rob Van Dam in 2006 were moments fans waited many years for. Van Dam was one of the most beloved wrestlers to never get over the hump in WWE until then. The rebirth of ECW made RVD the first champion as they tried to add credibility to the brand.
Van Dam most notably defeated John Cena at ECW One Night Stand to win the WWE Championship. It was an incredible moment that fans still remember today. Sadly, nothing more would come from the title reign. RVD was suspended for violating the wellness policy and was forced to lose both titles before he could do much with them. The title reigns are remembered as overrated for this reason.
12 2007: Candice Michelle (Women's Champion)
The Women’s Division in WWE featured many ups and downs before becoming respected and an important part of the show today. 2007 featured a huge transition period as the Women’s Division lacked big names following the retirements of both Trish Stratus and Lita.
Candice Michelle was always a favorite of Vince McMahon and received a huge push. She was made the new top face in the division and held the Women’s Championship for a couple of months. Michelle had improved, but she was still significantly below better performers like Melina and Beth Phoenix. The title reign deserves the overrated tag when looking back at it compared to the better workers.
11 2008: Matt Hardy (United States Champion)
The United States Championship had a great story in 2008 when MVP was continuing a dominant 11-month title reign. Matt Hardy was his biggest challenger, as the two engaged in a long feud that reached personal levels. The storytelling was done well for Hardy’s United States Championship win to be a big moment.
There was the issue of Hardy being unable to do anything else of note with the title afterward. MVP helped make the United States Championship relevant with a long reign, but the following Hardy run brought it back down to earth. Hardy dropped it after a couple of months to Shelton Benjamin.
10 2009: Randy Orton (WWE Champion)
There have been many different years with Randy Orton winning world titles, but 2009 featured the biggest opportunities. WWE wanted to build around Orton in an even bigger role by having him feud with the McMahon family, win the Royal Rumble match and main event WrestleMania XXV.
Orton would have three different WWE Championship reigns in 2009 alone, but none of them connected. The hopes of Orton ever matching John Cena or reaching that elite level ended in 2009. WWE realized he would always be on that second main event tier below Cena after the overrated title reigns failed to live up to expectations.
9 2010: Kane (World Champion)
There were a few disappointing title reigns to go down in 2010, but Kane stands out as having the most overrated one. Fans showed interest in Kane having one more World Championship reign and getting to feud with The Undertaker again. However, the results were horrible as Kane’s matches were borderline unwatchable.
Kane won the title by cashing in Money in the Bank on Rey Mysterio. So many younger wrestlers could have done better in that role. Instead, we got one of the worst world title reigns to come from Kane. WWE would have him drop the title sooner than expected due to not wanting him to defend it at WrestleMania the following year.
8 2011: Alberto Del Rio (WWE Champion)
2011 was the Summer of Punk when CM Punk cut his infamous pipe bomb promo to get to the next level as a top star. WWE seemed ready to push Punk to the moon after having him defeat John Cena and become WWE Champion at Money in the Bank.
Punk's title reign ended one month later when Alberto Del Rio cashed in Money in the Bank. Del Rio had two WWE Championship reigns in 2011 and both were disappointments. It proved that Alberto was nowhere near the level of Punk and Cena. Fans started to sour on him as a top star and he never truly bounced back.
7 2012: Sheamus (World Champion)
Most fans forget that WWE once wanted Sheamus to get to the level of John Cena and CM Punk as a face of the company. Sheamus received many great opportunities, but the biggest may have come in 2012. The Royal Rumble featured Sheamus eliminating Chris Jericho to win it all and get a shot against Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 27.
Fans expected a great match, but it ended within seconds as Sheamus embarrassed the heel character of Bryan. The live crowd at WrestleMania and almost all future events booed Sheamus for this. It led to his title reign as a face flopping as he would end up losing the World Championship to Big Show of all people.
6 2013: Curtis Axel (Intercontinental Champion)
Curtis Axel winning the Intercontinental Championship in 2013 was a great moment. Fans cheered when Axel won the same title his dad Mr. Perfect held on an event that took place on Father’s Day. Paul Heyman was Axel's manager and things looked to be on the upswing for his career.
Axel, however, could not improve to have greater matches or create better stories after years of irrelevance. The title reign ended sooner than expected and Axel would get sent lower down the card. Despite the great title win being remembered fondly, the title reign itself was highly overrated and a major disappointment.
5 2014: Road Dogg and Billy Gunn (Tag Team Champions)
Road Dogg and Billy Gun are remembered as one of the greatest WWE tag teams. Billy Gunn and Road Dogg found their greatest success towards the end of the '90s as important parts of D-Generation X. Both men were rehired for backstage roles, but WWE also wanted to put them back on television in 2014.
Surprisingly, they would win the WWE Tag Team Championship again in their older age by defeating Cody Rhodes and Goldust. This reign ended at the hands of The Usos, but it should have never happened in the first. WWE overrated the star power of Gunn and Road Dogg, as the reign turned into a disappointment more than a fun nostalgic moment.
4 2015: Nikki Bella (Divas Champion)
Nikki Bella’s Divas Championship reign is remembered with great controversy. Nikki's title win came towards the end of 2014 and lasted into the second half of 2015. There were rumors that Nikki was supposed to lose it months earlier to Charlotte Flair, but she used political power to keep it going.
Various interviews have seen Nikki take pride in breaking AJ Lee’s record to become the longest-reigning Divas Champion of all-time. Charlotte would win the title just days after the record broke. The reign is remembered as overrated since it was extended for the sake of ego rather than the story. This is one reason Nikki often gets jeers from the fans, even when portraying a face character.
3 2016: Heath Slater and Rhyno (SmackDown Tag Team Champions)
The brand split returning in 2016 led to new titles being created so both Raw and SmackDown could have their own champions. The "odd couple" team of Heath Slater and Rhyno would win a tournament to become the first-ever SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
Slater was the only undrafted main roster star trying to get a spot on Raw or SmackDown and it ended with fans supporting him. Rhyno was a returning veteran that just happened to get paired with Slater. They were popular enough to get the win, but the title reign was a disappointment. Rhyno and Slater weren’t a great team and struggled to get television time after dropping the belts.
2 2017: Brock Lesnar (Universal Champion)
Brock Lesnar had to make this list after the past few years of horrible Universal Championship reigns. The part-time status of Lesnar makes it unbearable when he has long title reigns as the top champion on a brand. Raw struggled immensely in the times without their champion appearing, especially in 2017.
The year featured the Universal Champion rarely showing up on Raw and only having a handful of matches as the champion. Lesnar destroyed any chance of Raw building momentum since there was no top title for the male wrestlers to truly compete for. 2018 ended with the same story and 2019 is starting with it again.
1 2018: Nia Jax (Raw Women's Champion)
Vince McMahon went out of his way to make sure Nia Jax won the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 34 for the biggest moment. The storyline with Alexa Bliss was postponed for months to make sure it would take place at the biggest show of the year.
Jax defeated Bliss after portraying a bullied face character getting revenge on her evil former best friend. The problem is that Jax wasn’t good enough to follow up with a good title reign. Any hope fans had for her would disappear, with the matches being a disaster. WWE had Nia lose the title to Bliss, to set up Ronda Rousey eventually winning.