There are tons of reasons a wrestler could be branded as the “Worst Champion of all Time.” Their run could be mismanaged by creative, injuries could prevent them from teaching their ultimate potential, or they could just be straight up garbage when it comes to the art and science of professional wrestling. There have been countless wrestlers in the WWE to hold championships. Nowadays, there are more belts than ever before (a mind-boggling 13 when you count them all up). So it’s needless to say they all can’t be winners. Heck, a quick browse through the digital hall of champions will show that there are more Great Khalis than John Cenas.
But who exactly was the worst of the worst while they were on top? The most undeserving or downright dreadful man or woman to somehow get their grubby little paws on that sweet, sweet 10 pounds of gold. Today, we’re going to do this Highlander style (There can only be one!) and really delve into each division, figuring out who the all out worst person ever to hold the championship was. Belt by belt. Disappointment after disappointment.
For this list we’re only looking at titles that have had more than 5 different wrestlers as champions. So you won’t be seeing the Raw or Smackdown Women’s, Smackdown Tag Team, or United Kingdom Championships here. We also added some classic Attitude Era belts for those of you nostalgic European and Hardcore Championship fans out there.
16 Honorable Mention: Royal Rumble Winner - Vince McMahon
When Vince McMahon began working with his biological father, all he wanted to do was become a professional wrestler. His dad, who owned the WWWF at the time, refused to let his son join the business as an in-ring performer and taught Li’l Vinnie the behind the scenes aspects. Years later, now in charge of the company, Vince began to get over as the Boss from Hell, Mr. McMahon. He was in the middle of one of the greatest rivalries of all time with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and was finally ready to live his childhood dream. With only a handful of matches behind him, VKM was entered into the 1999 Royal Rumble match. Along with Austin, Vince was one of the first two people in the match. In a match that involved 30 wrestlers, this match quickly became solely about Vince and Austin. When the two brawled to the back, the announcers treated the duo as if they were Poochie, constantly asking where they were and paying little to no attention to the wrestlers who were in the ring. In the end, McMahon prevailed, eliminating Austin after the Rattlesnake was distracted by The Rock. The 43-year-old’s win was tainted and lame. The Rumble can be used to establish a main event wrestler, but instead was just used to further a storyline that didn’t need any help.
15 Honorable Mention: Money in the Bank Briefcase - Damien Sandow
Poor, poor Damien Sandow. The Intellectual Savior of the Masses is a perfect example of how even a wrestler who grasps every facet of their character, is a fantastic in-ring performer, and has a ton of charisma can fail if WWE management doesn’t get behind them. When he and cashed his Money in the Bank briefcase in on a seemingly injured John Cena, it appeared they were ready to pull the trigger on Sandow. He got the jump on WWE’s poster boy and looked to take his World Heavyweight Championship. Attitude Adjustment. 1-2-3. Sandow became the first person to ever lose when they cashed in their briefcase. To make matters worse, Sandow’s reign as Mr. Money in the Bank was also designed to get Cody Rhodes over as a babyface after Sandow threw his former Rhodes Scholars partner off of a ladder to claim the briefcase. Like multiple would-be pushes for Sandow, this would never amount to anything, leaving two men with so much potential out in the cold.
14 Intercontinental Championship - Jeff Jarrett
This one might be a bit controversial. You may have come to this list looking for somebody like Dean Douglas or Ezekiel Jackson. While arguments could be made for either of those guys to hold this coveted spot, I’m going to have to give it to J-E-Double-F J-A-Double-R-E-Double-T. Jarrett was intercontinental champion six times. At one point he had more Intercontinental title reigns than anybody ever. He was given chance after chance to elevate WWF’s secondary title, but couldn’t do it. Besides his final loss to Chyna, making her the first woman to ever win the strap, all of his reigns are unremarkable. Also, the first time Jarrett lost the IC title was after a controversial finish against Bob “Spark Plug” Holly. The dude couldn’t even beat Sparky flippin’ Plugg! I think famed Florida wrestler Mike Graham put it best when he said, “He broke 6,000 guitars. Never drew a dime.”
13 Women’s Champion - Hervina
Show me in the rulebook where it says a man can’t be women’s champion! What’s that? Rule number one? Okay.
Throughout the Attitude Era, we were saddled with awful women’s match after awful women’s match, most of them were sloppy, blink-and-you-miss-it affairs contested by ladies who had no business in the ring. There were a lot of undeserving champions during this period. Women like Sable, Debra, and The Kat had zero wrestling experience but there thrust front and center thanks to their more noticeable attributes. However, Hervina is the worst of the worst. Completely undermining the entire idea of the division by giving the belt to a man, former Giant Gonzalez manager Harvey Wippleman, was a lame tactic with no payoff. Not only had Wippleman not been prominent on television in years, but he would drop the title three days later to Jacqueline. Oh, and to really drive home the point that the wrestling didn’t matter, Hervina won the belt in a Lumberjill Snowbunny match.
12 NXT Tag Team Champions - Corey Graves & Adrian Neville
NXT has done a really great job in making actual teams their Tag Team Champions. Teams like the Revival, the Ascension, and the Wyatt Family weren’t just two guys thrown together for the heck of it (see: Every time John Cena has been tag champion). It’s always a lot more interesting when you see a tandem with a common goal (or at least matching gear) reach the pinnacle of the division. The only time NXT has fallen victim to this is when the team of Corey Graves and Adrian Neville dethroned the Wyatt Family to become NXT’s third Tag Team Champions. Neville had already achieved this goal when he and his partner Oliver Grey, going by the adorable name of British Ambition, became the inaugural champs. Besides being two established indie wrestlers (a schtick that would be done much better with #DIY), Graves and Neville had nothing in common, their styles never gelled, and their clothes didn’t even match!
11 Cruiserweight Champion - Kalisto
Since there have been enough new Cruiserweight Champions to fill my quota, I’m going to ignore the previous incarnation of the belt (if you’re wondering, the answer is a tossup between Chavo Classic and Hornswoggle) and focus on the purple and silver version we see today. For me, this came down to the two men with the shortest reigns, Akira Tozawa and Kalisto. Even though ‘Listo’s reign is twice as long as Tozawa’s, I had to go with the former Lucha Dragon. Why? Because look who he lost the belt to. Tozawa dropped the championship to Neville in an awesome and albeit underrated match on the 2017 SummerSlam preshow. It was a back and forth match that did a great job to draw the crowd in and get them excited for the rest of the show. Kalisto lost his championship to Enzo Amore. Although Smacktalker Skywalker is indeed money on the mic, losing a match to the wrestling equivalent of (for some reason WWE favorite) Machine Gun Kelly is enough to earn Kalisto a spot on this list.
10 Divas Champion - Jillian Hall
The October 12, 2009 edition of Raw is a strange bird when it comes to episodes of the flagship wrestling program. Four different wrestlers performed in two separate matches during that night. Legacy and John Cena were embroiled in a feud, so not only did Cena, Cody Rhodes, and Ted Dibiase meet in a triple threat match earlier in the night, but the main event saw John teaming up with Randy Orton to take on Rhodes and Dibiase. The other competitor to wrestler twice that night? Jillian friggin’ Hall. Hall had just claimed the Divas Championship from Mickie James after pinning her with her feet on the ropes in a botch-filed bout that barely lasted a minute. She would then be forced by Raw guest host Nancy O’Dell (who?) to immediately defend her newly won prize against the recently traded from Smackdown, Melina. What then followed was an even SHORTER botch-heavy match that saw Melina pick the win and the belt.
9 European Champion - Mideon
There are a ton of awful champions on this list, but they all had one thing in common, they at least WON their titles. Mideon? Well, one day Mideon just found the European Championship in Shane McMahon’s gym bag after Shane O’Mac had retired as champ almost two months earlier. WWE was always uncertain of just how important the European Championship was. When the British Bulldog won the championship in a tournament, it was treated as a big deal. Then, by the end of the year, Shawn Michaels was lying down for Triple H to take the title, relegating it as a joke. Mideon’s reign didn’t do him or the belt any favors. He held it for a little over a month and did nothing of note with it. At least the Ministry of Darkness member had the honor of dropping the tertiary title to the greatest European Champion of all time, D’Lo Brown.
8 United States Champion - Orlando Jordan
The United States Championship has a storied legacy that can be traced back to the NWA and WCW. It has over 40 years of history. Hall of Famers like Bret Hart, Harley Race, Ric Flair, and Roddy Piper were just some of the legendary wrestlers who held the title. Then there is Orlando Jordan. When he won the title, Jodran was the Chief of Staff for JBL’s Cabinet. A stable so weak, that after Bradshaw, the most important members were the Basham Brothers. Orlando was an unimpressive performer and bizarre Lady Gaga-esque TNA appearances aside, is best remember for constantly losing to Chris Benoit in absurdly short matches. The sole reason to give OJ the strap was to get it off the current U.S. Champion, John Cena, who was a month away from beating JBL to win his first WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. An event where Jordan wasn’t even important enough to defend his belt.
7 WWE Tag Team Champions - The Legion of Doom
No, not and Hawk and Animal. Not even their failed attempt at being hip and edgy when they rebranded themselves L.O.D. 2000 and added Sunny as their manager. We’re talking about the ill advised revamp with Animal and Heidenreich! When you recreate one of the most successful and popular tag teams of all time, you had better deliver. While Heidenreich had the perfect look to be a Road Warrior, his in ring talent was more in line with the Powers of Pain than the L.O.D. He had also been around for two years and his limits as a performer were well established. Teaming him up with the aging Animal didn’t help either wrestler. Their 2005 feud with MNM only happened to sell copies of the DVD Road Warrios: The Life and Death of Wrestling’s Most Dominant Tag-Team, which was coincidently released the same year. Thankfully, Hawk was not around to see this tag team misstep. Within the lineage that has now become the Raw Tag Team Championship, the L.O.D. redo is definitely the bottom of the barrel.
6 Hardcore Champion - Shawn Stasiak
Here’s a fun fact. Throughout the four years it was around, there were 240 different Hardcore Championship reigns. Shawn Stasiak was champion 15 times. That’s right, Meat was champion 15 times, and he did it all within three months. Shawn Stasiak has almost the same amount of reigns as Hardcore Champion as John Cena has World Championship reigns. Let that really sink in. It is totally okay if you were unaware of this achievement as all of Stasiak’s title wins happened at house shows. Since this was during the time the belt was contested under the 24/7 rule, the inhabitant of Planet Stasiak never made it out of the arena as champion. He would hold onto the championship for a few minutes at best, before dropping it to more established hardcore wrestlers like Spike Dudley, Tommy Dreamer, or Steven Richards. All the cooking sheets, frying pans, kendo sticks, and fire extinguishers in the world couldn’t get the dude a full day’s reign as champion.
5 NXT Champion - Big E Langston
Big E Langston’s rise to prominence in NXT was dope. A ridiculously strong powerlifter who bulldozed through everyone in his path, proclaiming a standard three count was not enough and that he needed a five. Immediately after winning the championship, but before training could put their finishing touches on him, Big E was called up to the main roster. This was during the time when WWE rarely recognized their developmental territory. Instead of using this is a great way to showcase their up-and-coming brand on actual television, announcers rarely mentioned E’s accolade. It also created a very strange face/heel dynamic that was perplexing. After Big E vanquished Seth Rollins and the rest of the Shield for the NXT Championship, he was all set to be the biggest hero in all of Full Sail. However, when he debuted on Raw, he attacked John Cena, establishing himself as a villain and Dolph Ziggler’s bodyguard. It was a confusing mess of WWE not being able to get their stories straight between their main roster and developmental system that hurt Big E from becoming the main eventer he could have.
4 World Tag Team Champions - Bob Backlund & Pedro Morales
Every wrestler should know the rules, plain and simple. Sure, nowadays, you can hold two different belts in different divisions, Seth Rollins, the Miz, and John Cena can all attest to this. But back in 1980, this was a no-no. So, when Pedro Morales teamed up with current World Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund to take on the Wild Samoans for the World Tag Team Championship, they should have known better. In another world, Backlund and Morales could have become a force to be reckoned with in the WWF. Immediately after defeating Afa and Sika 2-0 in a two out of three falls match, Morales and Backlund were forced to vacate the straps. A lackluster and unsatisfying end to what could have been an awesome reign. I’ve mentioned before how much I love Mr. Backlund, but dude, this was an extremely boneheaded move by the second longest reigning World Champion.
3 NXT Women’s Championship - Paige
As you can tell from the rest of the NXT entries, WWE’s developmental system has really been able to get its act together in recent years. The real problem with Paige’s reign was NXT Women’s Champion was that there wasn’t much competition for the young superstar. Sure, she was able to tear the house down in matches with Emma, but she was routinely stuck in matches against folks who weren’t quite ready like Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, and women who would never get there like Tamina and Summer Rae. She was able to hold onto the championship for 274 days, but was forced to vacate it when she won the Divas Championship upon her main roster debut. This turned out to be the best thing she could have done for NXT. With Paige gone, there was a hole at the top of the division that forced NXT to start pushing deserving women like Charlotte and Bayley.
2 World Heavyweight Champion - Dolph Ziggler
As this list focuses only on the wrestler’s time as said champion, I feel extremely confident putting Ziggler’s name here. Sure, the road to his second World Heavyweight Championship was red hot. At the Wrestlemania before the Show Off chased in his Money in the Bank briefcase, the crowd could be heard chanting his name, in hopes that he would run down the aisle after Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger. They would have to wait 24 hours, but boy was it worth it. When Ziggler did indeed cash in, the audience absolutely erupted. Sadly, an errant kick to the head from Swagger would give Ziggler a concussion, putting him on the shelf for over a month. When he did return to finally defend his belt against Del Rio, the Mexican Aristocrat won his championship back in decisive fashion. Combine this depressing and disappointing time, two years earlier, he was awarded the championship and lost it in the same night and Ziggler made for a truly terrible World Heavyweight Champion.
1 WWE Champion - Jinder Mahal
Man, does this one pain me to write. I scoured the list of every WWE Champion many times over hoping to not include Jinder Mahal in this spot. I thought about putting Vince McMahon or Bray Wyatt here, but the spot really has to go to the Modern Day Maharaja. Throughout his 170 run as champion, I kept waiting for him to rise to the occasion and became a suitable champion. That never happened. All of his matches were the same. Get beaten up for fifteen minutes, Singh Brothers interference, poorly executed Khallas, 1-2-3. His promos were cringeworthy. Seriously, watch him talk. For every sentence he utters, he takes three steps forward, thrusting his fist downwards, then resets before delivering the next line. It's robotic. He challenged Brock Lesnar to a match a Survivor Series and lost the championship before that could happen. It even seemed like the main reason his championship run was so long was that he could defend the belt in India, and that didn’t even happen. I really wanted this to work out for the fourth most important member of 3MB (yeah, after Hornswoggle). When it was all said and done, Jinder was hindered from the start.