Titles are meant to be important in wrestling. They carry some clout, they carry a really big push and give a guy a new standing. That’s how they’re supposed to work but too many times, promoters and writers forget that. That’s especially in the last several years as titles are thrown about for quickie reigns and often to guys who aren’t totally deserving. Worse it how some workers are just not suited for it and in fact, getting a belt really hurts their standing. There are slews of cases in wrestling but of course WWE can be topper in so many ways with title “wins” that don’t mean much.
It’s easy to list things like Andre beating Hogan in 1988 and then giving the belt to Ted DiBiase but that was meaningful as it ended Hogan’s first reign and paved the way for Savage to become champion. But there are plenty more in WWE history, times when a major title was used as nothing but a prop and a reign that just made no sense and often very short. The Intercontinental title was the worst victim, the once-revered belt made meaningless and many other belts not much better. It’s a shame as championships are meant to be a major deal but these moments ruined that and that WWE fails to see those issues just shows how many problems they have. Here are 15 title “wins” that didn’t mean a whole lot in the long run and didn’t help either the worker or the belt at all.
15 Roman Reigns/Sheamus - WWE World Heavyweight Championship
There is a book to be written on how badly WWE has ruined the Roman Reigns push. Maybe he could be a main event titleholder but has been saddled with some of the utterly worst booking in history and it boggles the mind how WWE fails to see the problems with the push. As proof, witness Survivor Series 2015 as Roman faced Dean Ambrose in the finals of a tournament for the vacant WWE title.
Despite the fact the crowd was on Ambrose’s side, Roman won and fireworks and confetti went off to seem to celebrate a new era. Then Sheamus, the last guy fans wanted in this spot, cashed in Money in the Bank to pin Roman. Thus the show ended with Roman crying over the loss, the worst possible way to sell a supposed babyface champion and yet another pothole in his road to win over fans.
14 Kalisto/Del Rio - United States Championship
There have been a lot of cases of “hot shotting” a title over the years in wrestling and it rarely ends very well. The Kallisto/Alberto Del Rio feud has been good but it could have been done without this as on Raw in January, Kallisto upset Del Rio for the U.S. title, a big move as fans were excited. A day later, Del Rio won the belt back, making that earlier loss not really worth anything. Kallisto got it back at the Rumble, a good capper to the feud but swapping the belt back and forth really wasn’t necessary and diluted an otherwise good win in the end by Kallisto while serving to make the US title more forgettable than usual.
13 Rey Mysterio - WWE Championship
You have to feel for Rey Mysterio. A great athlete, arguably one of the best luchadores of his time but his tenure as a main event guy just never worked out. His World title run was a mess despite his attempts and stuck in too much poor stuff with injuries. When CM Punk walked out on WWE in 2011, Rey won a tournament to become the new WWE champion and it looked to be a great “career award” run for him. Then John Cena came out to challenge him and less than two hours later, had beaten Rey for the title and then confronted by a returning Punk. So in one night, Rey went from the top to the bottom as the belt was pushed back to Cena for his feud with Punk, poor Rey not deserving to be the pawn in this game.
12 Vince McMahon
Maybe you can’t totally blame Vince as he’s hardly the first owner in the history of the business to carry his own title. In 1999, he and HHH were feuding over Stephanie, going at it in a match with Vince obviously outclassed but with help from Steve Austin, got the pin for the title. To be fair, Vince immediately gave it up so it wasn’t too terrible as HHH got it back. But worse was in 2007 when Vince won a handicap match for the ECW title and if the brand wasn’t already hated, he just took it to a new level. It was just Vince’s ego on full display and why it’s hard to take him seriously sometimes.
11 Hornswoggle - Cruiserweight Championship
Once a great belt that let the smaller guys show their stuff off, the Cruiserweight title meant a lot and helped spark several great battles. However, at Great American Bash 2007, Chavo Guerrero defended the belt in a six man Open when Hornswoggle crawled into the ring just as the bell rang. As they all brawled outside, Hornswoggle climbed the rope and leapt onto Jaime Noble to win the title. Yes, the belt was now in the hands of this dwarf comedy worker, a move that basically killed the title as a legitimate thing and cost WWE one of their best divisions.
10 Diesel and Shawn Michaels - Tag Team Championship
To try and spark up a rough 1995, WWE announced that the main event for “In Your House” would be WWE champion Diesel and IC champion Shawn Michaels against tag team champions Yokozuna and Owen Hart with the stipulation that if either of the singles champions were pinned, they would lose that belt while the tag titles were also on the line. On the day of the show, Owen was “injured” and so British Bulldog was put into his space as the partner for the match. The match ended with Diesel and Shawn adding the tag titles to their belts with Diesel pinning Owen, who attempted to interfere during the match.
The next night on RAW, manager Jim Cornette filed “an injunction,” arguing the results were invalid because Smith was filling in for Owen and the titles were returned. That night, Owen and Yoko ended up losing the titles to the Smoking Gunns, making this even more of a meaningless title change just to have Nash and Shawn boast holding all the belts at once.
9 The Mountie - Intercontinental Championship
In early 1992, Intercontinental champion Bret Hart’s contract was coming up and WCW was making offers. Vince was worried about Bret jumping ship with the belt (sound familiar?). To forestall this, Vince had Bret drop the title to the Mountie, a joke worker, at a house show in Canada. In a bit of ego-stroking, Bret agreed only if Vince put out the story Bret was sick with the flu and wrestling against doctor’s orders. He lost with the Mountie attacking him and Roddy Piper coming to defend Bret. This set up the Royal Rumble two days later as Piper beat The Mountie for the title, making The Mountie the very definition of “placeholder” for the time.
8 Marty Jannetty
Jannetty gets on this for not one, but THREE cases. First, in 1990, The Rockers defeated the Hart Foundation for the tag team titles on “Saturday Night’s Main Event,” meant to finally give them a run. However, the top rope broke during the match, throwing it off so much that WWE decided to never air it and let the Harts keep the titles. In 1993, Jannetty challenged Shawn Michaels for the IC belt on RAW, taking advantage of Mr. Perfect distracting Shawn to pin his former partner for the belt. His reign lasted less than three weeks before he lost the belt back to Michaels. Then in 1994, Jannetty and the 1-2-3 Kid beat the Quebecers for the tag titles only to lose them right back a week later. For a guy with great talent, Marty sure had bad luck with belts.
7 Dean Douglas/Razor Ramon - Intercontinental Championship
Many have complained over how in 1995, the “Kliq” were running things backstage in WWE and here’s a prime example. After being beaten up by guys at a bar, Shawn Michaels was legitimately hurt and had to relinquish the IC title so at “In Your House 4,” Shawn gave the belt to opponent Dean Douglas, who celebrated. However, it was ordered that Douglas had to immediately defend the belt against Razor Ramon. They fought with both having shoulders to the mat and Ramon getting his up first. Thus, Douglas’ entire reign as champion only lasted 15 minutes and it soured him so badly that he left WWE almost immediately. The egos of the Kliq combining to hurt a promising star and make the IC belt their own property, another reason 1995 was such a bad year for WWE.
6 Men on a Mission - Tag Team Championship
They were always a goofy act. You had Mo, a short and stout guy and Mabel, a huge slow giant, in baggy purple pants with manager Oscar doing “rap” songs to the ring. You just never had a sense of them as a serious thing despite various runs at the titles. During a tour of Europe in 1994, MoM did manage to beat the Quebecers for the belts but because Pierre was legitimately stunned when Mabel landed on him and didn’t kick out as planned. Thus, they had to have the Quebecers win the belts back two days later with the switch barely even mentioned on TV. So a title change not even planned, making this more meaningless than others.
5 Sheamus - World Heavyweight Championship
When Sheamus and Daniel Bryan heard they were going on first at WrestleMania XXVIII, they figured they could do a great opening battle to kick the show off. Then they heard they were getting their time cut down and started to get nervous. Then came the day and both heard the plans and were as upset as they knew the fans would be. Out they came for the battle, Bryan talking to AJ Lee as the bell rang, turning around to eat a Brogue Kick and being pinned for the title in just seconds. The fans were livid, a great battle turned into a joke and both guys weren’t happy either as it didn’t make the World title look good and you don’t start off the biggest show of the year in such a poor fashion.
4 Christian - World Heavyweight Championship
When Edge was forced to retire in 2011, most thought it was only logical that his long-time best friend, Christian, get the World title. It seemed ready as Christian won a battle royal, then a ladder match with Del Rio to get the belt, celebrating with Edge and the fans ecstatic that he had reached the top of his career. Yet just a few days later, he dropped the belt to Randy Orton and fans were outraged. Yes, he got it back eventually but his career never really recovered from this blow, Christian deserving far more of a run with the title and marring a great moment for the fans at a time WWE needed plenty of good will.
3 Zack Ryder - Intercontinental Championship
The most recent entry on this list and for good reason. After a great rise with fan support to win the U.S. belt, Ryder was subjected to one of the most brutal burials imaginable, stuck in the mid-card despite being more over than most guys in the company. At WrestleMania, it looked like it was all in the past as Ryder was the victor in a ladder match for the IC title. It was sold well as Ryder’s long struggle, celebrating with his dad and looked ready to take off again. And just 24 hours later, he lost the belt to the Miz, ruining that great Mania moment and yet another blow to a guy who deserves a lot more and WWE itself for not giving him more of a run.
2 Debra - Women’s Championship
WWE has made a big deal recently over rebranding the Divas with a new Women’s title and really giving them a push. That’s far above their usual fare which included plenty of bad angles and gimmicks to hurt the image of the ladies. But the worst of the worst when it comes to “titles” was in 1999 when Debra and Sable went at it in an evening gown match. Sable won by stripping Debra to her underwear but commissioner Shawn Michaels declared that because Debra looked so great, he was giving her the belt. Yes, the title was awarded simply on looks, as bad an idea as imaginable and hurting it a lot so amazing it’s gotten better as time has gone by.
1 Triple H - World Heavyweight Championship
On his recent documentary, even Hunter admits this was badly handled. At the time, WWE had Brock Lesnar as champion and HHH had won a match to become the #1 contender. When the brand split happened, Brock moved to SmackDown and WWE decided to give RAW their own title. Rather than some sort of match for it, Eric Bischoff just handed the title (the classic “Gold Belt” of WCW) to HHH. It just served to push his ego and he took a lot of heat for it. To his credit, HHH did make the belt a big deal over the years but that he just had it handed to him was not a good start and kicked off a lot of bad feelings toward HHH that have never truly gone away.
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