In the world of professional sports, everybody wants to be a champion. There are no children out there playing Pee Wee football dreaming about going pro and hoping to simply “enjoy the game.” Those who are serious are dead serious and want to achieve nothing more than the highest level of success possible in their respective sport.
Playing for fun is not the same as playing for keeps; playing for a name that will forever live inside of a record book. Those who play for fun are usually those who are not good enough to hang with the ones who have excelled at the game. Face facts: out on the field there is no such thing as a level playing field.
In professional wrestling, becoming a champion differs from the process of non-determined sports. There is currently no predetermined Super Bowl winner. However, in WWE, the man who will become the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion has probably already been decided.
This doesn’t mean that there is no prestige that comes along with being a wrestling champion, as professional wrestlers put in just as much hard work in the gym and on the road to attain their levels of success. The wrestling industry is a place where those who are serious also go to be the best and accept nothing less.
Of course, with the possibility of anybody becoming champion at any time, WWE has seen its share of questionable champions. Those who perhaps should have never been awarded a title belt. Questioning the value of a champion is one thing but completely disgracing a championship all together in another.
And the WWE has done this more time than you may realize over the years. Which is why we are here: to take a look at these horrible championship happenings.
These are the top 15 times WWE has disgraced a championship:
15. Hardcore Hot Potato
The WWE Hardcore Championship was never meant to walk side-by-side with the WWE Championship in terms of class. The Hardcore Championship was an alternative title; something cool for those blood-thirty fans.
In 1998, Mick Foley was deservingly named the inaugural Hardcore Champion and for a while the title presented a certain lunatic luster. Most matches were intense and the concept was fitting in well with the product.
Then, in early 2000, the 24/7 rule was implemented whereas the title was always on the line; anywhere, anytime. This would lead to the likes of Pete Gas, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, and even one of The Godfather’s hoes winning the title.
14. Sports Entertainers Make Extreme Seem Mild
The ECW World Heavyweight Championship was a title that signified a certain element of the wrestling world. The championship was never meant for “sports entertainers” but for the psychosomatic bunch who believed they belonged with such a crowd.
When ECW was resurrected under the WWE banner, fans of the product knew that the brand was doomed. ECW quickly became the “C Show” in WWE and was eventually laid to rest again … and forever.
During its tenure with WWE, the ECW World Heavyweight Championship was held by Superstars like Big Show, Mark Henry, Bobby Lashley, Ezekiel Jackson, and Kane; men not meant to represent the Extreme.
13. Cheering for Champions
There is nothing wrong with being a male cheerleader and if that’s your path then go ahead and get going. However, there is something to be said about incorporating male cheerleaders into Monday Night Raw.
In 2006, WWE would introduce The Spirit Squad on their flagship program. This would be a group of five overly-enthusiastic male cheerleaders who actually performed a routine out in front of the live crowd.
And for some reason, WWE felt as though placing the World Tag Team Championship on these guys was the right move. The only good thing to ever emerge from The Spirit Squad was Dolph Ziggler (Yes, he was a member).
12. Breaking Belt
In May 2010, Layla would defeat Beth Phoenix to become the new WWE Women’s Champion. At the time Layla was associated with Michelle McCool and formed an alliance known as LayCool.
Although Layla was the official recognized champion, Michelle McCool would serve as the “co-champion” along ide her friend; sometime replacing Layla in a scheduled bout and competing instead.
During a backstage segment, Layla and Michelle McCool would essentially have a tug-of-war over the belt causing it to break in half so both Divas could wear a piece of the title; a sad death for the WWE Women’s Championship.
11. United States Shelved
Since WWE reactivated the United States Championship, its longest reign has been set by Dean Ambrose at 351 days; a would-be impressive number had Ambrose actually had the chance to defend his title.
During his time with the belt, Dean Ambrose was running with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns as a member of The Shield. Rollins and Reigns were given the Tag Team Championship while Ambrose settled in with the United States Championship.
The only problem here was that Dean Ambrose rarely defended the title; making the United States Championship seem as though it didn’t really matter and for the longest time (until John Cena) it did feel as such.
10. Mega Names, Mega Let Down
Everybody knows that the WrestleMania VIII main event should have been Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship. While this match has happened multiple times since then, the big payday opportunity was squandered.
However, ego came into play and the match would not take place. Ric Flair would instead defend the WWE Championship against “Macho Man” Randy Savage, a suitable replacement for Hulk Hogan and a much better wrestler.
However, WWE would decide to give Hulk Hogan the WrestleMania VIII main event anyway with Sid Justice in a sleeper of a match. Meanwhile, Ric Flair and Randy Savage were placed somewhere in the middle.
While the WWE Championship doesn’t always close the show, on this particular night with these particular wrestlers, it absolutely should have been the main event here. This decision made it feel as though the title only mattered when Hulk Hogan was involved.
9. Making it “Girly” for the Girls
The current WWE Divas Champion, Charlotte, has been a welcomed changed and a breath of fresh air for the Divas division. However, that damn belt remains as the picture of women’s wrestling.
The insistence of using the word “Diva” over “Women” is ridiculous but if it has to be that way, then at least provide the title belt with a little bit of dignity. The title looks like it has been designed by a high school artist who knows nothing about wrestling.
The little things often matter and word around the wrestling world is that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon want the women to be taken seriously. One step that could be taken to accomplish this would be to change to look of the Divas Championship.
8. Taken, Not Earned
At Survivor Series 1994 in a shocking turn of events, Bob Backlund – who had returned to WWE following years away – would defeat Bret Hart for the WWE Championship nearly fifteen years after his first title victory.
There was a sense surrounding this reign that it would not last long and it didn’t. In fact, it would only last a total of three days. That’s when Diesel would step in and take the title from Bob Backlund, at a house show nonetheless.
The bell rang, Diesel kicked Bob Backlund in the midsection, delivered the Jackknife Powerbomb and the match was over. Backlund’s previous reign as champion lasted 1,470 days, one of the longest in history.
It was not uncommon back then for a title to switch hands at a house show but if Bob Backlund was going to lose to Diesel, WWE could have at least pushed his reign to the next Pay-Per-View and provided it with some time.
7. Devalued Gold
The Word Heavyweight Championship has a long and storied history. The belt made famous by Ric Flair has always been a symbol of excellence and continued as such in WWE … for a while.
In September 2002, WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar would sign exclusively with the SmackDown brand, leaving Raw without a top level champion. This is when General Manger Eric Bischoff would introduce the World Heavyweight Championship.
The title was awarded to Triple H and for a number of years was on par with the WWE Championship. However, the brand extension would eventually fizzle and the title began to feel less important.
Despite being known as the “Big Gold Belt,” the World Heavyweight Championship began to feel like the WWE equivalent of a silver medal; no longer maintaining the same value as the WWE Championship.
6. European Lay Down
Perhaps you don’t remember much about the WWE European Championship and perhaps that is due to the fact that it only existed within the company for two years. The belt was never regarded highly and Shawn Michaels may be to blame for this.
The first ever European Champion was The British Bulldog, a little bit of a cliché but it made sense. Bulldog would hold the title for over 200 days until Shawn Michaels decided that he wanted the strap, not that he needed the title.
On the December 22nd, 1997 edition of Raw, Shawn Michaels was ordered by Commissioner Slaughter to defend the European Championship against his D-Generation X stablemate, Triple H.
Fans thought an implosion within DX was abut to occur. However, in pulling over a fast one, the man who “lays down for nobody” would literally lay down for Triple H and hand over the European Championship.
5. Spinning History
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship has taken on many different designs over the years. While the current belt is not necessarily the nicest, it is far from being the most ridiculous looking strap.
When Stone Cold Steve Austin customized the WWE Championship in his likeness, the belt became that much cooler as the “Smoking Skull Belt” looked like the most badass title of all time.
Then along came John Cena and his customized version of the WWE Championship. The title suddenly looked like a joke with its spinning logo and the word “Champ” in place of “Champion.”
Breaking away from tradition is fine but this title was an absolute mess. What made the belt seem more strange was when a Superstar other than John Cena had it in their possession; it just didn’t work.
4. The Cruiserweight Footnote
The Cruiserweight Championship has undoubtedly provided wrestling fans with the most entertaining of title defences all across the board. This includes its time in both WCW and WWE.
The Cruiserweight Championship truly was a wrestling title and provided a place for the smaller guys to go when they knew the big dogs of the yard were not going to allow them to play.
On July 22nd, 2007 at The Great American Bash, the Cruiserweight Championship was won for no reason at all by Hornswoggle. Somebody backstage probably thought this would be funny.
It wasn’t long after that the Cruiserweight Championship was retired, making Hornswoggle its final holder and cementing him as a mere footnote on the long list of great Cruiserweights.
3. Extreme Ego
There is no explanation for Vince McMahon winning the ECW Championship other than it was a direct spit in the face of every fan who ever supported the brand and stood against WWE.
Vince McMahon winning the title was a way of letting Paul Heyman know who was the top of the food chain in the wrestling industry. McMahon taking the belt proved nothing to his audience.
Of course, by the time this tragic title change occurred, ECW was no longer ECW. It had become WWECW. The hardcore element – the very element for which it stood – had been taken away and replaced with standard WWE style performance.
Vince McMahon made his point with this title victory; that he won wrestling and all his competition was dead. It’s no wonder McMahon never found a way to crown himself WCW Champion.
2. Fake Female
Women’s wrestling in WWE is on the rise … or at least we hope. This “Divas Revolution” can fall apart at any time. Hopefully, such is not the case as watching good female wrestlers has become a nice change to programming.
However, the women in WWE have not always been dealt great cards. There are forced to play their hand and attempt to compete in a male-dominated locker room; hoping to find some sort of spot.
In January 2000 on Raw is War, the WWE Women’s Championship would experience its most foolish moment when a man actually won the title in what was dubbed a “Lumberjill Snowbunny” match.
Harvey Wippleman, a manager and agent for WWE, would enter the match disguised as a woman and going by the name “Hervina.” This victory was not only tainted but was absolutely terrible for women’s wrestling.
1. Vince McMahon Sullies His Own Brand
The WWE Championship is the biggest wrestling title one can attain. Even if the word “wrestling” has become taboo within the company, fans of the product understand what lies beneath.
The greatest professional wrestlers of all time have held the WWE Championship. It is a title of prestige and honour, a title Vince McMahon helped make a mainstream attraction when taking over WWE from his father.
Therefore, why would Vince McMahon feel the need to call himself WWE Champion? In 1999, on an episode of SmackDown, Mr. McMahon would do just that by defeating Triple H for the gold.
It’s funny how Vince McMahon has done so much to raise WWE up as well as bring it back down.
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