The credibility of a championship is among the more important aspects of making a promotion work. Wrestlers need a reason to fight each other and the title belts are what they are all aspiring to gain. The competition is the logical portion of wrestling that makes it feel comparable to a professional sporting event. WWE’s current motto is everyone should want to become the WWE World Champion entering the industry or else they have no place in the business. The most money is also usually attached to being World Champion, so there is a realistic aspect to wanting to hold the title but the booking needs to match that.
All of the titles in a wrestling promotion need to matter if they are being used to elevate a talent. The midcard titles have been showcased in various effective ways. WWE used the Intercontinental Championship for years as a way to put future stars on a higher level before officially entering the main event picture. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and The Rock all were testaments of that process. The WCW Cruiserweight Championship gave us the style of the next generation with Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and many luchadors that shaped the kind of wrestling we see today.
WCW sadly couldn’t keep up the great work of the titles all being credible forms of success on the show. Their rise would see many great champions but the belts started to get devalued during their final few years and it helped contribute to the company’s demise. WCW made plenty of poor decisions and the use of the titles definitely would go down among the worst. The frequent title changes, terrible choices for champion and an overall horrible atmosphere caused every title to lose the respect it once held. We will break down all of those as we look at the fifteen worse title holders in WCW history.
15 The Giant
Wrestling has historically favored big men, as they men with the most height have been granted opportunities before they are actually ready for it. This was the story of The Giant’s time as a main event star in WCW. WWE has used him better over the past seventeen years as Big Show but WCW tried to market him as Andre the Giant’s son and it completely tanked. Giant won the WCW World Championship in his first night and would go on to have two title reigns. The company put the title on him when he was far too inexperienced to hang with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Ric Flair. The Giant’s title runs go down among the worst in wrestling history.
Everyone loves Daffney and her contributions to the wrestling business as one of the more likable personalities. Daffney was quite talented and had a great on-screen presence that made her character work stand out. The problem is WCW decided to put the Cruiserweight Championship on her in 2000 during the Vince Russo days of horrible television. Daffney won the title with her partner Crowbar before becoming the sole champion. The title win was meant to be a comedic moment and a bit of a publicity stunt to have a woman hold the title but it was embarrassing for all involved as Daffney wasn’t a capable wrestler yet.
13 Steve “Mongo” McMichael
Many former football players try their luck in pro wrestling but very few ever experienced the opportunity Steve “Mongo” McMichael did. The defensive tackle was hired to play a color commentator and transitioned into an in-ring performer as a member of The Four Horsemen. Most wrestlers would have killed for that position during the hottest era of pro wrestling but Mongo received it and did very little with the push. McMichael would win the United States Championship for one of the least memorable reigns with the title. Mongo's personnaloty was fine and he didn’t look out of place in the ring but the former football player just didn’t have the “it factor” to become a memorable champion.
12 Mike Sanders
Mike Sanders was one of the young talented wrestlers WCW tried to push in a last ditch effort to create new stars but it was ultimately too late. The strength of Sanders was his natural charisma, which led to highly entertaining promos in his heel role, but he was quite basic as a worker. WCW made him the Cruiserweight Champion and he looked completely lost in the role. Sanders could not live up to the past stars to hold that once prestigious title such as Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho. The title further fell apart with Sanders and he was later moved into a role as a glorified manager leading other young stars.
11 Prince Iaukea
WCW's roster during the late 90s was stacked with big names and future stars all over the lineup. Prince Iaukea was neither of those but had a decent amount of talent that probably should have panned out better. WCW actually gave him a fair chance to hang with many of the best in-ring performers in the midcard, as seen in his runs holding the Cruiserweight and Television titles. Iaukea could bring it in the ring but just wasn’t at the level of the guys like Dean Malenko and William Regal. His title reigns went down as horribly lackluster at a time when tremendous performers would hold those belts, making Iaukea look even worse.
10 Tom Zenk
Most wrestlers leave an impact in the minds of the majority of wrestling fans. The diehard fan base typically looks back at the performers as someone they loved or someone they just couldn’t stand. Tom Zenk was one of the very few wrestlers to never develop a relationship like that and may go down as the most average or basic performer of his time. WCW believed in Zenk enough to put the Television Championship on him in 1991. The title reign was as forgettable as just about everything else regarding Zenk and he would likely be one of the names missed if forcing a longtime fan to name all former TV champs.
9 General E. Rection
Bill DeMott was one of the staples of WCW’s undercard during the Monday Night Wars as Hugh Morrus with Jimmy Hart as his manager. WCW tried to shake things up during the dying days by revamping characters and Morrus changed his name to General E. Rection as the leader of The Misfits in Action. The horrible gimmick lasted long enough for Rection to win the United States Championship on two separate occasions. Nothing further proves how bad things were in 2000 than Rection being in the title picture and getting that much television time. This may have been more offensive to DeMott’s career than getting fired for harassing students in WWE’s developmental programs.
8 Lenny Lane
As discussed earlier, the Cruiserweight Championship is looked back on as a special title in the history of WCW. The division created many future stars, influenced the current talent in WWE and gave us wonderful memories. Lenny Lane winning the title was one of the first points where the title started to go downhill. Lane was not aggressively awful but the irrelevant talent getting a title win over Rey Mysterio Jr. was a horrible decision and it showed with Lane doing absolutely nothing with the title. That belt was basically WCW’s Intercontinental Championship in a way that gave us an eye on the future and Lane was one of the worst to hold it.
7 Jeff Jarrett
One of the more controversial moments during the Monday Night Wars would see Jeff Jarrett shake down WWE for money in his final night, losing the Intercontinental Championship before jumping ship to WCW. Vince Russo was heading there to take over the company and Jarrett tagged along for a huge push as a main event heel. Jarrett won the WCW World Championship on four occasions and was a top heel for the rest of the company’s existence. The issue is Jarrett just didn’t have the ability or the personality to excel as a main eventer and he was clearly overmatched in the role. Jarrett damaged the legacy of the WCW World Championship with the definition of mediocre work.
6 The Renegade
Hulk Hogan’s debut in WCW led to the company making many confusing decisions likely due to The Hulkster’s input. The Renegade may have been the dumbest concept during the mid-90s, as WCW created a character that was clearly a rip-off of The Ultimate Warrior. The late Rick Wilson portrayed the gimmick but was unable to generate any momentum with the horrible gimmick. Renegade won the Television Championship by defeating the highly respected Arn Anderson in an absolutely ridiculous decision by WCW management. The wrestling world would of course reject the title run and Renegade would thankfully drop the strap to the more deserving Diamond Dallas Page a few months later.
5 David Flair
Ric Flair would likely be selected as the greatest WCW star of all time if you polled thousands of longtime wrestling fans. Ric’s son David Flair could possibly go down as the worst WCW star of all time. The wrestling genes did not carry over from father to son and David flopped on every level as a professional wrestler. WCW tried to push him hard as a singles star and David won the United States Championship by being handed it by then on-screen president Ric. A wrestler being handed a title without winning it is always a terrible moment but David defeated talented names like Dean Malenko while looking like a fish out of water in the ring. David will always go down among the worst United States Champions.
4 “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
There’s no argument that “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is a beloved figure in wrestling and deserves to be respected as a legend. WCW just happened to utilize him in the worst way possible during the last years of the company existing. Scott Hall won the once valued Television Championship and tossed it in the garbage. Vince Russo booked Hacksaw to portray a janitor and he found the title in the trash to claim it as his own. Duggan was the official Television Champion via looking in a garbage can and held the title for a few months before the company removed it once again. A legend winning a title by digging in the garbage has to be the worst way to book a title win.
WCW started to go downhill in 1998 but things got completely out of hand when Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera were given full power over the television product. The former WWE writers didn’t have a filter in WCW and they delivered some of the worst television you will ever find in pro wrestling. One of the saddest moments was Ferrera portraying a parody of WWE commentator Jim Ross, mocking his accent, announcing style and facial paralysis. “Oklahoma” was actually given the Cruiserweight title as it devolved into a complete prop at the time and created absolutely horrible “comedy.” This was one of the many reasons fans refused to watch WCW after the ratings were spectacular for years.
2 David Arquette
The popular choice for worst WCW Champion would be David Arquette but there’s one person who is worse than him. Arquette was still a horrible decision as Vince Russo wanted to put the world title on a D-list actor for mainstream attention. The publicity stunt failed and no one cared because Arquette wasn’t a household name that would create a stir in the entertainment industry. Arquette killed any credibility WCW still had and it reached a point where longtime fans just wanted the promotion they once loved to die. The idea was among the worst you can imagine and fans still talk about it instantly when discussing the death of WCW. To Arquette’s credit, the actor did not want to hold the title out of respect to the wrestlers, but was talked into it by Russo.
1 Vince Russo
The worst person to ever hold a title belt in WCW would be Vince Russo. Wrestling’s most controversial writer unleashed a world of horrible content in WCW but booking himself to win the big gold belt was the most disgraceful. The title was once heralded as the most prestigious belt in the industry and Russo took a proverbial dump on it by winning it. Russo held the title for a week before vacating it but the fact that he had the shameless mentality to even win it showed what terrible shape WCW was in. The other bad champions had other factors causing their title reigns to go down poorly but Russo deserves the blame entirely for winning the WCW World Championship.
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