During its time as an active belt in WWE, the Hardcore Title was definitely a product of its time, but an entertaining one at that. It was the catalyst for a bevy of memorable moments, and gave a unique twist on the title belt scene at the time. Though it was only around for less than five years in total, it was a hallmark of the era, and produced some interesting champions along the way.
For a portion of its existence, the Hardcore Title had the ability to change hands at any given time, not just during an official match, but as long as a referee was present. Needless to say, this yielded many humorous and entertaining individual moments, and gave a host of wrestlers who normally wouldn't be provided a title reign to lay claim to the belt. Many of these names are hardly a significant part of WWE history, but indeed they were Hardcore champions, and are the subject at hand here. In all, they contributed to some of the most head-scratching but entertaining title victories in history, and the belt remains to this day a defining aspect of the Attitude Era.
Ranked below are the 15 wrestlers you forgot were WWE Hardcore champions.
29 The British Bulldog
The Bulldog may have been better known for his tag team run with Dynamite Kid, and his IC title run earlier in the 1990s, but also captured the Hardcore Title in 1999. When he won it, he was on his third run with the WWE, with his character updated to fit the Attitude Era protocol. While his traditional strong and power style of wrestling may have seemed a bit odd for a Hardcore Title victory, it worked just as well when actually implemented. He won the title again in 2000, beating Crash Holly, and it was the last title Bulldog would win in the WWE. With his Hardcore Title victories added to his ranks, the Bulldog captured every major WWE title, except the WWE Title, and padded one of the most impressive resumes of the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2002.
27 Gerald Brisco
While he won dozens of titles in his own right during his time as an active wrestler in the 70s, Brisco won the Hardcore Title when he was retired in 2000, portraying an on-screen member of Vince McMahon's corporate clique during the Attitude Era. Brisco winning the title further solidified the fact that the belt was an "entertainment first" kind of prop, rather than a title that was considered to be the representation of great, technical wrestling. The left of center slant was entertaining, and the fact that Brisco could win the belt in his mid-50s after he had retired, signaled an "anything goes" attitude towards the title. It was a fun aside to the more serious angles and title reigns occurring at the same time. Similar to Brisco, one of his peers as an active wrestler also won the belt in similar fashion...
25 Pat Patterson
Patterson was also an on-screen member of McMahon's corporate posse during the Attitude Era. During his time as an active wrestler during the same era as Brisco, he was the first ever IC champion in WWE, and again, won dozens of titles in various promotions throughout the years. He defeated Brisco for the Hardcore Title in 2000, but breaking a champagne glass over his head, and is the oldest person to ever hold the belt. Again, this provided a much-needed carefree mindset toward the Hardcore Title, which provided a nice contrast to the other active belts of the time. Obviously, this wasn't meant to be taken seriously, but for what was essentially a throwaway spot segment in the grand scheme of things, it was highly entertaining, and highlighted the desired absurdity for the title.
23 Trish Stratus
Probably the most renowned WWE Diva of her era, Stratus won the Hardcore strap by defeating Crash Holly. A seven-time Women's Title holder, the Hardcore title was a nice addition to her resume, and she is probably one of the only female wrestlers to hold multiple titles in WWE. The ability for a female wrestler to win a traditionally male-dominated title in any promotion, was one of the factors that made the WWE version of the Hardcore Title a fun hallmark of the era. Moreover, it showed that WWE was not afraid to take risks, and it showed in the ratings of the time. This was a mindset that they could probably use more of today. Stratus was actually probably one of the better overall wrestlers to win the title, especially when compared to the next one on this list...
21 Pete Gas
A member of the Shane McMahon-led Mean Street Posse, this angle was a comedy-based endeavor from the beginning. As such, the members themselves became great contenders for the Hardcore Title. Gas won the strap by participating in a hardcore battle royal, a match in which all three members of the faction won the belt briefly. He was decidedly not a good wrestler, but given the absurdity of his gimmick, in which the members were childhood friends of McMahon in their hometown Greenwich, CT (resulting in the ironic "mean street" phrase in the name), it didn't matter. Putting the belt on Gas, if only for an extremely brief amount of time, fell right in line with the goals that the title had in the first place. As mentioned, he wasn't the only member of the Mean Street Posse to win the belt. Enter in...
19 Joey Abs
Another cardigan-wearing Shane McMahon devotee, Abs won the Hardcore Title in the same battle royal as Gas. Again, this was another fun, ramshackle approach to the belt, having each member of the Mean Street Posse win it on the same night. Abs actually was a true "wrestler" by trade, having spent time in some Indy promotions before signing on to WWE for this specific angle. Definitely a product of the time, but the Mean Street Posse came along at the right time to fill some space in WWE, when the undercard could get away with some ridiculousness, because of how good the other aspects of the roster were. Ultimately, it wasn't an all-time great angle, but again, that wasn't really the point. An interesting chapter in the history of the Hardcore Title.
17 Molly Holly
Though she only held the title for an hour, as was a typical occurrence during the "24/7" rule, it still counts as another Hardcore title victory for a WWE Diva. Holly was actually one of the diva mainstays during the early 2000s, and another one in the dozens that were in line for a Hardcore title victory. She won the title during her Mighty Molly gimmick, where she was aligned with The Hurricane, where she betrayed him to get the gold. Obviously, with the quick transitions between title reigns during this era, she wasn't bound to it for a long time, but it's still an interesting notch on her resume, which also includes two Women's Title reigns. She stuck around the WWE for several years after that, and has to be considered one of the best WWE Divas of the early 2000s.
The first winner of the WWE television show Tough Enough, Maven earned a spot on the WWE roster, but never really got over enough to make any real noise. Naturally, this made him a prime contender for the Hardcore Title, which he ended up winning on three different occasions. The first time, he defeated the Undertaker due to a bevy of outside interference. Maven's general style and look didn't really signal him as a hardcore-styled wrestler, but it was probably due to a lack of interest in him from the fanbase that he was jettisoned into that role. Overall, the Hardcore Title was the only strap he gained during his time in WWE, though he stuck around for a few more years until his departure in 2005. Ultimately, a WWE failure at the end of the Attitude Era.
Later to be recognized as Ron "The Truth" Killings, but known in early 2000s WWE under this moniker, Kwik was generally a b-show staple that won the Hardcore Title several times during the "24/7 rule" era. He would later return to the promotion several years later, but during his initial run, it proved that the title was achievable for anyone, no matter what their status with the company was. This provided an interesting quirk in the title scene, and though none of his reigns lasted more than a day (again, because of the stipulations of the rule), it was notable nonetheless. His fortune's would be later in his later run, winning both the Tag Title, and United States Title, which was much more appropriate for his high level of talent.
Unlike some of the other WWE Divas to win the Hardcore strap, Terri was never a Women's champion, but this just further pushed the "no limits" angle on the Hardcore Title. It was during the "24/7 rule", so the reign only lasted a few seconds, but it still counts regardless. She was active in WWE in some form for about eight years, before her departure in 2004, and was one of the most recognizable divas of the era, in what most consider the golden age for that group. Terri did everything from managing, to wrestling, to hosting WWE T.V. programs over the years, and her one Hardcore Title victory is an interesting notch in that belt. Truly, anybody was able to capture the title during the "24/7 rule."
One half of the Kaientai tag team during the early 2000s, Funaki briefly captured the Hardcore Title, during the battle royal that all the members of the Mean Street Posse did so as well. Generally, Kaientai was used to put over other tag teams, essentially making them enhancement talent with a comedic edge. Because of this undercard status, he was obviously in the mix for the Hardcore Title. In addition, Funaki captured the Cruiserweight belt on one occasion, and had a fairly substantial run in that division after he and Taka Michinoku disbanded the Kaientai team. Overall, he was one of the most notable mid-carders during this era in WWE, and actually stuck around the company for about ten years as an active competitor. Given the WWE tendency to push physically larger stars, he wasn't much of a title threat, but was involved in some memorable individual moments, including this Hardcore Title victory.
7 Stevie Richards
Another mid-card mainstay, Richards was given a plethora of gimmicks during his long stay in WWE. His ability to get over with the fans utilizing a comedic edge was very pronounced, and he won the Hardcore belt an astounding 21 times. It was the only belt he held during his time in WWE, and while you wouldn't have forgotten him as a Hardcore champion at the time, it was the only belt he ever held in WWE, so it generally slips the mind of most people when talking about the most prevalent title holders in the company. Truly, Richards was one of the most underrated WWE talents of the time, and though he was definitely limited, he maximized his strengths, and is one of the most recognizable lower card wrestlers of all time. This type of performer is essential to any promotions, and he was a human Swiss Army Knife in his time with WWE. Perfect for the Hardcore division of the time.
5 Shane McMahon
A one-time Hardcore champion, McMahon won the belt during the infamous battle royal, in which ever member of the Mean Street Posse won it in the same match. For a non-wrestler, this was just one of Shane O'Mac's numerous accomplishments in the ring, though maybe not as individually exciting as taking a dive off the top of a four-story cell, as he did at this year's Wrestlemania. This was one of the always-entertaining McMahon's two title reigns, the other coming when he won the European Title in 1999. In the realm of the Hardcore Title, it was just one of the many one-off reigns that have been relegated to the dust bin of the Attitude Era. For McMahon, while he was never much on title reigns, it still counts as one of his most notable appearances in a ring.
One of his two WWE title reigns, the super-heavyweight Viscera (also known as Big Daddy V, and Mabel) won the title on one occasion at Wrestlemania 2000, losing it the same night. His other title came in the tag division when he teamed with Mo, as the Men On A Mission duo. He came and went with WWE over the course of 15 years or so. Usually placed in the mid-card, he was logically slotted into Hardcore competition during this time, when most hardcore wrestlers didn't have the gigantic size that he possessed. Overall, he was a useful performer for WWE, who had the capability of playing several different types of characters. Though he wasn't compensated with many title victories, he can lay claim to the Hardcore strap, even if it was for such a brief amount of time, and it was generally passed around a ton, because of the "24/7 rule."
1 Godfather's Ho (Cynthia Lynch)
The final of the four women to win the Hardcore Title, this one of the Godfather's infamous "hoes" was actually portrayed by Cynthia Lynch, who was signed to a WWE contract at the time. She pinned Crash Holly for the title in 2000, but quickly lost it back to him. Fans were under the assumption however, that this was just another one of the girls from a local strip club, who usually accompanied The Godfather out to the ring, who won the Hardcore Title, showing that there were no limitations on the "24/7" rule. Lynch didn't spend too much time on WWE TV, but did go on to wrestle in several independent promotions through the years. Not so much a notable victory for her as a wrestling talent, but if anything, it did give credibility to the notion that the Hardcore Title was the most unpredictable of all the belts in WWE, providing an interesting one-off incident along the way.
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