You’ve heard the motto many times if you’re a wrestler or a wrestling fan. “If a wrestler doesn’t want to become the world champion, he needs to find another job.” The ultimate goal for any professional wrestler is to become the world champion of the company they work for. A wrestling promotion will usually put the championship belt on a talent as a sign they are one of the best in their field and deserve the accolade. They believe the wrestler has what it takes to make money for the company and in turn, it typically means the wrestler will also see a pay raise as champion.
The world championship is often the main eventer of a brand. WWE, WCW, ECW and TNA have all had their fair share of ups and downs with the title. Each company had a different atmosphere but the successes and failures of decisions for world champions are very comparable. A champion should have the same values as the company at its core. The champ is usually a hard-worker that sets an example for the locker room with the ability to work well, have a presence that jumps off the screen and sell tickets to lead the company to success. Many of the wrestlers on this list are examples of failures in one or more of those categories.
While some talents were unable to carve out a memorable or interesting world title reign, it doesn’t mean the wrestler is not talented. Most of the wrestlers on this list offered something great to the wrestling business but they were just unable to have a great run with the title. Some of it was due to poor booking, but a few of the wrestlers just absolutely sucked. Remember the good times and the best title holders before reading this because we’re going to dive into the twenty least interesting world champions in wrestling history.
20 Rey Mysterio
As the biggest Rey Mysterio fan on the planet, it is difficult to write entry this but it’s true. Mysterio’s first and longest world title reign was a huge disappointment. The storyline in which Mysterio defeated Randy Orton and Kurt Angle for the World Championship saw him dedicate all of his matches to his recently deceased best friend Eddie Guerrero. While the sentiment and genuine love he had for Eddie was true, the writing staff exploiting Guerrero’s death in the story hurt the wrestlers and the story. Following the title win, Mysterio lost cleanly to bigger wrestlers on a weekly basis in non-title matches and never was involved in great stories. The booking, not his talent, caused Rey to have one of the least interesting title reigns in WWE history.
19 Vince Russo
Okay, let’s get the ridiculous world champions out of the way now. One great thing about the WCW Championship was that it was truly prestigious. If you look at the history of men to hold the title, just about everyone on the list turned out to become a future Hall of Famer. That was until Vince Russo came into the company. The belt would get placed on less credible and more idiotic options, including himself. Russo was an on-air authority figure and decided he wanted to win the WCW Championship. It was one thing when Vince McMahon did this because his character was one of the strongest in the WWE but no one cared about Russo.
18 David Arquette
We follow one boneheaded Vince Russo decision regarding the WCW Championship to another. C-list actor David Arquette was filming a movie with WCW titled Ready to Rumble and Russo wanted to make him the actual world champion on the wrestling program. Arquette would win the title in one of the most controversial and criticized decisions in wrestling history. To his credit, Arquette did not want to do it in fear of disrespect to wrestlers on the roster but he was talked into it being good for business. It wasn’t. Aside from running away from wrestlers and having a convoluted and nonsensical heel turn, nothing about Arquette in WCW was interesting.
TNA has received a lot of criticism for not putting their young stars in the main event picture. Magnus was one of the few younger homegrown talents to get a chance at winning the World Championship but his run was a disaster. TNA tried creating a faction that would imitate WWE’s The Authority. Magnus playing the Randy Orton role of the chosen star by heel authority figure Dixie Carter. The problem is no one gives a damn about Dixie Carter’s character and it led to cutting the legs from under Magnus. The focus was on Carter in the bigger storylines and Magnus failed to get any momentum going as champ.
16 Chavo Guerrero
Chavo Guerrero was a "good hand" and could always perform well in matches while making others look better. He just wasn’t as impressive or dynamic a talent as many of his peers such as Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio or his uncle Eddie Guerrero. The only World Championship that was granted to Guerrero was WWE’s version of the ECW Championship. Guerrero defeated CM Punk and became the title holder of the company’s third brand. It felt like a lifetime achievement award rather than faith in him being a credible champion. Chavo’s title reign would end in embarrassing fashion as Kane defeated him in a match that lasted eleven seconds.
The rise of Yokozuna came when WWE was still trying to push bigger guys that looked like monster heels. Yokozuna, with a sumo wrestler gimmick, actually main evented two WrestleMania events. Unless you were interested in Mr. Fuji throwing powder, Yokozuna’s title reigns were extremely boring. His matches were always a chore to sit through and his character was not defined enough to care about. The world title reigns of Yokozuna also came at a time when WWE was trying to end Randy Savage’s days as a wrestler. Imagine how much more entertaining the library would be with Savage in place of Yokozuna as the champion at WrestleMania IX and WrestleMania X.
14 The Miz
It's no debate that The Miz has a world of personality and puts his all into his character. When the company decided to put the WWE Championship on him, it was refreshing to see a new talent hold the title. The problem was that there was no direction for him. After a flat program with Randy Orton, Miz entered a storyline with Jerry Lawler. As credible as Lawler is for his past, an old announcer isn’t the guy you want facing your new champ. The Miz would main event WrestleMania XXVII vs. John Cena but the real storyline was Cena vs. The Rock. The Miz was a complete afterthought and was not allowed to do anything remotely interesting with the title.
13 Bobby Lashley
Much like John Cena and Batista, WWE wanted to make Bobby Lashley one of the faces of the company due to his physically impressive look and potential. The young Lashley was made champion of the ECW brand but failed to deliver as champion. In the match that saw Lashley become ECW Champion, a lot of people believed CM Punk deserved the win. WWE chose Lashley and he was put in big storylines, including wrestling on behalf of Donald Trump and entering a feud with Vince McMahon. Unfortunately for Lashley, he was a very lackluster personality. The ECW Champion was the opposite of interesting and quickly fell down the card after losing the belt.
12 Alberto Del Rio
The debut of Alberto Del Rio in WWE was outstanding. The vignettes, the look, the entrance and the overall presentation had him come off as a big star and made him an instant main eventer. The company waited a little too long to put the belt on him and by the time they did, he lost most of his momentum. Del Rio would have multiple world title reigns and there was one main criticism each time – it just wasn’t interesting. For whatever reason, Del Rio failed to become an entertaining top act when made the champion. His current United States title reign is a smaller sample size of how bleak things have been when he was world champion.
11 Mr. Anderson
The potential of Ken Anderson was sky high in WWE. Working under the name Mr. Kennedy, he looked like he was going to become a future champion but injuries and drug test failures ended his pushes and ultimately his WWE career. TNA scooped him up and made him a multiple time world champion. There was a huge difference in his work as a TNA main eventer and his early days becoming a star in WWE. Anderson was incredibly dull and failed to capture the audience in the way a champion should. Aside from his entrance of announcing his own name (which got old quickly), he had nothing dynamic working for him.
WWE took a chance by making Diesel the WWE Champion in 1994 and it completely backfired. Diesel was one of the least financially successful champions in the company’s history, as all of the company's numbers went down during his reign. Nash is one of the most charismatic personalities in wrestling history but he did not start to fully showcase that until he went to WCW and became a member of the New World Order. During his title run in WWE, he was just a tall guy that would have bad matches and felt like a placeholder champ despite the long reign.
The current WWE Champion gets a spot on the list for his four world title reigns. Sheamus is talented and has achieved success in WWE, but he’s also been given much more opportunity than most of the other wrestlers in the company. Whether it was defeating John Cena in a Tables Match, beating Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds at WrestleMania or recently cashing in on Roman Reigns, his title wins have always been followed by an apathetic groan. The guy has in-ring talent but he is just a walking yawn. It’s impossible to respect Sheamus as champion because he’s not interesting enough to pull it off, despite WWE’s hopes it will change.
Kane has won the WWE Championship, World Championship and ECW Championship all throughout his WWE career but none of his reigns were entertaining or memorable. You can’t judge Kane’s first title reign because it lasted one night or his ECW reign as the belt was irrelevant by then, but his World Championship tenure was a disaster. Kane defeated Rey Mysterio with the Money in the Bank briefcase cash-in and entered his worst feud yet with The Undertaker. The two legends couldn’t re-capture the magic from 1998 and had one of the worst feuds of 2010. Kane’s reign was a dud until he lost the title to Edge in another boring feud.
7 Jeff Jarrett
WWE always wanted to develop Jeff Jarrett into a bigger star but it never worked and he was deemed “midcard for life” until he made the jump back to WCW with Vince Russo as the new booker there. Russo loved Jarrett and made him a top heel in the company. Jarrett eventually became the WCW Champion and was terrible in the role. If you remove weird situations like Russo and David Arquette, Jarrett is likely the worst WCW Champion of all time. In TNA, Jarrett was in charge of the company and made himself a multiple time World Champion for his own company. Jarrett was once again a boring champion there and didn't help TNA at all.
6 Chris Benoit
Despite being one of the greatest in-ring performers the wrestling industry has ever seen, Chris Benoit’s title reign was completely disappointing. Benoit making Triple H tap out to end WrestleMania XX was one of the better moments in WWE history (before the unfortunate events), but everything that followed was uninspiring. Benoit had a couple more matches with Triple H and moved on to a feud with Kane – the kiss of death for one’s momentum.
5 Sgt. Slaughter
During the late 80s and early 90s, just about every WWE Champion was a memorable top act. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and Ric Flair all held the title but one name in between those reigns just didn’t fit. Sgt. Slaughter defeated Warrior to hold the title going into WrestleMania VII. Slaughter was working as a heel with an anti-American/pro-Iraqi gimmick and headed into a feud with Hulk Hogan. The story was fine at the time but it was due to fans buying into Hogan’s American pride. Slaughter was boring and was not up to par with prior and future WWE champs.
After spending many years as a tag team wrestler, midcarder or enhancement talent, Bradshaw became JBL and was made WWE Champion. Adopting an arrogant rich heel persona, JBL held the WWE Championship for almost a year and it was a rough time. SmackDown was viewed as the more exciting WWE television show due to the caliber of wrestlers being showcased on it at the time such as Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle. Sadly, JBL was a boring champion and the program started to decline with him at the top. The show was never able to regain momentum during the brand split after JBL became WWE Champion.
3 The Great Khali
The Great Khali was given many opportunities in WWE due his unbelievable height and his marketability in his homeland of India. Unfortunately for WWE, The Great Khali was one of the worst in-ring performers in WWE history and was horrific on the mic. An injury to Edge saw WWE have to make a quick decision on crowning a new champion and The Great Khali became the World Champion on SmackDown after winning a battle royal. His title run was one of the worst in history, giving us two months of pure boredom until he dropped the belt to Batista.
2 Jack Swagger
WWE gave Jack Swagger a surprise Money in the Bank win at WrestleMania XXVI and had him cash in to defeat Chris Jericho for the World Championship just days later. Swagger was not ready for the moment and was a terrible champion. His in-ring talent has always been good enough but his personality is non-existent and he has no presence about him. Swagger is the definition of bland and it showed in his title run. The most memorable moment from Swagger’s title reign was Big Show dancing with Swagger’s ballroom dancing trophy and breaking it. WWE would try to push Swagger a few more times, but it always ended the same as his sole title run; with boredom and lackluster moments.
1 Big Show
The Big Show is definitely a Hall of Famer but he deserves the top spot on this list for how many times he has been made world champion without ever having an interesting reign. WCW made him champion early in his career as The Giant but he was the worst champion in company history until the Russo days. WWE made him champion multiple times and it always flopped. Big Show’s worst reign was in 1999, when he got a surprise win over Triple H and The Rock before the moment got too big for him. Brock Lesnar’s first loss in WWE came to Big Show in another poor decision, as Big Show won the WWE Championship and had another poor reign. Most recently, Big Show failed to do anything interesting as World Champion in 2012.
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