It takes a lot of hard work to become a champion in pro wrestling. A strong combination of in-ring skills, the ability to make the crowd love or hate you, and having the confidence of the promotions writing staff allows for a person or tag team to take the next step towards wrestling immortality. Yet for every Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Ric Flair, and Sting, there are just as many champions which leave fans scratching their heads, wondering “why did they make him the champion?” Sometimes it is nepotism (#4 and #5), other times it is to get publicity (#2 and #6), while other times there is no real reason (many of these). Whatever the reason is, it causes the fans to not take the promotion, and its championships, as seriously because the promotion is not taking its own championships seriously. Without that believability, the title suffers as fans tend to not see it as a valuable commodity worth fighting over, something WCW witnessed when their booking team decided to play hot potato with the World Heavyweight Title.
So with that in mind, this list is designed to look at those who, for various reasons, found themselves winning a title of some kind and what impact they may have had in the wrestling world because of it. Also, as with many outlets in pop culture, wrestling has no shortage of guilty pleasure moments for fans to look back on and chuckle at, so here’s hoping that you can read through this list and remember back to when these people held a championship, the whole time thinking “why were they ever a champion?” Also, feel free to comment at the bottom and let me know if you think any other champions should be included on this list.
20 Bart Gunn (Brawl For All Winner)
19 Virgil (Million Dollar Champion)
18 John Cena & The Miz (WWE Tag Champions)
17 David Flair & Crowbar (WCW Tag Champions)
16 Rey Mysterio (WWE Champion)
15 Abyss (X-Division Champion)
14 Eric Young (TNA World Champion)
13 Godfather’s Ho (WWE Hardcore Championship)
12 Ron Simmons (World Heavyweight Champion)
11 Vince McMahon (WWF and ECW Champion)
10 Dolph Ziggler (World Heavyweight Champion)
9 Gillberg (Light Heavyweight Champion)
8 Ezekiel Jackson (ECW Champion)
7 Norman Smiley (WCW Hardcore Champion)
6 Pacman Jones (TNA Tag Champion w/ Ron Killings)
5 Judy Bagwell (WCW Tag Champion w/ Rick Steiner)
4 Stephanie McMahon (Women’s Champion)
3 Hornswoggle (WWE Cruiserweight)
Take a second and look at the following names and tell me which one is not like the other.
2 David Arquette (WCW Champion)
1 Vince Russo (WCW Champion)
Now while Arquette’s title reign could be seen as a ploy for publicity, WCW head writer Vince Russo’s title win can only be seen as a play to the man’s ego. After writing himself into being the number one contender for the WCW Championship, Russo would take on champion Booker T inside a cage in front of Russo’s hometown crowd. Unfortunately, the announcement of Russo fighting in a cage for the biggest belt in the company only amounted to around two hundred more tickets being sold for the show, according to The Death of WCW. What’s worse is that the win was a fluke since just as Booker T was about to leave the cage and win, Goldberg speared Russo through the side of the cage to the outside giving Russo the belt, a point to which Goldberg and Booker didn’t seem to mind as they just shrugged and walked to the back. Russo would vacate the title a week later, meaning that he was technically an undefeated champion, though the real reason was thought to be the number of concussions the man had received over the last year, hence him always wearing a football helmet to the ring.
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