Wasted Gold: The 20 Worst Champions In WWE history

Wrestling is a pre-determined industry, so their Championships are very weird, as they are not won, but rather given to performers as a result of hard work and great performances. Yet not all Champions are created equal, especially in the WWE. With a guy like Vince McMahon behind all the booking decisions, you can guarantee that there are going to be plenty of idiotic booking choices, and while the following 20 people are all examples of that, it doesn’t mean that they were bad performers throughout their career. A champion can be considered "bad" because of the booking, match quality or just believability with that title belt around their waste, and the following 20 are what we consider the worst champions in the long, illustrious history of the WWE.

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20 Vladimir Kozlov – WWE Tag Team Champion

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It’s been getting even worse lately, but Vince McMahon and the WWE have a stale formula for just about everything. But the most obvious and worst of all is the formulaic booking of foreign heels, as it goes; arrive, dominant win streak, beaten by an American in a big feud, become a comedy character. That was no different for Vladimir Kozlov during the Ruthless Aggression Era. Yes, the man with a vicious headbutt, who dominated the competition for quite some time was another to fall victim to the dreaded dance-off and face turn, and while he had his most (and only) Championship success alongside Marella, neither man deserved it, and they are considered one of the worst tag team champs in WWE history.

19 Santino Marella – Intercontinental Champion

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Santino Marella lasted in the WWE for much longer than he deserved, but he managed to win several Intercontinental titles throughout his time there. But he was terrible each and every time, as he just wasn’t very good in the ring, and as a comedy character, wasn’t that great either. Worse yet, Marella won his very first match in the WWE to claim the one coveted and prestigious Championship, and he did it as a planted “fan” in the crowd, needing help to beat the dangerous Umaga. This was quite an exciting start, but it was all downhill from there. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few great, funny moments from Marella, but he could just never be an Intercontinental Champion without disgracing the belt, and that’s unfortunately what happened.

18 David Otunga – WWE Tag Team Champion

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David Otunga is the prototypical WWE guy, as he has a great look and an even better body, but once he stepped inside those ropes, he was nothing special at all. Through his association with The Nexus, he managed to win multiple WWE Tag Team Championships, one of them even alongside John Cena, another alongside Michael McGilllicutty, aka Curtis Axel. That’s surprising, and definitely not deserved, as he was one of the most bland competitors in the history of the WWE. Still, he is somehow still employed with the WWE as one of the worst commentators we’ve ever had. Sure, there was nothing overly embarrassing or terrible about Otunga, but he was just so bland as a character and in-ring wrestler, and with so many other talented wrestlers in the world at the time, it’s surprising how he ever got to hold Championship gold.

17 Heidenreich – WWE Tag Team Champion

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Heidenreich is an example of just how weird the WWE can be, as his most memorable moments in the WWE have been the horrible segments between himself and Michael Cole, but despite it being obvious to everyone that he wasn’t Championship material, the WWE again decided to try and replicate the success of the Road Warriors, as they paired him with Road Warrior Animal in the newly formed Legion of Doom. If not for his horrendously uncomfortable segments with Michael Cole, the entire WWE Universe would have forgotten about the bland Heidenreich by now, and he should be forgotten. The WWE was going through an odd phase around 2005/06, and giving him a tag title run with Animal is proof of that, and it’s something that most people behind the scenes would love you to forget.

16 Kevin Nash – WWE Champion

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Kevin Nash will most likely be remembered by wrestling fans for his time as the highly controversial character that featured with The Outsiders (alongside Razor Ramon/Scott Hall) in WCW, and that’s definitely a good thing, because his run as WWE Champion during the early '90s was highly forgettable. At a time when TV ratings were more important than most things for Vince McMahon’s company, Nash will go down as one of the lowest drawing World Champions in history, and that’s due to him being nothing spectacular at all, whether it be wrestling ability or ability on promos. Nash has been a very important player in the wrestling industry, so it’s probably best for everyone involved that fans forget his run as Diesel in the WWE.

15 Sycho Sid – WWE Champion

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The wrestling business, particularly WWE, is full of performers who made it to where they are purely for their look, whether it be their clean-cut good looks or monstrous size, and while not all of them succeed, we had the unfortunate pleasure of sitting through Sycho Sid as WWE Champion. He wasn’t exactly bad in the ring, but he wasn’t great, especially compared with some of the great WWE Champions that followed him, and he was very prone to botches with a microphone in hand, and just shouldn’t be remembered as anything but what he was, a terrible champion.

14 The Miz – WWE Champion

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Right now, The Miz is a fantastic Intercontinental Champion, and when his career is over, he may be regarded as the greatest IC Champion the WWE has ever had, but when he was pushed to the top title in the company, it just didn’t click and it never quite felt right. The WWE tried everything they could to make fans believe, and while the stories he was telling weren’t bad, he was just never a believable champion, so when he was tasked with facing John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII, no one in the crowd believed he was a credible champion. He managed to retain that title due to interference from The Rock, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was one of the worst World Champions in WWE history.

13 Ryback – Intercontinental Champion

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Ryback had a surprisingly long run in the WWE, which began on TV as a member of The Nexus faction where he was known as Skip Sheffield. (That doesn't count his stint on Tough Enough under his birth name, Ryan Reeves.) But when he made his debut as Ryback, he was hotter than just about anyone in the company, and although we have him on this list for his reign as Intercontinental Champion, he probably should have been a World Champion during the early part of his run. However, once the character stayed on TV beyond his initial “Feed me more!” run, fans began to become very bored with "The Big Guy." But this didn’t stop him from becoming Intercontinental Champion. Like it has been for many years, the title was basically irrelevant around the waist of Ryback, and while there have certainly been worse IC Champions, he will definitely be up there with some of the worst. Thankfully for the fans, the WWE released Ryback not too long after, as he truly wasn’t worth the money he was asking.

12 Bray Wyatt – WWE Champion

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When Husky Harris was remade as Bray Wyatt in NXT, it was clear that the real-life Windham Rotunda was on to something incredibly special, but the WWE have struggled to book him well, and just four years later, Wyatt is seen as nothing but a joke. Although he was given a run as WWE Champion, he was nothing more than a transitional champion, and one of the worst in WWE history. His reign began with a fantastic victory inside the Elimination Chamber, but lasted just one short month before a loss at WrestleMania to Randy Orton in one of the worst 'Mania matches in recent memory, and it’s a damn shame considering the potential he still has. Hopefully the WWE figures out how to book him soon, as he can already be considered one of the biggest flops in WWE history, and with the all around ability he has, he should be one of this generation's biggest stars.

11 Stephanie McMahon – WWE Women’s Champion

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There’s just something about the McMahon family where they can’t stay away from silly ideas, and although this one isn’t as stupid as the rumored proposed incest angle between her and Shane, and her and her father as well, it’s still pretty damn silly, as a non-wrestler winning a coveted Championship is never a good idea, especially when she is the boss' daughter. Like you’d expect, the reign wasn’t exactly a good one, with the title rarely being defended, and plenty of interferences when it was defended, and especially with the way the women in WWE are treated today, this is something we all want to forget. These days, McMahon is a big figure backstage, and with the improvement in the women’s division, she must be contributing well, so let’s all just forget how a non-wrestler won the women’s title during the Attitude Era.

10 Vince McMahon – ECW Champion

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We will talk about Vince McMahon’s other horrible title win later on in the article, but ridiculously, at the age of 62, McMahon thought it would be a great idea to put the revamped ECW World Heavyweight Championship on himself, and it did about as much good for the belt as you could have expected. The brand was already struggling, as the WWE had taken a fun, edgy revival of ECW and began phasing out what made that company good, so after Bobby Lashley and The Big Show had a turn with the title, McMahon winning it was nothing but the final nail in the coffin of the revamped ECW. As you can imagine, the reign was mostly forgettable, as he got major help from the likes of The Big Show and Umaga, and even if this wasn’t extra disrespectful because of the death of ECW, it would have gone down as one of the worst title reigns in WWE history.

9 Jinder Mahal – WWE Champion

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The Jinder Mahal topic is becoming quite a controversial one, but the fact of the matter is that he was nothing more than enhancement talent just a matter of weeks before he won the WWE Championship, and while he has improved quite a lot during his current reign, he is still well below average, and doesn’t deserve to be holding the most coveted prize the WWE has to offer. His matches with Randy Orton have been as bland and basic as they possibly could be, and his finishes throughout all his title defenses have come in the exact same weak manner. While it’s not all his fault, he just doesn’t deserve the position he is in, because comparisons between Mahal and former champions like Hulk Hogan, HBK and Stone Cold just aren’t realistic. I truly hope that the WWE keeps at their Mahal project, because he could be a great midcard heel, but with the likes of John Cena, Bobby Roode, Baron Corbin, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura all on the same roster, he just shouldn’t be the main event guy he is now.

8 Ezekiel Jackson – Intercontinental Champion

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Ever since the mid 2000s, the Intercontinental Championship hasn’t got much respect, and it’s gone from being the second most prestigious title in WWE, to nothing more than a prop for some truly horrible feuds. So when Ezekiel Jackson ended up holding the title during his run with the horribly named group The Corre, you know they’d hit rock bottom in the talent and depth department. Jackson isn’t the worst wrestler to win a title in the WWE, as we saw from Season 1 of Lucha Underground, he is actually fairly entertaining, but in the WWE, he was nothing more than a big body guy, and his reign is incredibly forgettable for having horrible matches and absolutely no storylines to it. As mentioned, this isn’t all Ezekiel’s fault, but the fact that he was booked so poorly as Champion reflects how little talent WWE had in their company at the time.

7 Sheamus – WWE Champion

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As a Champion early on in his career, Sheamus fit very well, as he was a fresh-faced bruiser who fans truly disliked, but after winning Money in the Bank in 2015 and cashing in on Roman Reigns at Survivor Series, he became one of the weakest and worst Champions in recent WWE memory. At the time, he was part of the horrific League of Nations stable, and that foursome consisting also of Wade Barrett, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio were there to do nothing but the bidding of Vince McMahon, and Sheamus looked like a weak, horrible champion as a result. He would lose the belt a short number of weeks later, a merciful end to a quick, terrible reign as Champion, and with the main event stars coming in now, it will hopefully be the last that Sheamus ever has.

6 Goldberg – Universal Champion

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Goldberg is one of the greatest stars in WCW history, and his streak is one of the most impressive things in the history of the entire wrestling industry as a whole, but even then during his prime, Goldberg was incredibly limited, so 14 years after one of the worst matches in WrestleMania history against Brock Lesnar, why on earth would WWE put their top belt on that guy? At the end of the day, we all knew that this was just a short-term play to put the championship on Brock Lesnar, but putting the title on a 50-year-old Goldberg just does no good for anyone, especially Kevin Owens, who was struggling as a champion in his own right. Bill Goldberg may not be in the same class as the others on this list, as he was seen as an actual star, but for the simple fact that he had been retired 14 years, and that he was already a limited and average wrestler lands him a spot on the list.

5 The Great Khali – World Heavyweight Champion

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Vince McMahon has always had an obsession with big, muscly, sweaty men, and it has led to guys like Nathan Jones, Bobby Lashley and others being pushed well beyond what they deserve. But the worst of the lot was The Great Khali, who was quite intimidating, but could barely walk to the ring, let alone work a good match. We can all see why the WWE pushed Khali, as we have seen guys like The Big Show, Kane and Braun Strowman pushed for years, but his title reign was a major struggle to watch, as his matches were just horrendous. Thankfully, he was only pushed to the top the one time, as his matches and health deteriorated more and more over time, but he will always be remembered as one of the worst wrestlers to ever win the reincarnation of WCW’s top title in the WWE.

4 Jack Swagger – World Heavyweight Champion

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The Money in the Bank concept has been a massive hit for the WWE, and has put stars like Edge, Rob Van Dam, Seth Rollins and CM Punk on the map as true main eventers, but like every successful concept in the WWE, there have been failures too, and none more so than Jack Swagger, who won the briefcase at WrestleMania 26. After Punk came out victorious the previous two years and was on his way to becoming one of the biggest stars the business had ever seen, seeing Swagger was definitely a change of pace, and while he had potential, he cashed in on Chris Jericho and began one of the worst reigns in WWE history. He defended the title just a few times before losing it to Rey Mysterio, and he never went on to the same level of success because of just how poorly he was received as the World Champion.

3 Debra – WWE Women’s Champion

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By now, we all know the history of women in WWE; they were booked horribly for many, many years, and used mainly for their looks and their body, so the championship that the few women battled for had little to no respect, and having a woman such as Debra win that WWE Women’s Championship definitely didn’t help, as she is easily the worst women’s champ in WWE history. As nothing more than a valet, Debra should have never come near the title, but alas, she won it in an Evening Gown match no less, and managed to lose it less than a month later. Thankfully the WWE Universe didn’t have to sit through a very long reign with Debra, but she will still be regarded as the worst Women’s Champ ever, as her "puppies" are likely the only positive memory WWE fans will have of her.

2 Vince McMahon – WWE Champion

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Obviously by this point, the majority of wrestling fans out there will know that Vince McMahon is bats**t crazy, and while this isn’t one of his craziest ideas (as we do remember there were reports he proposed an incest angle between himself and his daughter Stephanie McMahon), but it was still stupid, as the idea of an ageing boss like McMahon as World Champion is just wrong. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. McMahon vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin was quite possibly the greatest rivalry in WWE history, and putting the World Title on himself was definitely a great way to draw heat opposing the immensely popular Austin, but looking back on it, it was still a horrible decision. His reign wouldn’t be memorable if it wasn’t for lists such as this, but when you look back on it, you can see he definitely earns his place on this list.

1 Hornswoggle – Cruiserweight Champion

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With the cruiserweight division returning in such grand fashion at the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic, the WWE definitely wants you to forget that the final Champion of the previous title belt was none other than Hornswoggle himself. The WWE has always struggled to book a competent cruiserweight division, but after Gregory Helms held the title for over a year, it somehow ended up in the hands of Hornswoggle, which is definitely an embarrassment to the legacy of a belt that was held by some fantastic professional wrestlers. Hornswoggle’s title defenses all came via shenanigans, including a victory via countout after he shoved a pie in Jamie Noble’s face, and it is just something that absolutely no one in the WWE would want you to remember, as he was the worst champion in company history, so much so that the belt was immediately retired.

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