The world championship reign of a wrestler can cement him as a major superstar for the rest of his career. Every talent wants to have a great title reign representing their promotion, but it doesn’t always work out that way. The end of the title run is very important in how fans remember it. If a wrestler has a classic like Bret Hart losing to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 12, the title run will be remembered fondly.
Unfortunately, there are many wrestlers to have encountered the negative instance of a horrible title loss. Fans would see these wrestlers essentially get buried at the end of the title run to make it look less impressive. Each situation is different, but the disappointment felt the same. Find out which talents were on the negative end of ten times a world champion was buried when losing the title.
10 Kofi Kingston (vs Brock Lesnar)
The most recent example of a WWE Championship reign losing all credibility at the end came when Kofi Kingston faced off with Brock Lesnar on the first Smackdown on FOX network. Kingston’s six-month reign ended in humiliating fashion when Lesnar beat him in 10 seconds with the F5.
Many fans were upset at how Kofi not only lost the title, but how he was portrayed in the following months. Kingston did not get a rematch or show any natural reaction to losing the title. Anyone that missed WWE television in the past nine months would have zero idea Kofi was ever the champion.
9 Dolph Ziggler (vs Alberto Del Rio)
Dolph Ziggler cashing in his Money in the Bank title shot to defeat Alberto Del Rio and win the World Championship could have made him a huge star. The rowdy crowd at this episode of Raw after WrestleMania 29 gave Ziggler one of the biggest pops in WWE history.
Ziggler looked like the next big superstar until an injury kept him out of the ring for a few weeks. WWE seemingly quit on him as Dolph’s first major title defense against Del Rio would see him lose the title back to him. Ziggler remained in the mid-card and never broke out of it.
8 Mike Awesome (vs Taz)
The ECW Championship was typically protected with all title holders meant to look strong. Mike Awesome was a rare exception since his contract expired during his title reign and he signed a contract to jump ship to ECW.
Paul Heyman worked out a deal that forced Awesome to return for one night only to drop the title to WWE’s Taz in a strange WWE vs WCW match at an ECW event. Taz destroyed Awesome within minutes as Mike just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible, but he looked extremely weak in the loss.
7 Bray Wyatt (vs Randy Orton)
Bray Wyatt winning the WWE Championship in 2017 felt like a huge moment when he captured his first world title ahead of WrestleMania 33. A showdown with former partner turned enemy Randy Orton would be one of the headlining matches for the biggest event of the year.
Orton and Wyatt had a terrible bout that was universally bashed by critics and fans. Wyatt looked weak compared to Orton and had his title reign end within weeks. The match exposed Bray and moved him lower down the card where he struggled until his recent character change.
6 Bob Backlund (vs Diesel)
The second WWE Championship reign of Bob Backlund is often forgotten in the WWE history. Backlund had a successful first reign in the 80s before his second win over Bret Hart in 1994. The win was done as a transitional change as Backlund lost it days later at a house show in Madison Square Garden.
Diesel shocked the world by defeating Backlund within seconds to become the new WWE Champion and start his run as the face of the company. Backlund was never even acknowledged again as a legitimate main eventer or title contender.
5 Rey Mysterio (vs John Cena)
The summer of CM Punk storyline exposed the best and worst of WWE. Despite the angle being great and creating huge interest, there were a few huge failures. Rey Mysterio won a title to become the new WWE Champion when Punk left the company with the title.
However, the reign of Mysterio only lasted a few hours as he was forced to defend against John Cena later in the night losing the title. Punk returned later that night to add more drama to the picture. Mysterio was the odd man out as he didn’t even return to the title picture against either Cena or Punk.
4 Samoa Joe (vs Sting)
TNA’s World Championship was won by many talented wrestlers of different generations. Samoa Joe winning the title for the first time felt like a huge deal when he defeated Kurt Angle. The run of Joe lasted four months heading into a showdown with Sting.
Bound for Glory was TNA’s biggest show of the year and Joe lost the title to the legend. The match itself was fine, but TNA essentially told the story that Joe wasn’t ready to hang against a legitimate legend like Sting. Joe never had another world title reign in the rest of his TNA run.
3 Chris Jericho (vs Triple H)
Chris Jericho defeating The Rock and Steve Austin on the same night to become the Undisputed Champion should have made him a legitimate main eventer for the rest of his WWE stint. Most fans forget that he dropped back into the mid-card picture a few months later where he remained.
Jericho’s feud with Triple H heading into the main event of WrestleMania 18 was a huge disappointment. The story saw Stephanie McMahon as the main character feuding with Triple H. Once Jericho lost the match, he moved into the mid-card until a second run in WWE years later.
2 CM Punk (vs Undertaker)
The 2009 World Championship reign of CM Punk saw him playing the heel straight-edge character for the first time in WWE. Punk had outstanding matches with Jeff Hardy that ended with Hardy being forced to leave WWE as part of the stipulation.
The Undertaker returned from some time away to enter a feud with the red-hot Punk for the title. Their feud culminated at the Hell in a Cell event with Undertaker essentially squashing Punk in a one-sided match. Rumors indicated Punk received heat for not respecting Undertaker’s advice about improving his wardrobe to dress like a champion.
1 Daniel Bryan (vs Sheamus)
The worst instance of WWE ending a World Championship reign in embarrassing fashion came for Daniel Bryan in 2012. Bryan was having a great heel run as the World Champion entering a WrestleMania 28 feud with Royal Rumble winner Sheamus.
Fans had high expectations for an outstanding match between the two. WWE instead booked it for Sheamus to beat Bryan in 18 seconds. The live fans started booing face Sheamus for it while rallying behind Bryan. WWE’s burial of Bryan would not work as a face turn just made him a bigger star and WM main eventer two years later.