In 2002, WWE made a major shift to its programming and attitude. With WCW and ECW gone, WWE moved to make RAW and SmackDown separate brands with their own unique outlooks. The whole time period, which lasted until 2010, was named the “Ruthless Aggression” era after a promo by Vince McMahon. It was marked with the rise of major names like John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Batista, Randy Orton, and others. It was also a time when each brand had a lot of champions and WWE was trying to give fresher faces a chance with the belt.
With so many championships about, it’s easy to forget some folks who held the titles. A few were really small blips in the history of the company. Others were names more familiar to fans, but it's often forgotten how they actually held a title during this period. It’s amazing to note some names that fans remember, yet the fact these wrestlers held a championship was mostly ignored. Here are 10 wrestlers fans forget held championships during the Ruthless Aggression period to showcase how unique this time was.
10 Kid Kash
While a good worker, Kid Kash is also known for a rather bad attitude that's burned a lot of bridges in his time. He had a run in TNA as tag champions but left without warning to join WWE. He did time with the ECW revival that landed him a regular gig with WWE. In December of 2005, Kash beat Juventud Gurrera for the Cruiserweight title. However, his attitude seemed to hurt him as less than a month later, he lost the title to Gregory Helms. He had a brief tag team with Jamie Noble as the Pitbulls before being released in 2006. Thus, his WWE run was just a brief blip in Kid’s career.
9 Jamie Noble
Today’s fans know Jamie Noble for his on-screen role with Joey Mercury as J&J Security. That’s often led him to be battered down by faces trying to get at Seth Rollins and others. It can be forgotten his original gimmick was a “Trailer park” guy with goofy Nadia as his sidekick.
He actually had a run as Cruiserweight champion which included nutty angles like blinding Nadia and winning the lottery. Noble then had a brief run as ROH World Champion before returning to WWE and getting into various crazy angles with Hornswoggle. It’s pretty impressive how long his career has lasted in WWE so no surprise many forget his title run long ago.
The Full Blooded Italians were one of the acts that jumped from ECW to WWE. The joke was that half the guys were as far from Italian as you could get. Nunzio actually was and despite his small size, his skills and ability to take punishment made him a success.
He was one of the small guys who benefited from the new Cruiserweight division and did well there. He had two reigns as champion, showing his stuff to handle with the bigger guys. He had a brief reunion with the FBI in the new ECW brand so it can be forgotten how Nunzio was a two-time champ in WWE.
Granted, the Ruthless Aggression era had its share of acts that wouldn’t pass muster today. Yet Rico was still something else. He debuted as the outrageously flamboyant hairdresser for Billy and Chuck and acting as camp as possible.
A nutty angle had him forced to team with Rikishi to beat Billy and Chuck for the titles before dropping them back. In 2004, he teamed with Charlie Haas with the idea of Haas driven nuts by Rico’s antics. They still managed a three-month reign as tag champions before splitting up. The act probably wouldn’t work today yet Richo still can boast being a two-time tag champion.
6 Candice Michelle
As part of the original “Diva Search,” Candice Michelle stood out from the pack with her lush beauty. She also got fame as the “Go Daddy Girl” in ads so WWE used her well. She worked with Victoria and Torrie Wilson in a heel stable and became notable for her sexy dancing. She also joined the plethora of ladies to pose for “Playboy.” To the surprise of many, Michelle took to training and actually became a good in-ring worker. She won the Women’s Championship from Melina and held her own against Beth Phoenix before dropping the belt to her. Michelle was released after some injuries but did prove herself as much more than just a pretty face in this time.
As part of the famous Anoa’i family, it was inevitable Rosey would get into wrestling. He started off as part of 3-Minute Warning who would beat up guys on Erich Bischoff’s orders. He then entered a partnership with the Hurricane who made him a “superhero in training.”
While his masked persona looked goofy, their act caught on with fans for its nice humor. They won the tag team titles from La Resistance and did a decent job defending them for a few months. They lost the belt with Hurricane going heel and maskless and Rosey only had that one brief moment in the sun.
4 Lance Cade And Trevor Murdoch
For a long time in this era, Ohio Valley Wrestling was used as the “farm system” for WWE guys. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch had risen up in that system, both looking pretty good in their talents. They played classic redneck characters out for a good time along with their wrestling. They managed to beat Rosey and the Hurricane for the belts in September of 2005. The reign was just six weeks before dropping the titles to Kane and Big Show. They had a split and a reunion before being released to make a rather forgettable tag title reign.
Today, FIt Finlay is well known as a tough instructor who’s helped various NXT guys break out nicely. He was also a tough worker in his own right who was famous for a stiff manner in the ring.
It’s often forgotten that Finlay was part of King Booker’s “Court” which included clashing with Bobby Lashley. With Lashley needing time off for injury, Finlay beat him for the U.S. title. His reign was short before losing the belt to Mr. Kennedy. It was afterward Finlay introduced Hornswoggle so even many of his fans will forget his title run.
2 Jillian Hall
Jillian Hall’s entire act in WWE was nutty. She showed up first as a special assistant for Teddy Long and notable for a hideous “growth” on her face. She then worked with JBL which included the infamous moment when the Boogeyman “ate” the growth off her. She then moved into the gimmick of a would-be diva with a horrible singing voice. In 2009, Hall upset Mickie James for the Divas title. BUt just minutes later, Melina showed up to beat Hall, leaving her entire title reign just two minutes. It would be pretty much Hall’s last major move in WWE and a blip in the history of the women’s titles.
1 Roddy Piper
For most of his WWE career, Roddy Piper was so massively over that he never needed a title. He finally earned a run as Intercontinental champion in 1992 as a reward for his long service. In 2006, Piper and Ric Flair were chosen to face the Spirit Squad for the tag titles at Cyber Sunday. The two ended up victorious which would be Piper’s last title in wrestling. Their reign wasn’t very long as Piper was in rough health already and both men long past their primes. They thus lost the belts to Rated-RKO just a few weeks later as Piper got one last hurrah in WWE.