To be a champion is the sole aim of every superstar and diva that has ever competed in WWE. It is a beacon of accomplishment, a signal that you have made i and a testament to years of hard work and sacrifice. It recognizes one’s talent and performance, to be added to a long lineage of titleholders that have spanned decades. Not everyone can be a champion (excluding the Hardcore Championship!), it takes remarkable ability and a true connection with the audience, be it positive or negative.
Night of Champions is the event which best encapsulates the journey to become a champion. It originated as a celebration of the storied histories of each championship belt, and as a tribute to them each title would be defended. Whilst it has been extended to include non-title matches, the focus on the prestige of the gold has not been lost. This is a show not only about the champions, but the belts themselves, that have passed between dozens of hands and carry the prestige and legacy of each of their holders. They are steeped in history, holding a significance that few get to experience first-hand.
So, it makes the fact that the upcoming men and women of this list held these belts even more disgraceful. From the moment their hands clasped the leather strap of their titles, they inflicted a burden that the belts would struggle to recover from. In spite of the legendary names that had battled tirelessly for the gold, the championships would forever suffer the indignity of being associated with holders that would make Doink the Clown feel like he missed out. The closest these competitors should have come to their respective championships was buying a replica from WWEShop.com and writing their name on it with a Sharpie.
Thus, in the spirit of Night of Champions, it is fitting that we remember such torrid names and present them for the world to see. However, do not let them suffer the sneers of derision alone. It was really those in power that said “Why don’t we give so-and-so the title?” and still powered through despite the howls of laughter from the others in the creative team.
At best, the following ten names provided fans a giggle and an interesting answer for a pub quiz. However, at its worst these reigns greatly damaged the prestige of the belts and left them with a permanent black mark which can never be erased from their records.
10) Intercontinental Championship – Santino Marella
Number of reigns – 2; Length of reigns – 162 days
The Intercontinental Championship was introduced in 1979, and has often been viewed as an indication of a future world champion. Such legendary competitors as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin had runs with the belt before climbing the top of the mountain. Therefore, this secondary championship was always considered prestigious for being held by upcoming megastars and enduring workhorses. However, during the 2000s this repute began to wane, as perennial mid-carders held the belt and experienced no further progress. And when it passed to Santino Marella, this reputation suffered a bullet to the heart.
Marella debuted as a fan in the crowd at a RAW hosted in Milan, and shocked the world when he defeated Umaga for the Intercontinental Championship with some help from Bobby Lashley. The extraordinary moment was undoubtedly one to savor, but having a debuting star win the belt on his first night was an immediate scuff on the esteem of the championship, let alone it being a fan. However, as time went on, the Italian began to win matches consistently and defended the belt, showing signs of promise and technical ability. But, his reign was cut short when Umaga invoked his rematch clause and demolished him in two matches after the first ended in disqualification.
From that moment, Marella became a comedy act, initially as an arrogant heel that would typically find himself looking like a buffoon. He suffered defeats at the hands of superstars, legends, celebrities and divas alike for the foreseeable future. Yet, at SummerSlam 2008, he would become champion for a second time, defeating Kofi Kingston as part of a mixed tag team match. Marella would set up a ‘Honky-Meter’ in his fanciful goal to beat the Honky Tonk Man’s record-setting reign, only to lose it to William Regal in a few months.
This placement is not meant to be a slight on the career of Marella, as he has been one of the most entertaining and humorous superstars in recent history. His comic timing is without equal, and he has been willing to make himself the butt of most jokes. But, the fact that someone who has been effectively comic relief holding multiple Intercontinental Championship reigns has damaged the repute of the belt. This has lead to the perception of the championship being a title for mid-card talent with no hopes of progression, rather than the stepping stone for future world champions.
Conclusion – A cobra lacking venom; didn’t poison the belt for long
9) United States Championship – Orlando Jordan
Number of reigns – 1; Length of reign – 173 days
There is not a title that embodies the patriotic red, white and blue of the red-blooded American than the United States Championship. In the NWA and WCW, its esteem placed it almost as prestigious as the world title. Greats such as Harley Race, Ric Flair and Sting made it one of the most respected belts in the country, when it was absorbed into the Intercontinental Championship in 2001, many were disappointed that it disappeared with little fanfare. Of course, if those people saw how much that title was valued nowadays, they would have wished it had stayed dead and buried with its historical importance still intact.
Though the championship currently has a much value as a pair of curtains on a windshield, it’s most embarrassing champion came at a time where things were looking up for the belt. John Cena was the titleholder, and had rode a wave of popularity to become No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship against JBL. However, to facilitate that transition, the decision was made that he should drop the title. He ended up losing in controversial style to JBL’s lackey Orlando Jordan, a man with a spectacular Afro but very little else going for him.
Jordan rarely defended the championship, and any time he did find success was through cheating. This is fairly standard for a heel champion, but he had neither charisma or a compelling ring style. His failure as an amateur boxer resulted in his moves being limited to jabs and a reverse STO. Yet, what makes him the belt’s most embarrassing recipient is the manner in which he lost it. A defeat to Chris Benoit is nothing to be ashamed of; many other wrestlers would suffer that fate in their careers. But, being forced to tap out in 25.5 seconds is a pitiful attempt to say the least. His attempts to reclaim the belt were equally calamitous, as he lost three consecutive rematches in under a minute.
That was essentially the end of Jordan’s era of mediocrity in WWE. But, he was later able to redeem himself to wrestling fans when he arrived in TNA, as an overtly creepy bisexual that wore caution tape and often covered in lotion…
Conclusion – Jordan lacked punch, and his mediocre reign was soon forgotten
8) Divas Championship – Nikki Bella
Number of reigns – 1; Length of reign – 6 days
The Divas Championship has only been in existence since 2008, and so has not had the opportunity to have a truly awful champion. In fact, its history is filled with some of the most brilliant divas in the entirety of the PG era. The likes of Mickie James, Beth Phoenix, Michelle McCool and AJ Lee have ensured that the championship has maintained a solid lineage. However, one name stands out from the rest for her lack of wrestling ability and horrid acting which has only become more evident in recent months.
Before she was demonstrating her “stellar” acting skills, Nikki Bella won the championship when she defeated Phoenix of all possible opponents in a Lumberjill Match in April 2012. The Glamazon was suffering from a supposed ankle injury, and Bella was able to capitalize for the victory. Not only was this nonsensical due to Phoenix being one of the most dominant women in WWE history and Bella being, well, Nikki Bella, but the fact that it was one-on-one stretches the suspension of disbelief to its absolute breaking point. Maybe if this was a multi-diva match it would be somewhat understandable. But there is no excusing that Bella is not a wrestler worthy of the championship; she’s not even the best wrestler in her own family.
The Total Diva’s tarnishing of the Butterfly belt didn’t last long, as she would drop the title less than a week later to a returning Layla. She became merely a brief footnote in the short history of the championship, a protruding blemish that is quickly cut and lost to the annals of time.
Conclusion – This Total Diva was Totally Awful and certainly the weakest holder of this young belt
7) World Heavyweight Championship – The Great Khali
Number of reigns – 1; Length of reign – 61 days
A World Championship is the pinnacle of the wrestling world, and there was a time where the legendary “Big Gold Belt” was contested for by the biggest names in the business on a nightly basis. Even when it was reintroduced into the WWE, only the best wrestlers going would get the privilege of wearing the gold around their waist. Excect this man, who could neither fit the belt around his waist, nor pronounce any of the names of the past champions.
An unfortunate injury to Edge forced him to relinquish the championship, and it was won by The Great Khali in a Battle Royal. Luckily a match that requires limited movement and technical ability, the 7’2 monster could feel at home. But many agree within the wrestling community that Khali is the worst wrestler to ever hold a world championship, even if they would seldom tell that to his face. To be brutally honest, Khali takes the term wrestler to the very limits of its definition. He can hardly move let alone grapple.
Khali’s run with the belt was little more than a catastrophe for the quality of the main event matches. There’s little wonder why he mainly defended the title in multi-man matches. It allowed the others to get a match going while he was finally able to plod into the middle of the ring to deliver a chop to the head. In his Wikipedia entry, it states the Punjabi has ten moves, so he has Kevin Nash beat but few else. Khali had zero charisma, and for a man who’s as tall and imposing as Khali looks, his lethargic movement and meager move-set mean he doesn’t appear threatening. So, it was little surprise that he soon dropped the belt to Batista less than three months later.
Since dropping the belt, it has only become more awkward to consider Khali a credible champion, as he has gone from a monster heel to comic relief in the space of a few years. His Playboy gimmick was probably the most entertaining he has been on TV, which is not saying much, and in recent years he has been employed as a living test your strength machine for the likes of Mark Henry and Cesaro. It’s nice to see he has finally found his true calling.
Conclusion – Great is the last descriptive word one should use for Khali – maybe grating?
6) WWE Championship and ECW Championship – Vince McMahon
Number of reigns – 1 each; Length of reigns – 6 days (WWE), 35 days (ECW)
There are very few people that would turn their noses up at trading lives with Vince McMahon. He is a multi-millionaire, owner of a global wrestling enterprise, and is incredibly fit for a man his age. In short, it is good to be the boss. In fact, sometimes it is so good that you can forgo all logic and reason to book yourself to win two of the biggest prizes in professional wrestling, despite not being an actual wrestler.
For many this leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, perhaps greater than any on this list. The WWE Championship is the Holy Grail of professional wrestling, a title that is only held by the biggest in the industry and Hall of Famers. Only 44 men have officially held the illustrious belts, so hundreds of deserving grapplers have never had the chance to wear the iconic strap, even for a day. Men that have given their mind, body and soul on a daily basis, but have never been considered worthy of being “the one”. The ECW Championship once meant much the same, a title for those who put their body on the line not for the money, but simply the love of professional wrestling. But, it has been held by a 56-year old entrepreneur wearing a business suit, who got there simply for being the owner of the company. It’s like John Henry making himself the lead hitter for the Boston Red Sox.
Now, it isn’t as bad as David Arquette winning the WCW Championship, because at the very least McMahon has an unbreakable bond with the wrestling industry. But, if your reign is having to compare to Arquette’s in order to find some form of credibility, then you have big problems on your hands. Despite the help of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shane McMahon to win the WWE title from Triple H, it still cannot really be justified that McMahon is a former champion. Shane would have made a more believable champion, and even that would be going too far. He relinquished the title before any serious harm could be done.
But, that was nothing compared to the harm McMahon would cause ECW with his second championship victory over Bobby Lashley. He had already castrated the brand with an unwillingness to return it to its edgy, hardcore roots, and then taking its title for his own was portrayed as sticking a middle finger to its loyal fans. It was comparable to if Vince brought back the WCW title simply to wear every night to let its former fans know that he killed and consumed them. With this move, it was clear McMahon had the ruthlessness of a champion. If only he had the body and ability of one.
Conclusion – Being the boss doesn’t make you the best – severe abuse of power
See page 2 for the top 5…