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  • Connor Ewens

7 Worst Final Champions in Wrestling History

Championships are like playing the Game of Thrones, they either win or they die. The NWA World Championship has been around for 75 years, that's a winner. The WWF Canadian championship stuck around for 5 months before being retired, that's a death. It's the circle of life. Championships come and go all of the time. Prestigious titles will be fondly remembered by their greatest champion, but when the time comes you would ideally like the final ever winner of a championship to be a marquee name to draw a respectful line under the history books. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. Here are 7 of the worst final champions in wrestling history.

1) Tyrus - NWA World Heavyweight Championship

This is cheating because the NWA title is still ongoing and doesn't show signs of going out of business anytime soon, however if the NWA did die because of their most underwhelming world champion of all time then this would be included. I just have to talk about one of the most baffling booking decisions in recent memory. The 10 pounds of gold has been won and defended by some of wrestling's biggest legends. Lou Thesz, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Nick Aldis & Cody Rhodes to name but a few. Whilst there has always been some questionable choices for world champion in the past (Rob Conway & Gary Steele say hello), none of them feel quite as out of place as the current reigning champion. The former dancing dinosaur, Tyrus.

Now yes, there are worse wrestler in the entire world than Tyrus. However, him winning the title feels like a massive joke, a big prank. It's honestly on par with Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship, but at least that had a goal to expand the WWE audience in India. This serves no purpose except diminish the heritage of one of the longest existing world titles EVER. Think now, what's your favourite Tyrus match. Think long and hard....

Do you have one? I don't. You shouldn't either, because he's not that great. I don't want to shit on the guy, good for him to be able to be in the main event position. But he shouldn't be there. His only accomplishment for WWE was winning a Slammy award for Best Dancer, for fuck sake. Like I say, the title isn't retired so he's not going to be the last. Though, keeping him on top of your division is only going to weaken your product more and more. So hurry up Corgan, put the title on someone else like EC3. At least he has a proven track record of being a main eventer. Now, on to actual defunct championships.

2) Jim Duggan - WCW Television Championship

The TV title was first introduced in 1974 as the NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Championship and was won by Danny Miller, who defeated Ole Anderson in the tournament finals. It would be renamed to simply the NWA World Television Championship and over the years it would be a workhorse belt for the very best of the midcard. It would held by various legends throughout the 80s, but the first excellent run with the belt came from Tully Blanchard, who held the belt for 353 days before dropping it to Dusty Rhodes. Throughout the 80s and 90s the Championship would be held by existing and future stars as a way to elevate the Championship and the wrestlers who hold it. Sting, The Great Muta, Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Steven Regal are all greats who had some great matches whilst TV champion.

As the 90s progressed the belt became the WCW Television Championship and was primarily used as a stepping stone to try elevate younger talent, though more often than not it failed due to either the wrestler not being too great or the booking being abysmal. Johnny B. Badd was a star in the making but WCW failed to capitalise on him. The same could be said for the Steve Austin, Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho, who would prove how great they were by jumping ship to WWE. Other winners of the belt, not so much. Disco Inferno was a Bee Gees x Elvis Presley hybrid who barely had a good match. Alex Wright was a largely mid wrestler with zero personality, except dancing. The Renegade was a shameless Ultimate Warrior rip off who was taken out of training for too early and lacked in almost every area.

As WCW got worse, so did the TV title. It became an afterthought, a prop for someone to hold whilst engaging in a feud over something else. Booker T was the last man to hold the championship that actually benefited from it as a step up to the main event. A past his prime Rick Steiner held it and defended it in bad matches. Benoit held it in between Rick's reigns briefly but didn't do much with the strap. Eventually it fell into Scott Hall's hands during his feud with Kevin Nash. It was his first reign with the gold, and after 8 days he decided he didn't want it anymore and threw it at Kevin Nash, either relinquishing it or handing it over. Nash, who was feuding with Scott and also didn't want the belt, threw it in the bin, vacating it in the process.

3 MONTHS LATER, Jim Duggan finds the belt in a Dumpster, becoming the WCW TV Champion in the process. Firstly, how bad are the trashmen at WCW that the bin wasn't cleared in 3 months? Secondly, out of all people Jim Duggan had to find it? I mean if makes sense, he's the kind of character who would rummage in bins but still. If you know me, you know I HATE Jim Duggan, as a character. Lovely bloke apparently, but he's a shocking wrestler that I rarely enjoy watching. Even if you do like him, he should not be winning championships in the year 2000. Thirdly, I propose that the history books acknowledge the Dumpster as the TV champion during the time it was vacant. If DDT-Pro can have inanimate objects as champion then why not.

Duggan would hold the title for 54 days, before it was vacated and deactivated during the infamous hard reset that Vince Russo & Eric Bischoff initiated. Terrible ending to what was once a key midcard title for establishing future stars.

3) Nikki Cross - WWE 24/7 Championship

Before any fans of hers lynch me, I do really like Nikki Cross. She was a great character when Sanity was dominating NXT and as dorky as her "almost a superhero" character was, I kinda liked it. This is more about what she did with the belt rather than her reign. In 2019 it was announced we'd see a new championship introduced, and none other than Mick Foley was the one to unveil the 24/7 Championship, a title that was to be a spiritual successor to the entertaining Hardcore championship from the late 90s to early 2000s. Foley unveiled the ugliest title belt WWE have ever produced, it really is. It looks like something a pre-schooler would draw. Titus O'Neil would be the inaugural champion by being the first one to pick it up from the ring, before immediately losing it to Robert Roode who would later lose it to R-Truth.

Initially, the belt had potential to be an entertaining lower midcard belt for wrestlers with little to do to fight over. There were some entertaining segments to come from it. R-Truth's various disguises to prevent being caught and pinned. Jinder Mahal pinning R-Truth on a golf course and on an airfield. R-Truth crashing Drake Maverick's wedding ceremony to pin him for the title. It was all silly but it was fun. Truth & Maverick were the MVP's of the belt. Overtime it would be used to get a cheap pop from returning legends to win the belt, the likes of Gerald Brisco & Pat Patterson (former Hardcore champions) as well as Alundra Blaze & Ted DiBiase. Celebrities even got their hands on the title, like DJ Marshmello and Nascar driver Kyle Busch.

As the months went by it was clear that WWE creative had lost interest in the 24/7 title. Title changes just happened with little rhyme or reason without any comedy behind it. Often it was used as way to just get a bunch of wrestlers on TV to run around after each other. It became the same shit every week. More of a hindrance than a help. 3 and a half years after it's introduction, it all came to an end. On the November 7th Raw, Nikki Cross would pin Dana Brooke for her 11th reign and it would be the very last. Later in the show, Nikki Cross was walking backstage with her new Damage CTRL friends before walking past a bin and dumping the belt in there, deactivating it in the process. Why do wrestlers like putting titles in the trash? For the design alone it deserved to be in there, but it's a sad ending for what could have been an exciting addition to the midcard. Ultimately it was a mishandled mess.

4) Alberto El Patron - GFW World Championship

A different kind of worst champion here, because El Patron was reasonably talented. However, he is a fuckhead of a person. Global Force Wrestling was the short-lived company founded by Jeff & Karen Jarrett in 2014. Jarrett left his original promotion TNA in late 2013 but remained a minority shareholder. Over the course of 2014 and 2015 the Jarrett's built up their company with partnership deals with promotions like AAA, New Japan and various promotions across the globe such as South Africa & New Zealand. They also announced talent signings such as Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & the Killer Elite Squad. He even nabbed ex-MMA legend Chael Sonnen as an expert analyst.

They had their first house shows in 2015 as well as pre-recording hours with of TV tapings with TV deals seemingly made. However, none of these aired until 2017 until when they were released under Impact Wrestling's One Night Only shows. In early 2017, a deal was made between the Jarrett's and Impact's parent company Anthem for a merger, briefly dropping the Impact Wrestling name and solely going ahead as Global Force Wrestling. However, by October the branding was removed, Impact Wrestling returned to it's original name as Anthem declared the deal was never finalised and Jarrett still owned GFW. This led to a lawsuit from Jarrett for copyright infringement, the unlawful deletion of the Amped tapes and the use f the Jarrett name. Anthem stated they owned the copyright for Jeff Jarrett, that he was aware of the tapes deletion and that none of the GFW promotion reassembled Jarrett's. It was a mess of a situation. Eventually it ended in a mistrial in July 2020 (it took that long!) Anthem motioned that Jarrett's lawyer made prejudiced comments against them and the case folded. Jarrett failed to gain a retrial, but the two parties came to a settlement in 2021.

GFW has been dormant pretty much since. They co-produced NWA's 70th Anniversary show but then Jarrett worked for WWE as a producer for a bit, now he works for AEW so it's safe to assume GFW has died. It goes down as Jarrett's biggest business failure I think. He made a lot of promises and claims yet very few of them followed through. Did Anthem dick him over? Maybe, but I think they swooped in to ultimately save the Jarrett's from a dire situation that would have cost them dearly. I can't help but feel Jarrett should have been better equipped for this considering his extended run as a majority shareholder for TNA. There's A LOT more to it. Speculated personal issues for Jarrett during this time, a Ponzi deal ran by Jarrett in partnership with Karatbars, probably a whole bunch of other narratives that wasn't released to the public.

So, after that history lesson, what happened to the world title? Well the inaugural champion was Nick Aldis/Magnus who defeated Bobby Roode for the strap. He held that for 547 days before dropping it to resident arsehole Alberto El Patron. He held that for 71 days before he defeated Bobby Lashley and unified it with the Impact World Championship. I won't go in to all of the upsetting, disgusting behaviour El Patron got in to. You either already know about it or you can look that shit up yourself. But he is a nasty bastard who only got off because of a witness no-show and years of delays for unknown reasons. He wasn't declared guilty, but I have a gut feeling he definitely is. If your reading this Alberto, you're trash and I'll fight you. (Ps please don't because I think you'd kill me). On to lighter topics...

5) Ezekiel Jackson - ECW Championship

When discussing WWE's biggest failures, a few projects come to mind. The botched Invasion storyline, the World Bodybuilding Federation, whatever the fuck a 'Beaver Cleavage' is. However, none of them hurt quite as badly and feel quite as insulting as the attempt to resurrect the once beloved ECW. Eastern Championship Wrestling was founded by Tod Gordon who bought shares of Tri-State Wrestling Aliance and renaming it in 1992. It was not originally a part of the NWA but it did work alongside it until 1994 during an infamous segment from Shane Douglas. Douglas won the NWA World Championship in tournament and afterwards cut the following promo:

In the tradition of Lou Thesz, in the tradition of Jack Brisco of the Brisco Brothers, of Dory Funk, Jr., of Terry Funk: the man who will never die. As the real "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, upstairs tonight. From the Harley Races, to the Barry Windhams, to the...Ric Flairs, I accept this heavyweight title.

Wait a second, wait a second. Of Kerry Von Erich. Of the fat man himself, Dusty Rhodes. This is it tonight, dad. God, that's beautiful. And Rick Steamboat...and they can all kiss my ass!

Because I am not the man who accepts a torch to be handed down to me from an organization that died - RIP - seven years ago. The Franchise, Shane Douglas, is the man who ignites the new flame of the sport of professional wrestling.

Tonight, before God and my father as witness, I declare myself, the Franchise, as the new ECW Heavyweight Champion of the world.

We have set out to change the face of professional wrestling. So tonight, let the new era begin: the era of the sport of professional wrestling; the era of the Franchise; the era of the ECW.

From this, ECW was reborn as Extreme Championship Wrestling. They cut ties with the NWA and went out on their own, establishing their own brand of sports entertainment. Long-term storytelling, hardcore wrestling and integration of international talent from Mexico & Japan. They amassed a cult following over the years and created iconic stars such as The Sandman, Raven & Tommy Dreamer. ECW was also a place that elevated wrestlers into super stardom, the likes of Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio & Lance Storm all gaining popularity whilst working in Philly.

Heyman assumed control of the company in 1995, which was a good move creatively but over time the company ran into trouble. They weren't pulling in enough money, Heyman's cheques for wrestlers were bouncing and some of them never got paid for months. Because of such intense financial strain, some their top stars slowly drifted away to the bigger two, WWF or WCW. After a TV deal with TNN collapsed in favour of WWF Raw, it wasn't long until ECW was out of money and eventually bought out by the WWF. Heyman, in a great show of character, kept the bankruptcy a secret so that his guys would get paid during the purchase which is a fact that should be remembered. Yes he fucked people over, but his heart was in the right place.

WWE held an ECW One Night Stand PPV in 2005 which recieved almost universal acclaim. It was a beautiful love letter to a beloved promotion, with great matches, great callbacks and a fun narrative against Raw & Smackdown throughout. The success was astounding, enough for WWE to revive the promotion as a third brand. BOY did it not go down well. It started off well with a great 2006 One Night Stand show, but it quickly fell off the rails. It lacked the hardcore passion that the original ECW had, and the talent used did not accurately represent what the audience wanted. Not a single ECW fan wanted to see Big Show, Bobby Lashley or Vince FUCKING McMahon as world champion.

The infamous December to Dismember PPV was the final nail in the coffin for the promotion, and for the next 4 years it died a slow, agonising death. It was used as a pseudo-NXT essentially, but it was a bland product with no reason to watch except when they occasionally threw in a bigger name like Kane or Matt Hardy. Christian had an average run with the championship for 204 days before being bested by Ezekiel Jackson. A man who was below average in the ring, paint by numbers on the mic and in no way represented what ECW was about. Within 24 hours of winning the title, it was announced that ECW was discontinued and the belt would be retired.

The ECW World Championship was a highly praised prize in wrestling, held by icons like Shane Douglas, Sabu and Taz. RVD, CM Punk & Tommy Dreamer? Good choices to represent the brand. Kane? Chavo Guerrero? Again, Vince FUCKING McMahon?? An insult to an adored portion of history.

DJ Peterson & The Trooper - AWA Tag Team Championships

The AWA are often not talked about enough I don't think. They could have been a big player as the wrestling landscape shifted due to WWF's poaching techniques. A Minneapolis Boxing & Wrestling Club ran by Anton Stecher was passed down to Dennis & Wally Karbo after his passing. Verne Gagne at time was gaining popularity for his wrestling ability and his aspiration was to become the NWA World Champion. What prevented it? Your classic case of wrestling politics. So, Dennis sold his shares of the organisation to Gagne & Wally who now co-owned the company and founded the AWA by leading territories out from the NWA to merge.

In a respectable power move, they acknowledged then NWA World Champ Pat O'Connor as the inaugural AWA World Champion, but gave him 90 days to defend the belt against Gagne. The NWA ignored the challenge, so Pat was stripped of the AWA title and Gagne was awarded it. Like I said, power move. The promotion ran a predominantly technical style of wrestling and expanded the territory over the next 2 decades. Gagne's ability to build rapport allowed him to expand exponentially earning big bucks and acquiring big talents like Billy Graham & Wahoo McDaniel.

Where did it all go wrong? Well, after Gagne retired he wanted to build the main event scene around Nick Bockwinkel, however a certain blonde-haired Rocky III star was quickly becoming a fan favourite. Yes, Hulk Hogan. Gagne refused to put the world title on him, because he was a charamatic showman not a technical wrestler. Hogan desired to stay in the AWA, however he could not refuse jumping ship to the WWF when Vince McMahon offered him a world championship run. After Hogan leaving into immediate success, other AWA stars followed suit such as Adrian Adonis, Ken Patera, Gene Okerlund, Bobby Heenan & Jesse Ventura.

As the WWF grew, AWA continued to falter. They continued to sign and showcase excellent talents such as Scott Hall, the Midnight Rockers (AKA Michaels & Jannetty), Leon White (Vader) and Madusa but they all would leave for bigger companies. In AWA's final days Gagne struck relations with NWA territories again and even WCW but it couldn't save the company from folding in 1991. WWE would buy the AWA assets in 2003.

The AWA was unfortunately put into a position that ECW was in, that it was a good promotion full of talented wrestlers but they would all ultimately leave for bigger companies and better money. It was a launching pad company. Even in their final days though they had some iconic champions. Larry Zbyzsko was the last AWA champion. Brian Christopher was the final Southern Heavyweight Champion which was poetic because his daddy Jerry Lawler was the inaugural holder. DJ Peterson & The Trooper were the last World Tag Team Champions. Hang in – what was that last one? DJ Peterson, who was primarily used as a jobber, and his partner who you may be more familiar with as The Patriot? Those are your final cream of the crop in the tag division?

The tag straps were held by some absolute legends of the wrestling world. The Midnight Rockers, the Midnight Express, Scott Hall & Curt Hennig, The Road Warriors, The Vachons. The legacy of an underrated company's consistently concrete tag division falling down to a jobber and a masked nationalist. I guess it's a rather fitting end for a company purged of it's best for over 5 years of it's existence.

7) Hornswoggle- Cruiserweight Championship

Well, fuck. I don't really have to add anything for this do I? A fucking comedy leprechaun winning a championship which from 1996-1999 was responsible for some of the greatest matches in the time period. I guess I'll talk about it anyway, no matter how many sertraline I take it's not going to make me feel less depressed about this one. The WCW/WWE Cruiserweight Championship has a lineage spanning 11 years, 5 years for WCW & 6 for WWE. Before that, WCW introduced the Light Heavyweight Championship in 1991 which was first won by Brian Pillman. Hooray! It was around for 11 months until the champion Brad Armstrong got injured, vacated it and a tournament to crown a new champion just never happened. Bollocks.

WCW forgot to do a tournament, but then something must have triggered a memory in 1996 because they held a tournament for the newly created Cruiserweight Championship at a New Japan show. Classic WCW move not having their inaugural champion crowned at their own show. Shinjiro Otani would be the first champion on March 20th 1996 and for the next 3 years the title would regularly host the best match on any card. Dean Malenko vs Ultimo Dragon @ Starrcade '96, the insane 20-minute four-way on the April 19th Nitro & of course Rey Mysterio vs Eddie Guerrero @ Halloween Havoc. Not only did the division host great matches, but often enjoyable and consistent storytelling. The Dean Malenko vs Chris Jericho feud being one of the highlights of WCW during this time.

The first sign of shaminess came in August '99 when Lenny Lane defeated Rey Mysterio for the hold (his gimmick was an awfully problematic display of homosexual stereotypes, to the extent that groups like GLAAD pushed for it's removal. From there, the match quality and investment in the title declined. We had champions like Disco Inferno who is not a Cruiserweight, Oklahoma (a disgusting Jim Ross parody) who is also not a Cruiserweight, Crowbar & Daffnet co-won the title and again CROWBAR IS NOT A CRUISERWEIGHT. At least follow your fucking rules guys. In WCW's final days the title got a little better with champions like Lance Storm, Chavo Guerrero & Shane Helms all trying their best to make WCW a watchable product. When the WWF swooped in and bought their competition. They kept the Cruiserweight title for quite some time.

For 6 more years in fact and it began quite promisingly. It recieved pretty much monthly PPV spots as the talented undercard showed off their skill on a big stage. Billy Kidman was awesome, Jamie Noble was a hilarious heel and a good wrestler, the Rey Mysterio vs Chavo Guerrero feud was good. Matt Hardy won the belt and him being a Cruiserweight is questionable, but he was an entertaining champion at least. As the 2000s roared on, the Cruiserweight title became less and less a part of WWE's grand design. They got less and less PPV time, when they did feature it was usually in multi-man matches, just throwing 6 of them together and letting them go. It was still entertaining at times, but the lack of investment was blatant.

That lack of investment was made abundantly clear in 2007 at the Great American Bash, when the little bastard Hornswoggle won a 6-man Cruiserweight Open to became the champion. I'm happy for Swoggle, a great moment for him who's just doing his best job. However, this was clearly a gag that Vince McMahon thought would be hilarious, and it was so hilarious that the title was retired 68 days later and we'd never see a WWE Cruiserweight title again until 2016. The second Cruiserweight title only lasted 6 years. Does Vince hate Cruiserweights? Judging by the guys he pushes over them like Omos or Hornswoggle, YES. He wants to murder them.

Thank you for giving this article a read, check out my other stuff and expect to see a review of the G1 Finals over the weekend. Until next, ciao Bella!

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