After my European title article I began searching in my old toy chest from my childhood.
I'm restless and have nothing to do.
I came across a Crash Holly action figure with the hardcore title. My finding inspired me to reminisce with myself, and B/R, about the Hardcore Championship and all the good times it brought to the WWE.
Let’s start with the basics —who was the very first Hardcore Champion? It was none other than the king of hardcore himself, Mick Foley, who was using the Mankind moniker at the time. He was awarded the belt in 1998 by Vince McMahon. Over the next two years the belt would change hands and we would see Hardcore champions such as Hardcore Holly, Billy Gunn, Big Boss Man, Roaddog, Test, and even Al Snow.
Every title has its defining moment and the Hardcore title had its own on Feburary 22, 2000 on an episode of SmackDown when Crash Holly ringed in his first Hardcore championship reign. This would be the turning point as the Hardcore title would never be the same again.
Crash Holly stated that he was the greatest Hardcore champion of all time and would defend the title anywhere...anytime. Thus the Hardcore champion's 24/7 rule came into effect and the title must be defending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as long as a ref is present. This new rule would make the Hardcore title to change hands the most with over 100 changes. Crash Holly soon found himself eating his own words, however, still fighting against the odds.
Holly defended the Hardcore titles in types of places from an airport, backstage, Fun time U.S.A, even a laundromat. You heard right your ears didn't a deceive you, a laundromat.
Soon WWE started to catch the "Hardcore" fever and everyone wanted the Hardcore title. It became the top of a superstars Christmas list. There were plenty of examples and Wrestlemania 2000 is a prime one. The Hardcore title was defended in a 15 minute all out brawl and whoever was the champ when time was up, got to go home Hardcore champ.
In that 15 minute period there were 10 title changes, ultimately with Hardcore Holly getting the last laugh and leaving as the champ.
The crave for the championship was only growing. The title soared to new heights as even the main eventers had a taste of the Hardcore championship. Both Kurt Angle and Undertaker were Hardcore champions in 2001.
The strange fever didn’t seem to get cooler, and just when you thought the demand couldn't be any higher, it did.
WWE divas were also Hardcore champions. In fact there were four to be exact. There were Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Terri Runnels, and Bobcat (one of Godfather's Ho's). At Wrestlemania 18, Tough enough winner Maven defended the Hardcore championship against Goldust. The two were going back and forth until they both hit one another with trash can lids. Then Spike Dudley zoomed out to the ring and pinned a knocked out Maven and became Hardcore champion.
Crash Holly was on his tail and chased Spike to the back where Al Snow almost ran the over with a golf cart with referee Teddy Long in the shotgun.
Spike fended off Crash only to get a flying clothesline from Hurricane. Hurricane was ready to leave Wrestlemania with the title and was being interviewed. His trusty sidekick Molly Holly hit him in the head and became the next champ. She ran for survival only to run into a slammed door courtesy of Christian (please no more cage articles). Christian had a taxi ready and while he's basking in his glory, Maven gets an old school pin on him to take back the belt...then leaves in his taxi to top it off. Talk about out of control.
Something had to be done and something was indeed done when Eric Bishoff arrived on the scene. In 2002 Tommy Dreamer win a battle royal for the Hardcore title. "Tommy Dreamer actually won?” I know it’s amazing but let’s stick to the topic. Bishoff suspended the 24/7 rule and thus foreshadowed the beginning of the end for the Hardcore championship.
Crash Holly was a 22-time Hardcore champion. I doubt WWE counted all of those reigns as official as Crash would be recognized as one of the most decorated champions of all time on just solely Hardcore title reigns. The end would finally come when Hardcore champion Tommy Dreamer faced Intercontinental champion RVD with both titles on the line in August of 2002. Tommy Dreamer was defeated (we're back to reality) and RVD unified the Intercontinental title with the Hardcore title just as he did with the European title.
So does that mean that Santino is a former Intercontinental/European/Hardcore champion? Maybe...maybe not. The belt was officially retired after that point. However, the title would make one more appearance when Mick Foley (following a Wrestlemania and Backlash loss to Edge) claimed him and Edge as the co-holders of the Hardcore championship. This would not count as an official reign though.