WWE: The Top 5 Superstars That Never Won a Major World Title
What defines a legendary career?
Most people would say that winning a World Championship in a major promotion would be an absolute must in that discussion.
However, none of the men on this list have attained that milestone, so does that limit their relevance in the overall history of professional wrestling?
Honorable Mention: Owen Hart
There is really no telling the level of success that Hart might have attained before his tragic death at the age of 34.
As a member of the legendary Hart Family, Owen was poised for success early on. With multiple reigns with various WWF championships—European championship (one), WWF Intercontinental title (two) and the WWF tag team championship (four)—gold was never far from Hart's waist for the better part of the 1990's.
In addition to winning the King of the Ring tournament in 1994, his feud with his brother Bret in the mid-1990's was one of the greatest of all time, pitting members of the immediate and extended family against each other and tugging at the heartstrings of anyone who had ever had an altercation with a family member.
Honorable Mention: Rick Rude
Rude's better days in the ring may have been behind him when he passed away in 1999 at the age of 40, but for nearly two decades prior to that, he was a top level heel in both the WWF and WCW—not to mention a brief run with ECW.
Though Rude had three reigns as WCW International World Heavyweight champion, these reigns are generally not recognized, as "World Title" reigns as the title that existed for less than one year and was eventually unified with the actual WCW World Heavyweight title. However, this also leads to his being excluded from the actual list of performers on this list.
Honorable Mention: Curt Hennig
While it's true that Hennig actually did win the AWA World title in 1987 and held it for just over one year, he was never able to establish the same type of success with the WWF or WCW. However, he did have two memorable runs as WWF Intercontinental champion, engaging in long-remembered feuds with Bret Hart and Kerry Von Erich.
From there, he took his talents to WCW where he won both the United States title as well as the WCW Tag Team titles (with Barry Windham).
Generally referred to in conversations as one of the best technical wrestlers of all-time, Hennig's career was halted on several occasions by injury before he passed away at age 44 in 2003.
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Considered by many as one of the most entertaining wrestlers in history, Piper could never be called boring. His promos bordered on ranting at times, however, they were generally lucid and poignant. Piper coined phrases like: "Just when they think they have the answers, I change the questions," and “You do not throw rocks at a man who's got a machine gun."
Piper was the Attitude Age of the WWF before it even actually happened, whether he was working as a heel or not. One of his best known stunts was painting half of his body black at WrestleMania VI while wrestling Bad News Brown. He also is remembered for spraying talk show host Morton Downey Jr. with a fire extinguisher at WrestleMania V.
Though he never won the big one, Piper did hold the WWF Intercontinental title once, as well as the tag team titles with Ric Flair in 2006.
Piper’s level of stardom cannot be compared to many. Even today, when the first strains of his entrance theme are heard, the crowd will erupt.
The story of Scott Hall is one that is unfortunately well documented. Hall’s personal demons have gotten the best of him throughout his career, especially in recent years.
With the size and raw talent to succeed, Hall was near the top of the card for both the WWF and WCW for nearly a decade.
He was one of the founding members of the nWo in WCW, a group that led the way for the famous Monday Night Wars that led professional wrestling into the 21st Century.
Always a great talent on the microphone, Hall teamed with Kevin Nash to create one of the best one-two punches in wrestling history. However, while Nash eventually reached the top of the heap by winning the WWF and WCW titles a combined six times, Hall never attained that final level, struggling in many attempts to win the top prize.
Complete success never avoided Hall though, as he did win the WWF Intercontinental title four times as well as multiple championships in WCW, including the United States championship (twice), the World Television title (once) and the WCW tag team title (seven times).
Jake "the Snake" Roberts
Known as one of the greatest ring psychologists of all time, Roberts was a strange character in a time where strange was the norm.
Even though he was a face for much of his WWF run, Roberts was never lovable or cuddly. He did not tell fans to take vitamins or say prayers. Instead, his talent was weaving a tapestry of words unequaled by any of his contemporaries.
Worth noting is that despite a nearly 40-year career in the wrestling business, Roberts has never won any title in any mainstream promotion. This may be attributed to the fact that while he was always near the top of the card, Roberts lost out to bigger names.
When he competed as a face, stars like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior ruled the WWF title landscape. While portraying a vicious heel, Roberts was a contemporary of the Undertaker and Vader.
Like Hall, Roberts has also had his share of personal problems, entering WWE-sponsored rehab in 2007. Today, he continues to make occasional appearances at independent wrestling shows all around the world.
"Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
Though he held a fictional title for most of his mainstream career, the Million Dollar Championship, DiBiase never quite made it to the top of the mountain, failing in several attempts to win the WWF title. He made it as far as the finals of a tournament to crown a new champion at WrestleMania IV 1988, losing in the finals to Randy Savage.
However, DiBiase has technically “held” the WWF Championship, purchasing it from Andre the Giant after he defeated Hulk Hogan in 1988. DiBiase is not recognized as having “won” the title, nor is recognized as being a former WWF champion.
DiBiase led the good life, and was not hasty about showing it. In an age of characters, DiBiase was larger than life. Weekly vignettes showed him leading a jetset life, and making other people do humiliating things for money.
DiBiase’s son Ted Jr. is now a WWE superstar. Can he accomplish what his father was never able to do by winning the WWE title? Only time will tell.
Arguably the greatest "sidekick" of all-time, Anderson made his reputation as a no-nonsense tough guy that took on all comers.
As "The Enforcer" of the Four Horsemen, Anderson was responsible for being the muscle of one of the most dynamic factions in wrestling history.
Like most of the superstars on this list, Anderson was incredibly skilled in delivering memorable promos, making opponents and fans alike well aware that whatever he was saying, he was absolutely going to back up.
Anderson's lack of World Championship success came with being second in command to Ric Flair for most of the Horsemen's runs, as Flair was generally always involved in the World title picture and enlisted Anderson to aid him in either keeping or gaining the belt.
However, "Double A" was no stranger to success in other title hunts though, winning the WWF tag team titles with former Horseman Tully Blanchard, as well as reigns as NWA/WCW Television champion (four times), and NWA/WCW tag team champion (five times).
Does Not Winning "The Big One" Affect a Legacy?
While all of these performers have won titles in other promotions, none of them were able to get it done in regards to mainstream promotions.
Whether it was the success of others that limited their progress, like in Anderson's case or personal problems limiting their potential, like Roberts and Hall, each person on this list still has an impressive body of work to show for their years in the professional wrestling business.
Whether they won a World Title or not is irrelevant in the long run. Legends are not made based solely upon those means. Each competitor on this list, for one reason or another, have never experienced the sweet taste of World Title glory. But that does not limit them from being entered into any conversation concerning the greatest performers in professional wrestling history.
Plain and simple, these men are legends, world title or not.
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