The 10 Worst World Champions in WWE History
As we all know, The Royal Rumble is only a week away. In the main event, The Rock takes on CM Punk in what is arguably the biggest WWE Championship match in years, between two men who will without question go down as two of the company's greatest world champions.
And this got me thinking.
In the past, the WWE has been well-known for treating its world championships with little respect; title switches were happening on an alarmingly regular basis, damaging the prestige of the titles.
However, only CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and The Big Show were world champions during 2012, showing that the trend for short title reigns is coming to an end.
There have been a lot of great world champions in WWE history, but there have also been some terrible ones. This article will take a tongue-in-cheek look at 10 stars who in my opinion, are the worst world champions in WWE history.
10. Rob Van Dam (WWE/ECW Championship)
Rob Van Dam was one of the WWE's most popular stars for much of the last decade, but unfortunately he wasn't one of the company's greatest world champions.
'The Whole F'N Show' cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase against John Cena at ECW One Night Stand on June 11, 2006 to capture his first WWE Championship. The audience was electric, creating that genuine once-in-a-lifetime atmosphere.
And on the following edition of WWE's newly-created ECW, Paul Heyman awarded RVD the ECW Championship, a belt he had failed to win in the original version of the extreme promotion. Seventeen years after his in-ring debut, Rob Van Dam was finally world champion, and he'd earned it.
For five years, RVD had been one of the company's most popular mid-card superstars, and the fans were delighted when he finally managed to break through the glass ceiling and join the main-event elite. At least, that was the original plan...
As we all know, Van Dam was arrested alongside Sabu for drug possession after they were stopped by a highway patrol officer in Ohio. Realizing the terrible publicity this could generate for the company, Vince McMahon hurriedly booked RVD to lose the WWE Championship to Edge on July 3, before dropping the ECW Championship to The Big Show the following night.
Van Dam would then serve a 30-day suspension, and ultimately left the company the a year later.
Rob Van Dam had the popularity, charisma and talent to firmly establish himself as a permanent fixture in the WWE's main event scene with his maiden world title run, but he blew it. Instead, 'The Whole F'N Show' defended the WWE Championship a grand total of once, and only held both belts for three weeks apiece.
9. Mark Henry (ECW/World Heavyweight Championship)
Mark Henry made his WWF debut way back in 1996, and it took him 12 years to finally capture world title gold, Why, you ask? Because the creative team spent over a decade trying to figure out what to do with him!
Given a 10-year contract after the '96 Olympics, Henry was initially a generic strongman who was far too green for television, before he resurfaced as a member of the Nation of Domination.
Then came the infamous 'Sexual Chocolate' era (complete with Mae Young's hand-baby spawn) before spending most of the following decade floundering in the mid-card.
Repackaged yet again as a monster heel in early 2007, 'The World's Strongest Man' was given the biggest singles push of his career, which came to a head on June 29, 2008 when the big man captured the ECW Championship from Kane in a triple threat match that also involved The Big Show.
The title reign would last only 70 days before it came to an end when Matt Hardy emerged victorious in a Championship Scramble match at Unforgiven in September.
Three years later, Henry earned the biggest win of his 15-year WWE tenure when he defeated Randy Orton on Sept. 18, 2011, to capture the World Heavyweight Championship. Exactly three months later, 'The World's Strongest Man' dropped the belt to The Big Show at TLC.
A transitional champion by any definition of the word, Henry defended the belt in less-than-stellar matches against Orton, Show and The Great Khali.
It took Mark Henry more than a decade to earn a world championship run, and he hardly set the heather alight when carrying the strap.
After 15 years of watching him struggle in a variety of different gimmicks, it became difficult to accept 'The World's Strongest Man' as a legitimate champion, despite the fact he was on the biggest roll of his career.
8. Sycho Sid (WWF Championship)
There was a time back in the early '90s when Sid was viewed as having the potential to become one of the biggest stars in the entire industry. While that didn't quite come true, the big man had a respectable enough career, although he was a terrible WWF Champion.
Sid captured his first WWF Championship at Survivor Series 1996, after he hit reigning champion Shawn Michaels in the back with a television camera to score the pin. He retained the title against Bret Hart the following month before dropping the strap back to 'The Heartbreak Kid' at the 1997 Royal Rumble.
Michaels would vacate the title 25 days later due to a highly-contentious knee injury he claimed to be carrying, allowing Bret Hart to capture the vacant strap. Sid would regain the belt from Hart on Feb. 17, after Steve Austin cracked 'The Hitman' with a chair.
His second run with the strap would only last five weeks before Sid fell to The Undertaker in a flat main event of Wrestlemania 13, the lowest-grossing WrestleMania to date. Less than three months later, Sid was gone from the company and wouldn't be seen on WWE television for another 15 years.
Although he had great intensity, Sid was a cumbersome in-ring performer that was also greatly lacking in the promo department, and was hugely unprepared to be viewed as the company's top star.
Despite competing for the title against the likes of The Undertaker, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, Sid's title matches were usually flat and heavy-handed affairs that involved a screwy finish, and he only held the belt for a combined total of 97 days.
7. Jack Swagger (ECW/World Heavyweight Championship)
The Money in the Bank briefcase is usually associated with giving an up-and-coming star a push towards the main-event scene. For Jack Swagger, it was the beginning of one of the biggest downward spirals in recent memory.
Many were predicting big things for the rookie following his ECW debut in September 2008, and only four months later, 'The All-American American' had defeated Matt Hardy to capture the ECW Championship.
He held onto the belt for 104 days, defending it against the likes of Hardy, Finlay and Christian before dropping the belt to 'Captain Charisma' in April 2009. Swagger was a solid ECW champion, and it seemed as though he was destined to make a major impact on the main roster one day.
A year later, 'The All-American American' captured the World Heavyweight Championship contract in the annual Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 26 and on March 30, 2010, he shockingly cashed in on Chris Jericho to become World Heavyweight Champion for the first time.
Swagger is a great in-ring talent and if he was given a strong run as champion and allowed to polish his character, the WWE could have had a new main-event star on their hands.
Instead, he was booked as inferior to his opponents, and would usually retain the title by fluke. Swagger was put out of his misery after 82 days when he was pinned by Rey Misterio in a Fatal Four-Way match on June 20.
Despite competing against the likes of Jericho, Edge and Randy Orton for the belt, 'The All-American American' was never taken seriously as world champion and after dropping the title, he plummeted down the card, before disappearing from television in September 2012. Here's hoping the damage done to his career isn't irreparable.
6. Bobby Lashley (ECW Championship)
Debuting in September 2005, Bobby Lashley was almost the archetypal Vince McMahon project: massively built, but with very little in the way of charisma and microphone skills. However, Lashley never became the top star the creative team wanted him to be, despite being heavily pushed from the start.
After moving to ECW in November 2006, Lashley made an immediate impact by capturing the ECW Championship the following month at December to Dismember. Unfortunately, the victory came in a terrible match on the lowest-grossing WWE pay-per-view in history.
Lashley restored some of his and the title's credibility by defending it against all comers for 147 days, before all of the work was instantly undone when he dropped the belt to none other than Vince McMahon on April 29, 2007.
Vince's ego trip thankfully ended when he dropped the strap back to Lashley in a street fight five weeks later. However, just eight days later, Lashley vacated the strap after being drafted to Raw, making his second reign rather pointless.
Soon after, he would require surgery for a shoulder injury and would completely drop off the radar, before being released from his contract in February 2008.
Despite the number of high-profile storylines he was involved with, Lashley never became a top guy in the WWE. His first ECW Championship reign got off to a record-breaking start for the wrong reasons, and it seemed as though he only dropped the belt because Vince needed to massage his ego after losing the 'Battle of the Billionaires' to Donald Trump.
Either way, the big man was not world championship material.
5. Chavo Guerrero (ECW Championship)
Despite never becoming anything more than a mid-card act during his previous seven years with the company, Chavo Guerrero defeated CM Punk in a no-disqualification match on Jan. 22, 2008 to become ECW Champion.
Chavo both earned his title match and captured the belt with interference from Edge, which was the catalyst for the short-lived 'La Familia' faction.
Despite these controversial victories, Chavo successfully defended the belt twice against CM Punk, winning both matches cleanly. Despite this, the third-generation star was still far too bland to be a credible world champion.
Kane ended Chavo's run with the title after 68 days in their infamous eight-second match at WrestleMania 24. As the WWE continued to spit on the grave of the original ECW with this debacle, Chavo's world title reign quickly became a footnote in WWE history.
Chavo Guerrero remained treading water at the bottom of the card before being released in June 2011. Although a respected veteran and solid worker, he was never cut out to be a world champion, and his reign served only to further tarnish the memories of what ECW had once been.
4. Dolph Ziggler (World Heavyweight Championship)
Although he is all but guaranteed a World Heavyweight Championship run in the near future, at the time of writing, Dolph Ziggler holds the ignominy of spending a grand total of 11 minutes and 23 seconds as world champion.
After 'The Showoff' failed to defeat Edge for the belt at the 2011 Royal Rumble, Smackdown General Manager Vickie Guerrero banned the Spear and decreed that Ziggler would be awarded the title if 'The Rated-R Superstar' used the move in their rematch. Nonetheless, Edge used the move anyway and retained the title. Or so we thought.
On the Feb. 18 episode of Smackdown, Vickie fired Edge for using the Spear and Ziggler was crowned the new World Heavyweight Champion. However, Teddy Long returned and instead of announcing a tag team match, rehired Edge and granted him an immediate title shot.
Things went from bad to worse for 'The Showoff' when Edge regained the title, and Long compounded his misery when he fired Ziggler from the blue show.
This debacle would end up killing all of Ziggler's momentum, and perhaps even set his career back a year. Despite the fact that 'The Showoff' is now knocking on the door of the main event scene and will be world champion sooner rather than later, the fact that this embarrassment is officially recognized by the WWE will forever taint his legacy.
3. Vince McMahon (WWF/ECW Championship)
We all know Vince McMahon has an massive ego, so it shouldn't really surprise anyone that he decided he wanted to be WWF Champion at the height of the biggest boom period in wrestling history.
Returning to television in late 1999 after being banned from WWF television as per the stipulation of the Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker match at Fully Loaded in July, Vince went on to defeat Triple H for the WWF Championship on the Sept. 14 Smackdown after interference from Stone Cold.
'The Boss' would vacate the title at the following episode of Raw and was reinstated to WWF television in order to continue his feud with Triple H, and it would be 'The Game' who would capture the vacant strap in a six-pack challenge at Unforgiven on September 26.
One month later, and we were right back where we started; Triple H was WWF Champion and feuding with McMahon, who apparently only gave himself the championship for his own personal gratification.
Remarkably, Vince was at it again eight years later; still feuding with Bobby Lashley following his loss in the 'Battle of the Billionaires' opposite Donald Trump, 'The Boss' booked himself to capture the ECW Championship with assistance from son Shane and Umaga.
This time, Vince would hold onto the belt for five weeks before Lashley regained the strap in a street fight. The sight of Vince McMahon parading around as ECW Champion must have been a real slap in the face for Paul Heyman.
Vince McMahon is the boss and can do whatever the hell he wants to do with his company, and has proved this by enjoying two short, and ultimately pointless, world title reigns.
The ECW Championship win especially has the ring of a man needing a quick ego massage following a humiliating scalping at WrestleMania 23. He may be the most influential man in the history of the business, but he is also one of the WWE's worst-ever world champions.
2. The Great Khali (World Heavyweight Championship)
When Edge was forced to vacate the World Heavyweight Championship on the July 17, 2007 episode of Smackdown, a 20-man Battle Royal was held to crown a new champion. With the Smackdown roster desperately starved of top-line talent, somebody in creative thought it would be a good idea to have The Great Khali win the title. Genius!
Despite the fact he could hardly walk, didn't have a clue how to sell moves or work a match and was unable to communicate in English, 'The Punjabi Warrior' eliminated Kane and Batista to capture the vacant strap.
The giant retained the title in an awful triple threat match against the aforementioned opponents at The Great American Bash the following month, and fended off 'The Animal' at Summerslam by intentional disqualification after another in-ring borefest.
Mercifully, The Great Khali's World Heavyweight Championship reign ended at 61 days on Sept. 16 at Unforgiven when Batista won the title in a triple threat match that also featured Rey Mysterio. 'The Punjabi Warrior' would lose the rematch inside the ridiculous Punjabi Prison at No Mercy, before never again troubling the world title picture.
Possibly the worst in-ring worker to ever hold a major world title, The Great Khali would never even enter most people's minds as a viable candidate for world champion, and the string of unintelligible promos and terrible matches he contested over the World Heavyweight Championship proved the decision was a massive error.
1. Ezekiel Jackson (ECW Championship)
This was officially the day that ECW died.
Despite showing no aptitude for professional wrestling and accomplishing virtually nothing since his debut in July 2008, 'Big Zeke' will go down in the history books as the last-ever ECW Champion.
A belt once defended with blood, sweat and tears by the likes of Terry Funk, Sabu, and The Sandman amongst others was now the possession of one of the most uninteresting characters in recent memory.
On the final episode of WWE's watered-down version of ECW on Feb. 16, 2010, Jackson defeated Christian to capture the ECW Championship.
That the belt was awarded to a talent as bland and limited and Jackson was bad enough, but it was immediately deactivated after the show as a further kick in the teeth for fans of the original extreme promotion.
Since that fateful day, 'Big Zeke' also enjoyed one of the most forgettable Intercontinental title reigns of the century, and has since become a non-entity on WWE television.
Fully deserving of first place on this list, booking Ezekiel Jackson as the final ECW Champion made it seem like the creative team wanted to get in one final jab at the former Philadelphia outfit before they finally killed it off for good.
There are my picks for the 10 worst world champions in WWE history. Do you agree?
In my opinion, Ezekiel Jackson is the only choice for the number one spot. A terrible worker with no personality, it's a travesty that history will know him as the final ECW Champion. The Great Khali comes a close second, but I find it kind of endearing that he sucks. Look at the picture: he can't even hold the title the right way up!
Now it's time for your say on the matter; what do you think?
Do you agree with the rankings?
Is there anyone missing you would have included?
As always, sign off in the comments below!