WWE

WWE Power Rankings: The 15 Worst WWE World Champions Ever

Mike ShannonFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2011

WWE Power Rankings: The 15 Worst WWE World Champions Ever

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    No matter what else goes on in the world of professional wrestling, one thing remains certain: The world championship is the crown jewel of WWE.

    Holding that belt means that the promotion has thrown the machine behind you and has strapped the proverbial rocket to your backside.  The world title has launched the careers of Triple-H, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the Rock, John Cena and Kurt Angle.

    But what about the other guys?

    What about the guys who got the title belt and were boring or, worse, didn't draw any money.  No matter how popular you are, if you don't sell out house shows and draw TV ratings, you're a failure.

    Let's take a look that those other guys.

15: Jeff Hardy

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    Some of you probably already forgot that Jeff Hardy was world champion.

    As one-half of the pretty boy tag team the Hardy Boyz (it was the 90s, Zs were really cool back then), Jeff became the breakout star by jumping from really high places and landing on tables.

    However, his well-publicized battle with illegal substances led to his workrate deteriorating to the point where WWE made him pick rehab or the unemployment line.  Unable to accept help, he chose the unemployment line.

    After a stint in TNA, he returned "clean" to WWE and captured the WWE title at 2008 Armageddon in a triple-threat match with HHH and Edge.  He then proceeded to do nothing with ratings or the title until dropping it a month later back to Edge.

    A feud with CM Punk led to another unsuccessful title reign and Punk ultimately won the feud and sent Hardy back to the loving arms of TNA.

14: Antonio Inoki

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    Antonio Inoki is a Japanese legend and one of the biggest wrestling stars on the planet, so don't think this is a knock on him, simply the reign.

    Inoki defeated Bob Backlund in December 1979 in Japan to claim the world title.  A rematch six days later ended in a no-contest but Inoki refused to accept the belt under such circumstances.  The belt was declared vacant and Backlund beat Bobby Duncum shortly thereafter to reclaim the title.

    This exchange has never been officially recognized by WWE except once in Raw Magazine during the Attitude Era when they were setting records for breaking kayfabe.

    The title win by Inoki was certainly planned in advance and was only a promotional device to draw a big gate, so it's hardly Inoki's fault that he appears on this list.

13: Sheamus

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    Less than six months into his WWE career, Vince McMahon decided to award HHH's lifting buddy Sheamus with a megapush and a world title reign on the Raw brand.

    The title did absolutely nothing to help Sheamus and no one cared even though he was supposed to be the biggest monster heel on the show.

    He dropped the title to Randy Orton three months later but WWE still didn't learn their lesson because they put the title back on the pale Irishman at Fatal Four Way, an event which boasted one of the lowest buyrates in WWE history.

12: The Iron Sheik

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    I was afraid to include Sheik on this list because I didn't want him to put me in the Camel Clutch and "humble" me like he's threatened to do to many other people.

    The Iron Sheik was not a bad wrestler and not a bad draw, he was simply a transitional champion who served no other purpose than to move the strap from Bob Backlund to Hulk Hogan.

    After he defeated Backlund when his manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel, Sheik held the belt for a little under a month until Hogan squashed him like a bug in Madison Square Garden to begin the WWF's Golden Age.

11: Jack Swagger

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    Jack Swagger was clearly being positioned as a star of the rise.  He had already held the WWECW title and he won the Money in the Bank match to position him as the next big thing.

    Unfortunately, after he won the title, Swagger did nothing to thrill the crowd and a feud with Big Show did nothing to give viewers a reason to watch.

    Swagger developed a more serious personality when he won the title that seemed to bore the live crowd to tears and finally dropped the belt after 82 days to Rey Mysterio.

    He was quickly shuffled down to the midcard where he remained until being booked as Michael Cole's bodyguard and being moved to Raw.

10: Rob Van Dam

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    I'm probably going to catch heat for this one but there's no hiding that Van Dam's title reign was a major disappointment.

    During the ECW revival of 2005, there was no bigger person who embodied the ECW style than Mr. Monday Night himself.  Van Dam won the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania to set up a match between himself and champion John Cena at One Night Stand.

    The live crowd at that event was the most incredible I had ever seen at a wrestling event.  They spewed venom at Cena all night.

    When Paul Heyman ran down to the ring during the climax of the match and counted three, the crowd went ballistic and RVD had finally reached the pinnacle of the business, long after people thought he deserved it.

    A short time later, RVD and Sabu were pulled over by police with 18 grams of marijuana in their car and WWE had no choice but to pull the plug.

    Not only did RVD's title reign crush his supporters, it also effectively ended the "rebirth" of the new ECW since goofs like the Big Show and Bobby Lashley were left to carry the torch of "extreme."

9: Ivan Koloff

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    If you look up "Generic Foreign Heel" in the dictionary, there's a picture of Ivan Koloff.

    If you look up "transitional champion" in the dictionary, there is also a picture of Ivan Koloff.

    Koloff had the pleasure of ending Bruno Sammartino's crazy seven-and-a-half title reign and seemed poised to have a decent run with the belt.

    Nope, as jobbed only 21 days later to the hot, young prospect of the time—Pedro Morales.

    Considering Koloff's reign was sandwiched between Sammartino's nearly eight year reign and Pedro's almost two years, I think it's safe to call Koloff's time with the belt a major disappointment.

8: Sgt. Slaugher

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    Sgt. Slaughter proves there is a very big difference between good heat and bad heat.

    Good heat makes you want to go out and buy a ticket to see the heel get dominated (ex. Ric Flair), bad heat makes people change the channel.

    Sgt. Slaughter was a great wrestler and, believe it or not, was considered an American icon.  His character was actually even featured in the GI Joe line of action figures and would be in the cartoon series as well.

    However, during the first Persian Gulf War, Vince McMahon turned Slaughter into an Iraqi sympathizer complete with a Saddam Hussein look-alike manager. 

    To say people didn't like it would be an extreme understatement.

    Slaughter received death threats, was refused service at restaurants and had to call the police when his wife's life was threatened.  Characters like the Iron Sheik and Ivan Koloff had played off American's xenophobia before but never had a character supported a foreign power when the US was actively at war with them.

    On the wrestling side of things, WrestleMania VII had been planned for the Los Angeles Coliseum to beat the attendance record of WrestleMania III.  However, ticket sales were so slow that the event was moved to the much smaller Sports Arena proving that loud booing does not equal ticket sales.

7: The Big Show

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    The Big Show has been a WWE staple for over 12 years and has been a part of some of WWE's most memorable moments.  His title reigns, however, have been less than successful.

    Big Show was part of a huge bait-and-switch on WWE's part at Survivor Series 1999.  The main event was supposed to be Steve Austin vs. HHH vs. the Rock but WWE knew that Austin's neck was injured.  Instead of telling fans, they waited until the night of the show had Austin get hit by a car.  Big Show was announced as a replacement and surprisingly won the match.

    After an unintentionally hilarious feud with the Bossman, Show did not get another crack at the title until 2002 and that was because Brock Lesnar cracked his ribs (see what I did there?).  Show's second title reign lasted less than a month when Brock revealed he wasn't as badly injured as originally thought.

    Show is an entertaining guy and is dedicated to wrestling but, like so many others, he's simply not world champion material.

6: Buddy Rogers

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    The original "Nature Boy" inspired countless future wrestlers and was the first man to hold the WWWF and NWA world titles.  However, his WWWF reign is one that basically served no purpose, although it's not completely his fault.

    When Vince McMahon Sr. broke away from the NWA, he took one the biggest draws, Rogers, with him and the Nature Boy "won" a tournament in Rio De Janeiro to claim the new promotion's world title.  By the way, anytime someone in wrestling is said to have won a Brazilian tournament, it means he was just handed the title.

    Anyways, that was all well and good until Rogers suffered a heart attack soon after that severely ruined his ability to wrestle.  Different stories emerged about what happened after that but the bottom line is that Rogers was crushed by popular newcomer Bruno Sammartino in 48 seconds to drop the title.

5: Andre the Giant

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    Once again, this is not a knock on the wrestler himself but on the title reign.

    Andre the Giant is an absolute legend, someone who transcended pro wrestling and someone who deserved all the accolades of a successful wrestler.

    Simply put though, his title reign was barely one at all.

    After trying to buy the world title from Hulk Hogan, Ted DiBiase enlisted the services of the Giant to do his bidding for him.  DiBiase even went so far as to pay for a crooked referee to get plastic surgery and take the place of the real referee for a title match between Andre and Hogan (Earl and Dave Hebner).

    In the end, the crooked ref counted three on a pinfall even though Hogan clearly lifted his shoulder and Andre was world champion.

    However, instead of getting a rightful reign as champion, Andre immediately turned around and handed the world title to Ted DiBiase, proclaiming him champion of the world.

    WWF President Jack Tunney vacated the title, necessitating the tournament that was held at WrestleMania IV.

    Even though Andre's title reign was essentially an angle, it still ranks as one of the worst due to it's length and handling.

4: The Great Khali

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    The name "The Great Khali" should send shivers down the spine of any hardcore wrestling fan and for good reason.  The guy consistently stinks it up in the ring and seems to be about as mobile as an iceberg.

    Khali won the world title in a battle royal after Edge vacated the belt due to yet another ill-timed injury.  Not only is this an awful way to win the title but Khali was one of the most uninteresting guys on the roster.

    Crowds around the world went apathetic when Khali entered the arena and even victories over Batista and Kane did nothing to raise his popularity.

    Khali finally dropped the title to Batista after what seemed like years (it was really 61 awful days) and reverted to the character of kissing women and dancing.

3: Stan Stasiak

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    Stan "The Man" Stasiak was one of the most unlikely champions in wrestling history.  He defeated Pedro Morales, a very popular wrestler who had held the title for over 1000 days, in one of the worst finishes I can think of.

    Morales gave Stasiak a belly to back suplex and bridged for a pin however, as the referee was counting, Stasiak lifted one shoulder off the mat. Morales was awarded the title because the ref determined that Pedro's shoulders were still on the ground.

    Stasiak held the title for a grand total of nine days before dropping it to proven draw Bruno Sammartino for yet another long title reign for the Pittsburgh native.

    However, Stasiak's biggest sin in wrestling terms was giving us his son, Shawn Stasiak, and forcing us to watch his matches.  For that, I will never forgive him.

2: Kane

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    Through hellfire and brimstone, Kane emerged from King of the Ring 1998 with the world title and managed to hold on to it for all of 24 hours.  That's right, Kane's title reign lasted one day.

    What was the point of moving the title if you are only going to take it back the next night?  If you just asked this question, then you obviously don't know anything about Vince Russo.

    Forget the fact that Kane won the title in a First Blood Match back when he had no exposed skin or that the Undertaker actually made Steve Austin bleed during the match, not Kane, and you still have a bad world champion.

    Kane has had a long career and has more money than he ever thought he would earn as a professional wrestler but I think we've established he's not world champion material.

1: Vince McMahon

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    My God, where to begin on this one?

    HHH had been running roughshod over WWE and was feeling extra evil on September 16, 1999.  There he insulted Vince until he accepted a world title match and forced Shane McMahon to be the special guest referee.

    The "match" was simply a bunch of punching and kicking followed by an amazing amount of interference from everyone from Chyna to Linda McMahon.  In the end, Steve Austin ran in, gave Hunter a stunner and Vince McMahon was suddenly WWE champion.  Thankfully, he vacated the title the next week on Raw.

    While a one week title reign is not uncommon, Vince's reign is No. 1 because he is a non-wrestler.  Sure, he's gotten in the ring occasionally, but he was in no way qualified to wear the biggest prize in the business.

    He also defeated HHH, albeit through nefarious means, who was being built as the biggest star in the company.  Why job a future superstar to a 55-year-old man?  Who knows.

    The bottom line is that Vinnie Mac was the worst WWE champion of all-time and I would find it hard to believe that anyone else is even close.

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