Abandoned: The History of the WWE European Championship, Plus a Bonus Title

Kyle SchadlerChief Writer INovember 9, 2011

Abandoned: The History of the WWE European Championship, Plus a Bonus Title

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    Throughout history, professional wrestling has seen many championships.

    In WWF/E there are six major titles. Not many know that the company has had a total of at least 19 different titles, 13 of which have been abandoned for one reason or another.

    The other two major companies owned by WWE are WCW and ECW, which have at least 15 abandoned and forgotten titles between them. For as long as it takes, I will be concentrating on those forgotten titles.

    Each slide will feature the champion, who they defeated, where and when they won it, the length of their title reign, any special circumstances that happened during their reign, and a bit of commentary.

    Belts with a lengthy history will get their own articles and may be broken up into two depending on the length. Titles with a short history may be featured in a standard article, but if they’re really short they’ll be at the end of another title.

    For this edition of Abandoned, I present the WWE European Championship.

    The title debuted in 1997 and became a title of importance alongside the Intercontinental Championship.

    While it doesn’t have a long history, the title was a coveted one during the late '90s and early 2000s. It seemed like a title that WWE would keep around, but unfortunately was abandoned in 2002 when they decided one mid-card title was enough at the time.

    Also featured at the very end of this will be a bonus title! This championship had a total of two champions before being scrapped.

    So let’s begin!

The British Bulldog

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    Defeated: Owen Hart

    Where: Berlin, Germany

    When: February 26, 1997

    Reign: 206 days

    The British Bulldog defeated Owen Hart in a tournament final to become the first World Wrestling Federation European Champion.

    Being a native of Europe, it was a great move to have Bulldog as the inaugural champion. He was a great wrestler and certainly deserved the title.

    I originally thought this would be a title that we’d only see from time to time when WWF was in England, but it did make its way to the states.

Shawn Michaels

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    Defeated: The British Bulldog

    Where: Birmingham, England

    When: September 20, 1997

    Reign: 82 days

    While giving it to a main event star helped its prestige early on, I think it also hurt the title since Michaels was mainly concentrated on winning the World Title, which he did two months later.

    The Heartbreak Kid would also become the very first Grand Slam Champion here, having previously held the Intercontinental and Tag Team Titles as well.

Triple H

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    Defeated: Shawn Michaels

    Where: Lowell, MA

    When: December 11, 1997

    Reign: 40 days

    WWF Commissioner Sergeant Slaughter forced Michaels into defending the title against his partner in crime Triple H.

    They had been feuding with Slaughter and he thought this would be a good way to get back at them.

    Unfortunately for Slaughter his plan backfired. Michaels lost the match on purpose and all but handed the title to Triple H.

Owen Hart

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    Defeated: Goldust

    Where: Davis, CA

    When: January 20, 1998

    Reign: 55 days

    This was quite the funny situation for those that remember it.

    Goldust dressed up as Triple H and defended the title on his behalf. When Goldust lost, Commissioner Sergeant Slaughter let the win stand as he saw the bizarre one as a substitute.

    His feud with D-Generation X obviously was quite the factor in his decision.

    This would be Hart’s only time as champion having tragically died on May 23, 1999 at the Over the Edge pay-per-view.

Triple H

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    Defeated: Owen Hart

    Where: Phoenix, AZ

    When: March 16, 1998

    Reign: 120 days

    Triple H regained the title and had quite the lengthy reign.

    Having the title helped solidify Triple H as a mainstay in the WWF and along with the Intercontinental Title, brought him to glory.

    Triple H is now a 13-time World Champion as well as a Grand Slam Champion.

D’Lo Brown

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    Defeated: Triple H

    Where: Binghamton, NY

    When: July 14, 1998

    Reign: 63 days

    D’Lo Brown is a great wrestler that sometimes doesn’t get the credit he deserves. It’s a shame he never got past mid-card status.

    At the time, though, his gimmick had him wearing a chest protector that he used to his advantage. Perhaps it was his gimmick that kept him down.

X-Pac

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    Defeated: D’Lo Brown

    Where: Sacramento, CA

    When: September 15, 1998

    Reign: 14 days

    X-Pac and D’Lo Brown had a great feud throughout 1998. They traded the title back-and-forth multiple times.

D’Lo Brown

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    Defeated: X-Pac

    Where: East Lansing, MI

    When: September 29, 1998

    Reign: 19 days

X-Pac

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    Defeated: D’Lo Brown

    Where: Chicago, IL

    When: October 18, 1998

    Reign: 120 days

Shane McMahon

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    Defeated: X-Pac and Triple H

    Where: Birmingham, AL

    When: February 15, 1999

    Reign: 43 days

    This was a tag-team match of Shane McMahon and Kane vs. X-Pac and Triple H where X-Pac’s WWF European Championship was on the line. If either McMahon or Kane got the pinfall or submission victory, they would win the title.

    A lot of people were shaking their heads when McMahon won the title, including myself. It was an interesting time which saw Vince, Shane, and Stephanie all win titles at some point.

    The title was declared vacant on March 30, 1999 when McMahon decided to retire as a champion.

Mideon

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    Defeated: Recognized

    Where: Memphis, TN

    When: June 21, 1999

    Reign: 34 days

    The former Godwinn found the title just sitting there in Shane McMahon’s duffel bag. He grabbed it and Shane told him he could have it.

    So Mideon was recognized as the new champion.

D’Lo Brown

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    Defeated: Mideon

    Where: Buffalo, NY

    When: July 25, 1999

    Reign: 28 days

    Two days later D’Lo Brown would win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. He became the first of four wrestlers to hold the two titles simultaneously.

Jeff Jarrett

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    Defeated: D’Lo Brown

    Where: Minneapolis, MN

    When: August 22, 1999

    Reign: 1 day

    Both of D’Lo Brown’s titles were on the line here. So when Jarrett won the match, he won both the WWF European and Intercontinental Titles.

    To do so, though, he had a little bit of help from Sexual Chocolate.

    Double J would never win the World Title in WWF. He would win it four times in WCW, and six times in NWA/TNA, though.

Mark Henry

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    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Ames, IA

    When: August 23, 1999

    Reign: 34 days

    Due to Henry helping Jarrett win both titles, he awarded the man known as Sexual Chocolate the WWF European Title.

    This would be Henry’s first and only singles title until he won the ECW World Heavyweight Title in June 2008, then the World Title on SmackDown a few months ago.

D’Lo Brown

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    Defeated: Mark Henry

    Where: Charlotte, NC

    When: September 26, 1999

    Reign: 30 days

    This would be D’Lo Brown’s final time as champion.

The British Bulldog

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    Defeated: D’Lo Brown

    Where: Springfield, MA

    When: October 26, 1999

    Reign: 47 days

    With the exception of the Hardcore Title, this would be the last time Bulldog would hold a major WWF Title.

    He unfortunately passed away three years later on May 18, 2002.

Val Venis

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    Defeated: The British Bulldog and D’Lo Brown

    Where: Fort Lauderdale, FL

    When: December 12, 1999

    Reign: 58 days

    This was a triple threat match.

    Val Venis had a very unique gimmick. He was over with the crowd, especially the women, and made for a good champion.

    He didn't have much staying power, though, as his gimmick grew stale over time.

Kurt Angle

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    Defeated: Val Venis

    Where: Austin, TX

    When: February 8, 2000

    Reign: 54 days

    The Olympic gold medalist became the third Superstar to hold both the WWF European and Intercontinental Titles at the same time when he won the Intercontinental Championship 19 days later.

    The two belts would be his stepping stone to the World Title. He's now a six-time World Champion, 11-time if you count the TNA World Title.

    He would also become a Grand Slam Champion after winning the Tag Team Titles as well.

Chris Jericho

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    Defeated: Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit

    Where: Anaheim, CA

    When: April 2, 2000

    Reign: 1 day

    This was a unique triple threat match where both of Angle’s titles were on the line.

    This match had two falls: the first one being for the Intercontinental Title and the second being for the European Title.

    Kurt Angle would lose both titles that night when Chris Benoit won the first fall and Jericho the second.

    Y2J would to become a six-time World Champion as well as a Grand Slam Champion.

Eddie Guerrero

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    Defeated: Chris Jericho

    Where: Los Angeles, CA

    When: April 3, 2000

    Reign: 111 days

    This would Latino Heat‘s first major WWF Title.

    He would go onto to win all other WWF/E mid-card titles before finally winning the WWE Championship in 2004.

Perry Saturn

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    Defeated: Eddie Guerrero

    Where: Dallas, TX

    When: July 23, 2000

    Reign: 37 days

    This was thankfully before Saturn was stuck with that ridiculous gimmick involving the mop.

    This would also be the one and only major title he would hold in the WWF.

Al Snow

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    Defeated: Perry Saturn

    Where: Fayetteville, NC

    When: August 29, 2000

    Reign: 48 days

    Al Snow took being the champion way too seriously. We would come out each week being billed from a different part of Europe and dressing for the part.

    Most of the time he would dress according to stereotypes instead of what the particular country really wore.

    This would also be Snow's only major title win during his WWF/E run.

William Regal

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    Defeated: Al Snow

    Where: Detroit, MI

    When: October 16, 2000

    Reign: 47 days

    Disgusted by the way Al Snow was treating the title and Europe, William Regal set his sights on the title. As you can see, he won it.

    Regal would be the only other European wrestler, other then the British Bulldog, to win the title.

Crash Holly

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    Defeated: William Regal

    Where: Sheffield, England

    When: December 2, 2000

    Reign: 2 days

    This surprised everyone, especially the people of England when their countryman lost the title to Crash Holly of all people.

    This would be the only major title held by Holly.

    He would unfortunately pass away on November 6, 2003.

William Regal

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    Defeated: Crash Holly

    Where: East Rutherford, NJ

    When: December 4, 2000

    Reign: 49 days

Test

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    Defeated: William Regal

    Where: Lafayette, LA

    When: January 22, 2001

    Reign: 69 days

    The European Title proved a stepping stone for Test as he won the Intercontinental Title 10 months later.

    Unfortunately he was never able to elevate to the main event and win a World Title.

    Test would announce his retirement in 2007, and continued the long, grime trend in pro wrestling when he passed away March 13, 2009.

Eddie Guerrero

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    Defeated: Test

    Where: Houston, TX

    When: April 1, 2000

    Reign: 23 days

    This would be Guerrero’s final time as champion before moving onto bigger and better things, including becoming a Grand Slam Champion.

    Much like the many former European Champions before him, Eddie Guerrero passed away on November 13, 2005.

Matt Hardy

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    Defeated: Eddie Guerrero

    Where: Denver, CO

    When: April 24, 2001

    Reign: 125 days

    This would be Matt Hardy’s first major title in the WWF, winning the belt before his much more popular brother Jeff.

The Hurricane

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    Defeated: Matt Hardy

    Where: Grand Rapids, MI

    When: August 27, 2001

    Reign: 56 days

    A comic book character come to life.

    Along with his sidekick Mighty Molly, the Hurricane enjoyed a decent reign as champion before losing it to someone much bigger.

Bradshaw

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    Defeated: The Hurricane

    Where: Kansas City, MO

    When: October 22, 2001

    Reign: 8 days

    I don’t think anyone was surprised when Bradshaw won the title. I believe people were surprised that his reign was so short, though.

    Bradshaw would go onto to win the WWE Championship in 2004 as well as being recognized as a Grand Slam Champion.

Christian

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    Defeated: Bradshaw

    Where: Cincinnati, OH

    When: October 30, 2001

    Reign: 91 days

    Nine days before this, Christian lost the Intercontinental Title to his former partner Edge. Seeing him defeat the much bigger and stronger Bradshaw was quite the surprise.

    The future Captain Charisma would go onto win the NWA/TNA World Title, ECW World Title, and World Title on SmackDown twice each. He's technically a six-time World Champion.

    Upon winning the World Title earlier this year, Christian became the latest member of the WWE Grand Slam Champion club.

Diamond Dallas Page

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    Defeated: Christian

    Where: Norfolk, VA

    When: January 29, 2002

    Reign: 49 days

    DDP’s only singles title during his time with WWF. And “that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing.”

William Regal

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    Defeated: Diamond Dallas Page

    Where: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    When: March 19, 2002

    Reign: 20 days

    It’s a shame that winning this title, as well as the Intercontinental Title multiple times, never led to him going for the World Title.

    If he is able to become a World Champion in WWE, he would join the group of 11 wrestlers as a Grand Slam Champion.

    Seven days later, the title would become exclusive to Monday Night Raw after William Regal was drafted to the red brand.

Spike Dudley

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    Defeated: William Regal

    Where: Phoenix, AZ

    When: April 8, 2002

    Reign: 28 days

    Another champion that surprised a lot of people. This would also be his only major title win while in the WWF.

    On May 6, 2002 WWF officially made the transition to WWE due to a lost lawsuit over the “WWF” initials with the World Wildlife Fund.

    Dudley was recognized as the first World Wrestling Entertainment European Champion.

William Regal

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    Defeated: Spike Dudley

    Where: Hartford, CT

    When: May 6, 2002

    Reign: 63 days

    I was actually there for this. I remember this being a decent match, which never surprised me when it came to William Regal.

    Was anyone surprised when Regal won the title back? Nope.

    This would be his final time as champion, though.

Jeff Hardy

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    Defeated: William Regal

    Where: Philadelphia, PA

    When: July 8, 2002

    Reign: 14 days

    Despite his two week reign, Hardy made a good champion. I thought that the title would be around for a long, long time.

    With someone as popular as Jeff Hardy winning it, we had no reason to believe otherwise.

    The Charismatic Enigma would go onto win the the WWE and World Titles becoming a three-time World Champion. If you count his two reigns as TNA Champion, he's a five-time champ.

    With his World Title wins in WWE, though, he became a Grand Slam Champion.

Rob Van Dam

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    Defeated: Jeff Hardy

    Where: Grand Rapids, MI

    When: July 22, 2002

    Reign: A few minutes

    This was a ladder match where both the European and Intercontinental Titles were on the line.

    Unlike other times, though, this was a unification match.

    When RVD won it, he was recognized only as the WWE Intercontinental Champion. The WWE European Championship was immediately abandoned.

    The Whole F'N Show would go onto win the WWE Title and became a Grand Slam Champion in the process. With his reigns as ECW and TNA Champion, RVD is a three-time World Champion.

Statistics and Final Thoughts

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    Most Reigns: D’Lo Brown and William Regal (4)

    Longest Single Reign: The British Bulldog (206 days)

    Longest Combined Reign: The British Bulldog (253 days)

    Shortest Reign: Rob Van Dam (a few minutes)

    City with the Most Title Changes: Grand Rapids, MI and Phoenix, AZ (2)

    State with the Most Title Changes: California and Michigan (4)

    Most Title Changes in a Single Year: 2000 (8)

    Most Title Changes in a Decade: 2000s (20)

    The WWE European Championship was around for only five years, but it was a great five years.

    10 champions went onto win a world title, whether that was in WWE, WCW, or TNA.

    The title was definitely treated like the Intercontinental Championship. It was a legitimate mid-card title that was a stepping stone to greater things, at least for some wrestlers.

    I understand why it was abandoned. WWE only needed one mid-card title a the time, and they thankfully went with the one with more history.

    It would have been cool to see the title stick around, though. Not as a title we see every week, but as a special attraction when WWE goes to Europe.

    Unfortunately like many others, the WWE European Championship is gone and forgotten.

WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship

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    As promised, I present a bonus title!

    The belts you see in the picture are the WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship! They were created in February 2001 as a way to expand the division.

    Little did WCW know, though, is that Vince McMahon was going to buy the company a month later.

    Due to the buyout, the titles have only seen two champions.

Kid Romeo and Elix Skipper

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    Defeated: Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Billy Kidman

    Where: Jacksonville, FL

    When: march 18, 2001

    Reign: 8 days

    On February 26, 2001 it was announced that there were some new titles in town.

    The WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship were introduced and an 8-team tournament was set up.

    Kid Romeo and Elix Skipper defeated Rey Mysterio Jr. and Billy Kidman to become the first champions.

Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Billy Kidman

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    Defeated: Kid Romero and Elix Skipper

    Where: Panama City Beach, FL

    When: March 26, 2001

    Reign: A few minutes

    This match was during the final WCW Monday Nitro.

    That night history was made when Vince McMahon showed up on the titantron in front of the WCW crowd. He announced that he bought World Championship Wrestling.

    Despite the World, United States, Tag Team, and Cruiserweight Titles making it to WWF television, the Cruiserweight Tag Team Titles did not.

    WWF simply didn’t want them and the titles were immediately abandoned.

    Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman reportedly still have the titles in their possession.

Statistics and Final Thoughts

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    You, the reader, are able to figure out the stats for yourself due to the extremely short history of the title.

    The tournament started on February 26, 2001. The belts existed as an active championship for a total of 28 days.

    It’s a shame that WWE didn’t want the belts. It could have really helped in expanding their cruiserweight division and gave wrestlers sitting on the sidelines something to do.

    As you can see, though, they didn’t. WWE scrapped the titles right away and have been mostly forgotten except by the fans that watched that final episode of WCW Monday Nitro.

    Come back on Sunday for the next edition of Abandoned!