Around the time the Attitude Era was beginning to come to an end at the turn of the century, the Hardcore Championship was still one of most-loved belts amongst wrestling fans. Its competitors—and the matches they competed in—provided viewers with high levels of entertainment and pure no holds barred wrestling unseen in any other division.
Although the Attitude Era featured tonnes of matches with no real boundaries on the stipulations, the hardcore division consistently featured brutal, yet entertaining matches for the millions of fans watching around the world.
Whilst the Hardcore Championship was always entertaining, it was given a real shot in the arm in February 2000 when one of the divisions iconic Superstars changed the landscape of the belt. After claiming the first of his eventual 22 reigns as Hardcore Champion when he defeated Test, Crash Holly decided to invoke a ruling that the title had to be defended at all times—the 24/7 ruling.
It made for some brilliant comic moments and some matches that were set in some bizarre surroundings. As well as that, it enabled some completely random wrestlers to become champion of the hardcore division.
As mentioned, the list of wrestlers who picked the belt up under this bizarre, yet brilliant ruling include many people you may have forgotten about completely. The beauty of the Hardcore Championship 24/7 ruling was that anyone could win it, in literally any scenario.
Four women, for example, held the title under the ruling. Those included the legendary Trish Stratus, who won the belt from Crash Holly after Bubba Ray Dudley hit him over the head with a trash can. The likes of Molly Holly and Terri Runnels were also champions of the hardcore division under the enforced ruling, as was a wrestler by the name Cynthia Lynch.
Of course, you won't remember her under that name, as she wrestled as one of The Godfather's many "ho's". She won the title by beating Crash in May 2000—although he quickly pinned her soon after, a famous trend of the ruling.
At WrestleMania in 2000, the title changed hands 10 times in 15 minutes, before Hardcore Holly eventually came out on top with the belt in a Battle Royal.
The hardcore division was infamous for having matches that took place all over the building that the show was being taped in. That included places such as the locker room and the boiler room, amongst others.
The 24/7 ruling went a step further though, and took the title all over America. A particular highlight was when Gerald Brisco—yes, Gerald Brisco—pinned Crash whilst he was sleeping in his hotel room. The referee counted in absolute silence, before the two escaped the room with the belt, legitimately won.
Crash was involved in the majority of the highlights of this fantastic angle, and another was when The Headbangers chased Holly around a ballpark in pursuit of the title. It included Holly using his size to duck through obstacles and down slides, before finally evading the duo and leaving the building with the championship still intact.
The Madness of WrestleMania X8
The beauty of the ruling was that it could change hands so many times in such a short period of time. At no other time was that better illustrated that WrestleMania X8, when the chaos actually began with a legitimate title match.
Maven, who was champion at the time, took on Goldust, but the match couldn't finish with a winner as Spike Dudley interfered to steal the championship. Both Maven and Goldust managed to knock each other out with trash-can lids, leaving Dudley with the simplest of pinfalls to claim the belt.
That was merely the start of the madness though, as The Hurricane managed to catch Dudley cold and pin him for the title backstage. His sidekick, Molly Holly, tried to help him escape with the belt, before knocking him out with a frying pan when his back was turned, and she pinned him to become one of four women to have the belt.
Christian then hit Molly in the head with a door to win the championship, before Maven finally got his title back as he attacked Christian just before he was about to flee in a taxi.
In just one night, the championship changed hands five times, perhaps perfectly summing up the madness of the 24/7 ruling.
The ruling was finally dissolved by Eric Bischoff in 2002, as a six-minute Battle Royal was to determine the legitimate champion once again. It was won by Tommy Dreamer, but later that year, the Hardcore Championship was unified with the Intercontinental Championship, and consigned to history.
For those few months it was in place though, the 24/7 ruling was one of the highlights of the latter years of the Attitude Era.