WWE SummerSlam 2015: Worst Title Changes in PPV History
Throughout the long and illustrious history of WWE's SummerSlam pay-per-view, there have been numerous championship changes that have gone a long way toward forging the legacy of the event.
Unfortunately, there have also been switches that have left fans scratching their heads trying to figure out what was going through the heads of the bookers when they came up with the decision.
From heavyweight title changes that stunted the growth of young stars who would go on to tremendous success to Intercontinental Championship switches that did nothing to boost the legacy or credibility of the title, the show has been home to some very questionable choices.
With a huge WWE World Heavyweight Championship versus United States Championship match booked for the 2015 event, there is a chance the company will deliver another booking choice that lands on an updated version of this list in years to come.
In preparation for that title bout—and the potential fallout—relive these five instances of title changes that made little sense and threatened the future of some of the industry's brightest stars.
5. Chyna Wins the Intercontinental Championship (2000)
The relationship between Eddie Guerrero and Chyna was one of the best aspects of WWE programming in 2000, a banner year for the company, thanks to the comedic timing of Latino Heat.
As SummerSlam approached and a rare tag team match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship was booked, pitting the happy couple against titleholder Val Venis and valet Trish Stratus, it appeared as though Guerrero was going to capture his second singles title of the year.
Chyna, it was thought, would keep Stratus at bay, allowing Guerrero to knock off Venis and win the gold.
It was not to be, though, as WWE Creative booked Chyna to win her second IC title.
Whereas the first reign the Ninth Wonder of the World had with the title was planned in advance, and there was a clear idea of what to do with her in that role, the second one came out of left field. Sure, it played a key part in the split of Chyna and Guerrero, but that could have been achieved in any number of ways without booking her to win the gold just to keep fans guessing.
Guerrero would eventually win the title, but only after a heel turn that really cooled him off and killed his momentum.
A hamstring injury suffered shortly after that did not help matters.
4. Jeff Jarrett Regains the Intercontinental Championship (1999)
D'Lo Brown was one of the breakout stars of the summer of 1999, defeating Jeff Jarrett to capture the intercontinental title while holding the European Championship. A popular midcard star who improved consistently over his two years with the company to that point, Brown was the first Superstar to simultaneously hold those two titles, earning him a spot in the history books.
After years of working hard and earning the respect of the fans, it looked like he was finally on his way to a sustained push that would allow him to work with some of the most talented stars on the roster.
At that year's SummerSlam, any hope for such a push evaporated when Brown was attacked by friend Mark Henry with a guitar, losing both titles to Jarrett in the night's opening contest.
It was a major disappointment for Brown's fans, who realized the loss meant he would return to the lower midcard and a feud with former partner Henry.
Rather than creating a new star, the company went back to Jarrett, who was a quality heel but hardly someone who needed the win at that point.
3. Texas Tornado Wins the Intercontinental Championship (1990)
The WWE Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam 1990 was originally slated to be Mr. Perfect versus Brutus Beefcake. The latter was slated to win the title, thus giving the wildly popular midcard babyface his first singles title reign.
Unfortunately, a parasailing accident left Beefcake unable to compete, his face crushed and his career in doubt.
Needing to find a replacement, Vince McMahon turned to the Texas Tornado, longtime WCCW star Kerry Von Erich.
He would work Perfect in an impromptu title match at the event, stunning fans by defeating Perfect for the title. The fans in Philadelphia erupted for the switch, but it soon became clear there were no real plans for the Tornado as champion.
Not long after he won the title, he dropped it back to Perfect, leaving fans to wonder why the company even bothered to switch the title in the first place.
What could have been a historic reign for Perfect was interrupted by a brief run by Von Erich, who did nothing to enhance the value of the title or engage in any matches or rivalries to help his own standing in the company.
It was a nonsensical change at a time when WWE was not typically guilty of such a thing.
2. Randy Orton Wins the World Heavyweight Championship (2004)
The main event of the 2004 SummerSlam pay-per-view was an honest attempt by WWE to look toward the future by pushing Randy Orton to the top of the industry. That night in Toronto, he defeated Chris Benoit clean in the center of the squared circle for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Beating the Crippler was something even Orton's mentor, Triple H, had not been able to accomplish, so it was a fairly big deal that the Legend Killer was able to score the win off his RKO finisher, thus becoming the youngest champion in company history.
It should have been the beginning of an epic story that culminated in a huge match between Orton and the Game at WrestleMania 21. Instead, the company rushed the program, turning Orton babyface the next night and setting up a match just one month later. The feud bombed spectacularly, and the third-generation star was nearly ruined.
In hindsight, Orton's championship win at SummerSlam 2004 is one of the worst in event history because he was nowhere near ready to carry the mantle for WWE. He was thrust into the spot in a desperation move by WWE to turn around sagging ratings and to erase Brock Lesnar's history-making title win two years earlier from the history books.
The company almost did irreparable damage to one of its brightest young stars.
It took Orton years to recover from the awful booking decision.
1. Mankind Wins the WWE Championship (1999)
The 1999 SummerSlam main event, pitting Steve Austin, Mankind and Triple H against each other in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship, was built around the Game finally taking the final step to wrestling royalty by winning his first heavyweight title and becoming the top villain in the sport.
The centerpiece of promotion, Triple H appeared on MTV to help promote the event, cut the best promo of his career in a sit-down interview with Jim Ross (during which he coined the Game nickname) and was the lead heel on television heading into the show.
All signs pointed toward the coronation of the talented worker as the newest member of WWE's elite main event scene.
Then it happened.
Mankind caught Austin with a double-arm DDT and pinned him to win the title.
Why? Because the company wanted a babyface to go over for a post-match photo op with special referee, then-Minnesota governor Jesse the Body Ventura.
Triple H won the gold the next night on Raw in front of a much larger viewing audience, but that does not forgive what was a ridiculous championship change for reasons other than telling stories and providing fans with the best product possible.