Most Poorly Booked WWE Champions of All Time
WWE is making the wrong kind of history with Seth Rollins.
His reign as WWE world heavyweight champ is among the worst-booked turns with the belt. It's a rare case of the title slowing one's momentum. A prize designed to showcase and elevate a star has done little for Rollins, as was the case with The Miz in 2010.
Poor booking has made Rollins look less formidable than before he held the strap.
WWE didn't make these kinds of mistakes early in the championship's history. Bruno Sammartino was presented as an untouchable Superman. As champion, Billy Graham was the centerpiece of the franchise, the heel all the heroes failed to topple.
When compiling a list of the worst-booked reigns in WWE title history, Graham, Sammartino or Bob Backlund don't appear. A lot more recent champs pop up instead.
The WWE writing team left these men looking weak through losses, offered them poor feuds or managed to overshadow them despite their holding the object supposed to promise one top billing.
Champions who held the title for just a handful of days (Vince McMahon, Kane, Rey Mysterio, etc.) are not considered for the list. They didn't have the title long enough for poor storytelling to wreck their momentum.
- Diesel (1994-1995)
- Jeff Hardy (2008-2009)
- Brock Lesnar (2014-2015)
Diesel's lengthy reign stalled not because of a lack of dominance a lack of creativity. He looked plenty strong plowing through the roster, but his feuds largely underwhelmed.
Booking him to do a program with King Mabel was a misguided choice, for one.
Shawn Michaels' former bodyguard's time on top dragged. Blame part of that on him for sure, but where were all the great stories and archenemies during his time as champ? Considering that he held the belt for nearly a year, there should plenty more classic moments during his tenure.
Jeff Hardy is a borderline transitional champion, as he held the title for just over a month.
In that short time, though, WWE managed to make him look more like a victim than a gladiator. A series of accidents dominated his time as champ, from a hit-and-run accident to a kayfabe pyrotechnics accident. He didn't have time to counteract those moments, either.
He lost the belt without getting a single pinfall win as champ.
Lesnar is a strange case. WWE never made Lesnar look weak at any point. He was an unstoppable force, a fearsome beast.
The trouble is that this beast only arrived every so often. While fans expected that he would be a part-time champion because of his schedule, they didn't expect him to disappear as he did at the end of 2014.
Lesnar held the belt for seven months and defended it just three times. He went from Sept. 21, 2014 to Jan. 25 of the next year without wrestling at all.
The issue with his reign is more a lack of story than a poorly told one.
5. The Iron Sheik (1983-1984)
The idea in crowning The Iron Sheik was clearly to move the world title from Bob Backlund to Hulk Hogan, from one babyface to another.
In the time that he could call himself champ, though, WWE did too little with him. Among his matches during his reign was a bout with no-name John Callahan and a go-round with Tito Santana that ended in a double count-out.
WWE did nothing to build Iron Sheik up before his eventual loss to Hogan.
He didn't really have a feud with The Hulkster, either. There could have been a far longer, more involved storyline featuring him and the powerhouse patriot. Instead, The Iron Sheik coughed up the belt with just one televised win on his championship resume.
4. Chris Jericho (2001-2002)
Chris Jericho scored several more wins than The Iron Sheik as WWE champ, but the writing team turned him into a punchline.
Jericho can boast title wins over Steve Austin, The Rock and Kurt Angle. And while he did lose four tag team matches during his reign, it wasn't in the ring that WWE Creative undercut him, but outside of it. He often felt like an add-on for a rivalry between Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
He was the sidekick in this story. He was McMahon's proxy, her grinning goon.
It sure didn't help that WWE put him in backstage segments involving Triple H's dog. At one point, with the world titles on his shoulders, the dog defecated on him. He was later forced to walk the dog in the parking lot.
It's hard to think of other WWE champ who did their rivals' chores or suffered the indignity of dog feces on their boots.
3. CM Punk (2011-2013)
CM Punk would have likely traded in having some dog feces in his feuds for a bit more spotlight as WWE champ.
WWE often made it feel like Punk was holding the Intercontinental Championship, not its top prize. On pay-per-view after pay-per-view, he relegated the top of the card to someone else. A John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis match once bumped him from the marquee, as odd as that sounds.
Beyond that, WWE stripped down his character. After evolving into one of the most compelling wrestlers on TV in 2011, Punk became a one-dimensional whiner for much of his lengthy reign. Sometimes it felt like the writing team simply told him, "We've got nothing for you. Just go out there and say the word 'respect' 20 or 30 times."
Some of his feuds were engaging, even if they weren't WWE's top priorities.
There was an intriguing set of clashes with Daniel Bryan. Punk and Chris Jericho had a strong story going. His feud with The Rock was solid as well.
WWE did, however, have Punk face some foes that made him look bad as the top titleholder. The trouble isn't just that Punk faced some semiretired folks, but that they were made to look like his equals. A 66-year-old McMahon held his own against Punk; a 62-year-old Jerry Lawler scored several near-falls against the champ.
2. Seth Rollins (2015-?)
The cowardly, slippery heel has long been a pro wrestling staple. It's a character who can stir up fans and make for great storytelling. WWE has asked Seth Rollins to play this role, but in such a way that there is too rarely a chance for him to show his dangerous side.
He's not a cunning champion with little morals who barely escapes; he's a pushover.
John Cena made him tap out. His bumbling security team (made of two semiretired short guys) beat him. He has lost to Ryback and suffered defeat in six tag team matches, including one on the night after he won the title.
At least Chris Jericho and CM Punk avoided that kind of poor record.
There's more to the ineffectiveness of Rollins' reigns than numbers, though. There's rarely been a moment where he's come off as a believable champion.
He has relied heavily on Kane and J&J Security to help him win. That may sound like standard heel tactics, but it's overused. At this point, it feels like WWE is trying desperately to tell us that Rollins doesn't deserve the title.
Cena even once told him that his actions make people lose faith in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Worse than that was when WWE made Rollins a non-factor in a main event that he was in. At Battleground, a title match between Brock Lesnar and Rollins ended without the champion in the ring, without him even being in the frame.
His near-loss that night was merely a means to spark the Undertaker-Lesnar feud.
That's not something WWE would have done with Steve Austin. And The Rock never lost to Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco. Rollins is blazing a trail in championship inadequacy but has a long way to go to catch The Miz.
1. The Miz (2010-2011)
The Miz may never have been a great champion anyway, but WWE did him no favors when he had the world title in his grasp.
During his reign, he lost to Jerry Lawler, Edge and a number of tag team combinations. The company had him feud with Lawler, and he didn't exactly dominate the aging star.
That rivalry felt like a midcard battle disguised as a WWE title clash.
The Miz didn't have a ton of luck beyond that, either. His angle with John Cena showed him to be a prop for bigger stars. He and Cena headlined WrestleMania, only for that match to be a way to kick off The Rock and Cena's feud.
Like Seth Rollins years later, he retained the WWE title but was overshadowed by a bigger story.
He and Rollins share the fact that the company presented them as lucky to have the title around their waists. Rollins, at least, has more wins to his name, even if they've come cheaply.
The Miz posted a mediocre record of 12-13 during his title reign, according to ProFightDB.com. That's what you expect out of some struggling midcarder, not the company's top champion.