Abandoned: The History of the WCW Hardcore Championship

Kyle SchadlerChief Writer INovember 16, 2011

Abandoned: The History of the WCW Hardcore Championship

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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 WCW Hardcore Championship.

    It first appeared in 1999 when interest in hardcore wrestling was at its peak. WCW saw the success WWF was having so they decided to try it themselves.

    Unfortunately for them, their hardcore division wasn’t as successful.

    The title lasted right up until WWF bought WCW and has only seen 21 champions. Despite its short history, a lot happened with the belt.

    So let’s get started.

Norman Smiley

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    Defeated: Brian Knobs

    Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    When:  November 21, 1999

    Title Reign: 51 days

    WCW saw the huge success WWF was having with a hardcore division and title so they decided to take advantage of the new interest in hardcore wrestling.

    When Smiley defeated Knobs in a tournament final he became the first World championship wrestling hardcore champion.

    This would be the only title Norman Smiley would ever hold in WCW.

Brian Knobs

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    Defeated: Norman Smiley

    Where: Erie, PA

    When: January 11, 2000

    Title Reign: 27 days

    A successful tag team wrestler, Brian Knobs was a multi-time tag team champion along with his partner Jerry Sags in the team The Nasty Boys.

    This would be the only singles title Knobs would hold in WCW.

Bam Bam Bigelow

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    Defeated: Brian Knobs

    Where: Tulsa, OK

    When:  February 7, 2000

    Title Reign: 13 days

    Like Brian Knobs, this would be the only singles title Bigelow would hold in WCW. 

    A year before this, though, he would capture the tag team titles with Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon as a member of the Jersey Triad.

    Bam Bam Bigelow would unfortunately pass away on January 19, 2007.

Brian Knobs

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    Defeated: Bam Bam Bigelow

    Where: San Francisco, CA

    When: February 20, 2000

    Title Reign: Eight days

    Knobs would recapture the title less than two weeks later. He would lose it, though, after just over a week to very unlikely opponents.

3 Count (Evan Karagias, Shane Helms and Shannon Moore)

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    Defeated: Brian Knobs

    Where: Minneapolis, MN

    When:  February 28, 2000

    Title Reign: 20 days

    This was a handicap match.

    WCW allowed all three member of 3 Count to hold the title under a modified Freebird Rule.

    The Freebird Rule was established by the legendary team The Fabulous Freebirds. All three members of the team would be recognized as tag team champions and any combination of the three could defend the titles.

    In this case, it was modified for a singles title where any of the three could defend the belt.

    Helms would move onto WWF/E to have a successful career as The Hurricane as well as himself.

    Shannon Moore also made the switch to Vince McMahon, but he would never find success there. You can now see him in TNA.

    Karagias appeared briefly during the invasion storyline but a concussion ended his WWF career.

Brian Knobs

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    Defeated: 3 Count

    Where: Miami, FL

    When: March 19, 2000

    Title Reign: 22 days

    Knobs defeated all three members in a gauntlet match to win the title.

    This would also be the final time he would be champion.

    The title was declared vacant on April 10, 2000 by Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo. Russo had just entered the company and felt that change was needed.

    Not only was the Hardcore Championship vacated, but all WCW titles were vacated on that night.

Terry Funk

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    Defeated: Norman Smiley

    Where: Chicago, IL

    When:  April 16, 2000

    Title Reign: 36 days

    Funk defeated Smiley to win the vacant title. It’s not known (or possibly even forgotten) if this was a tournament final or if WCW just threw them together to decide the new champion.

    This would be one of two titles Funk would win during his final run with WCW.

Shane Douglas

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    Defeated: Terry Funk

    Where: Grand Rapids, MI

    When:  May 22, 2000

    Title Reign: One day

    The former ECW World champion would never amount to the same success in WCW that he had in ECW. Having this title for one day didn't help matters.

    The highest title of importance he held in the company was the United States Championship.

Terry Funk

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    Defeated: Shane Douglas

    Where: Saginaw, MI

    When:  May 23. 2000

    Title Reign: 13 days

    This was a handicap match putting champion Shane Douglas against Terry Funk and Norman Smiley. When Funk pinned Douglas, he became the new champion.

Eric Bischoff

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    Defeated: Terry Funk

    Where: Atlanta, GA

    When:  June 5, 2000

    Title Reign: One day

    Eric Bischoff wasn't the only WCW executive to win a title. Three months later, his partner in crime Vince Russo would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

    Thankfully both of them won only one title. The damage was done, though.

    When WCW closed its doors, Bischoff found himself as the general manager of Monday Night Raw for a number of years. You can now see him hogging the spotlight in TNA.

Big Vito and Johnny the Bull

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    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Knoxville, TN

    When:  June 6, 2000

    Title Reign: 13 days

    Bischoff thankfully took the title off of himself a day later and awarded it to Big Vito and Johnny the Bull. They were to be co-champions and defend under the modified Freebird Rule.

    The two men were previously tag team champions as The Mamalukes.

Big Vito

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    Defeated: Johnny the Bull

    Where: Billings, MT

    When: June 19, 2000

    Title Reign: 42 days

    Tired of being co-champions, Big Vito and Johnny the Bull faced off to decide a sole champion. When Vito pinned Johnny, he got the belt and the Bull was left with nothing.

    After WCW was bought, both men found their way to WWF/E.

    Johnny the Bull showed up during the invasion storyline but was sent for training. He returned to win the Hardcore Championship twice and formed a new version of ECW’s Full Blooded Italians before being released in 2004.

    Big Vito showed up a year later reforming the FBI with Nunzio but would soon find himself wrestling in a dress. He was released in 2007 having never won a single title.

Lance Storm

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    Defeated: Big Vito

    Where: Cleveland, OH

    When: July 24, 2000

    Title Reign: 21 days

    Lance Storm would rename the title the Saskatchewan Hardcore International Title after winning it. He would also hold the cruiserweight and United States titles simultaneously with the hardcore title.

    He would move onto WWF/E winning the tag team and intercontinental titles before getting stuck with the horrible “If I can be serious for a minute” and dancing gimmicks.

    Storm retired in 2004 and now runs a wrestling school. He pops up here and there, but will rarely wrestle.

Carl Oulette

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    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Kelowna, British Columba, Canada

    When:  August 14, 2000

    Title Reign: A few minutes

    Lance Storm awarded the title to his fellow Canadian Carl Oulette due to the fact that he already had the United States and cruiserweight titles.

    Carl Oulette was previously a three-time tag team champion in WWF, but was never able to emulate that success in WCW, nor in his short time in ECW.

Norman Smiley

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    Defeated: Carl Oulette

    Where: Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

    When:  August 14, 2000

    Title Reign: 42 days

    Oulette’s title reign didn’t last long as Big Wiggle himself Norman Smiley defeated him later that night.

    This would be the final time Smiley would hold the title as on September 25, 2000 the title was vacated by commissioner Mike Sanders. Why it was declared vacant is not known.

Sergeant AWOL

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    Defeated: Reno

    Where: San Francisco, CA

    When: October 2, 2000

    Title Reign: A few minutes

    AWOL defeated Reno in a tournament final to win the vacant title.

    Sergeant AWOL never found much success in WCW and never had the chance to appear in the WWF/E much like many other WCW performers after the buyout.

    He would unfortunately pass away on December 6, 2003.


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    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: San Francisco, CA

    When: October 2, 2000

    Title Reign: 37 days

    Commissioner Mike Sanders reversed the referee’s decision and awarded the title to his fellow Natural Born Thrillers member Reno instead.

    Much like newer wrestlers at the time, Reno didn’t find much success in WCW due to the company shutting down a year later.

    After the company’s buyout, he was signed to a developmental deal but never appeared on WWF/E television.


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    Defeated: Reno

    Where: Chicago, IL

    When: November 6, 2000

    Title Reign: 39 days

    Crowbar was previously a tag team champion with David Flair, winning the titles in January, and the cruiserweight champion in May.

    He appeared briefly in WWF after the buyout but he didn’t last long.

Terry Funk

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    Defeated: Crowbar

    Where: Washington DC

    When:  December 17, 2000

    Title Reign: 28 days

    This would be the legendary Terry Funk’s final time as champion.

    Two months prior, Terry Funk won the United States Championship for a day before losing it to Lance Storm.

    Funk would retire many, many times before and after this. This hardcore legend still wrestles to this day despite that, though.


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    Defeated: Terry Funk and Crowbar

    Where: Indianapolis, IN

    When: January 14, 2001

    Title Reign: Nine days

    This was a Triple Threat match.

    This would be the only title Meng would hold while in WCW.

    Meng would leave WCW a few weeks later to return to the WWF, where he previously held the tag team titles with the legendary Andre the Giant.


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    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Winston-Salem, NC

    When: January 22, 2001

    Title Reign: 63 days

    Meng awarded Barbarian the title on his final appearance for WCW before moving back to WWF.

    A week after winning the title, Meng appeared at the WWF Royal Rumble as Haku and the title was considered abandoned by most.

    Before officially resigning with WWF, though, Meng appeared one final time for WCW and gave the title to his Faces of Fear partner.

    This was the second title he held in WCW, previously holding the United States tag team titles with Dick Slater in 1992.

    The title was never defended again and was officially abandoned when WWF bought WCW on March 26, 2001.

    The Barbarian would never be brought to the WWF having previously been with the company during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Statistics and Final Thoughts

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    Most Reigns: Brian Knobs and Terry Funk (3)

    Longest Single Reign: Barbarian (63 days)

    Longest Combined Reign: Norman Smiley (93 days)

    Shortest Reign: Sergeant AWOL and Carl Oulette (a few minutes) 

    City with the Most Title Changes: San Francisco (3) 

    State with the Most Title Changes: California (3) 

    Most Title Changes in a Single Year: 2000 (18) 

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

    World Championship Wrestling’s venture into hardcore wrestling was a failure to say the least.

    They created the title as one of the many last-ditch efforts to get people to tune in. The problem was that WWF was already doing it for a full year before WCW tried it.

    When they instituted the 24/7 rule in 2000, WCW’s hardcore division didn’t stand a chance against WWF’s.

    The WCW Hardcore Championship was a waste of time, though it shouldn’t have been.

    Hardcore wrestling was something WCW rarely did. They were mostly all about traditional wrestling with the exception of a few things. They didn’t know how to book a hardcore match properly and the division never took off.

    Thanks to Vince McMahon the title never really had a chance to become something more.

    It is now one of the many forgotten championships in professional wrestling.

    The title itself still exists as it’s reportedly on display at WWE headquarters in Stamford, CT.

    Well that's it! There will be no edition on Sunday due to the fact that Bleacher Report will be flooded with everything Survivor Series. I will return next Wednesday with the fifth edition as well as a special edition on Friday to make up for Sunday. Until next time!






    Photos: onlineworldofwrestling.com unless noted otherwise