Craig Wilson, John Carbery and Russ Morgan
The last few weeks of ‘Top Five‘ pieces have been themed around titles. We’ve covered the both the best and the worst championships in wrestling and last week looked at the Top Five title changes. Today we focus on the worst title switches.
These two years were terrible for tag team wrestling. Thrown together tag teams winning the titles decimated the value of the gold so that the matches featuring the champions invariably took place on the PPV pre-show, if even then. The best example of the worst way to book a tag team division, in my opinion. Amongst the dream teams to hold the gold were: The 1–2–3 Kid and Bob Holly, the Smoking Gunns (3 times!), The Godwinns and The Bodydonnas.
4. The Final WWE Cruiserweight Champion
The Cruiserweight championship lasted eleven years. From its creation in WCW in 1996 through to being declared inactive by the WWE in 2007, the title had quite the run. A host of wrestling greats held the gold including Brian Pillman, Jushin Thunder Liger, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Billy Kidman, Tajiri and…errr…Hornswoggle. That’s right, Hornswoggle. The storyline illegitimate son of Vince McMahon was the last WWE superstar, prior to the belt’s recent revival, to hold the title.
3. Shawn Michaels win European Championship
This has always sat uneasily with me. Heading to WWE One Night Only in 1997, at Birmingham, Blighty’s own British Bulldog was the reigning European Champion. At the event he was set to face former WWE champion Shawn Michaels. Early in the show, the Bulldog dedicated the match to his cancer stricken sister. You can therefore imagine the reaction of the crowd at the end of the show as Shawn Michaels left the building with the European Championship. An example of Shawn Michaels sway backstage and absolute disregard for those around him? Maybe. Regardless, it leaves a terrible taste in the mouth to this day.
During a live broadcast of WCW Nitro on January 4, 1999 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, an infamous main event took place between champion Kevin Nash and Holywood Hogan. Kevin Nash, was the leader of the Wolfpac faction of the New World Order (nWo), and Hogan, the leader of the Hollywood faction of the now. In front of a packed audience at the Georgia Dome, the two men went head-to-head. The match started with the two men circling each other. Nash tried intimidating Hogan by pushing him hard into the corner. In retaliation, Hogan poked Nash in the chest, sending the champion to the mat and Hogan pinned him for the title. On the same night, Mankind one the WWF title and the ‘fingerpoke of doom’ is regarded as a contributing factor in the demise of WCW as it focused attention on the problems the promotion faced whilst driving fans away.
1. David Arquette wins the WCW title
A moment cited by many as one of the pivotal reasons for the demise of WCW. Of course, it wasn’t but it was a standout moment amongst all the nonsense that the WCW booked at that time. Whilst promoting the woeful ‘Ready to Rumble’ film, Arquette began appearing on WCW TV. Leading, somewhat inexplicably, to him teaming with Diamond Dallas Page in a match against Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett with the stipulation that whichever man got the pin would take the championship. In the end, Arquette pinned Bischoff to win the gold, from his own tag partner. He would only hold the gold for twelve days but still…
I couldn’t wait for Sheamus and Bryan to tangle at Wrestlemania 28, it was obvious Bryan was going to lose the title but I was convinced that both men were going to steal the show if given the proper time. I was watching the show in a friends house and I still felt like I was entitled to a refund after Sheamus took the win in just 18 seconds. It was a slap in the face to both men and to the fans who had paid to see them both in the arena and at home. There was an initial pop from the crowd as something shocking had just happened and then everything dawned on them slowly and the tide turned. This was such a piss poor piece of booking the crowd at Mania and RAW did their best to constantly derail the next several hours of TV and the backlash was well deserved.
4. Any of Jeff Jarrett’s NWA title wins, TNA 2002 – 2006
TNA has always been frustrating to a degree. In its early years the frustration was centered around Jeff Jarrett constantly hogging the NWA World Title as he embarked on a WCW hangover tour that lasted a full four years. TNA back then really was the home of cutting edge wrestling. Men who are now dominating WWE like AJ Styles and Samoa Joe were tearing the house down in classic matches routinely only to have Jarrett amble out afterwards and squash someone in a match that was four or five years past its sell by date. TNA should’ve been making the NWA Championship scene as hot as its midcard, instead it was sacrificed to the hubris of its part owner as he embarked on a HHH tribute show.
3. Vince Russo wins the WCW Championship
While Vince McMahon has received a lot of flack for putting the WWF Championship on himself, he could at least justify it. McMahon was one of the hottest heels ever, was an incredible talker and was super-over. Vince Russo on the other hand was never any of those things. When he left the employ of McMahon and company though he decided that he might as well eventually win the title too. Sure why not? The nihilism on display in WCW at a certain point is shocking in retrospect.
2. Alberto Del Rio cashes in on CM Punk at Summerslam 2011
The should write a self sabotage guide called “How to kill the hottest angle in wrestling in 28 days” about this one. WWE had a chance to do something incredible with Punk as Champion and they squandered all of it just to be dicks to the man himself and his fans.
1. The Fingerpoke of Doom
Hulk Hogan poked Kevin Nash in the chest, Nash bumped onto his back and upset the precarious balance WCW rested on causing the company to tumble into the pocket of Vince McMahon two years later. What’s really frustrating about this is just how much the fans actually wanted a showdown between Nash and Hogan. The Wolfpac vs Black and White NWO feud hadn’t ever really come to a head. The babyface Wolfpac were white-hot, Nash was probably the most over he’d ever been and having him engage in a winner takes all feud against his old pal Hogan would’ve been a feud that we’d have eaten up. Instead they alienated and disgusted their audience who turned away in droves with the same old crap. A complete dumpster fire.
Honorable mentions for stupidity – David Arquette for becoming WCW World Champ, Vince Russo for becoming WCW World Champ and Vince McMahon for becoming WWF and ECW Champ…. Non wrestling personalities should not hold the top belts… Ever!
5. Triple H – Awarded World Heavyweight Title by Eric Bischoff 02/09/02
Now I know that this wasn’t exactly a title change, merely giving Raw a top title. Now I’m no Triple H fan (which is well documented), but they could have had a tournament or something? But, alas no. WWE decided to shoot themselves in the foot and begin what is regarded as a 3 year reign of terror, where Triple H would dominate every opponent fed to him, leaving their reputations in tatters for years after.
4. WCW World Champions in 2000
Merely a note on this to let you know that the World Title was actually vacated THREE times that year. The best known of these was when Kevin Nash used his creative control to strip Sid Vicious of the title and giving it to himself! This was in the aftermath of Chris Benoit walking out of the company as champ.
3.Hogan beats Yokozuna – Wrestlemania IX
Yokozuna had just beaten Bret Hart after the old salt in the eyes trick. Hogan however rocks up, leg drops Yoko and wins the title in retribution for what happened to Hart. Well no. Due to nothing more than a classic Hogan ego trip, the Hulkster wanted nothing more than to be top billing and a nice pay day. Hogan wouldn’t do the decent thing and pass on the torch to Hart, so he dropped the title back to Yoko a few months later and left the WWF for over a decade.
2. CM Punk drops to The Rock – Royal Rumble 2013
434 days is a long time, especially with the top belt. CM Punk was forced to drop to the Rock, who had stopped by for a cup of coffee whilst not filming. This kind of think really gets my back up, as there was no real feud and nothing was accomplished, merely just to give The Rock an ego rub. Naughty WWE.
1. Fingerpoke of Doom – Nitro 04/01/99
Kevin Nash had just defeated Goldberg with interference from Scott Hall at Starcade 98. The following Nitro, Nash offered a rematch to Goldberg to happen a the end of the show. Goldberg was “arrested” for “stalking” Miss Elizabeth and although bailed didn’t make it back to Nitro for his match. Hogan was offered the title opportunity and as he and Nash squared up, Hogan tapped Nash on the chest, who sold it like he’s been shot. Hogan got the pin, the World Title and the nWo reformed. It all seemed a bit of a joke at the expense of Goldbergs lost streak.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.