Induction Special: The 10 Worst Title Awardings in Wrestling History!

56 Submitted by on Thu, 18 April 2013, 19:00

It began as an offhand challenge.

Internet wrestling institution Scott Keith posted an old review of WCW SuperBrawl VIII on his BLOG OF DOOM, and inserted passages of hindsight to his long-ago written word. As the review was written in February 2000, 2 years after the airing of this SuperBrawl, Keith drops some 2000-related notes in the original rant, and then adds 2013 on top of it (don’t go cross-eyed on me….). Anyway, our own Paul Kraft made me aware of this particular portion:


Well hey, I loves me a challenge. So with a lazy afternoon here at the office, I decided to double Scott’s suggestion and go ten deep with the worst examples of a championship being awarded to somebody, without them actually winning it in the ring. Such cases were either due to politics, or just demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the prestige that the title is supposed to represent. For those who say that championships don’t mean anything any more, this one’s for you.


10. David Flair, WCW United States (July 5, 1999)

For a wrestler with a mere six months of experience, Flair was sure given a lot. The first-born son of “The Nature Boy” was given copious amounts of TV time, Torrie Wilson as an on-screen girlfriend, and wins over the likes of Dean Malenko and Curt Hennig.

Oh, and he was also given the WCW United States Championship.

Ric Flair was acting as the heel President of the company, and he stripped Scott Steiner of the belt, giving it to son David.

While the move itself wasn’t bad from a story standpoint (a parallel to Vince and Shane McMahon’s nepotistic connection in WWE at the time), the younger Flair was a far worse performer than Shane-O-Mac. WCW was in a freefall at the time, and giving David a silver-spoon title push wasn’t going help cause defected fans to turn on the red-hot WWE.


9. Debra, WWE Women’s (May 10, 1999)

If you think the Divas division today gets shafted, ask yourself: would you rather a division be ignored, or objectified?

Testosteronal men would prefer the latter, as WWE’s Attitude Era was about T&A (whereas TNA at one time was all about stars of the Attitude Era). Sable reigned as champion for much of 1999; appropriate, given her fame.

How did she lose the belt, you ask? She beat Debra in an evening gown match. Yes, beat. You see, Commissioner Shawn Michaels declared that Debra, in her bra and panties, was the real winner, and forced Sable to abdicate the championship to her.

Also, in the same bit, Shawn Michaels called Nicole Bass, “Mister.” Yeesh, be a star, Shawn.


8. Mark Henry, WWE European (August 23, 1999)

Before he split wigs, “The World’s Strongest Man” split gold with Jeff Jarrett.

Through the summer of 1999, a C-level storyline saw D-Lo Brown trying to help friend Mark Henry get in better shape (a sharp upgrade from Henry’s usual story fodder in this period). To do that, Brown forced Henry to run the pounds off, which Henry subtly didn’t care much for.

At SummerSlam, Brown, the Intercontinental and European Champion, was felled by Jeff Jarrett, after Henry turned on his friend and struck him with the guitar.

The next night on Raw, Jarrett gave Henry the European title as a thank you gift. The title exchange was then overshadowed by Jarrett giving valet Debra her own assistant, Miss Kitty (Stacy Carter).


7. Mideon, WWE European (June 21, 1999)

Geez, what is it with 1999 and ridiculous title switches? And we complain about the devaluation of the midcard today; 1999 wrestling on Monday nights was drawing a combined 10.0 rating for the mid-level to be full of “here ya go” scenarios, featuring supposedly valuable titles. But remember, things were ALWAYS BETTER in the Attitude Era.

Anyway, this is a pretty simple one: Shane McMahon “retired” as European Champion on March 30, just to rub it in X-Pac’s face. For some reason, The Boy Wonder lugged around the European Title for no reason upwards of three months later.

Mideon, merely a stormtrooper among the ranks of the Corporate Ministry, was going through Shane’s bag one night, for reasons I’d rather not know, and found the European strap. And with that, Mideon was now European Champion, losing the belt a month later to D-Lo Brown.


6. Dean Douglas, WWE Intercontinental (October 22, 1995)

Shane Douglas does more whining and complaining about what coulda been than Brando in On the Waterfront, but he’s got a point in regards to the events of the fourth In Your House.

Douglas, as a snobbish educator not unlike Matt Striker or Damien Sandow, was set to take on Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Title, but Michaels was assaulted 9 days earlier in Syracuse, NY by a number of Marines, after making a drunken pass at one of their girlfriends.

Michaels forfeited the title (more on him later), and Douglas got the gold without pinning the Showstopper. However, minutes later, Douglas was jobbed out to Michaels’ Kliq ally Razor Ramon, so the gold stayed within the confines of the five-headed menace. Disgusted by the WWE scene, Douglas would depart back to ECW two months later.


5. Kevin Nash, WCW World (January 25, 2000)

By 2000, WCW was pretty much a lost cause, with further decay coming in the form of Chris Benoit and the would-be Radicalz jumping to WWE in mid-month. But the loss of the technical proficiency of that quartet had nothing to do with this particular issue.

The WCW Championship was vacated three times in January 2000 alone: once when Bret Hart vacated it due to a concussion (retiring thereafter), again when Benoit dropped it to get his release, and again as part of a storyline.

Kevin Nash had won WCW’s Presidency the previous week from Terry Funk, and then stripped Sid Vicious of the gold on a technicality. Nash then declared himself champion to further fragment the worth of the lifeless title. Later that night on Thunder, he lost the title back to Sid anyway, as he and Ron Harris lost a handicap match.


4. Dolph Ziggler, World Heavyweight (February 15, 2011)

While Ziggler’s cashing in of his Money in the Bank briefcase might go down as WWE’s most exciting moment of 2013, his first World Title win was far less auspicious. Hell, it wasn’t even a win.

Main event storylines on Smackdown are horridly dumbed down, paint-by-numbers drek most of the time, and this was no exception. After GM Vickie Guerrero (the Sherri to Dolph’s HBK) banned Edge’s spear, he used it on Dolph during a 12 man tag to open the broadcast. Vickie stripped Edge of the title on the spot, and fired him as a result (also in part because she claimed Edge was the culprit in an attack on Teddy Long).

At the end of the night, Ziggler was handed the title by Vickie, and Long returned from injury to his GM post. He claimed Vickie orchestrated the hit, and she fingered Dolph (not like….well, maybe…). Edge was rehired and crushed Ziggler in 3 minutes to regain the title.


3. Owen Hart and Yokozuna, WWE World Tag Team (September 25, 1995)

One day after their six month reign as Tag Team Champions came to an end at the hands of Diesel and Shawn Michaels, the belts were simply returned to Owen and Yoko. Later that night, they dropped the belts to the Smoking Gunns.

Wait, what?

One day earlier, Diesel (WWE Champion) and Shawn (IC Champion) won the Tag Team Titles after Diesel pinned Owen in the main event of In Your House III, with all the titles on the line. The reason for the ensuing hand-over: British Bulldog was technically Owen’s replacement; Owen ran in at the end (running late after the birth of daughter Athena), and got Jackknifed and pinned.

Pretty handy way for the Kliq to drop the belts without being pinned as well.


2. Hacksaw Jim Duggan, WCW Television (February 16, 2000)

Wrap your mind around this puzzle.

Scott Hall wins the WCW TV Title by forfeit from Rick Steiner in November 1999. A week later, Hall throws the title in the trash. Not the worst idea ever, since it gave the World, US, Cruiserweight, and Tag Titles a little more focus.

Three months later, on February 16, 2000, in Bethlehem, PA, Hacksaw, now a janitor for some reason, fishes the TV Title out of the trash can, and declares himself champion.

I forgot to note that when Hall threw the belt in the trash, that particular Nitro episode was in Denver. Does our garbage really route around the United States? Did somebody mistake Bethlehem for the dump?


1. Triple H, World Heavyweight (September 2, 2002)

Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar jumps to Smackdown in late August 2002, leaving Eric Bischoff and the Raw brand without a champion.

So Bischoff reactivates the World Heavyweight Title that was absorbed into the Undisputed Title (not sure how that works), and declares it a world championship exclusive to his brand.

So what does Bischoff do? Hold a tournament? A battle royal? Put it up for grabs in his soon-to-be-unveiled Elimination Chamber?

Nope. Just handed it to Triple H and said, “Here, you’re the champ.”

Weird. You’d think Trips would want to go over the entire brand in one night, or over several weeks, to prove himself the alpha male.

Send all love, criticism, and general vitriol to Justin on Twitter!

Written by

Justin Henry is WrestleCrap's inquiring newsman, thirsting for knowledge always. He enjoys the art of satire, as you'll find in many of his works here at WrestleCrap. Drop him a line on Facebook ( and Twitter (
56 Responses to "Induction Special: The 10 Worst Title Awardings in Wrestling History!"
  1. Maffew Gregg says:

    Dammit, David Flair’s reign was played for laughs. Quite funny too. Nice list though.
    Mark Henry turning on D’Lo is one of the funniest-yet-realistic turns in history: Mark got fed up of Brown encouraging him to train and work out and smashed him with a guitar because he just wanted to eat and chill. And he got rewarded for it too! Amazing heel-turn.

  2. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    Outstanding yet again, Justin!

  3. Matt Soileau says:

    And Triple H had been awarded the #1 contendership to the Undisputed strap shortly before. So, while there maybe should have been a battle royal or something. It’s not TOTALLY without merit. But I guess the fact that Trips was pushing his weight around at the time DOES kind of qualify it.

  4. Me says:

    The WHC is a seperate belt with it’s own leniage, not the WCW strap that got unified. And HHH did win no#1 contendership

  5. Jay "The Brain" Mann says:

    I would personally swap #2 and #1, but other than that, this was a good list!

  6. cobra says:

    11. could be Randy Orton.

    John Cena’s 380 day title reign comes to an end so he vacates the title. So Randy Orton is awarded the title, but then Triple H beats him for the title that night, but then loses it back to Randy Orton.

  7. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    #1 is kind of a personal letdown for me, since my best friend taped that episode of Raw for me, & I decided to watch on my birthday a few days later.

  8. Emerson Witner says:

    To be fair, Bethlehem, PA does suck.

  9. Joe Martinez says:

    Number three is pretty weak excuse to take a shot at “The Kliq.” It all made storyline sense and the match where Shawn & Diesel won the tag belts was a gimmick to sell the IYH PPV. Probably should have gone with a Top 5 list instead.

    • tettttesdfgvvg says:

      It was a cop out ending to a stupid match idea that didn’t make sense. Since someone not even in the match was pinned. P.S. most of the clique does suck.

  10. John Q Occupier says:

    #1? The birth of HHHate (in my Uni house, at least)…

  11. Andrew says:

    Triple H beat the Undertaker the week before to become number 1 contender for the Undisputed title. It made perfect sense to award the World Title to the number 1 contender and it made perfect sense for a bad guy to win it that way. Plus Ric Flair came out and said he hadn’t earned it. Triple H beat him later in the night.

  12. Thomas Moffatt says:

    You left out the Rock’s second IC Title victory which saw Stone Cold throw it into a river – remember Austin won the IC Strap twice and then Rock stole it – Austin said FU to the belt and Vince gave it to the Rock…

  13. Charles says:

    Surprised to see that Steve Austin being awarded the US title from Ricky Steamboat only to lose to Duggan didn’t make the list. Maybe one Hacksaw spot in the Top 10 is enough though

  14. JamesJames says:

    I guess since it was a match, the Fingerpoke doesn’t count?

    We also need to think of a BEST title awardings. Ted DiBiase has the top 2 slots already…not only 2/5/88, but when he gave himself his own title.

  15. Will Talley says:

    Ya’ll left out David Arquette and Vince Russos reigns as world champions, but I suppose those would be too easy and the belt was already dead by the time that rolled around.

    • Al Lobama says:

      Russo and Arquette actually won their titles in matches. The criteria was that the champions had to be awarded their titles without actually winning them in competition. That’s why there’s no Finger Poke of Doom, or HHH winning the European Title by running the ropes and dropping down onto Shawn Michaels (which was essentially the Finger Poke of Doom without the finger poke).

      • Autrach Sejanoz says:

        Not to mention, HBK/HHH made sense, and was actually amusing (if only for Jim Cornette’s reaction. “Michaels cries every time he comes to this town!”)

  16. Alan J. Hall says:

    TNA’s Wrestlecrap Induction “The Lockbox Challenge” (2010). Tara loses her Knockouts Title (but wins back her tarantula) while Angelina Love gets the right lockbox and wins the title.

  17. The Scanian Maniac says:

    Chief Morley (Val Venis) awarding himself the WWE tag team championship in 2003 also comes to mind.

  18. SilentStranger says:

    I dunno, is it really that bad to win a title by forfeit? It happens with real life titles all the time

    • Ripplin says:

      That’s true. I guess in the world of wrestling, though, it’s considered more proper to have a tournament or something rather than just ‘here you go’ and hand a guy a belt. Not so easy if it was a DQ at the Indy 500 or something. Haha.

      Anyway, great post! Though in a way, they’re probably the saddest ones, I think I found #7 the mosr interesting/amusing. The only European champ I really remember is D-Lo, perhaps because he held it a long time and I actually enjoyed his work.

  19. Al Lobama says:

    Here’s a couple more honorable mentions.

    1. Al Snow (dressed as Leif Cassidy) being handed the Hardcore Title by the British Bulldogs a minute or two after defeating the Big Boss Man for the belt on Smackdown. Boss Man would win the title back a week later during Snow’s first title defense.

    2. Jeff Jarrett is awarded the WCW World Title in May of 2000 after Ric Flair has a “braineurism” and is stripped of the title on Nitro. Kevin Nash beats Jarrett for the championship on the following episode of Thunder, and gives the belt back to Flair the next week on Nitro. Flair then goes on to lose the belt later in the night…to Jeff Jarrett. According to Flair’s book, he had to take two weeks off to have a bone chip removed from his inner ear that was messing up his equilibrium. Instead of simply keeping Flair off TV for two weeks and having him drop the belt when he came back, WCW chose to do the above scenario instead.

    3. Kanyon: was handed the WCW United States Title by virtue of wearing a t-shirt that said “Alliance MVP.” That’s right. Kanyon was given a title BECAUSE OF A T-SHIRT! Years earlier, Kanyon was also awarded the WCW Tag Team Titles simply because he turned heel and joined the Triad.

    4. Like Kanyon, Psicosis holds the distinction of being awarded two WCW championships he never won. After Turner corporate killed the West Hollywood Blonds gimmick overnight, Psicosis was given the Cruiserweight Title via a phantom title change over Lenny Lane (Speaking of phantom title reigns, would Patt Patterson’s IC Title win in Brazil qualify him for this list). Psicosis would then go on to lose the title Disco Inferno in the same segment where he first appeared with the belt. A few months later, Psicosis would be awarded the IWGP World Jr. Heavyweight Title when Juventud Guerrera got injured and could drop the strap back to Jushin Liger. For those counting, Psicosis lost two titles he never truly won in his very first title defenses.

    5. Judy Bagwell. Do I even need to say more? I mean, how the hell did THAT one get forgotten?! The name on the marquee is WRESTLECRAP!

    • The Scanian Maniac says:

      The many weird ways the “Aluminium belt” (hardcore title) changed hands is probably a chapter of itself, but just because of the uniqueness that made this kind of a league of its own, it’s the title I really miss today and wish would return ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rose Harmon says:

      It’s the “Hollywood Blondes.” I live in LA myself, and if you call them the “West Hollywood Blondes,” it takes on a whole new meaning.
      (Hint: West Hollywood is quite notorious for being a gay neighborhood.)

    • Alan says:

      Excellent additions!

  20. Doc 902714 says:

    What about Gillberg winning the Light Heavyweight Title from Christian on Monday Night RAW without landing any offensive move the whole match. Seriously

  21. Peter says:

    Pretty crazy no Hardcore title reigns were mentioned.

  22. Harry Beaver says:

    Is it just me or dose that picture of David Flair scream “Hi. I just moved in next door and according to a court order I must inform you that I am a registered sex offender.”

  23. Bill Richy says:

    While the Mideon reign is a totally justified entry, I always found the setup to be just silly fun. Shane and the rest of the Corporation were having a heated discussion/argument about … something … when Mideon interrupts Shane to ask if be could have the belt he found in Shane’s bag. A distracted Shane just blows Mideon off with an absent mined “Yeah, sure… Whatever” and that’s the last we hear of it until later Mideon comes out for a match and it turns out the “belt” he wanted was the European Championship.
    Of course it’s completely illogical, but it’s so silly a setup that I’ll always have a soft spot for that angle.

  24. H says:

    Mideon asked Shane McMahon if he could borrow a belt, and Shane says “Sure, grab one from out of my bag.” I don’t know why I remember that.

  25. I'm Not Using My Real Name says:

    I enjoyed the article but I’m pretty sure “testosteronal” isn’t a word.

    I agree with number one, yes Triple H was the number one contender, but they should have done more. Since he was the top contender hold a one night tournament on Raw with the winner fighting Triple H that same night for the belt. You could still have Triple H as champ and he looks like an a-hole for beating a guy who’d already had a few matches.

    Why am I putting this much thought into something that happened a decade ago? Oh well. I’m just still bitter over what that 2002 title “win” meant, having to sit through: “Raw 2003: Triple H defeats WCW.” (Steiner, Booker, Flair, Nash, Goldberg)

  26. TerrierChad says:

    As others have stated, the Triple H win did make sense storyline wise. Not saying it was the best way to do it but number 1 on the list is way too harsh. Then again this is an internet wrestling site so I shouldn’t be too surprised by the outcome. Shame because it was a good article otherwise.

  27. Lee W says:

    Now, come on if wrestling made sense it would lose about 90% of it’s entertainment value

  28. John Darc says:

    You forgot John Cena’s win over Rey Mysterio at the end of the WWE Title tournament after Punk left.

  29. K says:

    Shocked no mention of Lance Storm giving up his triple crown to give away his titles to fellow Canadians

  30. Caveman says:

    What about the time when Eric Young found the old TNA World Heavyweight Championship belt, presumably in the trash, and declared himself the champion?

  31. TV's Mr. Neil says:

    What makes the Triple H thing even more ridiculous is that the week prior, he and Undertaker had a match to decide the #1 contender to the Undisputed Championship, which Undertaker won, but Undertaker also followed Brock to Smackdown. So I guess Trips got it because… um… He was the guy left standing? *shrugs*

    • Chris Jabroni says:

      If only you could get the Man Mountain Rock shrug to embed in that comment…

    • Jeremy says:

      Actually, Triple H DID win that #1 Contenders Match after Lesnar ran in and attacked Undertaker (I remember it because I think it was the ONLY time Triple H beat Undertaker one-on-one). Then Lesnar became exclusive to Smackdown at the end of the night (well, he was already technically from the month before, but winning the Undisputed Title at Summerslam the night before allowed him to appear on both shows still)

      Undertaker then got traded to Smackdown to that week and won the last in a series of matches to become the #1 Contender to Brock’s now Smackdown-exclusive title. If I remember correctly it started as Edge v. Eddie Guerrero, with the winner going on to compete in the next match (which saw Eddie lose to Rikishi). Rikishi then lost to Benoit in the next match, and it was announced Benoit would face Angle at the end of the night, then Stephanie announced Taker had been traded to Smackdown and it would now be a triple threat match. But anyway, back on topic…..

      Triple H just being awarded the title WAS pretty stupid, even if he beat Ric Flair later that night then lost to Rob Van Dam in a tag match at the end of the night (we know how well that worked out for RVD)

  32. Chris Hollywood says:

    What about Buddy Rodgers “winning” the WWWF Title in a “tournament” in “Rio De Jinero”

  33. lightning_kf says:

    “Geez, what is it with 1999 and ridiculous title switches? And we complain about the devaluation of the midcard today; 1999 wrestling on Monday nights was drawing a combined 10.0 rating for the mid-level to be full of โ€œhere ya goโ€ scenarios, featuring supposedly valuable titles. But remember, things were ALWAYS BETTER in the Attitude Era.”

    *applauses* Thank you. Yes. FINALLY, someone calls out one of the things that made the Attitude Era in 1999 SO BAD with all of these useless title reigns and what not. How convenient it was the useless European title.

    Also, someone mentioned why Randy Orton’s first WWE title win wasn’t on here and I agree. 2007 was bad and that reign made it even worse.

  34. RobRose says:

    The HHH Title awarding gets more hate now because he’s HHH the object of years of smarky internet hate… also because of cries of real life nepotism. So, sure that might be a point to dislike it.. BUT!

    Here’s the thing that is never, ever, ever acknowledged for some unfair reason.

    HHH was awarded the World Heavyweight championship AFTER he defeated The Undertaker the week before to become the #1 Contender. Brock & Taker were then shipped off to SD and Taker became the #1 contender… even though HHH had already beaten him for that right.

    So, in storyline its not crazy for Eric Bischoff to have given him the belt for being screwed over just as much as Eric was by Steph’s leaving with Brock & Taker after earning the right to be considered the #1 guy on Raw when he beat Taker. If he’s the #1 contender, but there’s no champion… he’s the champion.

    Randy Orton’s No Mercy reign should really be on this list instead. He was awarded the WWE Championship because he INJURED the previous champion in an unsanctioned attack… only to lose it fifteen minutes after that.

  35. Oliver says:

    haha those poor people. – especially number 2 lol

leave a comment