For anyone who doesn’t know I am actually a casual pro wrestling fan. I loved it whenever I was a child… Just like every other child when I come to think of it and as an adult I have learned to respect the craft and the art that is professional wrestling. It is an entertaining show and the things that wrestlers do to entertain the masses is staggering when you stop to think about it. They put their bodies on the line and in most cases shorten their lives extensively in order to entertain the people at home watching the show. I may not be a hardcore fan, but I do certainly enjoy it and watch it whenever I can. Of course one of the things synonymous with wrestling is championship belts. Variety truly is the spice of life and there are countless numbers of belts that promotions have used in the past to display their champions, tag champions, women’s champions, and so forth. Some have weird stipulations while others are simply the best wrestler gets the strap.
So with that to consider, I decided that it would be fun to do a little special on wrestling and thus over the course of the next couple of months I will be looking at the best and the worst wrestlers who held titles in the World Wrestling Entertainment. I will be looking at all the belts that are currently used in the WWE as well as belts that were introduced and subsequently deactivated from the Attitude Era onwards. So all together, 13 belts will be analyzed by me.
So we start this journey with one of the most unique belts to ever come into existence, a belt that started off as a joke and turned into one of the staples of the WWE Attitude Era, the WWE Hardcore Championship. Yes, a belt brought in to enhance Mick Foley’s character Mankind eventually became its own entity with wrestlers crazy enough to compete for the beaten leather strap that looked like the winged WWE Championship belt that got a sledgehammer taken to it. The Hardcore Championship was a special kind of title. Each match featured no disqualifications, falls count anywhere, and wrestlers were encouraged to use whatever weapons they saw fit. Some being the more traditional folding chair, while others got insane such as box fans, mannequin heads, and even one time the literal kitchen sink. As time would go on, the WWE and a wrestler you will find on this list would institute the 24/7 rule. That meant that the Hardcore Championship was defended 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week, leaving the title to change hands an ungodly amount of times including at house shows.
So today we are going to be looking at the 5 best and 5 worst champions to hold the strap. First and foremost, I want to add the always important stipulation that this is my own personal opinion based off of information and videos I have watched of these performers, coming to my own logical assessments. If you disagree, that is fine I would love to have a good debate. Also for this list, the number is not limited to ‘one person per number’ but more to that when we get to it. Now, on to the list.
Oh Maven Huffman, one of the first Tough Enough winners. The idea of overnight success with reality show competitions like that is a story for another day, but for now let’s talk about Maven and his WWE career. Now there have been several Tough Enough alumni that went on to have some stellar careers. John Morrison, The Miz, Matt Morgan, Kenny King, Nidia, Jackie Gayda, and Josh Mathews just to name a few. However as I say that, Maven is by far one of the less talented of the alumni.
He did have athleticism, yes and even with time became a decent worker. But he never really could live up to the hype of being the first and has since fallen out of the business all together. But on to his Hardcore Championship reigns. Huffman sadly only has the Hardcore Championship to his CV of championships and that includes outside of the WWE and there is a reason why. Maven was placed in the Hardcore division due to the fact that he was still too green to be able to work a solid match so naturally you can stick in a ring for a few minutes and any body can hit someone with a kendo stick. He played hot potato with the belt three times before losing it to Raven just after Wrestlemania X-8 and did not pick up another title after that. Maven makes this list because not only was he ready to even be in a WWE ring, to put a belt around him, even one as small as the Hardcore Championship was nothing more than a rush to make a star out of the first Tough Enough winner which did not do well.
4. The Stooges
Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco are two of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Pat Patterson is known for being the first Intercontinental Champion while Brisco is part of one of the most successful tag team duos in wrestling history. Needless to say, their time in the ring is well documented. However, they do have some infamy as being known as Vince McMahon’s stooges during the Attitude Era. A handful of suck up yes men who would do anything that Vince McMahon said and of course, they had their share of Hardcore title reigns.
Such exploits include Brisco beating Crash Holly while he was sleeping to gain the championship as well as Patterson and Brisco squaring off in a match where both men had to dress in drag which was interrupted so that neither won in the first place. While Patterson and Brisco may be two accomplished wrestlers, this marks a low point in both men’s careers and further diminished the importance of the Hardcore Championship.
3. Mean Street Posse Members
Let’s talk about the Mean Street Posse and how they were legit some of Shane McMahon’s friends from Connecticut that attempted to break into wrestling. All three of them were terrible and were mainly used as cannon fodder for the bigger name stars to squash as well as acting as glorified jobbers in sweater vests. Pete Gas, Joey Abs, and Rodney all have Hardcore Championships under their belts, none of which lasted for more than a day.
Their mere entrance on their list shows that they were a rather useless addition to the roster and put into Hardcore matches for cannon fodder for the more talented superstars which lands them on this list.
2. Godfather’s Ho
Oh yes, everyone was all aboard the HO TRAIN back in the Attitude Era with a character as fun as Charles Wright’s The Godfather. He would bring out some scantily clad women, claiming to be his ho’s, and would proceed to dance and have a fun little segment during his mid card match ups. Well one day that will live in some infamy will be a match that the Godfather was having with then Champion Crash Holly. on an episode of Raw. Sure enough anyone can pin the champion if they get the chance and instead of the Godfather pinning them, it was one of his Hos that scored the pinfall and became the Hardcore Champion.
Cynthia Lynch was the name of the woman who scored the pin and would later drop the strap to Crash that same night. It was one of the more outlandish moments in the titles time on the active roster and made for some good television. But it was due to her and several other that we are about to get to that would completely diminish the weathered leather belt.
Out of all the wrestlers who have held the Hardcore Championship, a whopping 24 of them have had reigns that lasted less than one day. 24 wrestlers! with less than a day reign. That number is insane which goes to show how insane the Hardcore division was. The list of names of zero day champions includes Spike Dudley, Kurt Angle, Funaki, Ron Killings as his K-Kwik gimmick, and William Regal just to name a few.
But the cream of the crop has to be Shawn Stasiak who held the strap a whopping fifteen times! But out of those 15 times never held the title for longer than a day, making him simultaneously one of the best and worst Hardcore Champions of all time. How that is even possible, I have absolutely no idea.
But out of all the reasons that the Hardcore title was diminished was the fact that over half of the people who held the belt held it for less than one day at a time, making it one of the most unique, but not necessarily most prestigious title to ever be made by WWE.
Scott Levy, he just did not have the success in WWE that he did in promotions like ECW, TNA, and so forth. He is one hell of a wrestler and a guy who is willing to put his body through hell for the good of the sport. But like many other ECW talents, WWE did not think that Raven was a guy to push to the top. However one accolade that Raven does have is the wrestler with the most title reigns in WWE history clocking in at 27 thanks to the Hardcore strap.
Raven may not have made waves in the WWE’s main even, but he most certainly did what he did best and that was put on one hell of a show in some of the most extreme environments imaginable. That counts for something.
His feuds with Al Snow in the early years of the Hardcore division may not be the stuff of legend… More like the stuff of infamy when you bring things like the Kennel from Hell into the mix. But one thing you have to say about Big Boss Man was that he was a man that had the image and the attitude for the Hardcore division.
Big, mean, and perpetually pissed off are just a few terms that can be used to describe the late Ray Traylor’s character. This SWAT wearing son of a gun helped elevate the violence of the division to new heights and turn the belt from a novelty into a legit title with which to contend.
3. Al Snow
Speaking of feuds, let’s look at the other half of the feud that carried on through 1999. Al Snow is a bit of an odd case. To say that he is an underrated and underappreciated wrestler would be an understatement to a great in ring technician. I would suppose that Snow just did not have the ‘it’ factor to truly propel him to the top of the world. But that isn’t to say that while he was in the mid card areas that he did not put on quality work.
The eccentric wrestler with his trademark ‘Head’ made waves in the Attitude Era with the Job Squad as well as his feud with the Big Boss Man for the Hardcore title. This man certainly deserves to make this list.
2. Steve Blackman
Another Atittude Era icon, Steve Blackman is one of those guys that you look at and say, ‘damn if only he was born with a personality.’ Nothing against Blackman, I’m sure he is a great guy but the man just did not have the charisma to be a top superstar. Which is a shame because I’m fairly sure he could kill me and most other people with his pinky finger. But one thing he did have is that he could beat the shit out of you and make it look damn good.
Blackman was built for the Hardcore division. He was a tough man through and through, he didn’t need a gimmick. He just needed to go out and entertain which is exactly what he did. Blackman made his mark with the Hardcore division and made it look damn good in the process. Even during the 24/7 rule, the majority of his reigns lasted several days, which does mean something surprisingly enough. Even arguably one of his biggest matchups happened for the Hardcore Title with Shane McMahon when Shane took a dangerous bump off of the Summerslam Titantron. Points to Blackman for being one hell of a strong worker.
Oh Crash, little Crash. Talk about one hell of a wrestler and one hell of a guy. Crash Holly is the kind of guy who defined his career with the Hardcore Championship. Not only did his character institute the 24/7 rule, he was also the guy who made the division his own personal playground. He was hardcore and constantly bled for the sake of the WWE Fans. The 22 time champion was one of those wrestlers that no matter how many times the belts changed hands in a night, always found their way back to him.
A great source of comedy in the show, an innate charisma, and a great gimmick. Crash Holly is without a doubt the best WWE Hardcore Champion.
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