We continue our look at the championship belts that have graced the halls of the WWE with a notorious midcard belt that could have been something interesting and instead fizzled out as the poorer man’s Intercontinental Championship. What started out as a cool concept of a title that would be defended on European soil and showcase more of the European born talent in the WWE quickly turned into nothing more than a championship belt to be tossed around by the lower mid carders to fight over before it was eventually merged into the IC title in the early 2000’s. The European Championship may have fizzled out but that does not mean that the title did not have it share of famous and infamous people to lift the strap. Today we will be looking at the top 5 best and worst wrestlers to hold the WWE European Championship.
Keep in mind this list is my own personal list. It was created studying each of these wrestlers, their accomplishments as the champion, and what they brought to the title while they were holding the strap. This is not indicative of the wrestler’s talent. Some of the best wrestlers in the world can find themselves on the worst list while some mediocre talent my be defined by their reign with the title. If you disagree with the list, please leave a comment. I love some good debates. With that being said, let’s start with our more infamous of the two lists.
I was always a fan of The Hurricane. Being a complete nerd, it was kind of cool to see a wrestler in the ring that that loved comic books and superheroes as much as I did. He was a fun gimmick wrestler and I will disagree with critics and say that I liked the tandem of Hurricane and Rosey. But man as the European Champion, The Hurricane just wasn’t much to look at.
This was during the Invasion angle when the WWE was swarmed with championships. All of the titles from the WWE and WCW were up for grabs and the European title was one to typically get pushed to the side. The Hurricane held the title for the alliance for 56 days before dropping it to the next wrestler on our list and through that time there were very few memorable matches for him. Hurricane makes it on this list because of one word, forgetful.
Short title reigns are never a good thing. They do nothing for the wrestler, they do nothing for the title, they do nothing for the promotion. Bradshaw claimed the European title one time in 2001 at the tail end of the WWE Invasion angle when he claimed the title from aforementioned The Hurricane Shane Helms. He would only hold the title for the better part of a week before dropping the title to Christian who would make a decent run with the title after the Invasion story had ended.
Bradshaw makes this list because 8 days simply does nothing for Bradshaw and did nothing for the belt. All around a poor decision.
This is one where I do not necessarily attack the wrestler or the reign but more of the WWE’s decision of what to do with Diamond Dallas Page. DDP was a top tier talent in WCW. He was on par with the main eventers like Steve Austin, The Rock, and so forth. Once he made the cross over to WWE they absolutely buried one of the best wrestlers of the 90’s and one of the few saving graces for WCW by either jobbing him out, putting him in silly gimmicks, and handing him the European title as some sort of strange recompense.
DDP would only hold the title for 49 days before dropping it to William Regal, in that time he only had a modest feud with Christian. It was shortly after that DDP would disappear off of television. A shameful display of we won, suck it from WWE lands DDP’s reign on this list.
2. Crash Holly
Mike Lockwood, you magnificent bastard. You have managed to find your way onto my list for a third time in a row… But this time in a more infamous sense as opposed to his two other more prestigious title reigns. Crash Holly obtained the European championship on European soil… A strangely rare feat believe it or not over William Regal in the United Kingdom.
All things consider this was a decent booking with a traditional underdog sense to it. Their could have been some better but I’m not faulting that. What I am faulting is the fact that this happened on the PPV Rebellion which only aired in the United Kingdom. This means that it had all the significance of a glorified house show. Crash Holly was able to obtain the title, yes. But seeing as how it did not happen on American television… Well we had to fix that little problem and Crash would drop the title back to Regal on Raw two days later. It was a short reign as champion, accomplished nothing, had Regal heel out in front of his home crowd, and broke up a potential 100+ day reign with the European Title that was needed to build the legitimacy of the belt. Overall just a poor decision and it lands Crash near the top of this list.
What earns Mideon a spot on this list? Well let me count the ways. First off Dennis Knight wasn’t that talented of a wrestler to begin with. He was a slow and awkward mess in the ring and has the honor of having some of the most outlandish gimmicks in WWE history. He started off one half of one of the more infamous and disliked Tag Teams of the late 1990’s The Godwinn’s as Phineus I. Godwinn. He would later join the Ministry of Darkness with The Undertaker as Mideon, and would find a home with the gimmick of Naked Mideon which good lord nobody needed to see.
Mideon makes his way to number one because of the fact that the man was handed a belt which is never a good thing to begin with, held the title for a month before losing it to D’Lo Brown, and this is typically seen as one of the primary factors that killed the title. Poor handling of the situation lead it to its ultimate dismissal.
5. Matt Hardy
It wasn’t until the 2001 that Matt and Jeff Hardy were truly released on singles competition. They were always seen as a cohesive unit and Tag Team competitors. But not so much when it came to singles until they were finally released just prior to the Invasion Angle. This included both Hardys winning singles belts. Jeff Hardy with the Light Heavyweight and Hardcore gold and Matt with the European Championship. Now out of the two it is clear who had the more well-known career with Jeff winning several world titles and Matt not scoring nearly as much.
Matt while albeit charismatic, could not hold a candle to his high-flying daredevil brother. But I have to say in the early days before the legal troubles and the title reigns, Matt seemed to be the more well-adjusted of the two when it came to in ring abilities. Jeff was the daredevil son of a gun. But Matt had some fantastically worked matches that brought some notoriety to the European Title and was able to boost Matt’s career which is ultimately the goal of a belt.
4. Shane McMahon
Say what you will about Shane McMahon, that boy did some crazy shit when he was wrestling in the WWE. His reign as champion may have been one of the driving causes as to why the belt eventually lost all hope of prestige… But I do not consider that a fault of the Shane McMahon reign, I fault it as bad booking. The idea of Shane wanting to retire as an undefeated champion is one thing, but if they would have had him lose the belt to X-Pac then put it around the waste of Mideon at a later date, that would have not diminished the reign of Mideon, taking him from worst to mediocre, the belt would remain somewhat prestigious as far as midcard belts are concerned, and things would have worked out a little better.
While Shane was champion though it did bring one thing to the belt, notoriety. It was front and center for the show with Shane O’Mac as the Euro Champion. If he would have lost the title instead of giving it to Mideon because Mideon found it in a duffel bag, this would have gone by much different.
D’Lo Brown… I can only imagine what D’Lo’s career would have been like if it had not have been for the freak accident with Darren Drozdov. The man was charismatic and one hell of an athlete. During his time in the WWE, he was able to use the European title to propel him to high midcard status with his amazing maneuvers and his infectious attitude. The man held the belt four times, tied with William Regal in that regard.
D’Lo Brown may not have had much in his career past midcard status, but his battles for the European belt with Jeff Jarrett, Mark Henry, and X-Pac were some of the best in the Attitude Era.
2. British Bulldog
One of the only two actual European natives to win the title (the second will be coming up next) Davey Boy Smith was the one man who brought some legitimate prestige to the title before it was turned into the waste of its former self. British Bulldog had some astonishing feuds with the title and was able to cultivate a genuine European culture around the European Title. If WWE had stuck to their guns with Bulldog, kept the title exclusive to the European market or even use it to highlight European wrestlers instead of just handing it to D’Lo Brown every now and again, this title could have gone somewhere.
Being the other of the only two European natives to hold the belt, one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time has the distinct honor of taking the number one spot on this list. He is tied with D’Lo Brown with most title reigns at four and during his time holding the belt brought some respectability back to the title before it was inevitable unified in 2002.
During his four reigns as the champion, Regal was able to use his classic heel status to generate some considerable heat with the patriotic WWE fanbase as well as even playing an extreme heel whenever he was in his hometown of the United Kingdom. Regal may have never hoisted the WWE title, but the man certainly had one hell of a stellar wrestling career, most of which can be defined by the European Championship that he made apart of his character and apart of his identity.
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more from me.