The special continues with a title belt with an interesting history; The ECW World Championship. What started out as the top belt in Extreme Championship Wrestling (formerly Eastern Championship Wrestling) was resurrected when Vince McMahon and the WWE attempted to cash in on the ECW Brand at their disposal by having their own ECW event. What started out as an honest effort to resurrect the brand quickly failed to capture the hype of the original and after the December to Dismember fiasco, was soon turned into the precursor to WWE’s NXT. The premise being several young up and comers competing with a handful of seasoned veterans until they were ready to be shuffled on to Raw or SmackDown. Out of the ECW’s titles, the World title was the only one to be revived by the ECW branding.
While considered on par with titles such as the World Heavyweight and WWE Championship, the ECW World Championship did not have the emphasis that it once did and only a small handful of the WWE’s ECW champions held the title when it was still ECW only property. But that does not mean that the title didn’t have its fair share of stars and duds to hold the strap, which is what we are looking at today.
KEEP IN MIND (DISCLAIMER) This ECW Championship list is to commemorate WWE ONLY ECW champions. So you will not be seeing Shane Douglas, Sabu, Sandman, and so forth on this list. That is a list for another day. Plus, as always if you disagree with this list which is my own personal opinion, then please leave a comment and we can discuss.
Did you ever think you would see Rob Van Dam on a list of the worst ECW Champions? I know I sure as hell didn’t, yet here I am at my computer typing this up. Rob Van Dam sadly never held the big strap in the original ECW run, mainly due to the fact that RVD did not get the opportunity to before the company went belly up and that truly is a shame as he is one of the faces of what ECW used to represent. So why does he make it onto this list? Well because that stoner persona has got to bite you in the ass at some point.
After Rob Van Dam won the WWE Championship at One Night Stand, taking it from John Cena and was awarded the inaugural WWE ECW Championship, it was clear they had plans to build on this guy. The problem was that he and Sabu were caught with marijuana the same week that he won the WWE title. Due to WWE’s new reinforcement of substance abuse, this was a bit of a problem and because of it, Rob Van Dam had to drop the WWE Championship to Edge on Raw and the ECW Title to Big Show on a taping of ECW.
This did two things, one it killed Rob Van Dam’s momentum for the last time. He had been built up and cooled off multiple times in the past but this was the moment that he was able to get enough momentum to win the title and subsequently loses both titles within a month of winning, making him look like a weak champion and killing his future as a legit contender. But second and more important, it killed the value of the newly recreated ECW Championship. If the inaugural champion and ECW original can’t hold the title for longer than a month before dropping it to someone who isn’t even an ECW alumnus? Not a good start for the rebirth of the ECW Championship.
4. Ezekial Jackson
The final ECW Champion before the brand was shut down for good, Ezekial Jackson won the title from Christian on the last episode of ECW before it was converted into the NXT that we see today. Ezekial Jackson is one of those guys with tons of talent that just never really got over in the WWE. His time in WWE was short and now he spends his time in Lucha Underground as Big Ryck.
Maybe it was poor booking or not the ‘it’ factor but Ezekial just wasn’t the guy to give the title to before the ECW brand was shut down for good. It did nothing for his character and he had no ties with the original ECW before it went belly up. A final ECW Champion should have been someone, anyone who worked for the ECW before it shut down. But instead we are stuck with a midcarder as the last name on the list before the title slipped into obscurity.
3. Big Show
Big Show is one of the hardest working lazy guys that you will ever see. He is something of an anomaly when you think about it. He has been known to be a lazy worker in the ring but at the same time has also proven himself to always be up for the task at hand and is always a go to guy for Vince McMahon and creative when they need a solid talent to get over talent or to hold a title for the next big star to come and prove himself. Not to mention it would seem that you will not meet a more kind-hearted person then Paul Wight when it comes to wrestlers. He certainly is something to behold. However, when we look at the Big Show we also have to look at the fact that as an ECW champion, the man was not only a dud but a bad dud at that.
Being the first of many WWE Superstars who were not ECW alumni to hold the ECW belt is already enough to get some considerable heat and questionable looks. But when you take into account the fact that he took the title from RVD, lost the title at December to Dismember, and the fact that his presence did nothing for the prestige of the title… It simply equals out to a poor champion
This has very little to do with Bobby Lashley as a wrestler. The guy isn’t the most charismatic to ever take the ring but he certainly is one hell of an athletic talent. TNA has proved that Lashley can be a main event talent when given the right tools to work with. However while he was in the WWE and shifted to the ECW brand, he had the misfortune of being the wrestler who dragged down the entire brand. at December to Dismember during the extreme elimination chamber match, Lashley was scheduled to win at great protest to most of the talent who felt that CM Punk was the man meant to go over and if not him then Rob Van Dam should win to put the belt back around an ECW original. Instead Vince pushed Lashley hard seeing him as the future and in the process Heyman quit/was fired. The match went over as a dud and is now considered one of the worst PPVs of all time thanks in large part to the match and Lashley’s victory.
A title is meant to enhance the talent of a wrestler and this did the exact opposite. It killed the Bobby Lashley character, devalued the belt even more and due to his losing the belt to number one on our list and his second reign being forced to vacate leaves us with one of the worst ECW Champions of all time.
1. Mr. McMahon
Come on? Of course Mr. McMahon would be number one when it comes to Worst ECW Champions. Vince McMahon may be in tremendous shape but the fact of the matter is that he is known as a businessman, not a wrestler and even though he has had some top flight match ups, to put the belt on him is not that far of a step above putting the belt on the likes of Vince Russo or David Arquette. It just is not a good idea. But granted when you own the company I suppose you get to do what you like.
The first title matches for the ECW do set the stage for what the belt became, useless. Rob Van Dam’s quick loss, the belt being passed off to Big Show and Bobby Lashley and as some icing on the cake, Vince McMahon hands himself the title to truly bury the prestige of what was once a great belt.
5. John Morrison
John Morrison, Johnny Nitro, Johnny Mundo, or John Hennigan, whatever you want to call the guy it is easy to say that he is a rare talent who was under appreciated during his tenure in WWE. He was apart of one of the greatest tag teams in the 2000’s in MNM and his other claim to fame was he was the ECW Champion before all of the prestige was zapped from the strap.
John Morrison was charismatic and talent. While holding the belt for the mere 69 days was able to be the first in a line of wrestlers to bring some notoriety back to the belt.
I feel like Christian was given his ECW reigns as more of a ‘we owe you one bud’ type of deal. He did eventually win the World Heavyweight Championship a number of times, but compared to his former tag team partner Edge, Christian just did not get the push.
Regardless of the way he obtained it, Christian did make a good case as to why he is one of the best wrestlers in the business while he held the ECW belt. He showed off his talents in the ring and became one of the best wrestlers to ever hold the belt before it was eventually retired.
3. Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy should have gotten some more championship reigns under his belt in WWE than just the ECW championship. He truly was a gifted athlete and in my opinion better technically and less dangerous than his brother Jeff. If this is the only World Title that Matt can boast on his resume under his WWE tenure, well I guess I will take what I can get.
Matt won the title during the Scramble matches held during Unforgiven and would go on to hold the title for close to 5 months before dropping it to Jack Swagger. During that time he was able to put on some great matches and was a talented athlete who finally got some of the dues owed to him.
2. CM Punk
CM Punk, arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of the modern age. A man with immense talent and was one of the few people to see the brass ring hanging over his head and force his way into the main event spotlight, he can trace his humble beginnings back to the ECW and with his ECW Title reign.
We can argue all day about when CM Punk should have been given the belt (December to Dismember), but that is for another day. The fact is that out of all the wrestlers to hold the belt who were not ECW Alumni, CM Punk was one of the few wrestlers who I could see wrestling for the original ECW. He had the look, the following, and the wrestling style that fit the mold. This was one area that the WWE got right when it came to the championship.
The only man who did give any credibility to this title, Tommy Dreamer truly is something to behold in this business. A man who never really ‘got over’ in any business, but continued to push forward through sheer force of will and endear himself to just about every fan that could possibly love wrestling, Tommy Dreamer is the type of guy that you will be hard pressed to find anyone who dislikes him. He was a constant worker, an innovator of violence, built the ECW, took his marching orders in WWE in stride, and was finally given his dues and given the ECW Championship. Granted by this time the ECW Title had pretty much been reduced to a glorified Intercontinental/US Second Tier title, but in the hands of Dreamer, it felt like it was a World Title once again.
Dreamer did something that none of the other WWE superstars could for the ECW belt while it was in control of WWE, bring prestige to it. When Dreamer held the belt, it felt as it the ECW Title was legitimately the ECW title and not just some WWE by-product. Without a doubt if there was anyone who brought any recognition to the WWE’s version of the WWE Title, it is none other than Tommy Dreamer.
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this list then please like and subscribe for more from me. Come back next week when I will discuss the Best and Worst of the World Heavyweight Championship.