Not all WWE champions are created equal. For every Bret Hart, Steve Austin, and The Rock you will have a Miz, Kevin Nash, and Iron Sheik. A look back at the elite class of former champions reveals a class that may not all be so elite after all.
Worst topics are always fun in pro wrestling because let’s face it. There are a lot of terrible ideas that have made it to the ring over the years. Yet one of the most interesting to debate is world champion. There were a lot of great ones for sure, but a look back at the historic list of former WWE champions reveals several disappointments throughout the long lineage of champions.
The Miz – I said it in 2011 when he was running around with the WWE championship and I’ll say it again. The Miz was hands down the worst WWE champion in my opinion of all-time. His matches were average, his character was perceived as a mid-card wrestler at best, and as a draw he had no power on top. The one thing I’ll say positive about The Miz is that if I included the WWE world heavyweight title, he would have finished behind The Great Khali.
Kevin Nash – For a guy that loves to criticize the current breed of WWE superstars and champions, Nash was arguably the worst of all-time. Nash is regarded by many wrestling historians as the worst drawing champion in WWE history. That says a lot doesn’t it? Fans were more interested in seeing The Miz defend his title than Nash! Nash did have the perception of a champion which is the only reason he finished two and not one. He was lucky enough to have some good-great matches with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, yet his matches were horrendous against anyone else.
Vince McMahon – Yes the Chairman of the Board makes the top five of worst WWE champions. I bet some of you didn’t even know that Vinnie Mac is a former WWE champion. Vince defeated his son-in-law Triple H on an edition of SmackDown in a match thanks to interference from of all people, Stone Cold Steve Austin. To Vince’s credit he saw through the farce and vacated the title a few days later.
The Iron Sheik – The Sheik’s title reign has become something of a joke to everyone but the Sheik who still proclaims himself as the greatest world champion of all-time. It is amazing if you look back at the roster of talent in the WWF at the time and try and rationalize why it was the Sheik who got the transitional title reign and not guys like Greg Valentine, Don Muraco, or Paul Orndorff. The Sheik’s title reign and singles push lasted less than a month. Following a series of rematches with Hulk Hogan, the Sheik moved on to the tag team ranks, and later the ranks of low-mid card wrestler.
Sgt. Slaughter – The old Sarge ended the title reign of the Ultimate Warrior in 1991 and was a transitional champion between Warrior and Hogan. Slaughter was hot as a heel but his better days as a wrestler were long gone. I will say this about Slaughter. If Slaughter would have beaten Bob Backlund during one of their two WWF title feuds, I think he would have been a tremendous heel champion. Like Del Rio, Slaughter’s title reign came too late. About ten years too late.
Alberto Del Rio – He had so much potential didn’t he? Del Rio was red hot going into the Royal Rumble and could have had a memorable run as champion if things went as planned. Instead, injuries dictated a change in booking plans and Del Rio’s title reign came seven months too late. Most fans don’t even remember that Del Rio was a former champion and his last title reign ended a year ago. Nobody bought him as a champion during his reign and at the end of the day, it is just an asterisk on the list of former world champions.
Kane – I bet most fans would never guess that Kane was the answer to the trivia question, “Who ended Stone Cold’s first title reign?” Yes the Big Red Machine was once on top of the world in the WWE as a former WWE champion. Kane was a very one-dimensional champion and lucky for most of us, his title reign lasted only a day. It is hard not to rank a 24-hour champion among the worst of all-time isn’t it?
Ivan Koloff – As a kid I watched Koloff as a regular mid-card wrestler in Jim Crockett’s territory and the WWF. I really had no idea until I got older that Koloff was a former champion. Koloff was a very average wrestler who shockingly ended the title reign of Bruno Sammartino. Like his former partner in Georgia Championship Wrestling the Iron Sheik, Koloff was a one-month transitional champion. I have to imagine that one-month between Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales was a very long month for WWWF fans at the time.
Yokozuna – I really struggled with this one because as much as I believe that Yoko was a bit of a bust as world champion, I hate to write anything negative about anyone deceased. But with all due respect, I couldn’t find anyone else more deserving of the list than Yoko. He was a hard worker but he wasn’t my cup of tea. He wasn’t a huge draw as champion and didn’t have a whole lot of great matches during his lengthy second title reign. Unfortunately by the criteria (and the fact I have never seen Stan Stasiak), he makes the list.