Favourite Five

Five Disappointing Title Changes

Tom Walton looks at five title changes that really left the fans feeling short-changed.

We’ve all been in that situation. 

You think something special is going to happen. Your excitement is on edge and you’re sweating with anticipation.  You’re ready. Here it comes and … nope. You’re left feeling empty. There’s a void inside of you that just eats away at you.

Those title switches that should be cause for a massive celebration yet leave you thinking “what the hell just happened?”.  Why have they gone in this direction? Who in the world is booking this piece of monkey crap? Let it be five days ago or 15 years ago, many companies have made bad booking decisions that have left the audience wanting more.  We are going to look at five times that title changes have left the audience devoid of emotion.

Honourable mention: WWE Championship – Brock Lesnar Beating Kofi Kingston 

As this has just happened, I am putting this as an honourable mention due to the lack of follow up at the time of writing.  In my eyes, after the way Kofi has been built up as an unbeatable champion since Wrestlemania, having him jobbed out to ONE MOVE is ridiculous.  This was obviously built up to create a marquee match between Lesnar and Cain Velasquez at an up-coming Pay Per View *cough* SAUDI *cough* but did this really need a title?  

5. The Great Khali wins the World Heavyweight Championship – Smackdown, 20th July 2007

On this episode of Smackdown, a Battle Royal was held for the vacated World Heavyweight Championship left by Edge (due to injury).  There was the normal cannon fodder for the time in the ring: Deuce and Domino, Shannon Moore, Jimmy Wang Yang, etc. Then you had your current upper carders and main eventers in Kane, MVP, Finlay, Batista and The Great Khali. 

Even though there are names here that you would have been happy winning (I LOVED MVP back in the day) when Khali eliminated both Batista and Kane with one move, you just felt the audience audibly groan and wonder what the hell they had just witnessed.  The logical choice here would have been for Batista or Kane to take over the spot; an experienced hand to help the brand through a difficult time. Remember this is the WWE though, and they needed to make that money from the India market. It’s ok though because they learned their lesson …

4. Jinder Mahal defeats Randy Orton for the WWE Championship –  Backlash 2017

… Oh wait, they didn’t!

In a time frame of one month, Jinder Mahal went from a jobber on Raw to WWE Champion.  In one of the most uninspiring title changes in history, we had a man who had been constantly given to mid-carders to enhance them to then be given the most coveted prize in professional wrestling.  As a fan, I feel that we should be in awe of the skills of the wrestlers we watch in the ring, but when we get a wrestler who has not shown the necessary ability over the years he has been present in the limelight to warrant such a prize then the reaction from the crowd will always be underwhelming. When Mahal beat Randy Orton on this night then the reaction from the crowd said it all. The sound of a pin dropping onto a soft mat radiated around the Allstate Arena when the Modern Day Maharaja lifted that championship.  It says a lot that, apart from winning the US Title briefly at Wrestlemania 34 (again to crickets) that Mahal hasn’t been part of a major storyline since losing the title to AJ Styles. 

3. Kevin Nash beats Goldberg for the WCW Championship – Starrcade 1998

Picture the situation.  You have one of the hottest acts in the whole business that has had a meteoric rise to the top of your company with an unbelievable and unprecedented undefeated streak.  The fans love him and there’s no way you can ruin the aura that’s been created, right? Enter Kevin Nash. No WCW fans wanted to see the title taken from Goldberg in this way, but Nash, with the assistance of a bloody electric cattle prod, took down Bill easier than Matt Riddle did on Twitter.  Anyone in their right minds would have known that the simple way to have a meaningful title change would be to build up a competitive challenger over a period of time, but no, leave it to WCW to mess up the best thing they had going for them with a stupid decision. 

2. John Cena defeats Rey Mysterio for the WWE Championship – RAW, 25th July 2011

Starting the night with Vacant holding the WWE Championship, Rey Mysterio goes on to pick up the biggest prize in sports entertainment for the first time in his career.  Considering we have just lost the most exciting wrestler in years in the form of Chick Magnet Punk, having Rey win the title was a slight stroke of genius… Or so we thought. Our first red flag should be in the form of a mid-show championship match.  Weird decision but OK. It’s what happened afterward that made us sigh. Right after his victory, he is confronted by mega face John Cena who challenges him to a match later the same night for the title. Great move for a face. From here, what happened was obvious.  John Cena regained the title he lost weeks previous at Money In The Bank. This is not what the crowd wanted. We all wanted a nice run for Rey with the title after he’s years of service with the company and to make up for the debacles that were his other World Championship runs, but it took one hour to fall back into the previous routine. 

1. Hulk Hogan defeats Yokozuna for the WWF Championship – Wrestlemania IX

For anyone who grew up watching wrestling in the ’80s, watching Hulk Hogan triumph over evil at Wrestlemania was just part of a staple diet.  We all wanted to say our prayers and eat our vitamins. One big boot, one body slam, one leg drop. Hulkamania runs wild. Just one thing.

The ’80s were over.

The age of work rate, technique and skill was starting to come into effect and the people had someone else in their hearts (excuse the pun).  Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart defended his title against the seemly unstoppable Yokozuna. We know that Yokozuna won the championship in this match from underhanded tactics from Mr Fuji, but that’s not my problem.  He was a heel and used heel antics to win and it was good storytelling. It’s the follow up that really grinds my gears. Hogan checking on the condition of Hart is fine, he was a face, doing face things. After stating that he wanted to face the winner of the match (who wouldn’t?) though, you know he had an ulterior motive. In the space of a few minutes, the monster heel of the day was made to look like a complete fool (the match lasted 22 seconds!) by an aging star that didn’t need to be anywhere near the title.  The age of the superhero was over in wrestling, yet Hulk Hogan just had to hang onto that limelight for a little bit longer, ironically putting the needs of the company and its fans into darkness.

So there are my thoughts on the most disappointing title changes.  There are lots more to choose from (Del Rio cashing in MITB on CM Punk or Sheamus doing the same on Daniel Bryan) so what are your thoughts?  All we know is that these weren’t the first, but certainly won’t be the last.

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You can find me on Twitter @TDWalton. Thanks for reading.

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