With WrestleMania on the horizon and John Cena vs. The Rock 2: "Twice In A Lifetime" ready to head once again, I can't shake the feeling that Rock is basically going to be a pointless champion in the grand scheme of things. Sure, he won the belt for like the tenth time, sure, he debuted a new title design, but let's face it -- once he put CM Punk away twice, their rivalry dried up like the Rio Grande in the summer (Google it). Overall, it felt more or less like a "Good job!" title than an actually earned one, and I don't see him sticking around long enough to put another title reign under his belt once he loses this one.
So, in other words, it felt pointless to put the belt on him.
I know that's going to cause some discussion, but really, WWE has a habit of doing this. Sometimes the person winning it deserved it, but the circumstances are just ... wrong. Other times, the person winning it probably shouldn't have, or they just seemed wrong. With that in mind, let's look at the most pointless title changes in WWE history:
10: CM Punk lays down for the Rock (Royal Rumble: Jan. 27, 2013)
Let's start with the thing that prompted this post. Punk had the longest reign of the modern era at 434 days, and to be perfectly honest I think he could have gone another year with the belt around his waist. But Rock came back, decided to get in the ring again, and suddenly he's got a title match with Punk at the Royal Rumble. I mean, only in WWE could you quit, go do what you want, then come back and pretty much get promoted to the head of the class. Really, other than giving him a golden pat on the back, there should have been no real reason to give Rock the title. He wasn't involved in any long-standing feuds, he wasn't working a bunch of dates a week, he just showed up with a movie to promote and BAM he has the belt. Still irks me.
9: The Hulkster wins it past his prime (Backlash: April 21, 2002)
Hulk Hogan beat Triple H to win the title in 2002. No, that is not a typo--Hulk frigging Hogan beat Triple freaking H for the title in 2002. Hell, not even Ric Flair did that when he came back to ride the same nostalgia wave "Hulkster" did. I mean, Hogan was damn near 50-years-old (or my math skills suck) when he beat a 33-year-old Trips (again, my math may be off) for the title. 11 years later and I'm still trying to wrap my head around that. Not only did it cheapen the title, it also highlighted Hogan's shortcomings in the main event. Plus it gave us the worst chokeslam in the history of chokeslams when Undertaker finally beat him roughly one month later.
8: Christian gets screwed (SmackDown: May 6, 2011)
Yeah, you knew this was going to be on here. So Christian wins the belt at Extreme Rules with his best friend Edge beaming and crying at ringside, only to drop it five days later (three if you count the taping in real time)? Really? Instead of playing up the whole "this is for Edge" angle that could have been used, WWE threw up their hands and awarded the title to a guy who had the title before and really hadn't been involved in a match that would indicate he was entering a feud with Christian, much less anyone with the belt. And the cherry on this rancid sundae? Orton was treated as a face for taking a man's dream away from him. But then again, isn't that how faces act in WWE? We should be glad he didn't call Christian's mom a whore or he'd get cheered out of the building.
7: Randy Orton & Triple H play tug-of-war with the belt (No Mercy: Oct. 7, 2007)
I remember sitting at a local bar for this, and damn did the storytelling suck the life out of the room. I was OK with McMahon just giving Orton the belt at the top of the show -- I mean, he is the evil owner of the corporation after all -- but then Triple H wanders down and goads him into giving him a title shot. Minutes later, we have a new champ! And a stunned room of drunk wrestling fans. Then a couple hours later, after he put the title on the line again, Trips loses to Randy Orton -- the guy who was awarded the belt at the top of the PPV -- to close the show. The whole thing stank of rushed writing and panicked bookers trying to make something out of nothing since Cena's injury threw the entire show into disarray. But what really put it over the top was making Orton a two-time champ in the span of three hours. Simply mind-boggling.
6: Sheamus’ 18-second victory (Wrestlemania XXVII: Apr. 1, 2012)
Daniel Bryan was champ for 108 days. Sheamus kicks him in the head at Wrestlemania and 18 seconds later walks out new champ. And the internet collectively birthed rage puppies when this happened. Really, what else can you say?
Hey, this entry mirrors the match ... short and not that fulfilling!
5: John Cena inexplicable falls through a table (TLC: Dec. 13, 2009)
I didn't see this PPV myself, but I remember waking up and looking at the results (on this very site even!) the next morning. The groove in my desk is still there where my jaw hit it in disbelief. So Sheamus -- a giant pale Irish brute with hair redder than Heinz -- is the new champ after being in WWE two years? Damn. Then I saw the footage of the victory. So Cena and Sheamus are fighting atop the turnbuckle, trading blows and hold, with Cena fighting to get the big Irishman into a superplex, when suddenly ... Cena leaps off the turnbuckle, goes flying backwards, and crashes through the table. Not since Sonny Liston was there a worse phantom punch -- or in this case, shove. There was no rhyme or reason to it, just "OMG Cena lost!" Really, it came out of nowhere and left Sheamus to beat up Mark Cuban and not get another title reign until a year later.
4: Triple H pulls a fast one on us (Raw: August 23, 1999)
Man, I remember being jazzed when Mankind won the title for the third time, and on a PPV even! I also remember being extremely pissed when Triple H took it from him 24 hours later. I only recently heard scuttlebutt that the reason Mick won the title that night is because special guest ref Jesse the Governor Ventura didn't want to put Triple H -- a heel -- over, so they opted to give it to Mick -- an out-and-out face at this point -- to make him happy, and then decide to reverse the whole thing a day later, but it still doesn't make sense that WWE would basically screw the PPV-buying public out of a title change by doing another title change for free within 24 hours. Plus it also doesn't help that lovable Mick Foley lost to hatetastic heel and future McMahon-in-law Hunter Hearst Helmsley, pretty much reducing that third title reign to a footnote in championship history.
3: Rey holds the title for less than 24 hours (Raw: July 25, 2011)
Oh yeah, this caused some angst in my household. Rey goes through hell -- or at least an eight-man tourney -- to win the WWE Championship for the first time in his career, and without the stigma of Eddiesploitation hanging over his win like a cloud. Then he turns around and loses it to Cena in craptacularly clean fashion, just so CM Punk could come out with his belt at the end of the night and start the whole "WHO IS THE REAL CHAMP" story.
Look, I get that they needed the belt on Cena to make the Punk title situation marketable, but did they really have to give the strap to anyone and make them the worst transitional champ in the history of the company? Couldn't they have just given Cena the slot in the eight-man tourney, had him put on his SuperCena shirt, and beat those guys to win, instead of making him look like the worst opportunist since Edge and expect us to cheer him? Really, if they wanted to make him super-over or at least look like a contender against Punk, they shouldn't have had him take the belt off a guy who wrestles three times that night already, much less one who should have had another reign to try and scrub the stigma of a sympathy title from his record.
2: Dolph Ziggler holds it for a lot less time than that (SmackDown: Feb. 18, 2011)
WWE doesn't learn from its mistakes, so the powers that be are doomed to repeat them. Dolph Ziggler took off, despite the efforts of Vickie Guerrero and her nuclear-level heat, and provided the company a blueprint on how to screw around a wrestler with a short title reign they deserved for a longtime champ who didn't. Long story short: Edge stripped of title, Ziggler awarded title, Teddy Playa Playa Long awards Edge rematch, Edge frigging wins, Ziggler forced to listen to Vickie shriek for another year. It's bad enough that they already did this to a man who had a title reign with an asterisk next to it, but here's the thing: Ziggler didn't even have a WWE or heavyweight title reign before this. Seriously, the man only had IC and tag titles under his belt, but rather than working a program where he has the belt and Edge tries to get his rematch only to be stymied by Vickie's machinations time and time again, WWE bookers blew a wet fart on the script for that night's SmackDown and Ziggler lost the damn belt almost as quickly as he gained it. To this day, he still has the shortest title reign at 11 minutes, 23 seconds. One can only hope that with the Money in the Bank briefcase in his possession this will be remedied, but knowing WWE they'll probably have AJ steal the case and cash it on on Kaitlyn at WrestleMania.
1: Hulk Hogan says, “Screw it, gimme that belt back” (WrestleMania IX: Apr. 4, 1993)
The "Granddaddy of Them All," whenever any combination of the words "bad decisions," "ego," "WWE," and "what the hell" are spoken, this is bound to come up. Not only did Bret Hart lose to Yokozuna in (badly) comedic manner, someone somewhere thought it would be a great idea to have him tell Hulk Hogan to go into the ring in his place and beat up Yokozuna, rather than, y'know, not doing any of that. Seriously, what in the blue hell? Hogan's ego and McMahon's inability to push anyone not 6'6" and over 250-pounds of performance enhancers resulted in possibly the worst WrestleMania main event ever--only Miz/Cena and the "McMahon in every corner" four-way dance come close, but none of them were a bad comedy of errors like this one was.
At least this is one thing about WrestleMania IX that can't be blamed on Giant Gonzales and his furry bodysuit.
That's my list, folks. Did I miss anything?