10 WWE Superstars You Won't Believe Had World Title Matches

There's batting above your average, then there's these Superstars...

When I was a boy, I dreamt of being a world champion. I dreamt of walking down that aisle to the tune of James Brown's 'The Boss', doing the four corners routine of Stone Cold Steve Austin, hitting a motherf*****g Rossinator (A running TKO with added "OHHHHH" as I landed for extra oomph because if I didn't do that the move would be rubbish), before scoring the one-two-three and hitting Kane's pyro with the WWF Championship under my arm like an even more badass Harley Race.

Don't laugh. We've all been there.

I used to think that everyone who started out on the long old road to become a professional wrestler had the goal of being WWE Champion. Learning about the thriving world that exists outside of WWE over the last few years has told me that may not be the case, but I'm sure that even the most ardent hipster will have toyed with the idea at least once in their edgy lives.

Some may believe a shot at a top-tier WWE Championship just isn't meant to be for them because they aren't big or sweaty as Vince McMahon likes them. To that, I say James Ellsworth, and the following 10 names who you might not believe once had shots at WWE's top titles.

10. Zack Ryder (Vs. Sheamus)


Now this is a weird thing to say in 2018 after a spell where Universal Champion Brock Lesnar has been missing more than YOUR DAD: WWE were enforcing a 30-day championship defence policy back in the day, and then WWE Champion Sheamus was looking for an easy way around it.

That easy way came in the form of Zack Ryder, who despite being loved by large portions of the WWE Universe to this very day, in kayfabe terms, is a massive joke. I know, it's harsh - but it's really, really fair.

Unsurprisingly, Ryder didn't do too well in the match, which only lasted 11 seconds. One solitary Brogue Kick was enough for The Celtic Warrior to not only keep hold of his WWE Title, but also start another 'Yes Movement' before the actual 'Yes Movement' took off after WrestleMania XXVIII.  I know, it's hard to believe but this defeat saw something called the Ryder Revolution begin. Looking back over the last few years, it's safe to say it wasn't as successful as Daniel Bryan's version.

9. Eric Bischoff (Vs. John Cena)


Essentially, after John Cena rejected the chance to be a part of the crusade against ECW, Raw GM Eric Bischoff declared war on Large Contest Jonathan and had a match with the leader of the Cenation's WWE Championship on the line. Bischoff had Kurt Angle in his corner in what was, crucially, a no disqualification bout.

The stipulation allowed Kurt Angle to get involved in the match, which he did on several occasions. Despite his best efforts, however, and Bischoff getting in more offence than you probably thought you would, Cena came out on top. Because he's John Cena. WABADOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

8. Spike Dudley (Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin)


"Didn't you hear, Spike? Molly's a bimbo."

Stone Cold Steve Austin was not a nice man while speaking about Molly Holly, forcing her then-boyfriend, Spike Dudley, into some pretty drastic action. Some might say that it's stupid for a man of Spike's stature to go round challenging one of Austin's, but the Dudley Boy's bravery/stupidity landed him a shot at the WWF Championship.

The move that got the match signed, sealed and delivered saw little Spike rip up a petition created by The Texas Rattlesnake to oppose the upcoming triple threat at King of the Ring 2001 with Chris' Jericho and Benoit for his title.

And this wasn't the 10-second squash match you probably thought it would be... it was a squash that lasted a good few minutes. Nice one, Spike.

7. Shannon Moore (Vs. JBL) (TWICE!)


Believe it or not, Shannon Moore received TWO World Title shots during his illustrious career in WWE. The first came while he was performing under the mask of 'El Gran Luchadore' against JBL, a match he actually won after a second masked wrestler (an in disguise Eddie Guerrero, Layfield's main rival at the time) took his place and scared the rich bugger off for a countout victory.

The second was a much more formulaic affair, with JBL winning a squash match with ease. And that would be that for Shannon Moore in WWE. Yes, he was a follower of Mattitude for a while but these two World Title shots were as good as it got over two spells, which is a shame of course, because 3 Count were an absolute hoot in WCW.

6. Taka Michinoku (Vs. Triple H)


Taka Michinoku was the absolute best - thinking about him makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. His match against Triple H for the WWF Championship is easily the best on this list. On more than one occasion, you absolutely believed that Light Heavyweight and penis fetishist (?) Taka is going to win the big one - and that's what all of these matches are about, right?

This was during a phase of Triple H's career where he would take on all comers - comers that he knew he would beat, obviously! He's the Cerebral Assassin after all, which means he thinks about things more than your average grappler.

Accompanied to the ring by Funaki and The APA, his hired protection for the night who scared Shane McMahon to the back, Taka proved that he could hang with the biggest and best around - I always believed the two things holding the Kai En Tai member back was his size and lack of English, with the first reason proven to be absolute nonsense on WWE's part. Is my fandom of Taka Michinoku a bit too strong? Probably.

5. Maven (Vs. Triple H)


Oh yes, the thing you initially see when you first fire up Create-A-Wrestler on any WWE video game had a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. When you're facing tough times in your life, just think of Maven and remember anything - absolutely anything - is possible.

Believe it or not, Maven was in the midst of a push that many people who lace up a pair of boots and make it to WWE never receive. The Tough Enough winner recorded victories over Batista, and then took part in a traditional elimination tag match at Survivor Series 2004 alongside Orton, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho against Triple H, The Animal, Gene Snitsky, and Edge for the power to control Raw for one month.

Needless to say, the babyface team won that match, and during his week in charge Maven booked himself against Triple H with The Game's Big Gold Belt on the line. For some reason, HHH wanted to get out of the match so offered Maven a spot in Evolution - could you imagine that? Maven in Evolution?! Our favourite Create-A-Wrestler base model would reject that opportunity and would go on to lose the match as well.

4. Paul London (Vs. Brock Lesnar)


Paul London had a frustratingly illustrious six years in WWE - by that I mean he did have some success, but he should have achieved a hell of a lot more given how good he was. London's WWE run started with an Undisputed Championship match against Brock Lesnar. The only way is down when you make your television debut in such a huge match, right?

How did Paul get himself into such a lofty position so quickly? He did what any aspiring WWE Superstar with lofty ambitions would do - he waltzed right up to Mr. McMahon himself, and asked for a match against The Next Big-cum-Actual Big Thing... sort of.

Initially, London only wanted a match to prove that he was worthy of a spot in WWE. Angry at some of the things The Undertaker as doing on SmackDown at the time, McMahon flippantly put Paul in the ring against Brock. Understandably, with Lesnar being such a big and sweaty monster, London rejected, only accepting after McMahon announced the title would be on the line.

Interestingly, London was billed as 'Local Wrester' in a World Title match - surely that has never happened again?!

3. R-Truth (Vs. John Cena)


He hasn't always been a joke, you know. Of course, some fans who were watching WWE back in 2011 will never forget this (because how could you?!) but younger fans may not know that R-Truth - yes, the unadulterated joke of a wrestler (in a kayfabe sense, that is) headlined an actual WWE pay-per-view against John Cena.

Capitol Punishment was the scene for this historic event, with a psychotic Truth looking to make every 'Little Jimmy' who worshipped Cena, and bought his merch cry their little eyes out. He also believed there was a conspiracy against him, which made for arguably the most compelling viewing of his long career to date - the wonderful backstage promo with Messrs Nakamura, Young and Dillinger on a recent SmackDown Live aside, of course.

In the buildup to this match, Truth actually threw a glass of water over Cena's father. If he apologised, he would receive a Championship shot. He did so, of course, but would go on to lose, also of course.

2. The Brooklyn Brawler (Vs. Shawn Michaels)


When you look up the word 'jobber' in the official dictionary of professional wrestling you see two pictures - the first is of Barry Horowitz, the second is The Brooklyn Brawler. 'Brawler had a shot at Shawn Michaels' WWF Championship' which is a really weird sentence to type out. Another weird sentence to type out is the fact that he EARNED his shot at Shawn Michaels' WWF Championship.

Back in 1997, this fighting man, who is presumably from Brooklyn, won a Battle Royal that saw him earn a championship match against The Heartbreak Kid inside Madison Square Garden. When it comes to the 1990s, that's just about as big as it gets in pro wrestling.

In what just about everybody thought was going to be a squash match, Brawler actually dominated for large spells and looked like he was going to do the unthinkable at one stage. However, just as it looked like we could be getting the most unfashionable WWF Champion ever, out came DX to cause the DQ.

1. Stephanie McMahon (Vs. Triple H & Chris Jericho)


I guess the shock here isn't so much the fact that Mrs. Ladyballs took part in a match where the WWF Championship was on the line, but the fact that she didn't win the damn thing - because she's Ladyballs, and she's only allowed to look weak once every 10 years or so unless Ronda Rousey is involved.

Stephanie actually wound up in a main event of Raw, no less, taking on Triple H and Chris Jericho in a Triple Threat Match for Y2J's Undisputed Championship just before WrestleMania X8. Per the stipulation of the match, if The Game pinned his then ex-wife, she'd be forced to leave the company. Considering we're sat here 16-and-a-half years later with Steph still ruling the roost on Monday nights, you don't need me to tell you how the match ended - not that a HHH pinfall on The Billion Dollar Princess would have mattered one jolt, of course. Because wrestling.

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Ross Tweddell

Written by Ross Tweddell

Presenter over on the Cultaholic Wrestling YouTube channel. Email: [email protected]