wrestling / Columns

Cook’s Top 7 WWE Hardcore Champions

May 30, 2019 | Posted by Steve Cook
Steve Blackman

I’m sure some of you have openly wondered why WWE doesn’t call their new 24/7 Championship what it really is. We all know it’s a revival of the Hardcore Championship. That’s not a secret to most of you, unless 411 skews much younger than I think it does. So why don’t they just dig up the old, broken-down title belt and have people fight over that over…whatever the heck that new monstrosity is?

It’s really quite simple. WWE can’t really get “hardcore” in 2019. We can’t have guys repeatedly getting in the head with random objects. Bad for business, not to mention brain cells. WWE can exploit the comedy portion of the Hardcore Championship though. Putting the title on the line 24 hours a day & 7 days a week literally means the possibilities are endless. Even moreso today, where championship defenses can happen on WWE Network or Twitter or Instagram or whatever social media network WWE wants to push this week.

I do think the 24/7 Championship has potential. My optimism feels warranted by the involvement of creative people like R-Truth & Drake Maverick, who can be entertaining in almost any setting they’re in. Like every championship, the 24/7 Championship will only be as strong as the people fighting over it. Never forget: The Hardcore Championship started off as a joke title Vince McMahon gave to Mankind in order to butter him up. It wasn’t until later when ideas got pitched & performers busted their butts to make them work that the title gained true notoriety.

Here are seven magnificent men that made the Hardcore Championship into something that people still remember today.

7. Al Snow

We know all the jokes about this guy. He had a tag team with Mankind called The Sellers: Best & No. He wrote a book called “The Best of Al Snow”, but it was actually a pamphlet. Regardless of whether he deserved all the jokes or not, Al was definitely an important part of the Hardcore Division.

I mean, the guy got a good match out of a mannequin head, so you have to give him some credit.

6. Hardcore Holly

What would have happened to Bob Holly if the Hardcore Division didn’t come along? He was a solid hand, but never really caught on with the fan base after his disaster of a debut gimmick. Racing cars was Bob’s thing, but the wrestling race car driver thing didn’t get over. Trying to be a New Midnight Express member turned out even worse for Bob.

He was hanging out in the JOB Squad when he got involved in some hardcore matches. That was where he found his niche. He became Hardcore Holly, a smack-talking brawler that was convinced he was bigger & tougher than everybody else. Holly not only got a good spot, he got a family out of the deal!

5. Big Boss Man

It had been years since Ray Traylor had been seen as anything other than cannon fodder. Boss Man’s last days in the WWF weren’t anything to write home about. Then he went to WCW and became The Boss, then the Guardian Angel, then finally Big Bubba. Then of course he became part of the NWO because everybody was at that time. I was so confused over why the WWF expected me to care when he came back there.

Then he got into the Hardcore Division and became such an asshole that we had to care. The man killed Al Snow’s dog. Poor, poor Pepper. This led into a feud with Boss Man & Big Show that led to even less taste. Now that I think of it I should probably just move on to the next thing.

4. Raven

Officially credited with 27 reigns (though he claims 36), Raven held the Hardcore Championship on more occasions than anybody else. He himself claims that his WWE run was less useful than his stints with ECW or even WCW, but I will say he had some usefulness during his run in the Hardcore Division. He was good at putting together some creative stuff with the plunder. His match with Rhyno at Backlash 2001 was the best Hardcore Championship match of all time.

3. Rob Van Dam

Of all the talent that entered the WWF during the Invasion, RVD got over the most. By a pretty wide margin. He got lucky. While guys like Diamond Dallas Page & Booker T were put into spots they didn’t really fit, RVD went into the Hardcore Division and got to work matches that showcased his strengths. Basically, he got to be Rob Van Dam.

It was a perfect marriage. The rules of Hardcore Division matches played right into what RVD was best at. RVD’s level of performance elevated the Hardcore Championship to another level. We wanted to see Hardcore title matches because we would see RVD. It worked out all right.

2. Steve Blackman

IT’S PARTY TIME! Blackman was never known for having an abundance of personality. He became one of those guys that got the gimmick of being boring because he had a pretty boring personality. He was pretty exciting in this division though. The Lethal Weapon was an exciting guy when he had some kendo sticks or other weapons in his hands. Otherwise…well, it was tough to get people excited about his matches.

But, by God, it worked when he was Hardcore Champion. He held the title for more days than anybody else. That adds up to 172 days, which isn’t exactly close to the record Bruno Sammartino set for the WWWF Championship. But it’s not like Bruno had to defend the title 24/7.

Honorable Mention: The Undertaker

I don’t think the Big Evil period of Undertaker’s career gets enough respect. I know everybody loves Dead Man Undertaker and prefers him to be all supernatural & stuff, but his heel run as an ass-kicking biker dude was pretty sweet too. Add in the fact that Taker’s reign ended at the hands of friggin’ Maven, and it’s one of those hidden gems of the early-2000s.

Honorable Mention: Gerald Brisco

I think everybody can agree that Gerald had the most memorable championship victory of the 24/7 era. Crash Holly needed some rest, so he asked the APA to protect him for an hour while he slept in their office. Well, the hour ran out, so Bradshaw & Farooq left to get some beers somewhere else. Brisco snuck into the office with the referee, the ref quietly made the three count, and the oldest ever Hardcore Champion was crowned.

I’m not sure I should point out that more people probably remember Gerald Brisco as Hardcore Champion than Jack Brisco as NWA Champion.

1. Crash Holly

When I think of the Hardcore Championship, the first name that pops into my head is that of Crash Holly. He wasn’t as tough as the other people on this list. He wasn’t in as many great matches as the other people on this list. But he’s the man that made the 24/7 rule a thing that happened. Crash was the guy defending the title in airports & amusement parks & anywhere else he happened to be.

The people that end up defending this 24/7 Championship will hope to be connected to it the same way Crash is connected to the Hardcore Championship. Quite honestly, Crash wouldn’t be remembered without it. But it’s pretty likely that the championship wouldn’t have reached the same level without Crash. Who else would have taken that chance to look like a complete jackass? Certainly not the other people on this list.

article topics :

Big Boss Man, Crash Holly, WWE, Steve Cook