wrestling / Columns

The Professional 3 9.22.13: Top 3 Shady Crownings of New WWF European Champions

September 22, 2013 | Posted by Jon Harder


WELCOME EVERYONE to another edition of the Professional 3 on 411wrestling.com! I’m Jon Harder and another exciting week of pro wrestling on the horizon. With the culmination of Night of Champions in the books, it truly has motivated me to write this week’s column. Trust me; I hope you won’t be asking for a refund after reading this week’s P3.

Before we go any further, check out this week’s
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With that out of the way, onto this week’s column. As I alluded to in the open of the P3, the Night of Champions really motivated this week’s piece. All the WWE championships were on the line and lived up to the hype. The coolest part of the pay-per-view was when they were doing polls to decide who the best champion of each individual championship was. However, I wish the WWE would have decided to go in the ultimate risqué category and ask a question I know I’d be eager to answer:


My answer would have been nice and simple: the European championship.


Debuting on February 26, 1997 after an 8 man single-elimination tournament in Germany after a series of WWF television tapings, the British Bulldog defeated Owen Hart in a classic to become the first European champion. This would start a 5 1/2 year existence of the belt dedicated to the continent of Europe. There have been 27 overall champions of this belt with 37 reigns altogether, with the last titleholder being Rob Van Dam on July 22, 2002 after unifying the belt with the Intercontinental championship in a ladder match with Jeff Hardy on an edition of Monday Night Raw.

I know for a fact that a lot of wrestling fans really do not have a clue on why the championship was created. The truth of the matter is that the title was created for the budding overseas market booming with new wrestling fans due to the global expansion the WWF was bringing to them every single week in a multitude of countries. Combined with the WWF and Sky Sports coming together to bring United Kingdom exclusive pay-per-views, it just made sense to create a European championship for the Europe market and fan base.

The championship did have its fair share of moments and feuds built around it. D’Lo Brown and Al Snow started marketing their hometowns and characters based around different European countries and capitals. Snow, in particular, starting doing a comedic portrayal of different countries (Unforgiven 2000 stands out in particular to me, as, in his view of Italy, he dressed up like a goomba from Brooklyn, and awarded the announce team with a pizza, a dead fish {Godfather like}, and a picture of Tony Danza). X-Pac and D’Lo had a classic series of matches for the gold in the fall of 1998. D’Lo, Jeff Jarrett, and Kurt Angle are the only three men to hold both the European and Intercontinental championships at the same time (the Euro-Continental). William Regal also won the European championship so he could show his union between the WWF and himself as their “Goodwill Ambassador”. Most of all, Shawn Michaels utilized the European championship at the vehicle to push himself as the first ever Grand Slam champion in WWF history.

The European championship gave opportunities for true young talent to thrive in a division where they weren’t at the level of the Intercontinental championship, yet not stuck in the redundant ways of the Hardcore championship. Wrestlers like D’Lo, Val Venis, X-Pac, and Eddie Guerrero were great examples of carrying the championship in that pure wrestling mentality. Spike Dudley, the Hurricane, and Crash Holly made the European championship have an “unpredictable” feel when they became champion. Both Hardy Boyz have the privilege of being the only brothers to both hold the European title. Even the great Diamond Dallas Page won the European championship in 2002, cementing his legacy in WWF as a champion, especially after how tumultuous his entire run was up until that point with the Alliance and stalking the Undertaker’s wife Sara.

However, there have been some issues that I have had involving certain issues with the European championship. Certain men have won their championships by shady means. Quite frankly, the European title lost some credibility at times with the way the belt was won. I’m not one to cry over how championships are won, but these three take the cake. It truly was over the top. This week’s Professional 3 will revolve around the opportunities that arose once it came time to winning the title of Europe. Was it right? No. Are they in the record books? Yeah. Is it annoying that it has to happen to one of my favorite championship? Totally.

So without further hesitation…

THE PROFESSIONAL 3: Top 3 Shady Crownings of New WWF European Champions


Leading up to this moment, as I alluded to earlier, D’Lo Brown was the first wrestler to hold both the European and Intercontinental championships at the same time by winning Jeff Jarrett’s I-C strap on August 2, 1999 on Monday Night Raw. With a rematch set for Summerslam, D’Lo not only had to focus Jarrett, but on the health of his best friend Mark Henry. Dating back to the days of the Nation of Domination, D’Lo and Mark were the best of friends, and when Mark was forced out of action due to high blood pressure, D’Lo took the time to help get Mark into better shape. However, at Summerslam, Mark, who took it as D’Lo believing he was “fat” and not as his best friend trying to help him out, turned his back on D’Lo and smashed him with a guitar, causing Jeff Jarrett to win both belts and become the second ever Euro-Continental champion.

The next night on Raw, Double J decided to show his gratitude towards the World’s Strongest Man. After praising Mark for his help, Jeff awarded Mark Henry the European championship. Now, maybe it’s just my bias towards my love of the European gold, but that is a cheap way to get a championship in wrestling. It cheapens the value of the title and makes the wrestler look weak who received it as such, even if it is the World’s Strongest Man. Mark Henry lost the belt 34 days later at Unforgiven 1999 to his former best friend D’Lo, who earned the belt back. However, this title reign just irked me to no end just due to the way Mark was just awarded the championship.


After WrestleMania 15 and Shane McMahon’s defense of the European championship against X-Pac, Shane-O-Mac stated he had nothing else to prove as a premier athlete. Effective April 4, 1999, on an episode of Sunday Night Heat, Shane McMahon retired as an undefeated champion. Was it heartbreaking at the time for me as a fan of that particular championship? Hell yes. But a little over two months later, the belt was brought back. How, you ask?

Skip to 23 minutes in…


On an episode of Monday Night Raw, after a confrontation between the Corporate Ministry and the WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels, the McMahons and the Undertaker’s lackeys were backstage discussing a match made from earlier. Suddenly, Mideon asked Shane-O-Mac if he can go into his bag and wear a belt to keep his pants up. Shane brushes him off and says go ahead. However, the belt turned out to be the recently retired European championship. About 30 minutes later, during a backstage assault on the Big Boss Man, Mideon is seen wearing the belt backstage. According to WWE.com, the brush off from McMahon to Mideon officially counts as the re-activation of the European championship to the WWF ranks.

Now, understandably, I was excited to see the European title back on WWF television. More importantly, it gave Mideon something to do for a short time during the major corporate merger of the Corporate Ministry. But to officially count THAT as a way for a title to be awarded? Come on now. It ranks up there with Scott Hall throwing the WCW Television championship in the garbage in 1999 and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, working as a part of the WCW maintenance janitorial crew, found it and made himself champion. He lost it at Fully Loaded 1999 34 days later at the hands of D’Lo Brown. You are noticing a trend I believe.


Within a matter of a few months, D-Generation X were amidst of a lot of controversy. Before Christmas in 1997, Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter was annoyed of the lack of title defenses Shawn Michaels was making as European champion. Although HBK was simultaneously the WWF champion as well, the Sarge was worried about the backlash the European fan base was giving the WWF due to lack of title defense. In a way to try to stick it to his budding rivalry with D-Generation X, Slaughter booked HBK and Triple H for the European championship!

Everyone thought it would be a major rift in the middle of DX’s biggest run; however, Michaels and HHH swerved everyone and made a mockery of the whole match. HHH nailed a Warrior-type splash on HBK and won the European championship. Not only did DX keep the belt in their fold, but HHH, in the weirdest sense, legitimized the European title by becoming champion. Was I a fan of how the European title was treated with this match? No. However, the European title was involved within a high-profile feud, as Triple H immediately moved onto a rivalry with Owen Hart. After trading the belt back and forth within a two month period, “the Game’s” European title dreams ultimately fell through due to a title loss of D’Lo Brown.

The European championship has had its fair share of negative moments, but in the end, it was a vastly underrated championship within the annals of the WWE. I believe, after reading this week’s edition of the P3, that we can agree on one thing…



You betta recognize.


Jon Harder – [email protected]


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