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Top 7 One-Sided Championship Matches

September 7, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
John Cena Brock Lesnar SummerSlam 2014 Image Credit: WWE

Many wrestling fans have a certain expectation for championship matches. They want the match to go for a certain amount of time. All the wrestlers involved need to look good & perform well. If the match doesn’t reach a certain star rating with certain reviewers, there will be disappointment. Thing is, wrestling doesn’t always work like that. Life doesn’t always work like that. Take a look at boxing or mixed martial-arts. How many title matches in those sports have ended in quick fashion with one competitor dominating the other? Too many to count. When I was a child, the Super Bowl was usually a blowout. These things happen.

Just because Jon Moxley & CM Punk are two of AEW’s biggest stars and most protected entities on the roster doesn’t mean a match between them has to go 20 minutes and be an evenly matched technical wrestling classic. Sometimes, you stupidly kick somebody with your injured foot and face the consequences. The good thing in 2022 is that you’ll get another title shot right away because you’re a big star and AEW needs the PPV buys.

Not like Mox vs. Punk I was the first time that a championship match ended up shorter and more lopsided than expected. Let’s take a look at the Top 7 One-Sided Championship Matches. You’ll note that I’ve left out Money in the Bank cash-ins, as those are meant to be short and one-sided. I’ve also excluded instances of wrestlers laying down for each other or getting poked by fingers, as those things are insulting and shouldn’t be encouraged.

7. ECW World Championship: Mike Awesome (c) vs. Tazz (4/13/2000 Indianapolis, IN)

ECW was in quite the pickle. Awesome had been their World Champion for most of the past seven months, destroying everybody in his path in the process. Awesome was bigger & stronger than everybody else on the ECW roster, and one of the most obvious candidates to move up to one of the big two promotions. It wasn’t much of a surprise when he signed with WCW, except for the timing of it all. Awesome appeared on Monday Nitro on April 10, while still ECW World Champion. ECW management owed Awesome a lot of money (he wasn’t alone on that account), and WCW would at least provide some financial security.

ECW needed to get the title off of Awesome as soon as possible. The decision was made to have him lose the title not to a current ECW wrestler, but a former ECW wrestler that was currently working for the WWF. While it would have made more sense to put a current wrestler over, having a WCW wrestler face a WWF wrestler in an ECW ring certainly generated more discussion than a more typical solution would have. It wasn’t much of a match, but a quick one-sided match with interference was probably the maximum they could get people to agree to.

Of course, one wonders how this would have all gone down had Paul Heyman known that Tazz was going to take the belt to WWF television and lose to Triple H. From the perspective of a 16 year old viewer, it seemed like Awesome beating up Kevin Nash was a better usage of the ECW World Champion by one of the big two.

6. WWF Championship: Mr. Bob Backlund (c) vs. Diesel (11/26/1994 Madison Square Garden)

You’ll notice that MSG makes a number of appearances on this list. The reason for that is quite obvious: it was the most important arena for McMahon family wrestling promotions for decades. When they wanted to make a new top star, the title change crowning them would typically happen at Madison Square Garden. Bob Backlund had been one of those people, defeating Superstar Billy Graham at MSG for the WWWF title in 1978. He’d also played a part in making somebody there, putting the Iron Sheik over so Sheiky Baby could lose to Hulk Hogan in 1984.

Backlund’s career took some twists & turns, but he found himself back on top in 1994, defeating Bret Hart in San Antonio at the Survivor Series. He would return to Madison Square Garden three days afterward as the new WWF Champion, holding the title he claimed that he’d never lost fairly. That would be taken care of in about eight seconds, as that’s how long it took for Diesel to kick, powerbomb & pin him. Diesel had been pushed all year long as the next big thing, and this was the crowning achievement that would put him on top for a year.

5. WWE World Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Sheamus (WrestleMania XXVIII)

Daniel Bryan being the World Champion in early 2012 was a bit of a fluke. He did one of those briefcase cash-in gimmicks, then got lucky wins over several contenders leading up to WrestleMania, where he would end up facing the Royal Rumble winner. Sheamus was taller & heavier than Bryan, and exhibited most of the qualities that WWE preferred in their champions for most of the company’s existence. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Sheamus would defeat Bryan at WrestleMania. The main hope that Bryan’s fans had was that their guy would at least get to have a good match on the WrestleMania stage.

That didn’t happen. Bryan kissed AJ Lee, ate a Brogue Kick and lost in eighteen seconds. His fans were outraged. As it turned out, most of the fans at WrestleMania Weekend were Daniel Bryan fans, and Sheamus’s WrestleMania Moment was mostly met with boos. Whoops. The rare squash match that gets the squashee more over than the squasher. Later, fans would claim that this was Vince McMahon’s plan along, and he meant for Daniel Bryan to eventually be the top star in WWE. I’m not sure about all that, but you can definitely say that Bryan’s charge to the top began at WrestleMania XXVIII.

4. WWF Intercontinental Championship: Honky Tonk Man (c) vs. The Ultimate Warrior (SummerSlam 1988)

Speaking of champions that were lucky to be champions: Few wrestling fans took the Honky Tonk Man very seriously. Even while he was holding the Intercontinental Championship, fans expected him to lose every time he got into the ring against a wrestler of any repute. Honky would always escape by the skin of his teeth, via countout, disqualification, shady pin or some other nonsense. He was scheduled for a big title defense against Brutus Beefcake at SummerSlam, but Ron Bass put a stop to that by messing the Barber up with his spur. Honky was still booked for a title defense, and a new opponent was inserted.

Unfortunately for Honky, it was the Ultimate Warrior. Somebody who was used to having short matches anyway. He’d been polishing opponents off in less than a minute on television, and Honky met a similar fate at SummerSlam. The MSG fans went banana, a star was born. It was the best possible match Warrior & Honky could have, as fans at house shows would find out later.

3. WCW United States Championship: Raven (c) vs. Goldberg (4/20/1998 Monday Nitro)

Goldberg was obviously the master of the squash match. It’s how he became one of the biggest stars of the late 1990s. Often imitated since then, never duplicated. Goldberg was 74-0 heading into his first shot at a championship, and he’d face a man that couldn’t match Goldberg in size, but could easily outsmart him.

Raven was one of the most intelligent competitors in wrestling. Ask him, he’ll tell you! He had a solid plan for this match too. Raven’s Rules meant anything was allowed, including the involvement of Raven’s Flock. Goldberg did actually take a little punishment from Raven, including a couple of chairshots & camel clutch. It was all over once Goldberg hit that spear. The Flock tried to help and all got cast off, including 7’2″ Reese eating a Jackhammer. Raven tried to exit through the crowd, and the crowd wasn’t having it! The crowd depositing Raven back over the guardrail made this match for me. Not only was Goldberg a force to be reckoned with, but the fans were behind him 100%.

2. WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam 2014)

Cena could have had it easy. He could have gone down after Lesnar’s first F-5 a few seconds into the match. Instead he had to kick out, which started 16 minutes of destruction from Brock Lesnar. Cena got in a few shots here and there, and even hit the AA. Other than that, Brock just beat the hell out of the guy that had dominated WWE for the past ten years.

We’d seen John Cena take beatings before. Thing was, Cena would usually make the big comeback, hit all his moves of doom, an AA or two, maybe an STF, and come out on top at the end of the day. SUPER CENA was what people called him for many years. SummerSlam 2014 was where Cena met his Doomsday. He’d return to the top of the mountain afterward, but John Cena was never quite the same dominating presence he was before this meeting with Brock Lesnar. As for Brock, between this and the win over Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX he was pretty well set for life.

Honorable Mention: WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (10/4/2019 SmackDown)

Brock was back. It was the first episode of SmackDown on the Fox network in the United States, so WWE needed to make a big splash. Tough to make a bigger splash than changing the world champion, and doing it in a way that was sure to create controversy among those that supported Kofi Kingston.

We were told to let this play out and see where it went. Surely it would lead to good things for Kofi in the future, at least that’s what we were told. Even after Kofi cut a promo the week after where he essentially backed out of chasing for singles championships, some still had optimism. The good news is that Kofi’s still employed and still making good money with WWE, and from all accounts he doesn’t have any complaints. He never has. One can’t blame Kofi’s fans for being a bit disappointed that he’s never returned to the main event scene since, and likely never will.

1. WWWF Championship: Buddy Rogers (c) vs. Bruno Sammartino (5/17/1963 Madison Square Garden)

At first, I wanted to take points away from Rogers vs. Sammartino because we don’t have footage of the full forty-eight second match. Perhaps Bruno’s dominance of Buddy wasn’t as impressive as it seems to modern eyes via pictures & written word. Then I remembered that the match set the table for what would become the most dominant territory, then the most dominant national promotion, then the most dominant worldwide wrestling company. This is where it all started.

See, Vincent J. McMahon used to be a good boy like all the other promoters and go along with whomever the NWA promoted as World Champion. This worked out really well for him when Buddy Rogers defeated Pat O’Connor to win the title in 1961. Rogers was a stronger draw in McMahon’s territory than previous champions like Lou Thesz were. Rogers preferred working in the Northeast & the big population centers that resulted in bigger payoffs, so he spent most of his time working there. This made the other promoters across the country upset, as the World Champion wasn’t appearing in their towns as much as before. So the next time they voted, Thesz was crowned the next champion, and would defeat Rogers in Toronto on January 24, 1963.

However, McMahon had his own trick up his sleeve. Part of the deal that went down to make the title change happen included the match being booked for only one fall. NWA World Championship matches were traditionally two out of three falls. McMahon and other promoters that preferred booking Rogers used that technicality to continue recognizing Rogers as their world champion. McMahon would declare in April that Rogers had won a tournament in Rio De Janiero, Brazil to become the first WorldWide Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Champion. This was all well and good, until Rogers suffered a mild heart attack not long after.

McMahon had another top star ready to take the title. Bruno Sammartino had become a hero to Northeastern fans, and his popularity had to be respected by promoters even if there had been disagreements behind the scenes. He was the perfect choice to carry McMahon’s territory, and his quick victory over the Nature Boy just solidified Bruno’s place in the hearts of New York wrestling fans. Bruno was so popular and such a draw that there was no earthly reason to take the title off of him any time in the near future. That didn’t happen for awhile.

Thanks for reading! Let the 411 Galaxy know what you think down in the comment section & hit me up on the social media with your thoughts, comments, concerns or fantasy football questions.

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WWE, Steve Cook