Although the WWE Hardcore Championship has now been retired, in the late 1990s and early 2000s it had a notorious and amazing history, as it had winners ranging from the legitimately tough Undertaker and Hardcore Holly to one of the Godfather’s “ladies” (better known as something that rhymes with nose), therefore the title became something of a joke.
Mankind, the First Holder of the Hardcore Championship Belt
In fact, the Hardcore belt was created as a joke. When Mankind played the role of corporate stooge for Mr. McMahon in 1998, they awarded him with the title on November 2nd, supposedly as recognition of his hard work and famous hardcore wrestling style, which he honed in Japan and the original Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Mankind wore the belt proudly, and held it for four weeks before losing it to the Big Boss Man.
The 24-Hour Defense Rule
When Crash Holly won the title in February 2000, the 24-7 defense rule was decreed. This meant the champion had to defend the title whenever someone challenged him or her as long as a referee was present. This led to titleholders being forced to defend their titles in odd places, including backstage at the arena (usually including several chase scenes), a parking lot, and an amusement park.
The 24-hour defense rule was abandoned shortly before the title was unified, on August 19, 2002. The General Manager of Raw Eric Bischoff ordered the rule to be suspended when Tommy Dreamer won the belt during a Hardcore Battle Royal. Another time the rule was suspended before Shane McMahon’s match against Steve Blackman at Summerslam 2000.
The Most Unusual Hardcore Champions
The championship belt was never intended to be on par with the World Heavyweight Championship, but many absurd people ended up holding the belt. This includes one of the Godfather’s “ladies”, known as Bobcat, Molly Holly (who was a very good wrestler, but women in the WWE are not known for wrestling in hardcore styles), the very petite Terri Runnels, Trish Stratus, Shane McMahon, Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson.
Some Facts About the Hardcore Title
The title has changed hands a total of 229 times. The wrestler to hold the Hardcore championship the most times was Raven with a total of 26 times, followed closely by Crash Holly who won it 22 times. Even illustrious, decorated wrestlers like the Undertaker and Chris Jericho have held the Hardcore title, although it was mostly bandied about between Crash Holly, Hardcore Holly, Raven and Al Snow.
Retirement of the Belt
The Hardcore Championship was retired on August 26, 2002. It was unified with the Intercontinental Championship. The last person to hold the belt while it was still a single belt was Tommy Dreamer, one of the ECW originals. Rob Van Dam, who was the Intercontinental champion, defeated him to unify the titles.
Although the WWE Hardcore Championship was not the most illustrious title one could win, the wrestlers (and non-wrestlers, in some cases) who won and lost the belt put on some very entertaining and unusual matches. Ironically, although the word hardcore indicates a ruthless and violent wrestling style, in these cases the title defenses were often done for comic relief. No title today exists for that purpose.