4 unexpected times in WWE when it was unclear who the real champion was
Becoming a champion in WWE is the goal of most superstars who join the company and get into professional wrestling as a whole. World Wrestling Entertainment's biggest prize dates back nearly sixty years. Other titles have been around for decades, while some are still new. Regardless, they're all highly sought after.
Sometimes the status of the title is in question. There have been times where more than one superstar may lay claim to the title belt. While, at other points, shady business may have occurred. These moments may have led to some fans being unclear as to who the real champion really was.
The disputes have sometimes been settled in major bouts between two select stars. At other points, more complicated solutions have proven to be necessary. Regardless, these incidents, disputes, and claims are all part of professional wrestling history.
Below are 4 unexpected times when it was unclear who the real champion in WWE was.
#4. Santos Escobar and Jordan Devlin laid claim to the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
The WWE Cruiserweight Championship was initially controlled by Monday Night RAW. Eventually, 205 Live became its own brand and NXT seized control of the belt. It was then rechristianed as the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
At Worlds Collide 2020, Jordan Devlin battled Travis Banks, Isaiah "Swerve" Scott and Angel Garza in a fatal four-way match. In the end, Devlin won and became the NXT Cruiserweight Champion. Unfortunately, Covid-19 hit and due to travel restrictions, the NXT UK star was unable to fly over to defend the title.
NXT held a Cruiserweight Championship tournament to crown an interim champion. Santos Escobar won the tournament and held onto the title. Meanwhile, Devlin still claimed to be champion and even defended the title on NXT UK. Both men believed themselves to be the real champions.
Once the travel ban was lifted, Devlin went to the United States. At NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver 2021, Devlin and Escobar had a ladder match to decide the undiputed NXT Cruiserweight Champion. After a near twenty-minute bout, Devlin was knocked off the ladder, allowing Santos Escobar to officially be declared champion.
#3. Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon had a legendary Intercontinental Championship bout
The storyline of Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon is regarded as one of the most memorable in wrestling history. Long before the Devlin-Escobar dispute, a similar incident occurred between the WWE Hall of Famers.
Shawn Michaels won the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Marty Jannetty in June 1993. He held the title for the next several months before he was stripped of the gold by WWF President Jack Tunney. The reason given on television as to why he was stripped of the title is because he failed to defend the championship often enough.
A battle royal was held on Monday Night RAW on September 27th, 1993. The bout came down to Rick "The Model" Martel and Razor Ramon, with Ramon ultimately winning. Not long after, Shawn Michaels returned to television and claimed he never lost the title.
Both men laid claim to the belt, so they had to fight for the honor of holding it. Shawn Michaels battled Razor Ramon in a ladder match at WrestleMania X. The finish saw Shawn pushed off the ladder and his leg got tangled up in the ropes. The big blow allowed Razor to climb up and pull down both Intercontinental Championship belts.
#2. Ted DiBiase attempted to purchase the WWF Championship from Andre the Giant
The next incident wasn't a situation where two superstars walked around with the same championship, but instead chaos erupted. At WWE's Main Event in February 1988, Hulk Hogan battled his nemesis Andre the Giant with the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase in Andre's corner.
Andre the Giant shockingly defeated Hulk Hogan by a pinfall, but Hogan's shoulders weren't down. He took umbridge with referee Dave Hebner's decision when it was suddenly apparent that the person in question wasn't the usual referee. Dave came running down ringside and there were seemingly two of the same person in the ring at the same time.
What fans didn't know at the time was that Dave Hebner had a twin brother named Earl. Earl was apparently paid off by Ted DiBiase for cheating Hogan out of the belt. He then also paid off Andre in the hopes of achieving his ultimate goal of winning the WWF Championship. Following the match, Andre surrended the championship to The Million Dollar Man. Unfortunately for both, the payoff didn't work as anticipated.
WWF President Jack Tunney announced that a championship can't be bought. Since Andre surrendered the title to award it to DiBiase, the title was then declared vacant and a tournament was made to crown a new champion at WWE WrestleMania IV. At the event, Macho Man Randy Savage walked away as the title holder.
#1. John Cena, Rey Mysterio, and CM Punk all had claims to the WWE Championship in one night
At WWE Money in the Bank 2011, CM Punk shocked the world and defeated John Cena to win the world championship. Punk delivered his infamous "Pipe Bomb" promo where he aired his grievances with the company. His contract was set to expire following the event, so he claimed he would win the title and leave the company as champion and he shockingly did that.
A new champion needed to be crowned as Punk was leaving. A tournament was held which culminated with Rey Mysterio defeating The Miz on the July 25th edition of WWE Monday Night RAW to become champion. Due to Cena previously being champion prior to Punk walking out, he was granted a match with Mysterio that night.
After a hard-fought bout, John Cena defeated Rey Mysterio to become WWE Champion. CM Punk then shockingly made his return to television with his own title. Both Cena and Punk had a right to the gold, so they had to settle things in the ring.
At WWE SummerSlam 2011, Cena and Punk had an epic encounter with Triple H as the guest referee. The finish saw Punk defeat Cena with a Go To Sleep, though John's foot was on the rope and Triple H never saw it. CM Punk became the champion, for a few minutes. Kevin Nash came out and attacked Punk with a Jackknife which allowed Alberto Del Rio to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and steal the belt.
Confusion and chaos is inevitable in the world of professional wrestling. To win a championship in WWE is to forever cement your name in the history books. If the cloudiness over a championship leads to a major match, it is well worth the temporary confusion.
Speaking of championships, click here for 5 superstars who could become RAW Champions if the unified titles are split.