6 WWE Superstars who became champions too soon
WWE has a bad reputation for shoving wrestlers down the fans' throats. Some of the pushes are so transparent that the audience outright rejects them. However, that's to be expected from a promotion that routinely builds its business around the concept of 'The Guy' over several generations.
But there are some cases where the wrestler is simply not ready for a main event run. Read on to find out which of the wrestlers in WWE struggled with their first championship run, having won it too quickly.
#6. Randy Orton's record-setting World Championship win on Aug 15, 2004
Even after a stellar run with Evolution, Randy Orton's world championship win in August 2004 was way too early.
While the moment itself was memorable - Orton won a 20-Man Battle Royal to go on to Summerslam that year, where he defeated then-champion Chris Benoit, resulting in his Evolution stablemates betraying him the next night on Raw - his lackluster run as champion only lasted for less than a month.
Orton dropped the title to Triple H, who went on to win the feud. The Viper would not hold a world title again until three years later.
Nevertheless, he would go on to become one of the greatest and most decorated superstars in WWE history.
#5. Alberto Del Rio was a placeholder champion during the Summer of Punk
Del Rio is one of those guys WWE treated like a star from the get go. He defeated Rey Mysterio by submission in his debut match back in 2010, won the Royal Rumble a few months later and went on to face Edge at WrestleMania.
One problem, despite his significant push, was that they pulled the trigger way too early in his career.
Del Rio won the Money in the Bank contract and cashed it in on CM Punk at Summerslam 2011. This was followed by Alberto and John Cena playing hot potato with the title from Night of Champions to Survivor Series later that year, where he was ultimately defeated by none other than Punk himself.
#4. CM Punk's first Money in the Bank cash-in
Speaking of CM Punk, he is the only superstar in WWE to win the Money in the Bank contract in two consecutive years - at WrestleMania 24 and 25.
Maybe it's because they wanted to give him another shot, as the following year proved far superior to his maiden run with the championship.
Whilst defeating Edge on the June 30th edition of Raw in 2008 itself was a great moment, it was followed up with a match against Batista at The Great American Bash that ended in a double disqualification and a largely forgettable match against JBL at Summerslam.
The Straight Edge Superstar then dropped the title to Chris Jericho at Unforgiven 2008 in a match that he didn't even compete in!
#3. Sheamus jumps from obscurity to the main event
In late 2009, Sheamus won the "Breakthrough Battle Royal" to become the No. 1 contender for John Cena's WWE title.
Cena's run was still relatively fresh, having won it from Randy Orton and prevailing in a triple threat match involving DX at Survivor Series. No one believed that Sheamus had a chance against The Champ until they witnessed it with their own eyes.
However, everything from that point went downhill for The Celtic Warrior. His run was filled with disqualification finishes to his matches, and he dropped the title back to Cena inside the Elimination Chamber two months later.
WWE again tried to let Sheamus roll with the gold later that year at Fatal 4 Way, resulting in another short-lived run filled with fluke wins and disqualification finishes.
#2. From enhancement talent to WWE Champion
Prior to winning the WWE Championship by defeating Randy Orton at Backlash 2017, Jinder Mahal was nothing more than an enhancement talent. Earlier the same year, he fought in a losing effort against Cesaro at Fastlane, a throwaway match. He wasn't even booked as a credible threat to a mid-card championship.
A career jobber who pulls off the biggest upset and runs with the world title isn't the worst idea in the world. But the way the whole thing panned out was largely a dud. He would hold the belt for 170 days before dropping it to AJ Styles. Sadly, this was his best match during his entire run.
#1. Jack Swagger's random run as World Heavyweight Champion
He would later move on to become Jake Hager and be part of The Inner Circle in AEW, but Jack Swagger was not ready when he cashed in on his mentor Chris Jericho on the April 2, 2010 edition of SmackDown. He was a generic character straight out of the Create-a-Superstar mode in WWE 2K at the time.
Having won the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 26, WWE didn't book him to win any matches before cashing in, but pushed him to the main event straight away.
Between champions like The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Kane, and Edge, all of whom held the world title that year, Swagger came off as green as can be. He went on to have a brief feud with The Big Show before dropping the title to Rey Mysterio at Fatal 4 Way 2010.
Are there any more names that come to mind? Let us know in the comments below.