Since the inception of the professional wrestling business, the world championship belt has been the symbol of excellence. The carrier of the championship was recognized as the best that the territory/promotion/company had to offer. Every other wrestler associated with that company strove to win the gold. Top WWE names like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, and Triple H have become synonymous with wrestling's top prize.
Over the years, the meaning of a world championship has become muddled alongside its significance. It can be a recognition for the best in-ring performer, the wrestler with the best promo skills, the best ticket seller or a reward for career longevity. The list of justifications can be just as long as the list of objections fans will ultimately have with every champion.
Typically, a world championship is a conduit for solidifying a wrestler's place at the top of the company and elevating them in the eyes of the fans. It can be the final piece of the puzzle, the coming out party, that last bit of "oomph" to push that chosen character over the top.
But there have been many times in wrestling history that the last "push" over the top never came. Plenty of accomplished and talented superstars, for various reasons, never got a world championship run. Sometimes, performers get in their own way. Or the company never quite pulled the trigger on certain performers being "the man." Still, that doesn't mean that the opportunity wasn't there for a potential championship reign to be had.
Here are five WWE wrestlers who never held the world championship, and when they could or should have.
Owen Hart- WWE Survivor Series 1994
The year 1994 kicked the “New Generation” of WWE into high gear. For most of the year, Bret Hart was the company's top star. He headlined the summer stretch in a feud with his brother, Owen Hart. Owen, to his own credit, actually defeated Bret in a singles match at WrestleMania and he won the 1994 WWE King of the Ring. He was thriving in his first major role as a top heel and foil to "The Hitman."
Owen was unsuccessful in an attempt to capture the WWF Championship from Bret in a cage match at that year’s SummerSlam, but the feud remained hot. But the brothers would not headline a WWF pay-per-view event against each other the rest of the year. Bret moved onto a feud with Bob Backlund, and Owen was still involved in the storyline.
Owen was in Backlund’s corner and deceived his mother into throwing in the towel on Bret’s behalf. Owen cost Bret the title, But, many fans were perplexed about why, in the era of the “New Generation,” the company would put the championship on a veteran like Backlund rather than a current star.
This transition period would have been the most opportune time for Owen to get a short run with the championship. Instead of dropping the title to Backlund, Bret could have easily dropped the title to Owen. The younger Hart could have then dropped the title to Diesel at the 1995 WWE Royal Rumble, if not sooner.
Vince had obviously made the decision to go with Diesel as “the next big thing” in WWE. Needing to bridge the gap between Bret and Diesel, he chose Backlund as a transitional champion. In the midst of this era, Owen could have been a perfect fit for that role, even as a transitional WWE Champion.