Mike Kanellis Wants to Bring Back WWE Hardcore Title: A Look at It’s Legacy

On Friday night, WWE Superstar Mike Kanellis, who recently returned to the WWE roster as the newest addition to the 205 Live/WWE Cruiserweight Division, announced on Twitter that he wanted to bring back the WWE Hardcore Championship, complete with its original mandate of being defended 24/7. The long-defunct WWE title, more known for its comedic spots than its true hardcore matches, has been retired since an August 26, 2002 edition of Monday Night Raw, when WWE Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam defeated Hardcore Champion Tommy Dreamer to unify the two titles.

While it’s more likely just a fun nostalgic tweet (and perhaps Kanellis was watching hardcore matches on the WWE Network), it’s a fun notion to consider. Part of the fun of the original WWE Hardcore title was its ability to inject some fun and unpredictability to the lower end of the card for the WWE, effectively giving something for those out of contention for even the mid-card straps like the Intercontinental or United States titles, crossing boundaries from the men’s singles to the tag team to even the women’s division.

With that in mind – and on the very off chance that the Powers That Be get some crazy ideas out of Mike Kanellis’ tweet and re-activate it – here’s a look at some numbers to remember about the infamous WWE Hardcore Championship.

240, Number of Different Championship Reigns

Photo: WWE

Due to its 24/7 rule, it changed frequently and multiple times on shows and PPVs. The Hardcore title was only in effect for four years – from 1998 through 2002 – but it had 240 different championship reigns during that time. To put that in perspective, during the same time frame, the WWF World Heavyweight Championship had 29 different reigns, the WWF Intercontinental Championship had 41 reigns, and the WWF Women’s Championship had 17. The final and 240th reign as Hardcore Champion was Rob Van Dam.

172, Combined Days as Champion, Steve Blackman

Photo: WWE

“The Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman had a somewhat cult following during his five year run with the WWE from 1997 to 2002. He was in some great comedic segments (such as his “Head Cheese” tandem with Al Snow) and had small pushes here and there, but it was in the Hardcore division he won his gold. He only won the title a total of 6 times, but he held them for lengthy reigns – at least lengthier than most – and racked up 172 combined days as the WWE Hardcore Champion, more than any other WWE Superstar. Next Highest Numbers: Big Bossman, 154; Rob Van Dam, 134; Al Snow, 129; Crash Holly, 88; Raven, 84.

97, Longest Single Reign as Champion, Big Bossman

Photo: WWE

With the 24/7 rule in effect, over half of the title reigns of the WWE Hardcore Championship were less than 24 hours in length. In fact, many lasted mere minutes. Which makes Big Bossman‘s 97 day reign as WWE Hardcore Champion so incredible. On an October 12, 1999 episode of SmackDown, Big Bossman defeated champion Al Snow and Big Show in a triple threat for the title and held it for 97 days before losing it to Test in early 2000. Bossman was very protective of his title and kept himself out of 24/7 surprise matches, defending his title against the likes of Kane, Al Snow, Faarooq (Ron Simmons) and The Godfather. Next Longest Singles Reigns: Al Snow, 91; Rob Van Dam, 90; Steve Blackman, 89; ‘Road Dogg’ Jesse James, 61; The Undertaker, 58.

29, Different Champions in 4 Year History

Out of those 240 different title reigns of the Hardcore title from 1998 to 2002, it was held by 29 different WWE Superstars, ranging from main event talent like The Undertaker to extras like one of The Godfather’s escorts.

27, Most Reigns, Raven

Photo: WWE

After some of the comments he’s made since leaving the company (the second time) and his lawsuit against the company, you probably wouldn’t expect Raven to hold any records in the WWE, but he’s the most decorated WWE Hardcore Champion of all time, with 27 runs as Hardcore Champion. While it’s fitting for such an icon of ECW, none of his hardcore title runs in the WWF were as brutal or bloody as his feuds in ECW (or even TNA post WWE). Next Most Reigns: Crash Holly, 22; Stevie Richards, 21; Bradshaw, 17; Shawn Stasiak, 15; Tommy Dreamer, 14.

10, Most Changes on One Day

Photo: WWE

The WWF Hardcore Championship changed hands multiple times a day, especially on Live Events. But the most changes on one event happened on the Grandest Stage of Them All, at WrestleMania 2000 in Anaheim, California, when the title changed hands 10 times during the 13-person Hardcore Battle Royal. It was unique in that it wasn’t an over the top battle royal, but instead was timed. After 15 minutes, whomever held the title at the end of the time limit was the Hardcore Champion, but the title could change multiple times – and it did – during those 15 minutes. Here’s a list of all 10 title changes at WrestleMania 2000: Crash Holly entered the Battle Royal as champion, followed by 1) Tazz, 2) Viscera, 3) Funaki, 4) Rodney (of the Mean Street Posse), 5) Joey Abs (of the Mean Street Posse), 6) Headbanger Thrasher, 7) Pete Gas (of the Mean Street Posse), 8) Tazz, 9) Crash Holly, 10) Hardcore Holly.

4, Women Who Held The Hardcore Title

Photo: WWE

The Hardcore Championship was literally the first time the WWE ever had a true intergender title as it could be won by literally anyone, as long as there was a ref present to do the three count. The WWF Hardcore title was won by a woman wrestler on four different occasions, including two former WWE Women’s Champions, Trish Stratus and Molly Holly, as well as Attitude Era manager Terri Runnels. The fourth woman was indie wrestler Bobcat, who was working WWE developmental at the time. She was making an appearance as one of Godfather’s “Hos” on a May 2000 episode of Raw and “accidentally” pinned Crash Holly for his title. Of the four women to hold the Hardcore title, Bobcat was actually the first.

1, First Hardcore Champion, Mick Foley

Photo: WWE

The man who kicked off the Hardcore division, and personally anointed the inaugural WWF Hardcore Champion, was Mankind, as a thank you gift from Vince McMahon to Mick Foley‘s twisted persona for helping him on several occasions. Foley’s reign – his first and only reign as Hardcore champion – lasted 28 days before he went on to bigger things. A month after he lost his Hardcore title to Big Bossman in November of 1998, he would capture his first of three WWF World Heavyweight Championships. But it all started with Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy.

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