|WWE Hardcore Championship|
The official version of the WWE Hardcore Championship.
|Promotion||WWE for Extreme|
|Date introduced||November 28, 1998|
|Other name(s)||WWF Hardcore Championship|
The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hardcore Championship is a hardcore wrestling championship defended in WWE for Extreme, formerly the World Wrestling Federation, under hardcore rules. That is, there are three rules: No disqualification, no count-out, and falls count anywhere (literally anywhere, as, at St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House, Hardcore Holly pinned Al Snow on the banks of the Mississippi River).
Vince McMahon first awarded Mankind the belt, originally known as World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Hardcore Championship, on November 2, 1998. After losing the title to The Big Boss Man, he never attempted to recapture it, mainly because of the main event push he received shortly after he lost the belt. At the time of the belt's conception, the idea was that the belt was to have been used in comedy segments to try to push Mankind's reputation as a famous hardcore wrestler, but as Foley was getting over with the crowd as well as the rising popularity of hardcore wrestling at the time, the Hardcore Championship seemed to gain a life of its own. Its growing popularity led competitor World Championship Wrestling to create their own Hardcore Championship, a move followed by numerous independent promotions
When Crash Holly won the belt, he introduced the "24/7 rule" which meant the belt was to be defended "at all times...as long as there was a referee present." This allowed for many comic relief moments, including the belt once changing hands while the champion was asleep, and a segment on an episode of SmackDown! where The Headbangers chased Crash Holly around Funtime USA and an amusement park in Brooklyn, New York with Crash escaping repeated attempts to take the title from him before escaping from the ball pit and running from the building. There was also a moment at WrestleMania X8 when the title was involved in a strange twist of events. The champion going into the event, Maven defended against Goldust. After they knocked each other out with trash can lids, Spike Dudley entered and pinned Maven to win the title. Then, in the backstage area, The Hurricane defeated Spike to win the title. Mighty Molly (The Hurricane's Sidekick) told The Hurricane to go to the "Hurri-cycle" before knocking him out when his back was turned with a frying pan and pinning The Hurricane to become champion (and the second female to do so). While looking for a safe place, Christian won the title by slamming a door into Molly's head. Christian, who was about to leave the building in a taxi, was attacked by former champion Maven to regain the title. Maven then escaped in the taxi and celebrated as Christian was left all alone in the parking lot, whining and cursing bitterly.
Another event was when Trish Stratus fought Jazz (managed by then-Hardcore Champion Steven Richards) for the Women Championship which Trish lost due to Steven Richards interference. After the match, Bubba Ray Dudley attacked Steven Richards from behind and pinned him making Bubba Ray the new hardcore champion. Raven appeared and attacked Bubba to gain the championship but soon lost it to Justin Credible. Justin was then pinned by Crash Holly, making the latter the new champion. Bubba then hit Crash Holly with a trash can, however Stratus stole the win by pinning the unconscious Crash Holly thus making her the third woman to win the championship. Bubba then tried to attack Trish from behind but failed as Jazz sprayed him with a fire extinguisher. Steven Richards then stole the win after Bubba delivered an accidental power bomb to Trish through a wooden table, making him champion again.
The addition of this rule is said to have made the division both more interesting and unpredictable, adding a vast array of holders and matches. Still, others believed this rule cheapened and devalued the championship for the same reasons. This rule has led to the shortest title reigns and quickest title changes in WWE history. During this time, nine women have held the Hardcore Championship: Molly Holly, Trish Stratus, Terri Runnels, Shayla Darksyde, Ashley Massaro, Mickie James, Bobcat, Kyara, and Tiffany. Also during this time, the championship would change hands at house shows in an attempt to allow the fans in attendance to see something big. In the end, the title would always return to its original holder.
The 24/7 rule was enforced until August 19, 2002 when RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff decided to suspend it following a six minute Hardcore Battle Royal won by Tommy Dreamer. Prior to this a 24 hour suspension on the rule was in place for Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy's match at WWF Invasion. Commissioner Mick Foley also suspended the rule while Shane McMahon held the belt to ensure he was still the champion at SummerSlam 2000 to defend against Steve Blackman, whom he cheated out of the belt.
Unification and retirementEdit
The title was retired on August 26, 2002 when WWE Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam defeated Hardcore Champion Tommy Dreamer to unify the titles. This was exactly a month after Van Dam defeated Jeff Hardy in a ladder match to unify the WWE Intercontinental title and the European Championship.
In 2006, the belt was reintroduced as part of the emerging ECW brand, with the 24/7 rule remaining intact. It parallels RAWs Women's Championship and SmackDown!s X-Division Championship as a title that can be won by any member of the division, regardless of brand.
Origin of the beltEdit
The WWE Hardcore Championship belt itself is a replica of the "Winged Eagle" WWF Championship title that was smashed in several places and reassembled with two long pieces of duct tape with the words "Hardcore" and "Champion" written in marker. A long-standing rumor stated that this belt was the same one that was stolen by Mr. Perfect from Hulk Hogan on a 1989 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event and destroyed with a hammer at the end of the episode.
When Bradshaw won the title in June 2002, he briefly renamed it the Texas Hardcore Championship, and brought a custom belt to the ring with a Texas flag and oversized bull horns. The original design was resumed later in June when Raven reclaimed the championship. Tommy Dreamer would use a variation of the belt with a New York license plate where the center plate should be.