The WWE championship seems quite easy to achieve for superstars nowadays, but it was not easy before. In this list, WWE.com reviewed the top superstars who never won the world championship;
As the brawn behind one of the most feared and respected wrestling stables of all time, Arn Anderson established himself as the heart and soul of the Four Horsemen. Anderson, who coined the name of the WWE Hall of Fame faction, came to be known as The Enforcer of the foursome and frequently crushed anyone who dared to question his capabilities in the squared circle.
“Double A” certainly experienced his share of success in tag team competition, having won the World Tag Team Championship as part of the Brain Busters as well as the WCW World Tag Team Titles on five different occasions. His five WCW World Television Championship wins proved he was a force in singles competition, but that success somehow never translated to a WWE Title or World Heavyweight Title during his career.
Davey Boy Smith was more than just a British expat who achieved transatlantic ring success. The promising competitor from the United Kingdom honed his unparalleled strength and grappling skills in “The Dungeon” under the tutelage of WWE Hall of Famer Stu Hart, en route to becoming one-half of the talented tag team known as The British Bulldogs.
Then Smith took his career to the next level by going it alone in singles competition. Adopting the moniker from his tag team past, The British Bulldog went on to win the Intercontinental Championship before 80,355 countrymen in London’s Wembley Stadium, in the SummerSlam 1992 main event against his brother-in-law, Bret “Hit Man” Hart. He later became the first European Champion in WWE history, but never translated his success into a World Title win.
Though it seems peculiar that a Superstar who embraced gold as part of his look never seized WWE’s most precious metal, peculiar is just the way that Goldust likes it. The Bizarre One mystified opponents with his eccentric personality as well as his golden face paint and gold tights – and he certainly did nothing to dissuade his foes’ confusion and fears when he prepared for battle.
Though Goldust left his rivals wondering what the mysterious competitor would do next, the man behind the outrageous outfit, Dustin Runnels, embraced a hardcore pedigree that he inherited as a member of the legendary Rhodes family. That extreme legacy helped Goldust earn tag team championship gold in WCW and WWE, as well as Intercontinental and U.S. Title wins, but it never led the strange Superstar to seize a World Title during his accomplished career.
The hardcore devotees of ECW called him “The Shooter” for his technical expertise in the ring. WCW fans called him “The Iceman” for his cold and calculated approach to every challenge. And the WWE Universe knew him simply as Dean Malenko, one of the most talented cruiserweight combatants to ever set foot in the squared circle.
Malenko, whose vast grappling expertise earned him the nickname of “The Man of 1,000 Holds,” never met an opponent he couldn’t disarm with a counter move or painful maneuver. That includes Chris Jericho, who once incurred The Iceman’s wrath after declaring himself as “The Master of 1,004 Holds.” Malenko came away with championship gold in ECW, WCW and WWE, but he retired in 2001 before ever truly getting a chance to display his World Title credentials for all to see.
As an up-and-coming competitor in the 1980s, Terry Allen benefitted both from his undeniable talent and his passing resemblance to actor Tom Selleck. Eventually, he combined those valuable attributes into one dynamic threat that gave birth to the legend of Magnum TA – as in Selleck’s “Magnum, P.I.” and Allen’s initials.
Unfortunately, a tragic car accident in 1986 left Allen partially paralyzed and abruptly halted the meteoric rise of the two-time United States Champion and the man many believed would be “the next Ric Flair.” Though the accident signaled the end to Magnum TA’s promising career, it wasn’t the end of his heroic story as Allen, who was warned that he may never walk again, displayed a resiliency befitting a World Champion by successfully regaining that very ability.
“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
When it comes to the top Superstars in squared circle history, any comprehensive list would have to include “The Million Dollar Man.” Ted DiBiase used his affluence and tremendous skill to thrust himself into the limelight time and time again. He engaged in fierce feuds with everyone from Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, to Dusty Rhodes and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He was just as powerful outside the ring, playing an instrumental role in the WWE introduction of both The Undertaker and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
Of all of the processions and accolades that DiBiase wanted to accumulate, however, the WWE Title was top of the list. Although he never achieved this lofty goal, he came close on several occasions. This included the infamous moment when he paid Andre the Giant to win the title for him – an action involving a twin referee swap that was eventually overruled by then-WWE President Jack Tunney – and when he reached the finals of the subsequent tournament to crown a new WWE Champion at WrestleMania IV. While the wealthy Superstar would go on to create the Million Dollar Title and stir things up for years to come, the WWE Championship is something that would always allude him.
“Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff
Paul Orndorff had everything going for him in his pursuit of the championship gold, including an incredible physique, an outspoken persona and unwavering confidence. It also didn’t hurt that he always aligned himself with those on a fast track to success – including future WWE Hall of Famers “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Cowboy” Bob Orton and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. This is the sort of positioning that helped make him a key player in the tag team main event in the very first WrestleMania.
Although “Mr. Wonderful” never held a World Title, he may very well have come the closest of any of the superstars that didn’t. In a classic Steel Cage Match against WWE Champion Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event in the late ’80s, Orndorff and The Hulkster both climbed over the cage on separate sides, touching the floor at presumably the exact same time. If Orndorff had been able to touch down just one second sooner, Hulkamania may have been cut short right then and there.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper
While WWE Hall of Famer Roddy Piper is now one of the most respected entertainers in squared circle history, in the height of the golden age of the ’80s he was just plain “Rowdy.” The ultra-controversial creator of “Piper’s Pit” did everything in WWE from blasting Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka with a coconut, to standing toe-to-toe with the likes of Andre the Giant, to waging war against iconic WWE Champion Hulk Hogan.
In fact, he stood as the first true adversary of Hulkamania, driving the whole world into an angry frenzy as he served as the explosive catalyst to the inaugural WrestleMania.
While he could draw the ire of the WWE Universe like no other and showed little fear in the face of the “Immortal” champion, the rebellious Superstar never quite captured the WWE or WCW Title from him.
Say hello to the bad guy! AWA and WCW supporters were well acquainted with Scott Hall before the skyscraping Superstar made his WWE debut in 1992, yet even they couldn’t have anticipated what would happen upon the introduction of his Razor Ramon persona to the WWE Universe. The 6-foot-7 brawler went face to face with a who’s who of WWE dignitaries including Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Shawn Michaels and “Macho Man” Randy Savage – and regularly came out on top.
Yet Hall’s most lasting contribution to sports-entertainment wouldn’t come until he aligned with Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan as the founders of the infamous New World Order in WCW. The renegade faction took no prisoners en route to winning championship gold, yet their poisonous influence on WCW and later WWE never expanded enough to see Hall win a World Title during his career.
The ring general from Blackpool, England, has never been known as one to back down from a battle of wits or a competitive clash. William Regal honed his many skills in squared circles around the world and successfully translated that into a formidable presence in WCW and later WWE at the turn of the century. His past experience includes administrative roles such as WWE Commissioner as well as General Manager of Raw and later NXT, but his results in the ring leave little doubt about the British Superstar’s capabilities.
Regal’s career includes many title wins such as the Intercontinental Championship, the World Tag Team Championship and the WCW World Television Championship. Some argue that those accomplishments pale in comparison to the crowning achievement of a career spanning thirty-plus years: winning the 2008 King of the Ring tournament. Despite never topping off his body of work with a World Heavyweight Title win, Regal still continues to make his mark on the next generation of WWE Superstars as NXT’s color commentator and a veteran who is always willing to share his unparalleled wealth of knowledge with young Superstars and Divas who want to learn.