Who Are the Most Famous Wrestlers Never to Have Won a Major Championship?

Nick Paglino
most famous wrestlers

(Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

A wrestler winning a top World Title is similar to what several actors will experience tonight when they win Oscars for their work in the film industry. Winning a top title surely is a matter of utmost respect, with WWE title likely at the forefront of current top Championships. This important belt has proudly been held over the years by legends such as Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Edge, The Undertaker and many others, but there are also those very talented and hard-working individuals who have never been blessed with the opportunity to display that belt around their waists, no matter their ability and popularity. Talent and hard work are indispensable prerequisites in pro wrestling, but securing yourself a place in history requires other things as well – the right combination of unique personality and perfect timing, when to appear on the wrestling scene, and a big dash of good luck. So who are some of the most famous wrestlers who have never won a major championship? Read on to find out more about them!

1. Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Jake “The Snake” Roberts, born as Aurelian Smith Jr. and son of former wrestler Aurelian “Grizzly” Smith is best known for two relatively short periods that he spent in the World Wrestling Federation – from 1986 to 1992, and also between 1996 and 1997. He never won a title in WWF, but that didn’t stop him from becoming well-known for cutting exceptional promos. He earned his nickname for his habit of bringing snakes into the ring, in particular his pet python Damien, which he would often toss at opponents he managed to defeat. He is remembered for some incredible feuds with Ted DiBiase, Rick Rude and Randy Savage, during which he presented his spectacular abilities.

Roberts had that right kind of personality necessary to become successful in the business and he was certainly blessed by talent and popularity, but the closest he came to the title was after a brush with Hulk Hogan, when he was ultimately cheered by the fans for attacking Hogan. The bookers weren’t too fond of the situation, so in an effort to protect Hogan, they separated the two of them on TV for an indefinite period of time. The general feeling was that this stopped the career of a person who could have grabbed hold of Hogan’s top star status, and if things had been different, Jake “The Snake” would have probably become an extraordinary WWF Champion. Roberts entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014.

2. Ted DiBiase

Ted DiBiase, born as Theodore Marvin DiBiase, Sr. is a retired professional wrestler who was very successful in many wrestling promotions, earning thirty titles in his professional career. He is considered to be one of the best heels to enter the wrestling ring, and it is very unfortunate that he never secured himself a legitimate win of the WWF/WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He technically held the WWF Championship for just a couple of days when Andre gave him the belt after cheating Hogan out in the middle of a referee scandal, but this short-term domination was never rightfully acknowledged. True wrestling fans still remember his astonishing feuds with Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts and Dusty Rhodes. He patiently challenged Hogan for the belt on numerous occasions over many long years, but he never managed to win it. However, he did win the ‘Million dollar Championship’ in ‘89 which is said to be one of the most expensive belts in wrestling history as it took $125,000 to construct, but it was never recognized in the same vain as the top World Titles. DiBiase entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.

3. Owen Hart

Owen James Hart was a Canadian-American professional and amateur wrestler also known by his ring name, The Blue Blazer. He took part in some exceptional promotions which included New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Stampede Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). His career was cut short by tragedy in 1999 due to an equipment malfunction in Kansas City at the WWF’s Over the Edge pay-per-view event, but even if this tragic event hadn’t happened, perhaps he would have held the WWF Championship. Like DiBiase, Hart supposedly won the World Championship one time, but the title couldn’t be considered legitimate. In his early career he had some excellent feuds with his brother Bret – they were both members of their dad’s Hart dungeon and very talented wrestlers, but some think that Owen was better than Bret and that he unjustifiably spent a part of his career in the shadow of his brother. Owen Hart seemed destined to remain somewhere in the mid-level of the wrestling scene, without rising above the International Championship’s grounds, but we’ll never know what could have happened if things had been different. He was a two-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, a four-time WWF World Tag Team Champion, as well as the 1994 WWF King of the Ring, and he left both WWE and the world having won these prizes and many others – all except the biggest and the most desired one.

4. Rick Rude

Richard Erwin “Rick” Rood, well-known in the wrestling world by his ring name “Ravishing” Rick Rude, was an American professional wrestler. He worked in several promotions, among others World Championship Wrestling (WCW), World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and like DiBiase, he was one of the best performers in WWF/WWE in the late 80s and early 90s. His promo ability was solid, and he certainly knew well how to stir the audience with his famous “cut the music” line. It is hard to forget his memorable feuds with Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper and Jake Roberts during which his talents shined brightly, but he never captured the World Title. He did win a WCW International World Heavyweight Championship which was a bigger deal in WCW, because names like Ric Flair and Sting were connected to it, but it is not considered a ‘major’ title. It lasted for only a year when it was retired after a merger with the prestigious WCW World Heavyweight Championship, which put an end to Rude’s claims to be accepted as the legitimate champion. Rude passed away in 1999.

most famous wrestlers

(Photo by John Shearer/WireImage for BWR Public Relations)

5. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, was a Canadian professional wrestler and actor, born in 1954 as Roderick George “Roddy” Toombs. He’s one of the legendary names in the world of wrestling and just like Jake Roberts, he cut some absolutely astonishing promos. Along with Hulk Hogan, he was a central figure in pro wrestling of the 80s and 90s and is definitely responsible for making wrestling more widespread, but sadly enough he never became a WWF/WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Roddy Piper was one of the first performers to challenge the iconic movement known as Hulkamania, but Hogan’s power proved to be too strong for him every time he tried to defy him.

Piper was named one of the best talkers in the wrestling sport, as well as one the most important building blocks of the original Wrestlemania, but the timing of his appearance on the wrestling stage, alongside Hulk Hogan, was both a blessing and a curse for Hot Rod, as he simply couldn’t have become a World Champion while Hulk Hogan was around. Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, and died in 2015 in his sleep at the age of 61 in his home in Hollywood, California.

This short review covered several often mentioned and well-known wrestlers who have never won a major championship – feel free to name others as well and tell us why they deserved a top title!

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