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8 most unbelievable Hardcore Championship Matches
Although it was only in existence for less than four years, the Hardcore Championship continues to own significant real estate in the hearts of longtime sports-entertainment fans. Whether it was the wackiness of the 24/7 rule, or the brutality of its no-rules aesthetic, the Hardcore Title’s chaotic bouts were an unpredictable highlight of WWE’s most turbulent era.
From the banks of the Mississippi River to the ballpit of Fun Time USA, freewheeling Hardcore Championship bouts took the WWE faithful — and Superstars — to places sports-entertainment had never been before. But which of the title’s many wild brawls were the most unbelievable? Get extreme with WWEClassics.com’s no holds barred ranking of the eight craziest Hardcore Title Matches ever!
The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. Big Show: Raw, Feb. 26, 2001
One night after No Way Out in 2001, The Road to WrestleMania was officially underway. The Rock had just won the WWE Championship, and what better way to celebrate than for The Great One to compete in his very first Hardcore Championship Match? The bout was set as a Triple Threat encounter against reigning champion Big Show and The Rock’s rival, Kurt Angle.
The Raw main event was a brutal and wild affair, but just as the action was reaching its zenith, a gagglel of Superstars entered the ring to take advantage of the title’s 24/7 rule. Brawling with Big Show en route to the backstage area, Billy Gunn, Hardcore Holly, Steve Blackman, Essa Rios and Crash Holly were all manhandled by The World’s Largest Athlete. Meanwhile, the chaotic atmosphere was exacerbated by Angle, Perry Saturn and Albert, who were all triple-teaming The Rock back in the ring. Finally, Big Show fended off the attack by nearly the entire roster by pinning Rios against the wall backstage. Who knew you could win a match that way?
Road Dogg vs. Al Snow: Raw, Jan. 4, 1999
The WWE Universe took a greater interest in the Hardcore Title when crowd favorite Road Dogg became champion, and began fighting competitors with a reputation for the extreme like Al Snow. During the same edition of Raw in which Mick Foley famously won the WWE Championship, The D-O-Double-G defended against The Head-Toting Superstar in a match that set the tone for future Hardcore Title brawls.
The DX- and JOB-Squad member battled through the bowels of the Worcester Centrum and into the cold Massachusetts air in the midst of a winter blizzard. Living up to his name, Snow was battered with a snow shovel as he brawled with The Road Dogg on snowy concrete. The champion finally ended the chilly contest with a piledriver through a snowflake-covered wooden board, but it wouldn’t be long before the demented ECW stalwart became Hardcore Champion himself.
Crash Holly vs. Hardcore Holly vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Perry Saturn vs. Tazz: Backlash 2000
In the days of the 24/7 rule, a motley crew of challengers attempted to snatch the Hardcore Title. At WrestleMania 2000, the so-called “Houdini of Hardcore” Crash Holly had lost the title to his older cousin Bob, and during the ensuing weeks, the Hardcore Championship was held by Matt Hardy, recent WCW defector Perry Saturn and former ECW Champion Tazz. At Backlash, all five — along with Matt’s brother Jeff — tangled in a wild scene.
As expected, the action spilled out of the ring, with Crash scaling the massive hooks of the show’s set and Matt Hardy close behind. After the Elroy Jetson lookalike was tugged off by the other competitors, Matt performed a precarious dive off the structure onto a brawling cluster of the other competitors. His brother Jeff followed by executing a dazzling hurricanrana onto Saturn, using the swinging set for leverage. But by the end of the night, Crash had somehow once again escaped as champion.
The Headbangers vs. Crash Holly: SmackDown, March 16, 2000
Hardcore Championship Matches often traveled far outside the confines of the ring, but during Crash Holly’s days as champion, his matches would often beginin unorthodox locales. From airport baggage claims to circus parking lots, The Houdini of Hardcore learned he’d never be safe from a challenge after announcing he’d defend the title 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The most memorable of these encounters saw The Headbangers attack Crash at Fun Time USA, an indoor playground and amusement park on Long Island. Crash was playing some arcade games when Mosh and Thrasher descended upon their prey. The diminutive Holly cousin was chased down a slide and into a ballpit, where The Headbangers couldn’t decide which of them would pin the champion, allowing Crash eventually to escape.
Kane vs. Big Show vs. Raven: WrestleMania X-Seven
WrestleMania X-Seven came during the Hardcore Championship’s most tumultuous period, as the title changed hands several times a week on average. But two weeks before The Show of Shows, Raven became champion and remained so until a title defense against Big Show and Kane on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Facing off against two behemoths, the Bowery punk’s chances of emerging with his title seemed slim. After Raven crashed through a glass window backstage, he attempted to escape his much larger foes on a golf cart, but The Big Red Monster hopped in a second cart to give chase as the match traveled to its 18th hole. With Shooter McGavin nowhere in sight, the melee sent both Raven and The World’s Largest Athlete hurtling off the entrance stage. With his opponents caught in a hazard, Kane dropped a massive elbow to win his first and only Hardcore Title.
Pat Patterson vs. Gerald Brisco - Evening Gown Match: King of the Ring 2000
In mid-2000, Hardcore Championship title defenses descended from the wild and wacky to the downright surreal. Somehow, 53-year-old mat great Gerald Brisco managed to amass the longest title reign of the year up to that point, bringing intense jealousy from his longtime friend Pat Patterson. And so, the first-ever Intercontinental Champion faced the multi-time NWA title-holder in … an Evening Gown Match?
With the Montreal native clad in an enormous wig, shades and crimson ball gown (and white sneakers, natch), and Brisco outfitted in a more subtle black number, the two WWE Hall of Famers battled in perhaps the most bizarre bout in WWE history. Thankfully, former champ Crash Holly took the Boston crowd out of their misery and inserted himself in the contest. He nailed Patterson — now stripped down to red lingerie — with a trash can and pinned him to win the title and end the absolutely ridiculous (and unbelievable) matchup.
Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly: St. Valentine's Day Massacre
At the one-time-only St. Valentine’s Day Massacre pay-per-view, Al Snow had another opportunity to win the Hardcore Championship after it had been vacated by The Road Dogg due to injury. The bizarre competitor faced off with his JOB Squad ally Bob Holly, who had redefined himself as Hardcore Holly in an effort to take his career in a more hard-hitting direction.
Reminiscent of Snow’s bout with The Dogg, the extreme encounter also ended up outdoors, this time outside of Memphis’s Pyramid, which stood on the banks of the Mississippi. The two JOB Squad members had something to prove — and it wasn’t long before they were brawling in the muddy river itself. Al Snow was a tough ECW veteran, but The Alabama Slammer was just a little bit tougher on this night. as he defeated the Lima, Ohio, native after rolling him up in a discarded section of chain-link fence.
Shane McMahon vs. Steve Blackman: SummerSlam 2000
For all of The Attitude Era’s brutal hardcore competitors, Shane McMahon emerged from under his father’s shadow as the most unlikely daredevil of them all. During the dog days of 2000, the brash and entitled Boy Wonder instigated a rivalry against his antithesis: the cold and calculating Steve Blackman.
After Shane won the Hardcore Title from the martial artist on Raw a week before SummerSlam, the two faced off at the pay-per-view in a career-defining encounter. Blackman fended off the interfering Test & Albert and Shane attempted to dodge his opponent’s dangerous kendo stick by running from the ring and dashing up the set’s scaffolding. The challenger gave chase, and climbed alongside his foe 40 feet in the air. Blackman nailed the prodigal son with his kendo stick and sent Shane plunging to the floor in a shocking fall. The challenger followed with a devastating elbow drop to regain the Hardcore Championship.