The forgotten legacy of the European Title

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July 30, 2013

Val Venis was a European Champion in WWE.

Once known as hog farmer Phineas I. Godwinn before being possessed by The Undertaker (true story), Mideon was a rugged, unforgiving competitor who captured the World Tag Team Titles on two separate occasions. But here’s how he “won” the European Championship — he found it in Shane McMahon’s duffle bag.

Disinterested in his title after defeating X-Pac at WrestleMania XV, Shane stopped competing and declared that he had retired as champion. The championship was listed as defunct for the next three months before Mideon stumbled upon the title while rummaging around the locker room. McMahon simply let him have it and the European Championship was magically reactivated. The only title change that was more demeaning was when “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan became the WCW Television Champion after finding it in the trash.

The European Title was never really taken seriously after that. Sure, legitimate contenders carried it. Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero were just a few of the future WWE Champions who snatched the title on their way to the top. Superstars who never quite reached that peak like Val Venis, Test and Matt Hardy won it, too. But the championship was never the goal. It was just a stopping point on the way to a goal.

And why wouldn’t it be? Jericho has often told the story of how he came to WWE with the dream of becoming the Intercontinental Champion after watching his idol, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Would anyone have the ambition to win the same title that Mideon yanked out of a Samsonite? Or that Jeff Jarrett handed to Mark Henry? The puzzled looks on the faces of some young Superstars who WWE Classics interviewed about the European Title answered those questions. Even William Regal, a four-time European Champion and an invaluable source of sports-entertainment knowledge, could barely recall winning the thing.

"Four times and I can’t remember one!” he said with a bit of disbelief.

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