Hello again and thank you for joining me on the final part of this trip down wrestling memory lane. Over the course of the past three months or so we have looked at the WCW era of the World Television Title and watched a host of matches, some good and some not so much. However, one constant always remained with the TV Title, which was that it could be a genuine stepping stone to a WCW wrestler that was climbing his way up the rankings. The likes of Scott Steiner, Steve Austin, Booker T and Chris Jericho all held the Title at one stage or another, and all four would go on to become World Champions (Although in the case of Austin and Jericho it ended up being outside of WCW)
Today we’ll close the book on this chapter in wrestling history by listing my personal favourite TV Champs of the WCW era. Just for balance I’ll also be listing what I personally think were the five worst TV Champs of the WCW period of the belt, and in the case of a couple of them it will actually give myself a chance to have a bit of a rant, and that’s always therapeutic for me these days.
The Best and Worst WCW World Television Champions
Five – Johnny B. Badd
Over his two reigns with the belt Johnny B. Badd had a number of very good matches, with one of the best being the bout where he actually won the belt from Lord Steven Regal at Fall Brawl 94. Badd was very much a star on the rise and his three TV Title reigns helped establish him as someone you needed to keep an eye on. However, Badd would jump to the WWF before we got to find out just how far up the ladder he could get. Still, going back to look at the history of the belt I personally found him to be a solid Champion, his second reign especially.
Five – Prince Iaukea
Iaukea wasn’t the worst wrestler to ever hold the Title but his underdog reign just never felt like it worked, with most of his Title defences being played out to uninterested crowds. You could kind of see what WCW were trying to do by having the big upset win, but the run petered out pretty quickly and they probably should have taken the belt off of Prince sooner than they did. If the rumours of Iaukea’s win being a direct response to the WWF putting the Intercontinental Title on The Rock at the same time then it just makes it all a more baffling of a decision because Rock’s first run was pretty much a disaster too so why would you want to emulate it?
Four – Arn Anderson
Arn Anderson enjoyed multiple reigns as Champion during the NWA days of the Title and he continued his success in the TV Title division when the WCW era began. Anderson was just a solid choice for this sort of belt, as he was versatile and could be trusted to get good matches out of a variety of different types of opponents. When some older fans think of this belt then Anderson is one of the first names that comes to their minds, and it’s for good reason.
Four – Lex Luger
Luger was someone who just didn’t seem to ever really need the TV Title and he didn’t really do much with it whilst he had it either. Luger didn’t really defend the belt with any regularity on WCW’s main shows, and when he did it was normally against less than interesting foes. It should have been a huge boost for the Title to have a star of Luger’s level holding it, but if anything the belt almost became forgotten when Luger had it due to how little it really mattered when he held it.
Three – Steve Austin
Austin’s first reign with the belt is the main reason for his inclusion here, although his second run with the belt had some good matches as well. Austin’s first run with the belt not only established him as star for the future but it also raised the overall prestige of the Title itself in the process due to the general good quality of Austin’s defences. Austin became a bonafide star in the WCW mid-card whilst holding the TV Title and the long run with the belt certainly played a part in helping that perception.
Three – The Renegade
Despite working very hard The Renegade was far too inexperienced to hold the TV Title and it showed in his performances. It didn’t help that some of his opponents had little interest in actually trying to help him either, with Paul Orndorff famously being an uncooperative berk in a match they had at Bash at the Beach 1995. Renegade tried his best but he was out of his depth and WCW eventually pulled the plug on the experiment, banishing poor Renegade to the lower card until eventually sacking him, a decision which contributed to the Renegade’s eventual suicide. Renegade may not have been a good wrestler but he was more sinned against than sinning in my opinion and the way WCW chewed him up and spat him out was pretty disgusting.
Two – Steven Regal
Steven Regal had multiple reigns with the TV Title and had a host of great matches with a variety of opponents, spanning from the likes of Ricky Steamboat to Dean Malenko to high-flying luchador’s such as Psychosis. Regal’s combination of excellent character work and in-ring polish led to him becoming one of the best Champions in the belts history and his TV Title runs continue to be thought of fondly by WCW fans of the 90’s.
Two – Scott Hall
Hall quite literally threw the belt in the garbage because he didn’t even want to have it. What more do you need? It’s a testament to how much I disliked another Champion that Hall isn’t #1.
One – Booker T
I personally loved going back to look at Booker T’s multiple runs with the belts. He had a number of excellent matches with the likes of Rick Martel and Chris Benoit, along with some solid bouts with the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Scott Steiner and Perry Saturn. To me the TV Title run was where Booker T really cemented his place as a future star, and he eventually used the momentum originally created during this run to become a singles star and World Champion. He was not only a great TV Champion from an in-ring perspective but he also brought prestige to the belt and used the Title as a genuine stepping stone to the top of the card.
One – Rick Steiner
Rick Steiner’s two runs with the belt were utterly miserable, as he had mostly rubbish matches where he often made his challengers look like a bunch of ineffective plums. Steiner’s run with the belt was so bad that it gave Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara all the excuse they needed to put the belt on ice in 1999 and it never recovered from it. Steiner failed in every facet that one could fail in the role of TV Champ and he didn’t have the excuses of inexperience that the likes of Iaukea and Renegade could claim. He was just a grumpy overpaid bully who was allowed to do what he wanted without fear of any reprisal. His TV Title reign is a monument as to why WCW eventually collapsed.
I felt I would take a moment to discuss “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton here, as he sadly passed away the previous year in his early 60’s, which is really no age. Eaton was not only an excellent tag team wrestler but he also had a bit of a singles run in WCW at one stage, which saw him hold the TV Title for a brief period. Sadly Bobby wasn’t given a lot of time to have a long run with the belt, but the match where he won the Title against Arn Anderson at the first ever SuperBrawl pay per view in 1991 remains an enjoyable effort from both men. Eaton will be remembered not only for being a great in-ring performer but also for being one of the most well-liked men outside of the ring as well, which lots of wrestlers willing to pay tribute to him at the time of his passing.
RIP Bobby and thank you for the memories
I’d like to thank you all once again if you’ve stuck with this series for this long. I found doing a long form deep dive into wrestling history like this really interesting and I had a lot of fun compiling the matches that were included throughout the process. Who knows, maybe I’ll do this with another belt down the line one day? Until then though I hope you take care of yourselves and I think I’ll return to the realm of Video Games for next week’s article.