Carving out a place in the WWE roster is a difficult task. However, winning a championship is a different level altogether. Nevertheless, throughout WWE history, we’ve seen various no-names in wrestling win a championship. Although they’re legitimate champions in the record books, fans continue to wonder until today how these wrestlers found their way to the top. For this piece, let’s take a look at the 10 most unexpected champions in WWE.
After Vince McMahon issued an open challenge that extended to the WWE Universe for the Intercontinental Championship, Santino Marella was plucked out of the crowd by The Chairman. Marella then pulled off a shocking victory over Umaga after the intervention of Bobby Lashley.
Although Lashley’s intervention resulted in Marella’s victory, it was a shocking turn of events that ended Umaga’s legendary Intercontinental Title reign. Despite feuding with the biggest names in the locker room, it was a “fan” who notched a victory over the Samoan Bulldozer.
Speaking of picking someone from the crowd, Nicholas was also one of them. With Braun Strowman looking for a mystery partner to go up against The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Titles, the Monster among men looked to the WWE Universe to select his partner. Before the match, Strowman selected a fourth-grader named Nicholas.
Although Strowman and Nicholas won the Raw Tag Titles by beating Sheamus and Cesaro, they relinquished it the night after WrestleMania during WWE Raw because Nicholas still had to attend school.
While he had a strong start in his WWE run, Jinder Mahal never really maintained that steam. In fact, he’s notable for jobbing for 3MB while also wrestling the lower cards before briefly leaving the WWE. Upon his return, Mahal worked with Rusev and also competed in the Andre the Giant Battle Memorial. Then suddenly, Mahal barged into the main event scene by feuding with then WWE Champion Randy Orton. While everyone expected The Viper to easily get past Mahal, the latter pulled off the upset with the help of The Singh Brothers.
Mostly working as comedic relief in the Diva’s division, Jillian Hall shocked the world after defeating Divas champion Mickie James via a power bomb. Hall also used the ropes to her advantage in order to secure her first championship in the WWE. Unfortunately for her, Hall had to defend the title shortly after and lost it to Raw’s newest acquisition, Melina.
Although Eugene had feuds against Evolution and was part of the main event picture, his character was portrayed as someone who needs to be protected. Because of this, seeing him win a match or let alone become a champion was far-fetched for the WWE Universe. However, Eugene was able to become a Tag Team Champion with William Regal after beating La Resistance in an episode of Raw.
While he had a strong start with the Nexus, Heath Slater was eventually relegated to the lower card mostly for comedic relief. In fact, Slater mostly took hits as part of 3MB and even had to desperately earn a WWE contract. However, things took a turn for the better when he teamed up with WWE veteran Rhyno. The unlikely duo went on to beat The Usos to become the inaugural Smackdown Tag Team Champions. So even after jobbing for 3MB, all three members would go on to become champions, including Slater.
More known as Gillberg, Duane Gill mostly worked as a jobber and a parody to former world champion Goldberg. However, Duane Gill had a breakthrough win after pinning eventual world champion Christian for the Light Heavyweight Championship. Gill can thank The J.O.B. Squad for the assistance.
Although Vince McMahon ruled the WWE as the Chairman, it’s obvious that he isn’t a world championship caliber wrestler. However, it does help when you run the WWE. In a feud against Bobby Lashley, McMahon set up a 3-on-1 handicap match that placed Lashley’s ECW title on the line. Given that it was Umaga, Shane McMahon, and Vince against Lashley, the numbers game caught up and McMahon effortlessly pinned the ECW champion at Backlash 2007 pay-per-view.
Not a lot of people will remember Cynthia Lynch. However, despite a brief appearance in the WWE, she was still able to make her mark. After chaos ensued that left Hardcore Champion Crash Holly lying in the ring, Lynch, who was one of the Godfather’s “Hoes”, entered the ring to pin the champion. With the 24/7 rules, Lynch notched a brief victory to become one of only four women to hold the belt. However, she did lose it immediately after Holly rolled her up for a pin.
24/7 Celebrity Champions
Speaking of 24/7 rules, we’ve seen various wrestlers take advantage of that for the 24/7 championship. However, this has also extended to personalities outside of the WWE. From guys like Enes Kanter, Rob Gronkowski, Bad Bunny to Doug Flutie, we all know these guys are notable names in their respective industries. However, it’s quite ridiculous to see them as champions, given that they appear in WWE programming less than the company’s more notable part timers.