Throwback Thursday: Championship Flashback, The WWF European Championship

Championship Flashback: The WWF European Championship

 

A look back at the European Championship title belt and the men (and a few women) who coveted it.

Date Established: February 26, 1997

Date Retired: July 22, 2002

 

The WWE European Championship was originally known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) European Championship. It emerged in 1997 when The British Bulldog became the first Champion after winning a tournament that was held over several shows in Germany, culminating in a finals victory over Owen Hart.

The title was mostly considered mid-card but that didn’t mean entertaining moments and matches weren’t a part of the title’s history.

After winning the European title, both D’Lo Brown and Al Snow were billed from different parts of Europe each week while champion. During Snow’s reign, he and “Head” dressed up as various ethnic stereotypes corresponding to the European location they were billed from, though not always in a politically or geographically correct manner, giving further comedic points to Al Snow. The belt was retired briefly in April 1999 by then-champion Shane McMahon, who wanted to retire as an “undefeated champion”. McMahon reintroduced the championship two months later and awarded the title to Mideon, who saw the title belt in Shane’s travel bag and asked if he could have it.

The British Bulldog was the inaugural champion and has had the longest title reign with 206 days. William Regal and D’Lo Brown both have had the most title reigns, each holding it four times.

The shortest reigns as European Champion were those of Jeff Jarrett and Chris Jericho, who each held the championship for roughly one day. Jeff Jarrett defeated D’Lo Brown for the European Championship (along with the Intercontinental Championship) at Summerslam 1999 (in the opening match, around 8 PM EST) and gave it to Mark Henry the following night on RAW (around 10 PM EST). Chris Jericho defeated Kurt Angle in a triple threat match at Wrestlemania 2000 (by pinning Chris Benoit at around 10 PM EST) and lost the title to Eddie Guerrero on RAW the night after (around 9 PM EST). Jeff Hardy was the youngest champion, at 24.

The term “Eurocontinental Champion” is a portmanteau of European and Intercontinental, used to describe wrestlers who held both titles simultaneously. Three wrestlers were booked to accomplish this feat. The first was D’Lo Brown, who defeated Mideon for the European title at Fully Loaded in 1999 and two nights later at a Monday Night Raw taping, defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the Intercontinental Championship. A month later at SummerSlam Jarrett defeated Brown to win both titles, thus becoming the second Eurocontinental Champion.

On the February 10, 2000 edition of SmackDown! Kurt Angle defeated Val Venis to win the European Championship. At No Way Out seventeen days later Angle defeated Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship and became the third man to hold both the European and Intercontinental Championships simultaneously. Angle held the titles until WrestleMania 2000, when he faced Jericho and Chris Benoit in a two-fall triple threat match for his belts. In a rarity, Angle lost both of his championships without being pinned or forced to submit; Benoit defeated Jericho in the first fall for the Intercontinental Championship and Jericho returned the favor in the second fall to take the European Championship.

During the “Invasion” storyline the WWE European Championship was unified with the WWE Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match on July 22, 2002 when Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam defeated European Champion Jeff Hardy.

Below is a list of the wrestlers who have held the title over the years.

1.    The British Bulldog
2.    William Regal
3.    Triple H
4.    D’Lo Brown
5.    Eddie Guerrero
6.    X-Pac
7.    Matt Hardy
8.    Christian
9.    Test
10.    Val Venis
11.    The Hurricane
12.    Owen Hart
13.    Kurt Angle
14.    Diamond Dallas Page
15.    Al Snow
16.    Shane McMahon
17.    Perry Saturn
18.    Mideon
19.    Mark Henry
20.    Spike Dudley
21.    Jeff Hardy
22.    Bradshaw
23.    Crash Holly
24.    Jeff Jarrett
25.    Chris Jericho
26.    Rob Van Dam
27.    Shawn Michaels

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