Tonight, the unthinkable will happen. Former indy wrestler, former Braun Strowman jobber, former Dean Ambrose sidekick, James Ellsworth will get a chance to become the WWE World Champion when he faces AJ Styles on Smackdown LIVE.
The thought of seeing James Ellsworth, a 140lb man with the build of a lazy 7th grader, holding the WWE championship repulses many fans and even some former WWE stars. The man who ruled the world, Sid Vicious, even took to Twitter to voice his displeasure.
If James Ellsworth becomes WWE Champion tonight, I have a pile of 8x10's of me wearing the title that's going to the landfill. #SDLive— Sid Vicious (@TheSidEudy) December 6, 2016
Strong words from the former WWE and WCW champion. While I agree that a James Ellsworth championship would be tragic, he would still not be the WORST world champion of all time.
Here are how 5 other former undeserving champions stack up to Ellsworth.
Bob Backlund was one of the greatest world champions of all time, but he was also one of the worst. At Survivor Series 1994, the 46 year old Backlund defeated Bret Hart for the title when Owen Hart (Bret’s rival at the time) convinced Bret’s parents to throw in the towel during his title defence against Backlund. Bob promptly lost the title 3 days later to Diesel at MSG after Diesel power-bombed Backlund and won the title in mere seconds.
Would Ellsworth be a better champion than Backlund? He is younger, but I'm afraid Backlund's reputation and legacy alone would keep him above Smackdown's loveable loser on the all-time list.
Everyone loves Christian. His epic tag team run with Edge during the Attitude Era cemented him as one of the WWE's all time favorites. Yet, despite all his accomplishments, Christian never should have been the WWE World champion. Had his partner and long time best friend Edge not have been forced to retire due to neck injuries, Christian likely never would have even been in the title picture.
Edge successfully defended the title that WrestleMania against Alberto Del Rio, but then retired the next night on Raw. Christian and Del Rio met for the vacant title in a ladder match at Extreme Rules 2011, with Edge helping Christian win.
WWE also considered Christian one of the worst World Champions when they took the strap off him only 5 days later.
Would James Ellsworth still be a worse world champion than Christian? Well, yeah, probably. But it's a little closer than you might think.
Like almost every other big man in the 90s and 00's, Khali was brought into the WWE in 2006 to immediately be put into a feud with the Undertaker.
In 2007 Khali won the World Championship in a 20-man battle royal on SmackDown. Khali would lose the title shortly after to Batista in a 3-way match that also involved Rey Mysterio.
Khali's 7'7" stature made him a stunning visual attraction but also a horrendous wrestler. Khali's mobility and moveset were equal to that of an oak tree.
Say what you will about Ellsworth's look, but the guy can at least kneel down low enough to perform a small package.
McMahon winning the WWE championship was probably inevitable, considering Vince oversees all the creative decisions in HIS company. If I owned a wrestling company, you better believe I would book myself as champion.
If you never saw this, you probably think McMahon screwed over Austin to win the WWE championship during their heated boss/employee Attitude Era feud.
However, what makes this even more ridiculous is that Vince was actually a good guy when he won the strap in 199. Triple H was champion and feuding with the McMahon family. He was still managed by and dating Chyna at the time, but it wouldn’t be long before he and Stephanie were outed as being together.
A heel Vince champion may have made sense, but the 54 year old boss going over The Game was absolutely nonsensical.
Still, it was Vince's company so I'll give him the edge over James Ellsworth. This next "wrestler," however, does not get the same pass.
Here it is! I found him! The one guy that will always sit atop the list of worst world champions ever. No matter how awful Ellsworth may seem, at least he is a professional wrestler.
Promoting his wrestling theme movied, Ready To Rumble, Arquette teamed with Page in a match against Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett, with the stipulation that whichever man got the pin would take the championship (thank you, Vince Russo). Arquette pinned Bischoff again in the match's finish, receiving the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in the process.
Arquette held the title for 12 days until the Slamboree pay-per-view on May 7, 2000, when he was booked to defend the championship against Jarrett and Page in a Triple Cage match (not as cool as it sounds), the same match featured in the climax of Ready to Rumble.
It's highly unlikely James Ellsworth will win the WWE world championship tonight on Smackdown, but even if he does, you can take solace knowing he still won't be the absolute worst world champion in wrestling history. Close, but not the absolute worst.