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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The European Championship
May 1, 2005 by James Greasby


After being ripped apart by a half-wit, I, James Greasby, return to the column pages of Online World of Wrestling. Under the watchful eye of Layden Rose, I have decided that I'll like some more personal comments hailed at me, as a result of yet another poorly written article. Well guys, I'll apologize now for the article en-titled: The European Championship.

This being my 3rd article, I've decided to write an article on a different tack. My last articles have focused on the present WWE, and upcoming PPV matches. Now don't get me wrong, Backlash looks a good card, with Hogan and HBK teaming up together, but I thought the article would have been a bit too predictable. So I was thinking a bit further a field on this article. I would like to integrate this article with the recent WWE RAW WrestleMania Revenge Tour that took place in the UK. I actually went to one of these events and thoroughly enjoyed it. However I couldn't help feel a bit empty.

Empty in the knowledge that a part of WWE and Europe's heritage was missing from the event; The European Championship. So ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to take you on a trip down memory lane, and look at how the European Championship affected the WWE/F. Speaking of the WWE Live show I went to, I was very fortunate to be able to touch Batista, so this article is being written by a pair of hands that have touched the current World Heavyweight Champion!

The European Championship was probably one of the most mis-understood Championships in WWE. Why is this particular Championship called The European Championship, when it was rarely defended in the continent of Europe" Also, why is it called The European Championship when more American wrestlers have held the belt, in relation to Europeans" Well this article will show you the roots of the Championship belt, and it holders, throughout its time in commission.

The European Championship had been established for over a century before it left the wrestling ring. Half a century before the Federation was created, the first incarnation of the European Heavyweight title was established in my home country of England, on August 22, 1894, when Tom Cannon defeated Tom McInerney in Liverpool. This version of The European Championship continued for a good 11 years. It was defended throughout Europe in cities such as; Hamburg, London and Copenhagen. Its final holder was one of wrestling's earliest superstars, George Hackenschmidt. He won the Championship in 1902 and held it until 1905 when he beat American Champion Tom Jenkins to become the very first World Heavyweight title holder, and thus abandoned the 11-year old title.

The European Championship was resurrected in the 1930s, and continued to exist throughout the continent in one form or another for many decades. After a 60-year existence, The European Championship abruptly faded from the scene in 1995.

It was at this point, when The European Championship entered the World Wrestling Federation. In February 1997, a tournament was begun to create the first new Federation title in nearly 20 years: The World Wrestling Federation European Championship. Appropriately, the finals were held on a special edition of RAW from Berlin, Germany. That night, the British Bulldog beat the late Owen Hart in a classic encounter and emerged the first holder of the brand-new gold. The European Championship didn't make regular appearances in the United States.

The Bulldog enjoyed a dominant seven-month reign, but it all came to a head at the Federation's first Pay-Per-View event broadcast exclusively in the United Kingdom, One Night Only. It was there, in Birmingham, England, that the Bulldog was beaten in front of his countrymen by the leader of D-Generation X and then-Federation Champion, Shawn Michaels. When HBK won The European Championship, he held both The WWF Championship (which he won at "The Survivor Series") and The European Championship.

From this moment, The European Championship began being defended on U.S soil more often, though the original idea was for the title to be defended on the Federation's European Tours. As RAW became a live weekly program in order to compete effectively with the old WCW's Monday Nitro, it became impossible to tour Europe regularly, and so The European Championship became increasingly domestic, until it had very little to do with the continent from which it derived its name. During its early days in the WWF, The European Championship had its fair share of controversy. Sgt Slaughter, who was the WWF Commissioner at the time, forced Michaels to face off against his D - Generation X cohort Triple H with The European Championship on the line in an attempt to create dissention between the members of DX. But HBK simply allowed himself to be pinned and, after the match lampooned the fact that he had lost the "prestigious" European Championship. The dubious but entertaining history of The European Championship continued as 1998 rolled on. When Owen Hart pinned Goldust, Commissioner Slaughter awarded The European Championship to Hart because Goldust was dressed as the Champion, Triple H. However, Triple H won The European Championship back at WrestleMania XIV in Boston.

Over the years, the title has often been a source of humour for various titleholders. D`Lo Brown claimed to be from a different European city each time he defended the title. Al Snow chose to dress in the style of a particular European nation for each of his defenses. Christian claimed to speak "fluent European".

In mid-1998, the title was won by a young competitor who would build his reputation around it: D`Lo Brown. Until then a former member of the Nation Of Domination, D`Lo put himself on the map by upsetting Triple H for the European crown on the 14th July, in Binghamton. Over the next 15 months, he would go on to hold it four more times, more than anyone before or since. Although that achievement has so far remained the highlight of his Sports-Entertainment career, it helped re-establish The European Championship as one worth winning.

Controversy surrounded The European Championship, once again, when Shane McMahon and X-Pac fought a bitter war in late 98/early 99, culminating in a battle at WrestleMania XV. Shortly after his victory over X-Pac at that event, Shane McMahon arrogantly chose to retire The European Championship, claiming he had nothing left to prove. On the 4th April 1999, The European Championship was made defunct.

It seemed as thought that was the end of one of WWF's most prestigious Championship belts. However, just two and half months later (21st June 1999), it was reactivated when the deranged Mideon literally found the discarded belt and asked Shane-O-Mac if he could be the new champion. One of the few people with the power to do so, the junior McMahon granted Mideon championship status.

Jeff Jarrett was next to make history with the title, when he became the first competitor to simultaneously win two Federation championships in one match. At SummerSlam `99, Jarrett defeated D`Lo Brown, to unify The European and Intercontinental Championships. That title unification ended the following night on RAW, when Jarrett handed the European title belt to his henchman Mark Henry.

Next to unify the European and I-C titles was, then, up-and-coming Superstar Kurt Angle. In February 2000, Angle got his first taste of Federation gold when he pinned Val Venis for the Euro prize on SmackDown! He won the Intercontinental Championship shortly after at No Way Out 2000. He took it upon himself to call himself the "Euro-Continental Champion". His double - champion status came to an end at WrestleMania XVI, when Kurt Angle lost both Championship in a Two Falls- Triple Threat match against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Notably, Kurt Angle wasn't pinned in either of the pinfall decisions.

The European Championship regained a bit of its European flavour in October 2000, when it was won by British newcomer William Regal. Before his memorable run as Federation Commissioner, Regal distinguished himself by capturing the title twice and becoming only the second European to actually hold The European Championship. Additionally, his loss to the late Crash Holly in Sheffield, England, at Rebellion was the only time the title has changed hands in Europe at all in the past four years, before the Championship finally came to rest. However, we don't talk about this little fact.

During 2001, The European Championship lived up to its potential as a steeping stone from promising young Superstars with great potential. Looking back at some of the individuals who held the gold in 2001 is like perusing a list the WWF's most likely breakout singles stars. Men like Matt Hardy, Christian, Bradshaw, The Hurricane and Test represented the future of the WWF, in 2001.

The European Championship's final year in WWE was 2002. It was in this year that the WWE was undergoing major changes with the Roster Split and the introduction of one Eric Bischoff to RAW. In its last few months, the Great William Regal held the title another 2 times, to become the staggering 4 times European Champion, matched with D`Lo Brown. However the European Champion hit hard times when William Regal lost the title to Jeff Hardy in July of 2002. Then, on an episode of RAW, Eric Bischoff made a match, which would be the permanent unification of The European and Intercontinental Championships. In my speciality match of, the Ladder match Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy fought it out, in what was the last ever European Championship match. Rob Van Dam won the match, ending over a decade of European heritage. But who knows in the wonderful world of WWE, maybe one day, The European Championship may make its return, but then again, The European Championship has had an illustrious career, and now resides in the vaults of the WWE.

So how has The European Championship made such an impact in the WWE" Well following The European Championship history, it has been the steeping stone for so many young up-and-coming Superstars. While not as prestigious or well established as the Intercontinental Championship, The European Championship has consistently been fought over by those Superstars looking to make a name for themselves. For men like X-Pac, Kurt Angle and Christian, The European Championship was the first singles title in their promising singles career. It might not have been the most important championship in the WWE, but it was a vital starting point for newcomers and those on the comeback trail. However, only ever being held by 2 different Brits, I still see the Championship as an ambassador of the continent in which I live, and it was a great honour to see The European Championship being fought for in the WWE.

Thanks for reading my article, and as always I appreciate any positive feedback, you feel necessary.

Author's Note:

Now, I think I owe a lot of people on here, my reaction to Layden Rose's comments. I'll just tell you now, this should be very interesting. I didn't want to spoil my article by dragging this creeps name up. Well here's goes.

I can't believe how popular I've become on this website. They always say that any publicity is good publicity. So bearing in mind that most of you have read my article in relation to this business with Layden, and then I hope you support me in following comments.

Mr Layden Rose, can I first congratulate you on your first and last article here on OWW. Your article was so good, that I've read it a couple of times, and even printed out to keep forever and ever. It's the first article in which I've had my name directly referenced. Well enough of the sweet talk, I was personally offended by your comments in your article and by your response afterwards. We'll I'm glad my previous article had such an influence on you. Well you may be surprised to learn that you and I are actually the same age, and I am at a University in England, studying a well-respected course. I know some facts were incorrect, but please, feel free to rip this article apart! I resent the remark suggesting that I was a dumb wrestling fan, because I'm not, obviously! Now I don't mind your ripping my article to pieces, because this is what it is posted for, but what I do object to is personal criticism. This site is about wrestling and our love for it. And clearly you have no love for wrestling. So why you see it fit to say that I'm a 12 year old, dumb, greasy, a 7th grader, I do not know. I started posting articles on this site, because it's fun expressing your ideas. In return I get a whole load of personal abuse from this idiot! Well I don't want anyone to remember Layden Rose, and other writers shouldn't listen to his simple-minded ramblings. I think we are all a credit to this site, and its people like Layden Rose who are trying to break down this close knit community we have going here. Layden Rose doesn't deserve any more space on this wonderful site, and I'd personally like to bring a close to this pointless episode. I'd like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support towards me, and if it wasn't for you, OWW would have lost not only me, but also I'm sure other writers may have considered their positions here. I would like to thank you for reading this message, including Layden Rose, and I'll also like to personally thank:

Kirsty and Simon Quested - thank you very much! Brad Dykens, ShaunCl, Shaun Whilock, Laurens Fuchs, Jason Simmons, Chris Peacock, Rhey Higgins, TwistedArachnid, Phil T, Josh, Andrew Betts, Angel Martinez, HBKKID 1017, Phil Haller, Bill Tyrrell, Joe L., Joseph Huber, Harvey Collazo, Anthony McMullen, Thomas Daley, Jake McDowell, Dustin H., Damian Andrew Connor, Ditto Robertson --- Thank You!

by James Greasby ..


Kirsty Quested wrote:
I have to give props to James for getting up, dusting himself off, and swinging a leg back over that horse after it dumped him in the dirt. I know his confidence took a knock after Layden Rose's nag of a horse bucked him off, but this article proves once and for all that James isn't going to let some ignorant, immature beast get the better of him. His article was the first email I opened this morning, and it has made my day. As Eisenhower once said: "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." Well done James.
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