Pro Wrestling's most unlikely World Champions: Part III
Most impressively, he was able to learn from his mentors Randy Savage, Dusty Rhodes, and Jake Roberts and finally find that breakthrough connection with the wrestling audience.
Anyone could have refused to join the NWO in 1997 and attempted to become a star. WCW didn’t just choose DDP. The fans did. His peers did. From that point on, the Jersey Shore native skyrocketed in popularity during wrestling’s hottest period--the Monday Night Wars.
After years of busting his ass and capturing the crowd’s imagination, DDP finally could call himself World Champion on April 11, 1999. In front of 17,000-plus people, DDP defeated Sting, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair in a four corners match to win the WCW Title.
Ironically, it was DDP’s on-screen rival and real-life friend/mentor Randy Savage serving as the guest referee.
DDP was a transitional champion, but his three title reigns showed that his employer and the fans had faith in him and his talent. He became one of wrestling’s most beloved superstars and has gone on to inspire millions today as a motivational speaker and fitness guru.
Oh by the way, he was 43 when he won his first WCW Title.
As DDP once said, “Age is just a number--BANG!”
Jeff Hardy: WWE Champion (2008)
It’s a shame Jeff Hardy is now more known for his drug-induced exploits than his stellar wrestling career.
The undersized Hardy will never cut a promo better than most, but he just has that “it” factor that makes people love him--at least in WWE. When Hardy finally won the WWE Title on Dec. 14, 2008 in a triple threat match against Edge and Triple H, fans rejoiced.
Finally, the high-flier everybody wanted to see succeed won a World Title. Hardy overcame his demons to win the gold and fans remembered why they fell in love with his act in the first place.
That is until Hardy left WWE in 2009 to take a short hiatus. Thankfully for WWE, he left before he was arrested on Sept. 11 of that year--for possession of steroids and on charges of drug trafficking. Hundreds of Vicodin pills were found on his property, as well as traces of cocaine. If the judicial system decides to make sense, Hardy could be in jail by next year. [Editor's Note: It looks like he's really taken steps to clean up his life. We sure hope so. We're rooting for ya, Jeff.]
The Miz: WWE Champion (2010)
There was a time when no one thought Mike Mizanin would be anything but a poor man’s Ryan Seacrest in WWE.