Scott, Was interested in your thoughts about when the various WWF/WWE titles “jumped the shark” in your mind. I’ve listed my thoughts below. I’ve limited the list to “traditional” WWF titles (pre-WCW merger and pre-WWE), since I’m a nostalgic son of a gun and pine for the return of long term title reigns and the odd Intercontinental or Tag Team title match headlining a major card or house show.
WWE Title: 1998 – 1999. In late 1997, the title was so important that at least 6 people had to conspire to (shoot) get the title off of Bret Hart before he left for the WCW. By the next year, the conspiracy (this time vs. Austin) turned kayfabe, and the title became a toy for Vince McMahon to play with. Then in 1999, Vince McMahon himself became WWE Champion.
I think it was still fairly important up until that point, actually. I think more damage was done by the brand extension, at which point the Smackdown title became the clear second-class title. Besides, even after Vince won the title, the HHH-Foley series made it seem important again. It’s pretty easy to rehabilitate a belt that way.
Intercontinental Title: 1999. Became a jobber title with such illustrious holders as Val Venis, Godfather, and the kicker, Chyna.
Chyna was a low point for the business in general, yeah, but at least she was over and people bought her in that spot. I think that killing and reviving the belt in 2003 did it no favors, especially since it was immediately treated as an afterthought again.
World Tag Team Title: 1988 when Andre surrendered it to Ted Dibiase (just kidding). For me it started losing its luster in 1994 when a bunch of makeshift teams started winning it. It made a slight comeback in 1998-1999 with the New Age Outlaws, Acolytes and Hardy’s, but the makeshift teams returned for 1999. Another comeback in 2000 with the Hardy’s, Dudley’s, and Edge & Christian, but the magic was gone by 2002.
I think they gave up on tag teams in general a while ago, but specifically the issue with the tag titles for me was the preponderance of Wacky Tag Team Partners Who Hate Each Other, like Cena and Michaels winning the belts to further their issue.
European Title: 1997 when Michaels laid down for HHH. D-Lo Brown had some fun with it in 1998, but by then the title was a joke.
Was it ever not a joke?
Hardcore Title: 2000-2001. Crash Holly defending it 24/7 was a cool concept, and worked for a while, but then things got ridiculous. I lost count, but in 2002 the title changed hands well over 130 times.
Light Heavyweight Title: 1998. Gillberg.
Women’s Title: 1985. Wendy Richter basically co-main evented the original Wrestlemania. But then later that year, Wendy screwed Wendy and the title became an afterthought. Trish Stratus and Mickie James had some bright moments in the mid-2000’s, but to have this title replaced by the Divas title? Kind of a slap in the face to former women’s champions, but on the other hand, at least the WWE recognizes the title for what it’s worth now (eye candy and not much more).
It was never that important to begin with, even when Trish held it. Chyna winning it from Ivory and then basically dumping it in the metaphorical garbage did almost as much damage as Madusa dumping it in the real garbage, though.