The WWE Hardcore Championship started its life as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Hardcore Championship on the November 2, 1998 edition of Monday Night Raw when WWF Chairman Vince McMahon awarded the title to Mick Foley to promote his "Mankind" gimmick as a hardcore wrestler. Mankind held the title for only 28 days, losing to Big Boss Man on the November 30, 1998 edition of Raw but Mankind didn't attempt to be Boss Man's number 1 contender because he (Mankind) was pushed as a main eventer after the loss.
After the WWF's Hardcore title gained a life and growing popularity of its own, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) followed suit and created their own short-lived WCW Hardcore Championship, a move followed by numerous independent promotions.
When Crash Holly won the Hardcore title on the Feburary 22, 2000 edition of SmackDown!, he enforced a special rule: the 24/7 Rule, in which Crash declared that anyone can challenge him anywhere and anytime for the title, ending the declaration with a small warning: "So long as there's a referee present." This allowed for many comic relief matches where the title was to change hands even when the champion was asleep after the match took place in the ring, making the Federation's Hardcore Division more interesting and very unpredictable. In addition four female wrestlers also held the Hardcore Championship: Bobcat, Molly Holly, Trish Stratus and Terri Runnels.
The 24/7 rules was suspended for a total of two times, when then-WWF Commissioner, the first champion Mick Foley suspended those rules on the August 24, 2000 edition of SmackDown! after Shane McMahon cheated previous champion Steve Blackman out of the title, thus preventing McMahon from cheating against Blackman in their rematch which Blackman won and on the August 19, 2002 edition of Raw when then-General Manager Eric Bischoff suspended the 24/7 rule permanently for a six-minute Hardcore Battle Royal for the title won by Tommy Dreamer.
Unification and Retirement
However, the WWE Hardcore Championship was retired on the August 26, 2002 edition of Raw when Bischoff declared the Hardcore title a "SmackDown!" championship and created a unification match between the final Hardcore Champion Tommy Dreamer and then Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam, in which Van Dam won and unified his Intercontinental title with what Eric Bischoff's eyes considered: a "SmackDown!" title.
Origin and Design of the belt
The Hardcore Championship's design is unique becuase the title fooled wrestling fans even after its retirement today in that, wrestling fans believed that the Hardcore title is the real WWF "Winged Eagle" Champioship stolen by an angry "Mr. Perfect" Curt Henning from Hulk Hogan in Saturday Night's Main Event XXIV on October 31, 1989 and destroyed by Henning himself with a hammer at the end of that episode. In reality, it is just a replica (look-alike) of the real destroyed belt stuck with four pieces of duct tape with the two long pieces having "Hardcore" and "Champion" written in marker. The Hardcore title had its design changed twice: the Texas Hardcore Championship, with the title's centerpiece changed to one with the Texas flag and oversized bullhorns when Bradshaw won the belt and its then official new design with a license plate designed centerplate representing the home country of the champion, however it only had a New York design as Tommy Dreamer was the only and final champion wearing the new design.