The WWE championship is without a doubt the single most prestigious title in pro wrestling history. It has been held by the likes of John Cena, The Rock and Bruno Sammartino, all giants of the industry and all pioneers in the sport. Every single person to ever hold the WWE championship will most likely make it into the WWE Hall of Fame one day but not every WWE champ was a good champion and today I rank every wrestler to hold the championship.
Please note that I am ranking these wrestlers on how good of a champion they were and the impact they had, not based on how good of a wrestler they were. So as phenomenal of performers guys like Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy were, they didn’t make very good WWE champions.
46. Andre The Giant
Andre The Giant is probably the biggest sports attraction in history. This man was 7’4 and weighed over 500 pounds, people were flocking from all corners of the earth to see this giant fight in a ring. He was apart of probably the single most important WrestleMania match of all time when he fought and got body slammed by Hulk Hogan in front of a record 95,000 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome. He was the first ever entrant in the WWE Hall of Fame and the only man to ever come close to matching his size and strength is The Big Show.
As big of an attraction as Andre was, people tend to forget that he actually beat Hulk Hogan on The Main Event for the WWE championship and became champion. The match ended by Andre pinning Hogan and the referee ignoring that Hogan had his shoulder up and proceeded to count to three which awarded Andre the championship. Immediately after he won, he handed the title to Ted Dibiase and on screen president Jack Tunney came out to rule that as a vacating of the title. Andre’s reign as champion lasted a little over 30 seconds and that is by far the worst reign in WWE history.
45. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio has certainly come a long way from just being another face in WCW’s cruiserweight division. The masked man had great success since he debuting on Smackdown in 2002, he has won the tag team championship with Eddie Guerrero, Edge and Batista, he is a two time Intercontinental and World Heavyweight champion and he won the 2006 Royal Rumble by lasting over 1 hour in the match which is a record that still stands to this day. Rey is probably one of the biggest underdogs in the history of the WWE and he will one day find his way into the WWE Hall of Fame.
What some wrestling fans tend to forget is he was WWE champion for only 2 whole hours. Money in the Bank 2011 gave us one of the best WWE title matches of the decade pitting John Cena vs CM Punk in Punk’s home state of Illinois for the championship, if Punk won he promised to leave WWE with the title in hand and never return and he actually won and made good on his promise except for the fact that he came back a whole 8 days later. What happened during his absence you may ask? Well, the night after the pay per view WWE decided to hold a tournament to crown a new WWE champion and in the finals Rey Mysterio defeated The Miz to win his first WWE championship but then Mr. Franchise John Cena decided to cash in his rematch clause and defeated Mysterio in the main event of Raw that night to win back the title. Rey Mysterio could’ve had a great reign as the top guy in the company but WWE decided to waste his reign to last 2 hours, for shame WWE for shame.
44. Mr McMahon
Vincent Kennedy McMahon is probably one of the best and worst people in the history of wrestling. He’s the best for making WWE into the global giant it is today and he’s also the worst for countless incidents like the XFL, the steroid trials and the Montreal Screwjob. McMahon has also been charged with sexual harassment by one of his former divas, he said on live TV that he would have The Undertaker’s REAL LIFE WIFE rapped by a motorcycle gang right in front of the Deadman and he even exploited Shawn Michael’s new found love for Jesus by having HBK and “God” yes “GOD” face him and his son Shane in a tag match at Backlash 2006 that made me question why I am a wrestling fan.
Vince has made some really, really bad booking decisions. One of the worst he’s ever made was having himself win the WWE championship. On an episode of Smackdown in 1999 it was Vince McMahon vs Triple H for the WWE title with Shane McMahon as the special guest ref. the match ended with Stone Cold Steve Austin emerging from the back and dragging a bloody Vince McMahon onto Triple H then proceeded to wake up Shane and have him count to three which gave Vince the championship. He was only champion for 6 days and then vacated it. This reminded me of when Vince Russo had himself win the WCW championship which aided to the killing of the company. The point is Vince McMahon can get a little out of control and when he does, it’s not a good sight for anyone watching.
No matter how you look at it, Kane is one of the all time great wrestlers in WWE history. Glenn Jacobs came along way from portraying the lunatic dentist Isaac Yankem and Fake Diesel. When Kane debuted at In Your House: Badd Blood no one really expected him to make such an impact. His debut was teased for weeks with Paul Bearer haunting The Undertaker with stories of his alleged “dead” brother Kane coming back to life and at In Your House, Kane ripped the door off of the Hell in a Cell and tombstone piledrived The Undertaker. Kane is also a former ECW champion, a 12 time tag team champion and also a former Intercontinental and World Heavyweight champion.
Kane held the WWE title for 1 whole day. He defeated Steve Austin for the belt at King of the Ring 1998 in a first blood match then lost it the following night on Raw to the Texas Rattlesnake. Kane should’ve have been champion again in the years that followed but for some reason WWE just didn’t want him as champion. He was in countless of title matches over the years but never one the big one again.
42. Stan Stasiak
Very little wrestling fans today remember Stan Stasiak and little to nobody remember his son Shawn. The WWE championship changed hands only four times between 1970 and 1975 and Stasiak became the fifth ever WWE champion, breaking the amazing 1,027 day reign of Pedro Morales in Philadelphia. Stan Stasiak only held the title for 9 days before losing to Bruno Sammartino. Stasiak only had one more title match at that was against Superstar Billy Graham in 1977 which he lost. Stan Stasiak mostly did his work for the NWA and was rarely involved in the WWWF.
41. Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam is one of the best acrobatic wrestlers of all time. His in ring agility is matched by very few superstars in this day and age, his five star frog splash is one of the most legendary top rope moves ever and he is one of the reasons ECW was put on the map. RVD has been apart of some huge matches in WWE history including at Survivor Series 2001 when he was on Team Alliance, he faced Eddie Guerrero in a ladder match for the Intercontinental championship on Raw which is still one of the classic ladder matches of all time and he won one of the better Money in the Bank matches at WrestleMania 22.
That win at WrestleMania meant that Van Dam could cash in for a WWE title opportunity anytime he so chooses and the time he chose was at ECW One Night Stand in 2006. This event was probably the most electric event of the year, I mean it took place in the Hammerstein Ballroom which is one of the original homes of ECW. The main event was John Cena vs RVD for the WWE title, the crowd was extremely behind Van Dam and they gave Cena some of the biggest heat he has ever received in his life. Van Dam won the match and was given the biggest pop of his career when all 2500 plus fans in the ballroom stood to their feet and cheered when he beat the face of the WWE. Later on, RVD was awarded both the WWE and ECW titles since at the time ECW was WWE’s third show. His reign only lasted 22 days which really isn’t all that impressive, if WWE knew how to use him his reign probably would have lasted a good 150 plus days but that wasn’t the case.
Batista quickly rose to stardom as apart of the one dominant stable Evolution, he was their strong man and an overall beast of a human. Fans forget that Batista actually debuted on Smackdown along side Reverend D-Von. He looked really, really rediculous I mean he had a short mo hawk, was wearing reverend clothes and look liked a pissed of Dolph Lundgren. Around the end of 2004 WWE saw something in Batista, so much so that they had him turn on his Evolution teammates Ric Flair and Triple H. Batista would go on to win the 2005 Royal Rumble and headline WrestleMania 21 against his former teammate Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. Batista defeated HHH in the main event and would go on to enjoy much success as the dominant superstar in WWE.
Around late 2008, Batista started to become this big babyface and honestly it didn’t work as effectively as it did in 2005. A lot of fans thought he should’ve been this big monster heel but WWE has the listening skills of a deaf man and at Extreme Rules 2009, Batista defeated Randy Orton in a steel cage match to win his first WWE championship and later proceeded to tear his biceps cutting his first title reign to just two days. At Elimination Chamber 2010, Batista won back the title in a big confusing mess. Fans weren’t behind him at all as this was the period he started to transition into a Hollywood douchebag but luckily he was beaten by John Cena at WrestleMania 26. Batista by no means was the greatest WWE champ ever but honestly he could’ve been. If he ever had the fan support to do so he probably could’ve been champion for a good 100 days or so.
39. Sgt. Slaughter
Sgt. Slaughter had a weird reign as WWE champion. For starters he was in the middle of his “support Iran and to hell with America” gimmick which was kind of a dumb decision by WWE to make him do that considering his character was an army drill sergeant. He was along side General Adnan and Colonial Mustafa (better know as the Iron Sheik) when he won his first WWE championship from The Ultimate Warrior at the 1991 Royal Rumble. Fun fact, Warrior was supposed to hold the title until WrestleMania VII to set up the ultimate rematch with Hulk Hogan but due to backstage problems, he dropped the title to Sgt. Slaughter. The lead up to WrestleMania VII was all about laughter telling America that Iran was better than us and that no American man can beat him so who decides to come out and challenge him? None other than the most American wrestler ever, Hulk Hogan, who is so American I think he actually sweats bacon grease. Hogan later beat Slaughter for the title at WrestleMania showing that no matter what country you’re from, you can’t beat the Hulkster.
38. The Iron Sheik
Probably one of the funniest people to follow on social media today, The Iron Sheik was somewhat of a hero to people in his native country of Iran. He ended the 1,470 day reign of Bob Backlund at a New York house show in in 1983 and this was considered by many to be a landmark event in the title’s history. Since America has always had problems with Iran historically it was a huge surprise to see a Iranian win the biggest title in the United States. Of course, we all know what happens when a foreigner wins the title and that is he always loses it to Hulk Hogan and this was no different in Sheik’s case. The Iron Sheik’s lone WWE title reign only lasted 28 days but the impact he had on the business lasted much longer than that. Today, any wrestler that comes from far overseas will probably use the Camel Clutch submission finisher, a move made famous by the Iron Sheik. Sheik’s one and only motto today is he’ll break your back and make you humble, bubba.
37. Sycho Sid
Sycho Sid had more problems with his speech than any other person in recorded history. The words would sound good to him in his brain but when they left his mouth, they sounded like they just died of alcohol poisoning. Sid is still a laughing stalk to some WWE fans today and his botches will last forever in the minds of die hards.
As silly as Sid’s mishaps were, he is a former two time WWE champion and defeated the great Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart to win the WWE title. Sid’s reigns as champion are more or less mediocre to some. His first reign lasted 63 days and his second just 34. The shocker in Sid’s second reign was he defeated Bret Hart just one day after the Hitman won the title at In Your House 13. His Wrestlemania 13 match against The Undertaker was one of the better WWE title matches in WrestleMania history despite the Deadman defeating Sid in the main event.
36. Roman Reigns
The one man on the WWE roster that NO ONE wants to see be champion is Roman Reigns. Fans have been sick and tired of his push over the last year because the fans know guys like Kevin Owens, AJ Styles and Cesaro should be pushed before him but Vince McMahon doesn’t care what the fans think. Reigns has won the 2015 Royal Rumble and both Fastlane main events over the past year, did fans want that? Nope, but beggars can’t be choosers and Roman was in the main event of Wrestlemania last year and luckily didn’t come out on top as his former Shield buddy Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase which made the match between Reigns and Lesnar a triple threat and Rollins proceeded to pin Reigns to capture the WWE championship. As the year played out, Reigns and Rollins were set to go one on one at Survivor Series 2015 for the championship but during a house show in Europe, Rollins destroyed his knee after botching a power bomb and thus relinquished the title. WWE later made a big tournament for the title with the finals coming at Survivor Series. The problem with this was WWE made it too obvious that Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns would meet in the finals for the title instead of maybe shaking it up by having Kevin Owens or Cesaro in the finals. Reigns won his first WWE championship in an underwhelming nine minute match with Ambrose but after the match Sheamus came out and gave Reigns two brogue kicks then cased in his Money in the Bank briefcase to end Roman’s first reign in just five whole minutes. Roman Reigns would defeat Sheamus for the title on December 14, 2015, marking the second time he won the title. As WWE decided to run the whole Authority vs Reigns storyline, Vince McMahon announced that Roman would have to defend his title in the Royal Rumble match marking the first time a champion has had to defend his title in the rumble. Reigns made it all the way to the final four until he was eliminated by Triple H who then proceeded to eliminate Dean Ambrose to win the Royal Rumble and the WWE championship. This whole storyline was just too obvious to call, obviously Roman would get screwed out of the title then go on to beat Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania, it was just too easy to call. Now Roman Reigns is a three time WWE champion which is tied with Daniel Bryan, Mankind and Shawn Michaels as the only other men to also have three title reigns.
Reigns was dethroned by Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank 2016 and since won the United States championship. With the title now on Smackdown it is unlikely that Reigns will regain the title soon.
35. Jeff Hardy
One of my personal favorite superstars ever, Jeff Hardy has had something of a heroes journey in WWE. He started wrestling in WWE in his teens in the late 90s and never really got anywhere with his career. His legendary TLC matches with the Dudley Boys and Edge and Christian really catapulted Jeff and his brother Matt to the stratosphere and his in ring flying ability helped him gain notoriety among the rest of the locker room. Jeff Hardy has had one successful wrestling career having one the WWE Tag Team Championship six times, the World Heavyweight Championship twice and the Intercontinental Championship four times. Hardy has also been in some high profile fueds with the likes of The Undertaker, Triple H, Edge and CM Punk.
The one thing that Jeff never really accomplished in WWE was being the top guy in the company but that all changed at Armageddon 2008. It was Jeff Hardy vs Edge vs Triple H for the WWE title and no one expected Jeff to win this, the odds were certainly stacked against him but Jeff overcame adversity and finally captured his first WWE title. Unfortunately, Jeff was one of those champions WWE just didn’t believe in and his reign lasted just 42 short days when Edge defeated him at the Royal Rumble 2009 in a no DQ match. In my opinion, Jeff Hardy should’ve been champion until WrestleMania 25 so he could’ve finally had his WrestleMania moment but that didn’t happen and Hardy’s title reign was one of the lesser in history.
34. The Miz
Okay so first things first, The Miz is probably the worst choice to have win the WWE title ever but apparently WWE thought that having him win Money in the Bank then go on to beat Randy Orton and win the big one was a good idea. The night The Miz won the title was a bad night to be a wrestling fan, fans could be heard from Boston to Alaska booing the hell out of the guy because they knew how ridiculous The Miz as champion was going to be. You can still picture in your head the imagine of that little girl pouting like the little devil that she was when The Miz won. The Miz’ reign as champion came at a time where WWE was just unbearable and unwatchable (you know 2010-2011) and unfortunately The Miz was champion at WrestleMania 27 which is probably one of the worst ones in history just look at the card for further explanation. The Miz fought John Cena in the main event and miraculously won but not without some help from The Rock. Thankfully, The Miz’ reign ended at Extreme Rules to the hands of John Cena in a triple threat cage match that also involved John Morrison.
I will say this, The Miz has enjoyed great success as a mid carder having won the Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team championships numerous times. He’s a good heel and all but having him win the WWE title was one of the worst decision WWE has made over the past five years and thankfully The Miz has been kept away from the title scene.
33. Daniel Bryan
Oh what could’ve been. Unfortunately the career of Daniel Bryan has been a series of what ifs and it is very unfortunate because Bryan is one of the best wrestling technicians in the world but very severe concussions caused the bearded one to retire in early 2016. Daniel Bryan wasn’t even supposed to be in WWE but somehow made his way into Vince’s company. Bryan has some great indy wrestling credit to his name, having put on fantastic matches with the likes of Hideo Itami, Finn Balor, Neville and CM Punk and is a former ROH champion and former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Once Daniel got to the WWE he was put on the first season of NXT and was the rookie for The Miz. What a lot of people seem to forget is Bryan was actually apart of The Nexus when they first debut and destroyed John Cena but was fired when he choked out Justin Roberts with his own tie. In WWE, Daniel Bryan is a former United States, Tag Team and Intercontinental Champion.
Around the spring of 2013 is when the Yes! Movement started. Bryan had just seperated from Team Hell No and fans really got behind the guy so much so that they reacted heavily whenever he would put both of his arms in the air and chant yes down the entrance ramp. Bryan sort of became and internet darling with a ton of support from the IWC and the WWE universe, this support would lead fans to beg and plea that Bryan got a title shot. He was awarded that opportunity at Summerslam 2013 against John Cena with Triple H being the special guest ref. In one of the better championship matches in SummerSlam history, Daniel Bryan pinned John Cena and finally captured the WWE title but the celebration was short lived when Triple H hit Bryan with a pedigree and Randy Orton came down and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract thus taking the title away from Bryan in the process. At Night of Champions 2013, it was Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton for the WWE championship and Bryan did pin Orton but the next night on Raw it was revealed that ref Scott Armstrong had purposely counted fast in Bryan’s favor and Triple H stripped him of the title. At the Royal Rumble 2014 fans were hoping that Bryan would come out and win the whole thing, instead Batista won and this sent the WWE Universe into a chaotic frenzy. The fans hated the idea of having Batista vs Randy Orton for the WWE title at WrestleMania 30 so what did they do? They chanted yes anytime The Authority was cutting a promo and this led to Daniel Bryan occuping Raw and demanding that he face Triple H at WrestleMania 30 and if he won this match he would be put into the championship main event. It happened and what would some call the impossible happened too, at the end of WrestleMania 30 Daniel Bryan had submitted Batista and finally captured the WWE championship. This was a moment that will last forever in WWE history. Unfortunately in June of 2014, Daniel Bryan was stripped of the title because of a severe neck injury cutting his reign short at only 64 days. Daniel Bryan could’ve been the best champion in WWE history but his health got in the way of that and that is one of the biggest let downs in wrestling history.
One of the 3 personas of Mick Foley, Mankind was probably Foley’s best work. Mankind was probably one of the freakiest characters in WWE history and when he first debuted people didn’t know what to think. In the weeks that led up to Mankind’s debut, vignettes were shown of a man in a dark cell talking to himself and playing with a rat which led many to believe that this new scary man would feud with The Undertaker and that’s exactly what happened. At Summerslam 1996, the two battled in a 25 minute bolier room brawl match which saw Mankind defeat Taker thanks to a heel turn on the part of Paul Bearer. With this victory people knew that Mankind was a legit superstar and throughout his career he would prove just that. At King of the Ring 1998, Mankind probably had the most important match of his career when he and The Undertaker faced off in one of the best Hell in a Cell matches ever. The video of Mankind being thrown off the top of the cell and through a table will live on in WWE forever, despite the loss to The Undertaker. Mankind would go on to have even more memorable moments in WWE history.
December 29, 1998 is probably the best day in Mankind’s career. It was him vs The Rock for the WWE championship and the odds were heavily stacked against Mankind. Kane, Shane and Vince McMahon were in the corner of The Rock for the whole match and even at one point sent in their goonies to try and prevent Mankind from winning but with some help from Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind did the unthinkable and won the WWE title to one of the biggest pops in WWE history. Mankind would go on to lose the title to The Rock in an I Quit match just 26 days later then win it back 2 days later in an empty arena match that aired during the halftime of Super Bowl 33. That reign only lasted 20 days and Mankind lost to The Rock in a ladder match on an episode of Raw. Mankind’s last reign as champion came when he defeated both Triple H and Stone Cold in a triple threat match at Summerslam 1999. This reign lasted one whole day and Mankind immediately dropped the title to Triple H the next night. Mankind was one of those champions WWE never believed in and it’s unfortunate because he was being overlooked by Stone Cold, The Rock and Triple H even though he was champion. I guess Mankind just never had that championship look that WWE wants to see so badly which is really stupid.
31. Alberto Del Rio
The mexican aristocrat immediately found success when he arrived in WWE. He first went after Rey Mysterio when he debuted and it was a pretty intense feud. The two men would take verbal jabs at each other in spanish, Del Rio injured Mysterio which kept him out of action for a long time and he even tried to rip off Rey’s mask. Del Rio shockingly won the 2011 Royal Rumble and went on to feud with Edge over the World Heavyweight Championship, Alberto was the last man Edge ever faced in his wrestling career and that match came at WrestleMania 27 (you know, the bad one). Alberto Del Rio was always in the title picture for the World Heavyweight Championship and his matches with The Big Show, Dolph Ziggler and Christian were extremely good and helped propel Del Rio into the main event scene. He hit a road bump in the summer of 2014 when he was involved in an altercation with another WWE employee which resulted in Del Rio slapping the man over a racist joke, Del Rio was later fired for his actions and returned to Mexico to work for AAA wrestling. He returned at Hell in a Cell 2015 and defeated John Cena for the United States Championship.
Alberto Del Rio won the Money in the Bank ladder match in June of 2011 and later cashed in that contract on CM Punk at SummerSlam 2011 to win his first WWE Championship. Nobody would’ve ever thought that Del Rio would win the title so soon in his career, it really only took him 2 years to win the big one and he shocked the world when he did. Unfortunately for Del Rio his first reign lasted 35 days and he was defeated by none other than John Cena at Night of Champions 2011, he later regained the title in a triple threat Hell in a Cell match that also involved CM Punk. Del Rio’s second reign as champion only lasted 49 days and he was beaten by CM Punk at Survivor Series 2011. Alberto Del Rio could’ve been the best cocky heel WWE champion since Chris Jericho but he was just another guy that the creative team had no faith in and thus wasn’t a very good WWE champion.
30. Big Show
Big Show is the only man in history that can match the size and build of Andre the Giant and fans still fantasize to this day about who would win in a one on one match between the two. Big Show is a rare breed, the man stands 7 feet tall and clocks in at 441 pounds. He is extremely athletic for a guy his size and has shown he can do missal dropkicks from the top turn buckle, kick ups and is even one of the faster big men superstars in the world. Big Show is the only man in history to have won the WWE, ECW and WCW world championships, he is also an 11 time world tag team champion, a former United States champion and a former Intercontinental champion. Big Show will one day find his way into the WWE Hall of Fane and will go down as one of the best giants in the history of wrestling.
The way Big Show won his first WWE title was kind of odd. The main event of the 1999 Survivor Series was supposed to be a triple threat match between The Rock, Stone Cold and Triple H but before the match happened, Stone Cold was hit by a car and was taken out of the match (the driver of the car later was revealed to be Rikishi, remember how terrible that storyline was?) so Big Show replaced Stone Cold and actually beat both The Rock and Triple H to win his first WWE championship and his reign would last a solid 50 days. Big Show would always be involved in the title picture before he won his second WWE title. He was involved in the main event of WrestleMania 2000 along with Mick Foley, The Rock and Triple H and even though he didn’t win, he put in a strong showing and proved that he should be in the main event scene. Big Show’s second reign came when he defeated Brock Lesnar at the 2002 Survivor Series after Paul Heyman infamously betrayed Lesnar and helped Show win the WWE championship. Big Show’s second reign was short lived, only lasting 28 days before he lost to Kurt Angle at Armageddon 2002. Show is one of the greatest superstars ever and his career was full of amazing moments but he wasn’t that good of a WWE champion and thus snags the number 30 spot on this list.
29. Ivan Koloff
Photo Credit: WWE
Ivan Koloff pulled one of the biggest upsets in pro wrestling history when he ended the legendary 2,803 day reign of the great Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden. Koloff’s victory was so huge because no one thought that Sammartino would ever lose the title again but Koloff stunned the world and defeated him. Ivan Koloff became the first Canadian wrestler to win the WWE championship and set the bar for Canadian wrestlers for generations to come. Ivan Koloff’s only reign as champion lasted just 21 short days before he lost to Pedro Morales who would go on to have a 1,027 day reign as champion.
Koloff as enjoyed success in the NWA as well. He is a former NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight champion, a former NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champion, a former NWA Television champion and a former NWA United States Tag Team champion. There is no denying the greatest of The Russian Bear Ivan Koloff and he is probably one of the most important superstars of all time but his one short reign as champion doesn’t make the case that he was a good WWE champion
28. Billy Graham
Photo Credit: WWE
Superstar Billy Graham may not seem important to some wrestling fans but when you look at what he contributed to the industry, people will see that he is the main reason why we had Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. Billy Graham is a former body builder and was once the training partner of Arnold Schwarzenegger and before he stepped foot into a wrestling ring, he was trained by the legendary Stu Hart. Ric Flair, Scott Steiner, Hulk Hogan and Triple H are just a few names of superstars who have modeled their in-ring style of wrestling after Graham and in fact Hulk Hogan started calling people “brothers” after he heard Billy Graham say it in his various promos. The one thing that WWE would want you to forget about Graham was that he sued the WWE in 1994 as apart of the on going steroid trials which could’ve shut down WWE for good.
Billy Graham won his first WWE championship on April 30, 1977. What makes this win so special was he became the second man to end Bruno Sammartino’s 1,000+ day reign as champion. Graham would also join Ivan Koloff as the only two men in history to defeat Bruno Sammartino for the WWE championship. Billy Graham’s lone title reign lasted a fantastic 296 days until it was ended by Bob Backlund on February 20, 1978. Billy Graham is in the top 20 of longest reigning WWE champions of all time because of his one reign and his various contributions to the industry are one of the reasons why he is an important figure in pro wrestling history.
27. Buddy Rogers
photo credit: PWI
Perhaps one of the reasons why we have a WWE in the first place, Buddy Rogers was the first ever WWE champion. He defeated Pat O’Connor in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 25, 1963 after the WWWF had split from the NWA. He was the original “Nature Boy” and is believed by many to be the inventor of the finger four leglock and if it isn’t obvious by now, Ric Flair basically copied Roger’s look, attitude and nickname. So you can thank Buddy Rogers for Ric Flair. Buddy Rogers was also the seventh man in history to win the NWA world championship. Roger’s only reign as champion lasted 22 days and he was defeated by Bruno Sammartino on May 17, 1963. Even though Roger’s only reign didn’t even last a month he grabs the number 27 spot on this list because of the impact he had in the industry and how he paved the way for generations of wrestlers to come.
26. Chris Jericho
photo credit: WWE
Chris Jericho has to be one of the absolute best heel wrestlers of all time. At WWE Roadblock he tore up a “get well soon, Bret” sign and told Montreal that they would never get Bret Hart back again. Some of his other great heel antics include sending Shawn Michael’s head flying through the Jerich-tron on the Highlight Reel, pouring alcohol on CM Punk and also smashing a beer bottle on Punk’s head, attacking Rey Mysterio from the crowd while being disguised as one of Rey’s fans and betraying The Rock at the 2001 Survivor Series. Chris Jericho is one of the best superstars of all time regardless of his face/heel status. Jericho is the first ever undisputed WWE champion, he is the ninth triple crown champion and fourth grand slam champion, he is also a two time WCW champion, a record nine time Intercontinental champion, a three time World Heavyweight champion and a seven time WWE Tag Team Champion.
As good as Chris Jericho was, he only won the WWE championship once. At Vengeance 2001, Chris Jericho became to only man in history to defeat both The Rock and Stone Cold on the same night. He first defeated The Rock to win the WCW championship then in the next match, defeated Stone Cold for the WWE championship. Jericho was slated to have one of the best title reigns of all time but his one and only title reign came to an end in the main event of WrestleMania 18 when he was defeated by Triple H. Chris Jericho should have at least been a 5-10 time WWE champion, he was just that good of a wrestler and even better as a heel. He has hung around the title picture for years but never won the big one ever again. One day, Chris Jericho will find his way into the WWE Hall of Fame and be recognized as one of the best wrestlers of all time but he wasn’t one of the best WWE champions of all time and grabs the number 26 spot on the list.
photo credit: WWE
First things first, Yokozuna wasn’t Japanese or a sumo wrestler, he was a pure bread Samoan and is apart of the legendary Anoa’i family which also includes Roman Reigns, The Usos, Rikishi and Umaga. A fun fact that a lot of people may not know about Yokozuna was also apart of the backstage group BSK (Bone Street Krew). If that name sounds familiar to you its because The Undertaker has a tattoo that says “BSK pride” across his chest. The group conistsed of Taker, Yokozuna, Rikishi, The Godwinns, Paul Bearer, Charles Wright and Savio Vega. In the ring, Yokozuna enjoyed massive success including winning the 1993 Royal Rumble after Randy Savage tried to pin him, winning the World Tag Team championship with Owen Hart and being in the main event of both WrestleMania 9 and 10
Speaking of WrestleMania 9, the main event of that show saw Yokozuna defeat Bret Hart to win hi first WWE championship. The celebration would be short lived because minutes later, for some weird reason, Hulk Hogan came out and challenged Yokozuna to a match for the WWE title and actually defeated him. This is probably one of the worst decisions in WWE history because it simply didn’t make any sense. How on earth are you going to have Hogan come out and step in for Bret Hart then minutes later win the title? This was the time period when Vince McMahon started to lose his mind and make dumb decisions. Luckily for Yokozuna, he would win the title back just 70 days later at the 1993 King of the Ring from the Hulkster, and went on to have an amazing 280 day reign as champion. Yokozuna did get screwed out of the title the first time but thankfully was given a second opportunity and made the best of it.
photo credit: WWE
When Sheamus first debuted as apart of ECW, people never would of thought he would have so much success in WWE. The fans just saw him as this ghost white guy with ginger hair and no clear direction but that all changed very quickly. Sheamus was given a very big push when he debuted on Raw. Some of the first wrestlers he feuded with were Triple H, John Cena and Daniel Bryan. Sheamus’ first WrestleMania match was against Triple H and the two had a very intense feud for the lead up to the match that even saw Sheamus attack The Game with a led pipe. Even though Sheamus may have lost his first WrestleMania match, people knew that he would become a force in WWE for many years to come. Sheamus has enjoyed success in his singles career, having won the United States championship twice and the World Heavyweight championship once when he beat Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 28 in 18 seconds. Sheamus has also won the Royal Rumble, the King of the Ring and the Money in the Bank making him only the second man in history to win all three of those matches
Sheamus won his first WWE championship from John Cena in a tables match at WWE TLC 2009. This came as a complete shock to every member of the WWE universe as people just expected this to be another match where Cena conquers the villain but no, Sheamus pulled off one of the biggest upsets in WWE history when he sent Cena though the table from off the top rope. This victory helped Sheamus win the newcomer of the year award at the Slammys that year and Sheamus would go on to have a reign of 70 days with the championship. He lost the title in an Elimination Chamber match to John Cena, other participants in the match included Triple H, Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase Jr and Kofi Kingston. Sheamus would hang around the main event scene for the whole summer of 2010 and in June of that year he won his second WWE championship in a Fatal 4-Way match that also involved John Cena, Edge and Randy Orton. This second reign of his would be completely better than his first. He beat Cena in a steel cage match at Money in the Bank, he retained the title at SummerSlam by defeating Randy Orton via DQ and then his title reign would come to an end at Night of Champions 2010 when he lost to Orton in a six pack challenge match that also included John Cena, Edge, Wade Barrett and Chris Jericho. Sheamus would again hang around the main event-mid card scene for five years before winning his third WWE championship. Roman Reigns had just defeated Dean Ambrose for the WWE title at Survivor Series 2015 and then five minutes later, Sheamus hit two brogue kicks on Reigns and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to reclaim the championship however, he only made one title defense until he lost it back to Roman just 22 days later Sheamus is in all likelihood done with the championship as WWE looks for the next crop of stars to win the gold but he sure was a very good WWE champion and will one day be in the WWE Hall of Fame
23. John Bradshaw Layfield
photo credit: WWE
JBL is a bad announcer, there I said it. The only time he’s funny in any regard is when he calls Michael Cole “maggle” and that’s really it. People need to put aside his bad announcing career to see that he is one of the better wrestlers of all time and will most certainly make it into the WWE Hall of Fame. A fun fact about him is his whole rih business man gimmick was actually based off of his real-lie stock market investor job, so JBL deffinietly knows some people down on wall street. JBL debuted in WWE in the early 90s as a young buck named Bradshaw then he quickly turned into the cowboy Blackjack Bradshaw until settling into his role as Bradshaw as apart of the infamous APA. The Acolytes Protection Agency is one of the best tag teams in WWE history. The group were three time WWE Tag Team champions and are known for their fantastic matches against The New Age Outlaws, The Brood and The Hardy Boys. When JBL split from the group he went on to have a fantastic singles run which saw him win the United States and Intercontinental championships. He has also had fantastic matches with John Cena, The Undertaker and Eddie Guerrero in fact, Layfield’s match with Guerrero at Judgement Day 2004 was so bloody and violent that it became the first WWE PPV to be rated TV-MA. JBL also put on another bloody classic against John Cena at the following year’s pay per view. Come to think of it, JBL has shed a lot of blood during his WWE career and there is honestly no problem with that. What WWE wants you to forget about JBL is that his last match lasted 21 seconds after he was defeated by Rey Mysterio for the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania 25.
Speaking of the great Guerrero-JBL wars, at The Great American Bash 2005 JBL defeated Eddie Guerrero in a Texas Bullrope match to win his first WWE championship. This reign would last an amazing 280 days and would make JBL the longest reigning champion in Smackdown history, a feat that no man will probably conquer again (mostly because WWE won’t do a brand split any time soon). JBL’s first WWE championship defense on a pay per view came at SummerSlam 2004 when he defeated The Undertaker then at No Mercy 2004 he defeated The Deadman again in a last ride match. If you asking yourself why he didn’t defend the title at every pay per view that year it’s because WWE was in the brand split era and the title was exclusively on Smackdown. He later went on to defeat Booker T at Survivor Series, The Undertaker, Booker T and Eddie Guerrero at Armageddon 2004, Big Show and Kurt Angle at Royal Rumble 2005 and then finally the Big Show in a barbed wire steel cage match at No Way Out 2005. JBL finally lost the title to John Cena at WrestleMania 21, marking the first time Cena ever won the WWE title. JBL put on phenomenal matches during his time as WWE champion and even though he never won the title again, he made the case as to why he is a fantastic WWE champion.
photo credit: WWE
The Deadman, The Phenom, Big Evil, whatever nickname you want to give to The Undertaker it will fit the man to a tee. He is by far one of, if not the greatest wrestler of all time and he is one of my personal favorite superstars ever. The contributions and sacrifices Mark Calaway has made to the wrestling industry will go unmatched forever. Whether it was putting younger talents over or wanting to end the streak when it was just 13-0, we will never see another worker like Calaway ever again. The Undertaker debuted at the 1990 Survivor Series and immediately made a huge impact on arrival, he eliminated Koko B. Ware and Dusty Rhodes to help the Million Dollar Team defeat The Dream Team. From there on the force of The Undertaker would be felt throughout the WWE for years to come. The list of accomplishments The Undertaker has under his belt is enormous he is a 6 time WWE Tag Team champion having teamed with the likes of The Rock, Big Show, Stone Cold and his half-brother Kane, he is also a former WCW Tag Team champion with Kane, a former Hardcore champion, the winner of the 2007 Royal Rumble, has the most wins at WrestleMania and the longest winning streak at the event out of any superstar ever and has won the Slammy Award four times for Match of the Year. Those matches were against Shawn Michaels in 2009 and 2010, Triple H in 2012 and against Brock Lesnar in 2015. It still bothers fans across the world (myself included) that the streak was broken and it honestly should’ve continued until he retired but I guess beggars can’t be choosers and thus the streak was broken by Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. A couple of fun facts about the Deadman are he is the only current superstar to appear on the first ever Raw, he is the leader of the backstage posse known as the Bone Street Krew and even use to punish superstars backstage via this court-like system he implicated.
You can add being a 4 time WWE champion to the list of Undertaker’s accomplishments. When he first debuted, Undertaker was pushed very hard because of his size and stature. WWE really saw him as a force that could lead in the next generation of superstars. Just a year after making his debut, Undertaker defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWE championship t the 1991 Survivor Series making him the youngest person ever to hold the belt. This win over Hogan showed the fans that Undertaker was here to stay and that he would go on to have a lengthy title reign. What happened? he ended up losing the title back to Hogan just SIX short days later, yup the Undertaker’s first reign as champion lasted six whole days. Although being involved in title matches, Undertaker would have to wait six years before he ever reclaimed the WWE championship and that came at WrestleMania 13 where he defeated Sycho Sid in the main event. The win over Sid would mark The Undertaker’s sixth consecutive victory at WrestleMania. Taker’s second reign as champion lasted a huge 133 days before he lost the belt to Bret Hart in a very good match at SummerSlam 1997 with Shawn Michaels as the special guest ref. Taker would win back his title just two short years later when he defeated Stone Cold at Over the Edge 1999 with both Shane and Vince McMahon as the special guest refs. The wars between Steve Austin and Undertaker were so brutal yet so incredible, people can look back on them with great memories. Taker’s third reign as champion lasted a short 36 days before Steve Austin won back the title on an episode of Raw. The next time The Undertaker won the title, he would look a bit different. The Undertaker returned to WWE at Judgement Day and came down to the ring on a motorcycle to the tune of Kid Rock’s “American Badass”. This gimmick is one of my favorite all time just because of how badass Taker was and how he got to be a normal superstar instead of a mysterious man who never talked at all. This gimmick saw Taker win his fourth and last WWE championship when he defeated Hollywood Hulk Hogan at Judgement Day 2002. Once during his reign, we would see the first interaction ever between John Cena and Undertaker when in a backstage segment Taker would compliment Cena on his first WWE match and the two would later face of at Vengeance 2003. Taker lost the title 63 days later to The Rock at Vengeance 2002 in a triple threat match that also involved Kurt Angle. This match was extremely good, it featured three future hall of famers going at it for 20 minutes for the belt and was honestly one of the better matches of 2002. The Undertaker’s reigns as champion were certainly phenomenal to say the least and Taker showed to us that not only is he one of the greatest superstars of all time, he was also one of the greatest WWE champs ever as well.
21. Kurt Angle
photo credit: WWE
The Olympic gold medalist is probably one of the best pure wrestlers still active today. His in-ring and submission style is just so excellent it makes the big guys in WWE today look like fools. Kurt Angle is the best amateur wrestlers ever, he is only one of four people to complete the amateur wrestling grand slam and was also named the best shoot wrestler ever by USA Wrestling. If you think that this whole “Olympic hero” gimmick is fake you’re completely wrong, Angle really did win the gold medal in the 1996 summer games for freestyle wrestling. Kurt Angle just knows the sport of wrestling so well that he could educate a whole generation on the sport. 2000 was the biggest year for Angle and some consider it the best in pro wrestling history. The year saw Angle receive his first major push in which he held the European and Intercontinental championships at the same time. Just four mouths after that he was crowned King of the Ring and then in October of that year won his first WWE championship but I’ll get to that soon. Angle is also a former United States, WCW, WWE Tag Team and World Heavyweight champion. He was actually the first WWE Tag Team champion, alongside Chris Benoit he defeated Ede and Rey Mysterio to become inaugural champions at No Mercy 2002. After leaving WWE, Angle has gigantic success in TNA in which he was a record six time TNA Heavyweight champion, a two time TNA Tag Team champion and a one time X Division champion. Kurt Angle has since departed from the company and has been teasing a WWE return for quite some while and honestly with all the talent WWE has on their roster right now, I would kill to see Angle return and have matches with guys like Kevin Owens, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Like I said before, 2000 was the year of Kurt Angle. In October he defeated The Rock in a 20 minute no DQ slugfest at No Mercy. This would mark the first time Angle captured the WWE title and this would also cap off what many believe as the best year for a single wrestler in history. Angle’s first reign lasted an amazing 126 days before it came to an end at the hands of The Rock at No Way Out 2001. Many people remember the year 2001 as the year the World Trade Center was destroyed in that horrible and terrifying terrorist attack that would change the course of the world as we knew it. Just two days after the attack, WWE held a TV taping that many believe to be the first mass gathering since the attack. A few weeks later WWE was in Angle’s hometown of Pittsburgh for Smackdown. It was on this night that WWE had a feel good American moment by having Angle defeat Stone Cold for the WWE championship. This was one of the few instances that a real life event caused a WWE title change. This would also be Angle’s shortest reign as he lost the title back to Austin just 15 short days later. Kurt Angle regained the WWE title when he defeated the Big Show at Armageddon 2002 and would go on to have a 105 day title reign. If you look back at it, Angle really dominated the early 2000s and is without a doubt one of the best wrestlers of the decade. Kurt Angle’s third title reign came to an end in the main event of WrestleMania 19 in which he was beaten by Brock Lesnar in a match many believe to be a top 5 ‘Mania main event of all time. Lesnar and Angle were made to feud with each other. Both of them have amateur backgrounds and both are strong style type wrestlers. Angle would get revenge for the WrestleMania main event by defeating both Lesnar and the Big Show at Vengeance 2003 and thus capturing the WWE title for the fourth time. This reign lasted 51 days then the greatest match in Smackdown history happened. Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar had a sixty minute iron man match for the title in which Lesnar walked away the victor. This match was so unbelievable that most fans need to watch it again in all its glory just to reminisce on how good of an era it was. Kurt Angle put on some of the best matches WWE has ever seen with the likes of The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero and Brock Lesnar and will go down in history as one of the best superstars and WWE champions of all time.
20. Seth Rollins
photo credit: WWE
Okay, okay so maybe Seth Rollins didn’t have a better WWE championship reign than the other entries on this list because of how poorly it was booked especially at the end of it and even though a lot of people were getting tired of it (myself included) Rollins still enjoyed a fantastic WWE title reign. First of all, no one and I mean not a soul expected Seth to cash in his Money in the Bank contract in the main event of WrestleMania 31. This was honestly the best ending to a WrestleMania in recent memory and could be argued that it was one of the best ever. By having Seth Rollins pin Roman Reigns and win the title, WWE saved the show from fan backlash and from having Reigns get booed right out of the building but I guess this year was the complete opposite story. Rollins’ first reign as champion lasted an incredible 220 days and what made this reign so special was the fact that Rollins also became the first NXT champion to win the WWE championship and this would set the bar very high for guys like Sami Zayn, Neville, Finn Balor and Kevin Owens. During his reign, Rollins had phenomenal matches against Dean Ambrose (including their matches at Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank), Neville and John Cena. Just seeing how hard Rollins was pushed was truly spectacular, we saw WWE pick the next big thing for the next generation and he even was crowned United States champion. Other notable superstars Rollins defeated during his reign were Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Sting. Unfortunately, Seth had to vacate the title when he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus at a live event in Ireland. Rollins will reclaim the title again and that is a fact and when he returns he will no doubt be on of the biggest babyfaces in the company and will lead WWE into the new generation.
19. The Ultimate Warrior
photo credit: WWE
Perhaps one of the biggest names of the 80s and early 90s not named Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior is truly what his name says he is. The man was beloved by fans worldwide and his legendary face paint and run to the ring will live on in WWE forever. Warrior really had some of the biggest and most important matches in WWE history. For starters, his match against The Honky Tonk Man at the inaugural SummerSlam came as a shock to everyone in attendance and everyone watching at home. No one expected the Warrior to come out and defeat Honky Tonk Man in just 27 seconds to win his first Intercontinental championship. 1988 was just the tip of the iceberg for the man, when 1989 began he was involved in one of the best feuds in WWE history. The Warrior was clashing with Rick Rude at the ’89 Royal Rumble in a “pose off” match and when Rude lost he attacked Warrior with a steel bar which led to a match at WrestleMania V for the Warrior’s Intercontinental championship in which Rude won because his manager, Bobby Heenan, grabbed the Warrior’s legs while he was being pinned. Luckily, at SummerSlam ’89, Warrior regained his title by defeating Rick Rude fair and square. If his matches with Rick Rude weren’t spectacular enough, his match with Randy Savage at WrestleMania VII is probably one of the most important in history. To put it short, Warrior and Savage had a great “loser is forced to retire” match in which Warrior pinned Savage but after the match Sensational Sherri attacked the Macho Man until Miss Elizabeth made the saved and reunited with her long lost man to the weeping of tears of joy from everyone in attendance.
1990 was the year of the Warrior. It all started off with a confrontation with Hulk Hogan at the Royal Rumble that led many to believe they would have a match at WrestleMania VI. Those who wanted this match got their wished granted as the WWF announced the match would be winner take all, Hogan’s WWF championship and Warrior’s Intercontinental championship, the winner of “the ultimate challenge” would walk away as the first man ever to hold both the WWF and Intercontinental championships. The match was held in front of 67,000 people at Toronto’s SkyDome and is one of the best WrestleMania main events of all time. Warrior, much to shock of everyone in attendance, defeated Hogan to win his first and only WWE title and this win would mark the first time a superstar held both the WWF and Intercontinental championships. This win catapulted Warrior to the stratosphere, in the months that followed Warrior successfully defended his title against the likes of Haku, Mr Perfect and Ted Dibiase and even main evented SummerSlam ’89 against his long time rival Rick Rude in a steel cage match. Warrior’s only reign as champion lasted 293 days which is 18th on the all time list. Warrior lost the title to Iraq sympathizer Sgt Slaughter at the 1991 Royal Rumble because apparently WWF thought it was a good idea for an Iraq sympathizer to win their biggest prize during the time of the Gulf War. Warrior’s lasting legacy is immortalized with the Warrior award which is given out every year at the WWE Hall of Fame. We will never likely see another superstar so great as the Ultimate Warrior ever again just the way he inspired a whole generation will go unmatched throughout time.
photo credit: WWE
Big Daddy Cool Kevin Nash is known to have one of the best professional wrestling careers of any big man in wrestling history. The man has made an impact wherever he went and was finally honored last year when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Nash has gone on record as to saying if he didn’t have wrestling he would probably be running some strip joint which is kind of ironic considering he’s been in both Magic Mike movies. Diesel has been notoriously apart of some of the best tag teams in wrestling history including teaming up with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall and Sting while also being apart of the big three that formed the NWO. Kevin Nash is a former Intercontinental champion, a 2 time former WWE Tag Team champion, a former 9 time WCW Tag Team champion and a former 5 time WCW World Heavyweight champion. Diesel enjoyed a lot of success in WWE but in WCW he enjoyed just as much if not more. As I said before he won the WCW title 5 times and was also the first man to defeat Goldberg in WCW and in the process ended his streak at 173-0. Nash was also apart of the best faction in wrestling history known as the NWO. The NWO was really the reason WCW had an 82 week viewing streak over the WWE during the Monday Night Wars, this group basically ran the whole company and even at one point there were plans to make NWO and WCW two separate brands and of course we all know when Nash and Scott Hall invaded WCW and became the Outsiders.
If you check the history books, you’ll see that the year 1994 was the best year in Diesel’s historic career. The man won the WWE Triple Crown in just one year alone making him the only person in history to accomplish such a feat. He first won the Intercontinental title on April 13 then with Shawn Michaels won the Tag Team titles on August 28 and finally capped of his year with an 8 second win over Bob Backlund on November 28 to win his first and only WWE championship. This one reign as champion lasted 358 days making Nash the longest reigning WWE champ of the 90s. Diesel defeated the likes of Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XI, Sycho Sid at the first two In Your House events and King Mabel in the main event of the ’95 SummerSlam. The Hitman Bret Hart ended Diesel’s incredible reign by defeating him at the ’95 Survivor Series. Diesel is the second longest one reign champion in WWE history with the first being Pedro Morales. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that when you look back at the giants in wrestling history, you have to look back at this man’s career and make the argument that he is one of the best big men to ever lace up a pair of boots.
photo credit: WWE
A man who made his career in the tag team division along with his bestfriend of 22 years Christian, Edge is one of the biggest underdogs of all time and undoubtedly one of the best superstars of all time. Some of his best matches include every tag team TLC match he’s ever been in, the first Money in the Bank ladder match which he won, his TLC match against John Cena at Unforgiven ’07, his match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 24 and SummerSlam ’08 and his extreme rules match with Mic Foley at WrestleMania 22. Edge is simply one of the best performers of all time and it was a sad day when he unexpectedly announced his retirement but if you look back on his career and look at all the hard bumps he took, you’ll see why he was forced to retire. Edge is also one of the most decorated champions of all time having won the Intercontinental championship five times, the World Heavyweight championship a record seven times, the United States championship once (he defeated Test at the ’01 Survivor Series to unify the WWE Intercontinental and WCW United States championships), he is also a 14 time Tag Team champion and is the first man in history to win the King of the Ring tournament, the Royal Rumble and the Money in the Bank ladder match. Edge’s resume ranks up there with some of the greatest superstars of all time
Edge is also a four time WWE champion. When Edge captured his first WWE title it came as a complete shock to everyone because Edge became the first man in history to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. John Cena had just won the Elimination Chamber match at New Year’s Revolution ’06 and Edge, who had held on to his contract for 280 days, finally cashed in and won his first WWE title. By doing this, Edge was given the nickname “the ultimate opportunist” which means he always strikes when the time is right. Edge’s first title reign lasted a lackluster 21 days and he was defeated by Cena at the ’06 Royal Rumble but a lot of people knew this wouldn’t be the last time Edge and Cena would face off for the gold. Fast forward to July of that year Edge was challenging for the WWE title again this time his opponent was Rob Van Dam who just had defeated John Cena at ECW One Night Stand. Since both men wanted a shot at RVD’s title they settled it in a triple threat match on an episode of Raw for the WWE title. This triple threat match is one of the best matches on Raw in which the title was on the line and of course, Edge walked away the winner and began his second reign as champ. This reign would be a slight improvement over his first one but not that big of one as his second reign lasted just 76 days before he had one of the best TLC matches of his career with John Cena in front of his hometown of Toronto at Unforgiven ’06. Edge was FU’d (later known as the Attitude Adjustment) through a stack of tables from off the top of a ladder and lost the WWE title to Cena. The way Edge won his third WWE title was almost as shocking and confusing as the first time he won. At Survivor Series 2008 it was originally supposed to be Triple H vs Jeff Hardy vs Vladimir Kozlov (remember him?) for the WWE championship but due to the storyline, Jeff Hardy was “attacked” and couldn’t compete in the match so the match started as a one on one and it was really boring but when the match was nearing an end Vickie Guerrero came out and said “he’s here! everyone he’s here!” which the whole live crowd, myself included, thought it would be Hardy but when Edge’s music hit the whole building went into complete shock. Not a soul expected him to come out and not only come out but win the title in the process, marking the third time he won the title. Yet again Edge had a lackluster 21 day title reign and he lost the title to Jeff Hardy in a triple threat match at Armageddon 2008 that also involved Triple H which is one of my favorite matches of all time. Edge got revenge on Hardy at the Royal Rumble 2009 when he defeated him in a no disqualification match to win the title for the fourth time. How long did his fourth and last title reign last you may ask? well 21 days, yet again Edge held the title for just 21 whole days. Three of Edge’s title reigns lasted 21 days which is by far a big job rob on the part of WWE. Edge was such a good heel and such a good talker on the mic that he should’ve had at least a 200+ day title reign but I guess WWE didn’t believe in him enough. He earned my respect though, which is why he grabs the number 17 spot on this list.
16. Ric Flair
photo credit: WWE
Ric Flair is the best heel of all time and is probably a top three or even the best wrestler of all time. The list of his accolades stretches for miles, he has been apart of some of the most dominant factions in wrestling history and he was the poster boy for both WCW and NWA. Flair has an over 40 year wrestling career, he has faced everyone from Sting to Shawn Michaels to Randy Savage and his matches with those three men and the countless other legends he has faced in his career are some of the best matches of all time. How good of a wrestler was he? well for starters, he was trained by one of the wrestling gods Verne Gagne, he is a record sixteen time world champion but some may argue that that number may be as high as 25, he is the only two time WWE Hall of Famer, he is a six time United States champion, a former Intercontinental champion and has won the PWI Wrestler of the Year award a record six times and was the trainer of Triple H and his sons and daughter, the late Reid and former United States champ David and the current WWE Women’s champ Charlotte.
No, Ric Flair isn’t a 16 time WWE champion, that number is based of the world championships he’s won in different promotions. He is an eight time NWA champ, a six time WCW champ and a two time WWE champ. Flair made history at the 1992 Royal Rumble when he won the first rumble that was for the WWE championship. Some fans may remember his huge storyline he had with Randy Savage in which Flair taunted his “wife” Miss Elizabeth by telling the Macho Man that he cheated on him with Flair and that Flair used to invite Elizabeth over his house for some “activities”. Flair’s first title reign lasted a short 77 days and Savage got revenge on him by defeating him at WrestleMania 8. To be fair, in 1992 the title only changed hands between 3 superstars. On an episode of Prime Time Wrestling, Flair would get the title back from Savage and became a two time champ. His celebration would be short live however because just 41 days later, Flair lost to Bret Hart at a house show. Collectively, Flair held the title for just 118 days which isn’t all that impressive but for a guy who before 1992 never stepped foot into WWE to come into the company and win its top prize is beyond amazing. Flair won his first title just 113 days after his WWE debut which is the least time since a debut to win the WWE title. His WWE title reigns aside, Flair is the best wrestler the world has ever seen and without him the industry would look very, very different.
15. Brock Lesnar
photo credit: WWE
The Beast Incarnate that is Brock Lesnar. This man is such a physical specimen that you have to go see live to believe the size of this man. Brock is the most dominant superstar on the roster today and no man I can think of can match his power. Since returning to WWE Lesnar has worked a much liter schedule that most of the other top stars on the roster. He really only appears at the big four pay per views (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series) and rarely at any other ones, he works 2-4 house shows a year and most of the house shows he does work are aired live on the WWE Network, during his last title reign he only defended it three times and mostly sat out a lot of Raw and Smackdown tapings and he’s been known to be a rough person to work with mostly because of all the suplexes he delivers. Regardless of how hard of a wrestler he is or how hard he is to work with. Lesnar has never won any other title in the WWE other than the WWE championship but in New Japan he won the IWGP Heavyweight title in his debut match and became one of the few Americans to hold that title. He is also notorious for having a terrible dream match against Goldberg at WrestleMania 20. Why was it terrible? to put it this way, both men were leaving the company and didn’t even try to have a good match and the fans resented and booed the both of them out of the building. Lesnar later pursued a career in the NFL but was cut in 2005. He also won the UFC Heavyweight championship and had a decent career before he came back to WWE. Just two years after his return, Lesnar ended the legendary WrestleMania undefeated streak of The Undertaker and shocked every single wrestling fan across the globe, just go back and watch the ending of the match, you’ll see every fan’s jaws drop to the floor. Brock Lesnar is also the only man in history to win the WWE, UFC and NCAA division 1 Heavyweight championships.
Lesnar had his best career year in 2002. The year saw him make his WWE debut and also win the King of the Ring tournament. At SummerSlam of that year, he defeated The Rock to win his first WWE title in what was the best SummerSlam main event of all time. The first reign of his lasted 84 days and he was betrayed by Paul Heyman and defeated by The Big Show at the ’02 Survivor Series. At the beginning of 2003, Lesnar made his Royal Rumble debut and won the match putting him in the main event of WrestleMania 19 against Kurt Angle for the WWE championship. This match is known for two things, one being one of the best pure wrestling main events of all time and two being Brock’s botched shooting star splash that gave him a concussion but Lesnar still went on with the match and won his second WWE title. Brock’s rivalry with Kurt Angle is known for having some of the best entertaining matches ever. Why were they so good? well because both of them had amateur wrestling backgrounds and both knew how to get the crowd involved in the matches. Lesnar and Angle went back and forth with the WWE title with Angle picking up his last win at Vengeance 2003 over both Brock and the Big Show. Then, to cap off their brutal rivalry, Angle and Lesnar had the best Smackdown match of all time. A 60 minute iron man match for the WWE title that had everyone on the edge of their seats, Lesnar defeated Angle and picked up his third WWE title reign, this is also the last time the WWE title changed hands on Smackdown. Lesnar’s third reign lasted an incredible 152 days before he famously lost to Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out 2004 in one of the biggest upsets in WWE history. This would be Brock’s last title reign in WWE before he left the company. His return in 2012 made many fans wonder when he would win the title again and those thoughts came to be at SummerSlam 2014 when Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena in the most dominant performances ever. Lesnar gave birth to suplex city in that match as he delivered over 15 suplexes to Cena and Cena barley got any offense in, the match was basically a squash match. Lesnar’s fourth reign was a bit weird because as I said earlier, he only defended it three times and sat out a lot of Raw, Smackdown and pay per views. Regardless, Lesnar’s fourth reign lasted a huge 224 days and then Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract in the main event of WrestleMania 31 and unseated Lesnar as champ. There is no denying Brock is one of the best pure athletes to ever come to the WWE and he isn’t done destroying everyone on the roster.
14. Eddie Guerrero
photo credit: WWE
Viva La Raza! Eddie Guerrero is another one of my favorite superstars of all time and is considered by the likes of Kurt Angle, Triple H, CM Punk and even the late, great Dusty Rhodes as the best pure talent of all time. Guerrero’s “lie, cheat, steal” gimmick was so over with the fans that it was almost impossible to boo him and they way he cheated to win those matches were just so perfectly executed that you can make the case that this is the best gimmick of all time. Eddie was well regarded across the globe, having come from the legendary Guerrero family, he was trained by his father Gory and performed for CMLL and NJPW while he also performed for the big three American wrestling promotions of ECW, WCW and WWE. In ECW he won the Television championship once, in WCW he won the Cruiserweight championship twice and the United States championship once and in WWE he is a four time WWE Tag Team champion, a two time Intercontinental champion, a former United States champion and also won the WWE championship. When Eddie Guerrero tragically passed away many fans were distraught and were brought to tears by the news of his death, his tribute show on Raw was one of the saddest moments anyone has seen in WWE history but when he was honored in the WWE Hall of Fame, we all remembered this great man in a way most would remember a hero.
Eddie, of course, was one of those guys who was believed to be good just not main eventer good but that all changed at No Way Out 2004. On that night, Guerrero did the impossible and defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE championship. The moment was almost too good to be true with every fan in the arena pulling for Eddie, even his family was at ringside. This was such a feel good moment because you saw a true underdog rise to glory and this is one of the best feel good moments in WWE history. Of course at the next pay per view, WrestleMania 20, he successfully defended his title against Kurt Angle and at the end of the event embraced his long time friend Chris Benoit in the ring with confetti raining down all around them. This is my favorite moment in wrestling history and it honestly brought me to tears just because of the fact that my two all time favorites were sharing a heartfelt moment on the grandest stage of them all. Guerrero’s single title reign lasted 133 days, during this time he engaged in a bloody rivalry against JBL and was eventually beaten by him for the title in a Texas bullrope match at The Great American Bash ’04. Eddie was involved in a couple of title matches later on, but never regained the championship. Eddie Guerrero will always be remembered for the sacrifices he’s made for the industry and how incredible most of his matches were, a true hero in his own right his memory will live on forever.
13. Pedro Morales
photo credit: WWE
In the early days of the WWE championship, only five men held the title in the first ten years of its existence, Pedro Morales was one of those men. Morales wrestled all over the world including places like NJPW, Canada, NWA and Championship Wrestling in Florida. Pedro Morales was one of the WWWF’s most important superstars because he was the first Latino wrestler to ever win a heavyweight championship which would set the bar extremely high for generations to come. He is the first ever Triple Crown winner having won the World Tag Team championship with Bob Backlund, having set the record for most combined days holding the Intercontinental championship and he defeated Ivan Koloff in New York City for his first and only WWE championship win. Pedro won the title on February 8, 1971 and lost it to Stan Stasiak on December 1, 1973. His 1,027 day title reign is the longest ever for a wrestler who has only won the belt once. In a match that many called “The Match of the Century” Pedro Morales defeated Bruno Sammartino at Shea Stadium in NYC. The reason why this match has its nickname is because both men fought until the match had to be stopped because of the city’s curfew time, the match itself was a series of near falls and fantastic technical wrestling that left everyone wanting more. The official time of length for the match was 65:35. Morales also had title victories over Ernie Ladd, Mr Fuji, Mikel Scicluna and George “The Animal” Steele. Pedro Morales is a hero in the Latino wrestling world and is regarded by many to be one of the pioneers of the industry.
12. Randy Savage
photo credit: WWE
OHHH YEAHHH! Macho Man Randy Savage is easily one of the most recognizable names and figures in wrestling history. Savage had both a successful career in both the WWE and WCW where he won the WCW championship four times. In the WWE he has one of their most important attractions based on his fan support and in ring ability. Many first saw him as a “younger brother” to Hulk Hogan when they first formed the Mega Powers and in a sense many felt he was just like Hogan, not better than him. I personally believe that Savage was the better wrestler and his heel run during the late 80s is one of the better runs ever produced. The only other title Savage ever won in the WWE was the Intercontinental championship. He defeated Tito Santana in my hometown of Boston at a house show in 1986 and went on to hold the title for a spectacular 414 until he was defeated by Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania 3 in one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time. Amazingly, he never won the Tag Team championships despite being partners with The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan. Remember that whole “marriage” storyline with Miss Elizabeth and how most WWE weddings are fake? well Savage and Elizabeth were legitimately married in real life and the two are the best on screen couples ever.
Randy Savage also won the WWE championship on two spate occasions. The first coming after he made it all the way to the finals of the WWE championship tournament at WrestleMania 4 where he defeated Ted Dibiase for the gold in the main event. The title was vacant due to president Jack Tunney vacating it after Andre the Giant handed it to Dibiase after he defeated Hulk Hogan in 1988. When Savage defeated Dibiase a lot of people wondered that this could be the dawning of a new era, the Macho Man era, and that maybe Hulk Hogan would fade behind Savage. That kind of happened, during his time as champion Savage formed an alliance with Hogan that would later be known as The Mega Powers and the two defeated Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant in the main event of SummerSlam 1988. As the year went on, WWE started to work a Savage-Elizabeth-Hogan love triangle storyline and really is one of the only love triangle storylines that made sense. Savage started to distrust Hogan around Elizabeth because he believed that Hulk had “lust” for her and it all came ahead in a backstage segment in which Savage cracked Hogan over the head with his WWE championship and later continued to beat up the Hulkster. It all came ahead in the main event of WrestleMania 5 when Hogan defeated Savage for his WWE title, ending the Macho Man’s reign at 371 days. Savage would get another shot at the belt four years later when he was involved in another love triangle storyline, this time with Ric Flair. Flair kept taunting Savage saying that his wife came over his house for dinner and “a show” and he kept doing this until Savage reached his breaking point and challenged Flair for his title at WrestleMania 8. Savage defeated The Nature Boy to win his second WWE championship. This reign of Savage’s lasted 149 days and Ric Flair got his revenge by defeating him on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling. Savage will most be remembered for his charismatic personality and grittiness and for most importantly inspiring fans across the globe.
11. Randy Orton
The grandson of the legendary Bob Orton Sr. and the son of “cowboy” Bob Orton, Randy Orton has had one of the best careers out of any current WWE superstar. When Orton debuted in WWE people thought of him to be nothing more than just a mid carder but he quickly proved he had a main event future. Just a few short months after his debut he joined the stable known as Evolution along with Ric Flair, Batista and Triple H. During his time in this stable he won the Intercontinental championship which would be the first title Orton would hold in WWE. At SummerSlam 2004 Randy Orton defeated Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight championship and became the youngest world champion in WWE history at age 24. The next night his Evolution members turned on him and threw him out of the faction which led to a storyline against Triple H. After moving on from Evolution, Randy Orton became the “legend killer” which is one of the best booked gimmicks ever. Orton would attack numerous legends like The Undertaker which led to a match at WrestleMania 21, Hulk Hogan which led to a match at SummerSlam 2006 and even D-Generation X. Orton would go on to form a tag team with Edge known as Rated RKO and the group won the World Tag Team championship once but most notably feuded with Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
The first time Randy Orton won the WWE championship was a bit odd because he didn’t actually win it, he was handed it by Vince McMahon. The title was vacated when John Cena suffered a torn pectoral and at No Mercy 2007, Orton was given the title by McMahon. Then minutes later, Triple H challenged Orton to a match for the title which Orton lost so Orton’s first title reign lasted under an hour. In the main event of the pay per view, Randy Orton won the title back in a last man standing match making him the youngest two time WWE champion ever. This second legitimate reign of Orton’s lasted for a huge 203 days which was very good for the young Orton. His reign ended when he lost in a fatal four way match to Triple H that also involved John Cena and JBL. Randy Orton’s third WWE title win came in another confusing situation. In early 2009, Orton was feuding with Triple H once again over the WWE championship and it got really personal when Orton got Shane, Vince and Stephanie McMahon involved. Randy Orton went on to win the 2009 Royal Rumble and main event WrestleMania 25 against The Game which Orton lost. However, at Backlash 2009, it was Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr. vs Triple H, Batista and Shane McMahon and if anyone on Orton’s team pinned anyone on Triple H’s team Orton would win the WWE championship which is exactly what happened. Randy’s third reign lasted a very short 42 days and then he was defeated by Batista in a steel cage match at Extreme Rules. Luckily for Orton and unluckily for Batista, The Animal suffered torn biceps and had to vacate the title so Orton went on to win a fatal four way match over Triple H, John Cena and the Big Show to become a four time WWE champion. This fourth reign of Orton’s lasted 90 days and it came to an end at the hands of John Cena in a extremely good I Quit match at Breaking Point 2009 then 21 days later Randy Orton got revenge in a Hell in a Cell match for the title to become a five time champ. This would be Orton’s shortest reign as champion as 21 days later he lost the title back to Cena in a 60 minute anything goes iron man match at Bragging Rights 2009 which is one of the better iron man matches in history. Randy would have to wait a full year to get another title win and a Night of Champions 2010 he defeated Wade Barrett, John Cena, Chris Jericho and Edge in a six pack elimination challenge to win his sixth WWE title. The sixth reign came to an unfortunate end when The Miz of all people cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on Orton just 64 days later. Orton infamously won his seventh WWE championship when Triple H predigreed Daniel Bryan after Bryan had just defeated John Cena at SummerSlam 2013 and Orton proceeded to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. Daniel Bryan would beat Randy Orton 28 days later at Night of Champions but was stripped the next night due to a controversial finish and at Hell in a Cell, Orton defeated Bryan for the vacant title to win his eight championship. During this 161 day reign, Randy Orton unified the WWE and World Heavyweight championships at TLC 2013 when he defeated John Cena in a TLC match. Of course we all know Orton’s last reign came to an end in the main event of WrestleMania 30 when Daniel Bryan finally reached the top of the mountain and defeated Orton and Batista. It is unknown if Orton will ever win the title again, it honestly doesn’t look good since Randy is currently out with a shoulder injury and looks to be coming into the twilight of his career but he is still one of the best champions of all time regardless.
10. Bret Hart
A man who has been known to be involved in some of the most controversial and greatest matches in wrestling history, Bret “The Hitman” Hart is one of the best submission specialist of all time. Of course he is one of the graduates of the world famous Hart dungeon and is the son of the legendary Stu Hart. Bret initially started out his WWE career in a tag team with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and the two were two time World Tag Team champions. Hart is also a two time Intercontinental champion, a two time King of the Ring winner, he was a co-winner of the 1994 Royal Rumble and is also a former WWE United States champion. As big of a superstar as Hart was in WWE, he was even bigger in WCW. In WCW Hart won the WCW World Heavyweight title two times, the United States title four times and is a former WCW Tag Team champion. You could put Bret Hart as one of the best faces and heels in WWE history, he just played both roles so uniquely that there are a select few superstars who can do the same. Hart and Steve Austin pulled of the best double turn in wrestling history at WrestleMania 13, the match is also called the best WrestleMania match ever. For those of you that don’t know a double turn is when a heel turns face and a face turns heel so in the case with Hart and Austin, Hart entered the match a face and Austin a heel but both men left the bloody match with reversed roles.
Even with a guy like Hulk Hogan still in the company during the early to middle 90s, I still believe Hart was the best superstar on the roster and he proved that by winning the WWE championship five times. The first time Hart won the title came at a house show in October 1992 and he defeated Ric Flair for the belt. This first reign of Hart’s lasted 174 days and during it he defended the title against Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon and Papa Shango before he was defeated by Yokozuna in the main event of WrestleMania 9. Bret would get revenge on Yokozuna one whole year later at WrestleMania 10 when he defeated the big Samoan in the main event with Roddy Piper as the special guest ref. This second reign of Hart’s lasted an incredible 248 days and it saw Bret have incredible matches against his little brother Owen and Diesel. Hart’s second reign ended when in a “throw in the towel” match, where a superstar’s manager has to throw a white towel in the ring in order for a wrestler to lose, Owen Hart convinced his mom to throw a towel in on the behalf of Bret and he lost his title to the great Bob Backlund. Bret Hart would end the nearly year long reign of Diesel to become a three time champion at Survivor Series 1995 in a no DQ match. Hart’s third reign came to an end 133 days later when he lost to Shawn Michaels in the main event of WrestleMania 12. The match is the best iron man match in wrestling history. When Shawn Michaels vacated the title due to injury in early 1997, a fatal four way elimination match at In You House 13 was set up to determine the next champion. The match included Bret Hart, Steve Austin, The Undertaker and Vader, Hart went on to win the match and become a four time champ but the celebration was short lived when just one day after he lost the title to Sycho Sid. Bret Hart would win the WWE title for the fifth and final time in the main event of the 1997 SummerSlam with Michaels as the special guest ref. The last time Hart would lose the title would be the most controversial decision in wrestling history, an event called the Montreal Screwjob, when Hart was screwed out of his title by Vince McMahon because he didn’t want to drop the title to Michaels and McMahon needed someone to hold the title before Hart left for WCW. The career of Bret Hart is filled with highs and lows but we call all remember this one thing about The Hitman, he is the best there is, the best there was and the best there will ever be.
9. Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund is the second longest reigning WWE champion in history, that alone speaks for itself. He was one of the most important superstars of the late 70s and was John Cena before there was a John Cena, he was just that over with the crowd and loved by the whole audience the world over. Backlund first won the WWE championship from Billy Graham at an NYC house show and Backlund became the first person to hold the title under the WWF name. His first reign as champion lasted an unimaginable 2,135 days but it was a strange 2,135 days. The problem with this reign was when Backlund was fighting Antonio Inoki at a house show in Japan, he lost the title to Inoki but WWE doesn’t recognize Inoki’s reign as champion for some reason and thus Backlund reign continued. Bob Backlund’s early challengers for his title included Mr. Fuji, Ivan Koloff, George Steele and Ken Patera. Backlund was also involved in rare “WWWF vs NWA” matches where he would challenge the NWA champion. His first match came against Harley Race and the two abbtled to a 60 minute time limit draw. He would go on to face Race four more times and even battled Ric Flair with both titles on the line, he would also face AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel and Florida champion Don Muraco. Remember how I said that Antonio Inoki defeated Backlund for the title? well just six days after defeating Backlund, Inoki vacated the title and Backlund later defeated Bobby Duncum in a Texas death match to fill the vacancy, WWE considers Backlund’s first and second reigns to be uninterrupted. Backlund would lose the title 1,470 days later to the Iron Sheik. Backlund returned to the WWE in the middle 90s and won his second WWE championship, defeating Bret Hart at the 1994 Survivor Series. Then just 3 short days later, Diesel defeated Bob Backlund in eight seconds to win the WWE title. This would be the last time the title would change hands at a house show. Bob Backlund’s career is the stuff of legends and he is undeniably one of the most important superstars ever
8. Triple H
photo credit: WWE
Ah, The Game, Triple H. The man is solely responsible for the rise of NXT and is regarded the world over as one of the most important superstars all time. When Vince McMahon retires, expect Hunter Hearst Helmsley to take over the company and hopefully book matches the way their booked in NXT. You can make the case that Trips has been favored heavily over younger stars in his time in WWE and that is true since he has been know to do a bit of burying but there have been times that he has helped put over up and coming stars. Just look at some of the stables and teams he has been apart of, DX, Evolution, The Authority, Two Man Power Trip these are some of the biggest groups of all time and Trips has been at the helm of them. Triple H is a five time Intercontinental champion, a three time Tag Team champion, a five time World Heavyweight champion, a two time Royal Rumble winner with his most recent victory coming this year, a former King of the Ring and he has main evented WrestleMania seven times which is tied with Hulk Hogan for the most of all time.
HHH is a nine time WWE champion which is the second most all time. His first title win came when he defeated Mankind the day after the 1999 SummerSlam with Shane McMahon being the special ref for the match. He held the belt for a porous 22 days then was defeated by Vince McMahon, yes Vincent Kennedy McMahon, on an episode of Smackdown. After Vince vacated the title, Trips won his second WWE title at Unforgiven 1999 in a six pack challenge that also involved The Rock, Mankind, Big Show, British Bulldog and Kane. His second reign came to an end just 49 days later when he was defeated by Big Show and Survivor Series 1999 in a triple threat match that also involved The Rock. HHH would get revenge on Big Show when he defeated him on an episode of Raw to win his third WWE title. This would be his first triple digit day reign as it lasted 118 days before it was ended by The Rock at Backlash 2000. This would be a series of matches where Rocky and Trips would go back and forth with the title. Hunter won back his title from The Rock at Judgement Day 2000 in a 60 minute iron man match that also saw the debut of The Undertaker’s “American Badass” gimmick. Triple H lost the title 35 days later at King of the Ring when The Rock pinned Mr. McMahon to win HHH’s title because the stipulation was if Kane, The Undertaker or The Rock pinned Vince, Shane McMahon or Triple H they would win the WWE title. Triple H won his fifth in his first main event at WrestleMania 18 when he defeated Chris Jericho to win the WWE title. His celebration was short lived because just 35 days later at the next pay per view, Backlash, he lost to the elderly Hulk Hogan. No one really knows why WWE had Hogan win the title when he could barley get lifted off the ground for a chokeslam. It was a bit odd when Trips won his sixth WWE title. Randy Orton had just been handed the title by Vince McMahon and HHH challenged him to a match which Trips surprisingly won but little over an hour later, Orton won back the title in a last man standing match. Triple H would be back on top of the mountain two years later when he won an elimination chamber match at No Way Out 2009 that also included Jeff Hardy, Vladimir Kozlov, The Undertaker, Big Show and Edge. This reign of his wasn’t expected to last long and many felt that Triple H was just a place holder until he gets beaten by Randy Orton and that’s exactly what happened. 70 days later Orton beat Triple H in a six man tag match in which if anyone on Orton’s team pinned anyone on HHH’s team, Orton would win the title. We all know the begrudging storyline involving Roman Reigns and The Authority and when the 2016 Royal Rumble match was for the WWE title Triple H returned and entered at number 30, many fans knew he would win and then go on to lost to Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania 32. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past three months you know that is exactly what happened. Triple H was again a placeholder champion for Reigns because WWE felt the need to jam this whole storyline down out throats. No matter what your view on Triple H is, whether you think he married into his success or feel as though he is too favorited backstage, you can’t deny that without him WWE wouldn’t look the same as it does today.
7. CM Punk
photo credit: WWE
Okay, okay so maybe I did put CM Punk so highly on this list because he is my absolute favorite superstar ever and he may not be better than other people behind him on this list but this is just an opinion piece so it’s all good. When Punk had enough with WWE and walked out the night after the 2014 Royal Rumble, many fans thought that it was just a storyline and that he would return in time for WrestleMania 30 but boy where we all wrong. Punk was legitimately done with WWE after sighting that he wasn’t treated properly in the company and that he should’ve main evented at least one WrestleMania. You really can’t blame Punk for leaving just look at what he went through, the Summer of Punk was awfully booked, he forced to work with Ryback and got injured as a result, The Rock got to main event WrestleMania during Punk’s record setting title reign and his title reign had to end at the hands of The Rock just because of the ‘Mania deal The Rock had with WWE. CM Punk knew his worth in wrestling, after all he was one of ROH top stars and had phenomenal matches in the indies against Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe and Daniel Bryan, that is why he left WWE plain and simple. To say Punk’s time in WWE was wasted is a bit untrue, he actually had a Hall of Fame worthy career and who knows maybe he will come back. Punk is a former Intercontinental champion, a former World Tag Team champion, a former ECW champion, a three time World Heavyweight champion and in his career has had two five star rated matches one of them being against John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 in his hometown of Chicago
The two WWE championship reigns of CM Punk were so good that it made me forget John Cena was still the face of the company. His storyline with John Cena went something like this: CM Punk dropped the best unscripted pipe bombed ever dropped in wrestling history, telling Cena that he will permanently leave WWE with the title and take it to ROH or NJPW, the two later go on to have a five star match at Money in the Bank 2011 which Punk won, Punk leaves WWE champion and comes back eight whole days later to find that a new WWE champion had been crowned. Who was that new champion? none other than Johnathan Q. Cena so a match was set, at SummerSlam 2011 it would be CM Punk vs John Cena and the winner would be crowned the undisputed WWE champion. Punk pinned Cena after special guest ref Triple H didn’t see Cena’s leg was on the bottom rope and continued to count to three and after the match things got a bit crazy, CM Punk was attacked by Kevin Nash of all people and after receiving a jack knife power bomb, he was pinned by Alberto Del Rio after Del Rio cashed in his Money in the Bank contract ending Punk’s first reign at 28 days. It took Punk just three months to get his WWE title back from Del Rio at the 2011 Survivor Series and after his win, Punk went on to have the greatest streak of the modern era. A record 434 days Punk held the title for, defeating the likes of Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Kane, John Cena, Big Show and Ryback. WWE actually got this right, they booked CM Punk to look like a better champion than The Rock and even Steve Austin. Unfortunately, Punk’s record reign ended at the hands of The Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble but it wasn’t all that bad. Punk went on to be one of The Undertaker’s best WrestleMania opponents and had one solid run until he left. To me, CM Punk is the most controversial superstar ever but controversial in a good way, he spoke his mind in a company where it’s a sin to do so and for that I will always admire him.
6. The Rock
photo credit: WWE
The most charismatic superstar ever, no question. The Rock had a bit of a hero’s journey when he came to the WWE, as he has said himself before he was wrestling in farmer’s markets for $7 and get his determination alive when he came to the WWE. Of course, you all know that The Rock is cousins with Yokozuna, Rikishi and Umaga and his uncles are Afa and Sika of the Wild Samoans, his father is the legendary Rocky Johnson and his grandfather is the great “High Chief” Peter Maivia so The Rock has wrestling in his blood. Just a few days after his debut, he was the sole survivor for his team at the 1996 Survivor Series and that was just the beginning for Rocky. He would go on to be one of WWE’s most important superstars during the Attitude Era and would be known for his great matches against Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock is a former two time WCW champion, a two time Intercontinental champion, a five time World Tag Team champion and was the winner of the 2000 Royal Rumble. Even after leaving the WWE, The Rock has become one of the world’s most successful actors with his movies grossing just over $1 billion dollars. He has been regarded by John Cena, Hulk Hogan and DDP as “the most successful and biggest WWE superstars ever”.
The Rock is a former eight time WWE champion but the weird thing is, he mostly went back and forth with the title with guys like Mankind and Triple H. The Rock won his first WWE title when he defeated Mankind in the Deadly Games tournament finals at the 1998 Survivor Series. I’ll just give a brief summary of all his reigns: he loses the title 44 days later to Mankind on Raw, wins it back from Mrs. Foley’s baby boy at the 1999 Royal Rumble in an I Quit match, loses it two whole days later in an empty arena match that aired during the halftime of Super Bowl 33, wins it back on an episode of Raw in a ladder match then finally loses it to Stone Cold in the first of their three WrestleMania matches. In the span of just four months, The Rock was a three time champion and going back and forth with the title like he did felt a little dumb to some people. He would later go back and forth again with the title, this time against Triple H. He defeated Triple H at Backlash 2000 to win his fourth WWE title, he lost it 21 days later back to Trips at Judgement Day and he won it back at King of the Ring for his fifth reign. This reign of Rock’s would be his longest, lasting 119 days. It ended at the hands of Kurt Angle at No Mercy 2000, The Rock would win it back from Angle for his sixth reign at No Way Out 2001 but lost it to Stone Cold just 35 days later in the main event of WrestleMania yet again. A full year later, The Rock won his seventh WWE championship defeating Kurt Angle and The Undertaker in a triple threat match at Vengeance 2002. He lost the title to Brock Lesnar 35 days later in the best main event in SummerSlam history. After leaving WWE to pursue his acting career, The Rock returned in 2011 to host WrestleMania 27 aka the worst WrestleMania ever but in 2013 he challenged CM Punk for the WWE title at the Royal Rumble and ended his 434 day title reign. The problem was it was a bit too obvious what was going to happen, John Cena would obviously win the Royal Rumble then challenged The Rock for the title at WrestleMania 29 and of course, that’s exactly what happened. The Rock basically held the title for 70 days knowing he wasn’t going to be champ past ‘mania which kind of made him a placeholder champ. The Rock’s title reigns are short but they are very memorable and no matter what you think of Dwayne Johnson, you can’t deny that he is the biggest superstars in history.
5. Shawn Michaels
photo credit: WWE
Before The Rock became the most charismatic person in WWE history, that title belonged to Shawn Michaels. The man may not be the most charismatic but he is without a shadow of a doubt the most important wrestler in WWE history, just the way he electrified the crowd and attracted millions of people the world over showed everyone why he was both loved and hated. Michaels was both and amazing babyface and heel, he really showed that when he first turned heel by superkicking Marty Jannetty then throwing him through the barbershop’s glass window and how he punked all of Montreal by telling them Bret Hart would come out and confront him only to have Hart’s music play and no one came out. One of Michaels biggest babyface moments is when he came back for his second run in the company and won the World Heavyweight title at the 2002 Survivor Series inside the very first elimination chamber. Shawn Michaels is a former six time Tag Team champion, a former three time Intercontinental champion, a two time Royal Rumble winner and the first ever Grand Slam champion. Just think of the amazing matches Michaels has been apart of, he faced Razor Ramon in a ladder match at WrestleMania 10 for the Intercontinental title, he faced Triple H in an unsanctioned weapons based match at SummerSlam 2002 and he has had two of the best WrestleMania matches of all time both coming against the Undertaker in back to back years.
As many people know, Michaels won his first WWE title in the main event of WrestleMania 12 in a 60 minute iron man match against Bret Hart. This is the best iron man match of all time, it was so good it had to go into overtime and neither men had a fall against each other up until Michaels finally pinned Hart in the OT. After the match, the most memorable words in ‘Mania history were said, “the boyhood dream has come true”, those words spoken by Vince McMahon really described the emotion Michaels was feeling that night and this moment would be remembered forever. His first ever reign lasted an amazing 231 and Michaels faced everyone from Diesel to Vader until he finally lost to Sycho Sid at the 1996 Survivor Series. Michaels defeated Sid for the title at the 1997 Royal Rumble but unfortunately vacated the title 25 days later sighting a knee injury. Many fans think that the only reason Michaels vacated the title was because he didn’t want to lose to Bret Hart in a WrestleMania rematch at ‘Mania 13 but regardless Michaels wouldn’t wrestle until the fall. When Michaels got back in the ring, he won his third and final title in the most controversial way, the Montreal Screwjob. Bret Hart was going to leave for WCW but was still holding the WWE title and didn’t want to drop it to Shawn Michaels and seeing as there was no clear way out of this Vince McMahon decided to have Earl Hebner, who promised Hart he wouldn’t screw him, ring the bell when Michaels locked in Hart’s signature sharpshooter on The Hitman. This got huge fan heat on Michaels but at least he embraced it. Michaels lost the title 140 days later in the main event of WrestleMania 14 to Steve Austin which many believe to be the start of the Attitude Era. Even in retirement Michaels still manages to pop the crowd by just appearing on Raw or Smackdown which goes to show why he is such a legend and such an important figure in WWE history
4. Stone Cold Steve Austin
photo credit: WWE
The career of Stone Cold Steve Austin is something of an underdog’s journey. He started off in WCW as a mid carder and was also apart of Paul E. Dangerously’s Dangerous Alliance. He also teamed with Brian Pillman and formed The Hollywood Blondes, the two won the WCW Tag Team championships. After splitting from the tag team, Austin won the WCW United States championship but his time in WCW would be cut short when Eric Bischoff fired him because he didn’t see Austin as a “marketable wrestler”, good ole Eric couldn’t have been more wrong. After WCW, he wrestled two matches for ECW until finally he was signed by WWE where he debuted as “The Ringmaster” which was just so horrible. It wasn’t until Austin picked his own gimmick, the “Stone Cold” one, that he would finally be getting recognition in WWE. When Austin defeated Jake Roberts in the 1996 King of the Ring finals and said the phrase “Austin 3:16 says I just kicked your ass!” many people think this was the unofficial start to the Attitude Era because we now had a no nonsense, hardcore attitude superstar who would cut vicious promos and insult his opponents. Austin is a former two time Intercontinental champion, a record three time Royal Rumble winner and a four time World Tag Team champion. Austin is also the most profitable wrestler of all time and had two of the most profitable feuds of all time against Mr. McMahon and The Rock, there just will never be another Steve Austin.
Stone Cold has had six WWE championship reigns. The first came in the main event of WrestleMania 14 when he defeated Shawn Michaels in what many believe to be one of the best world title matches ever at WrestleMania. Jim Ross stated after the match that “the Austin era has begun” and he couldn’t have been more right. Austin held the title for 91 days and was defeated by Kane in a first blood match at King of the Ring 1998. It wasn’t that big of a deal though because Austin won the title back from Kane the next night on Raw and began his second title reign. More shenanigans with Kane caused Austin’s reign to end at 90 days, both Kane and Undertaker pinned Austin so the title had to be vacated because there wasn’t a clear champion. Stone Cold would win his third WWE title in his first of three WrestleMania matches against The Rock, the two clashed in a no DQ match in the main event of WrestleMania 15. Just 56 short days later, Austin lost the title to The Undertaker at Over the Edge 1999 but won it back from The Deadman on Raw a month later for his fourth reign. It was odd that some of Austin’s title reigns seemed so short but I guess that was the case with a lot of stars back in the day. His fourth lasted 55 days and came to an end in the main event of the 1999 SummerSlam where Mankind defeated Austin and Triple H in a triple threat match. Nine months later, in the main event of WrestleMania 17 aka the greatest WrestleMania ever, Austin defeated The Rock for the WWE title once again but it wasn’t without help from Vince McMahon. Austin’s heel run didn’t work mostly because no fans wanted to boo him and he was just too over with every crowd. He was champion for 175 days and what is most remembered about this reign is his storyline about being the leader of The Alliance and turning on the WWF. His huge 175 day reign ended at the hands of Kurt Angle in Kurt’s hometown of Pittsburgh at Unforgiven 2001. A lot of fans believe that since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center happened just 12 days prior, WWE needed to capitalize on a feel good American moment and they felt that having Angle beat Austin for the title was the moment we needed. just two weeks later, Austin defeated Angle for his sixth WWE title. Chris Jericho shockingly defeated both The Rock and Stone Cold on the same night to unify the WCW and WWE championships which meant that Austin’s last reign ended at just 62 days. A lot of the Texas Rattlesnake’s reigns felt rushed and not to genuine but that doesn’t take away the impact he had as champ, he is remembered for changing the WWE title into the “Smoking Skull” title which was basically his own personal WWE championship. Stone Cold’s endless sacrifices will never be matched by another person in history, he literally had to go through severe spine injuries that could’ve crippled him and we are forever grateful for his resilience.
3. Hulk Hogan
photo credit: WWE
I REALLY don’t like Hulk Hogan, like at all. I just think that his ego and his bad backstage politics robbed us of some of the best matches that never happened like he could’ve faced Ric Flair and Bret Hart but he just didn’t want to do it because he was scared he would get replaced as the face of the company. Aside from some of the rubbish he’s done in WWE (and WCW) he is just an overall scumbag I mean just look at the whole reason why he was let go over by the WWE last year, for making racist comments about an African American man who his daughter was dating, that really was awful of him to do and since the NBA banned Donald Sterling for life for making racist comments it wasn’t surprising to see the WWE get rid of Hogan. If you look at a bunch of Hulk’s matches from a wrestling point, they aren’t any good at all and to me Hogan wasn’t a good wrestler but from an entertainment point of view a lot of his matches were so good. Take his match with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3 for example, both men could barley pull of any big moves up until Hogan slammed Andre and that’s what made the match good, that image of Hogan’s body slam is the most legendary image in wrestling history and it really was the only big move that either man did. Think about this too, what is the only other images you see from that match other than both men’s entrances to the ring, when Gorilla Monsoon said “the irresistible force meets the immovable object” and when Hogan slammed Andre? I’ll give you your answer: nothing, those three things are all you really see when WWE shows highlights of that match.
But enough of all the negatives about Hogan, there is no denying he is the biggest star WWE has ever had period. Yes, I’m saying he was bigger than both Stone Cold and John Cena and you can really say that without him, we probably wouldn’t have a WWE. Hogan’s stardom started when he won his first WWE title, he defeated the Iron Sheik in NYC on January 23, 1984. From that point on Hogan would hold the title for an unthinkable 1,474 days (4 years to put it in shorter terms) and he became the biggest superstar the world had ever seen. No one really though the Hulkster’s reign would ever end but they were wrong, Andre the Giant defeated Hogan in controversial fashion at The Main Event 1988. Hogan’s shoulder was up the whole time the ref counted to three but I guess the ref didn’t like Hogan all that much so he screwed him out of his title. Hogan got another chance at the title in the main event of WrestleMania 5 and he defeated his former friend Randy Savage to win his second WWE title. This reign would last 364 days making it the second time Hogan held the belt for just about a year or more. It’s kind of ironic, Hogan won the title at ‘Mania 5 then lost it to the Ultimate Warrior at ‘Mania 6 in a winner take all match for both the WWE and Intercontinental championships. When Iraq Sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter defeated Ultimate Warrior for the belt it would be none other than Mr. America himself Hulk Hogan to step up and challenge Slaughter for his belt at ‘Mania 7. Hogan defeated Slaughter to win his third title while also winning the hearts of every hardcore American out there. Hogan held on to the title for 248 days then was defeated by a young up and comer known as The Undertaker at the 1991 Survivor Series. Just six days later, Hogan won back his title and became a four time champion but was stripped just one day later by former president Jack Tunney over “controversy surrounding the match”. The way Hogan won his fifth WWE championship left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Yokozuna had just defeated Bret Hart in the main event of ‘Mania 9 and all of a sudden Hogan came out and convinced Hart to let him challenged Yokozuna for his title, in a matter of seconds Hogan had stolen all of Hart’s and Yokozuna’s momentum. Thankfully, Yokozuna won back the title from Hogan just 70 days later at King of the Ring 1993. After leaving WWE for WCW then coming back in the early 2000s, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan won his sixth WWE title from Triple H at Backlash 2002 but 28 days later was defeated by The Undertaker again at Judgement Day. I guess the reason why Hogan won the title in his last run with the company was because WWE thought it would be cool for him to win but really it wasn’t, he was just too old. A fun fact about him is that Hogan was the last person to have a WWE title reign that lasted over 1,000 days. I can blabber on all day about all the bad things Hogan has done in his career but at the end of the day, he is the biggest superstar WWE has ever had
2. John Cena
photo credit: WWE
Well where do I start? John Cena is a former five time United States champion, a four time Tag Team champion, a two time Royal Rumble winner, a three time World Heavyweight champion and is the biggest star of this era of wrestling. Even people who aren’t fans of the WWE know who he is (mostly because of that dumb “It’s John Cena!” internet trend) and every time you go to a WWE event, you see every little kid in the audience decked out in Cena gear even though it makes the whole arena look like a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles. He is Superman if there ever was one and the way he comes back from gruesome injuries helps his case as to why he is the Man of Steel. Cena is also the most important figure in WWE history, he has granted over 500 wishes for the Make-A-Wish foundation which is the most in company history. In terms of fan appreciation (and fan hatred) there will probably never be another superstar with the power of John Cena
Cena is a record 12, count it, 12 TIME WWE champion. I’m going to give a brief summary of Cena’s most important reigns since there was a time where Big Match John actually had gone back and forth with the title and some of those reigns lasted just for a month or less. He won his first WWE championship when he defeated JBL at WrestleMania 21. This title win came during Cena’s highly successful “doctor of thuganomics” gimmick which really catapulted him to stardom. He was the one who was responsible for the “spinner” WWE title belt and the design of the belt would last eight years. Cena still continued to feud with JBL after his win and then began a program with Edge. The Rated R Superstar ended Cena’s 280 day title reign when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract at New Year’s Revolution 2006. It would only take Cena 21 days to win the title back and he did so at the 2006 Royal Rumble and began his second title reign. His second reign lasted 133 days then it shockingly ended at the hands of Rob Van Dam at ECW One Night Stand 2006. Cena began to feud with both RVD and Edge but when Edge defeated both men in a triple threat match on Raw for the title, Cena challenged him at Unforgiven 2006 in a TLC match for the title. The match was one of the best TLC matches ever and it saw Cena win his third WWE championship. This would be Cena’s longest WWE title reign ever, lasting 380 days and he became the sixth person in history to have a WWE title reign last over one year. It ended when Cena had to vacate the title due to a torn pectoral, imagine Cena hadn’t gotten hurt he could’ve easily held the title for a 100 more days or so. Two of Cena’s most important title reigns came during 2013 and 2014. At WrestleMania 29, it was John Cena vs The Rock for the WWE championship in a rematch of their classic WrestleMania 28 main event which Cena lost. Cena would avenge is ‘Mania lost by defeating The Rock for the WWE championship and began his eleventh title reign. Cena hand picked Daniel Bryan to face him for the title in the main event of SummerSlam 2013 and shockingly, Bryan actually defeated Cena ending his 133 day title reign. Cena’s last title reign came when he won an eight man ladder match at Money in the Bank 2014 in his hometown of Boston. This win gave Cena his record twelfth title reign but it was short lived. Just 45 days later, he was destroyed by Brock Lesnar in the main event of SummerSlam. It is unknown if when he comes back from injury, if WWE will have him tie or even break Ric Flair’s 16 time world champion record. I think he will and he’ll use his star power to put over younger stars like Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn. There is no amount of words to describe how much Cena means to the current product of WWE and he is undoubtedly the best superstar of this generation of wrestling
1. Bruno Sammartino
photo credit: PWI
The ULTIMATE WWE champion, the GREATEST superstar ever and the BIGGEST reason why there is a WWE today. Before we had Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Ric Flair and Steve Austin, we had Bruno Sammartino. A man who single handedly helped the then WWWF grow into an empire with his matches in Madison Square Garden. Sammartino won his first WWE title from Buddy Rogers in just 48 seconds and went on to have an unimaginable 2,803 days or to put it in shorter terms SEVEN YEARS! He defended it against the likes of Gorilla Monsoon, George Steele, Ernie Ladd, Bill Watts, Tarzan Tyler, The Sheik and even Killer Kowalski. No one would ever think that his reign would ever come to an end but in 1971, he was defeated by Ivan Koloff, ending his legendary, record breaking reign. Two years later, Bruno won back his title when he defeated Stan Stasiak just nine days after Stasiak defeated Pedro Morales. This second reign lasted 1,237 days or FOUR YEARS! During this reign, Bruno faced the likes of Stan Hansen, Ken Patera, Billy Graham, Bob Duncum, Bruiser Brody and “Classie” Freddie Blassie. Sammartino actually engaged in vicious battles with Stan Hansen and during one match at MSG, Hansen dropped Bruno on his head giving him a severe neck injury. Sammartino returned to face Hansen in a rematch at Shea Stadium and defeated the Texas legend. Bruno’s second legendary reign came to an end at the hands of Superstar Billy Graham on April 30, 1977. Combined, Bruno Sammartino held the title for 4,040 days which is a feat that will never ever be broken. There is no amount of words to describe the awesomeness of the original Italian Stallion, Bruno was just so incredible that, like I said before, if we didn’t have him we wouldn’t have a WWE.
Writer’s Note: Writer’s note: Thank you for reading this article! This was just an opinion piece and if you agree, disagree or feel like some superstars should’ve been higher or lower on this list, feel free to email me at email@example.com or tweet me @repete617. Thank you so much!