In the world of pro wrestling, perhaps no title is more prestigious than the
WWE Championship. Obviously, all wrestling fans have their opinions but no other world championship has enjoyed the decorated history of the WWE Championship, which is why today we’re counting down the 10 Best WWE Title Changes!
Now let's set a disclaimer: we're not talking about match quality here. There have been countless five-star matches with WWE's most coveted prize on the line. What we're talking about are WWE title changes that made the biggest overall impacts on the entire landscape of pro wrestling. The matches that put the industry in an all new direction.
Click the video at the top of the article to see what made our list, or scroll down to read all about our choices below!
10. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista
Starting off the list is Daniel Bryan’s feel-good underdog WWE Title win at Wrestlemania 30. For years, fans felt like Daniel Bryan was being perpetually held down by the powers-that-be behind the scenes because he didn't fit the Vince McMahon's ideal image of what a main even superstar should be. Which in turn made the fans chant "Yes!" harder. After a few screwy wins starting at Summerslam in 2013, Bryan’s organic rise in popularity finally hit its peak in 2014 when he won the big title against all odds and got the Wrestlemania moment he deserved.
9. The Rock vs. Mankind
When Mrs. Foley’s baby boy upset The Rock on a taped Raw in 1998 for the WWE title, Tony Schiavone sarcastically gave away the results over on WCW Nitro. The underhanded tactic backfired and audiences switched over to RAW in droves, which set in motion an upward swing for the WWE, proving that the tides were turning as they began more and more to win the ratings war.
8. John Cena vs. CM Punk
At No. 8 is CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank in 2011. Following Punk’s infamous “pipe bomb,” no one thought he was leaving the WWE with the title, and this win arguably jumpstarted WWE’s reliance on indy darlings. Thankfully, WWE pulled the trigger and Punk left through the crowd in dramatic fashion with many fans wondering where things would go from here.
7. Ric Flair, Royal Rumble '92
To this day, Ric Flair is still the only man in history to survive 29 other men and claim the WWE Championship when it was up for grabs in the 1992 Royal Rumble. Not only that, but Flair began the Rumble at No. 1, a feat no other wrestler had accomplished at that point. Though to be fair, many NWA fans (and ladies, if you believe Flair) knew of the Nature Boy's endurance.
6. JBL vs. John Cena
This marked the first of Cena’s many polarizing title runs and it all went down at Wrestlemania 21. It's hard to believe that this was almost 15 years ago at a time when Cena's character was seemed a little fresher than it is today. Shortly hereafter though, Cena adopted the "spinner" belt and it was all downhill from there.
5. Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan
Admittedly, the match itself hasn't aged well with time, but as a kid, this match might has well have been the clashing of Zeus and Poseidon. It's still the only time in history that an Intercontinental Champion defeated the WWE Champion, and it seemed to be a passing of the torch from the Hulkster who would ride off into the sunset. As history would show, Warrior wouldn't make the splash (get it?) many had predicted, but it was still one of the biggest title changes in the company's history.
4. "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
Most fans pegged the Hulkster to win the title tournament at Wrestlemania IV after controversially losing his title to Andre the Giant and the Million Dollar Man. Much to their surprise, however, Hulk Hogan didn't advance to the finals, which led to a huge heartwarming moment when Macho Man won his first world championship instead.
3. Stone Cold vs. HBK
D-Generation X was on top. "Iron" Mike Tyson was brought in to be the special guest ring enforcer. But the crowning of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 14 proved without a shadow of a doubt that the WWE were all hands in, running full steam ahead with their newfound "attitude."
2. The Montreal Screwjob
You knew it was coming, and there's nothing here we can say about the Montreal Screwjob that hasn't been said or previously dissected. But that doesn't change the fact that the infamous moment at Survivor Series in 1997 blurred the lines of reality like we'd never seen, changing everything forever. It single-handedly created what would become the evil Mr. McMahon persona and catapulted the WWE to new heights that nobody could have predicted. 1. Hulk Hogan vs. Iron Shiek
But the top WWE title change happened on January 23rd, 1984 - When Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik for the WWE Championship, signaling a change of the guard and effectively turning pro wrestling mainstream shortly thereafter. Younger fans might not realize just how important this moment truly was. Not only was it Vince McMahon's first giant step towards global pro wrestling domination, but it was the first instance wrestling had created a "superstar" in the truest sense of the word, with Hulk Hogan's popularity on par with the most famous athletes and celebrities around the world.