The World Wrestling Entertainment championship title has an extremely long and illustrious history dating all the way back to April 29th, 1963 when Buddy Rogers won the belt and the WWE was called the World Wide Wrestling Federation and was owned by Vince McMahon Sr., not Jr.
Over the past 46 years the title has changed hands from legend to legend countless times. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Andre The Giant, Ultimate Warrior, Ric Flair, and Bret Hart are just a few of the greats off of the top of my head that have held this title.
But who are the BEST OF THE BEST that have been able to proclaim themselves World Wrestling Entertainment champion? Below I list the top ten professional wrestlers, in my opinion, that have won the WWE championship.
10. Chris Jericho
Being a huge Chris Jericho fan I had to include this man on this list. Chris Jericho, in his prime, was amazingly gifted and innovative, both on the microphone and in the ring. One of the most under-rated performers to ever slip on a pair of wrestling tights, Chris Jericho is an often overlooked, but great wrestler and former WWE champion. Chris held the title only once, from 12-09-01 to 3-17-02 when he defeated Steve Austin to unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles. The belts would soon split and become separate once again, but Chris can still call himself the first Undisputed champion in professional wrestling history.
9. Eddie Guerrero
Another talented man who only held the title once and was largely underrated for the majority of his career, Eddie riled up fans with his cocky, but loveable personality and sleaze ball “Lie, cheat, steal” moniker. Eddie passed away in November of 2005, but he will forever remain in the hearts of professional wrestling fans worldwide.
8. Kurt Angle
An Olympic gold medalist in the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia, Kurt Angle arrived on the scene in the WWE (then WWF) at the 1999 Survivor Series event and proceeded to string together an undefeated streak that everyone but Goldberg would be jealous of. Kurt won his first WWE title on 10-22-00 then proceeded to win the belt three more times before eventually jumping to work for Vince McMahon’s main competition, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
Mick Foley is not, never was, and never will be your ideal professional wrestler. His looks are that of your average street bum, he’s under par when it comes to microphone ability, and his wrestling is nowhere near the level of “technically sound”, but the man took some major risks and put his health on the line day in and day out in his prime and fans not only appreciated him for it, they loved him. Mankind’s first WWE title win in early 1999 shocked the world when he defeated The Rock for the belt. Before he left the company he was able to call himself a three time WWE champion, and a man who defeated all odds.
6. The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior was an electrifying presence as soon as he walked through the curtains and thrilled WWF wrestling fans old and young alike with his over the top physique and demeanor as well as his unique outfits and face paint. Warrior eventually garnered a fan base that rivaled that of the aging Hulk Hogan’s and at Wrestlemania on April 1st, 1990, Vince McMahon attempted to pass the torch, so to speak, from Hogan to The Warrior in one of the biggest Wrestlemania main events of all time that saw The Ultimate Warrior become the new World Champion. The Warrior proceeded to fizzle out as he thought he was more important than the sport and he never won the title again. But he will still remain one of the most popular wrestlers of all time among the fans who grew up loving his work.
5. Randy Savage
Almost anyone you ask, wrestling fan or not, will know who “The Macho Man” Randy Savage is. They may remember him most fondly from his “Snap into it, Ooooooooooh YEAH!” ad campaigns from Slim Jim television spots, but they still know who he is. Savage was the rebel’s hero of choice in the 80’s when the world was going wild for Hulkamania and Savage still has a devoted fan base awaiting his return to the ring until this day.
4. Bret Hart
The “Excellence of Execution” was one of, if not the most technically sound wrestlers on the planet during his prime and at one point, after Hulk Hogan’s departure from the company, was the WWF’s #1 babyface. With his pink tights, awesome catch phrases, and god given Canadian talent, Bret Hart is a living legend of professional wrestling and hands down one of the greatest champions ever.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The catalyst for the “Attitude Era”, Stone Cold Steve Austin was a foul-mouthed, beer drinking, authority defying blueprint for the perfect heel… but the fans loved him and couldn’t get enough. Many would say Austin, along with The Rock, was one of if not the main piece that helped Vince McMahon overcome World Championship Wrestling in the late 1990’s and this man deserves a spot on this list. Oh HELL yeah!
2. The Rock
If you smelt what The Rock was cooking then you knew it was a ton of success in the late nineties all the way into 2000 and beyond as the man built himself up to near Hulkamania proportions. The Rock was possibly the most entertaining man to ever hold a microphone in his hand on a wrestling show and when he decided to leave for a movie career, left every wrestling fan craving for more of his antics. The Rock was a 7 time WWE champion and has become one of the biggest names in the movie industry since.
1. Hulk Hogan
“The house that Hogan built” is what the WWE is frequently referred to and with no doubt that statement is probably true. Coming in at #1 on this list, not surprisingly, is Hulk Hogan. In the mid-eighties the professional wrestling business was in an abysmal state near the brink of extinction. No one really cared for the sport or what it had to offer. Then Hulkamania caught fire and set the world ablaze as everyone and their mothers donned the yellow and red shirts and attempted to rip them off in similar fashion as the Hulkster. Hulk Hogan remains the biggest name in professional wrestling history and before he retired became a six time WWE champion. Oh, and he’s a real American too, BROTHER!