When it comes to WrestleMania, usually the show is built around the biggest championship in the company, the champion, and the challenger as they headline the show and sit in line to be the Main Event. And with that has brought some of the greatest matches, moments, and victories in wrestling history. As the clock continues to tick down on our way to WrestleMania 35, we continue to take a look back at the history of the top championships and how they change hands in WWE’s history at WrestleMania, this time we look at the grandest of them all: WWE Championship.
WrestleMania IV: “Macho Man” Randy Savage Defeats Ted DiBiase for the Vacant WWE Championship
Following the memorable selling of the WWE Championship (formerly WWF Championship) from Andre The Giant to Ted DiBiase, the championship was vacated due to it not being defended in a sanctioned match. In the main event of WrestleMania IV, Randy Savage and DiBiase would face off in the finals of the one-night WWE Championship tournament. As the match came to its close, Savage would miss his signature elbow drop from the top, leading to DiBiase locking on the Million Dollar Dream with the help of Andre The Giant. As Andre caught the attention of the referee, Hulk Hogan would smash DiBiase in the back with a chair, leading to the end when Savage would climb to the top rope, hitting DiBiase with the big elbow drop for the 1, 2, 3 to become the new WWE Champion and the first ever new WWE Champion in WrestleMania history. Dig It!
WrestleMania V: Hulk Hogan Defeats “Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
The Mega Powers storyline is one of the most well known and best executed storylines in the history of professional wrestling. From a superhero friendship to a break in the relationship when Savage began to become angry with the way Hogan would be towards Miss Elizabeth, all signs pointed to the ultimate matchup at WrestleMania V when the Mega Powers would finally collide for the WWE Championship. The match would be a back and forth battle between the two megastars. Towards the finish, Hogan would be hit by Savage with the big elbow drop, yet Hogan would power out, “Hulking Up” in the process. This would lead the usual battle back of Hulk, where he would eventually hit the leg drop on Hogan to win back the WWE Championship from Savage, ending the Mega Powers once and for all and Hulkamania running wild once again, winning his second WWE Championship.
WrestleMania VI: Ultimate Warrior Defeats Hulk Hogan (c) to Become the WWE Champion/Intercontinental Champion
Fan-Favorite vs Fan-Favorite. Champion vs Champion. This match had it all, as the WWE Champion Hulk Hogan would lay down the ultimate challenge to the reigning Intercontinental Champion, Ultimate Warrior, wherein the WrestleMania VI main event, both championships would be on the line for the first time ever. Hogan would go for the leg drop for the victory, but it would be avoided by Warrior, then Warrior would connect with the big splash to win his first and only ever WWE Championship, where the passing of the torch would take place of such as for the first time ever, one person would hold the top championships in the company.
WrestleMania VII: Hulk Hogan Defeats Sgt. Slaughter (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
Hear this one before? Once again Hulk Hogan would be in the main event of WrestleMania, this time as the challenger for Sgt Slaughter’s WWE Championship. A battle where Hogan would be representing America against Iraq’s representative Slaughter who had General Adnan ringside. Hulk was on his way to trying to regain the WWE Championship after winning the Royal Rumble to win the opportunity. Hogan would plant Slaughter with the big boot, leading to the leg drop and yet another title change as Hulk Hogan would become WWE Champion once again as “Real American” would roar through the arena with Hogan standing tall.
WrestleMania VIII: “Macho Man” Randy Savage Defeats Ric Flair (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
Being marketed as the “double main event”, this would mark the first time in WrestleMania’s history that when the WWE Championship was being defended, it would not be defended in the main event of the show of shows. Ric Flair would defend his WWE Championship that he had won in the 1992 Royal Rumble. He would defend it against “Macho Man” Randy Savage in the middle of the show. Flair would target the leg all match long to the point where Savage could barely stand. As Flair continued to “Woo” a taunt Elizabeth, Savage continued to survive. As the match came to a close, Flair’s taunting would catch up with him, as Savage would manage to roll up while pulling the tights of Flair for the victory, winning the WWE Championship once again at WrestleMania.
WrestleMania IX: Yokozuna Defeats Bret Hart (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
Live from Caesars Palace, the Royal Rumble winner Yokozuna would take on the reigning champion and fan favorite, Bret Hart, for the WWE Championship in the main event of the evening. With the fans behind him, Hart took on the underdog role against the much bigger Yokozuna. Yokozuna dominated much of this match, as Hart was limited offensively in this one. As a turnbuckle was exposed, Hart was able to fight back by smashing the head of Yokozuna into the exposed steel. Hart would attempt to lock on the Sharpshooter to the tree trunk sized legs of Yokozuna, and he would get it fully locked in as it looked like the champion would retain his gold. However, Mr. Fuji on the outside would throw salt into the eye, giving Yokozuna the opportunity to pin Bret Hart and win the WWE Championship, marking a brand-new champion and a real shock to the crowd.
WrestleMania IX: Hulk Hogan defeats Yokozuna (c) to become the new WWE Champion
Yes, for the first and only time in the history of WrestleMania, the WWE Championship changed hands twice in the same night. Hulk Hogan came to the ring to check on Bret Hart following his loss to Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji would get on the microphone to lay down a challenge to Hogan via Yokozuna to fight him right in the middle of the ring for the championship. Once they laid it down that it would be for the WWE Championship, the crowd and Bret would root on Hogan to get in the ring and takedown Yokozuna for the championship. As Hogan would get into the ring, Yokozuna would grab him by the arms as Fuji prepared to throw salt into his eyes this time. Hogan would avoid the salt which would hit Yokozuna in the eyes, allowing Hogan to shoulder tackle and hit the leg drop on the champion to become the new WWE Champion in a result no one saw coming.
WrestleMania X: Bret Hart Defeats Yokozuna (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
At WrestleMania X, both Bret Hart and Lex Luger would get WWE Championship matches vs Yokozuna, Luger earlier in the night and Hart in the main event after they had both been considered the Royal Rumble winner. With Hart already losing to Owen Hart prior to the main event, one would have to think his mind may have been somewhere else. The match would find its end when Yokozuna would head to the second rope for his signature Banzai Drop, but lose his balance and fall back, smashing his head in the process. Bret, who rolled out of the way, was able to take advantage, becoming the new WWE Champion in a shocking upset. This would mark the 7th straight WrestleMania where a new WWE Champion would be crowned.
WrestleMania XII: Shawn Michaels Defeats Bret Hart (c) in a 60 min Iron Man Match to Become the New WWE Champion
“The Boyhood dream has come true.” Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart is one of the most well-known rivalries in the history of the sport, and at WrestleMania XII, these two went to war in the longest match in WrestleMania’s history. The 60-minute Ironman match would go to the memorable sudden death, where the first pinfall would win the match after zero pins by either side after an entire hour. These two would show it in the ring, exhausted and drained from fighting all night. Finally, Shawn would hit Bret with the big Sweet Chin Music for the three fall, as he would achieve his life long dream, becoming the new WWE Champion.
WrestleMania XIII: Undertaker Defeats Sycho Sid (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
No Disqualification for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Undertaker and Sycho Sid went to war in the main event, but it wouldn’t go on without Bret Hart being involved for most of it. Hart would have his hands all over it, including getting powerbombed by Sid early on. While this allowed the Undertaker to take advantage, the champion Sid was far from out of the match. But as Sid would prep up Undertaker for the powerbomb, Bret would come out once again, stunning Sid and allowing Undertaker to Tombstone Sid to get the three count, becoming the new champion and continue the early part of his WrestleMania streak.
WrestleMania XIV: Steve Austin Defeats Shawn Michaels (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
Austin. Tyson. Michaels. A build around the new budding star in the company who didn’t give a damn, the spoiled champion, and “The Baddest Man on the Planet”. Austin and Michaels would be the biggest WrestleMania main event in years, as the two would battle for the top championship in the company while Mike Tyson would be the special enforcer, who previously gave his allegiance to HBK and D-Generation X. Yet, Stone Cold would become the guy on this night, when he would catch the superkick and counter it into the Stunner, pinning Michaels, where Tyson would count the three, and becoming the WWE Champion for the first time in his career.
WrestleMania XV: Stone Cold Defeats The Rock (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
For the first time in their storied rivalry, Stone Cold and The Rock would face off at WrestleMania in the main event for the WWE Championship. The Rock would head into the match as the Corporate champion, while Austin would continue to be the thorn in the side of the Corporate week-in and week-out. The companies two biggest stars would go at it in this one, and while it would not be the last time as the show of shows, it would be all triumph for Steve Austin for the second year in a row. The Rock would prep up Austin for the People’s Elbow, but it would not be enough as Austin would slip out, then again slipping out of the Rock Bottom, he would hit the Stunner for the 1, 2, 3. With the look of Vince McMahon’s face and the success of Austin once again, you knew this would not be the last main event between these two. But this time, Austin was the new WWE Champion.
WrestleMania X-Seven: Stone Cold Defeats The Rock (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
Told you they’d be back. After a year where Austin would be away because of injury, the WrestleMania main event would once again be Austin as the challenger against the WWE Champion, The Rock. This time around, both men would be fan favorites. But that would try to change at the end of the show, when Stone Cold would do something no one would ever expect, aligning himself with Vince McMahon, attacking The Rock with a chair that Vince handed to him, turning his back on the fans and becoming the new WWE Champion as he would beat The Rock in the main event once again, this time in completely different circumstances.
WrestleMania X8: Triple H Defeats Chris Jericho (c) to Become the New Undisputed WWE Champion
Following his return from injury in 2002, Triple H would win the Royal Rumble to challenge the Undisputed WWE Champion Chris Jericho for it all in the main event of WrestleMania X8. Triple H for the first time at WrestleMania would be the favorite of the crowd as these two would face off. Triple H and Jericho would battle, with Jericho attacking the bandaged leg of Triple H for much of the match. As the match came to a close, Jericho would go for a body splash from the second rope, getting caught however by Triple H, where he would get pedigreed by “The Game” and there would be a new WWE Champion just like that.
WrestleMania XIX: Brock Lesnar Defeats Kurt Angle (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
“The Next Big Thing” Brock Lesnar earned his opportunity to face Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship when he won the Royal Rumble. The specimen that Lesnar was back then would have an uber-competitive match with Kurt Angle, which would begin to close when Lesnar went for the famous botched Shooting Star Press that would almost leave Lesnar terribly injured. Instead, the match would continue on when he would reverse Angle, hitting the big F5 on Angle to become the new WWE Champion in a match where many felt WWE picked their new face of the company.
WrestleMania 21: John Cena Defeats JBL (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
The crowning moment. John Cena would finally become the WWE Champion when he would face JBL, who had been the longest reigning WWE Champion in SmackDown history at the time, after months of battling with each other. Cena would win a number one contender tournament to get thee opportunity. Cena would capture his first world championship when he would avoid the Clothesline from Hell by JBL, picking him up for the FU (now the AA) and getting the three count. John Cena was finally WWE Champion, beginning his storied career with the first of his 16 championship reigns.
WrestleMania XXVI: John Cena Defeats Batista (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
After years of having parallel careers but never facing each other at WrestleMania, John Cena and Batista finally faced each other at the 26th edition. Batista would come in as the heel champion following being in good graces with Vince McMahon who essentially handed him the championship following the Elimination Chamber when Cena had won against all odds. Now, they would go head to head in this rivalry which would be the last before Batista would leave months later. Cena would win his seventh world championship when he would counter the Batista Bomb into the STF, making him tap out to become the new WWE Champion once again.
WrestleMania 29: John Cena Defeats The Rock (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
After a year prior when it was billed as “Once in a Lifetime”, Cena and Rock would meet once again at the 29th edition of WrestleMania in the main event, but this time for the WWE Championship. At the Royal Rumble, The Rock ended CM Punk’s 434-day championship reign while Cena won his second Royal Rumble to guarantee his spot in the main event of WrestleMania once again. This time, Cena would come out on top when he would finally hit the AA on Rock after multiple counters by each man. The final scene of this one was Rock holding up Cena’s arm as he became the new WWE Champion once again, marking the third straight WWE Championship title change with Cena being victorious.
WrestleMania XXX: Daniel Bryan Defeats Randy Orton (c) and Batista to Become the New WWE World Heavyweight Champion
Forever known as the “Miracle on Bourbon Street”, Daniel Bryan finally recaptured the WWE Championship following months of being called a B+ player, having the Authority deny him his opportunities, and having to wrestle twice in the same night to even have the opportunity to win the championship. Daniel Bryan, with the “YES Movement” by him, would capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship when he would capitalize on Batista hitting the Batista Bomb on Randy Orton, striking Batista with the running knee and locking him in the YES Lock to finally make Batista tap out and achieve his dreams. The most memorable moment of the past decade in WWE history occurred here, with Daniel Bryan finally becoming world champion once and for all.
WrestleMania 31: Seth Rollins Cashes In; Defeats Brock Lesnar (c) and Roman Reigns to Become the New WWE Champion
As we are just days away from Seth Rollins facing Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, we remember the “Heist of the Century” when Seth Rollins music hit at WrestleMania 31 in the middle of the WWE Championship match between champion Brock Lesnar and contender Roman Reigns. He would cash-in his Money in the Bank contract mid match in the main event of WrestleMania, where he would win the WWE Championship by hitting the Curb Stomp on Roman Reigns, pinning him for the three and marking the most shocking win in a long time. As Michael Cole said that night, Seth Rollins would pull the “Heist of the Century”, becoming the new WWE Champion when no one expected it.
WrestleMania 32: Roman Reigns Defeats Triple H (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
After Roman Reigns had to defend his WWE Championship in the Royal Rumble match, all signs pointed to him main eventing WrestleMania once again to try and recapture the WWE Championship from Triple H and the Authority. This would be the coronation of Roman Reigns as the top guy in the company, as he would hit Triple H, with sledgehammer in hand, with a thunderous Spear to get the pinfall and be the new WWE Champion in his second straight year of main eventing the big show.
WrestleMania 33: Randy Orton Defeats Bray Wyatt (c) to Become the New WWE Champion
After infiltrating the Wyatt Family and making them turn on each other, Randy Orton would set his eyes on his former teammate in Bray Wyatt following his win at the Royal Rumble and Bray capturing his first WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber. From burning the home of Wyatt, to having a video of bugs show during their match, a story that was built up for months ended somewhat strangely. Orton would hit an RKO out of nowhere, pinning Bray and capturing his 13th world championship overall which would mark the last WWE Championship change as we head into WrestleMania 35.
From the reign of Hulk Hogan to the back and forth years between different challenges, WrestleMania has seen its fair share of WWE Championship title changes. As we head into WrestleMania 35 with Daniel Bryan defending his WWE Championship against Kofi Kingston, it seems reasonable to believe that there is a good chance #KofiMania truly lives on. Will Kingston join this list of #AndNEW come Sunday? Or will Daniel Bryan stomp out the Kofi Kingston underdog story once and for all?