WrestleMania is The Showcase Of The Immortals, so it only makes sense that new champions are going to be crowned from time to time.
Whether the various iterations of the WWF/WWE World/Universal Championship, the Women's/Divas Championship, the Intercontinental Title, the U.S. Championship, Tag Team Championships or retired titles such as the Light Heavyweight, ECW, Hardcore or European Championships.... a lot of gold has changed hands.
Obviously, quite a few titles have changed hands in more than 30 WrestleManias, many of which were promptly ignored by most fans (or in some cases, WWE itself).
So how do we narrow it down to just fifty? In counting down the Top 50 WrestleMania Title Changes, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:
How important was the title change to the WWF/E history?
How important was the title change to the careers of all performers involved in the match?
How well was the match built up leading into the event?
How prominent was the match on the build-up to the show?
One note here: these are title changes, some of which aren't phenomenal matches on their own.... but are not just title matches, of which there would be a very different list.
If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.
Ready? Here we go!
Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo vs. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff
The very first title change in WrestleMania history happened at the inaugural event, when WWE Hall of Famers The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo due to outside interference.
Rey Mysterio vs. JBL
Another incredibly quick match took place at WrestleMania XXV. For weeks, Intercontinental Champion John Bradshaw Layfield taunted Rey Mysterio for his size and heritage. Mysterio made JBL eat his words, though, defeating Layfield for the gold in just 21 seconds! After the match, a despondent JBL "quit" WWE.
The Smoking Gunns vs. Owen Hart & Yokozuna
Leading up to WrestleMania XI, Owen Hart promised to have a mystery partner to help him take on The Smoking Gunns at the big event. Hart produced WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna, who, along with The King Of Harts, quickly defeated Billy and Bart Gunn to capture the gold.
Strike Force vs. Demolition
The semi-final match at WrestleMania IV pitted WWE Hall of Famer Tito Santana and Rick Martel against Demolition. While Strike Force were the favorites, they were outmatched by manager Mr. Fuji, who threw a cane in the ring and allowed Demolition to capture their first of three WWF Tag Team Titles.
John Cena vs. Rusev
For nearly a year, Rusev was undefeated in WWE, taking himself all the way to the WWE United States Championship. Prior to WrestleMania XXXI, Rusev had even defeated John Cena when The Champ passed out in his Accolade. However, in their rematch at WrestleMania, Cena won the U.S. Championship.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan
An even-shorter title change than Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna took place some 19 years later at WrestleMania XXVIII. World Champion Daniel Bryan asked his girlfriend AJ Lee for a good luck kiss, only to be knocked in the kisser by the Brogue Kick of opponent Sheamus, who captured the gold in just 18 seconds.
The Hardy Boyz. vs. The Club vs. The Bar vs. Enzo & Big Cass
What was set to be a Triple Threat Ladder Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania XXXIII turned into an impromptu Fatal Four Way as Matt and Jeff Hardy made a surprise return and defeated three other teams for their first WWE championship in years.
Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter
With the first Gulf War still fresh, WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter was positioned as an Iraqi sympathizer and WWF World Champion. Enter WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, positioned as the American hero, pinning Slaughter to become a three-time WWF Champion.
The Undertaker vs. Batista
One year before The Undertaker defeated Edge for the World Championship (see # 37), The Dead Man was challenging for the same championship belt. Fresh off winning the 2007 Royal Rumble, The Dead Man faced Batista at WrestleMania XXIII, and kept his undefeated record intact, winning the championship belt.
John Cena vs. The Rock
One year after John Cena and The Rock had their "Once In A Lifetime" match at WrestleMania XXVIII, they had their "Once In A Lifetime" rematch at WrestleMania XXIX. The twist this time was that The Rock had become WWE Champion, adding extra stakes. Cena won the gold and ended their epic rivalry.
Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
In 1993 for the first time ever, the winner of the Royal Rumble received an automatic WWF World Title opportunity at WrestleMania IX. That ended up being WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna, who challenged champion and fellow Hall of Famer Bret Hart. Yokozuna cheated to win the gold, setting up the two for....
Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James
Heading into WrestleMania XXII, WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus had to turn away her tag team partner and friend Mickie James when Mickie began acting like a jealous stalker. At WrestleMania, Stratus put up her WWE Women's Championship and ended up falling prey to James' mind games to lose the gold.
The British Bulldogs vs. The Dream Team
For six months, The British Bulldogs (no relation) had been pursuing the WWF Tag Team Championship held by WWE Hall of Famer Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake. At WrestleMania II, Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid (with Ozzy Obsourne in their corner) defeated The Dream Team to win the tag belts.
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
WrestleMania XXXI featured WWE Champion Brock Lesnar (by now, reunited with Paul Heyman) defending the title against Royal Rumble winner Roman Reigns. But towards the end of the match, Seth Rollins cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase, winning the title belt in an impromptu Triple Threat match.
John Cena vs. The Big Show
In many ways, WrestleMania XX was the introduction of John Cena as a top player in WWE. Exclusive to SmackDown at the time, Cena became number one contender to The Big Show's United States Championship. After lifting the giant up for an F-5, Cena left WrestleMania with his very first championship in WWE.
Bret Hart vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
At the beginning of 1992, WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart was the WWF Intercontinental Champion. Over the course of a weekend, Hart lost the belt to The Mountie, who in turn lost to WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper. The two babyfaces battled at WrestleMania VIII, with Hart regaining the title belt.
Triple H vs. Chris Jericho
In 2001, Triple H was injured during a match against Chris Jericho. A year later, Jericho was WWF Undisputed World Champion and Triple H had returned from injury to win the Royal Rumble. At WrestleMania XVIII, Triple H regained the championship from Y2J, despite Jericho having The Game's ex-wife in his corner.
Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
Although it's not talked about much anymore, Chris Benoit won the 2004 Royal Rumble and inserted himself in the World Title match between WWE Hall of Famers Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Despite being the underdog, Benoit caused The Game to tap out and relinquish his championship belt.
Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair
Going into WrestleMania VII, WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair had won the WWF World Title at the Royal Rumble. He was soon matched against fellow Hall of Famer Randy Savage, with Flair spreading lies about Savage's wife Elizabeth to fuel the fire. At WrestleMania VIII, Savage captured the gold.
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock
1998 closed with The Rock as Vince McMahon's hand-picked Corporate Champion, so it was only a matter of time before WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin made a run at him. Austin and Rock met in the main event of WrestleMania XV, which ended with Stone Cold as WWF World Champion.
Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz
Heading into WrestleMania XVI (a/k/a WrestleMania 2000), The Dudley Boyz were WWF Tag Team Champions and had been fending off the challenges of both Edge & Christian and Matt & Jeff Hardy. The three teams squared in the first ever Triangle Ladder Match, with E & C winning their first tag team gold.
Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
The main attraction at WrestleMania IV was a WWF World Championship tournament, with the vacant title up for grabs. With tournament favorites Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant eliminated, WWE Hall of Famers Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase fought in the finals, with Savage ultimately winning the belt.
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista
During the second half of 2013, Daniel Bryan was constantly screwed out of the WWE World Championship, thanks to The Authority promoting Randy Orton instead. Bryan defeated Triple H at WrestleMania XXX to earn a spot in the main event, and defeated both Orton and Batista to capture the World Title.
Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart
Speaking of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.... the two WWE Hall of Famers agreed to the first 60-minute Iron Man Match in pay-per-view history at WrestleMania XII. Although neither man scored any falls in the first hour, Michaels won in overtime to capture his first WWF World Championship belt.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage
One of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history took place at WrestleMania III between longtime rivals and WWE Hall of Famers Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage. Out for revenge from the year prior, Steamboat finally got it by ending their epic match and capturing Savage's WWF Intercontinental Title.
Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero
As part of the WrestleMania XXIV pre-show, Kane won a 24-man battle royal, guaranteeing him a shot at ECW Champion Chavo Guerrero later that same night. Before Guerrero had time to even turn around, Kane ambushed him and chokeslammed to win the gold in a close-to-record-setting 11-second victory.
John Cena vs. Edge vs. The Big Show
Against a backdrop of which competitor was in love with SmackDown GM Vickie Guerrero, WWE Hall of Famer and World Champion Edge took on both John Cena and The Big Show. Using superhuman strength to lift both competitors at the same time, Cena won the World Title.
Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar
Against a backdrop of exactly zero fans in attendance at WrestleMania XXXVI due to the pandemic, Drew McIntyre challenged Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. Using a ferocity that Lesnar has rarely seen, McIntyre captured the gold in less than five minutes.
Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle
At the outset of WrestleMania 2000, Kurt Angle was acting as both the WWF Intercontinental and European Champion when he defended both belts in a Triple Threat, Two Out Of Three Falls Match at the event. Angle dropped both the Intercontinental Title to Chris Benoit and the European Title to Chris Jericho.
Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna
After Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania IX, he was confronted by Hulk Hogan, who had competed earlier in the night in a tag team match. Yokozuna's manager challenged Hogan to an impromptu match, where Hogan won the gold in just twenty-two seconds.
Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch
In a rivalrly that began at the previous year's SummerSlam, Bianca Belair had an opportunity to get her revenge on Becky Lynch at WrestleMania XXXVIII after winning an Elimination Chamber match to qualify. Belair bested Lynch at WrestleMania to win the Raw Women Championship and gain some revenge.
The Undertaker vs. Edge
Heading into WrestleMania XXIV, The Undertaker had won fifteen straight Mania matches, while WWE Hall of Famer Edge was also undefeated in singles competition on The Grandest Stage Of Them All. The Rated R Superstar turned out to be no match for The Dead Man, who closed the show by winning Edge's World Title.
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude
At the 1989 Royal Rumble, Ravishing Rick Rude targeted WWE Hall of Famer The Ultimate Warrior, ambushing him during their "Super Posedown". At WrestleMania V, Rude challenged Warrior for his Intercontinental Championship. Rude captured the gold due to interference.
Roman Reigns vs. Triple H
WrestleMania XXXII centered around the WWE World Championship match. Months earlier at the Royal Rumble, WWE Hall of Famer Triple H appeared as the surprise final entrant and was able to steal the title from Roman Reigns. Months later at WrestleMania, The Big Dog regained the gold from his hated rival.
Wendi Richter vs Leilani Kai
While women's wrestling wasn't a central focus of WWF early programming, the title match between WWE Hall of Famer Wendi Richter and Leilani Kai was. Not only did the champion Kai have The Fabulous Moolah in her corner, but Richter had pop star Cyndi Lauper in hers.
Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
At WrestleMania X, Bret Hart was finally granted a rematch at the WWF World Championship after waiting patiently the entire year prior. In order to battle Yokozuna, Hart first had to go through a match with his brother Owen Hart (a match where Bret lost) before pinning Yokozuna to end the show on a high note.
John Cena vs. Batista
John Cena had captured the WWE Championship at the 2010 Elimination Chamber event, but was forced to immediately defend it against Batista and lost the title within minutes. At WrestleMania XXVI, their rematch was set, and Cena was able to defeat The Animal to capture his ninth WWE World Championship.
Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle
In 2003, Paul Heyman wasn't in Brock Lesnar's corner any more, but rather in the corner for WWE Champion and future WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle. After winning that year's Royal Rumble, Lesnar targeted Angle at WrestleMania XIX. Despite botching a Shooting Star Press, Lesnar managed to defeat Angle.
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
While there were several WrestleManias to feature Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, their match at WrestleMania XXXVIII was the first time the WWE and Universal Champions would face each other with both championships on the line. Reigns managed to defeat Lesnar here and become a double champion.
John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield
One year after WrestleMania XX, Cena was continuing to be pushed as one of WWE's top babyfaces. At WrestleMania XXI, he was named number one contender to World Champion John Bradshaw Layfield. In a battle of blue collar vs. white collar, Cena prevailed and captured his first of sixteen World Titles.
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
A historic match occurred at WrestleMania XXXII, with the long-standing Divas Championship being retired and the match between Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch being contested for the relaunched WWE Women's Championship. Charlotte was the one to capture the gold.
Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan
The set up leading into WrestleMania XXXV was that Kofi Kingston had never been a serious contender to the WWE Championship. Thanks to a grassroots campaign, Kingston was able to challenge Champion Daniel Bryan and defeat him at The Show of Shows.
Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle vs. Randy Orton
The story leading into WrestleMania XXII was that Rey Mysterio wanted to capture his first World Championship in honor of the recently-fallen Eddie Guerrero, but Mysterio lost his title shot at the No Way Out PPV. Mysterio was inserted into a Triple Threat Match (with Randy Orton) and captured the title.
Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair
WrestleMania XXXV made history by having women main-event the show for the first time. The Triple Threat match featured Becky Lynch defeating both Raw Womens Champion Ronda Rousey and SmackDown Womens Champion Charlotte Flair, and ending the show with both championships around her waist.
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock
Two WrestleManias later.... The Rock was once again WWF World Champion and was challenged by Royal Rumble winner Stone Cold Steve Austin. Although both were fan favorites, they met in the main event of WrestleMania XVII, which ended with Austin turning heel and capturing the championship.
Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz
Exactly one year later, WWF's tag team division was quite similar, with The Dudley Boyz once again tag team champions and archrivals Edge & Christian and Matt & Jeff Hardy at their heels. This time, they had a three-way TLC match, with Edge & Christian regaining the WWF Tag Team Titles once again.
Batista vs. Triple H
Although Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble, it wasn't immediately clear whether he would challenge his Evolution stablemate and WWE Hall of Famer Triple H for the World Title, or JBL for the WWE Championship. At WrestleMania XXI, Batista chose his ex-mentor and his career was defined by defeating The Game for the belt.
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels
Heading into WrestleMania XIV, WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels was the company's top heel, having effectively run Bret Hart out of the company. Enter fellow Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin, who had exploded as the company's top babyface, who captured Michaels' WWF World Championship.
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage
With WWE Hall of Famer Randy Savage winning the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania IV (see entry # 8), The Macho Man eventually turned heel on his friend and fellow Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, leading to their Megapowers Explode match at WrestleMania V, where Hogan regained the belt.
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan
The match between WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI was unique for several reasons. It was a rare contest between the company's two top babyfaces (which didn't happen often at the time). Both Hogan's WWF World Title and Warrior's WWF Intercontinental Title were on the line. And when Warrior pinned Hogan to end his run as champion, it signaled a changing of the guard.