top of page
Top 50 WWE World Champions

This is going to be a really controversial list.


For beginners, you may notice that the title is Top 50 WWE World Champions. Technically speaking, that's a championship that was only around for a few years, so there's no way that we could have seen 50 different champions in that time. 


So for this week's Top 50 list, we are including any championship belt that signifies you are the company's top champion at any point in the 50 year-history of the WWWF, WWF or WWE. To be clear, we are including anyone who has captured one or more of the following titles:


  • WWWF World Heavyweight Championship

  • WWF World Heavyweight Championship

  • WCW and ECW World Championships (while under WWE ownership)

  • WWE Championship

  • World Heavyweight Championship

  • WWE World Heavyweight Championship

  • WWE Universal Championship

  • Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

  • World Heavyweight Championship


In selecting the Top 50 WWE World Champions, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:


  • How many times the held a version of the above championships

  • How long they held said championships

  • How they performed WHILE wearing the championship

  • The quality of competition that they faced

  • How they are remembered historically while World Champion in WWE


Whether you agree or disagree in any of the picks, leave a comment below or find us on Twitter @CanadianBulldog using the hashtag #Top50


Ready? Here we go! 


Andre The Giant

WWE Hall of Famer Andre The Giant managed the seemingly impossible in 1988 - defeating Hulk Hogan to end his four-year WWF World Title run. Unfortunately, the finish was sketchy and he held the belt for all of about three minutes before surrendering it.


Sgt. Slaughter

No one was a bigger heel in wrestling than WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter at the height of the Gulf War, so it made perfect sense he would win the WWF World Championship in January 1991. However, he dropped it Hulk Hogan two months later and mostly defended the belt against enhancement talent on television.



WWE Hall of Famer Kane's only WWF World Championship reign in June 1998 lasted roughly 24 hours as he traded the strap back and forth with Stone Cold Steve Austin. However, Kane would win the World Championship in July 2010 and held it until December.


Drew McIntyre

Drew McIntyre captured his first world championship at WrestleMania XXXVI. The Scottish Warrior defeated Brock Lesnar to capture the gold, traded he gold with Randy Orton and defended it throughout the pandemic era against the likes of Bobby Lashley, Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins.


Buddy Rogers

While WWE Hall of Famer Buddy Rogers only held the WWWF Championship for about a month in 1963, and he didn't have any title defenses until he lost the belt in 48 seconds to Bruno Sammartino... he was the very first champion in the promotion's history and in the era he held the belt, that meant something.


Booker T

Although WWE Hall of Famer Booker T is most commonly equated with the WCW World Championship, he also captured the World Championship from Rey Mysterio in 2006. He held the championship for several months, and was also WCW World Champion while it was part of WWE.


Bill Goldberg

WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg is a three-time champion in WWE. He captured the World Heavyweight Title in 2003 from Triple H and did so again from The Fiend Bray Wyatt in 2020. In between those, he also defeated Kevin Owens in 2017 to capture the WWE Universal Championship.



Sheamus had three runs with the WWE Championship between 2009 and 2015, toppling John Cena and Roman Reigns to win the gold. He also defeated Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Title in 2012 and held on to it for most of the year before dropping it to The Big Show in October.


AJ Styles

AJ Styles has captured the WWE Championship twice in his career. Most famously, he held the championship for over a year, defeating Jinder Mahal in November 2017 to win the gold and held it for just over a year before dropping the title to Daniel Bryan.


Ric Flair

Despite being known as a 16-time World Champion, WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair has only held two of those within the confines of the WWE Universe. He captured the WWF World Championship twice in 1992 - once in a Royal Rumble, and once from Randy "Macho Man" Savage. 



While none of Mankind's (a/k/a WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley) three WWF Championship reigns were particularly lengthy (combined, they're less than two months total), Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy defeated The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1998 and 1999, considered the absolute peak of The Attitude Era.


Eddie Guerrero

WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero's lone run with the WWE Championship began in February 2004 when he pulled off the upset and defeated Brock Lesnar. The title reign included a successful title defense against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XX before he dropped the belt to JBL in June of that year.


John Bradshaw Layfield

WWE Hall of Famer John Bradshaw Layfield only had one run as WWE Champion, but he made it count. A 280-day run made him the longest-reigning champion in SmackDown history and he defended it against the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Booker T, and The Undertaker.


Rey Mysterio

WWE Hall of Famer Rey Mysterio's World Championship win at WrestleMania XXII in 2006 was the stuff of legend, even if his 112-day title reign was poorly booked. Mysterio recaptured the belt in June 2010 and held on to it until the following month's pay-per-view when he dropped the title to Kane.


CM Punk

CM Punk had three runs as World Heavyweight Champion between 2008 and 2009, about four months in total. But what stood out were his two reigns as WWE Champion beginning in 2011, which included Punk's massive 434-day title reign.


Chris Jericho

In 2001, Chris Jericho became the first Undisputed WWF Champion, defeating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in the same night (you may have heard him mention it). In addition, he had three runs with the World Championship between 2008 and 2010.


The Rock

The Rock was an eight-time WWF/E Champion, beginning back with his first reign in November 1998 right near the peak of the business. Rock defeated the likes of Mankind, Triple H, Kurt Angle and CM Punk to capture his belts, which he held for roughly one year combined.


Randy Orton

Randy Orton was, at the time, the youngest person to win the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam 2004. Not only did he capture that title three additional times, he's also held the WWE Championship nine times.


The Ultimate Warrior

WWE Hall of Famer The Ultimate Warrior's lone WWF Heavyweight Championship run began in April 1990 when he cleanly pinned Hulk Hogan and became the first person in that era to do so. He defended the belt against the likes of Rick Rude, Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage before dropping it to Sgt. Slaughter in January 1991.


Shawn Michaels

WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels was a three-time WWF/E Champion, capturing the belt in 1996 and 1997 and holding the belt for a combined 396 days. The Heartbreak Kid also won the World Championship upon his WWE return in 2002, winning it in the first Elimination Chamber match.


Bob Backlund

WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund's first WWWF Title run began in February 1978 and lasted all the way until December 1983. Backlund returned in 1994, when he defeated Bret Hart for the championship in a tainted submission match. His second run only lasted three days when he ran into Diesel.


Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar captured his first of ten world championships in 2002, his rookie year in wrestling. The Beast Incarnate captured the WWE Championship seven times and the Universal Championship three times, often dominating the promotion for years at a time.


Superstar Billy Graham

WWE Hall of Famer Superstar Billy Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino in April 1977, ending Bruno's final run with the WWWF Championship. Graham defended the belt against a wide variety of challengers for nearly a year before dropping it to Bob Backlund in 1978.


John Cena

John Cena held the WWE/WWE World Heavyweight Championship an unprecedented 13 times between 2005 and 2014 for 1,254 days combined. He has also had three runs as World Champion, tying the record with Ric Flair as wrestling's only recognized 16-time World Champions.


Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns dominated the modern era of wrestling, holding four WWE Championships and two Universal Championships. However, it's his reign as WWE Undisputed Universal Champion that attracted the most attention, a reign that began in 2020 and has led to the headlining of multiple WrestleManias while retaining the championship.


Mark Henry

WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry only held a world championship once during his memorable 20-plus year career in WWE; a World Heavyweight Championship victory over Randy Orton. But the win was well received and Henry was booked as a dominant champion.


Rob Van Dam

WWE Hall of Famer Rob Van Dam managed to cash in his Money In The Bank briefcase in 2006, defeating John Cena to capture the WWE Heavyweight Championship. He was also declared ECW World Champion at the same time. While both reigns were short-lived, RVD managed to Van-dominate WWE.


Jeff Hardy

Jeff Hardy captured the WWE Championship in 2008, defeating Edge and Triple H. While he would only hold that belt for about a month, Hardy would capture the World Heavyweight Championship twice in 2009, trading the belt back and forth with CM Punk.


Kofi Kingston

After spending many years within WWE, Kofi Kingston captured his first world championship at WrestleMania XXXV, defeating Daniel Bryan to capture the WWE Championship. While Kingston only held the gold for 180 days, losing it to Brock Lesnar his victory was a true WrestleMania moment.


Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley captured his first WWE Championship in early 2021 and defended it against the likes of The Miz, Drew McIntyre and Kofi Kingston. He defeated Brock Lesnar to win his second WWE Championship later that year, and also held WWE's ECW World Championship twice.


Chris Benoit

A bit painful to talk about now, sure, but the fact remains that Chris Benoit won the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania XX, in Madison Square Garden, and not only was it in a Triple Threat Match, but he forced Triple H to tap out in the middle of the ring! Benoit held the championship until that year's SummerSlam.


Bray Wyatt

In 2017, Bray Wyatt won an Elimination Chamber Match to win the WWE Championship before dropping it to Randy Orton a couple of months later. Then as The Fiend, he defeated Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship in October 2019 and lost it to Goldberg three months later.


Sycho Sid

Sycho Sid held the WWF Heavyweight Title twice between 1996 and 1997. True, his combined title reigns were less than 100 days total, but let's not forget that The Master And Ruler Of The World defeated Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart - two of the best wrestlers of the 1990s - to win his championships.


The Iron Sheik

WWE Hall of Famer The Iron Sheik, who captured the WWF World Championship from Bob Backlund in December 1983 and lost it a month later to Hulk Hogan. But given he was the bridge between two eras in wrestling, it's a major accomplishment.


Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan is a five-time world champion in WWE. His first reign as World Heavyweight Champion was in December 2011. He's also captured the WWE, WWE World Heavyweight and WWE Universal Championships since then, including a career-defining moment to close out WrestleMania XXX.


Ivan Koloff

Ivan Koloff's lone WWWF World Heavyweight Championship reign is famous because of how it happened. In 1971, The Russian Bear defeated Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden, ending Sammartino's nearly eight-year run on top. Koloff quickly lost the title to Pedro Morales.


Kurt Angle

WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle captured the WWF/E Championship four times between 2000-2003, besting top names such as The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and The Big Show. He also captured the vacant World Title in January 2006, winning a battle royal.



Diesel's (a/k/a WWE Hall of Famer Kevin Nash) lone run as WWF World Champion in 1994 was an impressive one. Not only did he defeat Bob Backlund in eight seconds, but he held on to that title for almost an entire year, withstanding Shawn Michaels and others.



Batista dominated the World Heavyweight Championship between 2005 and 2008, defeating Triple H at WrestleMania XXI and overcoming King Booker and Chris Jericho during four reigns on top. His combined 507 days make him the second-longest reigning World Champion. He's also held the WWE Title twice.



WWE Hall of Famer Edge had four reigns as WWE Champion between 2006 and 2009, defending against the likes of Jeff Hardy and John Cena. But he's also captured the World Heavyweight Championship a record nine days, with combined reigns spanning 400+ days.


The Undertaker

WWE Hall of Famer The Undertaker enjoyed four runs as WWF/E Champion between 1991 and 2002. He also had three runs as World Champion. All told, The Phenom enjoyed seven reigns on top, which amount to 445 days as champion combined.


Seth Rollins

Seth Rollins won his first WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXXI, cashing in a Money In The Bank contract. The Visionary would go on to win the WWE Championship a second time and two Universal titles. In 2023, he became the first World Heavyweight  Champion.



WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna's first run with the WWF World Championship began at WrestleMania IX, when he won and lost the title within about two minutes. His next run was much more impressive, holding the championship for the better part of a year.


Pedro Morales

WWE Hall of Famer Pedro Morales isn't a name many fans associate with WWE's main championship, which is why it's surprising that after he defeated Ivan Koloff in February 1971, he held the belt for over 1,000 days! Morales eventually lost the championship to Stan Stasiak in December 1973 - Stasiak himself only held the belt for 9 days.


Triple H

WWE Hall of Famer Triple H held the WWF/E World Championship nine times between 1999 and 2016 for a combined 609 days on top. He was also a five-time World Champion, becoming the first titleholder in 2002 and holding that belt for 616 days combined -- a record for that particular championship.


Randy Savage

WWE Hall of Famer Randy "Macho Man" Savage held the WWF World Championship twice. His first reign, which began in April 1988, was significant because he was essentially groomed to take Hulk Hogan's spot. His second reign began in April 1992 when he upset Ric Flair for the belt.


Bret Hart

WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart held the WWF World Championship five times between 1992 and 1997, but what was interesting is that all but one of his reigns were longer than three months. That gave the Hit Man a reputation as a fighting champion, taking on all comers.


Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin's run with the WWF World Title began in 1998, defeating Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV. He would have five additional WWF World Title runs going up until 2001, equalling 529 days of opening cans of Whoop Ass.


Bruno Sammartino

WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino dominated the WWWF Championship between 1963 and 1973, holding the title only twice but for 4,040 days. So why is he not # 1 on this list? The WWWF was a regional promotion for most of his reign and not in an era of television and pay-per-view demands.


Hulk Hogan

WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan was a six-time WWF World Champion, dominating the company from 1984 to 1993 and returning for a month-long title reign in 2002. In total, Hogan had 2,185 days on top - the second-longest in company history behind only Bruno Sammartino and in an era where the WWF was an international promotional juggernaut.

Learn More About Canadian Bulldog

  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
bottom of page