WWE Monday Night Raw's Top 20 Title Changes in the Show's History
WWE RAW debuted in the start of 1993 and has gone on to break numerous records. Superstars from different generations have graced the show, with the desire to be champion. Along the journey for many of these superstars, every championship has changed hands at least once in front of a RAW crowd.
While some of these title changes have felt obvious, others have been shocking and some just leave the audience confused at what they just witnessed.
The unpredictability is one of the great characteristics of RAW. Nothing is ever certain, making the show so great. Watching new champions crowned over the years has given RAW that feeling of how special it really is.
Over the past 19 years, there have been over a hundred title changes, creating plenty of history along the way.
Here, in chronological order, are the top 20 title changes in the history of Monday Night Raw.
Intercontinental Championship: May 17, 1993
RAW was barely on the air for four months, before history was made with the first-ever title change on the show. Marty Jannetty captured the Intercontinental Championship from his former friend and tag team partner, Shawn Michaels.
While the reign would last only 20 days, it bought credibility to RAW by having a title change hands on the show. This was just the start of numerous championship changes that would occur on RAW.
Intercontinental Championship: Sept. 27, 1993
Razor Ramon would win a battle royal to earn the vacant Intercontinental Championship after Shawn Michaels had been suspended for testing positive for steroids.
This victory would be essential to set up a match between the two months later at WrestleMania X, in the first-ever WWE televised ladder match.
Michaels later returned with his own version of the title, claiming to still be the rightful champion. The end result is what many consider one of the greatest matches ever.
European Championship: Feb. 26, 1997
In Berlin, Germany, the British Bulldog defeated his tag partner Owen Hart in the finals to crown the first ever European Champion.
Besides being tag team partners, the two were family and this helped make the match even more memorable with several close finishes. The Bulldog’s first run would also be the single longest run for the championship at 206 days.
While the championship didn’t have lasting effects in the WWE, it did help propel future talent.
European Championship: Dec. 22, 1997
On a special Christmas edition of RAW, WWE Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter demanded that Shawn Michaels defend his European Championship against his D-Generation X partner Triple H. Throughout the show, the two appeared to drift apart, signaling the end of the group.
In the end, Michaels simply laid down and allowed Triple H to win the title with no effort. It was all part of the plan and D-Generation X was stronger than ever.
Tag Team Championship: March 30, 1998
The night after WrestleMania 14 saw the formation of a new D-Generation X, after the former leader Shawn Michaels was forced into retirement after breaking his back.
In the main event, the new Tag Team Champions (Terry Funk and Mick Foley) defended their titles against The New Age Outlaws inside a steel cage.
Fast-forward to the end of the match and The Outlaws not only regained their championships, but it was revealed they were the final members of the new D-Generation X.
Light Heavyweight Championship: Nov. 17, 1998
Gillberg was the WWE mocking the only wrestling superstar WCW created in Bill Goldberg. His character was that he never could win. Then he defeated Christian to become the Light Heavyweight Champion.
While Gillberg was meant to be a joke, his reign ended up being the longest in the title’s history under the WWE banner at 453 days. It might be safe to say his run with title ruined its overall meaning.
WWE Championship: Dec. 29, 1998
Mick Foley would finally win his first WWE Championship, when he defeated The Rock on a taped episode of RAW.
It would also be remembered when on the live edition of WCW Nitro, announcer Tony Schiavone would announce the taped title change on the air and sarcastically said, "That'll put a lot of butts in the seats."
This move backfired as fans switched to RAW to see Foley win, giving the WWE the win in that night's ratings war.
Intercontinental Championship: May 25, 1999
Owen Hart was set to win the Intercontinental Championship two days prior, but a WWE stunt went wrong and he later died from the complications of falling nearly 80 feet. One of his good friends at the time was Jeff Jarrett, who went on to win the title and shout the name of his fallen friend.
Nobody wants to win a championship under such unfortunate circumstances, but it needed it be done and the selection of Jarrett made the most sense.
WWE Championship: Aug. 23, 1999
The night before, Triple H lost a triple threat match for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam.
This night was different, as with the help of the special guest referee Shane McMahon, Triple H would win the title for the first time.
It marked the beginning of new era, as one of the most decorated and hated wrestlers of his generation was just starting to shape his bright future.
Intercontinental Championship: Dec. 30, 1999
Chyna had already changed the professional wrestling world when she won the Intercontinental Championship, making her the first and only female to accomplish such an act. Later she would become a co-champion for the same title, creating another first.
Chyna and Chris Jericho would simultaneously cover their opponent in a triple threat match, leading the referee to declare both the winner, thus forcing them to share and defend the championship together.
Hardcore Championship: Sept. 10, 2001
The WWE Hardcore Championship lost all meaning after it was declared that it must be defended 24/7. In one show, the championship would change hands a dozen times in the span of two hours.
Rob Van Dam held the title the longest after defeating Kurt Angle. It gave the title some honor, since he was able to retain it longer than any of the previous or future champions.
Intercontinental Championship: May 27, 2002
Putting Eddie Guerrero and Rob Van Dam (RVD) in a match sounds good on paper. Have the Intercontinental Championship hanging 15 feet above the ring in a ladder match and it can only make it better.
The two didn’t disappoint, with two moments that still stand out. First, when a fan entered the ring and Guerrero took him out. Then the conclusion, when RVD went for his finisher off the top of the ladder and fell, causing both men to change the finish on the fly.
Women’s Championship: June 30, 2003
For weeks, the WWE was hyping the debut of Gail Kim through video promos that were parallel to the movie The Matrix. The WWE apparently had high hopes for her and it showed.
In her debut, a battle royal match, she became the Women’s Champion. No diva had ever won a title in their first match, let alone defeat several other women to capture the championship.
Women’s Championship: Dec. 6, 2004
It’s not often that a divas match closes RAW or for that matter steals the show, but Lita and Trish Stratus accomplished both.
They had been feuding for some time over the Women’s Championship and on this night Lita finally won.
It had been a long two years for Lita. Labeled as star of the division upon her debut, she broke her neck in 2002, leaving her future unclear.
It’s tough to forget that dive to the outside Lita took, landing awkwardly on her neck as the show went to a commercial break.
Intercontinental Championship: March 10, 2008
Chris Jericho would make history when he won the Intercontinental Championship for a record eighth time when he defeated Jeff Hardy (he later would surpass is own record at SummerSlam).
At first, it seemed like an odd time for a title change. Then it became clear why Hardy needed to drop the championship.
Hardy had recently failed a drug test and was about to start a 60-day suspension. Hardy’s poor judgment allowed Jericho to help further cement his career.
World Heavyweight Championship: June 30, 2008
After Edge won the World Heavyweight Championship the night prior, he announced that he was taking the title to SmackDown, leaving RAW with no title. Out came Dave Batista who proceeded to pummel Edge.
This was followed by CM Punk coming out with a referee to cash in his Money in Bank briefcase. With the assist from Batista, Punk was able to capture his first major championship and keep the title on RAW.
Tag Team Championship: Feb. 8, 2010
The founding members of D-Generation X (Shawn Michaels and Triple H) put their Tag Team Championships on the line in a three-way match against ShoMiz and The Straight Edge Society. ShoMiz would walk out the new champions.
Besides losing the titles, it marked the end for D-Generation X. Michaels would begin his final feud against The Undertaker, eventually losing to him with his career on the line. The stable’s 13-year run was finished.
United States Championship: May 17, 2010
After the Montreal Screwjob in 1997 and a failed run in WCW, where Bret Hart was forced into retirement after suffering a serve concussion, many were doubtful if he would ever return to the WWE. Then in 2010, he returned to bury the hatchet.
There was no evidence he would win a title upon his return. Then, to the surprise of many, he would win the United States Championship against The Miz in his home country of Canada, tying the record for most times holding that title.
WWE Championship: July 25, 2011
Eight days prior, CM Punk won the WWE Championship against John Cena and in storyline left the company as his contract had expired.
A tournament was held to crown a new champion, with Rey Mysterio winning earlier in the night. Cena was given his rematch later in the show to win back his championship.
After Cena regained his title, unfamiliar music played and out walked CM Punk with his championship. Both men stood in the ring holding up their belt as the show closed, leaving uncertainty as to who was the actual champion.
WWE Championship: Nov. 22, 2010
For months, The Miz had teased cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a championship opportunity. At the time, The Miz was one of the hottest stars on the roster and it seemed only a matter of time before he was champion.
Moments after Randy Orton had successfully defend his WWE Championship, The Miz’s music hit and he was finally ready to cash in his title opportunity. Minutes later, The Miz became the first Tough Enough contestant to win the biggest championship in the WWE.