The History of the WWE Championship: Part II
The WWE Championship was an honor to have back in the early '90s because it meant the holder was the guy on top and had the gold to prove it.
Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania VI) is, to some people, a mistake and yet to others the greatest match ever. Warrior won the match as WWE began to put the title on its younger stars.
The times were changing, but the title was the same—just as important as ever in the early '90s.
After WrestleMania VI, Warrior lost the title to Sgt. Slaughter, who would have his first and only title reign as the WWE Champ. A year had passed when Hogan came back into the title picture, regaining the gold at WrestleMania VII.
A man who can be described in one word and who is truly one of the most dominating wrestlers ever seen, Undertaker became champion, taking the title in his first year in the business.
The title became vacant in 1992. It was the perfect opportunity for the "Dirtiest Player in the Game," the one and only Ric Flair. "The Nature Boy" won the Royal Rumble to win his first WWE title, and at WrestleMania VIII Flair lost his title to Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Flair would become champion again in September, but he held the title this time for only a month, losing it to Bret "Hitman" Hart.
Hart proved to be the greatest by beating the greatest months before WrestleMania. He went into WrestleMania the favorite, but lost the title to Yokozuna.
Yokozuna had the shortest title run in WWE history, losing it to Hogan—two minutes later!
Hogan was leaving WWE, so the title would go back around the shoulder—not the waist—of Yokozuna at the King of the Ring in '93.
The rematch at WrestleMania X was something nobody saw, with Hart and Yoko going face-to-face. Bret overshadowed his brother Owen earlier that night, and won the title again in 1994.
Months later, Owen cost Bret the title, against the biggest WWE title underdog ever, Bob Backlund. Backlund held the title the longest, but lost it to Diesel in a house show.
Diesel held the title for a year before losing it to Bret Hart in the only title change of 1995.
WrestleMania XII brought the second greatest match ever, as "The Heart Break Kid" Shawn Michaels beat Hitman in a historic, overtime Ironman Match. It was HBK's first-ever title.
Sid became champion that same year, beating HBK in November of '96. Michaels regained the belt in his hometown (San Antonio) at Royal Rumble '97, but would have to give up the title due to a knee injury.
Bret Hart took the WWE title once again, beating Undertaker in February. Sid beat Hart and Undertaker beat Sid (WrestleMania XIII) within the next two months. As fate would have it, Bret Hart won the title back at Summerslam, with HBK as special guest referee.
The most controversial title change in WWE history happened in the Hitman's backyard, losing to HBK. WWE president Vince McMahon had changed the plans on Bret, who was leaving for WCW.
The year of Austin 3:16—1998—saw "Stone Cold" Steve Austin take center stage, with Mike Tyson as referee at WrestleMania XIV. Austin lost the title match, thanks to an Undertaker chair shot that was meant for Kane, who would be a one-day champ. The next night, Kane lost the title to Austin.
Stone Cold was stripped of the title by McMahon, and a tournament was announced. It was started—and ended—by "The Great One," The Rock. It was the first title of his seven WWE titles.
The Rock and Mankind would trade title reigns for the rest of 1998, going into 1999.
WrestleMania XV featured Austin and The Rock in one of two title matches against each other. Austin won back the title that he never really lost.
Undertaker was part of the "Master Plan" that McMahon had for Austin, taking the title away from him again. A month later, Austin won his title back yet again, pinning Undertaker in June of '99.
In one of the biggest shockers for a title change, Mankind beat Austin. But the next night Triple H won his first of 14 WWE championships.
A month later, in a heated story with McMahon, Triple H would not win. Surprisingly, McMahon, with the help of Austin, won the WWE title. McMahon knew he was no champion and put the vacant title up for grabs.
Big Show won the WWE crown, thanks to McMahon, who would undercut Triple H at Survivor Series.
It was the last title change of the millennium.
(Coming Soon: History of the WWE Championship, Part III.)
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