The History of the WWE Championship, Part III
The new millenium brought new champions.
It started with a bang as Big Show lost the WWE championship Triple H, just three days into 2000. The Rock would beat Triple H at King of the Ring. Triple H and The Rock would beat each other one more time during that year.
Then, a new face came into the title picture. Kurt Angle, the gold medal-winning Olympic wrestler, defeated The Rock that year to capture his first WWE title. The Rock won it back weeks later, but Angle would return the favor beating him at the end of the year.
The Rock-Angle title swap continued into 2001, with Rock going into Wrestlemania 17 to face Austin in the second Main Event title match in three years. This time, McMahon—who won the title briefly in 1999 with Austin's help—returned the favor and Austin regain the belt by defeating The Rock.
Austin was champion again, but Angle pinned him later that year. It was Angle's third title in two years. Stone Cold came back to reclaim the title, and put it on the line against The Rock, Angle and Chris Jericho. In the first-round matches, Jericho defeated The Rock, and Austin beat Angle. Jericho then defeated Austin, with some help from Booker T, who had just joined WWE.
Though Jericho was on top of the wrestling world, it was a familiar face from the past that was made anew in 2002.
Game on, Hulk Hogan! A month after Triple H ended Jericho's reign at WrestleMania 18, Hogan would take the title after making a comeback earlier in the year. Undertaker would eventually take the belt from Hogan, and The Rock would take it from Taker.
The title continued to change hands rapidly, as Brock Lesnar pinned The Rock, Big Show would beat Lesnar, and Angle would down Big Show.
There were seven title changes in 2002—most of them coming in the second half of the year.
The following year, Angle and Lesnar would trade the title three times. Their fude overshadowed the rest of WWE.
Eddie Guerrero was a fan favorite in 2004. He was the underdog entering the title match against Lesnar. But, with a little help from Goldberg, shocked the wrestling world and became the WWE champion. Eddie lost his title, thanks to Angle, who said JBL was the new champ after a Bull Rope title match.
JBL entered 2005 as the champion. His reign lasted for a year.
But 2005 was the year of John Cena.
Cena was slowly growing as a crowd favorite. At the main even of Wrestlemania 21, Cena defeated JBL in a classic match that lived up to its billing. From there, Cena beat everyone and everything that walked into his path.
It wasn't until 2006 that Cena finally lost—and Edge finally did it.
At the Great American Bash, moments after Cena had survived an Elimination Chamber match, Edge cashed in his Money-in-the-Bank briefcase for an immediate title shot. Within seconds, Edge slammed and pinned a worn-out Cena. It was an event ending that nobody saw coming.
Edge, Cena and Rob Van Dam would all trade title wins with each other during 2006. As the year came to an end, Cena would reclaim the championship.
Another long Cena run was in the cards for 2007. He had been WWE champ for a year, and his reign may have continued longer, had it not been for a shoulder injury Cena suffered in a match with Randy Orton.
When Cena had to go out for surgery, McMahon awarded the title to Orton. Triple H challenged Orton that night. Triple H won, then Orton won. The night ended the same way it began—with Orton as the new champion.
Orton, who was going strong into April, had proclaimed 2008 as the "Age of Orton." At Wrestlemania, in a fatal four-way match, Triple H would reclaim the title.
In the WWE draft, Triple H was moved to SmackDown. Triple H and Edge then were involved in a head-to-head rivalry. Edge, "the ultimate opportunist," chated his way into a championship match and defeated Triple H.
The year ended with Jeff Hardy taking the title from Edge, in a triple-threat match with Triple H.
Edge reclaimed the title in early 2009, with some unexpected help from Jeff's brother, Matt, at Royal Rumble.
Edge entered No Way Out with seemingly nothing to worry about. But four minutes into the opening Elimination Chamber match, he was no longer champion after a shocking pin by Jeff Hardy. As the match concluded, Triple H pinned Undertaker to claim his 13th WWE championship.
Thus, the stage is being set for Wrestlemania 25 in Houston.
Randy Orton, after winning his match against Shane McMahon at No Way Out, appears to be in line for a revenge match with Triple H, who ended the "Age of Orton" last year.
But, there is an underlying injury storyline that could be played, keeping Orton out of the WrestleMania showcase.
The possibilities are endless.
Hopefully, they'll be entertaining.
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