The Five Most Thrilling WWE Championship Matches of All-Time
The WWE Championship.
The richest prize in all of sports-entertainment.
Many have come close to capturing it and failed while some knew what it takes to make it and gave it their all for that one larger than life, career-defining moment.
With Night of Champions ever so near, it is time to revisit some of the great moments of eras past to see which one of the hundreds of title matches can be dubbed "most thrilling."
So many have put in their share to make the WWE history books filled with rich memories but it is these five encounters that stand out as "unique."
Now let see here...
WrestleMania VI: Hogan, Warrior and the Ultimate Challenge
In 1990, the world revolved around two giant stars.
Hulk Hogan, immortal and larger than life, held the WWE Championship since pinning "Macho Man" Randy Savage at WrestleMania V the year prior.
Ultimate Warrior was the Intercontinental Champion and was set to take over the reigns and become the "face" of the company.
Both were massive, charismatic and powerful. Nothing could stop them until they had defeated everyone else...except each other.
A prelude to this came at that year's Royal Rumble where the two collided against one another. However brief their encounter was, it lit the crowd on fire and set the stage for what would become one of the most awesome moments in WWE history.
Dubbed the "Ultimate Challenge" WrestleMania VI's main event was not only between Hogan and Warrior but it was also champion vs. champion and title for title. An event never duplicated again.
This stellar show also made history because of its location: Toronto, Canada and the Skydome. The first time an event of that magnitude would happen outside the borders of the United States of America.
67,000+ screaming fans made the rendez-vous and it was electric!
In the end, the match made history when the fast-rising Warrior defeated the legendary Hulk Hogan one-two-three, fair and square.
That had never happened before. Wow!
Any and all WWE-versed fans knows about this epic encounter and all those who will come must know that this is must-see, nothing less!
WrestleMania XII: Bret, Shawn and the Iron Man
When it came to breaking down barriers and setting the bar higher than ever, no one shined more than Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.
Professional wrestling owes them a debt of gratitude because without them and their history, the landscape of this business would not be as it is today.
Imagine no DX, no "Attitude" era and no Monday Night Wars.
This however, came way before all that.
WrestleMania XII offered fans yet another historical, thrilling match unseen before: the Iron Man.
All the gems witnessed up to this point often met the 20-30 minute mark. This one? 60!
60 minutes of close calls, high-flying elbows, Sweet Chin Music and Sharpshooters.
To be able to do this kind of stuff, both Superstars needed to be in the best shape of their lives and with the richest prize in the game at stake, they would deliver a show the world had never seen.
In the end, none had been able to supplant the other and the timer stopped at the hour mark.
Bret had retained, the "Heartbreak Kid" would go home empty-handed...or would he?
Then-President of WWE, Gorilla Monsoon entered the ring and ordered the match to continue, much to Bret's chagrin.
The action continued but the fatigue had already set in and it was a wily Shawn who saw an opening and delivered a patented finisher for the final and decisive three-count.
It was over. The new champion realized his boyhood dream amid the fireworks while the Hitman pondered on what was to become of his future.
Unknown to all at the time, the seeds of one of the most intense rivalries were sewn that night.
Both are now legends and their war is a thing of the past but this majestic matchup is one of the most thrilling the world has ever seen.
Rock vs. Austin: The Chair Shot Heard Round the World
When Stone Cold and The Rock are involved in something, the result is often met with dramaaaa!
That, however, is what makes the WWE world go round.
WrestleMania X-Seven is perhaps the greatest in history. Everything at that time was at a peak.
The crop of talent was amazing, the ratings were high and there are barely any words powerful enough to explain, honestly. Everything about that show is awesome.
Fate had placed both megastars in the same company at the same time and like Hogan vs. Warrior a decade earlier, only one could come out the victor.
The action started just before the bell and it didn't stop. It became a bloody mess even which brought the fans to the edge of their seats.
No disqualification means anything goes and so came the "Sharpshooters" and "Million Dollar Dreams."
It also meant the McMahons and their brand of devilry.
As soon as the CEO entered the ring with a chair, all hell would break loose.
No one ever would expect the final scene but it was Stone Cold who signed away his soul for another crack at the gold.
The massive chair shot and subsequent beat down were too much for The Rock. He was defeated that night and left lying in a pool of blood and sweat.
A new era was about to begin.
The rattlesnake had struck and left with all the gold and glory.
Money in the Bank 2011: John Cena vs. CM Punk and the Last Kiss Good Night
The face of WWE in the modern era has changed dramatically since the days of Hogan and Austin.
A new breed of talent has come and they are led by perhaps the biggest star ever, John Cena, whose legend ranks up there with any of the big names.
He has nobody to envy because at 11 WWE Championship victories, no one comes close to beating that record.
One other man stands against the tide however. Perhaps the best one of the lot. Though simple-looking and smaller than Cena, CM Punk has managed to win over everybody, critics and fans alike.
Being able to deliver promos like few others, the "Best in the World" CM Punk took the stage one night and drop a bomb on the entire world, revealing certain "details" about the business that the higher powers would rather keep quiet.
His contract was coming to an end soon and he made a vow to win the title and force the company to meets his demands or he would walk out and take the belt with him.
John Cena would meet his nemesis in his hometown of Chicago and the match is worth watching if only for the fans' interaction. They are so alive it is incredible!
The Windy City was entirely behind its hero (Punk) which made you wonder whether Cena was the "heel."
Vince McMahon, famous for his devious and manipulative mind, decided that Punk and his demands deserved to be screwed out of the building. He and his stooge made their way to the ring and attempted a coup, but were met instead by a vicious punch from the defending champion, who ordered it not to be this way.
It cost him alright. CM Punk quickly scooped up Cena and delivered the "GTS" for the final three-count.
A new WWE Champion was crowned. The house had erupted with merriment and excitement!
Vince wasn't done. He called for Alberto Del Rio to come cash in his MITB briefcase but that was foiled by a kick to the head and right after, Punk took his title and joined the screaming fans only to exit the building through them.
There was a fiendish smile and a kiss goodbye.
The fate of CM Punk and the WWE Championship would remain in suspense for a little while longer.
Present Day: Vipers and Traitors and Beards, Oh My!
Judas, Benedict Arnold and Triple H...commonly known as "traitors!!!"
Seriously, this match and all the promos that came before between John Cena and Daniel Bryan sold this pay-per-view event.
The little guy with the beard took everything John Cena threw at him and still came back fighting.
It was time for a new "face" to take over the world and D. Bryan was just that man. Yes! Yes! Yes! the crowd chanted and still, no one could score the pin.
Ultimately though, the running kick to the face was more than even SuperCena could take and the American Dragon captured his very first WWE Championship.
There have been many who would criticize the product since its turn to PG years ago but this match, the whole night was a complete success.
It would also serve as the beginning of a whole new era of business.
Triple H had been the official during the match and Randy Orton came out, taunting Daniel Bryan and teased cashing in his MITB.
Bryan was ready for another fight but the Viper turned away, promising to fight another day until...
Kick to the stomach and a Pedigree! The Hunter had struck.
Orton comes in and pins his fallen foe to capture his seventh WWE Championship.
The night ends in a sour note: Cena is injured, Bryan loses and the Age of Orton begins anew.
All to the delight of Triple H and the McMahons.
Pride, Glory and Immortality
To be the WWE Champion is to be inscribed into the WWE history books forever.
Whether your name is John Cena or HBK or even The Miz and Alberto Del Rio, once you get to touch that title belt, your life is changed for all time.
Not every championship match made the cut of course and some may dispute this one or that one but ultimately, when you get to this point in your career, it is up to you to make the most of it.
Some matches can be technical, others more savage, but in the end, the thrill and excitement that comes out of it is worth any and all sacrifices.
That's what it means to be a champion. Ask any of them.
They understand how it works.