After 3 weeks, I return with Part 6 of my series, this one being on one of, if not the most coveted prize in the WWE: the World Heavyweight Championship.
There isn't a long list of winners, as the former WCW Heavyweight belt was introduced as WWE's Heavyweight title in 2002. There have been only 12 men that have held the title in the 6-year history, and so my top 10 will be listed, with the other 2 as Honorable Mentions.
Here we go...
10. The Great Khali (1 time)
One of the biggest men in pro wrestling, Khali was destined to win the belt at some point, and he made his mark on the industry’s history book by entering the 20-man Championship Battle Royal when Edge vacated the title. He survived an onslaught from the other hopefuls to earn his only Heavyweight Championship, and as expected, he would wreak havoc on anyone who stood in his way.
9. King Booker (1 time)
While definitely not the crowd favorite, the former King of the Ring won the tournament to face Rey Mysterio for the World Title. As fate would have it, the King would win the belt, securing his spot on Smackdown’s throne.
8. Rey Mysterio (1 time)
Of course, the biggest underdog story in wrestling history. After his best friend, Eddie Guerrero, passed away, Mysterio dedicated his Royal Rumble performance to his memory, and strangely enough, he overcame insurmountable odds to win the match, securing a title spot at Wrestlemania 22. But when Randy Orton managed to take his shot by beating him at No Way Out, GM Theodore Long decided to keep Rey in the match, making it a Triple Threat. Mysterio, after sending Kurt Angle out of the ring, hit a 619 and a West Coast Pop on Orton, allowing him to take the match and the World Heavyweight Championship in what was definitely a big Wrestlemania moment.
7. Kurt Angle (1 time)
Definitely one of the most decorated wrestlers in history, Kurt Angle surprised the wrestling world when he returned to Smackdown on January 10, 2006, in his hometown of Philadelphia, to be revealed as the final entrant in a 20-man battle royal for the vacant World title. As a RAW superstar, he had a huge target on his singlet, but he was able to win his only World title when he eliminated Mark Henry.
6. Shawn Michaels (1 time)
The reason I rank HBK so high is because he won his only Heavyweight title in near-impossible circumstances. The Showstopper was able to outlast Triple H, RVD, Booker T, Kane, and Chris Jericho in the most unforgiving structure known to the sports-entertainment world: the Elimination Chamber.
5. Chris Benoit (1 time)
Say what you want about what happened last year, but the Rabid Wolverine can not be made an Honorable Mention or left off my top 10 this time. The Canadian Crippler had been wrestling for years to obtain a World Heavyweight title, and at Wrestlemania XX, he defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels to finally accomplish his dream. After the match, he stood side by side with his best friend, WWE Champion, the late great Eddie Guerrero. He even managed to overcome the odds again, defeated Helmsley and HBK in a rematch at Backlash.
4. Undertaker (2 times)
Although he only won it twice, he won it when it counted for him: Wrestlemania. By winning the 2007 Royal Rumble (entering in at #30), he had a choice to make: Cena, or Batista? He decided to go for the Animal, and continued his Wrestlemania undefeated streak. He would then have another chance to accomplish the same feat by challenging Edge for the title at WM 24. While Edge put up a good fight, he was no match for the Deadman.
3. Batista (3 times)
Definitely a fan-favorite, the Animal won his way into Wrestlemania 21's main event by winning the 2005 Royal Rumble, defeating John Cena in "overtime". With fellow Evolution member Triple H holding the belt, he had a choice: go to Smackdown and challenge for the WWE title, or stay on RAW, and go after his buddy's belt?
He chose the latter, separating himself from Triple H and Flair, and ultimately, beating the Game for his first World Championship. After a nine-month reign, he was forced to surrender the belt due to injury in early 2006.
He would come bouncing back though, defeating King Booker in November for his second title. He would then lose it at Wrestlemania 22, becoming another victim to Undertaker's streak. But the Animal wouldn't stop. He defeated The Great Khali to win title number three, and would lose it to Edge. His main feuds were with Edge and Undertaker.
2. Edge (3 times, current World Heavyweight Champion)
The Ultimate Opportunist ranks above Batista because of the fact that he uses everything in his arsenal to win. He won his first title by pulling an old stunt. After winning Mr. Kennedy's "Money in the Bank" title shot, he used it in the same fashion that he won his first WWE Championship. After Undertaker managed to win a brutal Steel Cage Match with Batista, as well as a beating from Mark Henry, Edge cashed in his title shot right then, as a Spear took out a very tired Deadman, and just like that, Edge was once again on top. A three-time World Champ, he has feuded with Batista and Undertaker over the title.
1. Triple H (5 times)
The Cerebral Assassin, already a 7-time WWE Champion, was the first WWE Heavyweight Champ after it was awarded to him by then-RAW GM Eric Bischoff after WWE Champ Brock Lesnar decided to wrestle only on Smackdown. Triple H would defend it that very night, and would beat Ric Flair. He has feuded with Chris Benoit, Goldberg, Shawn Michaels, and most notably, former Evolution buddies Batista and Randy Orton.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Randy Orton, Goldberg
I welcome all feedback as always.
Next time, the WWE Championship.