Lets take a look back in time, before jumping ship to a new organization was not all over the Internet, and even the greatest of the greats could not win a world title in another federation. Bruno Sammartino could have easily been the NWA World champion had he chose to leave the comfort zone of the northeast on a regular basis. In these early days, the NWA champion had to defend the title all across the world. The wrestler was a true world champion. He had to venture to rival regional promotions where screw jobs could easily occur. The champion had to know how defend himself in the ring in case some shenanigans were afoot.
In 1992 a huge and rare event occurred often overlooked by fans today. Ric Flair, after years in the NWA and as champion became the WWF World champion. Only one other man accomplished this feat beforehand, Buddy Rogers. He was a former NWA World champion who was also the first WWF champion.
In today's pro wrestling, it has become common place for wrestlers to jump to other federations and winning the world title in that organization. Greats such as Dusty Rhodes, Bob Backlund, Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, and Harley Race never were able to win the World titles in different organizations.
The next few slides will show the different wrestlers who have won a world title in other organizations. Now we all know The Rock is a WCW champion as well as WWF champion, but he will not be on this list due to WCW was under the WWF banner when this title change occurred. CM Punk is an ECW champion as well as WHC, but once again, ECW was already under the WWE banner. Now lets examine the quagmire of the NWA and TNA titles. Sting will be included for winning the NWA and TNA titles because he won the straps under two different organizations. On the other hand, AJ Styles is not included because his wins for the NWA belt and TNA belt were under the TNA banner.
The major titles used for this will be NWA, AWA, WWF/E (WWE, WWWF, WWF, or WHC), TNA and ECW.
So sit back and enjoy a slide show commemorating these superstars accomplishments.
Lets start with the most controversial on the list. Many questions are risen with this selection.
The NWA had a deal to revive the heavyweight title in Todd Gordons Eastern Championship Wrestling. Douglas won the tournament, but then threw down the title proclaiming the NWA to be a dead championship and declaring himself the first EXtreme Heavyweight Championship. Only Gordon, Douglas, and Paul Heyman knew of the double cross.
The NWA pulled the title from Douglas, but he is still a recognized champion as well as the ECW first champion. Eventually, ECW was able to garner World title status through Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
Here is another controversial pick. But I feel it necessary to throw Captain Charisma a bone here. He arguably should have at least one WHC or WWE title run by now. If the Miz is champion, why in the hell not is Christian, at least once.
Christian went to TNA and won the NWA title and when he ventured back to the WWE, he eventually won an ECW title.
Whether you love him or think he is nothing more than an overrated monster, no denying this big man has talent on the mike and in the ring.
In WCW, the Giant was able to win the world title from Ric Flair on Nitro. He was sent packing to the WWE and eventually won the World title. He has also held the WWE/ECW title. Lets see if Show can win the WHC to complete a triple crown in the WWE.
Now here is the question. Was Booker the last WCW champion or the first WCW/WWE champion? No matter the answer, he has held the top gold in both WCW before Vince McMahon bought the company and in the WWE as the WHC.
Booker was first seen as a tag team specialist, but like Bret Hart, Bookers talent allowed him to elevate to singles success.
Bookers first reign in WCW was without controversy. The match was to feature champion Jeff Jarrett vs. Hulk Hogan. But backstage politics by both Hogan and Vince Russo, caused that match to be thrown out. Russo announced to the fans, after a long tirade against Hogan, that the REAL world title match was to be against Jarrett and Booker.
The hardcore legend proved age is but a number. Terry Funk won the NWA World title in 1975 and held it for 424 days. Almost 20 years later, Funk won the ECW world title from Sabu. Four years later, the Funker got one more title run in the ECW.
Sting has a rare accomplishment. He has won the NWA, TNA, and WCW titles. Why is it so rare?
Sting won the NWA title against Ric Flair at the Great American Bash in 1990. The NWA title was still used under the WCW banner. When WCW officially left the NWA, Sting then won the WCW title. He won the WCW title 5 more times.
Sting ventured to TNA when the NWA title was still being used under the TNA banner. He was able to capture the NWA World title in basically two different organizations.
Eventually, TNA broke away and crowned Kurt Angle the first TNA World champion. Sting also captured the TNA strap.
Ah, the good old days when blood was still used to tell a story of how violent the action is in the ring.
Steve Corino spilled a ton of blood in ECW rings and in regional promotions as the NWA champion. Corino was one of the last ECW champions before Heyman ended the promotion.
Sid was a monster in every promotion he performed. He first ventured to WCW in the late 1980's and became a Skyscraper. Later he became a Horseman, not to achieve his dream. Sid went to the WWF. He was billed as Sid Justice and then Psycho Sid. Many believed his first title reign was only months away. In the 1992 Royal Rumble, most fans expected him to win the vacated gold. Sid never achieved his goal and left to return to WCW.
In WCW, many believed it a matter of time before he won the World title from Vader. Instead Sid joined Col. Parker, Harley Race, and Vader in their quest to destroy Sting. The story line was to be the Masters of the Bomb to face off at StarrCade. But after an incident involving scissors and Arn Anderson, Sid was released.
Sid resurfaced in the WWF as the new bodyguard for Shawn Michaels. He eventually turned on HBK on an episode of RAW after WrestleMania.
After hanging in the mid card, Sid reunited with HBK, but the partnership was short lived. Sid was able to defeat HBK this time and become World champion. He had two reigns as World champion before leaving for WCW once again. He is also remembered for being one of the Undertakers victims in his legendary streak.
Sid would challenge Chris Benoit for the vacated WCW title. Benoit won the belt. He was given the belt as a gesture in faith so him, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn would not leave for the WWF. The foursome decided to leave anyway and it was explained on screen that Sid had his foot under the rope and deserved a title shot. Sid eventually defeated Kevin Nash to become the WCW champion.
Sabu is a former ECW and NWA champion. Like Shane Douglas, Sabu's inclusion on this list is without controversy.
There is no denying Sabu is ECW champion, but his NWA title reign is questioned. He did win the strap, but when the NWA had already lost so much value from WCW leaving and the Douglas incident.
The former tag team specialist rose to single heights with his win over Ric Flair for his first WWF title. After the infamous Montreal Screwjob, Bret left for WCW. It was only a matter of time before he would win the World title. Many wanted to see him win the belt against Hulk Hogan.
The title was declared vacant after a series of controversial matches involving Hogan and Sting. The tournament finals saw Bret defeat Chris Benoit for his first of two WCW title reigns.
The first and until 1992, the only man to win the NWA and WWWF World titles.
The WWWF wanted Bruno Sammartino to be the man. But the NWA felt Bruno could not draw outside the Northeast. This lead to the WWWF leaving the NWA the first time. They crowned Buddy Rogers the first WWWF champion through a fictional Rio de Janeiro tournament. He only held the belt for 18 days as the title was moved to Bruno. During the match, Rogers did not want to do the job to Bruno, but as some historians quote, Bruno locked up Rogers in a bear-hug in the first minute of the match and told Rogers, "We can do this the easy way or the hard way." Rogers decided to take the former and Bruno became the WWWF champion, a title he held for 7 years.
Before his WWWF title reign Rogers defeated Pat O'Conner for his only NWA reign lasting over 550 days.
Another controversial inclusion to the list. Not for the reason many of you may think.
Benoit was a success in Japan, WCW, and ECW. Even though he had a successful career in WCW, he was tiring of the politics backstage not allowing the younger, arguably more talented, wrestlers such as Eddie Guerrero, Juventud, Dean Malenko, and Chris Jericho; to break through the glass ceiling and become main eventers.
Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, and Saturn voiced their opinions and put in notice to leave the company. In a good faith measure, WCW decided to give the belt to Benoit. In a title match against Sid Vicious for the vacated title, Benoit won the belt. But instead of staying with the promotion, the foursome decide to leave. It was explained on Thunder, Sid had his leg under the ropes so the belt stays vacated.
Benoit won the Royal Rumble and challenged HHH for the gold. Benoit finally won the belt in a triple threat match in which Shawn Michaels also participated. In one of the greatest WrestleMania moments, Benoit and Guerrero celebrated two best friends finally achieving their goals.
The first Canadian brawler won gold in both the AWA and NWA. He is the only man to accomplish this feat. With the AWA being out of business, he will remain the only one.
Kiniski won the AWA title from Verne Gagne. He won the NWA title from Lou Thesz. The accomplishment is even more impressive considering he won the belts from two which are arguably the greatest in their organizations.
The Whole F**N Show is on the list as a former WWE and TNA champion.
Unbelievably, RVD never won the ECW championship when it was under the control of Paul Heyman. He was expected to become the ECW champion, especially after a long run as ECW TV champion.
RVD was able to finally reach his pinnacle at the first WWE sponsored ECW show, One Night Stand. The pay per view is notorious for the fan reaction for RVD to win. Signs hung in the rafters stating if John Cena wins, fans riot.
RVD held the title and was given the first WWE/ECW title. He eventually had to drop the WWE title due to a little encounter with the law over possession. RVD then dropped the ECW title to Big Show thanks to Paul Heyman's interference on behalf of Show.
RVD came into TNA by surprise and was able to defeat AJ Styles for the TNA strap.
Ahh no one bleeds better in a match than Ric Flair. The Nature Boy became the second man in history to win the WWF and NWA World titles, following Buddy Rogers.
After winning the title of Nature Boy from the original, Rogers, Flair set his sights on gold. In 1981, Flair won his first of 16 world titles by defeating Dusty Rhodes. Later, Flair dropped the belt to Harley Race, setting up the first StarrCade. Race lost the belt and passed the torch to Flair.
Ric Flair was the NWA champion for most of the 1980's. He dropped the belt to Rhodes, Steamboat, Garvin, and Von Erich; but always came back to win the strap.
He is recognized as the first WCW champion. Politics caused the Nature Boy to leave for the WWF. Jim Heard, the pizza man who took charge of WCW, wanted Lex Luger to be the face of the promotion and wanted Flair to change his persona. Flair, as well as many within the company, disagreed and Flair bolted for the WWF, taking with him the Big Gold Belt.
Flair was eventually stripped of both the NWA and WCW titles. After showing up on WWF programming with the Big Gold Belt, Flair eventually sent the belt back.
The 1992 Royal Rumble saw Ric Flair outlast superstars such as Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, and Sid to win the WWF title. He dropped the belt to Savage a few months later at WrestleMania, but regained after SummerSlam. Flair passed the torch to Bret Hart and left the WWF a few months later.
Flairs heart was always in the south and he returned to WCW in 1993. He teased retirement and had a StarrCade retirement match against champion Big Van Vader.
The Nature Boy dropped the title to Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach. The feud for the ages turned one sided as Hogan dominated. Flair was relegated to the mid card.
Flair regained the belt a few years later against Randy Savage.
Even with his age and supposed retirement, never count out the Nature Boy to perhaps get one more title, this time in TNA.
Ask anyone to name the wrestlers who won world titles in different organizations and many will forget Rhino.
Rhino was a long reigning ECW TV champion who won the ECW world title from the Sandman after Sandman was fatigued from just winning the belt from Steve Corino. Rhino was the last ECW champion before ECW was bought by WWE.
Rhino ended up in TNA and began as an ally to Jeff Jarrett. He double crossed Jarrett to become the new number one contender. Eventually, the feud culminated with Rhino defeating Jarrett for the NWA title.
Raven like Rhino is a former ECW champion and NWA champion.
Raven was the ECW champion and had memorable feuds with Sandman and Tommy Dreamer. During his two title reigns, the Nest was instrumental in him holding onto the belt.
After stints in WCW and WWF, Raven ventured to TNA. It was his destiny to win the NWA title. In 2005, he won a King of the Mountain match to become the champion.
Who can ever forget Goldberg's rise through the ranks of WCW. The former Atlanta Falcons player went on a remarkable streak to the World title.
His first stop was defeating Raven for the U.S. title, then was able to capture the WCW title from Hulk Hogan.
After Vince McMahon purchased WCW, fans were left to speculate when Goldberg would enter a WWF ring. He entered the WWF by interrupting the Rock. After dispatching of the Rock, Goldberg set his sights on the WHC and HHH. In the elimination chamber, many felt Goldberg would claim gold. But HHH and Evolution had other ideas. HHH was able to get the pin after an assist from a sledgehammer.
Goldberg agreed to put his career on the line for one more title shot. HHH agreed and fell victim to the jackhammer and Goldberg was the new WHC champion.
One of the most popular and charismatic stars in the WWF during the 1980's had memorable runs in WWF, CWF, and WCW.
After years of making Jerry Lawlers life a living hell, Savage ventured to the bright lights and big money of the WWF. The Macho Man first won the Intercontinental title from Tito Santana. After successful feuds against George Steele and Jake Roberts, Savage finally dropped the title to Ricky Steamboat in perhaps the greatest WrestleMania match ever.
Randy Savage slowly made the turn from bad guy to good guy during the next year. The Honkey Tonk Man claimed he was the greatest IC champion of all time. Savage took exception to this. The turn was complete on a Saturday Night Main Event match against HTM. The Hart Foundation along with HTM did the traditional beat down on Savage. Elizabeth, Savage's manager, ran to the back to get Hulk Hogan to help Savage. Afterwards, history was made as the Mega-Powers were formed.
Savage finally reached the pinnacle by defeating Ted Dibiase in the finals of a tournament for the WWF title. He dropped the belt a year later at WrestleMania V to the returning Hulk Hogan. Savage became the Macho King, dropped Elizabeth, and gained a Queen.
After reinstatement from a retirement match, Savage was able to win the World title from Ric Flair at WrestleMani VIII. He dropped the belt back to Flair a few months later.
It is a fairly impressive feat to have faced two of the greatest wrestlers and 1980's wrestling icons in WrestleMania world title matches.
With the WWF pushing new stars such as Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall, Savage ventured down south with former friend, Hulk Hogan. He joined with Hogan in his battles against the Dungeon of Doom and Ric Flair.
At World War Three 1995, Savage won a 60 man, three ring battle royal, to claim the vacant WCW title. Savage lost, won, then lost the belt to Flair over the next few months. Savage won his final WCW title against Kevin Nash.
Mrs. Foley's baby boy claimed the WWF title by putting asses in seats. The match is famous because it was taped and aired a week later. Eric Bishoff, on a live Nitro episode, told the viewers Mick Foley was going to win the belt and claiming, "Oh yeah, that will put asses in seats." Viewers decided they wanted to watch title change and changed the channel. This was one of the major turning points in the WWF winning the Monday Night Wars.
After a few title reigns in the WWF and some great matches, Mick Foley was ready to retire. He decided to go to TNA for a lighter schedule. But at Lockdown 2009, Mick Foley became the TNA champion by defeating Sting in a six sides of steel matchup.
The Olympic gold medal winner is accustomed to having gold. He has won just about every title there is to win.
Even though it appears he may have finally retired, Angle's title wins are extremely impressive. He could be considered a NWA champion, but the title change from Christian was technically not approved by the NWA, therefore Kurt is the first TNA champion. When WWE purchased WCW and had control of the belts, Angle won the WWE/WCW title.
2 time TNA champion
4 time WWE/F champion
1 time WHC
In addition to these world titles, Angle has won all the secondary titles in TNA and WWF/E including tag team gold. The only title not won by Kurt in the WWF/E was the cruiserweight. He has won titles in Japan, as he won the IWGP title from Japan and was not afraid to parade the belt around TNA.
Big Daddy Cool Diesel first started in WCW in a very bad OZ gimmick. He later became Shawn Michaels bodyguard. After an impressive performance at the Survivor Series, Nash was given a title shot against Bob Backlund. Nash destroyed Backlund for the title in seconds.
After winning the title, a slow feud was developing between HBK and Nash. The feud culminated with Nash winning at WrestleMania. After losing the belt to Bret Hart, Kevin Nash had a few notable feuds with HBK, Undertaker, and Hart before leaving for the WCW and the n.W.o.
Big Sexy finally won WCW gold after winning the World War 3: 1998 and becoming the number one contender. He was the one who finally stopped Goldberg's legendary streak at StarrCade. This set up another turning point in the Monday Night Wars, the Fingerpoke of Doom.
Kevin Nash went on to win four more WCW titles, before Vince McMahon bought the company.
He has ventured to WWE, TNA, and now back to WWE, but has yet to win the world title again.
Perhaps the weakest of all the wrestlers on the list. Vince Russo and Jeff Jarrett may have differing opinions.
Seen primarily as secondary champion at best, Jeff Jarrett finally won WCW gold in a tournament final in 2000.
Jarrett became a NWA champion through TNA, but has surprisingly has yet to book himself to win the TNA title as of yet.
The Enigma. The Anti-Christ of Professional Wrestling. The next HBK. IWC darling to IWC most hated. What ever you call him, make sure you recognize him as a World champion in two organizations.
There was a time when he was seen as nothing more than a spot monkey by the haters and tag team specialist. He was an IWC beloved. He was seen as the second coming of Shawn Michaels, with his brother being the Marty Jannetty. Then it all changed. After years of pleading by the IWC and main event teases, he finally became world champion. Even though his fans loved this, the IWC seemed to not love Hardy as much. MMMMM, this seems extremely parallel to a certain IWC man-crush at the moment.
Jeff Hardy finally won the WWE title in a triple threat match involving Edge and HHH. Matt Hardy cost his brother the title at the Rumble against Edge. Jeff and Edge would meet again for a title, this time the WHC. In the ladder match for the belt, Jeff would win the belt but lose minutes later as CM Punk cashed in the Money in the Bank.
Jeff ventured back to TNA. He finally won the belt in a triple threat vs Anderson and Angle. Hardy dropped the belt, but in now once again TNA champion after defeating Anderson in a ladder match.
January 23, 1984, the leg-drop heard around the world. Hulk Hogan, a last minute replacement for the injured Bob Backlund, wins the world title from the evil Iron Sheik. Hulkamania was born.
After beginning in Florida and in the WWF, Hogan ventured to the AWA. He appeared to have won the belt twice, but the title was returned in both case to Nick Bockwinkel. The on air story was there was always a technicality, but backstage Verne Gagne did not want a muscle bound freak to be the champion. Gagne felt the champion should always be the best wrestler, not necessarily the best draw.
Gagne finally relented and allowed for Hogan to win the belt, but under the condition Hogan would give Verne a cut from Hogans Japan bookings. Hogan agreed, but never signed on the dotted line. Greg Gagne has retconned and claims Hogan to be a two time AWA champion, but official lineage of the AWA title excludes Hogan.
Hogan would return to the WWF and win the world title. He dominated the title for most of the 1980's. He needed some time off, so Savage was allowed a title run. Hogan won the belt back, but dropped it cleanly to the Ultimate Warrior. He was to have passed the torch, but by the next WrestleMania, Hogan was world champion again.
Hogan last title win was against Yokozuna before heading south to WCW.
In WCW, the greatest dream match was set. The WWF had a chance to have Hogan vs. Flair at WrestleMania, but went in a different direction. Hogan dominated the feud and the belt.
At Bash at the Beach 1996, the second biggest leg drop in wrestling history was hit as Hogan finally turned on his fans and forming the n.W.o.
Hogan won the belt from the Giant and kept the title until losing to Lex Luger. Once again, Hogan got the belt back, but finally lost the belt to Goldberg. Months later, a turning point in the Monday Night Wars occurred, and Hogan was champion again.
After a vicious and arguably worked shoot with Russo at a pay per view, Hogan was off television until returning to the WWE. At first Hogan was Hollywood, but in a match against the Rock at WrestleMania, caused the return of Hulkamania.
Hogan would have one final WWE title run. He defeated HHH for the undisputed title then dropped the belt to Undertaker.
Hogan is now with TNA. If his hip and back are ever healed enough, do not be surprised if Hogan decides he wants to hold that title.
Thanks for taking the time to read this slide show. I appreciate your comments and you reading. As many of you have seen, I love wrestling history and focus many of my articles celebrating the history of wrestling. I hope you have had as much fun reading as I had writing this article.
In today's age of free agency in sports, it is really not surprising that most of the accomplishments on this list occurred after 1992. Now it is common place for wrestlers to move for the push and the money. If Edge, CM Punk, or even the Miz ever leave the WWE for TNA, do not be surprised if they win the TNA title within a matter of months. It does seem to be a bit tougher for former TNA champions to win the WWE title, just ask Christian.