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17 World Title Changes That Happened on Raw
Winning a World Championship is a remarkably difficult feat on its own, but a rare group of Superstars have captured one of the illustrious titles on Monday Night Raw. In the show's 20-year history, there have been only 13 Superstars who have become a WWE Champion, World Heavyweight Champion or WCW World Champion on Raw.
World Championships have changed hands in all kinds of ways in all types of matches on Raw. From Mankind's shocking victory over The Rock in a No Disqualification Match to Chris Jericho's grueling steel cage clash with Batista, there has been no shortage of heart-pounding action when one of the World Titles was put on the line.
In celebration of Raw's 20th anniversary, WWE.com takes you on a trip back through time to rediscover the 17 World Championship triumphs that took place on the gold standard for weekly episodic TV shows.
Sycho Sid def. Bret Hart: WWE Championship Match (Feb. 17, 1997)
Four years after Raw's first episode aired, the WWE Universe watched with excitement and shock as the WWE Title changed hands for the first time on the show. No one expected Bret "Hit Man" Hart to lose the championship a day after winning it at In Your House: Final Four, but "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had other plans in mind. Doing what he does best — arrive, raise hell, leave — Austin nailed Hart with a steel chair right as The Excellence of Execution had Sycho Sid trapped in a Sharpshooter. Sid, unaware of what "Stone Cold" had just done, leveled Hart with a powerbomb to become WWE Champion for a second time.
Once again, Sid was the man who ruled the world. Before he could finish wrapping the championship gold around his waist, however, a series of ominous gongs rung throughout the arena and The Undertaker — the No. 1 contender for the title — emerged from the darkness. The newly crowned champ showed he wasn't afraid of The Deadman by staring him down nose to nose in advance of their No Disqualification Match at WrestleMania 13.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin def. Kane: WWE Championship Match (June 29, 1998)
Coming off a vicious First Blood Match at King of the Ring, few imagined "Stone Cold" Steve Austin would have the kind of fight left in him that he displayed from the get-go against Kane. Feeding off an electric crowd in Cleveland, "Stone Cold" unleashed a flurry of punches on the WWE Champion and inflicted further punishment on the outside. Every time The Big Red Monster used his brute strength to overpower Austin, The Texas Rattlesnake came firing right back, determined to regain the championship he lost to Kane the night before.
As The Undertaker came out to ringside to watch his half-brother fight, Austin impressively slipped out of Kane's Tombstone piledriver and ducked a big boot before dropping The Devil's Favorite Demon with a "Stone Cold" Stunner for the surprise victory. For good measure, Austin even gave The Deadman a Stunner as payback for helping Kane win the title at King of the Ring.
Mankind def. The Rock: WWE Championship No Disqualification Match (Jan. 4, 1999)
As far as World Title changes on Raw go, there was none more exhilarating than Mankind's massive upset over The Rock in a No Disqualification Match. With the odds stacked against him, Mankind truly showed the heart of a champion as he endured The Great One's most wicked shots, including ones with the ring bell and WWE Championship. Mankind grasped hold of his chance to return the suffering by locking the Mandible Claw on The People's Champion, but The Corporation took advantage of the match's stipulation as Ken Shamrock whacked Mankind in the back with a steel chair.
The interference sparked a brawl between Corporation and D-Generation X members before the sound of shattering glass brought the crowd to a fever pitch. With a mighty swing of a steel chair, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin floored The Rock and pulled Mankind on top of his opponent for the jaw-dropping three count. Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy had lived out his childhood dream by winning his first WWE Championship.
The Rock def. Mankind: WWE Championship Ladder Match (Feb. 15, 1999)
Mankind and The Rock battled over the WWE Title in a variety of demanding contests — from an "I Quit" Match to a Last Man Standing Match and WWE's first Empty Arena Match. It was only natural that the two fierce rivals collide in Raw's second-ever Ladder Match, with the winner set to defend the title against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania XV.
The Rock confidently mocked Mankind on the mic before the match, and then relentlessly targeted his opponent's injured knee once the bout began. Both Superstars used the ladder as a weapon in creative ways, but it was clear The Brahma Bull had the edge, as Mankind's injury slowed him during attempted climbs to the top. Still, Mankind battled on, even following a Rock Bottom through the announce table, and trapped The Great One in the Mandible Claw atop the ladder. That's when Big Show crashed the party, tossing Mankind down to the canvas with a huge chokeslam that led to The Rock's third WWE Championship reign.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin def. The Undertaker: WWE Championship Match (June 28, 1999)
As stipulated in the terms of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's new contract, there would be no interference from the Corporate Ministry as Austin battled The Undertaker for the WWE Title. However, Paul Bearer did his damndest to make things as tough as possible on The Texas Rattlesnake. The momentum shifted back and forth between these two intense competitors with the action spilling to the outside multiple times as Undertaker repeatedly tried to tire out Austin.
After "Stone Cold" wriggled his way out of an attempted Tombstone and hit The Phenom with a Stunner, Bearer prevented the referee from counting to three, raising the ire of Austin in the process. Undeterred, The Texas Rattlesnake knocked Bearer out cold, then returned to the ring and delivered another Stunner to capture his fourth WWE Championship. The Deadman, on the other hand, was furious over losing the title and pummeled Austin to a pulp as Raw went off the air.
Triple H def. Mankind: WWE Championship Match (Aug. 23, 1999)
Triple H was in a seriously foul mood one night after losing in a Triple Threat Match to Mankind at SummerSlam. The enraged King of Kings claimed that Foley robbed him of his rightful championship and threatened to break Raw announcer Jim Ross' arm if he wasn't granted another opportunity. The WWE Champion likely regretted his decision to give The Game a match once he saw who the special guest referee was: none other than Shane McMahon.
Mankind wasted no time attempting to extricate the impartial ref from the match, slapping the Mandible Claw on Shane O Mac minutes into the match. It wasn't enough to keep Shane down for good, as he clobbered Mankind with a steel chair on the outside, followed by another chair shot from The Cerebral Assassin. Triple H sealed the deal with a Pedigree back in the ring and triumphed to become WWE Champion for the very first time.
Triple H def. Big Show: WWE Championship Match (Jan. 3, 2000)
A few months after his first ascent to the throne, The King of Kings faced a mammoth challenge in his quest to reign as WWE Champion for a third time. Triple H took a load of punishment from the 7-foot tall, 441-pound Big Show before rallying back and gaining control of the matchup. After The World's Largest Athlete turned the tide of the bout with a ring-rattling chokeslam, D-Generation X soon arrived to swing the momentum back in The Game's favor.
With X-Pac distracting the referee, The Cerebral Assassin buckled Big Show's knees with a low blow and followed with a Pedigree for the victory. Tons of balloons rained down from the ceiling as DX hoisted Triple H on their shoulders in celebration of his third WWE Championship. It was sweet revenge for The Game against the giant who conquered him for his coveted title at Survivor Series 1999.
Booker T def. Kurt Angle: WCW World Championship No Disqualification Match (July 30, 2001)
Members of the Alliance felt right at home in a No Disqualification Match pitting WCW World Champion Kurt Angle against Booker T. Before the match even began, Angle was swarmed by the Alliance and Gored into oblivion by Rhyno, prompting the WWE locker room to empty as the two warring sides had to be separated by officials. Booker went to work on the weakened Angle with punishing chops and kicks, but Angle showed heart by fighting out of near-pinfalls and rallying back with a series of suplexes.
In the end, the constant interference from Shane McMahon and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin proved to be Angle's undoing. After Angle hit Booker with a second Angle Slam, Austin struck him with a big "Stone Cold" Stunner and the master of the Spin-a-Roonie regained the WCW World Championship just one month following his WWE debut at King of the Ring.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin def. Kurt Angle: WWE Championship Match (Oct. 8, 2001)
There was no love lost between "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and WWE Champion Kurt Angle just two weeks following their big battle at Unforgiven. The Texas Rattlesnake took the fight to his rival both in and out of the ring, smashing him into the steel ring post and steps. Back and forth, Austin and Angle relentlessly attacked each other before "Stone Cold" tried to take things to the next level with a steel chair, but he was thwarted by WWE Commissioner William Regal twice on consecutive attempts.
As the intense war came to a climax, Regal stunned the WWE Universe by nailing Angle in the face with the WWE Title. Still, it wasn't enough to keep the Olympic gold medalist down for the count. Finally, a determined Austin dropped Angle with a "Stone Cold" Stunner to win his sixth WWE Championship.
The Rock def. Chris Jericho: WCW World Championship Match (Nov. 5, 2001)
From start to finish, the much-anticipated main event between WCW World Champion Chris Jericho and The Rock didn't disappoint, as both rivals went for the jugular every chance they got. Locked in the Walls of Jericho, The Great One wriggled away and reached the ropes and later, the champion returned the favor by breaking The Rock's painful Sharpshooter. It appeared The Brahma Bull was done for once Jericho drove him through the announce table with the Breakdown, which left The People's Champion battered and bloodied.
However, The Rock's resolve could not be broken, and The Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment pulled off the most electric move of the night — a lightning-quick inside cradle for the pinfall as Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho again. Just like that, The Rock had recaptured the WCW World Championship and tossed more fuel onto the fire of their rivalry.
Edge def. Rob Van Dam and John Cena: WWE Championship Triple Threat Match (July 3, 2006)
With no disqualifications and no count outs, the action was bound to be frenzied as Rob Van Dam defended his WWE Title against Edge and John Cena in a Triple Threat Match. Surprisingly, the champion wasn't the biggest target as the match began, with Van Dam and Cena fighting over who got to dish out more punishment to Edge. The collusion didn't last long and all three competitors hammered away at each other, thrilling the sold-out Philadelphia crowd with near-pinfall after near-pinfall.
After Cena dodged RVD's Five-Star Frog Splash, it appeared the Cenation leader was moments away from victory when he connected with an Attitude Adjustment. The Ultimate Opportunist, however, was already plotting his next move while he lurked on the arena floor. Before Cena could cover "Mr. Monday Night," Edge snuck back into the ring and clobbered Cena with the WWE Title, then pinned Van Dam. In the blink of an eye, The Rated-R Superstar had shocked the WWE Universe and captured his second WWE Championship.
CM Punk def. Edge: World Heavyweight Championship Match (June 30, 2008)
It didn't take long for CM Punk to make a huge impact as a Raw Superstar. One week after getting drafted to the red brand, The Straight Edge Savior shocked the Oklahoma City crowd by cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on World Heavyweight Champion Edge. With The Rated-R Superstar laid out by a crushing Batista Bomb, Punk seized the opportunity and drilled Edge with a Go to Sleep to win his first World Heavyweight Title. The thrilling coup also earned Punk a Slammy Award for the "Oh My God" Moment of the Year.
The Voice of the Voiceless quickly proved he was a fighting champion by defending the championship later that night against JBL, who stepped in to challenge Punk after his milestone victory.
Chris Jericho def. Batista: World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match (Nov. 3, 2008)
For at least one night, it turned out you can keep The Animal caged after all. World Heavyweight Champion Batista dominated Chris Jericho in the opening moments, using his uncanny strength to slam his challenger into the steel cage door and keep him from escaping. But Y2J craftily avoided Batista's most devastating move — the Batista Bomb — on consecutive attempts, and he kept on scrambling up the cage whenever there was even the slightest opening to do so.
In the end, Jericho's persistence overwhelmed The Animal, who looked shocked and exasperated as his opponent fell to the outside floor to win the unforgiving matchup and become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Randy Orton def. Triple H, John Cena and Big Show: WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way Match (June 15, 2009)
Randy Orton's fifth WWE Title victory was arguably his most chaotic one yet. Up against three other fearsome Superstars in Triple H, John Cena and Big Show, The Viper had to be on his guard throughout this unpredictable Fatal 4-Way Match. Orton and Triple H traded blows from the moment the bell rang before mixing it up with Cena and Big Show. All four competitors fought tooth and nail to gain the advantage, but every time their plans were foiled as the action maintained a breakneck pace.
In a thrilling finish, after the Cenation leader planted The World's Largest Athlete with an Attitude Adjustment, Orton swooped in to break up the pin and followed with an RKO to Big Show to notch the surprise win.
The Miz def. Randy Orton: WWE Championship Match (Nov. 22, 2010)
The perturbed reaction on one little girl's face in the Orlando, Fla., crowd said it all. Astutely following in the footsteps of Superstars who successfully cashed in their Money in the Bank contracts, The Miz pounced on WWE Champion Randy Orton while he was at his most vulnerable after an exhausting match against Wade Barrett. The Viper put up a heck of a fight, but the fresher Miz was ultimately too much for Orton to handle. The Awesome One shoved Orton away when he went for the RKO and planted him with the Skull-Crushing Finale to become the new WWE Champion, a title which Miz would hold for an impressive 160 days.
Rey Mysterio def. The Miz: WWE Championship Match (July 25, 2011)
Rey Mysterio's first and only WWE Championship was short-lived, but it was an incredible fight to the top for The Ultimate Underdog. CM Punk's departure with the WWE Title in his possession led to a tournament on Raw to crown a new champion, with Mysterio having to face The Miz in the finals after defeating Dolph Ziggler and R-Truth the previous week.
The stronger Miz tried to keep Mysterio grounded over 13 minutes of furious action, with powerful maneuvers such as a backbreaker, DDT and a slingshot powerbomb. But The Ultimate Underdog refused to stay down, driving The Miz to anger and frustration. With Rey trapped in the tree of woe, The Miz charged full steam ahead, but Mysterio dodged the attack and capitalized on Miz's injury flare-up by hitting a top-rope hurricanrana. The Master of the 619 then drilled Miz with his signature move, followed by a top-rope splash to finally capture the WWE Title.
John Cena def. Rey Mysterio: WWE Championship Match (July 25, 2011)
Already physically drained from his earlier clash with The Miz, Rey Mysterio had to face John Cena at the close of the same Raw SuperShow when the Cenation leader — who did not receive entry into the tournament — was given an immediate chance to regain the WWE Title from Mysterio.
Even though Mysterio was clearly the weaker competitor, this battle looked like it could go either way as both Superstars one-upped each other move for move in a dazzling main event. Just when it looked like Mysterio was going to pull off a remarkable title defense successfully with a 619, Cena caught Rey by complete surprise, tossed him onto his shoulders, and sent him flying with an awesome Attitude Adjustment to claim his ninth WWE Championship.