The main event of WrestleMania 38 feels inevitable. The two largest stars in the company, in terms of drawability, kayfabe skill, and literal size – are going at it for a third time.
However, to make this finale to the trilogy feel that it has the highest stakes possible, WWE is setting it up as a title unification match between the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship. This isn’t the first time the company has consolidated titles this way – the Jericho undisputed gimmick and the night people cheered for Daniel Bryan while HHH tried to set up the importance of Cena vs. Orton #128, come to mind.
So in honor of this gigantic main event, and the love of bracketology that pops up this time of year due to the NCAA Basketball tournament – we thought we’d look at the 64 best World champions in WWE history, and determine the best, undisputed champ of them all!
VOTE AND GET A CHANCE TO WIN A $50 PRO WRESTLING TEES GIF CARD
That’s right! Vote along, and sign up at the bottom of the page to be eligible to win the gift card. We will announce on the podcast after WrestleMania!
Who All Was Eligible?
We looked at all 88 people to hold and defend a sanctioned world title while inside a WWE ring. The list includes the WWE Championship, the WWE Universal Championship, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the revived ECW Championship, the Alliance-defended WCW Championship, and the newly-minted world titles NXT and NXT UK Championships. Each were weighted based on legacy and prestige.
The Voting Criteria
We are looking for a combination of kayfabe ability, multiple wins, and memorable moments both winning and defending the title. In a close match up, try to picture the two competitors wearing the world title of their era. Does one of them put a stronger image in your mind? There’s your winner.
The Selection Process
The committee (cough, Tyler and Andrew, cough) took hard data on world title wins and reigns, adding modifiers for title prestige, to create a comparable number WPI (or wrestling performance index) to help with the seeding.
All current (or final) champions for each title were automatic qualifiers who were not to be ranked lower than a 10 seed in the field. This was a tough break for Bron Breaker, who by dropping the NXT title watched his automatic bid evaporate, and burst his bubble.
Around the 40 team range, the committee needed to use the “eye test” to see if some people should be in with a lower WPI because their title wins were memorable over those with a higher WPI but who you kind of forget ever held a title.
Chris Benoit was ruled ineligible for “off the field” reasons. And Ezekiel Jackson, while the true final ECW champion, was ruled postseason ineligible for never defending the title. We replaced his automatic bid with Christian.
Who Was on the Bubble?
Last Four In: Mark Henry, Iron Sheik, Jack Swagger, Sgt. Slaughter
First Four Out: Vince McMahon, Sami Zayn, Johnny Gargano, Stan Stasiak
Vince McMahon might be the biggest name in wrestling, but his two world title wins were signs that the company needed changes and were panned. Zayn and Gargano’s NXT wins were wonderful storytelling affairs, but were short and not on the main roster. Stan Stasiak, no not Meat, was a pioneer title holder but one of those guys who is now just a trivia question
Others who missed the tournament: Shinsuke Nakamura, Karrion Kross, Adrian Neville, Bo Dallas, Braun Strowman, Ivan Koloff, Bobby Roode, The Great Khali, Andrade, Alesiter Black, Bron Breaker, Keith Lee, Tommy Dreamer, Matt Hardy, Tyler Bate, John Morrison, and Chavo Guerrero.
VOTING ROUND 1 – MAR 17 – MAR 24
Now that you’ve voted, make sure to fill out the box below and click the button to gain entry into the $50 Pro Wrestling Tees Gift Card giveaway!
Only one entry per voter, per round of voting!