It's always a big moment when a Superstar wins their very first WWE Championship, especially when you don't see it coming. Sure, there were some great first-time title wins that everyone saw coming a mile away - Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV, Roman Reigns at Survivor Series in 2015, and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII - but there's nothing quite like a WWE Title win that comes out of nowhere.
There's a chance that we may see a shocking first-time World Champion at this month's SummerSlam, as Finn Balor is set to take on Seth Rollins in a match that will crown the first-ever WWE Universal Champion. As of right now, Rollins is favored to walk out of the event as the Universal Champ, but that could change in the coming weeks.
A first-time WWE Championship win is huge, no matter what the circumstances are, but as previously mentioned, there's nothing quite like a first-time win that no one sees coming.
15 CM Punk (Money in the Bank 2011)
CM Punk had held the World Heavyweight Championship numerous times prior to Money in the Bank 2011, but he had never held the WWE Championship.
To be fair, most people predicted that he was going to defeat John Cena in the MITB main event that year, but due to the nature of his contract situation, most assumed that Alberto Del Rio, who had won the MITB briefcase earlier that night, would successfully cash in the briefcase at the end of the night and walk out as the WWE Champion. But, shockingly enough, he didn't, and Punk left the Allstate Arena in Chicago as the new WWE Champ.
Punk's first WWE Title reign could've been something special, however, WWE completely botched it by having him return to the company just two weeks after walking out as Champion.
14 The Miz (Raw 2010)
The Money in the Bank contract has helped create some of the most shocking moments in WWE history and one of them was when The Miz successfully cashed in his briefcase on Randy Orton to win his first, and so far only. WWE Championship in November of 2010. What's even more shocking than that is the fact that The Miz went on to main-event WrestleMania XXVII with John Cena, although he was clearly an afterthought in the match, as everyone was waiting to see what The Rock would do to John Cena.
Since his WWE Title loss, The Miz has moved down the card, as he's been a mid-card guy for a number of years now. His current role in the company fits him perfectly and it's probably safe to bet that he'll never be in the WWE Championship picture for the rest of his professional wrestling career.
13 Mankind (Raw 1999)
The Mankind WWE Title win in early 1999 is best remembered for WCW's mockery of it. By the time it happened, it was both shocking and not shocking. It was one thing to hear about it from the WCW announcers, but it was one of those things that you had to see to believe.
Because of his look, many thought that Mankind/Mick Foley would never truly make it to the top of the WWE, but he actually ended up being one of the biggest stars of The Attitude Era. Sure, he was never a long-term WWE Champion, but he may have been the greatest transitional WWE Champion in company history.
Foley's title win got one of the biggest pops in the history of Monday Night Raw, although it wasn't quite as big as the pop Steve Austin got when he came out to assist Foley against The Corporation.
12 Sgt. Slaughter (Royal Rumble 1991)
Wrestling fans were shocked when Sgt. Slaughter defeated The Ultimate Warrior to win the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble in 1991, mostly because they believed that WWE was building up to Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior II at that year's WrestleMania. But instead, they decided to go with Slaughter vs. Hogan, which wasn't as strong as the Hogan vs. Warrior rematch would have been.
There were a couple of reasons why WWE decided to take the belt off of Warrior in January of '91: one is that Warrior didn't turn out to be the big-money draw that the company was hoping he would be and the other is that Hulk Hogan threatened to quit the company unless he was able to challenge Slaughter for the WWE Title at that year's WrestleMania.
Slaughter wasn't the greatest WWE Champion ever, hence why his WrestleMania match with Hogan wasn't as big of a draw as all of Hogan's previous 'Mania matches were. But, he really didn't need to be a great champion because of the fact that he was being used as a setup guy for "The Hulkster."
11 Big Show (Survivor Series 1999)
Survivor Series in 1999 was best remembered for being the show where Steve Austin, who was originally supposed to be in the show's triple threat main-event, was run over by a car in the parking lot. The hit-and-run attack was used as an excuse to get Austin off of television so he could get his neck fused and, Big Show, who had debuted in WWE back in February of that year, took Austin's place.
Up until his WWE Title win, WWE hadn't really booked Big Show in a way that made him feel like a Title contender and, of the three men in the match, it appeared that he would've been the least likely to win, as he was facing both Triple H and The Rock, who were both way bigger stars than he was. But, WWE decided to throw a curveball at the fans by having Show win his first WWE Title on the show, however, his title reign didn't last long, as Triple H won the title back a little under two months later.
10 Sheamus (TLC 2009)
Sheamus had one of the quickest rises to the WWE Championship in company history. He made his debut on ECW - which was then WWE's C-show - in June of 2009 and just six months later, he defeated John Cena in a tables match to become the first Irish-born WWE Champion in history.
Of course, those who remember the Sheamus vs. Cena match remember that "The Celtic Warrior's" win was designed to look like a fluke, as Cena slipped off the top rope and fell through a table after attempting a top-rope move. In fact, the finish was so shocking that most WWE fans thought that Cena botched it. But, Cena slipping off the top rope was the planned finish all along.
Sheamus never turned out to be the star that WWE hoped he would be and part of that was due to the fact that he lost his very first WrestleMania match against Triple H, just a couple of months after his shocking title win and, as of today, WWE hasn't been able to get him back to the level he was at back in December of '09.
9 Diesel (WWE House Show 1994)
Anybody who knew anything about wrestling in the early-90s could clearly see that WWE wanted Diesel to be the face of the new generation, so the fact that he ended up becoming the WWE Champion really wasn't all that shocking, but what was shocking is when and where he won it.
The seven-footer won his first, and only, WWE Championship during a WWE house show in late 1994 by defeating Bob Backlund in just eight seconds. He then went on to hold the title for nearly a full year before losing it to Bret Hart at Survivor Series in 1995.
It's been well-known for quite some time now that Diesel was the lowest drawing WWE Champion of all-time. But that didn't stop WWE from keeping the title on him, as he was the longest reigning Champion of the 90s. It's strange to think that the lowest drawing WWE Champion of all-time was also the longest reigning Champion of his generation.
8 Dean Ambrose (Money in the Bank 2016)
Typically in WWE, when a character teases that they may do something, they never end up doing it. However, Dean Amborse ended up being the exception to that rule, as he teased that he would cash-in the Money in the Bank contract on the very same night that he won in, and, well, he did, which was quite a surprise.
Not only did Ambrose win the WWE Championship, it looks like he'll be holding onto it for the foreseeable future. He may end up replacing Roman Reigns as WWE's future face and, at the very least, he'll be the face of the SmackDown brand for many years to come.
Ambrose' title win shocked most WWE fans and the fact that he didn't drop it to Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins at last month's Battleground show was even more shocking. It's hard to imagine that he'll be dropping the title anytime soon, especially since he's being challenged by guys like Dolph Ziggler, who hasn't been in the WWE main-event scene in several years.
7 Edge (New Year's Revolution 2006)
Edge was the first-ever winner of the Money in the Bank contract and he definitely shocked WWE fans when he decided to cash it in at WWE's New Year's Revolution show in early 2006. The cash-in was something no one saw coming, because, well, nobody had ever seen a cash-in before and they didn't really understand that the contract could be cashed in after the Champion just participated in a brutal match.
The Rated R Superstar's first WWE Title win created a ton of buzz, but it was very short-lived. However, it did begin a long-term feud with John Cena, which ended up being the best feud of the mid-2000s and probably the best feud of their respective careers. Sure, Cena had a higher-profile feud with The Rock, but you can argue that his feud with Edge was slightly better.
Since his cash-in, there has really only been one cash-in that was better and more shocking, but we'll get to that later.
6 JBL (The Great American Bash 2004)
It's rare to see a wrestler go from being an afterthought to WWE World Champion within just a couple of months, but that's exactly what happened with John "Bradshaw" Layfield in the summer of 2004.
After his longtime tag-team partner Farooq was pulled from being an on-screen character, JBL completely changed his gimmick, becoming a wealthy stock trader. He then became the number one contender for Eddie Guerrero's WWE Championship shortly thereafter.
The two men participated in a Texas Bullrope match, which JBL ended up winning. His title win was something that no one saw coming. But what was more shocking than that was the fact that he went on to be one of the longest reigning WWE Champions of all-time. Much to the shock of fans, during his title reign, he absolutely proved that he, in fact, deserved to be a main-eventer in WWE.
5 Eddie Guerrero (No Way Out 2004)
In early 2004, it was quite clear that WWE was trying to make Brock Lesnar their newest megastar. But, after Lesnar expressed his desire to leave the company to try his hand at pro football, WWE decided to have him drop the WWE Championship to Eddie Guerrero at 2004's No Way Out pay-per-view.
Guerrero's title win was not only shocking, but it was also super emotional, as he was one of the most respected and beloved wrestlers in WWE at the time. No one ever believed that a guy like Eddie Guerrero could've made it to the top of WWE, and no one thought that WWE was actually going to book him to beat Brock Lesnar, Who knows, if Lesnar wouldn't have left the company, maybe Eddie would've never won the WWE Title.
Guerrero's WWE Title win at No Way Out led to one of the most emotional moments in WWE history just one month later at WrestleMania XX, as he celebrated with Chris Benoit after he retained his championship and Benoit won the World Heavyweight Championship.
4 Kane (King of the Ring 1998)
There was no one hotter in the history of the professional wrestling business in the summer of 1998 than Stone Cold Steve Austin. He had just defeated Shawn Michaels earlier that year to win his first WWE Championship and it looked like he would be holding onto that tile for a very long time.
One of Steve Austin's earliest challengers was Kane, who hadn't even been a character on WWE television for a full year yet. Their match at the King of the Ring pay-per-view was made a first blood match, with the stipulation being that if Kane lost, he would set himself on fire.
The match ended when The Undertaker interfered and hit Austin in the head with a chair, which busted "The Rattlesnake" wide open, thus causing him to lose the match. Kane's title reign didn't last long though, as he dropped the title back to Austin the very next night on Raw.
3 Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31)
Seth Rollins' Money in the Bank cash-in at WrestleMania 31 was one of the greatest moments in the history of WWE and it was by far the best, and most shocking, cash-in ever.
Like everyone else, watching the WrestleMania 31 main event, we expected Roman Reigns to defeat Brock Lesnar. Then, when Rollins' music hit, some of us briefly lost our mind, but then we began to think that Reigns was going to pin Rollins instead of Lesnar to win the title. So most of us were still in shock when Rollins actually pinned Reigns.
The Rollins' cash-in at WrestleMania 31 was one of the better moments in the recent history of the event and it was by far the highlight of the show.
2 Vince McMahon (SmackDown 1999)
With the help of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Vince McMahon defeated Triple H to become the WWE Champion on the September 16th, 1999 edition of SmackDown. It was something that no one saw coming.
At 54 years of age, Vince McMahon was the oldest World Champion in WWE history, but he was far from the longest reigning, as he vacated the WWE Title shortly after winning it. But his WWE Championship win was one of the most memorable, and one of the most shocking, Championship wins in company history.
Vince later went on to win the ECW Championship nearly a decade later and while the title win was shocking (for all the wrong reasons), it was far less memorable than his 1999 title win was.
1 Chris Jericho (Vengeance 2001)
Fifteen years later, Chris Jericho is still talking about 2001s Vengeance pay-per-view, where he defeated The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in the same night to become the very first Undisputed WWE Champion.
Prior to the show, most assumed that the four-man tournament would conclude with The Rock and Steve Austin battling it out to become the first Undisputed Champ, as they were by far the two biggest stars in the company at the time. But, WWE decided to throw us a curveball by having Chris Jericho defeat The Rock first, before beating Steve Austin second.
Even when Jericho defeated The Rock, fans still assumed that Jericho would lose to Austin in the final match. But, shockingly enough, he went on to win. Of course, his first title reign was far from his best and he wasn't even really positioned as the company's top guy while he was the Undisputed Champ, but that doesn't make this win any less shocking.
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