The WWE Championship has a long and prestigious history.
While the title is considered to be the biggest in the company, there are many wrestlers who have been able to win the championship when they probably shouldn't have. Whether this is because WWE didn't have any options at the time, or it's because the company backed the wrong person, their reigns are considered a black spot in WWE history.
Over the past few years, there has been two very short title reigns with Roman Reigns holding the title for just five minutes and fifteen seconds back at Survivor Series in 2015 and Seth Rollins then holding the title for less than two minutes at Money in the Bank in the summer of 2016.
These would be considered some of the worst reigns of the past decade, if Reigns didn't go on to have another lengthy reign and Rollins hadn't already proved himself the year before following his Money in the Bank cash in at WrestleMania 31.
That being said, there have been worse reigns. It isn't about length or the way they won the title, but whether or not they actually did anything with the championship. Kevin Owens as Universal Champion right now is doing nothing for him, because WWE hasn't done anything with him as champion, which slightly tarnishes the former Independent star when it comes to him as a champion.
Now, there are some champions who have proved that they can take their ball and run with it, like A.J. Styles as the current WWE Champion, but as this list will show, for every good reign, there is always an equally bad one.
15 Failure: Rob Van Dam In 2006
Was Rob Van Dam ever supposed to be WWE Champion? It is a worthy question. He faced John Cena at ECW One Night Stand back in 2006 and there were banners inside that building the proclaimed 'If Cena Wins We Riot' which probably gave Vince McMahon a bit of a booking headache.
It was RVD who walked out with the championship, after help from Edge in a motorbike helmet. Rob then was given the ECW Championship, a title he had failed to win when he was previously a part of the Extreme show, but that was when his downfall began. It was thought that Rob would go on to become a main event star, but after he and Sabu were arrested for possession merely days later, McMahon booked Rob to lose the WWE Championship to Edge and ECW title to Big Show before Rob was suspended and left the company the following year.
14 Successful: Triple H In 2016
Not many stars can take time away from the company for months and then return and still be one of the best wrestlers in the ring at all times. Triple H is this guy and when he made his WWE return at the Royal Rumble last year, he not only won the match but took the WWE Championship as well, proving once again that he was much more than a suit behind the company.
Triple H went on to defend his title at Roadblock in a fantastic match with Dean Ambrose before he lost it back to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32. The WWE COO took their match to new levels to put Reigns over again and even saw his wife Stephanie Speared by the former Shield member. Even though the reign wasn't as long as some on this list, Triple H made a statement and did everything he needed to do as champion.
13 Failure: Vince McMahon In 1999
Vince McMahon is the most powerful man in WWE. So if he tells you that he's booking himself to win the WWE Championship, you're not going to argue, even if it was perhaps one of his most insane ideas the WWE has ever seen ( in another terrible decision, Vince is also a former ECW Champion).
McMahon defeated long-time rival Triple H thanks to interference from Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the WWE title, only to then vacate the belt the following night, and allow Triple H to win it back in a Six-Pack Chalenge at Survivor Series. Why wasn't Triple H just left alone with the title? Because Vince wanted the title for personal gratification, which tells you everything you need to know about the man.
12 Successful: John Cena In 2014
He may not have been the first ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but it was a title that the WWE Universe knew John Cena would hold around his waist at some point. The 15-time Champion won the second Money in the Bank Ladder for the vacant WWE Championship back in 2014, before going on to defend the title at Battleground in a Fatal Four-Way match at Battleground.
From there, Cena went on to lose the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam in what was essentially a squash match against Brock Lesnar. And after 16 German Suplexes, the way Cena fought to make Lesnar look like The Beast that he is and the fact that he was happy to allow someone to go through him that way, says a lot about Cena and the way he sees his wrestling career.
11 Failure: Randy Orton In 2013
Randy Orton was the Inaugural WWE World Heavyweight Champion. For some reason WWE decided that they only wanted one champion, then less than three years later we are back to two. Either way, it came down to Randy Orton in a Ladder match with John Cena at TLC and 'The Viper' made history.
Orton didn't continue in the same way, though. At the time he was in The Authority's pocket and only retained his title at the Rumble thanks to The Wyatt Family. The entire WWE picture then became less about the champion and more about Daniel Bryan, who then went on to defeat Orton and Batista at WrestleMania XXX. Orton wasn't given a rematch for almost a year afterwards, which shows how much WWE cared.
10 Successful: Brock Lesnar In 2014
What can you say about Brock Lesnar and the destruction he left in his wake after he defeated John Cena at SummerSlam back in 2014? Lesnar had ended The Undertaker's undefeated streak merely months before and it was the right decision to give Brock the title.
Brock went on to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship a few times over the following months and wasn't even pinned to lose the match when Seth Rollins cashed in his briefcase at WrestleMania 31. Brock brought a lot of credibility to the title despite being a part-time Superstar and only defending the title at Night of Champions, the Royal Rumble, and WrestleMania 31. It was hard for WWE to put anyone against Lesnar in that kind of form, and it allowed the WWE Universe to focus their attention on Seth Rollins who had the briefcase at the time.
9 Failure: Diesel In 1995
Kevin Nash's WWE career may be remembered as a historic one, but if we're honest, he was never a very good WWE Champion. When the company put the title on him in 1995, it was shown that statistically, he was one of the worst drawing champions of all time.
Nash did have some great matches against legends of the business like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, but this isn't a reason to give him a championship. The lack of people turning into WWE when he was champion allowed WCW to begin the Monday Night War. He is far from the worst champion of all time, but he is also very far from the best. It was just a very bad booking decision to hand Nash the belt.
8 Successful: A.J. Styles In 2016
A.J. Styles is one of the best wrestlers in the world right now, there is no doubt about that. A.J. made his shocking WWE debut at the Royal Rumble last year and it seems that his time in TNA already turned him into a well-rounded star. There was nothing left for WWE to teach him, so following the Brand Split, it made sense to give 'The Phenomenal One' the WWE Championship.
Styles has been running SmackDown for the past few months and despite the James Ellsworth situation, Styles has always pulled out five-star matches when needed. Styles has proved many times that he has what it takes to stay on top of the company. Styles has it all: he can talk, he can fight, and he is one of the most popular stars in the company.
7 Failure: Dean Ambrose In 2016
It was a long time coming for Dean Ambrose when he finally won the Money in the Bank briefcase at the event of the same name last year, before cashing in on the same night against former Shield teammate Seth Rollins to win the WWE Championship.
The WWE Universe had wanted Dean Ambrose to be champion for so long that it all felt like it had come too late and following the Brand Split, Ambrose proved that he wasn't able to carry an entire roster. Many of SmackDown's early teething problems were unfairly blamed on Dean Ambrose, but it seemed that the best option was to take the title from him and give it to someone the company knew could thrive in the same situation. Ambrose is the kind of star who doesn't need a title and despite now having the Intercontinental Championship, Ambrose is still a main event star in his own right.
6 Successful: Edge In 2006
The first ever Money in the Bank contract cash in came back in 2006 at New Year's Revolution when the opportunist, Edge decided to cash in on John Cena, who had just endured the Elimination Chamber and was in no condition to compete in another match.
Edge went on to hold the title for a month before he lost the title back to Cena at the Royal Rumble. He blamed Mick Foley for this which would lead to a match between them at WrestleMania 22. This was the reign where Edge had his live sex celebration and truly established his Rated R Superstar character. Edge went on to become an 11-time World Champion before he was forced to retire from WWE. It was the epitome of an incredible career cut short.
5 Failure: The Miz In 2012
Right now The Miz is one of the best things about SmackDown Live. He is finally being able to do what he wants, but back in 2012, it wasn't that way. The Miz was always an easy pick as a heel since he annoyed the WWE Universe and made a great challenger for John Cena at WrestleMania XXVII.
The Miz won the match, but he didn't hold the title for long. In fact, he didn't have any stand-out matches and he didn't even up his game when he was WWE Champion. The Miz coasted through his matches without really understanding what it was to be champion. It has been thought that this was the reason WWE took the title off him and gave it back to Cena not long after.
4 Successful: Seth Rollins In 2015
It was the first ever Money in the Bank cash-in at WrestleMania back in 2015, and it went on to be a successful WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign for Seth Rollins, especially considering it was his first. Rollins slipped into the heel role perfectly and always pulled it out in his matches. So much so that despite suffering an injury in November and being forced to drop his title, Rollins was still voted the Superstar of the Year.
Rollins defended his title at every pay-per-view and even though The Authority were on his side, Rollins still put 110 percent into his matches. It was a shame that this reign was cut short by a shock injury, but if Rollins is given the chance to be Champion again, surely he will make the same kind of impact.
3 Failure: Roman Reigns In 2016
Poor Roman Reigns. When Seth Rollins was injured in November 2015, it came down to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns in the final of the Championship Tournament at Survivor Series and despite the crowd being firmly behind Ambrose, it was Reigns who came out on top. But he would only hold the title for just over five minutes.
Following his win over Triple H at WrestleMania 31, Reigns was supposed to go on to have a lengthy reign as champion, but merely weeks after his win, Reigns was suspended for violating WWE's Wellness Policy and was pinned clean at Money in the Bank as WWE's way of punishing him. He has since won the United States Championship and apologized to the WWE Universe after his suspension as well.
2 Successful: CM Punk In 2012
Perhaps one of the best WWE Champions of the past generation. There is a reason CM Punk held that title for more than a year (434 days). In this Era where you are forced to defend your title on a monthly basis, it is an incredible feat and Punk more than deserved it.
He was the self proclaimed 'Best in the World' but he was the Best in the Company at that point by a landslide. Punk played both a face and a heel during his tenure as WWE Champion and went up against John Cena many times before it was The Rock who finally dethroned him at the 2013 Royal Rumble. It was the longest title reign in more than three decades and one that will live long in the memory of WWE fans.
1 Failure: Sheamus In 2015
Sheamus held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for three weeks before Roman Reigns took back the title that was his before Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. And lets be honest: can we really remember anything that Sheamus did as champion?
The League of Nations became a disappointment as well during this time as Sheamus was supposed to be the leader of a new dominant faction. Poor Sheamus was used because WWE didn't have anyone else or any other option, and even then he wasn't used correctly. Sheamus diminished the WWE World Heavyweight Championship the entire time he held it and WWE were forced to bring Roman back into the picture. As this point, when discussing this particular title reign: the less said about it, the better.