Sometimes bigger promotions purchase smaller promotions. Sometimes titles are created due to interest at the time and need to be eliminated when their purpose no longer applies. Still other times duplicate titles are created to advance a storyline. Whatever the reason is, sometimes there are just way too many title belts floating around a promotion. When there are too many belts that are available and seemingly everyone is a champion, those extra belts need to be eliminated. The best way to eliminate a title is to have a champion versus champion match, where the winner takes all and becomes the undisputed champion.
Title unification matches are much more common than you think. Every major promotion has had these types of matches in their history. It's a strong way to develop interest in a match and give a specific title prestige. Some unification matches have been good for the company while other matches have made it sad for the fans to see a title with a lot of history go away. Whatever the reason for the unification, the match is must watch entertainment because it usually pits the very best against the very best. With that top notch pairing of talent along with something on the line we have seen some phenomenal matches.
Let's take a look at some of the best as we count down the Top 15 Title Unification Matches.
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29 CM Punk vs John Cena - WWE SummerSlam 2011
While the match itself was underwhelming, the story was one of the best in history. What started as the summer of Punk with the infamous pipe bomb promo culminated with Punk beating Cena and unifying the two WWE Heavyweight Championship belts. Why were there two you ask? Why that's simple of course, because it made a compelling story. CM Punk's contract was set to expire after his world title match against Cena at Money in the Bank. So the two put on a 5 star classic match in front of Punk's hometown fans in Chicago and he left through the crowd. This led to a tournament to crown a new WWE champion, which was won by Rey Mysterio. Cena won the belt from Mysterio later that night and the stage was set for the rematch of a lifetime. The reason it makes this list is because of the story; the reason it's not higher is because of the subpar match and the post-match antics.
27 Jeff Jarrett vs Sting - WWA The Reckoning 2003
TNA was still an upstart company in 2003 and had their roots in the NWA. They carried the NWA name on all their championships and Jarrett was recognized as the Champion for all the territories. Jeff may have gotten a lot of flack for his self vision of himself and may have had an ego the size of Texas but he was still in the prime of his career while Sting, even as the 20 year veteran, could still wrestle with anybody. World Wrestling All-Stars was an Australian company that was only around for a couple of years. They began in 2001 shortly after WCW and ECW closed their doors and was home to a lot of familiar faces. This match was held on May 25th of 2003 and marked the end of the company. While it was a shorter match than you would expect for a marquee pay-per-view to end a company, it still delivered a fantastic story and is a must watch for any wrestling fan.
25 Miz & Morrison vs Primo & Carlito - WrestleMania XXV
The WWE's tag team championship has wallowed in obscurity for years, partially because of how often it changed hands but mainly due to the booking involved with the division. In 2009 the WWE decided that both Smackdown and Raw having tag team champions was too much so they united the two belts. The Miz and John Morrison were really finding a groove together as a tag team. The Miz is one of those rare talents who is a natural heel who can draw heat by just grabbing a microphone. John Morrison is an uncanny freak of athletic nature and the two together made a great pairing. The Colon brothers had history on their side. The match itself wasn't an instant classic and looking back the wrong champions left with the title when the Colons won, but it was a very fun match that told a good story with the baby faces coming out on top. What hurt this match and the division as a whole was more the fact that the unification title match was held on the pre-show to WrestleMania and not the main card.
23 LayCool vs Melina - WWE Night Of Champions 2010
Before their was Paige, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte there was Michelle McCool. She was the last true female wrestler before the WWE started to go the super model direction, and she deservedly won the match and united the Woman's and Diva's championships.The match itself was an entertaining lumberjill match that saw interference by Layla as the deciding factor. The WWE at the time felt like the purple butterfly belt was the one to keep and dropped the Woman's championship with all 54 years of lineage behind it. The Best part of Michelle McTakers run as champion was her relationship with Layla. The two claimed to be dual champions and would each carry one half of the title belt with them where ever they went. They based their gimmick off TNA's "Beautiful People" and played it to perfection. Michelle McCool retired after a loser leaves town match against Layla in 2011, putting an end to a very fun duo.
21 Ultimo Dragon vs Dean Malenko - WCW Starrcade 1996
Starrcade 1996 was the little engine that could. It was the first year of the nWo and the Outsiders won the tag team gold while Hogan and Piper fought it out in the main event for nostalgia's sake. Two main things came out of this PPV: a Randy Savage heel turn where he joined the nWo and this unification match between The Ultimo Dragon and probably the most underrated male wrestler of the last 30 years, Dean Malenko. Dean was the Cruiserweight Champion and Dragon was the J-Crown Champion (more on that in a bit). They put on a show-stealing match mixing Japanese Strong Style and Malenko's unworldly technical skills to perfection. The match would be won by Dragon and we got the image of him carrying around nine belts at one time which was quite the sight to see. Malenko won the belt back a little less than a month later in another fantastic match at Clash of the Champions.
19 Edge Vs Test - WWE Survivor Series 2001
Edge had just recently started a solo run as a fan favorite after Christian turned on him. Being a fan favorite meant that he fought for the WWE against the Alliance after the purchase of WCW. Edge would lose the Intercontinental title to Test (who was wrestling for the Alliance) and shortly after that he won the United States title from Kurt Angle. During a pay per view that seemed to be more about embarrassing their former competitor then putting on great matches as the WWE tried to absorb WCW's titles. Test won the match and the US title was dropped with the WWE only recognizing the Intercontinental title going forward. Thankfully in 2003 general manager of Smackdown, Stephanie McMahon, brought the US title back to be used on the blue brand. The US title has a strong lineage thanks to it's time as WCW/NWA's secondary championship and it was a shame to see it go away. This title also gave us the best in ring run of John Cena's career as week after week his US title open challenge stole the show in 2015.
17 Tazz Vs Sabu - ECW Living Dangerously 1999
Tazz and Sabu had some amazing chemistry together. They were great together as partners and even better together as enemies. For story line purposes, Tazz created his own belt called the FTW Heavyweight Championship. The story was that Shane Douglas was injured and afraid to face him so a new belt was created and worn by Tazz who declared himself the real worlds champion. Tazz lost the belt to Sabu, in a triple threat match, when he pulled an unconscious Sabu on top of him to get the pin fall. Tazz then challenged and defeated Douglas to become the new ECW Heavyweight Champion. As far as rivalries go this is one of the best in wrestling history and Tazz and Sabu pulled out all the stops during this Extreme Rules Match. Tazz would win the match and unite the two championship and this match has lived on as one of ECW's best.
15 Randy Orton vs. John Cena - WWE TLC 2013
Regardless of the fact that everyone is so sick of Orton vs. Cena matches that they could cry at the mere mention of another one. There is a reason why these two have dominated wrestling and the WWE since 2008. Randy Orton has amazing in ring talent and makes for the perfect heel. John Cena, love him or hate him, is the ultimate babyface that is loved by the kids. These two faced each other so many times and the quality of the matches was incredible thanks to the chemistry they had together. Add the fact that Randy Orton got the pin to unite the two belts. Also the fact that this was part of a much bigger story between the evil Authority against the ultimate underdog Daniel Bryan. This story fit into that story perfectly since it was meant to make Randy Orton look like the strong face of the company that Daniel Bryan's needed to overcome.
13 Hardy Boyz vs Dudley Boyz - WWE Survivor Series 2001
One of the biggest travesties in the history of professional wrestling was the way that WCW was treated on its way out. We realize that part of the reason was a lot of the top talent like Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Ric Flair and Goldberg were sitting at home still collecting their guaranteed contracts from Turner Broadcasting. But in all reality there was a lot of talent that got treated like they were second rate. Diamond Dallas Page being fed to the Undertaker and the treatment of Booker T are just a few of the problems. The fact that WCW competitors were not involved in one single unification match at Survivor series is the biggest travesty of all. The match between the Dudleys and the Hardys was great as always which is why this ranks so high; however, the embarrassing way that WCW was treated really hurts the overall performance.
11 Shinsuke Nakumura vs Kurt Angle - NJPW 2008
You are probably scratching your head over the placement of this one. How can a match between two of the world's greatest wrestlers only end up here. Well the reason is because this match was before Shinsuke became Swagsuke and did not have his now iconic hair and electric charisma. The King of Strong Style and The Olympic Hero put on a show as the pair wrestled a classic to unite the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belts. The Inoki Genome Federation had a variation of the belt and so did NJPW.
Kurt was wrestling for TNA at the time and they had a working agreement with NJPW much like WCW had when Ultimo Dragon united the J-Crown. Shinsuke won the match and united the titles which are still united today. This match is a little tougher to find but if you can it is well worth the time spent looking.
9 Jerry Lawler vs Kerry Von Erich - AWA/WCWA Superclash III
In what had become AWA's annual "bury a rival promotion" show, this match was probably the best of the series. Superclash was a co-promotional event held by the AWA, NWA and WCCW to try and offset the rating the WWE was receiving. The card itself was an overall let down, all though it is fun to see a lot of future WWE stars in action when they were younger. The brutality that was on display, especially for the time, was uncanny. Lawler and Von Erich beat each other to a bloody pulp and the match ended in controversial fashion. "The King" won the match and united the two titles due to referee stoppage. The referee claimed that Kerry Von Erich had lost to much blood to continue the match. Soon after the AWA stripped Lawler of the belt and the WCWA was out of business one year later.
7 The J-Crown Tournament - NJPW, 1996
This entire tournament deserves a spot on this list since it included the top cruiserweights from several promotions in both Japan and Mexico. On that night The Great Sasuke beat the Ultimo Dragon to unite eight championships that where put on the line in a single elimination four night tournament. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight, British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight, NWA World Junior Heavyweight, NWZ World Welterweight, UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight, WAR International Junior Heavyweight, WWA World Junior Light Heavyweight, and the WWF Light Heavyweight title were all at stake. The WWF Light Heavyweight title was actually being used in the Universal Wrestling Association, which is a small promotion in Mexico. The WWE was unaware that they no longer had possession of the belt so they demanded it back. When that happened the champion at the time, Shinjiro Otani, would vacate all of the titles returning them to their original promotions. The title lasted just over a year before it was vacated.
5 Chris Jericho vs Steve Austin - WWE Vengeance 2001
Y2J is a wrestling legend and he has had no problem reminding us of that every chance he gets. Arguably the best talker in the history of r This was a great night for Jericho who would defeat Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock (arguably the two biggest superstars of their generation) on the same night. As happy as we were for Jericho to finally break through the mid card glass ceiling and become a main eventer, it was also sad to see the WCW Title disappear with out even a WCW guy involved in the outcome. In a match that took place right before the main event, Jericho defeated the Rock to win the WCW championship and then defeated Stone Cold to win the WWE championship and become the first ever undisputed champion. He would go on to lose the title to Rock at the 2002 Royal Rumble after holding on to it for just over a month.
3 Sting vs Ric Flair - WCW Clash of The Champions XXVII
It was considered a staple of NWA then WCW wrestling having the two franchise players meeting in the middle of the ring. Sting was the WCW International World Heavyweight Champion and Ric Flair was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. As you can see, there really wasn't a need for both titles so in 1994 they met to unite the belts. Just a few weeks before Hulk Hogan would arrive, Flair pinned Sting in another fantastic match put on by these two. While the Sting vs Flair feud was a few years from ending, this match felt like the end of a very satisfying rivalry. After the match the WCW would keep the belt that is affectionately called "The Big Gold Belt" Which was finally retired in the Jericho vs Austin match in the last slide and then brought back by Eric Bishoff in 2002 only to be united again in 2013 by Orton vs Cena. That officially makes "The Big Gold Belt" the most unified championship of all time.
1 Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness - ROH England 2006
Before he became the man of the people and the ultimate underdog, Daniel Bryan was tearing the roof off in Ring Of Honor. He was the ROH Pure Champion and Nigel McGuinness (who would later become Desmond Wolfe in TNA) was the World Champion. These two proceeded to put on a wrestling clinic in what could possibly be the most underrated match of all time. They had some amazing chemistry and had one of the better rivalries in the history of wrestling. This match was contested under Pure Wrestling rules, which is a lot of fun to watch in general but when you have two guys of this caliber it's something special. They had a multitude of classic matches and this was just another in a long line of them. It is definitely worth searching for on Youtube just to see two mat technicians doing what they do best.
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