Wrestling is about exposure. If you don’t get put in high profile matches, then no one remembers you. Don’t believe me? Ask Bam Neely. Don’t know who that is? Exactly. It can be argued that there can be no higher stake in a match than a championship belt; after all, we as wrestling fans are conditioned to believe every wrestler’s goal is to become champion, so surely any title match has to be important. Being in a championship match can also signify how valuable a wrestler is to their promotion; if one wrestler keeps being put in title matches, then it shows that they must be popular or talented enough to have won over the bookers and the fans. Or they’re Roman Reigns. Either way, title matches can be very interesting when it comes to determining the success and importance of a wrestler, but just which WWE wrestler has had the most title matches on Pay-Per-View? Well, dear readers, worry about this question no more, because, after weeks of trawling through archives, days without seeing my family and three admissions to the local mental asylum, I present to you the definitive list of the 15 wrestlers who have appeared in the most title matches in WWE PPV history. Over the course of this list you’ll see plenty of different factors that contribute to a successful Pay-Per-View career; some of these wrestlers have had incredibly long careers, some of these wrestlers have climbed the ranks in a way that has allowed them to challenge for many different championships and others have just been pushed to the moon. Whatever the reason, these fifteen men (sorry, no women, although, if you’re wondering, the woman with the most matches is Trish Stratus with 29) have all amassed forty plus Pay-Per-View title matches since the first WrestleMania in 1985 right up until the latest WWE Pay-Per-View, Backlash 2016. So, without further ado, let’s crack on, shall we? Don’t forget to tell all your friends about this list, share it, have the URL tattooed on your face, write it in the sky. Please. I worked really hard on this and I’m pretty sure my family thinks I’m dead. Sorry, moment over. Here’s the list.
15 Christian – 40
Well, looky here, we’re starting off with one of my boys. The man once known as “The Instant Classic” narrowly edged out Jeff Hardy by a single match to gain entry onto this list, but some fans might be surprised to see him so high in Pay-Per-View title matches. However, Christian had Pay-Per-View success right from the beginning of his WWE career, winning the Light Heavyweight Championship in his first ever match at Judgement Day: In Your House. Over the course of his sixteen years in and out of the WWE, Christian would challenge for almost every title in WWE history including two matches for the WWE Championship, seven matches for the World Heavyweight Championship, nine for the Intercontinental Championship, three for the European Championship, one for the United States, but none for the WWE Tag Team Championship. However, that didn’t stop Christian boasting seventeen World Tag Team Championship matches on Pay-Per-View, the most of anyone on this list, as well as ten ECW Championship matches, the most of anyone in WWE history, including the final ECW Championship Pay-Per-View match at the Royal Rumble in 2010. Christian’s long and varied career, amazing charisma and incredible talent made him excellent championship material and, even though he may not have won ever title match he was put into, he gave his all and put on amazing matches in every single one of the forty title matches he had on Pay-Per-View. Sorry, I’m fanboying, again. I just love Captain Charimsa. Is that a crime?
14 Batista – 41
Hey, it’s that guy from Guardians of the Galaxy! Or, if you don’t like Batista, hey, it’s that guy who ruined the 2014 Royal Rumble! Dave Bautista was known by many names in the WWE; The Animal, Leviathan, Deacon Batista, the other one in Evolution that isn’t Bob Orton’s kid and many more. With a career this long and varied, it’s no surprise that Batista has amassed this many Pay-Per-View title matches, especially considering his dominance in the mid-2000s. Batista competed for the WWE Championship eight times in his career, including once at WrestleMania 26, as well as one matches for both the Intercontinental and WWE Tag Team Championships and two matches for the World Tag Team Championship as a member of Evolution. However, it would be the World Heavyweight Championship that would make Batista a household name. Winning the title four times (including once in the main event of WrestleMania 21), Batista would set the record for the longest reign with the title at 282 days. He also holds the record for the most World Heavyweight Championship matches in Pay-Per-View history, challenging for the title a whopping twenty-nine times, making up more than half of Batista’s overall Pay-Per-View matches. A huge presence in the main event scene during his time with the WWE and one of the reasons as to why the World Heavyweight Championship was taken so seriously, Batista will always hold a special place in fans’ hearts. Just don’t expect a return from The Animal any time soon; I’m pretty sure he hates the company now.
13 The Rock – 41
Technically a joint thirteenth here, but did you really think I was gonna go against The Rock? Not that I really wanted to go against Batista, but The Rock knows people, like, powerful, Hollywood people. I can’t contend with that. Anyway, Dwayne Johnson is one of, if not the, most influential wrestlers in the history of the business, crossing boundaries between wrestling and pop culture, bringing attention to the world of pro wrestling like never before. Despite not always being the megastar he is today, Rock has always been a championship contender, being a prominent Intercontinental champion before his time in the main event. Rock performed in nine different matches for the belt, helping build the prestige of himself and the title in the process. He also competed for the brief incarnation of the WCW Championship in WWE, defeating Booker T in the main event of SummerSlam 2001 for the belt in one of the four matches he would have for that title. Never one to share the spotlight, Rock only challenged for the World Tag Team Championship in one match on Pay-Per-View with the rest of his title matches being for the WWE title. Rock would compete in a WWE Championship match 31 times across his career, the fifth most of all time, and would feature in three back to back WrestleMania main events for the belt. Rock also had three WWE title matches in 2013; twice against CM Punk and then one more WrestleMania main event, losing the belt to John Cena in what is currently his final Pay-Per-View title match. Will we see The Rock challenge for the title ever again? Logic dictates no, but, as we are all very much aware of, logic and the WWE go together about as well Hulk Hogan and subtlety, so don’t rule it out just yet? You never know how badly the next Fast and Furious film will need to be promoted.
12 Kofi Kingston – 42
Nope, I’m not kidding. Kofi’s had more title matches than The Rock. Wrestling’s crazy right? One third of the current WWE Tag Team Champions, Kingston hasn’t always been a horn-wearing, cereal-selling, crowd-popping tag team wrestler; the man had one hell of singles run before his New Day companions even debuted. Kingston competed for both the Intercontinental and United States Championships nine times on Pay-Per-View, as well having been in three matches for the WWE Championship (although all of these were multi-man matches of some variety) throughout his long career. As well as the New Day, Kingston has teamed with the likes of Evan Bourne and R-Truth in 21 total matches for the WWE Tag Team Championship, the most of anyone in history. Alongside this incredible record, Kingston also boasts the most total days as WWE Tag Team Champion by a single wrestler, as well as being a part of New Day, who hold the record for longest single reign with and combined time as champions. One day the argument will arise as to whether Kofi deserves to be in the WWE Hall of Fame. When you consider what he’s accomplished in his near ten-year career, the records he’s set in the tag team division, the amazing moments he’s had in the Royal Rumble and the fact he’s still got years to come, then it’s really quite hard to argue against his induction. Let’s just forget that he pretended to be Jamaican for the first few years of his career.
11 Shawn Michaels – 42
Mr. WrestleMania! The Showstopper! The Heartbreak Kid! Michael Hickenbottom! So many incredible monikers. Despite making a name for himself as a part of The Rockers, Michaels never actually competed for the World Tag Team titles on Pay-Per-View with Marty Jannetty, although this didn’t stop him competing for those titles twice on Pay-Per-View. Michaels had another match for the WWE Tag Team titles, as well as seven Intercontinental Championship matches and eight World Heavyweight Championship matches – fun fact, Michaels actually became the first man to win that title in a wrestling match at Survivor Series 2002. Michaels’ twenty-three WWE Championship matches and one European title match brings Michaels’ total up to forty-four, impressive for a man who took four years out of wrestling and was supposed to have retired in 1998. Michaels’ transformation from addict to legend is incredible and his final match at WrestleMania 26, albeit not for a title, was more than worthy of a man his status. From his humble beginnings in the tag team division to burgeoning singles success to WrestleMania main eventer, Michaels long and successful career has included plenty of title matches, all of which have been amazing, because, well, they’ve got Shawn Michaels in them. This is a guy who put the European title in the main event scene and that belt was held by X-Pac.
10 Rey Mysterio – 44
Booyaka, booyaka! 619! Oh that move was so contrived. Rey Mysterio was a huge hit in WCW, helping to bring the long-ignored style of lucha libre to American audiences before joining WWE in 2002. Rey became a critical part of WWE’s cruiserweight division, challenging for the title nine times before its retirement in 2007 (damn you, Hornswoggle!). Due to his high-flying, exciting style and charismatic performances, Mysterio was able to survive beyond the demise of the cruiserweight division, becoming a part of the so-called “Smackdown Six”, a group of three tag teams responsible for elevating tag team wrestling in the early 2000s. Mysterio had eight total tag team title matches on Pay-Per-View (seven WWE and one World), including the inaugural WWE Tag Team Championship match at No Mercy 2002, albeit losing to Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. Rey also had eight Intercontinental title matches and one United States match, but the bulk of his matches came for a title many thought he’d never hold; the World Heavyweight Championship. After long-time friend, Eddie Guerrero, passed away in 2005, Rey was thrusted into the world title picture, winning the belt at WrestleMania 22 following a Royal Rumble win in 2006. Mysterio would compete in 18 World Heavyweight Championship matches across his career, winning the title twice. Perhaps the most interesting statistic regarding Rey is, despite holding the title (albeit for a single episode of Raw), Mysterio never had a Pay-Per-View match for the WWE Championship. Never. Here are some people that had more WWE title matches on Pay-Per-View than Mysterio: Tyler Breeze, The Berzerker, The Patriot, Virgil, Chris Masters, Erick Rowan, Hardcore Holly, R-Truth and many, many more people who are nowhere near as good as Rey Mysterio. Ah well, Rey’s on this list and they’re not, and that’s the most important thing to come.
9 The Miz – 46
He may have came to play, but when it comes down to it, it’s all business for the A-Lister. From his humble beginnings in Tough Enough to main eventing WrestleMania, no one has done it all like The Miz and he’s had the title matches to prove it. Miz has held pretty much every championship available in the WWE and has challenged for most of them too. As a tag team wrestler, he won titles with everyone from John Morrison to Big Show to Damien Mizdow. He competed for the World Tag Team Championships just once on Pay-Per-View (despite being one half of the first ECW team to hold the belts), but would compete for the WWE Tag Team Championships twelve times, including one match at WrestleMania 25 that was to unify both the WWE and World Tag Team titles. As a singles wrestler, Miz challenged for the ECW title three times in the early stages of his career, before moving onto the United States Championship, a title he contested for eleven times on PPV, and, of course, the Intercontinental Championship, which he has fought for fourteen times on Pay-Per-View including, most recently, at Backlash 2016, making him the only member of this list to be a champion at the most recent WWE Pay-Per-View. Miz’s biggest moment arguably came on the November 22nd episode of Raw, when he cashed in Money In The Bank to defeat Randy Orton and become WWE Champion for the first and only time in his career. Miz reigned for 160 days and many great title defences against the likes of John Cena and Randy Orton, all of which contributed to the nine WWE Championship matches he’s currently had in his career. After his recent Talking Smack outburst and the subsequent media attention it has drawn, who knows just what’s next for The Awesome One. What I can tell you, though, is this; with the Intercontinental Championship around his waist, Maryse on his arm and an incredible career that may still have years left in it, it’s never been a better time to be The Miz. Now that’s awesome.
8 Big Show – 55
WEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL... actually, I don’t wanna do it now, sorry. Paul Wight, aka Mr. Bigglesford Q. Show, has had a pretty incredible career when you think about it. From his days as The Giant in WCW, to his WWE debut, tearing through the ring to assist Mr. McMahon against Steve Austin, to his multiple championship reigns, Big Show has constantly been a presence on WWE screens for the best part of two decades. For a man who’s been accused of being a one trick pony, Show has actually been one of the most accessible wrestlers when it comes to title feuds. Show boasts some interesting title matches, including three for the ECW Championship and three more for the Hardcore title, the most of anyone of this list. Big Show would also compete in four Intercontinental Championship matches and two for the US title, including giving John Cena his first ever title win at WrestleMania XX. Show also competed in nine matches for the WWE Tag Team Championships as well as six for the World Tag Team Championships; another fun fact, every single one of Big Show’s tag team championship winning partners is on this list. So, there’s a tip for all you struggling superstars – team with Show and you’ll have a great career. Finally, Big Show has competed in thirty-one world championship matches in WWE Pay-Per-View history; fourteen for the WWE Championship and seventeen for the World Heavyweight. Show’s competed twice at WrestleMania for the world title (once for each title) including the main event of WrestleMania 2000 (a McMahon in every corner, lest we forget). Despite the heat he gets nowadays, there can be no denying the success and longevity Big Show has enjoyed, a longevity made even more impressive when you consider most men his size. You may not like him, but you gotta respect the giant. Because if you don’t, he will eat you. Whole.
7 Kane – 55
Tying Show for seventh place is one of his many tag team partners; the Big Red Grampa, Kane. Debuting in 1997 in the first ever Hell in a Cell match, Kane would do battle with the likes of The Undertaker, Mick Foley and Stone Cold Steve Austin throughout the Attitude Era, continue to kick ass in the Ruthless Aggression Era and remains a beloved character in modern day WWE (Corporate Kane doesn’t count). Kane’s singles career has been pretty impressive; the man has done battle for the Hardcore Championship once on Pay-Per-View, the Intercontinental Championship five times and just once for the United States Championship. As a tag team wrestler, Kane holds the record for the most different partners as World Tag Team Champion, teaming with seven different people to claim the belts. He competed fourteen times for the World Tag Team Championship and seven times for the WWE Tag Team belts, most recently at WrestleMania 29, where he and Daniel Bryan defeated Big E and Dolph Ziggler to retain the gold. He also competed twice for the short lived WCW Tag Team titles, which he held with someone coming up very soon on this list. I’ll give you three guesses. Kane has won a world title twice on Pay-Per-View (one WWE and one world) but has competed thirty times for those titles at marquee events (fourteen for the WWE and sixteen for the World Heavyweight). One record Kane does hold on this list is that he has been in three different matches where more than one title was on the line, more than anyone else. At Backlash 2001 where the World Tag, WWE and Intercontinental Championships could have changed hands, SummerSlam 2001 where the World and WCW Tag Team titles were on the line and at No Mercy 2002 where Kane’s Intercontinental Championship was absorbed into the World Heavyweight title after Kane lost. With such a long and varied career, it’s no surprise how successful Kane has been on Pay-Per-View. With a surprise appearance at Backlash, maybe Kane’s title shots aren’t over just yet, although, maybe not put him into a programme with AJ Styles. I don’t think anyone really wants that. Well, except Kane himself, I guess.
6 Chris Jericho – 58
Y2J is one of my favourites of all time. From Lionheart in WCW to the suit-wearing jerk he became in 2008, Jericho has chopped and changed his gimmick a hundred thousand times over the course of his career and his ability to stay on top has led to plenty of high profile matches. Jericho competed twice for the European Championship during its existence, as well as a single bout for the Hardcore title. Seven WWE Tag Team title matches and two World Tag Team title matches boost Jericho’s numbers further, but the Intercontinental Championship is what really gives Jericho the edge. With twenty-two Intercontinental Championship matches on Pay-Per-View, Jericho reflects his record-setting nine Intercontinental Championship reigns with the most IC title matches in Pay-Per-View history (second place, interesting, is Dolph Ziggler). With thirteen matches for each WWE world title and four for the WCW Championships, including the unification match between the WCW and WWE Championship that would crown Jericho the first ever Undisputed Champion. Over a historic career that has included plenty of records and plenty of incredible moments, Jericho shows no signs of stopping and looks to be in his prime. If his friendship with current Universal Champion, Kevin Owens is anything to go by, I don’t think Jericho will be staying at fifty-eight for too long. Dammit, I’m gonna have to rewrite this list aren’t I. Better open up that whiskey again.
5 The Undertaker – 65
There will never be another quite like The Undertaker. Debuting in 1990 and still wrestling today, Taker’s career is the stuff of legend and there are things he has done that other legends only dream of. Having been a main event star for pretty much his entire run, it’s hardly surprising that Taker has racked up fifty-seven world championship matches in his career; thirty-seven for the WWE Championship and twenty for the World Heavyweight. The remainder of Taker’s matches came from tag team bouts – four for the World Tag Team (including Backlash 01) and two more for the WCW Tag with Kane (including match at SummerSlam 2001). Taker also challenged for the Intercontinental Championship three times and even had a match for the Hardcore title, which isn’t that surprising when you consider Undertaker held that championship for 58 days, one of the longest reigns in the title’s history. It’s amazing to consider that only three of Undertaker’s twenty-three WrestleMania matches have been for titles, but it goes to show The Deadman’s versatility as a performer, that he could be considered a championship contender in so many different scenarios and eras. One of wrestling’s greatest performers and truly deserving of the term “legend”, Undertaker has deserved to be in every single title match he’s been put in. Can’t really joke about that, he really is a legend. Umm... I suppose I could mention he was originally managed by Brother Love? He’s kinda funny.
4 Randy Orton – 67
Despite having the least impressive 2016 of anyone so far this year, there’s no denying Randy Orton has been a marquee name for WWE for the majority of his career. This can be seen in the distribution of his Pay-Per-View matches; he only competed in four Intercontinental Championship matches, one WWE Tag Team Championship and one World Tag Team Championship match. All the rest were for the world title. Orton’s fifteen matches for the World Heavyweight Championship included plenty of high profile occasions, including Orton’s first World Heavyweight title win at SummerSlam 2004, making him the youngest world champion in WWE history, and the unification match between the WWE and World Heavyweight title at TLC 2013. Along with that match, Orton competed in forty-six other matches for the WWE title, taking his grand total to forty-seven, the second most of anyone in history. Orton’s rocket rise to the top of WWE may have limited his midcard title matches, but his decade plus time in the main event has led to plenty of incredible matches on Pay-Per-View and, despite his two matches this year being, to put it lightly, bleugh, we may not have seen the last time Orton competes for a high-profile title at one of WWE’s biggest event. Because, after all, all it takes is one RKO outta nowehere. And maybe a powerslam. And a draping DDT. And some stomps. And a the set up for a Punt Kick that never actually happens. Orton doesn’t have a very extensive moveset, ok.
3 Edge – 67
Damn, Edge is massively underrated isn’t he. Edge is usually remembered for being a psuedo-vampire, or a sex pest, or that guy who banged Lita on live TV, but all that aside, he had an incredible career. There haven’t been many titles that the Rated-R Superstar hasn’t challenged for and won over his illustrious run; eleven Intercontinental Championship matches, three WWE Tag Team Championship matches, a whopping sixteen World Tag Team bouts, one United States title match and that’s before we even consider his time as world champion. From his first WWE Championship win at New Year’s Revolution 2006 to his retirement as World Heavyweight Champion following WrestleMania 27, Edge has racked up thirty-eight world title matches in his career. He challenged for the WWE title fifteen times and the World Heavyweight Championship twenty-three times, including in the main event of WrestleMania XXIV. Edge’s record-setting seven World Heavyweight Championship wins is hardly surprising when you consider his many matches for the belt and when you consider the calibre of the matches he had with Undertaker, John Cena and Chris Jericho for that title, you can understand why they kept booking Edge in the World Championship picture. A pioneer of tag team wrestling, an excellent midcard performer, pioneer of the brand split era and an accomplished world champion, there’s not much Edge didn’t achieve in his time with the company. It’s just a shame we’ll never get to see him wrestle again; who knows what else he could have done. Probably had sex with a bunch more people. Sorry, I know I defended him, but he did have a really creepy, perv phase. Wasn’t nice.
2 Triple H – 73
Time to play The Game! And boy, has this game been played a lot over the past twenty years. Hunter Hearst Helmsley, or, if you want his most terrifying nickname, Paul, has been the kingpin of WWE for as long as anyone can remember. An absolute backstage juggernaut; Triple H was a prominent member of backstage political group, The Kliq, and would win even greater favour with the boss when he married his daughter in 2003. Yes, he is an amazing in-ring talent, but his backstage position has to be a huge factor in his success; a success that has followed The King of Kings throughout his extensive career. The Game has challenged for the Intercontinental Championship eight times, twice for the World Tag Team titles, once for the WWE Tag Team titles and twice for the European title, all of which Trips has held numerous times. Triple H’s career wouldn’t be complete without his precious world championships. The Game challenged twenty-five times for the World Heavyweight Championship, including the first ever Pay-Per-View defence of the title against Rob Van Dam, and thirty-six times for the WWE Championship, a title Triple H once held the record for most reigns for. The Game competed in world title matches at WrestleManias 2000, X8, XIX, XX, 21, 22, 25 and 32, as well as plenty of times at the Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and SummerSlam. With an incredible career littered with championship opportunities, most of which were capitalised upon, Triple H will go down as one of wrestling’s greatest performers of all time and has given the WWE Universe plenty of memorable moments. Now transitioning into a more creative role, Trips seems to knows exactly what he’s doing when it comes to booking title matches. He should know, he’s been in enough of them.
1 John Cena – 96
Because of course it is. Let me put this into some perspective with you. If you took out all the matches John Cena has had on Pay-Per-View that weren’t for the WWE Championship, he would still be second on this list. That is insane. Let’s not take anything away from Cena’s other accomplishments too. The Face That Runs The Place has been in fifteen bouts for the title since its inception in the WWE, two of which have been at WrestleMania. Cena has also been in some tag team title matches too. And by some, I mean one – Bragging Rights 2010. It was with David Otunga, of all people. Cena battled twice in matches that were for two titles – the unification match at TLC 2013 and SummerSlam 2015, where he battled for the WWE and United States Championship against Seth Rollins – but even taking that into account, Cena’s had more world title matches than anyone in WWE history by a long, long way. Squaring off for the World Heavyweight Championship ten times on Pay-Per-View, only the twelfth most of all time (less than Alberto Del Rio, case you were wondering), but his WWE Championship matches, matches that have defined his character, are what break all sorts of records. Cena has battled for WWE’s richest prize a whopping seventy-two times on Pay-Per-View. Seventy-two! That’s twenty-five more times than his nearest challenger, Randy Orton. That’s six years’ worth of monthly Pay-Per-Views. Six years of Cena! For a man who we supposedly can’t see, we sure have seen a lot of him. In total, Cena has done battle for a championship ninety-six times on Pay-Per-View and with match number ninety-seven on the way at No Mercy 2016, I fully expect Cena to have broken a century by WrestleMania 33. Not to be cliche, but, love him or hate him, you have to respect the ability it takes to put on ninety-six high profile matches and still be on top form. As a worker, Cena can’t be flawed, it’s a shame that his booking has interfered with how people perceive this amazingly talented wrestler. So, there you have it, John Cena is number one. Feels like a bit of an anti-climax really. All that work, all that research, and it was Cena, the obvious answer. Pass the whiskey again...