Becoming a WWE World Champion is a dream that most Superstars want to realize at some point in their careers. Unfortunately, not everyone can be the top guy in the company. Over the last few years, we have seen some of the worst WWE Champions in recent memory. In the last decade alone, The Miz, Roman Reigns, and Sheamus won the coveted title. This is the same WWE Championship that Stone Cold, The Rock, Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino once proudly held.
The thing that really sucks about an undeserving Superstar winning the title is the fact that it takes the opportunity away from a deserving athlete. Thankfully, it seems that Vince McMahon has finally come to his senses.
Dean Ambrose's recent victory over Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship at Money in The Bank was simply amazing. Ambrose was a guy who was held back from the top for so long, but the fans stayed right by his side the whole way through.
While Dean's victory at Money in The Bank was shocking, there are many WWE Superstars who have won the title in equally shocking fashion. This list of the Top 15 Wrestlers You Never Thought Would Be World Champion highlights 15 of the most surprising title wins. They aren't necessarily undeserving champions. It's just guys that you never imagined would be given such an opportunity.
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Kane is unquestionably a future Hall of Famer. He's reinvented his character several times throughout his career. To be honest, only a few WWE Superstars have accomplished the level of success that Kane has. With that being said, Glenn Jacobs is on this list for a reason.
Before he ever wrestled under the ring name of Kane, Glenn Jacobs had a difficult time getting over. Believe it or not, Kane has been in the WWE since 1995.
He wrestled as Unabomb, Isaac Yankem, and even Diesel. That's right! Kane was Fake Diesel in 1996.
The fact that Glenn Jacobs managed to find success after wrestling as three horrible characters is surprising enough. With that being said, Jacobs finally won the WWE Championship when he defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin at King of The Ring in 1998. Unfortunately he only held it for a day, but he would eventually get a run with the world title in 2010.
14 John Bradshaw Layfield
John Bradshaw Layfield is the current ringside commentator for Monday Night Raw. However, Bradshaw didn't earn his significant wealth from talking over people's heads. Believe it or not, Bradshaw is one of the hardest hitters in the history of the Wrestling business.
Most of Bradshaw's peers respected him, but some hated him for his rough style in the ring. Nonetheless, Bradshaw struggled in the early years of his career. With that being said, he found a great deal of success when he teamed up with Faarooq to form the beer drinking duo known as the Acolytes Protection Agency.
The APA was very popular with the fans, but JBL wanted to be more than a tag team partner. In 2004, Bradshaw defeated Eddie Guerrero in a Texas Bullrope Match for the WWE Title.
JBL only won the WWE Championship once, but he would go on to participate in several memorable storylines against the likes of Shawn Michaels, CM Punk and Randy Orton.
13 The Miz
The Miz was semi-famous before he ever stepped foot in the WWE. He was well known for participating in 'The Real World' on MTV. The Miz was cocky and arrogant on that show as well.
No one really took The Miz seriously when he made his WWE debut in 2006. However, The Miz quickly proved everyone wrong. In 2010, The Miz won the Money In the Bank briefcase and cashed it in on an episode of Monday Night Raw to defeat Randy Orton for the WWE Championship.
The Miz is one guy that I would've never predicted to become the WWE Champion. With that being said, not only did the Miz become the WWE Champion, but he even defended the title against John Cena at WrestleMania XXVII! The Miz has not been a world champion since, but you can't rule out the possibility of him winning another one, perhaps as a transitional champion, at some point before his career is over.
12 CM Punk
CM Punk is one of the most popular WWE Superstars in recent years. He was flawless in the ring, and his mic skills were excellent as well. The fact that he won the WWE Championship wasn't all that surprising to me considering his high level of talent. However, if there was ever anything that held CM Punk back from accomplishing more in his career it was his attitude backstage with Vince McMahon and Triple H.
Punk spoke his mind often, and his rocky relationship with the higher-ups of the WWE led to his eventual departure from the company. Nonetheless, CM Punk's first title win was extremely shocking when it happened.
Punk won his first title by cashing in the Money in The Bank briefcase against Edge, who was beaten severely just seconds earlier by Batista. CM Punk's win was shocking because no one thought that Vince McMahon would give him the push that he deserved.
Christian found fame in the wrestling business when he partnered with Edge during the peak of the Attitude Era. Christian was always a talented performer, but few people thought that he would ever become the WWE Champion.
Edge and Christian were such a great tag team that it was hard to imagine how successful they would become when they went their separate ways. Edge went on to become one of the most controversial and dominant WWE Superstars in recent memory, but Christian struggled a bit to find a comfortable spot on his own.
After years of climbing the ranks in the WWE, Christian finally won the World Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Alberto Del Rio in a ladder match at Extreme Rules in 2011.
Christian would go on to win the World Heavyweight Championship one more time before his eventual departure from the company in 2014. Like his former partner Edge, Christian will most likely find himself inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame sometime in the near future.
10 Vince McMahon
Vincent Kennedy McMahon isn't the most athletic individual who has ever stepped into the squared circle. However, he is one of the toughest SOBs of all time. What other billionaire has risked life and limb for the good of their own company?
Mr. McMahon may be arrogant and self-centered at times, but he actually does love the business of professional wrestling. With that being said, booking himself to win the WWE Championship was quite possibly the most selfish thing that he has ever done.
On an episode of SmackDown in 1999, Triple H, who was the WWE Champion at the time, called out Vince McMahon and mocked him. Triple H crossed the line when he spoke about Vince's wife Linda in a derogatory fashion. Being the alpha male that he is, Vince McMahon jumped Triple H from behind, and a match for the title was underway.
Unfortunately for Vince, Triple H recovered and dominated the match. Hunter pummeled his future father-in-law, and no one was able to help him as Chyna guarded the ring. However, Stone Cold Steve Austin would eventually come to the ring and clean house. After dual stunners to Triple H and Chyna, Austin dragged McMahon's lifeless body over Triple H's for the pin. Shane O' Mac counted to three, and Vince became the WWE Champion in stunning fashion.
9 Rey Mysterio
We all know that Vince McMahon has a fetish for overly muscled WWE Superstars. With that being said, even I once thought that Rey Mysterio was too small of an athlete to become a world champion.
Not only did Rey Mysterio prove me and the rest of the doubters wrong, but he did so at the "Grandest Stage of Them All." On the night of April 2, 2006, Rey Mysterio defeated Randy Orton and Kurt Angle to become the World Heavyweight Champion. Many have criticized this title win, as they felt it was all done in a way that exploited Eddie Guerrero's death in late 2005. Mysterio dedicated his Royal Rumble 2006 performance to Eddie and went on to win the event, lasting a record 62 minutes in the match. From there, Mysterio's whole journey to the title involved him dedicating his run to Eddie.
Mysterio would lose the title a few months later, falling to King Booker after Chavo Guerrero turned on him. His first reign was short, but he eventually went on to win the WWE/ World Heavyweight Championship two more times.
8 Rob Van Dam
RVD is one of the most talented professional wrestlers of all time. He made his name in ECW long before he ever joined the WWE in 2001. RVD was originally booked as a heel, but it was obvious that the WWE fans loved him. Needless to say, it didn't take long for Vince McMahon to turn him face.
Rob Van Dam went on to win the Intercontinental Championship and Tag Team Championship. Unfortunately, the WWE title seemed impossible for RVD to obtain. Most WWE fans thought that Vince would never give him the strap. However, it eventually happened when Rob Van Dam took on John Cena at the ECW One Night Stand pay per view event in 2006.
RVD beat Cena in the center of the ring with a Five Star Frog Splash. The fact that Rob Van Dam defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship was absolutely stunning at the time. Sadly, RVD's career peaked in 2006, and it has been all down hill ever since. Shortly after his title win, RVD was caught with marijuana and thus was booked to quickly lose his title. Despite that downfall, even 10 years later, Rob Van Dam is still one of the best wrestlers in the world.
7 Daniel Bryan
Most of the WWE Superstars on this list are smaller athletes, and Daniel Bryan is by far one of the tiniest. At a height of 5-foot-10, the odds of Bryan winning the WWE Championship were astronomical.
In 2011, Daniel Bryan won the Money in The Bank briefcase. However, he waited until December 18, to cash it in against the Big Show. Bryan ran out to the ring hit Show with a DDT on a steel chair. The Big Show was knocked out cold. Daniel Bryan secured a pinfall and became the new WWE World Champion.
Bryan's first championship win was surprising, but nothing can compare to his win on the night of WrestleMania XXX. The "Yes" movement was in full effect, but Daniel Bryan had to first defeat Triple H in order to earn his spot in the main event against Batista and Randy Orton. Bryan defeated Hunter, and then he went on to win the main event.
Unfortunately, Daniel Bryan's final WWE Championship reign was cut short due to injury. Even worse, Bryan was forced to retire in 2016.
6 Chris Jericho
Y2J has been in the WWE for more than 15 years, and he's actually still quite popular. However, there was a time when Chris Jericho was thought of as nothing more than an opening act.
Y2J worked for the WCW from 1996-1999, but many fans felt that he was underutilized. In 1999, Y2J was brought over to the WWE, and it didn't take long for him to become a superstar. In fact, Chris Jericho became the first Undisputed Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock on the same night. If that's not an accomplishment, I don't know what is.
Not only was Jericho great 15 years ago, but his career has recently been resurged, and it seems that he will be around for the foreseeable future. Y2J proved everyone wrong, and he is undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer.
5 Shawn Michaels
It's easy for us to look back today and say that Shawn Michaels was one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. But, the reality is that Shawn Michaels had to work extremely hard to even get noticed by Vince McMahon.
Shawn Michaels has never been the biggest guy in the WWE, but he was one of the hardest workers in history. It took HBK years to make it to the top, and he finally won the coveted WWE Championship when he defeated Bret Hart at WrestleMania XXII.
HBK's first title win was special, but it was his final Heavyweight Championship win in 2002 which was truly memorable. After spending four years away from the WWE due to a broken back, The Heartbreak Kid returned to win the first ever Elimination Chamber Match at Survivor Series.
Not only did HBK return to action better than ever, but he was also spiritually reborn during the time away from the WWE. In 2011, Shawn Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Triple H.
4 Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose captured the WWE Championship in glorious fashion when he cashed in his Money in The Bank briefcase to defeat Seth Rollins. Dean's title win was extremely surprising, but it was even more shocking due to the fact that he won the belt on the same night that he won the Money in The Bank ladder match.
The WWE fans have wanted Dean Ambrose to become the champion for a long time now. Thankfully, it finally happened. However, some people feel that Dean should have won the title in another fashion. Personally, I'm just glad that "The Lunatic Fringe" is the WWE Champion.
Unlike Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose can actually work and cut a promo. But, how long will Ambrose hold the title? Is he merely a placeholder champion until a big program to SummerSlam starts?
I'm hoping that Ambrose can enjoy a lengthy title reign. He's worked so hard for so many years, and he deserves his moment of glory.
3 Mick Foley
Mick Foley is one of the most under-appreciated WWE Superstars of all time. In the ring, Mick was a hard-hitting technician. He was equally as talented outside of the ring as well. Foley was great on the mic. He has a brilliant mind, and he was able to entertain the fans better than most wrestlers could ever dream of.
While it's undeniable that Mick Foley was talented in nearly every aspect of pro wrestling, Vince McMahon had a hard time believing in him. Foley wasn't built like every other wrestler. He was overweight and physically mangled from his hardcore matches in Japan.
Nonetheless, after countless years of wrestling, Mick Foley finally won the WWE Championship when he defeated The Rock on an episode of Monday Night Raw in 1999. Foley went on to win the title two more times, and he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
2 Ivan Koloff
Ivan Koloff is a name that most modern WWE fans have never even heard of. However, wrestling fans from the late 1960s and early 1970s know exactly who this man is.
Koloff was brought into the WWE for one purpose, to defeat Bruno Sammartino. In 1971, the Russian savage did just that in brutal fashion. Bruno Sammartino lost for the first time in seven years to Koloff. The matchup took place in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. If you thought the crowd reaction to The Undertaker losing his streak was a sight, just picture what the New York crowd was like when their hero lost. You could hear pins drop in that arena and Koloff quickly got out of there, fearing that there would be a riot.
Koloff's reign as the WWE Champion was short, but his impact on the business has been a lasting one.
1 Bret Hart
In the 1980s, the WWE was known as the land of the giants. Hulk Hogan, Andre, and The Ultimate Warrior ruled the Heavyweight division. The thought of a smaller man such as Bret Hart winning the title was inconceivable. However, that's exactly what happened when Hart took on Ric Flair on October 12, 1992.
After his title win, Bret Hart went on to become one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time. He starred in classic matches against countless WWE Superstars, but his feuds with Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels were legendary. In 2006, Bret Hart was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame by Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Bret Hart was the first smaller man to become the WWE Champion. He paved the way for the new generation, and many fans still consider him to be "The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be."
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