There have been countless championship reigns throughout the history of WWE, but a small portion of these reigns certainly stand out more than others.
Just think about all the reigns that surpassed a calendar year. The reigns where a superstar managed to conquer so many top-tier opponents. Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and Goldberg are among the many all-time greats who endured some historic title reigns that could not be matched.
But sadly, many of the most remarkable and legendary title reigns in WWE history ended in awful fashion. Controversy, poor bookings, the wrong opponent - you name it. Here are 10 of the best reigns that had sour and bitter endings.
10 Bret Hart Stops The Miz (2010)
The Miz was enjoying a 224-day reign as the United States Champion when he defended the title against Bret Hart on May 17, 2010, on Raw. This was the third-longest United States Championship reign in WWE history at the time.
But Miz's run ended when Hart defeated him to become the new United States Champion. Maybe it made sense from a PR standpoint to put the title on a WWE legend...except Hart relinquished the title a week later to become the new GM of Raw.
Well, that didn't end up making any sense at all. Why have Hart end The Miz's reign if he wasn't going to keep the title for long?
9 The Rock Ends CM Punk's Record Reign (2012)
After winning the WWE Championship at Survivor Series 2011, CM Punk embarked on an illustrious, historic, and record-breaking 434-day title reign.
But the magical run ended at the 2013 Royal Rumble when The Rock defeated CM Punk to become the new WWE Champion. Nothing against The Rock at all, but under no circumstance should a part-time performer ever dethrone a full-time when they're in the midst of a major championship reign.
It's easy to see why CM Punk grew unhappy in WWE, and why he left the company one year later.
8 Bob Backlund Dethrones Bret Hart (1994)
Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna at WrestleMania X to become the new WWE Champion. He managed to have successful title defenses against the likes of Diesel and his younger brother Owen in a superb steel cage match at SummerSlam 1994.
Hart defended his title against Bob Backlund at Survivor Series 1994 in a "Throw in the Towel match." Davey Boy Smith represented Hart, while Owen represented Backlund. The match wouldn't end until either Smith or Owen threw a towel in the ring, which was essentially a way of submitting on behalf of the person they were representing.
With Smith knocked out, Owen was able to get his mother Helen to "throw in the towel," in fear for Bret's safety. Backlund then won the title in ridiculously cheesy fashion, thus ending Hart's 248-day reign.
7 Hulk Hogan's 1,4747 Reign Ends In Controversy (1988)
Hulk Hogan defeated The Iron Sheik to win the WWE Championship on Jan. 23, 1984. It marked the beginning of a historic reign that saw The Hulkster keep the championship over a four-year span. It felt as though Hogan was never, ever going to lose it for as long as he wrestled.
However, Hogan's 1,474-day reign ended at The Main Event I, when he lost to Andre the Giant in controversial fashion. Ted DiBiase was able to get Earl Hebner to replace his twin, Dave, as the referee for this match. Dibiase then got Earl to "screw" Hogan ever by counting a three-second pinfall even though The Hulkster's shoulders were up.
Andre did the right thing and immediately relinquished the title to DiBiase; however, the damage had been done. WWE booked a horrible finish for Hogan's storied and illustrious title reign. Trust me, there were a million better ways to do this.
6 Bret Hart & The Montreal Screwjob (1997)
Bret Hart defeated The Undertaker at SummerSlam 1997 to regain the WWE Championship, and he was slated to defend it against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series in Montreal, Canada (Hart's native country).
As most know by now, Hart was on his way out of WWE to join the rival WCW promotion. The plan was for Hart to retain his title over Michaels, then he would relinquish the title before departing.
But Vince McMahon double-crossed Hart, having conspired with numerous parties backstage. When Michaels locked in the sharpshooter submission hold, Vince ordered referee Earl Hebner to ring the bell - even though Hart never tapped.
That ended Hart's 98-day title reign, and it marked an extremely ugly end to a tremendous run in WWE. He returned to the company in 2010 to "bury the hatchet" with Vince and Michaels.
5 Goldberg Ends Kevin Owens' Run (2017)
Finn Balor had to relinquish his Universal Championship after SummerSlam 2016 due to a shoulder injury. Therefore, a fatal 4-way match was held to determine the new champion, won by Kevin Owens following interference from Triple H.
Owens received a massive main event push from then on out, even forming a popular "friendship" with Chris Jericho. Owens shined as the top main event heel on Raw, but it all just had to end in extremely lackluster fashion.
After betraying Jericho - thus disbanding their friendship - Owens defended his title against Goldberg at Fastlane 2017. Y2J returned and caused a distraction, allowing Goldberg to squash Owens and win the Universal Championship.
Not the most creative way to end a successful 188-day reign that the fans were really enjoying, but that's WWE for you.
4 Hulk Hogan (Starrcade 1997)
In what was one of the most hyped up matches in the history of professional wrestling, Hulk Hogan and Sting headlined Starrcade 1997, with the New World Order leader defending his World Heavyweight Championship.
Hogan defeated Sting via pinfall to retain his title. However, Bret Hart emerged and accused the official of counting the pin too quickly (a clear knock-off to the Montreal Screwjob that took place one month earlier).
So the match was restarted. Sting locked in the Scorpion Deathlock on Hogan, and Hart ordered the bell to be rung. With that, Sting ended Hogan's 141-day reign as champion. This match made history for all the wrong reasons, and it ultimately led to WCW's downfall over time.
3 Injury Forces Batista To Relinquish (2006)
Batista saw his run as a main eventer begin once he defeated Triple H at WrestleMania 21 to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. The Animal then embarked on an illustrious 282-day run with the title, setting the record for the longest reign since the championship was introduced in 2002.
Unfortunately, it all ended when Batista had to step away after suffering a triceps injury. On the Jan. 10, 2006 episode of SmackDown, Batista surrendered the title and stepped away to deal with the injury.
Kurt Angle would later capture the vacant title, though Batista would finally win it back when he defeated Booker T at the Survivor Series pay-per-view.
2 Goldberg: Perfect No More (Starrcade 1998)
Former pro football player Bill Goldberg debuted for WCW in 1997, and he quickly got over with the fans after squashing the vast majority of his opponents.
Goldberg pieced together a streak that WCW billed at 173-0, but it all came crashing down at the 1998 Starrcade pay-per-view. Scott Hall, posing as a security guard, tasered Goldberg when the referee wasn't looking.
This allowed Kevin Nash to score the pinfall victory over Goldberg, thus ending the latter's perfect streak in awful fashion. It also marked the end of Goldberg's 174-day reign as the WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
And you wonder why WCW didn't survive the Monday Night Wars.
1 Brock Lesnar Squashes Kofi Kingston (2019)
WWE fans were thrilled when perennial fan favorite Kofi Kingston finally received a main event push in 2019. He defeated Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35 to win the very first WWE Championship of his career. Kingston was the ultimate feel-good story, and he proved to be more than suited as a main event talent.
Kingston had successful title defenses over Dolph Ziggler, Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. But sure enough, this wonderful and beloved 180-day title hand ended at the hands of none other than Brock Lesnar.
The Beast Incarnate defeated Kingston in a matter of seconds on the SmackDown Fox premiere to win the WWE Championship. That's right. A part-timer who only wrestles a handful of matches a year got to end Kingston's illustrious reign. Worse yet, you just know WWE won't be putting it back on Kingston any time soon since they love giving Lesnar the belt for long stretches.