The WWE Championship is what asserts a wrestler as the top guy in the company. Most of the wrestlers have to put in years and years of hard work to get a shot at winning the title on a grand stage, but often those who play backstage politics tend to keep the titles to themselves and don’t want to let go, despite what the fans might want.
Often some very hardworking mid-carder gets pushed into main event status but succumbs to the mainstay main-eventer who prevails against him, leaving the fans wanting more of the feud and often wanting the underdog to win the title. The WWE has obviously grown into more of a sports entertainment brand over the years where one needs to keep an able gimmick and mic skills to excel along with their in-ring skills, and often the lack of that in some superstars doesn’t let them reach the dreamland. Other times it's mostly the backstage influence of the champion, as the multi-time champions often don’t want to drop the title to someone they think is “below them” and use their influence to retain their gold.
So what if some of the historic WWE Title matches had gone the other way? What if the underdog had prevailed, or something shocking occurred to allow an unexpected victor? There are so many WWE title matches we could have chosen from, for which we'd love to see alternative outcomes, but these 15 are the top of the crop.
Here are alternative outcomes to 15 historic world title matches.
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15 CM Punk vs The Rock - Royal Rumble 2013
What if CM Punk retained the title and made WrestleMania 29 that much more memorable?
This match was just wrong and unjustified on so many different levels. The Rock returned to the 1000th episode of Raw saying that he’ll fight the WWE champion at Royal Rumble 2013 and that ended up being CM Punk, who was ticking away on over a year of being WWE Champion. The promos and build-up were really good, with the Shield and Mr. McMahon also playing a role in the feud and the match itself was also pretty good, with Punk pulling off all the stops in order to retain his championship and The Rock showing amazing resiliency to stay in the match. In the end the Shield attacked and Punk had Rock beat, but Mr. McMahon came down and restarted the match, only for the Brahma Bull to pin Punk and win the WWE Championship. Turns out that he’d only be a transitional champion, as he lost the belt to John Cena at WrestleMania 29, as Punk went on to lose to The Undertaker. But one can’t help but wonder what if Punk had won the match? He’d have moved into WrestleMania as champ with Cena hot on his heels, and The Rock would probably have invoked his rematch clause as well as we could’ve probably seen an awesome triple threat match between these 3 great wrestlers which would’ve really elevated Punk’s status even more. But Vince was too inclined on Cena vs Rock part II, which turned out to be really predictable and underwhelming.
14 Triple H & Stone Cold vs The Brothers of Destruction - Backlash 2001
What if The Undertaker and Kane had been victorious and held all major titles at once?
So this was when “The Two Man Power Trip” of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H won all the gold in the WWE when they beat the Brothers of Destruction for the WWE Tag Team Titles as well as retaining their gold. But one can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had WWE taken a risk and taken a different approach for the match. What if they had given the Brothers of Destruction the run which they rightfully deserved? Let’s be fair here, The Brothers weren’t really that properly used as one would want, as they united for very short stints and destroyed odd teams at that. But if the WWE had actually get them to win the match (maybe Linda McMahon coming out to help them) which would’ve progressed the Vince vs Linda storyline as well as make for two dangerous, bad-ass champions in the Undertaker and Kane who could’ve run riot with the title for sometime. It would’ve been way too cool to watch these two with all those titles, and would’ve legitimately intrigued us at how Vince would react to his golden boys losing to them, as him trying to screw them out of the title would’ve made some really good story-lines and matches.
13 JBL vs Kurt Angle vs The Big Show - Royal Rumble 2005
What if Kurt Angle won and defended the WWE Title against John Cena at WrestleMania 21?
JBL might have been a very good heel during his WWE Championship run which lasted for almost 280 days, but honestly speaking it should have been cut short way earlier. And that being said, the match at Royal Rumble 2005 was the perfect opportunity for him to drop the title and not humiliatingly lose it afterwards at WrestleMania. It was a triple threat match as JBL took on Kurt Angle and The Big Show, but the match was very short for a main event and ended quite abruptly. We would’ve loved to see it drag on for some-time as JBL gets more and more desperate to retain his title, but just cannot seem to get the job done. In the end, WWE could’ve gone with making Angle champion and giving him a last run before he would drop it to John Cena later on, and giving him the belt would’ve also brought a lot on the plate for the match at WrestleMania and maybe polarized the fans as well. Angle really should’ve won this match and that would’ve allowed us to see the Angle vs Cena match at WrestleMania which would’ve been awesome, but WWE dragged on JBL’s reign and ended it at WrestleMania.
12 Bret Hart vs Razor Ramon - Royal Rumble 1993
What if the Bad Guy had won the biggest prize in wrestling that eluded him all of his career?
Razor Ramon was definitely one of the coolest heel wrestlers of all time, who was so brilliant that WWE had to eventually turn him face because of the reactions he was getting as a heel. Ramon had everything to be a top star of the company, but WWE was too hesitant at pushing him as their top champion. They really missed the chance to escalate his status at Royal Rumble 1993, when he took on then WWE Champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart for his championship. In what had been a very personal, heated rivalry, both men gave amazing performances as they went back and forth during the match and Ramon actually showed impressive resiliency even after attaining much pain. In the end with both men exhausted, Ramon tapped out to Hart’s Sharpshooter and would be sent straight to the mid-card where he’d remain for the rest of his WWE career and the company really missed their mark on pushing Ramon as a top heel during this match, as having him win dirty would’ve elevated his status and made him thrive under his role as the ultimate bad guy of the WWE.
11 John Cena vs Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania 23
What if HBK had one last great title run?
One of the numerous instances where John “Superman” Cena prevailed against all the odds and WWE went along with him, Cena vs Michaels at WrestleMania 23 wasn’t really built that well but was assured to be quite a match because of the potential both the athletes had in them to deliver in big match situations. The match itself was superb, as both the wrestlers took each other to the limit and delivered a lot of amazing spots, which included Michaels hitting the piledriver on Cena on top of the steel steps. In a match where both Cena and Michaels wouldn’t be able to execute their finishing moves, they had to resort to more unconventional, unique moves and because of the resiliency both the wrestlers had, it was really difficult to count anyone out. In a horrible finish to the match, Cena made Michaels tap out to the STF and retained the gold, which annoyed many fans and rightfully so. Because of the push Michaels got and the amazing ability he showed at his age, he deserved another title run and having Mr. WrestleMania win the gold at the Granddady of Them All would’ve been a perfect way to end the show, but we had to watch Cena win again and Michaels’ hope of getting another WWE title run diminished.
10 WWE Championship Scramble Match - Unforgiven 2008
What if ANYONE but Triple H had won the title - Jeff Hardy? THE Brian Kendrick?
The WWE Championship Scramble match at Unforgiven 2008 had so much potential, mostly because of how new it was for the WWE universe and it had the potential for so many more story-lines after it. The match saw WWE Champion Triple H defend his title against Jeff Hardy, MVP, The Brian Kendrick and Shelton Benjamin under the rule that the match would be 20 minutes long, with whoever is the champion at the end will remain as it. The championship changed a lot of times during the match, with The Brian Kendrick becoming interim champion for a bit before Triple H entered the match and soon became interim champion. Triple H and Jeff Hardy would then become interim champions throughout the match, before the time run out and Triple H retained his belt as the champion and this match was really underwhelming because of WWE taking the safe way out. Going by the stipulations, everyone should have been interim champ at least once and it would’ve made so much sense had Hardy won it in the last moment, sending people into a frenzy and instead of giving him the gold at Armageddon, they should’ve made him champion at Unforgiven and given him the lengthy championship reign he deserved.
9 Lex Luger vs Yokozuna - SummerSlam 1993
What if Lex Luger had won the title and became The Face That Runs The Place?
SummerSlam '93 was originally supposed to be the event where Lex Luger’s run as the new face of the WWE began, but because of some problems in his personal life and because of backlash from the fans, that never came to play. Luger had previously body-slammed the gigantic Yokozuna, who in turn gave him a WWE title shot at SummerSlam and Luger was given the “Lex Express” to travel around the country and greet fans in before the event. But the fans didn’t really accept him as the replacement for Hulk Hogan, as the likes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were way more popular at the time. This along with a bar incident before the event meant that Luger didn’t win the belt, even though he went onto defeat Yokozuna via countout and had quite the celebration afterwards. But one has to wonder how the WWE would’ve shaped if Luger had gone onto as their next face, as this new American Patriot would’ve been given the title and maybe the Bret Hart-Michaels feud would’ve never come into reality. It would’ve been really intriguing to see how WWE would’ve fared if they went on with Luger as their face, and maybe wouldn’t be as big as they are right now.
8 The Royal Rumble Match - Royal Rumble 2016
What if the WWE wasn't so predictable and made Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt or Dean Ambrose champion?
When it was revealed that the Roman Reigns would be defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the Royal Rumble match, one couldn’t help but imagine the possibilities the match had now that it had such a humungous stipulation to it. All 29 men participating in it would get the opportunity to win the title, with the likes of Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt and Dolph Ziggler all getting opportunities to do so. The match itself had its share of moments, from AJ Styles debut in the WWE to some amazing face-offs between superstars but in the end Triple H arrived at No #30 and won the match. Even though that wasn’t that bad of an outcome, it still made us feel underwhelming because the match had the possibility of crowing a new, unpredictable champion or give the fans what they want in making Dean Ambrose champion, as he was among the last ones remaining. They gave it to Triple H only so that Reigns could beat him at WrestleMania (to much dislike of the fans) and made for a predictable story-line, when they had the potential to do so much more if they gave the likes of Ambrose, Wyatt or maybe even Lesnar the belt.
7 CM Punk vs Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XXVII)
What if Chris Jericho had become the best in the world?
Now this is a match which was begging for a change of title, mostly because of the gravity of the feud before the match that happened and how amazingly well Chris Jericho portrayed his heel character before the match. In a feud where each wrestler wanted to prove themselves as “the best wrestler in the world”, tensions were high and there was a real heat in the feud which called to be the main event of the show (which sadly went to The Rock vs John Cena). The match itself was amazing as both the wrestlers put in their best performances to thrill and win the hearts of the crowd. Both wrestlers put in all their best moves, but in the end, Punk made Jericho tap out after an almost 20 minute long match. Many were disappointed as some would’ve loved to see Jericho as champion again and where they would go with him, even if he had to be transitional champion of sorts.
6 Triple H vs Booker T - WrestleMania XIX
What if the WWE wasn't racist and just gave Booker T his moment to shine?
Probably one of Triple H’s most infamous burials of other superstars, he faced the 5 time WCW Champion Booker T for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XIX. So before the match, it was built up with various racist promos by Triple H as he called Booker T’s WCW title reigns as a “joke” and that he wasn’t even fit to lift his bags, also referring to his criminal record in the past. Booker had the support of the fans at the time as he was one of the most entertaining superstars around at the time, and deserved to go over in the match which would’ve made him a strong face for the company. But not if Triple H had to say on it. Triple H just wouldn’t lose to Booker and won the match in a rather humiliating fashion for Booker, as he hit the pedigree and then pinned him a long time after hitting him, taking away all the credibility from the former WCW Champion. We probably would’ve seen a new era in the WWE had Booker won the title, as he easily had the potential to solidify himself as one of the top faces of the company and could’ve ushered the success of more black wrestlers in the company. But sadly WWE didn’t go that way and Triple H got what he wanted, like always and Booker was sent to the mid-card soon after.
5 Jeff Hardy vs Edge - Royal Rumble 2009
What if Jeff Hardy won and defended the WWE Title against Matt Hardy at WrestleMania XXV?
Jeff Hardy had achieved his dream of winning the WWE Title in Armageddon 2008, when he defeated both Triple H and Edge in a triple threat match to do so. But he would get his WWE title reign cut short when he lost the next PPV match as champion against the rated-R superstar, Edge. In what would be a no-DQ match, it was a very good, fast-paced match were Hardy shone with his daredevil persona while Edge was on top of his slithering, heel gimmick. Vickie Guerrero and Chavo made it really difficult for Hardy to win it, but finally his brother Matt came out with a chair, only to hit him with it and allow Edge to take the victory. This shocked many and many were agitated at WWE’s hesitation of keeping Jeff as champion, as we would’ve loved it if he had retained the title originally. Maybe after defying the odds, Matt came out to congratulate him only to turn on him and give him a hellish beating. This could elevate Matt to a top level heel which he always had the potential off, and also set up a Hardy’s match for the WWE title at WrestleMania which many would’ve wanted. Giving Edge the title was WWE taking the easy way out, as they could’ve elevated Jeff’s reputation by making him retain and make for a more personal feud with Matt which many would’ve loved to see.
4 Bret Hart vs Yokozuna - WrestleMania IX
What if Hulk Hogan just passed the torch to Bret Hart?
Well, John Cena and Triple H aren’t the only ones who were known for their backstage influence, as Hulk Hogan was one of the first superstars to use that influence for his own success in the WWE. Hogan was definitely the superstar of the 80s and one of the reasons on the rising popularity in the WWE, and in WrestleMania IX was more of a veteran so was pushed in the mid-card, as he was booked to wrestle Money Inc(IRS and Ted DiBiase) along with Brutus Beefcake for their Tag Team Titles, but they lost the match via DQ. But Hogan wasn’t don’t there, as the main event between Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Yokozuna ended in Yokozuna winning so Hogan came to check on Bret. Mr. Fuji would challenge Hulk to wrestle Yokozuna for his WWE title in an impromptu bout, and Hogan went onto win the match in 22 seconds and yet again became WWE Champion. What should’ve been Bret Hart’s moment of overcoming the odds to defeat the mighty Yokozuna for his WrestleMania moment was stolen by Hogan who yet again showed his selfishness at wanting to be at the top at all times, and didn’t let an amazing talent like Bret prevail.
3 WWE Championship Match - Money in the Bank 2014
What if the WWE wasn't satisfied with the same old s***?
Now this is definitely one of those matches which make us wonder what if someone else had won, especially taking into account the fact that John Cena won the match in a rather predictable manner, with the likes of Cesaro, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns having to fight another day. So when Daniel Bryan had to vacate his WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 2014, Stephanie McMahon decided to put the vacated championship on the line in a ladder match, as John Cena, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and Kane fought for it. The match itself was filled with great moments as all the wrestlers got in few of their shots and had some really cool spots in it, but predictably Cena won the title in the end. One has to wonder the possibilities if WWE had gone with an unconventional champion like Cesaro or Bray Wyatt, or even gone with someone like Reigns who was still in the good books of the WWE fans. Going with Cena was the easy way out for WWE, as the likes of Cesaro and Wyatt didn’t really get another opportunity afterwards and WWE squandered a golden opportunity at shocking the world with an unpredictable champion.
2 Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Undertaker - SummerSlam 1998
What if an evil Undertaker ruled the WWE landscape?
An extremely hard-hitting battle in a heated rivalry, the Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker match at SummerSlam 1998 was brilliant and topped off the show very well. Austin was obviously the top face of the company at the time, as he was this rebellious rattlesnake who didn’t back down to nobody, while The Undertaker was portraying his Lord of Darkness gimmick. The match went back and forth as none wanted to back down from each other, and the two went to the limit as they hit themselves with all their moves and it was getting more and more difficult to determine who would win, but finally Austin found the victory via a Stone Cold Stunner. But one has to wonder where the WWE would’ve gone if the Undertaker had managed to win. With the Ministry of Darkness not too far down the road, The Undertake could’ve easily cemented himself as the dark king of the WWE and hounded superstars around him to stop anyone from getting the gold from him. Austin could’ve also elevated his character’s toughness by defeating Taker for the gold months later and taking out much of his Ministry. They could’ve had a legendary feud if they had worked more after this and had Taker won the match at the event, setting himself as the Dark King who wouldn’t give away his throne easily.
1 Armageddon Hell In A Cell Match - Armageddon 2000
What if the match had actually delivered and a worthy champion had been victorious?
The 6 man Hell in a Cell match is a whole mess of “What Ifs” because of how big of a disaster it was in comparison to the way it was built and hyped by the WWE. So 6 of the top WWE superstars at the time in WWE Champion Kurt Angle, The Undertaker, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Rikishi were booked to compete in a 6 man Hell in a Cell Match at Armageddon 2000 and people were excited to see these 6 fight it out inside the hellish structure. But what we got instead were “entertainment” antics as Vince McMahon and his backstage guys came out to take apart the cell and Mick Foley then came out and fought with them. The wrestlers soon deflated to the outside as they started to wrestle in the entrance ramp, while Rikishi and The Undertaker fought above the cage. Undertaker chokeslamming Rikishi off the top of the cage was probably a very cool spot, but other than that it seemed to be really watered-down and the inability of WWE to let these guys wrestle inside the cell hurt the match. To top that off, the end was horrible as Kurt Angle stole a victory out of nowhere, as the possibilities of the match and its winners were endless, as the likes of The Undertaker, Rock, Stone Cold or even a surprise winner in Rikishi would’ve solidified the point of the match, which was to avail a new champion who went through the other 5 men. But WWE went with getting Angle to retain in a cheap manner which topped off this horrible match perfectly, as the potential of the outcome and the match was unlimited but WWE’s narrow mindset didn’t see through it.
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