The Top 10 WWE World Heavyweight Champions of all-time

US wrestler Paul Michael Levesque known as Triple H poses before attending a show at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, as part of the WrestleMania Revenge Tour, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) European tour, on April 22, 2016 in Paris. / AFP / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)
US wrestler Paul Michael Levesque known as Triple H poses before attending a show at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, as part of the WrestleMania Revenge Tour, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) European tour, on April 22, 2016 in Paris. / AFP / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images) /

Seeing that we’ve listed the greatest Intercontinental Champions as of late, we figured why not tackle the top World Heavyweight Champions of all-time in WWE?

The WWE World Heavyweight Championship — basically the old WCW World Heavyweight Championship, a.k.a. “The Big Gold Belt” — was introduced on Raw in 2002 by then-Raw general manager Eric Bischoff after Brock Lesnar and the WWE Championship became exclusive to SmackDown at that time.

The belt isn’t exactly the same title that was in WCW, despite the fact that it bears a similar name and that Bischoff clearly stated when handing the belt to Triple H: “It’s been worn by some of the greatest champions in the history of this industry.” Similarities can certainly be drawn still, in an unofficial capacity, I guess.

Why? Well, it was in 2001 when the then-WWF Championship and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship were unified, and it was that unified belt that Lesnar took with him to SmackDown at the time. In giving the title to Hunter, Bischoff symbolically seemed to bring back the WCW Championship in its original capacity before being unified.

And really, Bischoff was the best person to have been bestowed this charge, as he was the former Executive Producer and Senior Vice President of WCW, his own name being drenched in WCW history as well, almost as much as the title that went with Brock to SmackDown.

Regardless, and despite the confusion surrounding the inception, or rather re-inception of the belt, it was a creation that made up for the lack of a world title for Raw.

This list of champions is a tad smaller than the 87 individuals who won the IC Championship I covered last time (in two parts, including a total of 30 different names), so I narrowed it down to 10, being a little more selective and concise. WWE only had 25 World champs before the belt was retired in 2013, worn for the last time by John Cena (more on him in just a few moments).

So let’s get to it while the getting’s good, shall we?

Triple H (Five-time World Heavyweight Champion)

“The Game” was the first to be given the honor. “Given” can be used literally here, as the title was awarded to him by the aforementioned Eric Bischoff. Of course, to make the moment all the more special, he was pitted against the legendary Ric Flair in his first-ever defense of that new title.

Randy Orton (Four-time World Heavyweight Champion)

In his first of four reigns, Orton was the youngest man to ever win the title, beating Chris Benoit for it. Benoit had defeated Shawn Michaels and Triple H for it at WrestleMania XX, in what was one of the greatest Triple Threat matches I had ever seen. If you get a chance, take a look back at this match.

Batista (Four-time World Heavyweight Champion)

Batista doesn’t have the greatest reputation out there in terms of wrestling, sadly, but I respected his rise and his ability to work, as well as the “putting people over” portion of his job description (which he did often), and the “getting himself over” portion. Undeniably, he was a great top heel and, when he wore that particular hat, a top face as well, which wasn’t often during the later part of his career.

Kurt Angle (One-time World Heavyweight Champion)

What can be said about this former Olympic Gold Medalist other than when he premiered in the business back in 1998 (with a brief and controversial instant in ECW back in 1996), he was an epic gift and provided a different direction for the matches in WWE, making up for the loss of Bret Hart after the infamous Montreal Screw Job of 1997. A tremendous World Champion.

Booker T (One-time World Heavyweight Champion)

Yes, he held the title only once, but he did hold the WCW World Title a total of 5 times, once while the championship was contested in WWE after the sale of WCW to Vince McMahon, and 4 times in WCW.

As can be seen in the recent A&E Biography on this man, he worked extremely hard to be given the opportunities he received, and it was as King Booker that he was given this belt…something that he deserved. His WWE start was a tad slow, but he eventually got to the top, getting this belt in 2006, the King Booker personality being his greatest incarnation if you ask me.

The Undertaker (Three-time World Heavyweight Champion)

Sometimes in journalism, you hit on a topic that anything you say is rendered moot. What can we say about this legend that gave of himself to this business for 30 years? Of course Undertaker would have a few runs with the World Title.

Edge (Seven-time World Heavyweight Champion)

Edge is enjoying an incredible comeback run after being out of the business due to injury for a decade or so. The Universal Championship on SmackDown has eluded him since his return, but he won the Royal Rumble in 2021 and is in the midst of an incredible feud with Seth Rollins at the moment.

John Cena (Three-time World Heavyweight Champion)

A total of three times with this belt, yes, but a whopping 13 times with the WWE Championship if that has any relevance, which I think it does. One of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of professional wrestling, the man carried the business on his back and was the face for the WWE when they lost a lot of their old guard, particularly Steve Austin and The Rock, and plans for Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton fell through. This man stepped up big time, and his legacy is firm as one of the greatest the business has ever seen.

CM Punk (Three-time World Heavyweight Champion)

And speaking of the greatest the business has ever seen, these next two are at the top of that list for sure. I would add Kenny Omega to this list as well (the best the industry has ever seen), but he has never officially been in WWE outside of developmental early on in his career.

But CM Punk’s career in WWE has been well documented, as has his final days in the company. He was stifled, despite his success and he was abused, he feels. But just look at what he is accomplishing in AEW!

Daniel Bryan (One-time World Heavyweight Champion)

And the same can be said of this man, although he claims that his WWE experience was much better.

Next. WWE: Top 15 Intercontinental Champions from the Ruthless Aggression Era, PG Era and beyond. dark

He was stifled, too, it seems, and if his match with Kenny Omega on Dynamite Grand Slam last week was any indication of just how much he was stifled over at WWE, his matches there, although great, pale in comparison to what we saw during his AEW debut.