Tuesday, AJ Styles pulled off the unthinkable, unseating Jinder Mahal and capturing the WWE Championship. His win two weeks before Survivor Series will force a major change to a marquee match at the PPV, with Styles now slated to face WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar in a champion-versus-champion match.
Styles’ win was notable for another major reason: He became the first person to win the WWE Championship outside of North America, as SmackDown emanated from Manchester, England. Considering that the title has been around for more than 50 years, that’s a pretty incredible feat. The title has changed hands in Canada a few times, but it had a perfect track record everywhere else, until Tuesday.
But this is not the first time that WWE championships have changed hands outside North America. Far from it, actually. In fact, most other WWE titles have transferred from one champ to another on other continents. There have been more than 20 WWE title changes in Europe, Asia, Australia and even Africa through the years.
(Interestingly enough, the only populated continent where no title changes have taken place is where a few fictitious tournaments have happened: South America.)
The Phenomenal One’s victory was the second WWE title switch in England in as many days, as Sheamus & Cesaro won the Raw Tag Team Championships on Monday, defeating the Shield.
Putting that very recent win aside, let’s take a look at some of the more notable title changes that happened outside North America.