10 Wrestlers Who Became WWE Champion The Quickest

It's not always a long road to the top in WWE.

AJ Styles WWE champion

Success doesn’t often come easy in professional wrestling. The sport is still firmly based on a traditionalist mindset of “paying dues” before reaching the top of the mountain, and in some cases, this can take decades. Andre the Giant is one of wrestling’s most iconic figures, for example, but it took close to 15 years with WWE before he finally became champion, and the same goes for stars like Edge, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels.

It took a near perfect set of circumstances to become WWE Champion a few decades ago. A wrestler needed to possess a winning combination of skill, charisma, and looks to even be considered for such a run, but all these things were meaningless if they hadn’t earned their spot. If you hadn’t been with WWE for a long time, you probably weren’t going to get a title opportunity.

This has changed in recent years, though. Title reigns have gradually become shorter, and the idea of Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan’s multi-year spells as champion are a foreign concept in 2016. Wrestlers are finding their feet a lot quicker in WWE these days, and some are hot-shotted to the top.

Becoming WWE Champion isn’t always the years-long grind it used to be, and a number of wrestlers have won the belt in shockingly quick fashion. Going from the day they debuted with WWE to the day they won the belt, here are the 10 wrestlers who became WWE Champion the quickest.

10. Alberto Del Rio (359 Days)

AJ Styles WWE champion

Alberto Del Rio left WWE on good terms last month, but his second spell with the company was a rank disappointment. His Zeb Colter affiliation made no sense from day one, the League of Nations was a disaster, and by the time he departed, Del Rio was barely recognisable compared to the fiery, passionate performer of old.

It’s too easy to forget just how good ADR was at the height of his powers. He was pushed almost immediately after debuting in SmackDown in 2010, and his Mexican aristocrat character drew huge crowd heat. Defeating Rey Mysterio in his first match, Del Rio caught the eye with his flashy cars, personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez, and slick, technical style.

In January 2011, Del Rio won the Royal Rumble just months after entering WWE. It looked as though he was being set up to defeat Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVII, but plans were changed when WWE learned Edge would have to retire. The company altered the result to have Edge go over, and retire on top.

The belt came to Del Rio in the end, though. He won Money in the Bank, then cashed-in on CM Punk at SummerSlam. 359 days after debuting, Alberto was one of the biggest stars in the business, even if he’d drop the strap to John Cena just three weeks later.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.