Winning the coveted WWE Championship is often the ultimate goal for any professional wrestler. Despite the existence of numerous other World Championships in the global grappling network that is sports entertainment, the WWEs version of the strap is the definitive title belt and proves, without doubt, that the man wearing the gold belongs among the elite of the sport. Even in the post-kayfabe era of the smart mark, the title of WWE Champion is still regarded as the Holy Grail of the wrestling business. The list of former WWE Champions is a veritable whos who of wrestling and the victories that line that list have become almost mythical over time. At least for the most part, that is. With over five decades of history literally under its belt, the storied canvas of the WWE ring has seen a myriad of title changes over the years; so many, in fact, that a number of these victories are frequently overlooked and, in some cases, ignored completely. From reversed decisions and match restarts to title vacations and win nullifications, these unrecognised championship victories have become collectively known over time as phantom title changes; wins that never were and results that have since been stricken from the record books in WWE HQ. The questionable circumstances surrounding these victories have caused several WWE Title wins to become lost in time, relegated to the most faded pages of wrestling trivia until now. So grab a crowbar and light a torch as we crack open the vault and revisit the most forgotten title wins that never were with the Top 15 Phantom WWE Title Changes.
15. Chris Jericho - WWE Raw (April 17th, 2000)
Perhaps the most famous and beloved phantom title change in WWE history came when Chris Jericho upset none other than Triple H on Raw is War in 2000; encapsulating everything that was great about the Attitude Era emotion, originality and unpredictability. Back at the turn of the century, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were firmly ruling the roost in the WWF; proclaiming Raw under the control of the McMahon/Helmsley regimeand clearly not much has changed in the 16 years since then. Meanwhile, Chris Jericho who had become a staple of the Intercontinental Title picture since his WWF debut in August of 99 was gaining real traction as a babyface and quickly making a name for himself as one of the companys top performers. This workmanship was rewarded on the April 17th edition of Raw in 2000 when Jericho was given the golden opportunity to face The Game in the opening contest. Following some immediate tactical goading by Y2J, their match was quickly upgraded to include the title on the line and, just like that, the rabid fans in attendance were treated to a rare WWF Championship match to open the show. Triple H was by far the most hated man on TV at the time, while Jericho was red hot as a mid-card babyface; making the two men the perfect opposition for each other. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMFyeoVmqcg The back and forth action had the crowd on their feet from the opening bell and the combatants had them hanging on their every move for the duration. Out of nowhere, Jericho hit Triple H with his patented springboard Lionsault and to the amazement of everyone in attendance and around the world Jericho got the pinfall and had dethroned the despised champ; receiving one of the loudest crowd pops in 21st century wrestling history in the process. The sheer volume of the crowd at the very moment Earl Hebner counts to three remains a must-see moment from a by-gone era. Sadly, the celebrations and jubilation wouldnt last, as Triple H would order/bully Hebner to reverse the decision just one hour later; citing a fast count as grounds for the annulment. Just like that, the gold was returned to the hated Helmsley, much to the disapproval of the raucous Penn State University crowd. Despite the invalid title change, the crowd reaction to the winning pinfall remains one of the most memorable moments in the Monday Night Wars and proved without question that Y2J was a main event player.
Occasional wrestler, full-time gym rat and lifelong lover of the grapple game. Would probably buy you a shot of Jack at the bar in exchange for witty banter...and preferably more Jack.
@MartynGrant88 for more wrestling-related musings and weight room wisecracks!