10 Attitude Era WWE Champions, Ranked By In-Ring Skills

The Attitude Era boasted arguably the strongest group of WWE Champions in WWE history. WWE had a competition with WCW in the Monday Night Wars, and WCW dominated WWE for 83 consecutive weeks. However, the tide turned in WWE’s favor with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and The Undertaker leading the way as the most polarizing figures.

RELATED:5 Best Attitude Era WWE Championship Matches (& 5 Worst)

However, some WWE Champions in the Attitude Era had incredible success by having exceptional in-ring skills and having the ability to speak on the mic. Moreover, some were better talkers, and some were better in the ring despite having less success than their counterparts. The WWE Title is the biggest prize in the industry, so it’s only right that in-ring generals held the championship in high regard.

10Big Show

Big Show

Big Show hugely made his WWE debut by debuting at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House in Mr. McMahon’s match with Stone Cold Steve Austin. By the end of 1999, The World’s Largest Athlete replaced Austin, and he defeated Triple H and The Rock in a triple threat match at Survivor Series for his first reign as WWE Champion.

Unfortunately, Show failed to deliver the goods as WWE Champion, which is why Triple H regained the title at the start of January 2000. Moreover, Show’s in-ring skills drastically improved over the years, and his movement for a big man was exceptional.

9Kane

Kane

Kane finally entered the Hall of Fame class of 2021, and he was the headline act which was thoroughly deserved. The Big Red Machine did the unthinkable when he ended the red-hot Stone Cold Steve Austin’s maiden WWE Championship reign at the 1998 King of the Ring in a First Blood match.

Ultimately, Kane’s sole WWE Title reign only lasted just 24 hours as he dropped the gold back to Austin on Raw. Nevertheless, Kane isn’t spoken about as an in-ring technician, but he is an incredible worker for his height. Kane in his prime moved around the ring effortlessly like a cruiserweight, and it was a sight to behold when he came off the top rope.

8Mankind

Mankind

Despite being a three-time WWE Champion, Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy is best remembered for his crazy bumps instead of being a WWE Champion. Ric Flair famously called Mick Foley “a glorified stuntman” which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Mankind weighed in at 287 pounds for most of his WWE career, and you couldn’t tell that he was close to 300 pounds with his exceptional movement around the ring. Mankind had great matches as both as a heel and as a babyface, and arguably the best match of his career was against Shawn Michaels at In Your House: Mind Games. He was right in his element in No Holds Barred typed matches, but he could put on a technical match if necessary.

7Stone Cold Steve Austin

Austin WWF Champ

Unquestionably, Stone Cold Steve Austin is the greatest WWE Champion in the Attitude Era as all six of his reigns came during this time frame, where he was the undisputed face of the company. He defeated Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV for his first WWE Title reign, which ushered in a new direction that WWE was heading in.

RELATED:10 Wrestlers Who Have More World Title Reigns Than You Realized

Unfortunately, Austin suffered an untimely neck injury when Owen Hart botched a Tombstone at SummerSlam 1997 which changed Austin’s life forever. He had to change up his in-ring style by brawling, but he still could go in the ring. Austin was an incredible asset to WWE which is why they won the Monday Night Wars.

6The Undertaker

Undertaker

The Undertaker is widely regarded as the greatest big man to compete in a WWE ring. The Phenom was one of the key figures in the ’90s, and he never needed a lengthy World Title run to get validation. Nonetheless, Undertaker controversially defeated Steve Austin at Over The Edge 1999 for his third WWE Championship reign.

Undertaker’s movement is magnificent for a big guy, and The Deadman knows how to take fans on a journey in his matches. Injuries have played part in The Phenom’s lengthy career, but he often rose to the occasion in high-profile matches.

5The Rock

Rock

Just like his eternal rival Steve Austin, The Rock captured the WWE Championship six times in the Attitude Era. The People’s Champion turned heel when he defeated Mankind at Survivor Series 1998 for his maiden WWE Title in a tournament final to crown a new WWE Champion.

However, it was only a matter of time that Rock would fill Austin’s shoes in his absence as the top babyface in 2000. The Great One isn’t a third-generation superstar for nothing, he mastered his craft in the ring, and whilst he is a natural talker on the mic, his in-ring prowess backs up his smack.

4Chris Jericho

Jericho

Chris Jericho was the penultimate WWE Champion in the Attitude Era. Y2J shocked the world when he defeated The Rock and Steve Austin in back-to-back matches to become the first-ever Undisputed WWE Champion at Vengeance 2001. He unified the WWE Championship and the WCW (renamed World) Championship.

RELATED:5 Best (& 5 Worst) Title Unification Matches Ever

Unfortunately, Y2J’s Undisputed WWE Title reign didn’t go according to plan despite holding the title for three months as he was a transitional WWE Champion. Nonetheless, Jericho is one of the best in-ring technical wrestlers in history, who could have a remarkable match with anyone.

3Triple H

Triple H

Triple H gets a lot of stick for hogging the spotlight and having a lengthy run on top as he married Mr. McMahon’s daughter Stephanie. However, The Game is a master psychologist, and he certainly knows his way around the ring. He didn’t get everything handed to him, and he overcame adversity to be a top star in WWE.

The Game is also one of the greatest WWE Champions in the Attitude Era. The 14-time World Champion captured five WWE Titles in the Attitude Era, and he had legendary battles with The Rock, Mankind, and Steve Austin over the WWE Championship. The Cerebral Assassin was the undisputed leader of DX, and he was the perfect heel that was detested by fans.

2Kurt Angle

Angle WWF Champion

Arguably Kurt Angle had the greatest rookie year in the industry when he captured a plethora of championships in 2000. The Olympic Gold Medalist climbed the mountain when he defeated The Rock for his first of four WWE Titles at No Mercy.

Angle did extremely well to have a four-month reign as WWE Champion despite The Rock, Austin, and Triple H being bigger stars than him. Nevertheless, he won two WWE Titles in the Attitude Era, and he transitioned from an amateur wrestler into an outstanding in-ring general. Angle employed submission holds in his repertoire, which added another layer to his character.

1Shawn Michaels

HBK WWF Champion

Unquestionably, Shawn Michaels is in many fans and critics’ Mount Rushmore for being one of the all-time greats to compete inside the squared circle. Michaels is no stranger to controversy, and his third and final WWE Title reign came as a heel when he beat Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997 in the infamous Montreal Screwjob.

Michaels glides around the ring so effortlessly, making things look extremely easy to do. HBK can change his style to a brawler when he needs to, and he is an amazing high-flyer with some incredible high-risk maneuvers. The Showstopper was the leader of DX and was briefly a double champion when he had the European Championship in his possession. Michaels still delivered a high level of quality matches before he got injured in early 1998, and in his second run in WWE, he proved that he was still one of the best in the business.

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