The big Heavyweight wrestlers have always been awe inspiring figures inside the ring. They use their great strength to toss mortal men around like rag dolls. However, every now and then, a small and energetic opponent will come along and take control of one of these enormous opponents to become a Heavyweight Champion in the WWE.
Maybe it’s because these smaller guys have a lot of heart, maybe it’s because we see ourselves in them, or just maybe it’s because we feel good when we see David take down Goliath, but whatever the case we thoroughly enjoy the accomplishments of these smaller guys inside the ring. The charisma of Christian, the speed and aerial attack of Rey Mysterio and the heart and soul of Shawn Michaels, have always given us hope that the underdog can take down the often sizable favorite.
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship has been the premier title in the WWE since 1963. Big or small, this was the title of all titles and the one all wrestlers had to get. Things have changed since this time long ago. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is now simply called the WWE Championship, after the WWE established the World Heavyweight Championship in 2002. It might seem a little confusing, but that is just part of the lore of the WWE. Most of these smaller guys came in as underdogs, but left with a belt and level of respect that weighed so much more.
10. Shawn Michaels – 6-1, 225 pounds
The “Heartbreak Kid” won his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship in March of 1996. He defeated Bret Hart in a grueling 60-Minute WWE Iron Man Match that took even more time to complete. Michaels finally used his signature Sweet Chin Music move on Hart to pin him and win the match in sudden death. Michaels would go on to win a total of three WWE World Heavyweight Championships and one World Heavyweight Championship that he earned after beating Triple H in the very first World Heavyweight Title defense in 2002.
The Heartbreak Kid is known for being part of major WWE events over the course of four decades, since the 1980s. Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011 and is recognized as one of WWE’s major superstars.
9. Kurt Angle – 6-0, 220 pounds
Kurt Angle was not a large man, but he sure beat many larger men. Angle won WWE World Heavyweight Championships against The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Big Show, and Brock Lesnar. The four-time WWE Heavyweight Champion also held the World Heavyweight Championship in 2006. The former two-time NCAA Division I Collegiate Champion had skills in the ring that made up for the size he routinely gave up against the bigger WWE heavyweights. He was a technically gifted wrestler.
Angle also held the European Championship, Tag Team Championship, King of The Ring Title, US Championship, Hardcore Championship and Intercontinental Championship. His signature move was his Angle Slam and he routinely used his Ankle Lock to break down his opponents.
8. Jeff Hardy – 6-2, 215 pounds
Jeff Hardy was a two-time World Heavyweight Champion who was better known for his tag team wrestling with his brother Matt. The Hardy brothers won six World Tag Team Championships as well as one WCW Tag Team Championship. Hardy secured his first World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Edge in a Ladder Match at Extreme Rules in 2009. He immediately lost the title to CM Punk and regained it a couple of months later by defeating Punk with a Swanton Bomb signature move at the Night of Champions.
Hardy was often called the “Charismatic Enigma” for his inspirational work in the ring, like the time he stood up to challenge The Undertaker for more punishment after losing an intense match to him. He had three popular signature moves, the Swanton Bomb, the Whisper in the Wind and the Twist of Fate. Hardy has been appearing on TNA lately, continuing a wrestling career that started in 1993. He has been a gutsy performer throughout his career, constantly putting his smaller frame up against much larger opponents.
7. CM Punk – 6-2, 218 pounds
CM Punk is not the biggest WWE wrestler, but he might be one of the most colorful stars. The tattooed Punk is outspoken and full of more than his share of advice, but he can also wrestle with the best. CM Punk won his first World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Edge during Raw in 2008. Punk went on to win two more World Heavyweight Championships, but was better known for his 434 day reign as WWE Champion that was the longest reign of the modern era and sixth longest reign of all-time.
Punk has never been afraid to challenge authority and make his beliefs well known. He has had many run-ins with WWE brass and other wrestlers, as he has alternated between being a crowd favorite and a villain. Punk is a very skilled wrestler with two excellent signature moves in the Go To Sleep (GTS) and the Anaconda Vise. Punk is a member of the straight edge movement and is always willing to challenge people and society with his real and in-character beliefs.
6. Dolph Ziggler – 6-0, 216 pounds
Dolph Ziggler became the World Heavyweight Champion with a little help from Vickie Guerrero, who used her authority to strip Edge of his title and present it to Ziggler. Ziggler immediately went on to lose the title back to Edge after Teddy Long called for a title match that same night, giving him a rather short reign. He later won the World Heavyweight Title again by defeating an injured Alberto Del Rio after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on Monday Night Raw.
Ziggler has held many different titles besides the World Heavyweight Championship. He has been the US Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and Money in the Bank Ladder Match Winner, in addition to his two reigns as World Heavyweight Champion. Ziggler knows how to wrestle and was a champion in high school and later in college at Kent State. His signature move is called the Zig Zag. Ziggler has been a member of many feuds in the WWE, and is well known for being terrific at riling up the crowd.
5. Christian – 6-1, 212 pounds
The light Heavyweight Christian won his first World Heavyweight Championship in May of 2011 after defeating Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules. Christian previously had achieved remarkable success as a nine-time World Tag Team Champion, seven of those coming while wrestling with his partner Edge. Christian won a WWF World Light Heavyweight Championship and spent some time with TNA, winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice. Christian has won a total of 22 championships between both the WWE and TNA.
“Captain Charisma” is not the mightiest wrestler, but has always been a tough out. He uses grit and guile to look for the right opportunity to use his signature move, the Killswitch, that can change the course of a match in a moment’s time. Christian has spent the last few years of his career battling injuries and even received a neck injury in the ring, following a Big Show chokeslam. Christian is still wrestling for the WWE on Raw and SmackDown and continues to be a a highly skilled performer in the ring.
4. Chris Benoit – 5-11, 220 pounds
Chris Benoit was an incredible athlete who managed to win the WWE’s US Championship five times and won the World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Triple H at WrestleMania in 2004. Benoit was the twelfth WWE Triple Crown Champion and one of four men to be the Triple Crown Champion in both the WWE and WCW. During the course of his career, Benoit worked for several different wrestling promotions including the WWE, WCW, WWF, ECW, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre.
Benoit was a super athlete who was a man of many moves. Benoit’s speed and strength made him a worthy opponent in just about any match. Unfortunately, the move he might be better known for is the tragic murder of his wife and son, and subsequent suicide by hanging two days later. Many people speculated that brain damage or steroids were the root cause of his actions.
3. Eddie Guerrero – 5-8, 220 pounds
Eddie Guerrero won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Brock Lesnar at No Way Out in 2004. Guerrero had a four month title run, losing his title to JBL at The Great American Bash. Guerrero, dubbed “Latino Heat”, was a villain in the WWE who went on to win 23 different titles throughout his career. Guerrero’s signature moves were his Frog Splash and Lasso from El Paso. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
Guerrero was born into a wrestling family, the Guerrero family, that included his dad and three brothers who were all accomplished wrestlers. Guerrero was respected as one of the most gifted and technical wrestlers of his time. He battled drug and alcohol abuse throughout his career, even using it as part of his on-stage persona, before abruptly passing away in 2005 at the age of only 38 years old. Guerrero was married to current WWE manager and personality, Vickie Guerrero.
2. Daniel Bryan – 5-10, 210 pounds
Daniel Bryan has been the David to all the Goliaths for the last few years, rising to the top of the WWE ranks by using his superior skills in the ring. He won the World Heavyweight Championship by cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and pinning a helpless Big Show after he had just been laid out by Mark Henry. Bryan also has had two WWE Championships, in his relatively short career, that have both lasted less than 24 hours. Bryan is currently enjoying being one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE.
Maybe it is his average size and less than rippling physique, but whatever the case, Daniel Bryan has quite a large following. His “yes” and “no” campaigns have left fans screaming with delight, and his story lines with the Big Show and AJ Lee have only served to boost his popularity. He is a gifted wrestler with many moves, who constantly launches himself from the turnbuckles or unleashes his signature kicks inside the ring. Bryan’s signature move is the “Yes!” lock that he uses to submit his opponents.
1. Rey Mysterio 5-6, 175 pounds
The small Rey Mysterio might seem to stand no chance going up against the many giants of the WWE, but he uses his speed and crafty luchador skills to make up for his lack of size. Mysterio won his first World Heavyweight Championship in 2006 after defeating Randy Orton and Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania 22. Mysterio became the World Heavyweight Champion a second time by winning a Fatal 4-Way match against Big Show, CM Punk and Jack Swagger. His high flying style has made him a crowd favorite.
Mysterio has used his exciting style and superior ring skills to capture 21 titles between the WCW and WWE. The masked marvel seems to have several signature moves with all his creativity inside the ring. He is best known for using the ropes to deliver his signature 619 (area code of San Diego) and his West Coast Pop which both are delivered with quickness and speed. His Lucha Libre trademark style has certainly added an extra element of excitement to the sport.