The WWE machine is a year-round event. Between house shows, television, and pay-per-view events, there is hardly a time when WWE programming is not going ahead full steam. While not having a legitimate offseason there needs to be some downtime. WWE talents and fans need a slow period to digest the year and focus on what’s to come. That is where December comes in. Generally, December is the time of year where not much happens with WWE. There are some holiday shows for entertainment but nothing of note usually takes place.
The slow holiday season aside, there have been some great moments that have taken place in the last calendar month. WWE has surprised some by sprinkling in a few title changes to keep the fans interested.
Below we will take a look at the most notable WWE title changes from the final month of the year.
Chris Jericho Wins The Undisputed Championship – Vengeance 2001
After “winning” the Invasion angle, WWE had a problem. Having two world titles wasn’t going to work, for the time, so a tournament was set for Vengeance to determine the Undisputed Champion.
Chris Jericho, The Rock, Steve Austin, and Kurt Angle were chosen to compete in the one-day tournament to determine the Undisputed Champion. On paper, it would have made sense to have The Rock or Steve Austin walk away with the title. Both were the biggest stars of the previous 5 years and would be the perfect flag bearers.
Of course, WWE had other plans and put the championship on Chris Jericho to end the evening. It was the huge swerve for the tournament. Jericho was a great talent but WWE had not put much behind the performer so this was a head-scratching move.
Randy Orton wins WWE World Heavyweight Championship – TLC 2013
From one Undisputed Championship win to another, we have Randy Orton going over John Cena in 2013.
After years of having dual champions, WWE decided to unify the titles. Randy Orton and John Cena were the two world champions so they were booked in a TLC match to decide the true champion.
With the popularity of Daniel Bryan, this match was met with some backlash from the WWE Universe. Bryan was getting over huge and the company turning a blind eye to this was infuriating wrestling fans the world over.
To further set fans off, Orton used some cheap tactics to get the win and head home as the Undisputed Champion. It was an interesting choice of champion and continued the head-scratching December title changes.
D-Generation X wins the Tag Team Championship – TLC 2009
Shawn Michaels and HHH were two of the most influential wrestlers for the Attitude Era. Their blend of adult comedy and fourth-wall-breaking was revolutionary. It helped to usher in a new era of professional wrestling and gave WWE a huge advantage in the Monday Night Wars.
During their tenure, both men held various singles championships. Winning the World, European, and Intercontinental Championships put D-X on the map but one title eluded the two founding members.
In December of 2009, this elusion changed. In a TLC match, HBK and HHH went over the Undisputed Tag Champions, Big Show and Chris Jericho. It was a huge victory for the two men as it marked the first, and only, time that the founding members of D-X won the tag team titles.
Sheamus Shocks The World – TLC 2009
John Cena was an institution in WWE. During his run, he became one of the greatest world champions in history. His championship match opponents were a who’s who of WWE greats, which is why his TLC 2009 Tables match was such a shock.
Sheamus getting the championship opportunity was odd. The Celtic Warrior had only been in the company for a few months and to get a title shot was unheard of. This put little doubt in the minds of the fans that Cena would be retaining his championship.
Then the shock of the night happened when Cena went tumbling through a table, giving Sheamus the win and the WWE Championship. It was a massive surprise to all in attendance. After 166 days Sheamus had achieved what other wrestlers spent years to accomplish.
This win was easily the biggest surprise of the year and one of the most shocking December title changes.
Arnold Skaaland Throws In The Towel – House Show 1983
Bob Backlund had been on an unprecedented run before he ran into the Iron Shiek. Being WWE Champion for over 1,400 days Backlund was the poster boy for WWE. He was a fan favourite and had been the perfect flag bearer for the company.
This ideal championship reign came to an end in a historically important title change. Losing the championship, to the Iron Shiek, was a shock to the world. The Iron Shiek was not one that many would think should be the world champion but the plan was revealed a few weeks later.
In the New Year, Iron Shiek would drop the championship to a wrestler by the name of Hulk Hogan. This started the boom period for WWE. A period where they experience unprecedented popularity.
The beginning of Hulkamania and the Golden Era of wrestling could not have happened had Backlund not dropped the title to the Iron Shiek.
Internet Darlings Rule The Night – TLC 2011
Over the past 10 years, Vince McMahon was not exactly known for having his finger on the pulse of the WWE Universe. Some wrestlers have been shoved down the world’s throats while fan favourites have been buried.
A much as this frustrates many there was one night where this trend appeared to come to an end. At TLC 2011, Zack Ryder and Daniel Bryan both walked away with a championship after winning their matches.
Ryder had been an incredibly popular wrestler after working his ass off to get himself over. Daniel Bryan was another popular wrestler who was getting increasingly positive responses from fans all over the world.
Both of these men were not in the good graces of Vince and the WWE. Luckily, on this fateful night in December, both wrestlers were able to beat the WWE machine and walk away with WWE gold.
Andre & Haku Captures WWE Gold – Superstars 1989
Sure, Andre had “won” the WWE Championship before, but it was a screwy finish. There is also the issue of him immediately giving the championship to Ted DiBiase. Andre was never able to truly enjoy a reign as a champion in WWE, that is until 1989.
The team of Andre The Giant and Haku, forming the Colossal Connection, went up against division mainstays, Demolition. This was back in a time where work rate was no redeeming quality so the match was not something that would make any top ten lists.
What is important about this match was that Andre and Haku were able to wrestle the tag team championships away from Demolition. To upend one of the best teams ever was a huge feather in the cap of the Collasal Connection. It was also the only time that Andre The Giant was able to enjoy a sustained championship reign in WWE. Something that the Eighth Wonder of the world should have enjoyed years before.
Jeff Hardy Finally Reaches The Top Of The Mountain – Armageddon 2008
One of the biggest “what if” stories in WWE has to be centred around Jeff Hardy. Starting in a tag team, with his brother, Jeff became one of the most popular talents in WWE. He struck out on a moderately successful singles career but backstage issues prevented him from reaching the top of the mountain.
His failure to grab the brass ring ended, finally, at Armageddon 2008. Hardy had been competing for the WWE Championship for months going into the December PPV but had failed. Getting one last shot at Armageddon Hardy was able to snag the victory by pinning Edge and winning the WWE Championship.
The championship was an incredibly emotional win. It signified the uphill battle that had been Jeff Hardy’s career and that he had finally reached the apex of the wrestling industry.
Lita and Trish Stratus Pave The Way – Raw 2004
Women’s wrestling has had a somewhat checkered past in WWE. For years, the other sex had not been treated with much respect but there was hope on the horizon.
Lita and Trish Stratus were changing the perception of Women’s wrestling, in WWE. Their feud was showcasing the incredible talent that both women had and the crowd reaction was amazing.
We can see the progress Lita and Trish made with the Raw main event in December of 2004. With the Women’s Championship on the line, the two women put on one hell of a match. The chain wrestling was great and they incorporated moves into the match that had not been seen before in a womens’ match.
The main event of Raw in December of 2004 was a historical night. What Lita and Trish accomplished on that night paved the way for the Women’s Revolution.
Evolution Announces Itself To The World – Armageddon 2003
Needing a group to watch his back, HHH put together one of the most influential stables in 2003. With Ric Flair, HHH took up-and-comers, Randy Orton and Batista, under his wing and started on a reign of terror on the Raw brand.
One of the crowning moments of this group came in December of 2003. At Armageddon, Randy Orton wrestled the Intercontinental Championship away from RVD.
Batista and Ric Flair won the World Tag Team Championships in a Tag Team Turmoil Match and Triple H nabbed the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event.
This was a massive night for Evolution. By the end of the night, all four men controlled every piece of gold on the Raw brand. It was a huge way to establish themselves as the dominant force in the industry. It was a lucrative night that they never looked back from as the stable became one of the most successful in the history of WWE.