The AEW World Championship has a title history that rivals any other, in the names that have held the prestigious belt. The champions who have reigned as the top wrestler in AEW have all been the biggest names of the company and have carried the company on their back over multiple months.
The rise of AEW from it’s humble beginnings in 2019 to being the second biggest promotion in wrestling has been on the back of it’s champions. It’s growth has been on the backs of their wrestlers, with their incredible in-ring ability, charisma and star quality to help bridge the gap between themselves and WWE.
So far, five men have held the AEW Championship. These include future WWE Hall of Famer’s, former champions in Japan, an AEW original, a returning legend and a man who many call the best wrestler in the world. All the men who have won the championship have deserved the belt greatly, although recently not all of the championship reigns have gone to plan.
Despite this, the AEW Championship is one of the most prestigious champions in wrestling today. In this article, we’ll take a look at the complete history if the AEW Championship, including the winners, when they won the championship, their title defences and when they were finally usurped and had their crown taken from them.
Here is the AEW Championship History, from the first champion onward;
1. Chris Jericho
The start of the AEW Championship’s history came at All Out 2019, when Chris Jericho became the first ever AEW Champion. He defeated Adam Page at the event to become the inaugural AEW Champion, winning his 7th World Championship in a long and illustrious career.
Being the first champion, AEW’s early success fell on the shoulders of Chris Jericho. Luckily, the star became the focal point of AEW as the leader of the promotion top faction – The Inner Circle. In this role, he defended his AEW Championship three times successfully, beating Darby Allin, Scorpio Sky and Cody Rhodes.
He held the title until 2020, when he would lose it to Jon Moxley at AEW Revolution 2020. The pair would main event the show in one of the biggest matches in the companies history. It ended his AEW Championship reign at 182 days and he remains the oldest Champion in history.
2. Jon Moxley
The second AEW Champion was Jon Moxley, who won the title at AEW Revolution 2020. He defeated Chris Jericho at the event to end their multi-month long storyline and begin his record-breaking championship reign.
However, his reign was not under the ideal circumstances. Jon Moxley was the champion during the pandemic era, where no fans were allowed to be in arenas. This gave his reign a muted response and made what could have been a legendary reign feel ordinary at some points in time.
He bested Jericho’s amount of defences, defending the AEW Championship 9 times – a record even to this day. His AEW Championship defences made history and were against the following wrestlers;
- Jake Hager
- Mr. Brodie Lee
- Brian Cage
- Darby Allin
- Eddie Kingston
- The Butcher
- Lance Archer
His final defence came against Kenny Omega at AEW Winter is Coming 2020. This is where his reign ended at 277 days and 9 successful defence after losing the championship to The Cleaner.
3. Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega made history as the first man to have held the AEW Tag Team Championships and the AEW Word Championship, winning both belts for the first time in 2020. He won the tag belts with Adam Page, who would eventually defeat him to win the title at Full Gear 2021.
He won the AEW Championship in 2020 and made history as being the first man to win the title on AEW Dynamite. His title win over Jon Moxley came at the special Dynamite event “AEW Winter is Coming”, where he won the belt with the help of Don Callis to become the third ever AEW Champion.
His title reign broke records as the longest in AEW’s history. He held the belt for a whopping 346 days, although he defended the championship less times than his predecessor. Whilst Moxley defended the title 9 times against 8 different opponents, Omega only managed 6 defences against the following wrestlers.
- Rey Fenix
- Jon Moxley
- Rich Swann
- Orange Cassidy and Pac (Triple Threat Match at AEW Double or Nothing 2021)
- Jungle Boy
- Christian Cage
He would lose the championship at Full Gear 2021 to Adam Page, ending a three year long storyline between Page and The Elite. During the time, Kenny Omega helped build up Adam Page as a world champion and a top star in the company and ended the history making AEW Championship reign.
4. Adam Page
Adam Page became the fourth man to hold the AEW Championship when he finally achieved his destiny at Full Gear 2022. He defeated long-time friend and rival Kenny Omega in the main event to win the AEW Championship and write his name in history as the first “homegrown” AEW star to hold the world title.
He became the first man to win the AEW Championship as his first world title ever and held the belt for an impressive 197 days. In those days, he defended the title 6 times against four different wrestlers, which included;
- Bryan Danielson (x 2)
- Adam Cole (x 2)
- Dante Martin
- Lance Archer
However, his reign fizzled out at Double or Nothing 2022 when he lost the title to CM Punk. He was lost in the shuffle following his title loss and did not have the best time finding his feet. However, he has since made his way back into the main event scene and we could see Adam Page make AEW Championship history as the third man to hold the title more than once.
5. CM Punk
CM Punk’s first AEW Championship reign was the least impressive in AEW history,. He won the title from “Hangman” Adam Page at Double or Nothing 2022, becoming AEW Champion less than a year after returning to wrestling, following 7 years outside of the ring.
However, his reign would come to an abrupt break after he suffered an injury on the Dynamite following his title win. He injured his foot by jumping into the crowd before a match tag teaming with FTR, and following surgery was forced out of wrestling for several months.
He kept the championship but in the meantime, Jon Moxley won the interim AEW Championship. The pair would wrestle on AEW Dynamite in August 2022, where Moxley would defeat CM Punk and end his AEW Championship reign at 87 days and 0 title defences.
6. Jon Moxley (Second Reign)
The week after he won the AEW Championship, CM Punk suffered an injury and was forced to vacate the title. This lead to a match for the vacant title, with number one contender Jon Moxley battling Hiroshi Tanahashi for the vacant AEW Championship at Forbidden Door.
Moxley defeated Tanahashi in the main event to win the Interim AEW World Championship, becoming the first man in history to win the title for a second time. He would unify the interim title with CM Punk’s AEW Championship on the August 24, 2022 episode of AEW Dynamite when he defeated Punk in a short match.
His interim title reign ended with three successful title defences, against Brody King, Rush and Chris Jericho. However, once he became the Undisputed AEW Champion, he didn’t manage a single defence before losing the championship back to CM Punk at All Out 2022, ending his full reign at 11 days. It is his shortest AEW Championship reign in history, although the stats do not tell the true story of his record second run as title holder.
7. CM Punk (Second Reign)
CM Punk’s second AEW Championship reign was even more cursed than his first. He beat Jon Moxley at All Out 2022 to win the championship for the second time, although his reign would last only 3 days. He was forced to vacate the title on AEW Dynamite following, due to a bicep injury that will kept him out of the ring for a number of months.
He was also involved in a controversial press conference following All Out which involved him calling out both Colt Cabana and The Elite (Kenny Omega, Adam Page and the Young Bucks). This led to a backstage fight between Punk, Omega and the Bucks which caused all three men to be suspended by the company.
This is the shortest AEW Championship reign of all time, beating out Jon Moxley for the unenviable honour.
8. Jon Moxley (Third Reign)
Jon Moxley’s record third reign in AEW came at AEW Grand Slam 2022. He became the first man in the AEW Championship history to win the title three times and solidified himself as the ace of AEW.
He won the title by defeating Blackpool Combat Club partner Bryan Danielson in the final of the AEW Championship. Moxley lost the title to MJF at Full Gear 2022, successfully defending the title twice (against Adam Page and Penta El Zero M).
MJF defeated Jon Moxley at Full Gear 2022 to win the AEW Championship. This was his first reign with the title, and he became the youngest AEW Champion in history (aged 26).
After returning from hiatus at All Out 2022, MJF won the Casino Ladder Match, earning himself a match against Jon Moxley for the title.
He cashed in his chip at Full Gear 2022, winning the match with the help of the Blackpool Combat Club’s William Regal. After he turned on Moxley, MJF pinned the champion to pick up his first gold in AEW.
He has since defended the title against Ricky Starks, Bryan Danielson (in one of the best matches in AEW history) and in a Four Pillars Four Way match.
What do you think about the history of the AEW Championship? Who do you think is the best AEW Champion in the companies short history? Let us know in the comments or click below to read more
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.