What would happen in the professional wrestling world if non-title matches did not exist?  What would happen if every time a Champion stepped into the ring in a one on one match, the WWE Championship was on the line?

Criteria:

  1. WWE Title could only change hands in singles (i.e. one on one) matches (more on that in a second)
  2. WWE Title can not be lost by countout or disqualification (keeping with the traditional rules of pro wrestling)
  3. WWE Title could be lost by pinfall, submission, or by a match stipulation.
  4. WWE Title could be lost by Referee Stoppage
  5. WWE Title could not be lost in an Multiple Man (Triple Threat, Elimination Chamber, etc) or Tag Team Match
  6. WWE Title must be defended (i.e. wrestle a one on one match) every 365 days.
  7. The Linear WWE Title is not bound to the WWE.  If the champion loses anywhere (Japan, another territory, etc.), they lose the Linear Title

The Multi-Man Match Conundrum: Any multi-man matches (Triple Threat, Fatal-Four Way, Elimination Chambers, etc.)  Any match that involves more than one opponent opens the champion to a degree of luck to retain the title.

Inactivity/Retirement on Lineage: What happens if someone wins the Linear Title and then becomes inactive, retires, or dies? If you were the linear champion, you had to defend the title within 1 year of winning it (i.e. a singles match.) If the champion failed to defend within that one year window, the Linear title would go to whoever the active WWE champion was at that time.

View the original Linear Championship article by Jason Felix here: http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/2014/03/12/who-is-the-reigning-linear-wwe-champion/

UPDATE – March 4, 2015: Due to the odd, and previously unprecedented, circumstances from WWE Night of Champions 2014, we’ve added the WWE Linear Championship #DarkestTimeline. Seth Rollins beat Roman Reigns on that event, in an official match, via forfeit. Because the match began, and the referee stopped it due to forfeit, it is treated as a ref stoppage. A ref stoppage is a valid way for the title to change hands, so Seth Rollins won the WWE Linear Championship from Reigns on that night. However, due to controversy, and honestly the thought that it would just be fun to track, the #DarkestTimeline (A reference to NBC’s Community) was created. The #DarkestTimeline sees Reigns retaining the WWE Linear Title, as if it never changed hands due to the forfeit. So, we have a split lineage in a way. Rollins won the Linear Title, while Reigns retained with the #DarkestTimeline. We follow the #DarkestTimeline exclusively on Twitter, so be sure to follow the @WWELinear Title on Twitter. Currently, Seth Rollins reigns the #DarkestTimeline, while Rusev is the #WWELinear Champion. The hope is that one day, these titles will again be merged and everyone can go about our merry way!

UPDATE 2 – March 29, 2015: With John Cena’s defeat of Rusev at WWE Wrestlemania 31, the WWE Linear & #DarkestTimeline titles have finally been merged! John Cena reigns as the undisputed @WWELinear Champion as of March 29!

ChampionDateNotes
Buddy Rogers1963This is the start of the WWE lineage based on Vince McMahon Sr. and the WWWF breaking away from the NWA. Rogers was recognized as the first champion
Bruno Sammartino5/17/63
Gorilla Monsoon10/4/63Monsoon defeated Sammartino via Referee Stoppage due to an eye injury suffered by Sammartino
Bruno Sammartino (2)6/6/64Wins a Best of Three Falls Match – 2 Falls to 1
Fred Blassie8/24/64Wins a Best of Three Falls Match by TKO – Sammartino won Fall #1, but couldn’t finish the match after being inadvertently hit in the groin on a leap frog
Bruno Sammartino (3)11/10/64
Professor Toru Tanaka
5/1/67Sammartino’s leg was under the bottom rope. WWWF disallowed the title change. Since match was never restarted, this results in a linear title change
Bruno Sammartino (4)7/8/67
Professor Toru Tanaka (2) 9/30/67Tanaka won on a “illegal pinfall.” WWWF disallowed the title change. Since the match was never restarted, this results in a linear title change
Bruno Sammartino (5)10/2/67
Killer Kowalski
2/20/69
Bruno Sammartino (6)6/14/1969
Ivan Koloff 12/9/1969Won by Referee Stoppage
Bruno Sammartino (7) 1/19/1970
Crusher Verdu6/15/1970Won by Referee Stoppage
Bruno Sammartino (8)9/12/1970Won a Texas Death Match
Ivan Koloff (2) 1/18/1971
Pedro Morales2/8/1971
Stan Stasiak8/30/1971Won by Referee Stoppage
Bobo Brazil9/27/1971Won by Referee Stoppage
Giant Baba2/27/1973Won a Best of Three Falls Match 2 Falls to 1
Jack Brisco12/9/1974Won a Best of Three Falls Match 2 Falls to 1
Terry Funk12/10/75
Harley Race 6/29/77
Terry Funk (2)5/12/1978Won a Russian Chain Match
Manny Fernandez10/14/1979
Don Muraco3/26/1980
Manny Fernandez (2)4/24/1980
Don Muraco (2)5/1/1980
Bugsy McGraw5/27/1980Won a Lights Out Match
Don Muraco (3)6/10/1980
Dusty Rhodes6/23/1980Won a Lights Out Match
Ivan Koloff (3)7/16/1980Won a Russian Chain Match
Bugsy McGraw (2)7/22/1980Won a Lights Out Match
Nikolai Volkoff7/24/1980Won a Helmet Match
Dusty Rhodes (2)8/15/1980
Bobby Jaggers9/29/1980Won a Taped Fist Match
Mike Graham10/5/1980
Dick Slater10/13/1980
Jack Brisco (2)11/4/1980
Mongolian Stomper12/25/1980
Andre the Giant2/20/1981
El Canek2/12/1984
Tatsumi Fujinami7/5/1984
Hulk Hogan2/5/1985
Andre the Giant (2)2/5/1988
Hulk Hogan (2)7/31/1988Won a Steel Cage Match
Ultimate Warrior4/1/1990 Wrestlemania VI
Sgt. Slaughter1/19/1991Royal Rumble 1991
Ultimate Warrior (2)3/17/1991Won a Steel Cage Match.
Warrior loses Linear Title 4/27/1994, as his final defense was 4/27/1993 against Hercules
Bret Hart4/27/1994Awarded – Warrior did not defend for one year – Hart was the reigning WWF Champion
Bob Backlund 11/23/1994Survivor Series. Won in a Submission Match via Corner Stoppage
Diesel11/26/1994House Show
Bret Hart (2)11/19/1995Survivor Series (Won a No Holds Barred Match)
Shawn Michaels3/31/1996 WrestleMania XII
(Won an Iron Man Match 1 Fall to 0 in Overtime)
Sid Vicious11/17/1996Survivor Series
Shawn Michaels (2)1/19/1997Royal Rumble
Triple H12/11/1997Monday Night Raw
Undertaker12/11/1997After Raw Dark Match
(Won a Casket Match)
Shawn Michaels (3)1/18/1998Royal Rumble
(Won a Casket Match)
Steve Austin3/29/1998Wrestlemania XIV
Kane6/28/1998King of the Ring
(Won a First Blood Match)
Steve Austin (2)Monday Night Raw
Mankind11/15/1998Survivor Series
(Defeats Austin in the Semi-Finals of the WWF Title Tournament)
The Rock11/15/1998Survivor Series
(Defeats Mankind in the Finals of the WWF Title Tournament)
Mankind (2)12/29/1998Monday Night Raw
(Won a No Disqualifications Match)
The Rock (2)1/24/1999Royal Rumble
(Won an “I Quit” Match)
Mankind (3)1/26/1999Halftime Heat
(Won an Empty Arena Match)
The Rock (3)2/15/1999 Monday Night Raw
(Won a Ladder Match)
Steve Austin (3)3/28/1999Wrestlemania XV
Undertaker (2)5/23/1999Over the Edge
Steve Austin (4)6/28/1999Monday Night Raw
Triple H (2)10/17/1999No Mercy
Big Show11/20/1999House Show
Triple H (3)1/3/2000Monday Night Raw
The Godfather3/14/2000Smackdown
The Big Show (2)4/4/2000Smackdown
Triple H (4)4/22/2000House Show
The Rock (4)4/30/2000Backlash
Chris Benoit5/15/2000Monday Night Raw
(Won a Submission Match)
Rikishi6/19/2000Monday Night Raw
Kurt Angle 6/25/2000King of the Ring
(King of the Ring Finals)
Kane (2)7/11/2000Smackdown
The Rock (5)8/28/2000Monday Night Raw
Undertaker (3)9/18/2000House Show
Kurt Angle (2)11/19/2000Survivor Series
The Rock (6)2/25/2001No Way Out
Steve Austin (5)4/1/2001Wrestlemania XVII
Rob Van Dam9/4/2001Tuesday Smackdown
Kurt Angle (3) 9/10/2001 Monday Night Raw
(Hardcore Match)
Rob Van Dam (2)10/2/2001Smackdown
Chris Jericho 10/9/2001Smackdown
The Rock (7)11/5/2001 Monday Night Raw
Chris Jericho (2)12/9/2001Vengeance
Triple H (5) 3/17/2002Wrestlemania XVIII
Hulk Hogan (3)4/21/2002Backlash
Undertaker (4)5/19/2002Judgment Day
Kurt Angle (4)6/18/2002Smackdown
Rikishi (2) 6/22/2002House Show
Lance Storm7/2/2002Smackdown
Booker T8/12/2002WWE Raw
The Big Show (3)10/13/2002 House Show
Brock Lesnar11/3/2002House Show
The Big Show (4)11/17/2002 Survivor Series
Kurt Angle (5)12/15/2002 Armageddon
Brock Lesnar (2) 3/30/2003Wrestlemania XIX
Kurt Angle (6)8/2/2003House Show
Brock Lesnar (3) 9/16/2003Smackdown
(Won an Iron Man Match 5 Falls to 4)
Eddie Guerrero2/15/2004No Way Out
D-Von Dudley4/20/2004Smackdown
Rob Van Dam (3)7/3/2004House Show
Luther Reigns7/17/2004House Show
John Cena7/20/2004Smackdown
John Bradshaw Layfield 7/25/2004House Show
John Cena (2) 3/12/2005House Show
Kurt Angle (7)10/24/2005Monday Night Raw
John Cena (3)10/27/2005House Show
Kurt Angle (8)1/2/2006 Monday Night Raw
Shawn Michaels (4)1/16/2006Monday Night Raw
Shane McMahon3/6/2006Monday Night Raw
Bobby Lashley5/21/2007 Monday Night Raw
John Cena (4)7/22/2007Great American Bash
Carlito7/30/2007Monday Night Raw
John Cena (5)8/13/2007Saturday Night’s Main Event
Randy Orton5/12/2008Monday Night Raw
Triple H (6)5/18/2008Judgment Day
(Won a Steel Cage Match)
Jeff Hardy11/11/2008Smackdown
Chris Jericho (3)12/8/2008Monday Night Raw
John Cena (6) 12/13/2008House Show
Shawn Michaels (5) 1/12/2009Monday Night Raw
John Cena (7) 1/26/2009Monday Night Raw
Big Show (5)2/17/2009Smackdown
Triple H (7)2/20/2009House Show
Randy Orton (2) 4/20/2009Monday Night Raw
(Won a No Disqualifications Match)
Triple H (8) 4/21/2009Smackdown Dark Match
(Won a Steel Cage Match)
Randy Orton (3)6/28/2009The Bash
(Won a Best of Three Falls Match 2 Falls to 1)
John Cena (8) 9/13/2009Breaking Point
(Won an “I Quit” Match)
Randy Orton (4) 10/4/2009Hell in a Cell
(Won a Hell in a Cell Match)
John Cena (9)10/25/2009Bragging Rights
(Won a 60 Minute Iron Man Falls Count Anywhere Match 6 Falls to 5)
Sheamus12/13/2009TLC
(Won a Tables Match)
Triple H (9)3/28/2010Wrestlemania XXVI
Sheamus (2)4/25/2010 Extreme Rules
(Won a Street Fight)
John Cena (10)6/11/2010House Show
Sheamus (3)6/27/2010House Show
(Won a Steel Cage Match)
Randy Orton (5)9/20/2010Raw Dark Match
The Miz11/22/2010Monday Night Raw
Edge1/31/2011 Monday Night Raw
(Loses title on 4/5/2012, as final defense was on 4/5/2011)
CM Punk4/5/2012(AWARDED – Was Reigning WWE Champion on 4/5/2012)
Daniel Bryan5/28/2012Monday Night Raw
CM Punk (2)6/1/2012House Show
(Won a No Disqualifications Match)
Kane (3)6/4/2012Monday Night Raw
Sheamus (4)6/5/2012Smackdown
CM Punk (3)10/2/2012WWE Main Event
John Cena (11) 11/12/2012Monday Night Raw
Dolph Ziggler12/16/2012WWE TLC
(Won a TLC Match)
John Cena (12)12/26/2012House Show
Daniel Bryan (2)8/18/2013Summerslam
Randy Orton (6)8/18/2013Summerslam
Daniel Bryan (3)9/15/2013Night of Champions
Randy Orton (7) 10/27/2013Hell in a Cell
(Won a Hell in a Cell Match)
Kofi Kingston1/13/2014Monday Night Raw
Alberto Del Rio 1/27/2014 Monday Night Raw
Dave Batista2/16/2014House Show
Alberto Del Rio (2)2/24/2014Monday Night Raw
Sin Cara2/28/2014House Show
Bad News Barrett3/8/2014House Show
Sheamus (5)5/27/2014Smackdown
Cesaro6/10/2014Smackdown
Kofi Kingston (2)6/30/2014Monday Night Raw
Cesaro (2)7/4/2014House Show
Kofi Kingston (3)7/7/2014Monday Night Raw
Cesaro (3)7/11/2014House Show
Rob Van Dam (4)7/12/2014House Show
Alberto Del Rio (3)7/14/2014Monday Night Raw
Roman Reigns 7/22/2014Smackdown
Seth Rollins9/21/2014WWE Night of Champions (Forfeit)
John Cena (13)10/3/2014House Show
Dean Ambrose10/13/2014Monday Night Raw (Contract On A Pole Match)
Seth Rollins (2)10/26/2014WWE Hell In A Cell (Won a Hell In A Cell Match)
John Cena (14)11/2/2014House Show
Seth Rollins (3)12/15/2014Monday Night Raw (Steel Cage Match)
Dolph Ziggler (2)12/16/2014Super Smackdown Live
Bad News Barrett (2)1/5/2015Monday Night Raw (Best of 3 Falls)
Sin Cara (2)1/6/2015Smackdown
Bad News Barrett (3)1/13/2015Smackdown
R-Truth1/17/2015House Show
Rusev1/19/2015Monday Night Raw
John Cena (15)3/29/2015WWE Wrestlemania 31
Kevin Owens5/31/2015WWE Elimination Chamber
John Cena (16)6/14/2015WWE Money In The Bank
Seth Rollins (4)8/23/2015WWE SummerSlam
The Ryback9/7/2015WWE Monday Night Raw
Seth Rollins (5)9/8/2015WWE Smackdown
John Cena (17)9/20/2015WWE Night of Champions
Alberto Del Rio (4)10/25/2015WWE Hell In A Cell
Roman Reigns (2)11/22/2015WWE Survivor Series
Sheamus (6)11/22/2015WWE Survivor Series (Cashed in MITB Briefcase)
Roman Reigns (3)12/14/2015WWE Monday Night Raw