Date retired July 22, 2002
Final champion(s) Rob Van Dam
|Date established February 26, 1997|
First champion(s) The British Bulldog
|Most reigns William Regal, D'Lo Brown (4 reigns)|
The WWE European Championship was a professional wrestling championship competed for in World Wrestling Entertainment. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, multiple wrestlers held the European and WWE Intercontinental Championships within short spans of each other, and three held both simultaneously, becoming "Eurocontinental champions".
Established in 1997 as the "WWF European Championship", the title incurred a brief hiatus in 1999 due to then-champion Shane McMahon's desire to retire as an "undefeated champion". It was renamed in May 2002 when the WWF became the WWE before finally being unified with the WWE Intercontinental Championship in July that year by Rob Van Dam, making him the final European Champion. Despite its name, only two holders were actually from Europe: the British Bulldog, who was the inaugural champion, and William Regal. It became a prominent singles title of the Attitude Era, held by Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and others. It was contested in the main event of the One Night Only pay-per-view in 1997.
The WWE European Championship was originally known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) European Championship. It emerged in 1997 when The British Bulldog became the first Champion after winning a tournament that was held over several shows in Germany, culminating in a finals victory over Owen Hart. Upon winning the belt, Shawn Michaels became the first Grand Slam Champion in WWE. Michaels is the only wrestler to have held both the WWF World Heavyweight Championship and the European title at the same time.
After winning the European title, both D'Lo Brown and Al Snow were billed from different parts of Europe each week while champion. During Snow's reign, he and "Head" dressed up as various ethnic stereotypes corresponding to the European location they were billed from, though not always in a politically or geographically correct manner. The belt was retired briefly in April 1999 by then-champion Shane McMahon, who wanted to retire as an "undefeated champion". McMahon reintroduced the championship two months later and gave it to Mideon, who saw the title belt in Shane's travel bag and asked if he could have it.
The term "Eurocontinental Champion" is a portmanteau of European and Intercontinental, used to describe wrestlers who held both titles simultaneously. Three wrestlers were booked to accomplish this feat. The first was D'Lo Brown, who defeated Mideon for the European title at Fully Loaded in 1999 and two nights later at a Monday Night Raw taping, defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the Intercontinental Championship. A month later at SummerSlam Jarrett defeated Brown to win both titles, thus becoming the second Eurocontinental Champion.
On the February 10, 2000 edition of SmackDown! Kurt Angle defeated Val Venis to win the European Championship. At No Way Out seventeen days later Angle defeated Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship and became the third man to hold both the European and Intercontinental Championships simultaneously. Angle held the titles until WrestleMania 2000, when he faced Jericho and Chris Benoit in a three way dance for his belts. In a rarity, Angle lost both of his championships without being pinned or forced to submit; Benoit defeated Jericho in the first fall for the Intercontinental Championship and Jericho returned the favor in the second fall to take the European Championship.
In May 2002, the WWF was renamed to WWE and the title became the WWE European Championship, though the physical belt was not updated to reflect the name change. It was then unified with the WWE Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match on the July 22, 2002 episode of Raw, when Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam defeated European Champion Jeff Hardy.
The British Bulldog was the inaugural champion and had the longest title reign with 206 days. William Regal and D'Lo Brown both had the most title reigns, each holding it four times.
The shortest reigns as European Champion were those of Jeff Jarrett and Chris Jericho, who each held the championship for roughly one day. Jeff Jarrett defeated D'Lo Brown for the European Championship (along with the Intercontinental Championship) at Summerslam 1999 and gave it to Mark Henry the following night on Raw. Chris Jericho defeated Kurt Angle in a triple threat match at Wrestlemania 2000 and lost the title to Eddie Guerrero on Raw the night after. Jeff Hardy was the youngest champion at 24, while Diamond Dallas Page was the oldest champion at 46. Rob Van Dam was the final champion.
The title appears in WWF No Mercy, WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, WWE Wrestlemania X8, WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth, WWE '12, WWE '13, WWE 2K14, WWE 2K15 , WWE 2K16 and "WWE 2K17".