WWE has been a Championship-orientated business for more than three decades and at present, there are more titles in the company than ever before.
With more titles for the women to actively challenge for and four different brands, there is plenty of scope for wrestlers to win titles and retire from the business whilst holding a title.
In retrospect, you would expect there to be a large number of former stars who have retired or departed WWE as Champions, when in actual fact there are only a handful who have done so.
The following list looks at just two former WWE Superstars who left the company as Champion as well as three WWE Hall of Famers who were able to retire as Champion.
#5. Was forced to relinquish the World Championship and retire: Bret Hart
The story of WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart has become folklore over the past two decades. Hart's ill-fated match against Goldberg at WCW Starrcade back in 1999 ended his career but saw him retain the WCW World Championship.
After the bout, Hart relinquished the title due to post-concussion syndrome. The title was then put into a Championship tournament which saw Hart come out on top. In his final match, he defended the WCW Championship against Kevin Nash, before he was forced to withdraw from the WCW Souled Out main event in January 2000 due to injury.
This time around, Hart vacated the Championship and was forced to retire from the company after WCW terminated his contract due to inactivity. Hart's final match saw him defend the title. However, his ongoing concussion issues meant that he wasn't able to fulfill these requirements by the company and after being released by WCW, he retired from the business.
#4. Left WWE with a Championship: Alundra Blayze
Alundra Blayze's departure from WWE and subsequent arrival in WCW has made her one of the most recognizable faces in the wrestling world.
Blayze was the Women's Champion at a time when the company overlooked the Women's Division. Due to financial issues, Blayze was released from her contract just weeks after winning the Championship for a third time. Blayze was released as Champion, which allowed her to then jump ship over to WCW and play her part in the famous trash can incident.
WWE then stripped her of the title and the Championship then remained vacant for around three years whilst Madusa herself was blacklisted by WWE for two decades. She later returned to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, where she finally took the title out of the bin.
#3. Was forced to relinquish the World Championship and retire: Edge
Another WWE Superstar whose final match came when they were Champion was Edge. The Rated-R Superstar successfully defended the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 27, before it was revealed that he was struggling with Cervical Spinal Stenosis.
The next night on RAW, Edge delivered an emotional speech where he relinquished the Championship and was forced to walk away from the company. After being added to the Hall of Fame in 2012, Edge went on to explore several other career options before returning to WWE nine years later.
The 11-time World Champion has since become an integral part of the company once again and recently defeated AJ Styles at WrestleMania 38 last weekend.
#2. Was released as Champion: Nash Carter
Nash Cartner was released from WWE earlier this week amidst controversy involving his wife Kimber Lee. While there are now reports suggesting that Carter was released because of images of him dressed as Hitler being leaked online, the star was still released from the company as a Champion.
At Stand and Deliver last weekend, Nash and Wes Lee picked up the NXT Tag Team Championship when they were able to defeat Imperium and The Creed Brothers.
Despite Nash's release reportedly being in the works following the win, the duo didn't drop the titles this past week on NXT, and Nash was instead released from the company whilst still holding the gold.
It's unclear what this now means for Wes Lee or for the Championships, which will likely be vacated.
#1. Retired as Champion: Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus was once one of the most decorated female wrestlers in the history of the company. Stratus dominated the Women's Division for six years before announcing that she was retiring from the company at Unforgiven in 2006 in her hometown of Toronto, Canada.
Stratus was given the ultimate farewell when she wrestled her long-time rival and friend Lita and was able to defeat her with The Sharpshooter to become a 7-time Women's Champion.
It was known at the time that Stratus wasn't coming back after the match so the title was immediately vacated following her win and she was able to bow out by making history.
After remaining untouched for more than a decade, this record has since been matched by Charlotte Flair.
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