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 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 British Bulldog was the inaugural champion and has had the longest title reign with 206 days. William Regal and D'Lo Brown both have 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 (in the opening match, around 8 PM EST) and gave it to Mark Henry the following night on RAW (around 10 PM EST). Chris Jericho defeated Kurt Angle in a triple threat match at Wrestlemania 2000 (by pinning Chris Benoit at around 10 PM EST) and lost the title to Eddie Guerrero on RAW the night after (around 9 PM EST). Jeff Hardy was the youngest champion, at 24.
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 two-fall triple threat match 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.
The WWE European Championship, as it was next known, was retired in a ladder match on July 22, 2002 when Rob Van Dam (RVD) put his Intercontinental Championship on the line, along with Jeff Hardy's European Championship. By winning that match, RVD merged the two titles together, and continued to hold the Intercontinental Title.
- The British Bulldog defeted Owen Hart in the tournament finals on February 26, 1997 to become the first European Champion.
- Shawn Michaels won the title from him on September 20, 1997 at One Night Only.
- Triple H won the belt on December 11, 1997.
- Owen Hart captured the gold on January 20, 1998.
- Triple H regained the belt on March 16, 1998.
- D'Lo Brown won the strap on July 14, 1998.
- X-Pac won the belt on September 15, 1998.
- D'Lo Brown reclaimed the championship on September 29, 1998.
- X-Pac regained the title on October 18, 1998 at Judgment Day: In Your House.
- Shane McMahon won the title on February 15, 1999. He retired it on March 30, 1999.
- Mideon won the title on June 21, 1999 after recieving it from Shane McMahon.
- D'Lo Brown won the title on July 25, 1999 at Fully Loaded.
- Jeff Jarrett won the strap on August 22, 1999 at SummerSlam.
- Mark Henry is given the gold on August 23, 1999.
- D'Lo Brown claimed the belt on September 26, 1999 at Unforgiven.
- The British Bulldog regained his title on October 26, 1999.
- Val Venis won the strap on December 12, 1999 at Armageddon.
- Kurt Angle won the championship on February 8, 2000.
- Chris Jericho won the belt on April 2, 2000 at WrestleMania 2000.
- Eddie Guerrero took the strap away from him on April 3, 2000.
- Perry Saturn won the belt on July 23, 2000 at Fully Loaded.
- Al Snow won the belt on August 29, 2000.
- William Regal captured the title on October 16, 2000.
- Crash Holly won the belt on December 2, 2000 at Rebellion.
- William Regal regained the title on December 4, 2000.
- Test won the strap on January 22, 2001.
- Eddie Guerrero claimed the gold on April 1, 2001 at WrestleMania X-Seven.
- Matt Hardy won the belt on April 24, 2001.
- The Hurricane won the title on August 27, 2001.
- Bradshaw won the title on October 22, 2001.
- Christian won the title on October 30, 2001.
- Diamond Dallas Page won the title on January 29, 2002.
- William Regal won the title on March 19, 2002.
- Spike Dudley won the title on April 8, 2002.
- William Regal regained the title on May 6, 2002.
- Jeff Hardy won the title on July 8, 2002.
- Rob Van Dam won the title on July 22, 2002. The title was deactivated on the same day.