After years of mid-card success, including reigns as WWF/World Tag Team champion, WWF/WWE Intercontinental champion, and WWF European champion, and naming his followers "The Peeps," Christian defected to Total Nonstop Action in late-2005 where he won the NWA World championship in February 2006. After a couple years of minimal success and small crowds, Christian returned to WWE where he won the ECW Championship in April 2009 and he reigned as champion until the show ended in February 2010, losing the championship to Ezekiel Jackson in the last ECW match.
The next year, he defeated Alberto Del Rio in a few matches before WrestleMania XXVII where ADR would challenge World champion Edge. Edge retained but he had to retire due to an accumulation of injuries. Christian met ADR in a Ladder match for the vacant title, which Christian won with assistance from Edge. During his first televised appearance as World champion, Randy Orton challenged him and won the title, much to the chargrin of all his Peeps. Christian had a few rematches, all of which he lost as a result of poor officiating, before he challenged Orton to a final rematch where if Orton was disqualified or if the referee missed important calls, and Christian spat in Orton's face during the match - causing Orton to lose his temper and to hit a low blow on Christian, causing a disqualification and making Christian the first person to win a World championship on the receiving end of a low blow.