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Roman Reigns' Title Reign is Impressive But Not As Historic As These Other Superstars'
Before we acknowledge the greatness of the last two years, we must first acknowledge the past.
With each passing day, Roman Reigns becomes stronger and stronger.
It’s almost like something out of "Stranger Things" — it seems that with each successful title defense, Reigns becomes more and more unstoppable as if he’s stealing the essence of any Superstar who dares to challenge him.
Brock Lesnar, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, John Cena, Edge, and Goldberg — just to name a few — have all tried and failed to defeat Roman Reigns over the past few years... Who hasn't been laid to waste by the Tribal Chief? It seems like the entire WWE roster has rallied together in a collective attempt to usurp Reigns to no avail, as evidenced by his bonkers-crazy length of his current Universal Championship title reign, which currently stands at 771 days. And counting.
771 days. That’s not a misprint.
Somewhere, even Mandy Rose is jealous. She’s been getting all of the attention lately with her impressive NXT Women’s Championship run, but nothing compares to the complete dominance Roman Reigns has shown over the past 2-plus years. If it feels like his title reign length has gone under the radar without a lot of fanfare, you may be right — but honestly, his current run on SmackDown has been so historic that a 771-day run as Universal Champion almost seems … expected.
(Technically, Roman Reigns holds both the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship, having unified the titles at this past April’s WrestleMania when he defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE title. But according to the official record books, Reigns currently has two separate title reigns running concurrently. A situation like this leaves Bobby Lashley as the highest-ranking champion on the Raw roster, as technically Reigns has brought both of his titles over to SmackDown. That being said, this article will focus exclusively on Reigns’ run as Universal Champion.)
In the last 30 or so years, nobody has even come close to the length of Roman Reigns’ current world championship title reign. Some may call the past 30 years the modern age of WWE, but we may as well start calling it the Age of Reigns, because nobody has done it better than the Head of the Table.
John Cena (380 days, 2006-2007), CM Punk (434 days, 2011-2013), and Brock Lensar (503 days, 2017-2018) have come closest to Roman Reigns’ historic length, but no one was able to cross that all-important two-year mark — a mark that Reigns steamrolled through with relative ease.
What’s even crazier is that this current Universal title reign is longer than all of Bret Hart’s world title reigns COMBINED. The same applies to the combined reigns of legends such as Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H, too.
Up next on the docket for the champion is a collision course with Logan Paul at Crown Jewel in November. And while it’s true that anything can happen in WWE, it sure looks like Reigns will continue to lengthen his winning streak. Conventional wisdom says that Paul is in way over his head.
Maybe Logan Paul can do the impossible and defeat Reigns to become the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion — but if men like Brock Lesnar and Drew McIntyre couldn’t get the job done, how much of a chance does Paul honestly have?
771 days. And by the end of Crown Jewel, Reigns could be looking at over 800 days as champion. That’s unreal.
But what if we told you he’s not even close to the longest-reigning world champion of all time? If you go back even farther in WWE’s history, you will come to a sober realization:
Roman Reigns has a long way to go before he can call himself the longest-reigning world champion of all time.
Here are the men who have set the bar so high that no Superstar — not even Reigns — has a probable chance of ever beating their title reign lengths:
Pedro Morales (1,027 days, February 1971 – December 1973)
One of the greatest Superstars of all time, Pedro Morales has the high honor of being the first-ever Triple Crown champion in WWE history: The first man to win the world championship, Intercontinental championship, and tag team titles at different points in his career. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment is holding the WWE Championship for over 1,000 days in the early 1970s.
Hulk Hogan (1,474 days, January 1984 – February 1988)
Can anything more be said about the storied career of Hulk Hogan? It shouldn’t surprise any wrestling fan that Hogan holds the distinction of having one of the longest title reigns ever.
For over four years, Hogan was the face of WWE during arguably its peak point in popularity. On that fateful night in January of 1984, Hogan defeated the Iron Shiek to kick off Hulkamania proper, turning untold millions of people into lifelong WWE fans in the process. Arguably the best to ever lace up a pair of boots, Hogan’s masterful title reign should come as no surprise to anybody who’s followed his career.
Bob Backlund (2,135 days, February 1978 – December 1983)
If Hulk Hogan’s four-year run on top doesn’t seem impressive, can we interest you in Bob Backlund’s nearly six-year championship reign?
As the Superstar who carried WWE on his back post-Bruno and pre-Hogan, it’s no surprise that Backlund had a title reign that was older than most kindergarteners. He was the bridge that connected the slower, more methodical style of wrestling in the 1960s and 1970s to the more modern style of sports entertainment that started skyrocketing in popularity in the 1980s.
Bruno Sammartino (2,803 days, May 1963 – January 1971 & 1,237 days, December 1973 – April 1977)
We’ll just come out and say it: Roman Reigns is never going to touch Bruno Sammartino in this particular department. Sammartino has had two separate historic title reigns as WWE Champion, one at over 1,237 days and the other clocking in at an absolutely mind-boggling 2,803 days.
To put everything in perspective, if Roman Reigns stays Universal Champion through New Year’s Day 2028, he’d still be many, many months short of reaching Sammartino’s record title reign length!
Bruno Sammartino was the rock that WWE was built upon. The fact that he has the all-time longest title reign in WWE history is apropos for a man of his legendary stature — and the fact that he also lays claim to an additional three-and-a-half year reign is beyond impressive as well.
So after all of this history, where does Roman Reigns stand?
As it turns out, after analyzing the different eras of WWE, Reigns' current title reign may actually be the most impressive reign of all.
WWE in 2022 is a completely different world than it was during the reigns of Backlund, Sammartino, Morales, and even Hogan. The key difference is the style of wrestling. WWE Championship matches today are … intense, to say the least. Tables and ringside barriers are consistently destroyed, bodies will be put on the line, and highlight-reel-worthy moves are a big part of every main event playbook. In contrast, WWE title defenses in the '60s and '70s were decidedly mat-based affairs — matches that would be potentially derided with chants of “boring” from the WWE Universe if they took place today. Bob Backlund won the WWE Championship and started his nearly six-year reign via an atomic drop, for goodness sakes!
As a fan, it comes down to whether you value the high-impact style of today as opposed to the more technical, wristlock-for-wristlock style of yesteryear. If today’s matches carry a higher degree of difficulty in your mind, then who’s stopping you from thinking — nay, believing — that Roman Reigns’ current run as Universal Champion is the greatest title reign in WWE history?
Numbers don’t lie, and Reigns has a long way to go before he can even think about calling himself the longest-reigning champion in history.
But he may have a claim already to being the most dominant champion in modern WWE history. And the craziest part is that he has many years ahead of him in active competition. Who knows what Reigns can accomplish with a few more years of experience under his belt.
No matter what happens, the Head of the Table has a lot on his plate. At Crown Jewel, he has another test in Logan Paul.
Here’s to Reigns clearing his plate once again, and continuing his march into the history books.
You can follow along with Reigns' reign and the rest of the WWE Universe on Peacock.