Reign of Champions: WWE’s 20 Longest Reigning Champions

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When fans and historians debate on who is the greatest champion in wrestling, there’s always a point of contention. Which is more valuable? Number of titles or number of days holding the strap? Is Ric Flair‘s 16 World title wins worth more than Bruno Sammartino‘s 4000+ days with only two reigns? After all, Flair had to lose the title 15 times in his 1,000+ days as World Champion, while Bruno only lost twice. Many historians prefer the length of reigns over amount, as proper champions hold the belt for longer durations, therefore winning more title defences.

Photo: WWE

With that in mind, we thought we’d look at who are the longest combined reigning champions in the WWE‘s history. Not just the World title, but combining the reigns of every title they held during their WWE tenure. The reason for this is not to prove who was the greatest reigning champion, but rather to look at the data from a different angle. In professional wrestling, any title is a measuring stick. It means that the company believes in you as a face of the company. Sure, the World title is more prestigious than all of them (in theory, it hasn’t always seemed that way), and the World champion is supposedly the Face That Runs The Place, but even European and Tag Team titles are put on people that are considered top tier performers to lead major storylines. Having one of these is more advantageous in creating kayfabe prestige than not having them (although there have been some iconic exceptions, like Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jake “The Snake” Roberts). So if we go with the premise that holding a title is mark of prestige and confidence from the company, we thought we’d look at the top 20 performers who have held a WWE title, ranked by total days they’ve held a WWE title. The titles eligible are the World titles (WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, Universal Championship), Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship (but only title reigns booked by WWE since 2001’s acquisition of WCW), Tag Team titles (WWE, World, Raw, Smackdown), Women (Womens, Divas, Raw, Smackdown), European Championship, Hardcore Championship, and any of the WCW titles that were booked by the WWE post-acquisition (WCW World, WCW Television, WCW United States, and WCW World Tag). In the case of the Fabulous Moolah, her reign would begin with her joining the WWF in 1984, not the 30 years prior that was booked by the NWA. We will not be acknowledging her 10,000+ days as NWA Women’s Champion, just the 600+ she had in the WWF.

Reign of Champions: WWE’s 20 Longest Reigning Champions

* denotes still active in the WWE

#1 Bruno Sammartino, 4,040 days

Titles held: WWWF World Championship
Longest Reign: 2,803 days as WWWF World Champion

#2 Hulk Hogan, 2,204 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 1,474 days as WWF World Champion

#3 Bob Backlund, 2,138 days

Photo: PWI

Titles held: WWF Heavyweight Championship
Longest Reign: 2,135 days as WWF Heavyweight Champion

#4 *John Cena, 1,887 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE US Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 380 days as WWE Champion

#5 *Triple H, 1,722 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, Intercontinental Championship, WWE Tag Team, WWF European Championship
Longest Reign: 280 days as World Heavyweight Champion

#6 Pedro Morales, 1,646 days

Titles held: WWWF World Championship, WWF Intercontinental Championship
Longest Reign: 1,027 days as WWWF World Champion

#7 Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart, 1,435 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE World Championship, Intercontinental Championship, WWF Tag Team
Longest Reign: 274 days as WWF World Tag Team Champion, with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (The Hart Foundation)

#8 *The Miz, 1,416 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, Intercontinental Championship, US Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 250 days as WWE Tag Team Champion with John Morrison

#9 *Kofi Kingston, 1,308 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: Intercontinental Championship, US Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 483 days as Raw Tag Team Champion with Big E & Xavier Woods (New Day)

#10 Edge, 1,150 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, Intercontinental Championship, US Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 105 days as World Heavyweight Champion

#11 Shawn Michaels, 1,114 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, Intercontinental Championship, European Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 231 days as WWE World Champion

#12 *Chris Jericho, 1,064 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: Undisputed Heavyweight Champion, WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, WCW World Championship, Intercontinental Championship, US Championship, European Championship, WWE Tag Team, Hardcore Championship
Longest Reign: 140 days as WWE Tag Team Champion with The Big Show (Jeri-Show)

#13 Randy Orton, 1,029 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, Intercontinental Championship
Longest Reign: 210 days as Intercontinental Champion

#14 *Kane, 975 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, ECW Championship, Intercontinental Championship, WWE Tag Team, WCW Tag Team
Longest Reign: 245 days as WWE Tag Team Champion with Daniel Bryan (Team Hell-No)

#15 Billy Gunn, 970 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: Intercontinental Championship, WWE Tag Team, Hardcore Championship
Longest Reign: 143 as WWE World Tag Team Champions with Bart Gunn (The Smoking Gunns)

#16 “Macho Man” Randy Savage, 934 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE Championship, Intercontinental Championship
Longest Reign: 414 days as Intercontinental Champion

#17 Mr. Fuji, 932 days

Titles held: WWWF World Tag Team Championship
Longest Reign: 337 as WWWF World Tag Team Champion with Professor Tanaka

 

#18 John Morrison, 929 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: ECW Championship, Intercontinental Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 250 days as WWE Tag Team Champion with The Miz

#19 “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, 852 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: Intercontinental Championship, European Championship, Hardcore Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 294 days as WWF World Tag Team Champion with the Dynamite Kid (The British Bulldogs)

#20 The Rock, 838 days

Photo: WWE

Titles held: WWE World Championship, WCW World Championship, Intercontinental Championship, WWE Tag Team
Longest Reign: 265 days as Intercontinental Champion

For an interesting contrast, here’s a list featuring champions booked solely after Vince McMahon Jr. took over the WWF in 1984.

  1. Hulk Hogan, 2,204
  2. John Cena, 1,887
  3. Triple H, 1,722
  4. Bret Hart, 1,435
  5. The Miz, 1,1416
  6. Kofi Kingston, 1,308
  7. Edge, 1,150
  8. Shawn Michaels, 1,114
  9. Chris Jericho, 1,064
  10. Randy Orton, 1,029
  11. Kane, 975
  12. Billy Gunn, 970
  13. “Macho Man” Randy Savage, 934
  14. John Morrison, 929
  15. “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, 852
  16. The Rock, 838
  17. Trish Stratus, 828
  18. Shelton Benjamin, 777
  19. Booker T, 774
  20. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, 763
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Jamie Greer is the Managing Editor and lead writer for Last Word on Pro Wrestling. A lifelong wrestling fan who started with the WWF in the early 80’s, he now follows everything from the smallest indie to WWE. He’s also written for WrestleZone, The Windsor Star, Windsor Independent and other publications. He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and son.

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