The 21 Longest WWE Title Reigns, Ranked

WWE / ONE37pm

Hey everyone! It's The Wrestling Classic here with another list for ONE37pm. While we all are still in shock that Roman Reigns continues his dominant reign as Universal and WWE Champion after defeating Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 39 (2023), it’s become more of a trending topic to talk about some of the longest WWE Championship reigns. Although Roman Reigns is currently on a historic run with the Universal Championship at 1,200+ days and counting, he’s also been the WWE Champion for 380 days and counting. Therefore, I was tasked with ranking the longest WWE title reigns (more specifically, the longest-reigning WWF/E Champions).

The championship was established in 1963 and there have been 146 championship reigns since then. There have been 53 men who have held the prestigious championship. John Cena has the most number of reigns holding the belt on 13 occasions. Bruno Sammartino has the most combined days as champion with 4,040 days as WWF Champion. However, let's now rank the 21 superstars and legends who held the belt the longest in a single reign.

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21. Shawn Michaels - 231 Days

wwe shawm michaels return

March 31, 1996 - November 17, 1996

The “Boyhood Dream” came true at WrestleMania XII when the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels defeated the reigning champion Bret “Hitman” Hart in a classic Iron Man Match. It was Michael’s first reign as the WWE Champion. He would overcome the odds of Diesel, Davey Boy Smith, Vader, Yokozuna, and Mankind. It wasn’t until he ran into Sycho Sid at Madison Square Garden that his first reign came to an end. HBK's first run at the top of the WWF was a fun one on this lineup of the longest WWE title reigns.

20. Brock Lesnar - 223 Days

Brock Lesnar WWE World Champion 2014 1200x675 1

August 17th, 2014 - March 29th, 2015

Brock Lesnar made his shocking return to the WWE in 2012. He was already a three-time WWE Champion before leaving the company in 2004. He didn’t win his fourth championship until 2014. Lesnar had just ended Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak and he followed it up by destroying Cena in a one-sided match at SummerSlam to win the championship introducing the world to "Suplex City." When he lost the title, he wasn’t even defeated. Seth Rollins cashed in his “Money in the Bank” contract to turn the WrestleMania 31 main event into a triple threat, in which he pinned Roman Reigns.

19. Bret Hart - 248 Days


March 20th, 1994 - November 23rd, 1994

Bret “Hitman” Hart was a fighting champion who would never back down from a challenge. When he defeated Yokozuna in the main event of WrestleMania X to start his second reign as champion, it felt like he was finally going to be the face of the company. Bret would successfully defend his championship against the likes of Diesel and his brother Owen Hart through the Spring and Summer. The reign would come to an end with a controversial finish to his match with former champion Bob Backlund at Survivor Series 1994.

18. Hulk Hogan - 248 Days

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March 24th, 1991 - November 27th, 1991

By the time the "Hulkster" started his third reign as WWF Champion, Hulkamania had already been running wild in the WWF for nearly seven years. Hulk Hogan would win his third championship at WrestleMania VII defeating Sgt Slaughter. Hogan would remain a dominant defending champion until he crossed paths with two new foes, Ric Flair and The Undertaker. Hogan’s reign would come to an end with Flair would aid The Undertaker in defeating Hogan at Survivor Series 1991, thereby ending this reign.

17. Yokozuna - 280 Days

yokozuna studio photo wwf

June 13th, 1993 - March 20th, 1994

Yokozuna made an immediate impression from the moment he first appeared in the WWF. He quickly rose to the top of the ranks, won the 1993 Royal Rumble, and defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania IX. The first reign was cut short by Hulk Hogan, who defeated Yokozuna for the title mere minutes after his victory. Yokozuna would go on to kill "Hulkamania" in the WWF for the remainder of the 90s when he defeated him at the 1993 King of the Ring to win back the title. He would reign over the WWF until WrestleMania X when he lost to Bret Hart. Yokozuna's second run of dominance will forever reign supreme as one of the best and longest WWE title reigns.

16. JBL - 280 Days

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June 27th, 2004 - April 3rd, 2005

John Bradshaw Layfield won his first and only WWE Championship by shockingly ending the reign of the fan-favorite Eddie Gurrero at the Great American Bash in 2004. Nobody ever thought that Bradshaw, who spent most of his career in the lower midcard and tag team division of his career, was going to have a lengthy successful reign but he did. He would controversially overcome the likes of Eddie Guerrero (again), Booker T, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, and the Big Show with the help of his “cabinet” during his reign before losing to John Cena at WrestleMania 21.

15. John Cena - 280 Days

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April 3rd, 2005 - January 8th, 2006

John Cena won his first WWE Championship in 2005 after defeating JBL at WrestleMania 21. During this time, he would first defend the championship in a rematch against JBL on the SmackDown brand before taking the WWE Championship to Raw. Cena would be successful in defenses against Christian, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Carlito, Chris Masters, and Kane during his first title reign. That initial reign came to an end when Edge decided to cash in his Money in the Bank contract for a title match after Cena retained his title in an Elimination Chamber match.

14. Ultimate Warrior - 293 Days

Ultimate Warrior bio

April 1st, 1990 - January 19th, 1991

In 1989, there were no two wrestlers as popular as the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan. It became common for fans to fantasize about who would win in an encounter between the company's then irresistible force and immovable object. It would finally happen at WrestleMania VI, where Warrior would defeat Hogan to start his only reign as the WWF Champion. During this time, he would successfully defend the title against Mr. Perfect, Ted Dibase, Haku, and Rick Rude. He would lose the title to Sgt Slaughter at the 1991 Royal Rumble when Randy Savage got involved. Warrior's first and only WWF Championship may not have panned out as many had predicted, but the way it kicked off was memorable and befitting of someone getting one of the longest WWE title reigns.

13. “Superstar” Billy Graham - 296 Days

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April 30th, 1977 - February 20th, 1978

“Superstar” Billy Graham will always be a legend who was considered ahead of his time and an influence to many wrestlers that would follow his run in the next two decades that followed. Graham could talk, had a distinctive look, and brought more flare to professional wrestling. He would win the WWF Championship when he defeated Bruno Sammartino, thus ending Bruno’s second reign as champion that nearly went four years. During his reign, he would defend against the likes of Jack Briscoe, Pedro Morales, Bruno Sammartino, Don Muraco, Mil Mascaras, Riki Choshu, and Dusty Rhodes. He also wrestled against then-NWA World Champion Harley Race. He would eventually lose the championship to Bob Backlund after nine and a half months.

12. Diesel - 358 Days


November 26th, 1994 - November 19th, 1995

Diesel had won the WWF Championship in just eight seconds by defeating Bob Backlund at a live event in Madison Square Garden. This was quite a shock to everyone since Backlund had just won the belt days prior from Bret Hart controversially. Diesel would be the longest-reigning champion of the 90s from that point forward. He would successfully defend the championship against the likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, King Mabel, and Sycho Sid. It would be at Survivor Series 1995 that he would lose the belt to Bret Hart, even though he was so close to holding the championship for a full calendar year. This loss was followed by a change of attitude in "Big Daddy Cool." This would be his only reign as champion. And while it didn't exactly make big box office numbers, the shocking way it began and ended still makes it one of the most unforgettable selections on this list of the longest WWE title reigns.

11. Hulk Hogan - 364


April 2nd, 1989 - April 1st, 1990

It was pretty much common knowledge in the 1980s that Hulk Hogan would most likely become the WWF Champion again during any brief period that he wasn’t. The "Hulkster's" first reign ended in a ton of controversy after Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant conspired together with two referees to get the belt off of Hogan on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. The title would then be won in a tournament by “Macho Man” Randy Savage, who was a friend of Hogan's. Once the Mega Powers exploded, Hogan would go on to defeat Savage at WrestleMania V to kick off his second reign. During this reign, he would defend the championship against the likes of Randy Savage, Big Bossman, Honkey Tonk Man, and Zeus until losing the title to the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI just one day before holding the belt for an entire calendar year.

10. AJ Styles - 371 Days

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November 7th, 2017 - November 13th, 2018

The WWE Championship changed hands for the very first time overseas (outside of North America) when the “Phenomenal” AJ Styles defeated Jinder Mahal in Manchester, England on an episode of SmackDown to claim his second WWE Championship. It almost felt like it came out of nowhere and I don’t think anyone expected his reign to last as long as it did. During his over a-year-long reign, Styles would overcome the likes of Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, John Cena, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, and Samoa Joe until ultimately losing to Daniel Bryan. AJ Styles was a fighting champion until the very end and hasn’t had a reign since, but there is no telling if he might surprisingly win the WWE Championship again in the future. Such a phenomenal and storied championship run is worthy of being ranked in the top 1o of the longest WWE title reigns.

9. Randy Savage - 371 Days

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March 27th, 1988 - April 2nd, 1989

When the WWF Championship was vacated after a controversial finish in a championship match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant on Saturday's Night Main Event, President Jack Tunney set up a tournament at WrestleMania IV to crown a new undisputed champion. The “Macho Man” Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth in his corner would win four matches in one night to become the new champion. He would ultimately beat the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase in the finals. Savage would defend the title against Dibase, Bad News Brown, Andre the Giant, One Man Gang, and Big Bossman throughout the year. During his reign, Hulk Hogan and Savage became allies and frequently teamed up as the Mega Powers. It was when the Mega Powers had a falling out that Savage would lose the championship to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania V.

8. Roman Reigns - 1,200+ Days

roman reigns title belt

April 3rd, 2022 - Current

When Roman Reigns returned with a new attitude in 2020, I don’t think anyone could expect the level of dominance we have seen from the "Tribal Chief" thus far. Already holding the Universal Championship for over a year, at WrestleMania 38 he was also allowed to hold the WWE Championship when he was put in a "Winner Takes All" match against then-champion Brock Lesnar. Reigns would go on to defeat Lesnar to start his historic reign as WWE Champion and Universal Champion at the very same time. He has gone on to defeat Lesnar, Drew McIntyre, Logan Paul, Matt Riddle, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Cody Rhodes. The “Head of the Table” currently still holds both titles and has already surpassed a thousand days with the Universal Championship. That alone makes you feel like this reign of terror isn’t ending anytime soon. This is one of those modern-day WWE Championship runs that's up there as one of the best and longest WWE title reigns.

7. John Cena - 380 Days

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September 17th, 2006 - October 2nd, 2007

Speaking of reigns of terrors, for me personally, that’s what John Cena’s third reign as WWE Champion felt like. Cena would defeat Edge on an episode of Raw to begin his third reign and he would go on for over a year defending the championship. During that time he would successfully defend the belt against Umaga, Randy Orton, Edge, Shawn Michaels, The Great Khali, Bobby Lashley, Mick Foley, and King Booker. Cena never officially lost the championship, but was stripped of the title after suffering a torn pectoral muscle. This reign would be the longest WWE Championship reign since Randy Savage’s reign in 1988. There was no telling when it was going to end if Cena hadn’t gotten injured.

6. CM Punk - 434 Days

showbiz wwe cm punk

November 20th, 2011 - January 27th, 2013

CM Punk changed the landscape of WWE in 2011 and quickly became the most popular anti-hero. After months of the company trying to screw him out of the championship and a few quick side missions, he would defeat Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series 2011 in Madison Square Garden to start his second reign as the WWE Champion. During his time as champion, Punk managed to overcome a variety of foes in the form of Chris Jericho, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Kane, The Big Show, and Ryback. He would go on to become the longest-reigning champion in the last 25 years and held the title for all of 2012. Punk even turned heel amid this legendary reign! He would lose the championship to The Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble, which I still find disappointing to this very day.

5. Pedro Morales - 1,027 Days

Pedro Morales as the WWWF WWE Champion
Pro Wrestling Illustrated

February 8th, 1971 - December 1st, 1973

The wrestling world was shocked when Ivan Koloff defeated Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship. It didn’t last long though as popular Puerto Rican wrestler Pedro Morales would be the one to vanquish Koloff for the belt less than a month later. He was the fourth person to hold the championship and the first ever Latino to do so. During his reign, he would defend against fearsome foes such as "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Captain Lou Albano, Ernie Ladd, Larry Hennig, Mr. Fuji, and George “The Animal” Steele. Holding the championship for over two years, he would eventually lose it to Stan Stasiak, ending his one and only reign. He would continue making history during his continued time in the WWWF. This history-making championship run definitely broke barriers, which is another reason why it's ranked high on this list of the longest WWE title reigns.

4. Bruno Sammatino - 1,237 Days

Pro Wrestling Illustrated

December 10th, 1973 - April 30th, 1977

Bruno Sammartino started his second reign as the WWWF Champion when he defeated Stan Stasiak, who had just won the title nine days prior by ending Morales’ nearly three-year reign. Sammartino hadn’t been champion since 1971 and people wondered if he would hold the title for as long as he did the first time around. During this reign, he would clash over the title with Stan Hansen, Stasiak, Pedro Morales, Bruiser Brody, Ernie Ladd, Waldo Von Erich, Ivan Koloff, Blackjack Mulligan, Blackjack Lanza, and Larry "The Ax" Hennig. Bruno would eventually want to drop the title due to neck issues and his second reign would have only lasted three years and four months before he dropped the championship to “Superstar” Billy Graham.

3. Hulk Hogan - 1,474 Days

skysports hulk hogan wwe wwf 4556749
Pro Wrestling Illustrated

January 23rd, 1984 - February 5th, 1988

It was the reign that changed the game. When Hulk Hogan defeated The Iron Sheik in 1984, it was the beginning of "Hulkamania" and the WWF separating itself from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) to globalize its product. The "Hulkster" was the face of that global expansion by telling everyone to say their prayers and eat their vitamins. It was during this reign that WrestleMania would officially be launched and the business was taken to an entirely different level at that time. Hogan would come up against fellow legends against Paul Orondorff, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, King Kong Bundy, Nikolai Volkoff, Hercules, Terry Funk, Don Muraco, and of course Andre the Giant. Hogan would only lose the title when it was vacated after a controversial finish to a match against Andre the Giant. But his four-year reign will go down in history as a very important one and is worthy of being this high on the list of the longest reigning WWE title reigns.

2. Bob Backlund - 2,135 Days

Pro Wrestling Illustrated

February 20th, 1978 - December 26th, 1983

Bob Backlund looked like he stepped off the set of the television show Happy Days and became a professional wrestler. He was your typical All-American boy and was managed by “The Golden Boy” Arnold Skaaland. He would overcome adversity after a handful of losses and eventually defeat “Superstar” Billy Graham for the WWWF Championship. He would go on to defend the title against the likes of Spiros Arion, Mr. Fuji, Ken Patera, George “The Animal” Steele, Ivan Koloff, Adrian Adonis, Bob Orton, Big John Studd, Sgt Slaughter, and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. He also had notable matches against Antonio Inoki and faced other World Champions such as Harley Race, Nick Bockwinkel, Ric Flair, Billy Robinson, and Don Muraco. Backlund’s reign would end a little over five years later when he lost to the Iron Sheik.

1. Bruno Sammartino - 2,803 Days

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Pro Wrestling Illustrated

May 17th, 1963 - January 18th, 1971

I recall someone calling Bruno Sammartino the “Godfather” of the WWE. He wasn’t the first-ever WWWF Champion, but he still is the longest reigning. He defeated the "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, a month after Rogers was named the first champion, in 1963. Bruno Sammartino would headline Madison Square Garden, defending the championship for (nearly) the next eight years. The "Italian Stallion" would defend the championship against Rogers, Prince Iaukea, Johnny Valentine, George "The Animal" Steele, Bill Miller, Ernie "The Cat" Ladd, Toru Tanaka, Gorilla Monsoon, Killer Kowalski, Gene Kiniski, Waldo Von Erich, The Sheik, and Lou Albano. He would shockingly lose the championship to Ivan Koloff after seven years and eight months.

I hope you all enjoyed this ranking of the 21 longest WWE title reigns. Let me know if you think Roman Reigns will surpass any more legendary reigns!

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