Recent Title Reigns

Prompted by the recent Miz and Keiji Mutoh wins (probably the first time those two have been mentioned in the same breath), I decided to crunch some numbers on recent world title reigns. I’ve enjoyed the way AEW’s been relatively sparing with title changes, and was curious as to whether my perception of which titles had been experiencing longer reigns vs being hot pototatoed was actually borne out by the numbers. Using the reigns which were occurring when the first AEW World Championship match took place, here’s what I came up with.

AEW World Championship: Aug 31 2019 Chris Jericho → February 29 2020 Jon Moxley → December 2 2020 Kenny Omega.
Average 180.33 days per reign.

GHC Heavyweight Championship: December 16 2018 Kaito Kiyomiya → Jac 4 2021 Go Shiozaki → Feb 12 Keiji Mutoh.
Average 266.33 days per reign.

Impact World Championship: April 28 2019 Brian Cage → Oct 25 2019 Sami Callihan → Jan 12 2020 Tessa Blanchard → July 18 2020 Eddie Edwards (obviously not including the vacating of the title as a separate reign) → July 18 2020 Eddie Edwards → Aug 15 2020 Eric Young → Oct 24 2020 Rich Swann.
Average 95.14 days per reign.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: April 6 2019 Kazuzhika Okada → Jan 5 2020 Tetsuya Naito → July 12 2020 Evil → Aug 29 2020 Tetsuya Naito → Jan 4 2021 Kota Ibushi.
Average 137.2 days per reign.

NXT Championship: June 1 2019 Adam Cole → July 1 2020 Keith Lee → August 22 Karrion Kross (again, another vacated title) → Sept 8 2020 Finn Balor.
Average 158 days per reign.

ROH World Championship: April 6 2019 Matt Taven → September 27 2019 Rush → Dec 13 2019 PCO → Feb 29 2020 Rush.
Average 172 days per reign.

WWE Universal Championship: Aug 11 2019 Seth Rollins → Oct 31 2019 The Fiend → Feb 27 2020 Goldberg → March 25 2020 Braun Stroman → Aug 23 2020 The Fiend → Aug 30 2020 Roman Reigns.
Average 93.5 days per reign.

WWE World Championship: April 7 2019 Kofi Kingston → Oct 4 2019 Brock Lesnar → March 25 2050 Drew McIntyre → Oct 25 2020 Randy Orton → Nov 16 2020 Drew McIntyre → February 21 2021 The Miz.
Average 114.5 days per reign.

Obviously there are a couple of caveats here, with the clock on Mutoh and Miz’s reigns having just begun (though I don’t think anyone expects the latter to last more than a month), not to mention the wrenches that COVID has thrown into long-term booking.

I’m curious if folks still think there’s a 1-to-1 relationship between the length and impact of world title reigns, and if your generalized sense of the value or prestige of these titles matches up with the degree to which they change hands. Obviously the number and quality of the title defenses would add some further granularity, though I think weighted rankings of the latter is something that’s still beyond the scope of these types of kayfabemetrics. :stuck_out_tongue:

There isn’t a 1 to 1 ratio of length to impact of reign. Quality of feuds, matches, and opponents matters. If you have a long run but don’t really beat anyone of note the reign seems less noteworthy. For instance I think Roman’s current reign has been more impactful than say Kofi in 2019 because the feuds have been more interesting.


Yeah, I don’t think there’s a magic time period for it, though it is interesting to look at (and great job with the accumulation). I actually think having a lot of long reigns is bad for a product. If everyone has long reigns, then having a long reign is just as meaningless as flipping the belt weekly. The advantage a long reign has over that is the ability to add good feuds to the mix, but just as often it’ll contain a ton of filler.

It also creates a caste system at the top where while you think that helps differentiate the elite, it really just makes a ton of people look impossibly far away from winning it. When Brock was champion, you knew only a few people had a shot at ever beating him (or someone being built in the most obvious context prior to a big event). It’s going to take something significant to beat WALTER (which is good and bad, but an outside person being the only one who can take him out makes the roster look bad). You could have pretty much mapped out who is going to beat who for the AEW title since the moment Jericho won the belt till now and probably who is next (which is why a Mox win this week might be very good!)

If a belt is over, I favor it being used flipped semi-often and making sure to include rising stars in the mix periodically. Orton, Punk, Edge, Bryan, Big Show, Sheamus…plenty of others…all got quick sniffs with the title before getting back to the top more substantially later. It helps people get into a new conversation and often become a name that can get it back later on. Do we think Miz has had the value he’s had over the past decade if not for his win, or would he be as replaceable as Morrison now? But if every title reign is 8-12 months long, think of how many of those guys never get their shot. Never possibly see the title at all. Even when it doesn’t stick, you still have a far more valuable mid carder in a Kofi, or a Jinder (who got to win a title at Mania afterwards). Hell, while people aren’t satisfied with his matches, even EVIL is seen in a far more important way after his run. We often think of where a Rusev or Ryback would be or have been if they hadn’t run into someone’s extended reign (or just rising at the wrong time like Barrett or Rhodes or Sandow). So hopefully now that the WWE Title is far more up for grabs, that’ll give realistic shots to a bunch of guys who haven’t been given that run yet (like Lashley or Lee).

And if enough of those guys don’t work out? Oh hey…there’s that valuable long reign tool to use again lol.

@Breng77 Yeah, there’s a balancing act in terms of giving a champ decisive wins over legit contenders without treading into ‘cena wins lol’ territory, where the outcome feels inevitable. I don’t really watch WWE firsthand, but even I can tell that Roman’s current reign is a cut above most of their other recent ones.

@B_From_NY Yeah, a mix that keeps people guessing and can feel either like a flash in the pan or a serious elevation of someone sounds like a good approach. I have mixed feelings about MLW, but whenever Fatu finally loses the belt I really hope we’re not in for another nearly two year reign. I think there can be value to those surprise wins, as you’re pointing out, but I also don’t think all mid-carders are created equal (Kofi’s win added emotional weight to the title, whereas Jinder’s…not so much). As you say, being able to place Evil at the top of a card as a former champ is a useful tool to have now that his reign’s over*, but giving, say, Goto a gold watch reign after this many years doesn’t do much for the belt or the roster, IMO. I might nitpick NJPW’s choice of who to elevate, but I like knowing that some of their guys just won’t ever get to the top theoretically makes it more meaningful when one of them does, seemingly out of nowhere. Okada’s first shock win over Tana may have pissed people off in the short-term, but it was perhaps a necessary step in kickstarting one of the company’s most valuable feuds.

In theory WWE having two world titles of theoretically equal importance on two essentially indistinguishable rosters should allow them to have their cake and eat it too - having a beast like Brock holding one title interminably while another moves between less dominant champs, but the bloat that comes with having so many titles, so many wrestlers, so much TV seems to have diminished the value of both. (Compare that with the unofficial elevation of a theoretically secondary title the way Nakamura did with the IC.)

  • Sidenote: my main issue with the Evil reign wasn’t so much the surprise elevation (or even the use of Bullet Club chicanery), but that it quickly became apparent that we were just going to see the boilerplate Evil match we were all accustomed to stretched out to 30+ minutes at the top of the card. There’s a discussion to be had about “the need for long title matches” as an corollary to “the need for long title reigns”, but that’s a larger question that I feel NJPW needs to do some soul-searching over - ie, if you’re going to be comfortable with more US-style screwy finishes to your title matches, you shouldn’t feel the need to preface them with needlessly long matches just because that’s what you’ve always done.
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I will say that in the time of weekly TV where companies are chasing ratings it is really hard to have really long championship runs. Guys just wrestle too often. It means you run through feuds too fast. AEW seems to be doing a better job of things than WWE as it feels like reigns are longer and more meaningful. WWE also suffers from monthly “PPVs” But Hogan had something like a 1400 day run as champion and I cannot imagine that in modern wrestling (or Bruno Samartino having like a 4000 day run). Like people complain about Cena but compared to old champions like Hogan he was nothing as far as days as champion.


WWE’s 4 major Men’s titles barely moved since Mania - WWE was Braun, Bray, and Reigns. Universal was McIntyre, Orton, McIntyre. IC was Zayn/AJ, Hardy, Zayn Big E. US was Andrade, Crews, Lashley. SD Women’s was Bayley and Sasha. Raw was Lynch, Asuka, Banks, Asuka. Honestly if anything, I feel like that’s barely hitting enough different hands (for my own ideals), really, if not a bit too few…especially for established titles.

In regards to AEW, you’re right, and you can argue if anyone, they’re the new company that has to build the prestige of their titles more than anyone. That said, while they’ve done a good job making interesting stories on top, there’s really only been 3-4 guys in the company who are at the level to hold the AEW Championship belt, so I’m not sure that’s a case of creating long reigns or having to spread it out so you don’t use up the 3-4 (they certainly get credit for holding off on MJF). That’s been an even bigger problem in the women’s end where the lack of movement was more about a complete lack of contenders entirely.

On the other side, I agree with you greatly that their resistance to too much change on the TNT title and Tag Title fronts has been to their benefit to a large extent. Both divisions have a ton of possible champions, but have let those with the belts really run through a bunch of quality opponents in order to raise the stake of those titles.

I’m of the same feeling with the EVIL run. The only real argument against giving it a shot was ending Naito’s run early, and as I’ve said, I hate that any company would be a slave to an artificial minimum reign. They told the story of Naito’s triumph and there was no better time to then tell the story of betrayal. As many have said, maybe it comes off as a unanimous success if they use Shingo in that role, but I can argue that Shingo was reasonably close to the level of being able to main event a standalone show with the right opponent. EVIL, outside of a Jericho match, really hasn’t ever. In normal times, it’s a great move; in times where they have no access to their foreign talent, it was a saving moment. Gave a great foil for Naito at a stadium show they didn’t have to use up Okada or Ibushi or Tanahashi in…and whether or not the matches came off well, gave the G1 an instant addition to the favorites to win it.

And like you guys have said, a lot of that has to do with some long reigns that have built the mythology of the title. But now that they have that strength, it was a great time to use it. And as short as it was as another example, I fully believe it’s helped Jay White get to the point where he’s at (especially getting to use it as part of his promos for the rest of time "I sold out MSG!). This is basically the argument against giving the Gotos and Ishiis the title. So when you do want to make a guy, you know it still took that extra level of importance to who they are before they got there.

I would say barely moved is relative. 3 champions means about 100 days each if they are equal reigns. That isn’t terribly long. But the larger problem WWE has is running through contenders honestly. If a champion has a long reign they lack the depth of good contenders to make the reigns consistently interesting.

You can see that with John and Wai talking about Roman vs Edge, where they talk about where does Roman go if he wins, or who Drew faces beyond Lashley. Which is why quality is more important than length, but WWE is in a situation where it is hard for them to provide both with so much weekly TV on top of monthly PPVs. They turn feuds around way too quickly.

Yeah that’s where I feel like they run into trouble - the funneling of people from their secondary titles up to the main event. You can shuffle the top title quite a bit like I prefer, but you are going to run through a lot of people and eventually get some people who shouldn’t be there because they’re missing the necessary road stop in the middle. They’re hopefully getting better at this - Lashley just made the big jump after a strong run; hopefully Big E comes after. AJ usually plays around in a IC/US role just to keep him fresh for the top. But a few too many like Zayn and Andrade get there and they don’t use it as a platform to get to the top.

Though it’s almost a chicken and egg thing if they’re doing long reigns - they’re just contenders who can’t break through. But sometimes it’s not getting to that point. They’re not even getting the chance to lose the big match, and I think that’s where you run into longer reigns being preferable - because if you aren’t giving new guys pushes up to the top, you’re running out of those possibilities over the course of a year of bi or tri-monthy switches (ideally, of all different lengths that average out to that).

@Breng77 Definitely. If NJPW had to have the IWGP HW defended once a month, I…well let’s just say that I doubt I’d be as passionate of an NJPW fan.

@B_From_NY Yes, how AEW treats its main event scene now that we’ve had a couple of years to establish the clear main eventers is an interesting issue. We’ve already seen that they’re fine letting Jericho slide down the card because a legend like that will be perennially credible. Page is an interesting case in that he really seemed to lose steam heading into the Jericho match but they’ve done a good job of building him back up from the ground, and even now as he’s palling around w DO it feels as though you could do the logical Omega rematch and have him feel like a legit main eventer at the drop of a hat. It’s tempting to say that MJF should be seasoned a bit more with a TNT run, but I think the long-running Jericho drama proves he doesn’t need a belt to stay relevant - may as well keep him in the wings for the world title scene, as you say. On that note, I’d love to see Fenix get a sustained run with the TNT title sometime soon. Whether on Dark or in those main event Dynamite multi-mans, he’s on fire right now even by his standards, and him kicking off Dynamite each week with a high-intensity TNT title defense could make for an incredible couple months of TV.

As for NJPW, yeah, I’m one of those “why not Shingo?” people, but with almost a year’s distance the Evil run hasn’t really damaged the title (though the weirdness of the G1->WK booking is another issue), and helped them weather low-return cards (and yes, the money was definitely in the chase for Naito). Crowds will certainly get up for Shingo when he’s johnny-on-the-spot (the 2019 BoSJ finals), but I do wonder if a more sustained focus/angle might help to cement him at the top…though the language/culture gap and clap crowds make it difficult for me to say with any certainty how Japanese audiences feel about him right now.

…And yes, White is the perfect example of the sort of short run we’ve been talking about. Character-driven, not a shocker if you’d tracked his rise but perhaps coming earlier than expected, and now able to crow about being bigger league when he’s targetting someone like Ishii right now. (Completely contradicting what I said in the previous post, my love for Ishii does have me wishing he’d get a brief run as a transitional IC champ, but it really doesn’t make sense at this point.)


I think AEW being a young company needs longer runs by established guys to build credible contenders. It is why they started with Jericho there biggest name, transitioned to their second biggest in Moxley (among casual/wwe fans), then to Omega. I think that gives them time to build up the Hangman’s on their roster to be believable champs.

I feel like they have 6-10 guys I could buy with the title within the next year (they won’t all get there)
Jericho, Mox, Omega, Hangman, Brian Cage, Cody (I think doing the he won’t challenge thing was dumb), Hangman for sure then maybe MJF, Eddie Kingston, any of the death triangle guys. Or Lance Archer.

Now the bottom of that list is more I could see win a title match more than have a long title run.

Wrestling is about having stars draw eyes, and if that is the goal then the biggest star should be either champion or chasing the champion.

WWE finally figured out Roman Reigns should be a heel, but the previous attempts to make him a face champion just languished.

While length of a title reign might mean something in the old days, today I think it is simple the acknowledgement that TV shows need to have a new season every year, maybe two seasons per year, which means new stories. So I think champion reigns sort of align with that - around 180 days.

The era of Hulk Hogan and before that Bruno with their long reigns is probably not something that can return.

Yeah we are never going back to multi-year long reigns. That said I think longer reigns would help stories more than hurt, but they need to build a variety of characters to make that work.

A factor of things definitely need to be considered. Length, defences, feuds, how the actual wrestler comes across as. A title reign being shorter than a month or even two months is difficult to see as a good reign though, as it just comes across as pointless, regardless of other factors.


I agree that a really short reign probably cannot be considered a great reign but depending on how it ends it can do a lot for a performer. For instance if they are required to vacate due to injury if there was a lot of build to their win it still helps or if their big rival cheats them out of the title. But the reign is still typically sub par