Is Roman Reigns the Longest Reigning Heel World Champion in WWE History?
In 2015, Roman Reigns was set to become the company’s next top star. However, his in-ring persona failed to have the fans cheer for him. Reigns did not turn heel for the longest time due to the hesitance of Vince McMahon, who wanted to put Reigns to rule as the face of WWE like John Cena. Over time, Reigns became one of the most polarizing figures on WWE TV. Fans refused to acknowledge The Big Dog until he became the Tribal Chief in late 2020. Roman’s unexpected heel turn saved his floundering career. The Head of the Table won the Universal Championship in 2020 after defeating Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman in a triple-threat match.
Since then, the title has not changed hands and to this day, Reigns is tenacious in his run as the longest-reigning Universal Champion. The leader of the Bloodline cemented himself as the company’s biggest heel after he defeated Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 38 in a winner take all match and unified the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship.
It is conspicuous that WWE’s ulterior motive behind making Roman a heel champion is to make him a fan favorite. But is he the longest-reigning heel World Champion in WWE history?
Is Roman Reigns the longest-reigning heel World Champion in WWE history?
One of the most iconic moments of Roman Reigns’ heel turn was when he ruthlessly vanquished Jey Uso at Hell in a Cell in 2020. Despite being a heel, fans love Reigns. The Needle Mover is perpetual with his title-winning spree and has held the Universal Championship for over 870 days. However, he is not the only heel in WWE history to enjoy a long World Championship reign.
Fans from the 70s would remember the wrestling legend, Superstar Billy Graham. It is a well-known fact that back in the day, heel superstars were the most despised in the company. And so, it was rare to see a bad guy hold the top title.
A consummate showman,an influential trend-setter and a WWWF World Champion who was pure box-office at the gates during his reign:Superstar Billy Graham pic.twitter.com/bxtOemu8JO
— Rasslin’ History 101 (@WrestlingIsKing) July 8, 2020
However, during that era, Graham was able to enjoy nearly a 10-month-long reign between 1977 and 1978 as the World Heavyweight Champion of WWWF as a heel superstar. That was the longest any villainous superstar held the top title of the company until Roman Reigns arrived. The Tribal Chief surpassed Graham’s reign as the heel World Champion a long ago, as he is currently Universal Champion for over two years.
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2022
Roman Reigns breaks Gunther’s impressive title reign record
The Ring General Gunther, f.k.a Walter, had a monumental run as the top Champion during his time in NXT UK. The SmackDown superstar held the NXT United Kingdom Championship from April 2019 till August 2021 setting an 870-day record as the Champion. The Tribal Chief recently exceeded Gunther’s reigns after he broke the 870-day mark with his Universal Championship reign.
According to rumors, WWE is planning to have Reigns drop the WWE Championship sometime in 2023. Despite that, his reign as the Universal Champion will stay intact. It remains to be seen if Roman Reigns manages to reach Hulk Hogan’s spectacular 1,474-day title reign mark in the future.
At 871+ days, Roman Reigns has officially been the Universal Champion longer than Walter held the NXT United Kingdom Championship.
— Christian Maracle (@MaracleMan) January 18, 2023
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