Roman Reigns In 2021 & 9 Other Wrestlers Who Were World Champions For An Entire Calendar Year

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Roman Reigns held the Universal Championship for an entire calendar year in 2021, but he’s not the only wrestler to pull off this difficult feat!

Winning a World Championship is one thing but to hold onto it is another. There comes tons of pressure to deliver as a World Champion in multiple promotions as you are the face of the company. However, there have been some wrestlers who managed to hold a World Championship for an entire calendar year.

A long championship reign doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a great one. Sometimes a championship reign can drag on for too long and fans become disinterested with the title run, and they are ready for a new champion to be crowned. Nevertheless, the World Champions that held a championship for an entire calendar year brought stability to the championship with some great matches and rivalries. Roman Reigns is the most recent wrestler to achieve this feat which is a testament to his greatness.

Dory Funk Jr. – NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Dory Funk Jr. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Cropped

Dory Funk Jr. is the elder brother of Terry Funk, and he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship once in his career. Funk defeated Gene Kiniski to kickstart his historic run with the championship in 1969.

Funk held the coveted NWA World Heavyweight Championship for 1,563 days, and he held the title for three successive calendar years between 1970-72. Ultimately, Harley Race won his first of eight NWA World Heavyweight Titles in 1973 at Funk’s expense.

Terry Funk – NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Terry Funk NWA World Heavyweight Champion Cropped

Keeping in the theme with the Funk family, Terry Funk followed in his brother Dory’s footsteps, and he also won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Funk captured the gold by beating Jack Brisco on December 10, 1975.

It’s easy for fans to forget that Funk held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship as he is renowned for his hardcore exploits. He did a superb job as champion, and he had an uninterrupted run with the championship for the entirety of 1976. Harley Race once again was responsible for ending a Funk’s championship reign which he did in 1977.

Bruno Sammartino – WWE Championship

Bruno Sammartino WWF Champion Cropped

The legendary Bruno Sammartino is one of the greatest WWE Champions of all time. No man has had the privilege of holding the WWE Championship longer than Sammartino.

Sammartino sold-out arenas and he dethroned Buddy Rogers to kickstart his love affair with the WWE Championship in 1963. Sammartino’s first WWE Title reign spanned seven years consecutively which is mind-boggling. He dropped the title in 1971, and he held the WWE Championship once again from 1973-1977 which covered three calendar years.

CM Punk – WWE Championship

CM Punk WWE Champion WrestleMania 28 Cropped

At Survivor Series 2011, CM Punk defeated Alberto Del Rio to become a two-time WWE Champion. The Straight Edge Savior was finally getting the chance to prove himself as a main event-level talent.

Punk oozed confidence in his WWE Championship reign by providing some memorable matches. Punk’s WWE Title reign lasted 434 days until The Rock beat him for the title at Royal Rumble 2013. Moreover, Punk held the WWE Title for the entirety of 2012, and he became the first man to hold the WWE Championship for a calendar year in 25 years.

Nick Aldis – NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Nick Aldis NWA World Heavyweight Champion Cropped

Nick Aldis is fondly remembered for his run in TNA with Doug Williams as the British Invasion. However, Aldis became a main eventer in TNA and he continued his rich vein of form in the revamped National Wrestling Alliance.

Aldis regained the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Cody to become a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion in October 2018. Aldis held the championship for 1,043 days and the whole of 2019 and 2020. Ultimately, Trevor Murdoch brought his title reign to a halt on NWA 73rd Anniversary Show in August 2021.

Bob Backlund – WWE Championship

Bob Backlund WWF Champion Cropped

Two-time WWE Champion Bob Backlund’s first run with the WWE Championship was superb. Backlund overcame Superstar Billy Graham in February 1978 to kickstart his first WWE Championship reign.

Backlund theoretically did drop the WWE Championship to Antonio Inoki but WWE doesn’t recognize that title change. Nevertheless, Backlund reigned supreme for five years, and between 1979-82 for four uninterrupted years. The title change that ended it all was The Iron Sheik beating him for the WWE Championship on Boxing Day in 1983.

Ric Flair – NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Ric Flair NWA World Heavyweight Champion Cropped

Ric Flair is one of the most prolific World Champions of all time. The 16-time World Champion has won World Championships in countless promotions, and he had a stranglehold on the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Naitch held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship a record 10 times. On two separate occasions, he held the prestigious championship for an entire calendar year. Flair regained the title from Kerry Von Erich in May 1984, and he held it for the whole of 1985. Dusty Rhodes defeated him at The Great American Bash 1986. Flair had another long run with the title that lasted 452 days and he was champion for the entirety of 1988. Ricky Steamboat ended his stranglehold with the title in 1989.

Hulk Hogan – WWE Championship

Hulk Hogan WWE Champion Cropped

The remarkable rise of Hulkamania began when Hulk Hogan defeated The Iron Shiek for the WWE Championship in 1984. The Hulkster became the face of WWE, and he was unbeatable during his WWE Title run.

Hogan held the WWE Championship for four years, and in three successive calendar years between 1985-87. The Hulkster walked into the first three WrestleMania‘s as WWE Champion, and his title reign ended controversially when Andre The Giant dethroned him, despite his shoulders clearly off the canvas in February 1988.

Dan Severn – NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Dan Severn NWA World Heavyweight Champion Cropped

Dan “The Beast” Severn ended Chris Candido’s NWA World Heavyweight Championship reign in February 1985 to kickstart his four-year reign as NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Severn showed up on WWE television as NWA World Heavyweight Champion in 1998 during NWA’s invasion of WWE.

Severn was draped in gold as he made history as the first man to hold an MMA and professional wrestling title at the same time. The Beast held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for the whole of 1996, 1997, and 1998 and he lost the title in March 1999 in a house show in Japan.

Roman Reigns – Universal Championship

Roman Reigns Universal Champion 2021 Cropped

At Payback 2020, Roman Reigns defeated The Fiend and Braun Strowman in a triple threat match to become a two-time Universal Champion. The Tribal Chief’s Universal Championship reign has been outstanding, and Reigns boasted an unblemished 10-0 record on pay-per-views in 2021.

Reigns is on course, to becoming the longest-reigning Universal Champion in history, and at the time of writing, Reigns is scheduled to defend the Universal Title against Brock Lesnar at Day 1. Reigns saw off the entirety of 2021 as Universal Champion, and in doing so he became the first man to hold the Universal Championship in a calendar year.


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