Rating The Champ

WWE World Titles – 2016

Welcome to my blog. This is the start of a new series, where I’ll be looking back at the history of WWE World Titles (not counting ECW) and ranking all the World Title reigns since the “Modern Era”. The “Modern Era” goes all the way back to the birth of Hulkamania in 1984, and that’s where we’ll end. Today we look back at the year 2016, and we’ll continue to go back from here.

In front of my star ratings for the matches, you’ll either see “HR”, “R” or “RTA”. “HR” means the match is highly recommended ; “R” means the match is recommended ; “RTA” means recommendation to avoid. In case nothing appears, the match is watchable but nothing spectacular.


Roman Reigns (December 14, 2015 – January 24, 2016)

  • Televised matches: 7
  • Record: 5-1 (1 draw)

My match ratings:

  • Roman Reigns def. Sheamus(c) – RAW Dec. 14 2015 (***)
  • Triple H wins Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble 2016 (****) *HR*

This reign was just a way to set up Reigns’ eventual “real” win in the main-event of WrestleMania 32. He captured the then-WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Sheamus on the episode of RAW following TLC 2015, holding the belt for little over a month before being forced to defend it in that year’s Royal Rumble Match. There, he’d lose the title to Triple H, setting up their WrestleMania encounter and Reigns’ moment. The feud with The League of Nations and the whole “Reigns vs. everyone” storyline were really bad, but at least his big title win did get a big reaction. In Philadelphia, no less! That wouldn’t last, though, and the reign itself was only used as a bridge.

Rating: 2/10

Triple H (January 24, 2016 – April 3, 2016)

  • Televised matches: 4
  • Record: 3-1

My match ratings:

  • Triple H wins Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble 2016 (****) *HR*
  • Triple H(c) def. Dean Ambrose – Roadblock 2016 (****1/2) *HR*
  • Roman Reigns def. Triple H(c) – WrestleMania 32 (**) *RTA*

It’s still weird to think that Triple H was the WWE Champion in 2016! He won it in said Royal Rumble Match from the number thirty spot, and then went on to have three matches as champion. The first was a hidden gem against Dean Ambrose at Roadblock in March, with the gold on the line. If you’ve never seen the match, it’s well worth giving it a look. The second was on the following episode of RAW, defeating Dolph Ziggler before dropping the title to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32. That match is not horrible, but for a WrestleMania, it’s pretty damn boring and the crowd is dead for most of it. Pretty much until Stephanie gets speared. Still, two recommended matches out of three rated above it not bad at all. Weird reign but not particularly bad.

Rating: 3/10

Roman Reigns (April 3, 2016 – June 19, 2016)

  • Televised matches: 11
  • Record: 8-2 (1 draw)

My match ratings:

  • Roman Reigns def. Triple H(c) – WrestleMania 32 (**) *RTA*
  • Roman Reigns(c) def. AJ Styles – Payback 2016 (****) *R*
  • Roman Reigns(c) def. AJ Styles – Extreme Rules 2016 (****1/2) *HR*
  • Seth Rollins def. Roman Reigns(c) – Money in the Bank 2016 (***3/4) *R*

I’m gonna start by saying I don’t like the way this reign began. The match with Triple H was bad in my opinion, and the “not a good guy, not a bad guy, the guy” promo the following night on RAW was one of the lamest promos I’ve ever seen. However, with that out of the way, the rest of his reign was pretty good. Sure, he was never good at promos or engaging on TV, but the feuds with AJ and Seth resulted in some really good matches. In fact, if you take a look back at the list above, all three of his PPV matches as champion are (highly) recommended. The suspension in the end was a bad way for the reign to end too, but he delivered as champion during this reign.

Rating: 6/10

Seth Rollins (June 19, 2016)

  • Televised matches: 2
  • Record: 1-1

My match ratings:

  • Seth Rollins def. Roman Reigns(c) – Money in the Bank 2016 (***3/4) *R*
  • Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins(c) in a MITB cash-in – Money in the Bank 2016 (N/R)

In his first match back from injury, Seth Rollins won back the WWE World Heavyweight Championship with a win over Roman Reigns. A few minutes later, Dean Ambrose cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and won the title. That was Rollins’ second reign. Good match against Reigns, but still… it lasted less than five minutes!

Rating: -/10

Dean Ambrose (June 19, 2016 – September 11, 2016)

  • Televised matches: 14
  • Record: 9-3 (2 draws)

My match ratings:

  • Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins(c) in a MITB cash-in – Money in the Bank 2016 (N/R)
  • Dean Ambrose(c) def. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns – Battleground 2016 (***3/4) *R*
  • Dean Ambrose(c) def. Dolph Ziggler – SummerSlam 2016 (**1/2)
  • AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose(c) – Backlash 2016 (****1/4) *R*

Who can ever forget the night Dean Ambrose captured the WWE Championship? After winning the Money in the Bank contract earlier that night, Ambrose cashed it in after the main-event and made sure that every member of the former Shield held the title on that very same show. After this, Ambrose defended the gold in a triple threat match against both of his former brothers. The match itself was obviously good, but it was more about SmackDown vs. RAW nonsense than their own story, which is a shame. A disappointing match with Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam followed, before dropping the gold to AJ Styles in what was the best match of his entire reign. Looking at things long-term: in July, he’s SmackDown’s first draft pick and he’s the freakin’ WWE Champion ; at the first WrestleMania following said draft, he’s on the pre-show. With that said… was it a success? I don’t think so.

Rating: 4/10

AJ Styles (September 11, 2016 – January 29, 2017)

  • Televised matches: 15
  • Record: 6-6 (3 draws)

My match ratings:

  • AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose(c) – Backlash 2016 (****1/4) *R*
  • AJ Styles(c) def. John Cena and Dean Ambrose – No Mercy (***3/4) *R*
  • Team SmackDown def. Team RAW – Survivor Series 2016 (****1/2) *HR*
  • AJ Styles(c) def. Dean Ambrose – TLC Match – TLC 2016 (****1/2) *HR*
  • John Cena def. AJ Styles(c) – Royal Rumble 2017 (*****) *HR*

Don’t let that win/loss record fool you – AJ was a heel at this point, and he lost most of his TV matches. James Ellsworth himself gave Styles three of his six losses as champion! However, look at that list of matches above. Five PPV matches, four of them for the gold, all of them are (highly) recommended and one is a five-star classic. AJ’s heel work at this time was also fantastic, especially after his win over John Cena at SummerSlam. He was one of the reasons that made SmackDown LIVE so enjoyable each and every week in late 2016, along with Miz, Ziggler, The Wyatt’s, Slater & Rhyno, etc. However, his booking was too weak to give him ten, but apart from that it was perfect. Or should I say phenomenal.

Rating: 9/10


Finn Bálor (August 21, 2016 – August 22, 2016)

  • Televised matches: 1
  • Record: 1-0

My match ratings:

Finn Bálor def. Seth Rollins – SummerSlam 2016 (****) *R*

Finn Bálor was one of RAW’s first draft picks in the 2016 Draft, having recently lost his NXT Championship to Samoa Joe after a long and really good reign. In his first night on RAW, Bálor won a four way and defeated Roman Reigns cleanly. That gave him the right to face Seth Rollins at SummerSlam to determine the inaugural Universal Champion. The match was great, but the crowd spent the majority of it chanting about how shitty the belt is (which it is, to be fair) and also saw Finn get injured as Seth’s Sting-killer-powerbomb ended up killing him as well. And that was it for Bálor, as he had to vacate the belt the following night on RAW.

Rating: -/10

Kevin Owens (August 29, 2016 – March 5, 2017)

  • Televised matches: 27
  • Record: 15-12

My match ratings:

  • Kevin Owens def. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Big Cass – RAW Aug. 29 2016 (***)
  • Kevin Owens(c) def. Seth Rollins – Clash of Champions 2016 (***1/4)
  • Kevin Owens(c) def. Seth Rollins in a HIAC Match – Hell in a Cell 2016 (***1/2)
  • Team SmackDown def. Team RAW – Survivor Series 2016 (****1/2) *HR*
  • Kevin Owens(c) def. Roman Reigns – Roadblock: End of the Line 2016 (***)
  • Kevin Owens(c) def. Roman Reigns in a No DQ Match – Royal Rumble 2017 (****1/2) *HR*
  • Goldberg def. Kevin Owens(c) – Fastlane 2017 (DUD)

When Kevin Owens won the Universal Title, nobody could’ve seen it coming. As soon as he appeared with Chris Jericho the next week and Jericho referred to Owens as “longest reigning Universal Champion in history”, I was instantly into their act. I wasn’t watching RAW at this time, but I would at least make sure to check their segments on WWE’s YouTube channel every week. They were easily the only reason to watch RAW on a weekly basis, and the belt was a very important part of their act. Owens’ matches as champion were all good, despite being repetitive, and his reign was enjoyable. The Lesnar/Goldberg feud didn’t need the title at all, and Owens’ reign deserved a much better ending than just randomly losing it to Goldberg in three seconds at Fastlane, of all places. The ending really hurts this reign looking back, but it does receive a very high six for being very enjoyable while it lasted.

Rating: 6/10


  1. Daniel Bryan (WWE Championship, 13/11/2018 – 07/04/2019) 9
  2. AJ Styles (WWE Championship, 11/09/2016 – 29/01/2017) 9
  3. AJ Styles (WWE Championship, 07/11/2017 – 13/11/2018) 7
  4. Kevin Owens (WWE Universal Championship, 29/08/2016- 05/03/2017) 6
  5. Roman Reigns (WWE Championship, 03/04/2016 – 19/06/2016) 6
  6. Brock Lesnar (Universal Championship, 02/11/2018 – 07/04/2019) 5
  7. Seth Rollins (Universal Championship, 11/08/2019 – 31/10/2019) 5
  8. John Cena (WWE Championship, 29/01/2017 – 12/02/2017) 5
  9. Dean Ambrose (WWE Championship, 19/06/2016 – 11/09/2016) 4
  10. Kofi Kingston (WWE Championship, 07/04/2019 – 04/10/2019) 4
  11. Seth Rollins (Universal Championship, 07/04/2019 – 14/07/2019) 4
  12. Brock Lesnar (Universal Championship, 14/07/2019 – 11/08/2019) 3
  13. Brock Lesnar (Universal Championship, 02/04/2017 – 19/08/2018) 3
  14. Triple H (WWE Championship, 24/01/2016 – 03/04/2016) 3
  15. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship, 19/08/2018 – 22/10/2018) 3
  16. Jinder Mahal (WWE Championship, 21/05/2017 – 07/11/2017) 3
  17. Bray Wyatt (WWE Championship, 12/02/2017 – 02/04/2017) 3
  18. Roman Reigns (WWE Championship, 14/12/2015 – 24/01/2016) 2
  19. Goldberg (Universal Championship, 05/03/2017 – 02/04/2017) 2
  20. Randy Orton (WWE Championship, 02/04/2017 – 21/05/2017) 1
  21. Seth Rollins (WWE Championship, 19/06/2016)
  22. Finn Bálor (WWE Universal Championship, 21/08/2016 – 22/08/2016)