Check out the complete list of WWE Universal Champions, championship history, the belt design and title journey in WWE.
History Of WWE Universal Championship
Established – 25 July 2016
Introduced By – Brand’s Commissioner Stephanie McMahon & General Manager Mick Foley
WWE World Heavyweight Championship remained the only world title in WWE from 2013 onwards after Randy Orton combined the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship. That was until 2016. When the brand split era came back in 2016 with RAW and SmackDown getting separate rosters once again. WWE Champion Dean Ambrose was drafted and became exclusive to SmackDown, taking the championship with him.
Hence, Stephaine McMahon and Mick Foley, who were in charge of RAW at the time, introduced a new championship. The championship is named after WWE Universe, which WWE refers to its superstars and fans ecosystem. The title was introduced on 25 July 2016 on WWE RAW and a tournament was announced to crown the first Universal Champion. Finn Balor was crowned the first champion after defeating Seth Rollins in the final at SummerSlam 2016 on 21 August.
The championship remained with the RAW brand until 31 October 2019 when “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt defeated Seth Rollins at WWE Crown Jewel to win the title. Wyatt was already drafted to SmackDown a few weeks earlier and hence, took the title with him to SmackDown. During this time on RAW, the title changed hands a total of 9 times and was carried by 6 different WWE superstars.
Universal Championship Belt
The Universal Championship belt is similar in appearance to the current WWE Championship belt itself with a few changes. The center plate of the belt features a large cutout logo of WWE. The bottom rim of the plate has words “Universal Champion” written on it. The center plate and as well as side plates feature borders with diamonds sitting inside. The logo also has diamonds featured inside it. The side plates are seperated from the center plate with vertical gold bars.
When the title was spefic to RAW brand, the belt strap was red in color. After the belt was moved to SmackDown, the strap was changed to blue and the stripe behind the logo was changed from black to red.
The design of the Universal Championship title belt was heavily criticised upon its release due to its similarity with WWE Championship. The fans at SummerSlam 2016 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York sang “this belt sucks” among other chants.
List of WWE Universal Champions
Here is the list of all the Universal Champions in the reverse chronological order (latest by date).
14. Roman Reigns
|DATE WON||August 30, 2020|
Just after The Fiend won the title at SummerSlam 2020, Roman Reigns returned to WWE as a heel and attacked both Fiend and Braun Strowman. On next SmackDown, Paul Heyman would be introduced as Roman’s advisor as he got into a triple threat No Holds Barred match against Strowman and the champion Fiend. Roman delayed signing the contract for the match up until the Fiend vs Strowman fight was already started. Roman entered the match late and used a low blow and a spear on Strowman to win the Universal Championship. As the title reign progressed, Roman’s character would turn more and more villainous and sick. Roman defended the title twice against Jey Uso at Clash of Champions and at Hell in a Cell 2020. He also defeated WWE Champion Roman Reigns at Survivor Series after some help from Jey Uso. Roman also won the title match against Kevin Owens at WWE TLC 2020.
Reign No: 2
Days: 182 +
13. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
|DATE WON||August 23, 2020|
|DATE LOST||August 30, 2020|
The Fiend returned to WWE nearly 4 months after WrestleMania and challenged Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam 2020, where The Fiend won the title for the second time.
Reign No: 2
12. Braun Strowman
|DATE WON||25 March 2020|
|DATE LOST||August 23, 2020|
Braun Strowman was given the opportunity to face Goldberg at WrestleMania 36 after Roman Reigns withdrew from the event. Strowman would go on to defeat Goldberg at night 1 of WrestleMania 36 and win his first World title. The Monster Among Men then defended the title against Bray Wyatt(Money in the Bank 2020) and The Miz & John Morrison(handicapped match at Backlash 2020). During his title reign, he also faced Bray Wyatt again in a non-title Wyatt Swamp fight. He finally lost the title to the Fiend at SummerSlam 2020.
RReign No: 1
|DATE WON||February 27, 2020|
|DATE LOST||25 March 2020|
Goldberg won the Universal Championship for the second time after beating The Fiend at Super ShowDown 2020 event in Saudi Arabia. Roman Reigns would go on and challenge him for WrestleMania 36. But that match was canceled after Roman Reigns withdrew from the event. Braun Strowman replaced Reigns at WrestleMania.
Reign No: 2
11. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
|DATE WON||October 31, 2019|
|DATE LOST||February 27, 2020|
The Fiend went after Universal Title and targetted the reigning champion Seth Rollins. He would go on to win the title, his first under the Fiend gimmick, at Crown Jewel 2019 in his second attempt. The Fiend was drafted to the SmackDown brand during WWE Draft 2019, which resulted in the Universal Championship also being shifted to SmackDown. During his title reign, The Fiend and Bray Wyatt would defend the title against The Miz(TLC 2019) and Daniel Bryan(Royal Rumble 2020).
Reign No: 1
9. Seth Rollins
|DATE WON||August 11, 2019|
|DATE LOST||October 31, 2019|
Rollins won the Universal Championship for the second time just after 28 days as he became the #1 contender and defeated Lesnar at SummerSlam 2019. He would then go on to defend the title against Braun Strowman at Clash of Champions 2019 before starting a feud with The Fiend Bray Wyatt. The Hell in a Cell 2019 event saw a controversial match between Rollins and The Fiend. The fans turned on Rollins after the referee stopped the match citing Rollins’ mad attitude to destroy the Fiend. Rollins would later lose the title to The Fiend at Crown Jewel 2019 in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Reign No: 2
8. Brock Lesnar
|DATE WON||July 14, 2019|
|DATE LOST||August 11, 2019|
Brock Lesnar won the Money in the Bank ladder match at the namesake PPV. He then cashed it in against Seth Rollins after his match at Extreme Rules 2019 to win the title. Rollins then won the #1 contender match to set up a rematch at SummerSlam 2019, a match that Rollins won to win back the title back.
Reign No: 3
7. Seth Rollins
|DATE WON||April 7, 2019|
|DATE LOST||July 14, 2019|
Seth Rollins won the Royal Rumble 2019 and challenged Brock Lesnar for Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35. In the opening match of the night, Rollins used a low blow and multiple stomps on Lesnar to win the title. Rollins will go on to defend the title against AJ Styles(Money in the Bank 2019) and against Baron Corbin(Super ShowDown 2019 and Stomping Ground 2019). After Rollins & Becky Lynch defeated Corbin and Lacey Evans at Extreme Rules 2019, Lesnar would come out to cash-in his MITB contract and pinned Rollins to win the title.
Reign No: 1
6. Brock Lesnar
|DATE WON||November 2, 2018|
|DATE LOST||April 7, 2019|
Lesnar would win the Universal title for the second time by defeating Braun Strowman at Crown Jewel 2018 event in Saudi Arabia. During his second reign, Lesnar defended the title just two times- a win against Finn Balor at Royal Rumble 2019, and a lost against Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 35.
Reign No: 2
Date: October 22, 2018
On RAW episode of 22 October 2018, Roman Reigns announced that his Leukemia has returned and he has to go away for treatment. This resulted in Reigns relinquishing the Universal title and the title remained vacant until 2 November 2018.
5. Roman Reigns
|DATE WON||August 19, 2018|
|DATE LOST||October 22, 2018|
Roman Reigns failed to win the Universal Championship from Lesnar at WrestleMania 34 and Greatest Royal Rumble 2018 event. At SummerSlam, Lesnar went to attack Braun Strowman, who was at the ringside to cash-in Money in the Bank contract. Roman took advantage of the situation and defeated a distracted Lesnar to win Universal Championship for the first time. He would then went on to defend the title against Finn Balor at RAW and Braun Strowman at Hell in a Cell 2018. On October 22, 2018, Roman Reigns announced the return of Leukemia and relinquished the title.
Reign No: 1
4. Brock Lesnar
|DATE WON||April 2, 2017|
|DATE LOST||August 19, 2018|
Brock Lesnar would go on to win the Universal Championship after defeating Goldberg at WrestleMania 33. He would then hold onto the title for a record 504 days in a single title reign. During this time, Lesnar would work part-time for WWE and would only defend the title 6 times over 15 months. His main feud was against Roman Reigns. Roman was part of a fatal-way match at SummerSlam 2017 which Lesnar won. Lesnar would then defeat Roman at WrestleMania 34(2018) and at Greatest Royal Rumble. Lesnar lost the title to Reigns at SummerSlam 2018 after going after Braun Strowman who was ready to cash-in Money in the Bank contract.
Reign No: 1
|DATE WON||March 5, 2017|
|DATE LOST||April 2, 2017|
Goldberg challenged the reigning Universal Champion Kevin Owens for a title match, which was accepted by Chris Jericho on Owens’ behalf. Goldberg then won the Universal Championship in just 22 seconds having speared Owens upon a distraction from Jericho. This was Goldberg’s second world title with WWE. Brock Lesnar would later challenge Goldberg to setup a title match at WrestleMania 33.
Reign No: 1
2. Kevin Owens
|DATE WON||August 29, 2016|
|DATE LOST||March 5, 2017|
Kevin Owens was working as a heel during 2016. He qualified for the vacant Universal title match after defeating Neville. Triple H’ interference helped Kevin Owens winning the Universal Championship. Owens pinned Seth Rollins in a four-way elimination match which also involved Roman Reigns and Big Cass. During his title reign, Chris Jericho would help him to retain the title. However, after Jericho accepted a challenger from Goldberg of his behalf, Owens would turn on Jericho the next week during the Festival of Friendship segment. Goldberg defeated KO at Fastlane 2017 in just 22 seconds after KO was distracted by Jericho’s entrance.
Reign No: 1
Date: August 22, 2016
Finn Balor legitimately injured his shoulder during the match at SummerSlam 2016 against Seth Rollins. Due to this, Balor had to undergo surgery and relinquish the title just one day after having won it. The title remained vacant for a week.
1. Finn Balor
|DATE WON||August 21, 2016|
|DATE LOST||August 22, 2016|
After the title was introduced on RAW, Seth Rollins was named the first contender for the title. Finn Balor qualified for the title match at SummerSlam after winning a fatal 4-way match and then defeating Roman Reigns. Balor then defeated Rollins at SummerSlam 2016 in a pinfall & submission-only match to be crowned the first WWE Universal Champion.
Reign No: 1
Ranked By Number of Days Title Held(Collectively)
|6||“The FIend” Bray Wyatt||124|
Ranked by Number of Title Reigns
|4||“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt||2|
how long has roman reigns been universal champion ?
who was the first universal champion ?
Finn Balor at August 21, 2016