10 Wrestlers Whose Last WWE World Title Reign Was Better Than Their First
Winning a World title is the biggest achievement that any wrestler can achieve in the wrestling business. Some wrestlers are so good that they manage to win multiple world title reigns. However, some wrestlers who have had lengthy careers, matured with every passing year in their longstanding career. Not every wrestler gets the chance to rectify a dreadful World Title reign but those that did took the ball and ran with it.
You never know when your final world championship reign will arise so many wrestlers tend to enjoy the moment and do the best they can with a world title. Those whose careers are winding down want to go out with a bang and show that they still are good in the latter stages of their career.
10 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle is a six-time WWE World Champion, and whilst his first reign with the WWE Championship wasn’t bad, his final World Title reign in his WWE career was superb. Angle jumped ship back to SmackDown after a brief stint on Raw as Batista relinquished the World Heavyweight Championship due to injury.
Angle lived up to his “Wrestling Machine” moniker and he was on another level in 2006. The Olympic Gold Medalist retained the title against Mark Henry at the Royal Rumble, and he overcame Undertaker in an instant classic at No Way Out. They tore the house down in another remarkable rematch on SmackDown but his 82-day reign came to an end by Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania 22.
The Big Red Machine’s first World Title reign in 1998 was a farce. He only held the WWE Championship for one day but he had to wait 12 years for another run on top. Kane cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase at Rey Mysterio’s expense to capture the World Heavyweight Title.
In doing so, Kane became the first man to win the WWE, ECW, and World Heavyweight Titles. It was refreshing to see Kane as a world champion once more, and he turned heel as he was revealed as the person who left Undertaker in a vegetative state. Moreover, The Devil’s Favorite Demon bested Undertaker in three successive World Title matches which was the highlight of his reign.
8 Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is one of the latest high-profile names to seek greener pastures by leaving WWE to join AEW. However, both of Bryan’s first and final World Title reigns saw him function as a heel.
Bryan’s fifth WWE Championship came out of the blue as he unexpectedly turned heel and beat AJ Styles for the WWE Title on the SmackDown before Survivor Series 2018. There were similarities between his first and final World Title reigns as he retained the gold at the Royal Rumble and inside the Elimination Chamber. Nevertheless, Bryan’s 144-day reign as WWE Champion was halted by Kofi Kingston at WrestleMania 35.
7 The Undertaker
Some fans forget that The Undertaker actually won seven world titles throughout his legendary WWE career. The Undertaker’s first time around as WWE Champion was underwhelming as he dropped the title back to Hulk Hogan just six days later in 1991.
Nevertheless, Undertaker made amends for his lackluster WWE Title reign by ending CM Punk’s World Heavyweight Title run at Hell in a Cell 2009. The Deadman mixed it up with the likes of Punk, Batista, and Rey Mysterio during his final time on top. Ultimately, Shawn Michaels cost Undertaker the World Heavyweight Title at Elimination Chamber 2010. He did this to set up their rematch at WrestleMania XXVI.
6 Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio certainly divides opinion outside the squared circle but there’s no denying he’s a talented in-ring wrestler. The Mexican Aristocrat is a four-time WWE World Champion winning both the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles twice apiece.
Del Rio’s fourth and final world championship reign was by far his best. He defeated the likes of Dolph Ziggler and Rob Van Dam during this run as World Heavyweight Champion. However, his old nemesis John Cena was the man responsible for ending another world title reign of his at Hell in a Cell 2013.
5 CM Punk
It remained to be seen if CM Punk was going to have a meaningful world title reign in his WWE career. His first World Heavyweight Championship run in 2008 was disappointing since he wasn’t booked like a top star.
Nevertheless, WWE certainly made amends in a huge way with The Second City Saint dethroning Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series 2011. He went on to hold the WWE Title for 434 days. Punk was the first man since Hulk Hogan in 1987 to hold the WWE Championship for an entire calendar year in 2012. The popular Straight Edge Savior proved himself as a certified main eventer but he dropped the title to The Rock at Royal Rumble 2013.
4 AJ Styles
AJ Styles is a two-time WWE Champion and whilst his first WWE Championship reign wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. His second run with the gold was miles better. The Phenomenal One went on to hold the WWE Championship for a remarkable 373 days.
Not many iconic legends can boast holding the WWE Title for at least a year. Styles defeated the very best that SmackDown had to offer during his historic run as WWE Champion. Even if Styles doesn’t win another world title in his WWE career, this reign is by far the best in his superb WWE career.
3 Roman Reigns
Arguably there’s no one hotter in WWE right now than Roman Reigns. The Tribal Chief is currently in the midst of a 370+ day reign as Universal Champion. It’s increasingly likely that he’ll become the first man to hold this title for an entire calendar year in 2021.
Reigns has beaten Hall of Fame-caliber and multiple world champions during his exceptional Universal Championship reign. The likes of Kevin Owens, Edge, and John Cena are just a few of those who have bowed to The Head of the Table. Reigns is a five-time WWE World Champion with his first WWE Championship run in 2015 lasting just a few minutes.
Keeping it with the Anoa’i Family, Yokozuna became the first man from that dynasty to become the WWE Champion. Yokozuna dethroned Bret Hart for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania IX. Sadly his first reign didn’t last long as Hulk Hogan beat him for the title in an impromptu match.
Nonetheless, WWE made it up to Yokozuna in a huge way at the 1993 King of the Ring. He reclaimed the title from Hogan and he went on to hold the championship for 280 days. Yokozuna wasn’t the best in-ring performer but he was a monster heel champion and he even scored a victory over Undertaker at the 1994 Royal Rumble.
Edge has a knack for winning world championships even if not all of his world title reigns were great. The Rated-R Superstar achieved his dream to become WWE Champion at New Year’s Revolution 2006. Although it did not go according to plan as John Cena reclaimed the title, three weeks later at the Royal Rumble.
By 2011, Edge’s in-ring career came to a halt prematurely as he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Before his retirement, Edge successfully defended the World Heavyweight Title in the Elimination Chamber. His last title defense saw him beat Royal Rumble winner Alberto Del Rio in the opening bout at WrestleMania XXVII. Shortly thereafter Edge announced his shock retirement.