Pro Wrestling

The 5 longest-reigning WWE Champions of all time

While everyone is still in disbelief that Roman Reigns is still the Universal and WWE Champion after defeating Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 39 (2023), discussing some of the longest WWE Championship reigns has gained more popularity. Roman Reigns has been the Universal Champion for 957 days and counting, but he has also held the WWE Championship for 380 days and counting. The longest WWE title reigns (more precisely, the longest-reigning WWF/E Champions) were therefore the subjects of my assignment. There have been 146 championship reigns since the competition’s inception in 1963. There have been 53 guys to hold the illustrious title. Let’s list the five superstars and legends who held the title for the longest period of time within a single reign.

Pedro Morales -1027 days

Ivan Koloff surprised the wrestling world by defeating Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship. It didn’t last long, since renowned Puerto Rican wrestler Pedro Morales defeated Koloff for the belt only a month later. He was only the fourth person to hold the title, and the first Latino to do so. During his reign, he faced formidable rivals including “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Captain Lou Albano, Ernie Ladd, Larry Hennig, Mr. Fuji, and George “The Animal” Steele. 

He held the championship for over two years before losing it to Stan Stasiak, ending his one and only reign. During his stint with the WWF, he would continue to make history. This record-breaking championship reign certainly smashed bounds, which is why it ranks high on this list of the longest WWE title reigns.

Bruno Sammartino – 1237 days

Bruno Sammartino began his second tenure as WWWF Champion by defeating Stan Stasiak, who had won the championship nine days earlier by ending Morales’ nearly three-year reign. Sammartino hadn’t been champion since 1971, and many questioned whether he could retain the title for as long as he did the first time.

During his reign, he faced Stan Hansen, Stasiak, Pedro Morales, Bruiser Brody, Ernie Ladd, Waldo Von Erich, Ivan Koloff, Blackjack Mulligan, Blackjack Lanza, and Larry “The Axe” Hennig for the championship. Bruno would eventually desire to give up the title due to neck problems, and his second reign would last only three years and four months before being handed over to “Superstar” Billy Graham.

Hulk Hogan – 1474 days

The reign was what transformed the game. When Hulk Hogan defeated The Iron Sheikh in 1984, it marked the start of “Hulkamania” and the WWF’s split from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in order to globalize its product. By telling everyone to say their prayers and eat their vitamins, the “Hulkster” became the face of that global expansion. WrestleMania was formally inaugurated during this reign, and the company was taken to a totally new level at the time. 

Hogan faced Paul Orondorff, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, King Kong Bundy, Nikolai Volkoff, Hercules, Terry Funk, Don Muraco, and, of course, Andre the Giant. Only after a contentious finish to a match against Andre the Giant would Hogan lose the title. His four-year reign, however, will go down in history as a pivotal one, deserving of being ranked so high on the list of the longest lasting WWE title reigns.

Bob Backlund – 2135 days

Bob Backlund appeared to have walked off the set of Happy Days and into the world of professional wrestling. He was an all-American boy who was managed by “The Golden Boy” Arnold Skaaland. After a string of defeats, he would rise above adversity to defeat “Superstar” Billy Graham for the WWWF Championship. Spiros Arion, Mr. Fuji, Ken Patera, George “The Animal” Steele, Ivan Koloff, Adrian Adonis, Bob Orton, Big John Studd, Sgt Slaughter, and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka would all challenge him for the title. 

He also wrestled Antonio Inoki and other World Champions like Harley Race, Nick Bockwinkel, Ric Flair, Billy Robinson, and Don Muraco. Backlund’s rule would come to an end a little more than five years later, when he was defeated by the Iron Sheikh.

Bruno Sammartino – 2803 days

Bruno Sammartino has been dubbed the “Godfather” of WWE. He was not the first WWWF Champion, but he did have the longest tenure. In 1963, he defeated “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers a month after Rogers was proclaimed the first champion. Bruno Sammartino would headline Madison Square Garden for the next (almost) eight years, defending the trophy. The “Italian Stallion” would face Rogers, Prince Iaukea, Johnny Valentine, George “The Animal” Steele, Bill Miller, Ernie “The Cat” Ladd, Toru Tanaka, Gorilla Monsoon, Killer Kowalski, Gene Kiniski, Waldo Von Erich, The Sheikh, and Lou Albano to defend his championship. After seven years and eight months, he would lose the championship to Ivan Koloff.

NameNo. of DaysDate
Bruno Sammartino2,803 May 17th, 1963 – January 18th, 1971
Bob Backlund2135February 20th, 1978 – December 26th, 1983
Hulk Hogan1474January 23rd, 1984 – February 5th, 1988
Bruno Sammartino1237December 10th, 1973 – April 30th, 1977
Pedro Morales1027February 8th, 1971 – December 1st, 1973