So a Happy New Year to all! As we all know, a couple of weeks ago at TLC the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship were unified, and the WHC was officially retired. Being a self-professed wrestling nerd, I decided it would be interesting to look at the now complete history of the Championship, and look at some of the statistics over its 11 year and 3 month existence.
To start with, 25 different people held the World Heavyweight Championship between 2002 and 2013, compared to 19 people who have held the WWE Championship in the same time. The average title reign was 73 and a quarter days, which would work out to just under 2 and a half months. It’s interesting to note that the average first time title reign was 86 and a half days.
Not including the victims of Money In The Bank cash-ins, there were 4 reigns that lasted for less than 10 days: Batista, who won the title at the 2008 edition of Cyber Sunday, only to lose it to Chris Jericho on Raw 8 days later; Christian, who lost it to Randy Orton at a Smackdown taping just 2 days after winning it for the first time; Randy Orton, whose reign was cut short when the belt was officially retired the next day; and Dolph Ziggler, who was forced to defend his first World Heavyweight Championship against Edge by the returning Teddy Long just minutes after being awarded it by Vickie Guerrero.
On the other side of the coin, 12 reigns out of 55 lasted for more than 100 days. 5 people who only held the belt once had a reign of over 100 days – Sheamus, Chris Benoit, Kane, Booker T (as King Booker) and Daniel Bryan.
Edge held the WHC the most with 7 reigns, followed by Triple H with 5 and Batista and Randy Orton with 4 each. Triple H was World Heavyweight Champion for the most combined days though at 616, followed by Batista at 507 and Edge at 409. Nobody else held the belt for more than 230 days. The single longest reign was Batista’s first championship in 2005, which lasted for 282 days. Triple H closely follows in second place, with his second run from 2002 lasting into 2003 clocking in at 280 days. Sheamus is in third with the only other reign over 200 days.
Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy were tied for the least amount of total days as champion at 28, though Michaels only had a single run as champion while Hardy had two. However, one of Hardy’s title reigns lasted for 0 days because CM Punk’s cashed in a Money In the Bank contract and won the belt. Christian rounds out the bottom three, with his two reigns lasting for a combined total of 30 days.
Out of 25 different people to have held the championship, 11 only held it once. The World Heavyweight Championship was the first World Championship for 13 people in the WWE, including future WWE Champions CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and Batista.
The title was vacated 5 times, twice due to legitimate injuries to Batista and Edge. In both cases a 20-man battle royal was held to determine a new champion, and in both cases the winners (Kurt Angle and The Great Khali) never had another reign as World Champion (either WWE or WHC) in the WWE. Another time the title was vacated due to Edge’s retirement, which led to Christian’s first world title reign in the WWE.
2011 featured the most title changes with 9: Dolph Ziggler was awarded the belt, Edge won it back, Christian then won the belt vacated due to Edge’s retirement, Randy Orton then beat Christian for it on the next Smackdown, Christian won it back via DQ at Money In The Bank 2011, Orton then defeated Christian for it the next month at Summerslam, Mark Henry defeated Orton for the belt at Night of Champions, Big Show won the belt in a chairs match at TLC, only for Daniel Bryan to cash in and become the final champion of the year.
2003 (Goldberg and Triple H), 2005 (Triple H and Batista) and 2012 (Sheamus and Big Show) all tied as the years featuring the least title changes with two apiece.
There have been 7 title changes at Wrestlemanias. A Money In The Bank contract was cashed in 7 times on the World Heavyweight Champion, resulting in a new champion every single time.
The World Heavyweight Championship was on the line in the first ever Elimination Chamber match.
And finally, Randy Orton remained the youngest World Heavyweight Champion ever at the age of 24, while The Undertaker was the oldest World Heavyweight Champion at the age of 44.
That was around 750 words, which is a lot of pure statistics with very little analysis. For me the key thing about the World Heavyweight Championship was that, especially in its latter years, it was used to introduce new talent to the “main event” scene. The most telling statistic for me out of the lot was that 13 times somebody was holding their first World Championship in the WWE – that it the WWE and WHC. The full list of names that applies to is Goldberg, Chris Benoit, Randy Orton, Batista, Rey Mysterio, Booker T, The Great Khali, CM Punk, Christian, Mark Henry and Daniel Bryan. With the exception of 2 names there (hopefully for obvious reasons), they are all future – or current – hall of famers. That is an impressive collection of names whose combined impact on the WWE is huge, and they all got their start at the top through the World Heavyweight Championship.
Hopefully everybody can look forward to more regular content from us here at the plebs of wrestling in 2014. Of course, this article has been a purely statistical look at the belt, there are classic rivalries and moments that haven’t been mentioned – I think of the Jeff Hardy/CM Punk rivalry, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler’s cash ins, Batista’s ascension, Undertaker’s victories at Wrestlemanias, Rey Mysterio doing it for Eddie, and Edge’s dominance over Smackdown.
What do you think? Will you miss the belt? Were you surprised at some of the stats? What were your favourite moments with the World Heavyweight Championship? And, is there anything I left out that you would like to know? To answer any of these questions, just comment below, or if you’re a more private person, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.