Although it’s a super cliche thing to say, 2021 was a historic year for professional wrestling. It was filled with star-studded moments, remarkable matches, and a slew of debuts and returns. With all of the newsworthy moments in 2021, there was a good amount of solid Championship reigns across the multitude of promotions that the world of wrestling has to offer. In honor of those, let’s take a look at the five best Championship reigns of 2021.
Note: These reigns did not have to start in 2021 to qualify. The only qualification is that a significant portion of the reign had to take place over the duration of the year.
The Best Championship Reigns of 2021
Roman Reigns’ WWE Universal Championship Reign (08.30.20 – current)
Roman Reigns has completely transformed himself in the eyes of many wrestling fans. Reigns has gone from your standard, boring baby face with very little upside to a monster heel who has been unstoppable and is making strides to becoming one of the best stars in recent memory.
Along the path of the ‘Tribal Chief’ persona, Reigns has held the Universal Championship for nearly 500 days. This reign has produced a number of fantastic matches with the likes of Edge, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, and more. In my personal opinion, Reigns’ current run with the belt has saved his WWE career from being a product of mediocrity.
Favorite Match: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Edge – WrestleMania 37
Jonathan Gresham’s ROH Pure Championship Reign (10.30.20 – 09.12.21)
When Ring Of Honor returned from the pandemic hiatus in 2020, Jonathan Gresham made it his personal mission to put Pure Wrestling back on the map. Gresham would go on to do right by his style of wrestling, as he won the Pure Championship Tournament and was crowned the first Pure Champion in nearly fifteen years.
Although he only defended the belt eight times over the 317-day reign, there was still such a sense of importance that was felt every time Gresham was on-screen. The title being brought back also ushered in the creation of The Foundation – which turned out to be one of the best factions the company has ever created.
Favorite Match: Jonathan Gresham vs. Mike Bennett – ROH Best In The World 2021
John Wayne Murdoch’s ICW American Deathmatch Championship Reign (04.10.21 – current)
John Wayne Murdoch has become one of the workhorses of professional wrestling in 2021. Murdoch has taken his 18-year in-ring career to the next level with his unique approach to deathmatches, which paid off when he became the first-ever ICW American Deathmatch Champion during WrestleMania week in Tampa, Florida.
Murdoch’s reign, despite only being at the 263-day mark, has already featured fifteen title defenses. Also, Murdoch has had 136 matches this year — which is an impressive achievement in itself.
Favorite Match: John Wayne Murdoch vs. Eric Ryan – 60 Minute Iron Man Match – ICW No Holds Barred Volume 19: Deathmatch Horror Story
Kenny Omega’s AEW World Championship Reign (12.02.20 – 11.13.21)
Although flawed at some times, Kenny Omega’s run with the AEW World Title was chalked up as an overall success in my book. The reign took Omega from being “underutilized” as a singles wrestler, all the way to being crowned #1 in the PWI 500 for the second time.
Finding out that Omega worked the whole reign hurt afterward gave me a new sense of appreciation for him and how hard he worked to mold himself into a monster heel. The end result of the reign was the Hangman chapter being closed — which was the satisfying ending we all were hoping for.
Favorite Match: Adam Page vs. Kenny Omega – Full Gear 2021
Deonna Purrazzo’s Impact Knockouts Championship Reign (11.12.20 – 10.23.21)
Deonna Purrazzo has gone from being an absolute waste of talent that was stuck in the WWE system to being one of the biggest stars in women’s wrestling. All it took was a dominant Championship reign.
Upon her release from WWE, I personally expected Purrazzo to pop up in AEW. It made all the sense in the world considering she was nearly a part of the historic All In event. When she turned up in IMPACT Wrestling, I was honestly fairly disappointed and didn’t have the highest of hopes for her there.
I can admit I was wrong. Purrazzo’s set of Knockouts Title Reigns has launched her into another stratosphere. Her presentation and booking during these reigns have been near perfect — although I wasn’t a fan of her dropping the belt to Mickie James at Bound For Glory.
Favorite Match: Deonna Purrazzo vs. Thunder Rosa – Slammiversary 2021
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