WWE Championship and World Championship- Difference in Confusing WWE Title Concepts Explained

Published 04/26/2021, 2:08 PM EDT
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 09: WWE Championship Belt presented during the Beyond Sport United 2016 at Barclays Center on August 9, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)


WWE has been very confusing over its titles lately, and some fans still can’t follow the difference between the Universal Championship, the World Heavyweight Championship, the WWE Championship, and World Championships as a concept.

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This became clear earlier today when WWE released a video on Instagram of Superstars with the most WWE Championship reigns and put John Cena at the top with 13 wins followed by Randy Orton with 10, Triple H with 9, and so on. 

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A lot of the comments involved fans confused over why Ric Flair, one of the most decorated names in wrestling history wasn’t included in the list along with the other big names. 

The answer is simple- Ric Flair was never a high ranker when it comes to the ‘WWE Championship’. Make no mistake, ’The Nature Boy’ is a record 16 time World Champion and ties John Cena in that respect, but only two out of these 16 are WWE Championship reigns.

The rest of the numbers are made up of the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship and WCW World Heavyweight Championship ( which later became the World Heavyweight Championship in WWE) reigns. 

When WWE talks about the WWE Championship, it means the very same title that goes all the way back to 1963 around the shoulders of Buddy Rogers. Surprisingly, ‘Naitch’ has won this prestigious title just twice in his entire career.

Ric Flair claims to be a 21-time World Champion

Flair does hold the record with John Cena at 16 World Championship reigns, although this too is a disputed fact. ‘The Nature Boy’ claims he is actually a 21-time World Champion, with other sources stating that the number is 25. 

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WWE does not count the other 5 title reigns due to various stipulations and arguments which cuts his tally down to 16. With John Cena possibly having one last run left in him, we could see ‘The Cenator’ break Flair’s huge record at last and cement his legacy as the greatest of all time. 

To extinguish any further confusion, the WCW World Heavyweight Championship became the World Heavyweight Championship after the WWE take over, which finally unified with the WWE Championship. 

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The WWE Universal Championship is a product of the brand split between Raw and SmackDown and is a title that rules both Raw and SmackDown. The WWE Championship, although subject to many design changes, is the only title in the company that has stayed a constant since 1963, having a rich heritage of past winners and winners to come. 

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Luke Dias

1208 articles

Luke Dias is a senior WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports, having published more than 1000 articles on professional wrestling. Having completed courses in Advanced Writing from the University of California and Media and Ethics from the University of Amsterdam, Luke is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Xavier’s College. His tremendous knowledge of WWE history enables him to make past connections, adding depth to the articles.

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