The 5 most World Title reigns ever: Where does Randy Orton rank?
At WrestleMania 33, Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt to become WWE Champion. Minus the opponent, it’s a familiar story: WWE’s Apex Predator has scaled that mountaintop so many times in his 15-year career, he's become one of the five most decorated Superstars to ever set foot in a WWE ring. In honor of The Viper’s achievement, WWE.com revisits five elite competitors with the most World Title reigns of all time, from the Superstars Orton has already passed by, to the two WWE Legends who share the top spot.
Hulk Hogan (12 — 6 WCW Championships, 6 WWE Championships)
The Immortal Hulk Hogan stands alone at No. 5, having cemented his legend with a dazzling dozen World Championships. The Hulkster’s 12 titles are an even split between his time in WWE and WCW, where he battled his way to six championships in each promotion.
Of all Hogan’s remarkable deeds in the ring, though, perhaps his most impressive was his final World Title victory under WWE’s roof, when he became Undisputed WWE Champion at Backlash 2002, winning the title at 48 years old. Even middle-aged, Hulkamania still ran wild. How many Superstars can truly say that?
Randy Orton (13 — 9 WWE Championships, 4 World Heavyweight Championships)
If Randy Orton does indeed hear voices in his head, the most prevalent of those whispers must be an endless repetition of “Win titles.” How else to explain the casual way with which the second-generation Superstar has traipsed up the mountaintop seemingly at will, beginning with his record-setting World Heavyweight Championship win in 2004 (fun fact: Orton would retire that title nine years later) and ending with his WWE Championship win at WrestleMania 33. With Jinder Mahal set to challenge The Viper at WWE Backlash, there’s a chance Orton’s reign might be over sooner than he’d like. Of course, if it is, he’ll just have to win it again.
Triple H (14 — 9 WWE Championships, 5 World Heavyweight Championships)
Behold The King of Kings, crowned 14 times atop his throne at the No. 3 position in the list of most World Title reigns. Triple H's meteoric rise to the top was cemented with his first WWE Championship in 1999, when he defeated Mankind. He never looked back for a second, racking up 12 more title wins over the next decade by defeating the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Chris Jericho (a victory that made Triple H the second Undisputed Champion), The Rock and even his best friend, Shawn Michaels.
The Cerebral Assassin seemed to have traded the sword for the pen as WWE’s COO, at least until he reclaimed the WWE Championship in 2016 by winning the Royal Rumble Match, returning to the main event of WrestleMania in the process. Ever since losing that championship, The Game has concerned himself with building up WWE’s future by shepherding NXT, the Cruiserweight division and United Kingdom Championship Tournament. However, it’s clear that he hasn’t lost his ability to compete at the highest level, nor abandoned the idea that he might catch the Superstar who just powered his way into history …
TIE: John Cena (16 — 13 WWE Championships, 3 World Heavyweight Championships)
And here he is, the powerhouse with supernatural healing ability who has ridden his personal mantra – "Never Give Up" – all the way to 16 World Title reigns. John Cena’s history at this point more or less speaks for itself; he is certainly one of the most visible WWE Champions of this past decade, and one of the few who went so far as to actually mold the title in his own image with the controversial “spinner” design that lasted nearly eight years.
Some wondered if The Champ might be nearing his twilight years after a series of injuries and extracurricular obligations began to limit his in-ring time. But even if that is the case, his win over AJ Styles at Royal Rumble shows he’s clearly making the most of the hours he has left. It’s fair to even say he might not be done chasing championships, which means he still has a very real chance at eclipsing the reigning champion of champions …
TIE: Ric Flair (16 — 8 NWA World Heavyweight Championships, 6 WCW Championships, 2 WWE Championships)
Long considered the gold standard when it comes to sports-entertainment, Ric Flair has a staggering 16 World Titles to his name, having styled and profiled his way through the NWA, WCW and WWE, accumulating championship gold like a limousine-ridin’ Attila the Hun, plundering the riches of conquered cities.
Flair became famous in his heyday for retaining his title by hook or by crook, swindling his way into retention by any means necessary. Though hardly the most honorable of strategies, it can’t be argued that it didn't serve the scoundrel well, as his 16 titles had long been considered to be one of sports-entertainment’s unbreakable records. And yet, nothing lasts forever. The saying has always gone, “To be ‘The Man,’ you’ve got to beat ‘The Man,’” and after Royal Rumble 2017, Ric Flair might just find himself beat before long.