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10 WWE Superstars who were forced to relinquish titles due to injury

Many superstars have won championships in WWE. Sadly, a handful of them have had to give up their prize through injury.


It goes without saying that professional wrestling is an art form that can, at times, cause serious injury to the human body. Injuries can be short-term, long-term or even career-ending.

Many of the elite superstars on the WWE roster have been injured during their time as performers. While some manage to recover completely, others, sadly, are unable to return to the ring.

That being said, let's take a look at ten superstars who had to relinquish their titles due to injury.

#10. Roman Reigns had to relinquish the WWE Universal Championship

Roman Reigns with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins on the night he relinquished his title

In 2018, on an episode of Monday Night RAW, then-Universal Champion Roman Reigns shocked the WWE Universe. He announced that he had a return diagnosis of leukemia. The illness forced him out of action to receive treatment, meaning he had to relinquish his championship.


Reigns had just ended Brock Lesnar's long reign as Universal Champion, and looked set for a huge rest of the year.

Roman Reigns was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2007, whilst he was a football player for the Minnesota Vikings. He went into remission around two years later. Sadly, it re-emerged again 11 years later.

Thankfully, Roman returned in January 2019 to announce that he is once again in remission, to the absolute delight of the WWE Universe. Roman has been a mainstay on the roster ever since, and is currently the top star on SmackDown.


#9. Naomi had to relinquish the SmackDown Women's Title

Naomi handing over the SmackDown Women's Championship

At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event in 2017, Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss to become the SmackDown Women's Champion. This was the first women's championship Naomi had won in her career. She also made history by becoming the first African-American superstar to win this specific title.

Sadly, during the match with Alexa Bliss, Naomi suffered an injury that would ultimately rule her out for a number of weeks. WWE had no other choice but to take the title from Naomi.


Naomi would triumphantly make a return just a few months later to WrestleMania 33, once again winning the SmackDown Women's Championship in a six-pack challenge match.

#8. Seth Rollins had to relinquish the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Seth Rollins on Monday Night RAW

Seth Rollins was the reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2015, until an accident occurred on a WWE house show in Europe. During a match with Kane in Dublin, Ireland, Rollins landed on his leg awkwardly. It resulted in a torn ACL, MCL and medial meniscus in the knee.


Rollins was speculated to be out of action for up to nine months following his surgery. It was a brutal injury for a superstar who was on the rise. Rollins did eventually return the following year in May, attacking his former Shield buddy Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules in 2016.

#7. John Cena had to relinquish the WWE Championship

John Cena at Money in the Bank 2021

John Cena was the face of WWE in October 2007 and the reigning WWE Champion on Monday Night RAW. He came up against Mr Kennedy in what was dubbed a first-time ever match.

During the match, Cena suffered a pectoral tear, which tore completely off the bone and required surgery. Cena was expected to be out of action anywhere from six to nine months.


It was the first major injury of John Cena's career and one that would rock WWE and their plans. John Cena miraculously returned three months later. Yes, you read that correctly, THREE MONTHS LATER, at the Royal Rumble event to defy all scientific odds. Cena went on to win the match, entering at number 30 in one of the greatest moments in WWE history.

#6. Melina had to relinquish the WWE Divas Championship

Melina on Monday Night RAW

It wasn't a Happy New Year for Melina in 2010, as she sadly had to relinquish her WWE Divas Championship. At a house show on December 29th 2009, Melina suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury. The match itself was a six-woman tag team match.


Melina returned to our screens eight months after the injury happened. She went on to defeat Alicia Fox to become Divas Champion once again at that year's SummerSlam.

#5. Finn Balor had to relinquish the WWE Universal Championship

Finn Balor handing over the Universal Championship on RAW

After the 2016 WWE Draft, it was announced that RAW would have its own exclusive world title in the form of the Universal Championship.

Finn Balor and Seth Rollins collided at SummerSlam to be crowned the first-ever champion. In the end, it was Balor who came out on top. After the match, WWE reported that Finn Balor had suffered a shoulder injury during the match which would require surgery.


WWE had no choice but to take the title off Finn Balor as it was expected he would be out of action for six months. Balor returned in February 2017 on NXT, before making his official main roster return on RAW the night after WrestleMania 33 in Orlando.

#4. Batista had to relinquish the World Heavyweight Championship

Batista in WWE

The Animal was primed to be the face of Smackdown from 2005 onwards. Sadly, it came to a halt when he suffered an injury. At a SmackDown house show on January 6th 2006, Batista faced Mark Henry with his World Heavyweight Championship on the line.


Batista suffered a tear to his right triceps during the match, which immediately forced him to vacate the championship. Batista returned to action that summer in July and resumed his feud with Mark Henry.

#3. Stone Cold Steve Austin had to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship

Stone Cold Steve Austin on Monday Night RAW

In 1997, Stone Cold Steve Austin was on the cusp of being one of the most popular WWE superstars of all-time. At SummerSlam that summer, Austin faced Owen Hart with Owen's Interncontinental Championship on the line.

During the match, Owen hit a piledriver on Austin which immediately broke his neck. Austin was left out of it and suffered paralysis for a short time. Austin managed to roll-up Owen as best as he could to capture the championship.


Following an assessment on the Texas Rattlesnake, it was announced that Austin would have to relinquish his Intercontinental Championship, as well as the Tag Team Championship he was carrying at the time.

After Austin was cleared a few weeks later, it led to one of the most famous segments in WWE history, where Austin delivered his first-ever stunner to Vince McMahon.

#2. Daniel Bryan had to relinquish the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Daniel Bryan on SmackDown

WWE fan favourite Daniel Bryan had a difficult year in 2015, following an incredibly successful 2014 that was ultimately marred by injury as well.

Bryan became WWE Intercontinental Champion at WrestleMania 31 in a ladder match. Sadly, things went downhill from there. Bryan underwent MRI scans which revealed he had a concussion-related injury. The issue eventually forced him to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship and retire from the ring completely.


Three years later, after more tests and evaluations, Daniel Bryan was cleared by numerous doctors and specialists to return to WWE. He returned to competing at WrestleMania 34, teaming with Shane McMahon to face Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

Daniel Bryan has recently departed WWE, not due to injury thankfully this time around, but due to his WWE contract expiring.

#1. Edge had to relinquish the World Heavyweight Championship


At WrestleMania 27, Edge successfully defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio. The match kicked off the event in Atlanta.

Shortly thereafter, Edge's whole world changed. He revealed that he had been feeling numbness in his arms, but managed to pass a strength test prior to WrestleMania. Edge was thoroughly tested after WrestleMania and received some horrifying news. Edge was suffering from cervival spinal stenosis. He could be paralyzed or die at any time if he landed incorrectly.


The decision was made that Edge would have to retire from in-ring competition and relinquish his World Heavyweight Championship. It was one of the saddest moments to see in a WWE ring when Edge announced his retirement.

Of course, Edge is now back performing after being cleared. We hope that his career will continue to flourish and that he remains healthy.

Edited by
John Cunningham
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