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Top 5 WWE Universal Championship matches

Roman Reigns is the current Universal Champion
Roman Reigns is the current Universal Champion
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Shiraz Aslam

In July 2016, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley introduced the WWE Universal Championship in honor of the WWE Universe. The inaugural champion was Finn Balor, who defeated Seth Rollins at SummerSlam that year.

When McMahon and Foley unveiled the title, the live crowd was displeased with the design, and some even took their frustrations to social media. However, as time passed, the fans grew to acknowledge it because of the value WWE Superstars have attached to the championship.

The primary reason for the WWE Universal Championship's prestige is the slew of incredible title matches fans have witnessed over the years. It's only been around for five years, but most matches have been par excellence.

Here's a short list of honorable mentions before we move on to the top five Universal Championship matches:

  1. Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing Match (WWE Royal Rumble 2021)
  2. Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins (WWE SummerSlam 2019)
  3. Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso (WWE Clash of Champions 2020)
  4. Roman Reigns (c) vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE Fastlane 2021)

Note: This list strictly represents the views of the author.


#5 Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso in an "I Quit" Hell in a Cell match ( WWE Hell in a Cell 2020)

Roman Reigns forced and persuaded Jey Uso to acknowledge him.
Roman Reigns forced and persuaded Jey Uso to acknowledge him.

After his shocking heel turn and Universal Championship victory, Roman Reigns moved onto a profoundly personal rivalry with Jey Uso, which culminated inside Hell in a Cell.

The "I Quit" Hell in a Cell match between the two cousins was a strong 'Match of the Year' candidate. It had the perfect blend of emotion, physicality, drama, and tenacity.

Jey Uso was the under-dog heading into the fierce battle, and he played his role to perfection. Meanwhile, Reigns was the ruthless monster, who had turned his back on everyone, who wanted respect and acknowledgement. These dynamics played into the brutal affair excellently.

As most fans had anticipated, Reigns dominated his cousin throughout the match with a flurry of forearms, strikes, clotheslines, Superman punches, and Spears. Uso was in no mood to quit and he took the fight to his larger foe by whipping him with a leather strap. However, the Tribal Chief retaliated with a Spear and attacked the challenger with the strap.

Towards the end, Reigns placed the steel steps over his rival and demanded that Uso quit. Jimmy Uso came out to restore order and plead Reigns for mercy. Just as the champion broke down into tears, he locked the Guillotine Choke on Jimmy, forcing his brother to utter "I quit."

After the hellacious battle, the Wild Samoans enshrined Reigns with a garland and raised his hands as the Usos looked on in dismay and disappointment.

The match accomplished its intended goals. It established Reigns as the monster he had become and forced Jey Uso to fall in line.

#4 Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns in a No Disqualification Match (WWE Royal Rumble 2017)

Kevin Owens retained the Universal Championship at the 2017 Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Kevin Owens retained the Universal Championship at the 2017 Royal Rumble pay-per-view.

Back in early 2017, the Universal Championship was new and less prestigious than its counterpart - the WWE Championship. However, Kevin Owens' match with Roman Reigns helped enhance the title's status and position.

With Owens' best friend, Chris Jericho, locked in a shark cage suspended above the ring, the Big Dog had a fair shot at the Universal Championship. It was an all-out war between the two fierce rivals.

The champion executed a Frog Splash onto his opponent through the table. Jericho handed him the brass knuckles, which Owens used to hit a Superman punch. However, Reigns kept kicking out and fighting back.

Luckily for the Prizefighter, Braun Strowman emerged and brutally assaulted Reigns. Strowman drove the challenger through a table with a Running Powerslam, and Owens pinned Reigns.

The two WWE Superstars collided again in a Last Man Standing Match four years later at the same event. However, their brutal affair in the Alamodome was undoubtedly the best.

The live crowd was red-hot and invested in their contest as it could have gone either way. Y2J was entertaining and amazing as always, adding some intrigue to the match. The Monster Among Men's shocking involvement was the icing on the cake to a wonderful clash.

#3 Seth Rollins (c) vs. AJ Styles (WWE Money in the Bank 2019)

Seth Rollins and AJ Styles tore the house down at Money in the Bank 2019
Seth Rollins and AJ Styles tore the house down at Money in the Bank 2019

The WWE Universe saw the birth of "The Beast Slayer" at WrestleMania 35 as Seth Rollins conquered Brock Lesnar to win the Universal Championship. Unfortunately for Rollins, an equally talented and invigorated AJ Styles was gunning for the same title. At Money in the Bank, hardcore fans finally got the dream match between Rollins and Styles, which lived up to their expectations.

It was a back-and-forth encounter between two of WWE's most evenly matched performers. While the match was memorable, it was the ending moments that took it up a notch.

Styles countered the Stomp into a Styles Clash for the near-fall. The frustrated challenger went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but the champion countered with the Ripcord knee. He followed that up with a Superkick and the Stomp for the pinfall victory.

The Phenomenal One fell with an injury soon after the match, and the feud was cut short. WWE never followed up entirely on their fantastic encounter. They did face off in a handful of throwaway matches on RAW, but none could match the magic they created in May 2019.

Rollins' dream match with Styles was one of the best highlights of his Universal Championship run in 2019, and few fans would object to another high-stakes bout between the two stars.

#2 Roman Reigns (c) vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE WrestleMania 37)

Roman Reigns was dominant at WrestleMania 37.
Roman Reigns was dominant at WrestleMania 37.

WWE had a live audience for the first time in more than a year at WrestleMania 37. The promotion booked a blockbuster Triple Threat Match between Roman Reigns, Edge, and Daniel Bryan for the Universal Championship to pack the stadium.

The three men had overcome past emotional battles to fight their way into the main event of the Showcase of Immortals. As most WWE fans had expected, Reigns, Edge, and Bryan stole the show to produce one of the greatest headliners in recent memory.

Early on, the Rated-R Superstar neutralized Jey Uso by laying him out with the Edgecution. This ensured a fair fight between the three rivals. The highlights included Reigns Powerbombing Bryan through the announce table only to be floored by Edge with a Spear off the steel steps.

It was the first time since his heel turn that Reigns seemed vulnerable when Bryan locked in the Yes! Lock and Edge the Crossface. But Uso interfered at the last minute to turn the tide in Reigns' favor.

Reigns hit the Con-Chair-To on Edge and double-pinned both challengers to retain the championship convincingly. The WWE Universe was disappointed at the outcome, but it was an excellent booking decision.

#1 Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe (WWE SummerSlam 2017)

Braun Strowman incapacitated Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2017.
Braun Strowman incapacitated Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2017.

In the main event of SummerSlam, four of WWE's most powerful titans clashed for the Universal Championship in a brawl for the ages. It wasn't a technical masterpiece that most fans love. Instead, it was a violent street fight.

Brock Lesnar was brave enough to put his Universal Championship on the line against Braun Strowman, Reigns and Samoa Joe. However, Strowman removed him from the picture with two Running Powerslams on two separate announcers tables. Reigns Speared the Monster Among Men through a barricade in the clutches of Samoa Joe.

In the end, Lesnar withstood an onslaught of Superman punches and countered The Spear into a ring-rattling F5 for the victory. While all four monsters were at their best, Strowman was the star of the match. The Monster Among Men man-handled the Beast like fans had never seen before. His popularity was soaring through the roof, and it reached a climax at SummerSlam.

The outcome might have left quite a few fans disappointed, but the WWE Universe appreciated the fact that they had witnessed one of the best SummerSlam main events of all time.

What do you think of this list of top five Universal Championship matches? Comment down below to share your views.

Edited by Vedant Jain
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