Which "Big Belt" wrestling champion had the best summer of 2018?
Summer 2018 is nearly at an end, and it's been a wild time for pro wrestling.
Big news events like All In and Lesnar's return to the Octagon clashed with the G1 tournament and Randy Orton's unfortunate backstage drama for wrestling fan's attention. At the same time it seemed nearly every wrestling promotion out there upped its game in the quest for ever more fans and market share.
During this time of turmoil, the 'big belt' holders--usually referred to as the World Champion of their respective company--are expected to be the standard bearers, leading their whole rosters into battle for ratings supremacy. In this fun slideshow,
we'll be looking at this summer's big belt champions, from the three WWE brands to ROH and New Japan, as well as Impact/GFW. Our goal is to objectively evaluate which champion had the best run over the summer months, and we will use four criteria to determine that.
(In order to be considered for this list, the champion must have held the title for at least thirty days during the summer and/or be the current champion as of this writing.)
Dominance: Did the champion hold the belt for a majority of the summer?
Contenders: A champion is only as good as those who challenge him, so both the number and quality of title defense opponents is accounted for.
Talent: Does the champion perform well inside the ring from bell to bell?
Popularity/Marketability: Does the champion represent his company well? Is their reign good or bad for business?
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Without further ado, let's begin the list in no particular order.
#1 AJ Styles: WWE World Champion (Smackdown Brand.)
The Phenomenal one continues his epic WWE run as Smackdown's World Champion. He continues to dazzle on the blue brand with his mix of technical expertise and high flying daredevilry.
Dominance: AJ held onto the title he won back in 2017 throughout the entire summer, earning top marks. Grade: A+
Contenders: Styles fended off the challenges of Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, and Samoa Joe, though he technically lost the last contest due to a DQ and remains champion on a technicality. Because of the loss to Joe, AJ's grade suffers a bit. Grade: B
Talent: AJ Styles is without question one of the most skilled professional wrestlers in the world. His supreme athleticism and sense of timing is so perfect it's down right scary. Grade: A+
Popularity/Marketability: Among wrestling fans, AJ is 'phenomenally' popular. He does however lack a strong social media footprint or mass market recognition. Grade: B
AJ's overall grade: B+ Styles has enjoyed a great summer but the loss to Joe lowered his scores a bit.