5 Title facts from WWE in 2021

In WWE, titles usually change hands in any given year. It keeps things fresh while giving different performers a chance to hold a Championship.

Since WWE has 10 Championships, those titles should have at least a couple of holders each year. While that may be the case for WWE every year, some instances around particular titles are unique.

WWE likes to bring Goldberg in for title matches. He wrestles twice a year, according to his current contract. That has led to two big title wins for the Legend. However, it also led to a fruitless reign as Champ since he lost the belt each time in his first defense.

2021 has been a mixed bag for WWE in terms of titles. For half of the year, there weren’t any fans. That changed in July as fans were allowed back to live events. Some returns, and big title matches, were saved for when the WWE Universe could once again attend events.

Becky Lynch’s shock return at SummerSlam was proof of that. How long will she hold on to the SmackDown Women’s title? It’s anyone’s guess. When it comes to other Championship facts in 2021, there are some interesting scenarios.

Here are five title facts from WWE in 2021.


#5. Only one established team on SmackDown is yet to hold the SmackDown Tag Titles in 2021.

SmackDown has five established tag teams on its roster. Those teams are the current Champions, the Usos, as well as the Street Profits, and the Mysterios. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode are joined by Alpha Academy to round out the five SmackDown duos.

Of those five teams, four have held the SmackDown Tag Team titles in 2021. The lone team from the list above that hasn’t hoisted the titles is Alpha Academy. The Street Profits entered 2021 as the Champions but lost the belts to Ziggler and Roode on January 8th.

The Mysterios won the titles at WrestleMania Backlash in May. The Usos dethroned the Mysterios at Money in the Bank in July. Having only five teams on a brand means that every team will practically have a run as Champions at some point.

Since Alpha Academy is the lone duo to have not won the belts, perhaps that will change in the coming months. The Usos have dominated the SmackDown tag team scene. The two teams even had a stare-down on SmackDown as the Bloodline went to the ring for Reigns’ match against Montez Ford.

Apollo Crews has teamed up with Commander Azeez a few times. Shinsuke Nakamura has fought in tag team bouts alongside Rick Boogs. If there’s only going to be a handful of teams on the brand, they all shouldn’t have won the titles in the same year.

RAW has eight teams, but only four have been RAW Tag Team Champs. One of those teams, the Hurt Business, disbanded. MVP and Bobby Lashley, however, have seen time as a duo. MVP is hurt, but the team still has a title shot against RKBro in their back pocket.

#4. Natalya and Tamina held the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles longer than Rhea Ripley held her title.

The women on WWE’s main roster have three titles to pursue. Those are the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles, and the SmackDown and RAW Women’s Championships.

There are a plethora of talented women throughout WWE, but RAW and SmackDown can only support three titles. Of those three titles, it was nice to see new names like Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley win belts at WrestleMania 37.

While it was refreshing for both Belair and Ripley to win Championships, neither had a relatively long reign. In fact, Natalya and Tamina held the WWE Women’s tag titles longer (129 days) than Ripley was RAW Women’s Champ.

Ripley won the title from Asuka at WrestleMania 37 on April 11th. She lost it to Charlotte Flair at Money in the Bank on July 18th. Ripley’s first singles reign on the main roster lasted for 98 days.

Belair’s, on the other hand, ended at SummerSlam when Becky Lynch made a surprise return at the event. The EST also won her title at WrestleMania 37 but lost it at ‘Slam on August 21st. Her first run as a singles champ on the main roster lasted for 133 days.

While Belair and Ripley are both new faces, two of the longest-tenured women enjoyed a longer run in 2021. Natalya and Tamina faced Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax on the second night of WrestleMania 37. They lost.

The veteran duo then faced and defeated Baszler and Jax on the May 14th episode of SmackDown. They held the titles from May 14th until September 20th, when Nikki A.S.H. and Ripley ended their run.

It’s a bit strange that two veterans that are seldom pushed would have a longer run with titles than two newcomers with untapped potential. Natalya’s injury mid-reign might have factored into their prolonged run.

Before facing Ripley and A.S.H., Nattie and Tamina were soundly defeated in a variety of matches by Shotzi and Nox. Nothing came of those matches. On SmackDown Before Extreme Rules, however, the tank riders showed up after Nikki’s match with Nattie.

#3. The WWE Championship and Intercontinental title have been defended the most in 2021.

One of the top titles in pro-wrestling, the WWE Championship has been defended the most in 2021. The belt has been defended 13 times, with Lashley making nine title defenses this year.

Due to the match between Apollo Crews and Shinsuke Nakamura on the latest SmackDown, the IC title has also been defended 13 times.

An interesting fact around those matches is that both Apollo Crews and Big E have been a part of eight contests around the title. With Crews challenging Nakamura on SmackDown, he has been in nine such matches this year.

After Extreme Rules, the Universal Championship will have been up for grabs in 11 matches. Three of those bouts will have taken place on SmackDown. Also following Extreme Rules, the United States and RAW Women’s Championships will have been on the line 11 times in 2021.

defended the least this year. Both will have been defended nine times following Extreme Rules. The RAW Tag Team Titles and WWE Women’s Tag titles have been on the line 10 times.

It makes sense that one of the top belts in WWE is up for grabs the most. For a championship to truly be important, it must feature as much as possible. That doesn’t mean a title match is required weekly, but it needs significant storylines/matches around it.

While Lashley’s run as WWE Champion wasn’t nearly as long as Roman Reigns’ tenure, he was still booked as a dominant champion. When Big E cashed in, it was only after Lashley appeared to have injured his leg.

How long will Big E last as WWE Champion? If the above graphic holds, he could hold the title through Survivor Series. It all comes down to what happens with the upcoming Draft.

#2. Nikki A.S.H.’s MITB win is the third instance of WWE using a cash-in to set up a SummerSlam program.

When WWE introduced Money in the Bank for women, it opened up another avenue of storytelling. WWE has opted to use that storytelling, however, in almost the same manner each year.

Alexa Bliss, Bayley, and Nikki A.S.H. all cashed in their briefcases within 24 hours of winning it. Bayley and Bliss cashed in on the same night as Money in the Bank. A.S.H. did so the next night on RAW.

Nikki’s cash-in was done so that another reign could be added to Charlotte Flair’s total. Flair bested Ripley for the RAW Women’s Championship, but A.S.H. ended that reign quickly. Flair has been cashed in on three times with two coming within 24 hours of Money in the Bank.

This year, A.S.H.’s cash-in was used to set up a triple threat program for SummerSlam. Ripley deserved a rematch after losing to Flair who, in turn, was also owed a rematch due to losing via cash-in.

That triple threat match, however, wasn’t the first instance of a quick cash-in being used to set up a SummerSlam program.

The same tactic was used in 2019 between Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar. Rollins won the 2019 Royal Rumble. He used that win to defeat the Beast at WrestleMania 35. Lesnar would then be the shock winner of that year’s Money in the Bank match.

Lesnar wouldn’t wait long as he cashed in on Rollins during that year’s Extreme Rules. It took place in July, so it set up the Universal Championship angle for SummerSlam.

Even before that scenario, Bliss took part in the first cash-in of the last five years to set up a big match for the Biggest Party of the Summer. In 2018, Nia Jax defeated Bliss for the RAW Women’s title at WrestleMania 34. That was also the year when Ronda Rousey had her brief run with WWE.

Jax and Rousey clashed at Money in the Bank, but their match was interrupted by Bliss. She caused a DQ and then cashed in on Jax. That action enraged Rousey who defeated Bliss for the RAW Women’s belt at SummerSlam in 2018.

#1. The Universal Championship is the only title in WWE to not change hands in 2021

The WWE Championship is on the same level as the Universal Championship, but it has changed hands twice in 2021. Roman Reigns has held the Universal Championship for over 390 days, dating back to a win at Payback in September 2020.

In terms of titles in WWE, every other Championship has changed hands at least twice this year. Reigns have been booked the way that creative has always wanted to book him. This Tribal Chief character is his best work. His earlier pushes were not organic as Reigns was still learning the craft on the job.

As the Head of the Table, however, Reigns is arguably the best wrestler/sports entertainer in the world. Other fans will pick different wrestlers, like Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley, or Kazuchika Okada. But for WWE and its history, this is the best version of Reigns fans have seen

For that reason, his tear since Payback has been nothing short of dominant. He’s adopted new attire, new music, a submission finisher, and an extremely different persona. Had he not switched things up, his current run wouldn’t be working as well as it is.

A title reign of over a year is not unheard of in today’s professional wrestling, but it isn’t the norm. In late 2020 and 2021, however, both Reigns and Omega have had impressive runs.

Omega is nearing the 300-day mark as the AEW World Champion. Since AEW and WWE are battling each other, it may be a battle over which promotion has the more dominant wrestler. The last two Champions that WWE booked for runs of over a year were Lesnar and Becky Lynch.

Both the Beast and The Man returned at SummerSlam and Lynch wasted little time in collecting another title. While her run likely won’t last for over a year, she may still enter 2022 as the SmackDown Women’s Champion.

The WWE Draft is set to change things up, so titles could change hands before the year ends. If there is one that is well overdue to switch holders, it’s the Universal Championship.

 

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