The year 2018 has seen a lot take place in the wacky world of WWE. One key piece of the machine has remained the same though: “The Phenomenal One” AJ Styles as WWE Champion. Among the WWE and WWE Universal Championship picture, only three names have taken the throne: Styles, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll leave Reigns out of this conversation. The majority of the year saw Styles and Lesnar rule their respective shows as the top man. However, there’s really only one man who has claim to being the more dominant champion, and that goes to Styles.
Styles > Lesnar: No Comparison
As a 20-year wrestling fan, I understand the lure of having a “special attraction” wrestler such as Lesnar working for the company. Was he really a “dominant” champion when compared to Styles though? Absolutely not. A reality that some fans will never accept is that Lesnar broke the record for the longest reigning heavyweight champion of the modern era, clocking in at 504. Of those 504 days, Lesnar defended the Universal Championship on the RAW side under 15 times.
While he had some great matches (I’m looking at you SummerSlam 2017 fatal four way) during his reign, dominance comes with defending more than once every three or four months. “The Phenomenal One” has taken the load of the workhorse of the WWE since his debut in January 2016 at the Royal Rumble in a city where his legacy was built: Orlando, Florida.
Styles is absolutely the best champion that the company has had in recent memory, defending the championship every single month in every major event. From WrestleMania to traveling to Saudi Arabia and Melbourne, AJ has yet to have a bad match. That reputation will last forever, elevating the status of the WWE Title, as champion No. 49 of only 50 in 55 years of the company’s existence.
Breaking Down the Defenses
Name one bad AJ Styles match as WWE Champion. He’s faced Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, John Cena, Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev and Samoa Joe with the gold on the line. He’s now preparing for a dream match against Daniel Bryan and WWE Crown Jewel in what will absolutely be a barn-burner. Lesnar, meanwhile, will see Reigns and Braun Strowman in a triple threat match. Lesnar has also had some great matches as champion, but they do not even touch an AJ Styles match in terms of quality.
If you count house shows, television and pay-per-views, Styles is pretty close to 200 title defenses in this run alone, while Lesnar only had 13 since he won the title at WrestleMania 33 in 2017. Therefore, THE dominant champion of 2018 is AJ Styles by far. Even though Lesnar bested Styles at Survivor Series 2017, that match will never be indicative of their reigns.
Year-Long Dominance Without the Record
Lesnar may have won that match, but Styles should always be seen as a far better champion, despite the box-office draw that surrounds “The Beast Incarnate.”
Styles is closing in on 365 days as champion, a rare feat in the WWE. While he prepares for Bryan, fans can expect to see yet another classic from the REAL top champion in WWE in the house that he built on SmackDown LIVE, AJ Styles.
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