27/05/2024
The Universal Heavyweight Championship reign of over three years celebrates day 1000 on this weekend's episode of Friday Night Smackdown, as The Tribal Chief Roman Reigns returns from what was an unmissable Night Of Champions main event which saw Jimmy Uso turn on his older cousin.

The Universal Heavyweight Championship reign of over three years celebrated day 1000, as The Tribal Chief Roman Reigns returned from what was an unmissable Night Of Champions main event which saw Jimmy Uso turn on his older cousin. 

Roman Reigns has found himself entering WWE’s record books for the longest title reigns ever since beating “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship at Payback 2020.

The Head of the Table currently sits fifth in the company’s longest reigning champions of all time, with just under a month to go until he manages to dethrone Hall of Famer Pedro Morales in fourth position.

Roman Reigns has had incredible matches with a range of different superstars over the course of his 1000-day reign as Universal Champion. In this article, The Inner Sanctum looks at the top four best Roman Reigns matches ever since being crowned Universal Champion in August 2020.

4: Brock Lesnar, Last Man Standing Match, SummerSlam 2022

Roman Reigns stands tall over Brock Lesnar (Image: WWE)

The Brock Lesnar VS Roman Reigns rivalry is one many fans of WWE had become sick of, coming head-to-head six times ever since their first duel at Wrestlemania 31 in 2015.

It’s a match-up that has seen The Tribal Chief come out with his arm raised on four of the six occasions, with Brock Lesnar only being victorious in their Steel Cage Match at Crown Jewel 2021.

Additionally, Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins famously won the WWE Championship after successfully cashing in his Money In The Bank contract to make the Wrestlemania 31 match a Triple-Threat.

So when Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns were once again booked for the main event of SummerSlam 2022 in a Last Man Standing match, expectations were low. However, to the surprise of most in the WWE Universe, both online and in Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, the match was their best one to date.

From minute one, the main event of SummerSlam, which was reportedly the first Premium Live Event (PLE) under the tutelage of Paul “Triple H” Levesque after the retirement of Vince McMahon just days before, was a showstopper, having multiple moments which will be forever etched into the minds of fans.

Setting the stage for an extraordinary match in his entrance alone, ‘The Beast’ Brock Lesnar decided he would do so in true Farmer Brock style, coming out in a large red tractor, to the surprise of all, not least his opponent Roman Reigns and former manager Paul Heyman.

Video: WWE

The action didn’t stop at just the entrance however, the Last Man Standing match was full of weapon spots, with steel steps, chairs, and tables being used throughout the thirty-plus minute match.

Although it was unlikely the championship would ever change hands, with Brock Lesnar in the twilight of his career and Roman at the time, and currently, being on track to make history as one of the longest reigning champions, there were moments throughout the match when it was somewhat possible Brock would somehow come out on top.

The majority of the match was back and forth, with both WWE Superstars getting a largely equal amount of offense. The match once again picked up in the 22nd minute of the match, when The Beast Incarnate once again turned to his trusted red tractor, this time to throw his opponent into the front-loader and dump his body out onto the ring.

Video: WWE

Thankfully, the tractor action didn’t stop there, as just five minutes later, Brock Lesnar would use it to unbelievably lift up the ring from the corner, seeing Reigns roll out. This moment, which seemed only possible in something of a fever dream, drew “Holy Sh*t” chants from the Tennessee crowd, a hallmark of any great wrestling spot.

Video: WWE

An all-too-familiar Uso run-in, an F-5 to Paul Heyman through the announce table, and a failed cash-in attempt by ‘Mr. Money In The Bank’ Auston Theory set up the finish to this match.

Somehow, Lesnar found the internal willpower to get up from multiple Uso Superkicks, title-shots to the head, and a Spear by Reigns before the count of 10.

However, proving Brock is human after all, he wasn’t able to survive one last headshot by the Universal Championship belt, as well as having the announce table, multiple desk chairs, and steel-steps being stacked on top of him.

It was here that referee Chad Patton counted his way to 10, sealing the match in favour of the defending Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns.

3: Roman Reigns VS Daniel Bryan, Smackdown April 30th, 2021

Daniel Bryan won the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 30 Night 2 (Image: WWE)

Daniel Bryan had a stellar 12 years in the WWE from 2009 to 2021, becoming a three-time WWE Champion, a one-time World Heavyweight Champion, Tag-Team Champion, and United States Champion along the way.

However, reports in 2021 suggested the leader of the ‘YES!’ movement was soon to be out of contract and hadn’t put pen to paper, which added a rarely-seen touch of realism to his Universal Championship title match with Roman Reigns on the April 30 edition of Smackdown, which would see Bryan barred from the Blue Brand if defeated.

Just before the match commenced, the ‘Wise Man’ Paul Heyman did exactly what he does best, cutting a top-class promo while being interviewed by Smackdown interviewer, Kayla Braxton, adding even more hype to what was an already looked-forward to match-up.

Heyman’s promo cast personal doubt over Bryan’s chances of victory on the night, while simultaneously working hard to put the future Hall of Famer over, listing off some of his incredible achievements.

Video: WWE

The Reigns VS Bryan match was the first time the WWE Universe would hear the ‘Head of the Table’s” new theme song, changing from the original theme that had been kept since his days as a member of The Shield faction in the early 2010s.

Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns would put on one of the best matches to come out of an odd, almost surreal time in WWE history, where instead of thousands of screaming fans packed into the arena, the superstars would instead perform their craft in front of TV screens inside the ‘Thunderdome’.

The pair’s differing wrestling styles were showcased during the match. While the undersized Daniel Bryan made use of his technical moves, bringing out his ‘YES! Kicks’, targeting the arms and legs of his opponent, as well as high-flying maneuvers and submission holds, Reigns brought out his orthodox Powerhouse style of wrestling with big moves, body slams, and strikes, setting the match up as a classic David v Goliath battle.

While not having any weapon spots, this twenty-minute match-up had nothing missing from start to finish, proving that while the wrestling industry has a place for all kinds of unbelievable weapon shots and crazy moments, there is still a need for a good old-fashioned professional wrestling match.

Although Daniel Bryan put up an effort for the ages, helping put on one of the best matches of the modern era, he would eventually succumb to Reigns’ Guillotine Choke, while not tapping out, instead losing consciousness, forcing referee Dan Engler to call off the match.

The defeat to Roman Reigns would be Bryans’ last in the company, as he was subsequently banned from Smackdown as part of the stipulation, and ultimately left the company, joining rival promotion AEW later in the year.  

2: Jey Uso VS Roman Reigns, Hell in a Cell 2020

Tribal Chief brutalized younger Cousin Jey in their Hell in a Cell “I Quit!” match (Image: WWE)

The story of The Bloodline family in WWE has been unmissable over recent years, with multiple Smackdown, Raw, and PLE segments involving the faction worthy of winning film & TV awards.

A moment that can be used to define the story of The Bloodline, the drama, the heart, and the emotion that comes along with it, is the Universal Heavyweight Championship match between Roman Reigns and Jey Uso at 2020’s Hell In A Cell PLE.

When the match between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns was a near-perfect match for its sheer brilliance in technical singles match wrestling, the match-up between Roman Reigns and his cousin Jey Uso achieved the same standards but for differing reasons.

It’s very rare in professional wrestling that a match will be worthy of being nominated for film awards, but this one was just that. From the story of Roman struggling to get his family to acknowledge him, Jey hating the man his older cousin had turned into following his crowning of Universal Champion just months before, to the line delivery both men screamed at each other through the match, made the “I Quit” match worthy of ‘Match of the Year’ at very least.

Throughout the match, Jey was able to survive an onslaught of spears from his older family member, as well as refusing to give up during a brutal Guillotine Lock midway through. Uso was even able to produce moments of brilliance in which a victory could seem at least the slightest bit possible, including when he whipped Roman with a belt-like object, only for Roman to survive and hit one of many spears seen throughout the battle.

After an early flurry of offense from Jey, the remainder of the match was largely dominated by Reigns. A number of creative spots were produced, including when the Tribal Chief sandwiched his brother’s head between the steel stairs and the ring post, which even then, wasn’t enough to get the victory.

It wasn’t until Roman Reigns had brutalized Jey so much that WWE producers and extra officials were brought into the Cell to try and prevent Roman from inflicting any more carnage onto Jey and the rest of his family, that the match set up its finish.

Finishing the match, Jey’s twin brother, and fellow Bloodline member, Jimmy, would come into the match, begging for his older cousin to show mercy. In a moment that could see Roman being given future Hollywood acting gigs, the champion would fall to his knees, balling up and crying at what he had recently become.

However, it would seem as if it was all something of a red-herring, as Roman would turn his attention to Jimmy, the man he knew Jey loved more than anyone else, and would force him to pass out in his prized Guillotine Lock, a finishing move that had been used to call end many matches beforehand.

Looking his brother dead in the eyes, knowing the pain he was experiencing at that moment, Jey would eventually yell the words “I quit”, seeing him be added to the list of superstars Roman Reigns had defeated in the opening months of his now three yearlong title reign.

Video: WWE

1: Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns, Clash at the Castle 2022

Reigns and McIntyre main-evented WWE’s first British PLE in decades (Image: WWE)

Out of all matches Roman has had throughout his 100-day title defense, the one with Drew McIntyre was the one in which he looked most likely to lose.  

The match between the Scottish Warrior and the Tribal Chief was the main event of the first WWE PLE to take place in the UK in over thirty years, giving Drew McIntyre an almost-overwhelming home crowd advantage, as was the same with Sheamus in his Intercontinental Championship bout with Gunther earlier in the night.

Not only was this match one of the biggest in Drew’s career because of the added factor of a home crowd audience of more than fifty thousand, but it was also one of his first opportunities at recrowning himself as the WWE Champion, after losing it to The Miz at Elimination Chamber 2021.

McIntyre’s creative told a story of redemption going into the match, showing the work the superstar put in to save his career ever since his initial release from the WWE in 2014, following a first run with the company that failed to live up to internal expectations. The Scotsman was seen by many in the WWE Universe as the man who would beat Roman Reigns for his championships, making their Clast at the Castle main event match a hard one to predict.

To mark the special occasion, WWE decided to reintroduce Drew McIntyre’s ‘Broken Dreams’ theme, a song sorely missed after not being heard for close to a decade. 

The match itself was one of several heart-in-mouth moments, including when the home crowd favorite kicked out at two and a half following not one, but a barrage of spears from his opponent. 

Clash at the Castles’ main event would see one of several failed Money in the Bank cash-ins, when toward the end of the event, the former US Champion would run his way down to the ring, briefcase in hand, only for surprise guest star, and local boxing celebrity, Tyson Fury to land a knock-out blow. 

Coming towards the end of the match, Drew McIntyre would hit his opponent with the Claymore Kick, seemingly calling an end to Romans title defense, not until the main roster debut of NXT star and uso younger brother Solo Sikoa, would evoke an all-too-familiar ‘ref bump’, as common in a Roman Reigns title match as a ring of the bell.

The Head of the Table would use his time while the referee was down to his full advantage, spearing his challenger for the final time, before long-tenured official Charles Robinson would come to his senses, calling the 3-count in the advantage of the remaining WWE Champion, Roman Reigns. 

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