Roman Reigns Breaks 500 Days as WWE Universal Champion

Roman Reigns officially hit 500 consecutive days as WWE Universal Champion on Wednesday, becoming the second man in company history to hit that milestone with the newer of its two world titles. Reigns will break Brock Lesnar's official record for the longest reign as Universal Champion (504 days) on Monday but needs to hold it for at least another 123 days to break Lesnar's record for most combined days as Universal Champion (which he did across three reigns). Reigns famously beat "The Beast" to end his record-breaking reign at the 2018 SummerSlam event, but had to relinquish the gold just a few months later after being diagnosed with leukemia. 

"The Tribal Chief" won the title just one week after returning from hiatus in August 2020, beating both "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman in a triple threat at the Payback pay-per-view. He's successfully defended the title 18 times, beating Jey Uso, Strowman, Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan, Edge, Cesaro, Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Finn Balor, Lesnar and Sami Zayn. He was supposed to defend the title on New Year's Day at the Day 1 pay-per-view (against Lesnar again), but had to withdraw from the show after testing positive for COVID-19. There have been reports for months that Reigns vs. Lesnar will wind up being the WrestleMania 38 main event in April. His next defense will come against Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble. 

Adam Pearce explained why he booked the match between two former Shield brothers on the latest episode of The Bump — "You know, the thing about finding Roman's challenger is that you need to scour every nook, every cranny and you've got to find somebody that you believe is a formidable challenge to Roman Reigns. I was listening to Bobby Lashley a second ago talking about the match coming up against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble, and I wanted to find something that would bring a very similar feeling. And what landed me on Seth is history, really. When you think about two people intertwined for a certain period of time, I think Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins with everything they've been through, with everything they've stood together for and against, makes a very intriguing matchup and one that I know Mr. Reigns is not happy about, but here we are. They trusted me to make the decision and it is official."