WWE has had an interesting history throughout the 2010s. There have been a few world titles in the decade, with the WWE Championship staying strong as the only consistent one. The World Championship ended when the titles were unified in 2013, and the Universal Championship was created in 2016 at the start of the brand split. That made the WWE Championship the strongest title of the decade to last the entire time.
The title was a bit of a mixed bag in the 2010s. The best performers to hold the WWE Championship added to their legacies with amazing runs. It helped them become bigger stars in the overall picture. However, there were also a few wrestlers that flopped when given a run with the title. We will look at both sides, with the five best and five worst WWE champions of the decade.
10 Best: Kofi Kingston
The WWE Championship reign of Kofi Kingston is still going, after he had his big moment at WrestleMania 35. Kingston finally won the top prize in the industry, defeating Daniel Bryan in an emotional match to start the reign perfectly.
WWE has done a surprisingly good job booking Kingston’s title reign. It hasn’t been perfect, but Kingston scored clean victories over Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Dolph Ziggler to keep the reign strong. The SummerSlam match with Randy Orton disappointed, but Kingston’s title reign is still one of the best of the decade.
9 Worst: Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio was a heavily-pushed heel in the first few years of his WWE career. 2011 was his biggest year, with two WWE Championship reigns coming his way. The first one featured Del Rio cashing in the Money in the Bank title shot to defeat CM Punk.
This was a regretable moment, as WWE essentially ruined the momentum of the Summer of Punk. Del Rio would lose the title to John Cena and win it back within a couple of months. There was no interest in Alberto in such a role, as he lost the title back to Punk for good and his last WWE Championship reign ended.
8 Best: A.J. Styles
The success of A.J. Styles in WWE is something most fans didn’t expect when he joined the company. WWE finally signed Styles in 2016 and the timing of the brand split worked out perfectly for him. Styles’ momentum would see WWE believe in him enough to end Dean Ambrose’s title reign.
The two WWE Championship reigns of Styles saw him have dominant runs, with many great matches. Opponents like Ambrose, John Cena, Rusev and Samoa Joe made him a great WWE Champion. Styles joined the company halfway through the decade and became a credible champ.
7 Worst: The Miz
One of the first big WWE Championship title changes in the decade would see The Miz have his first and only run as the champ. Miz cashed in the Money in the Bank title shot during an episode of Raw to end the title reign of Randy Orton.
It was not the best run for Miz, as most of his best moments came in secondary Raw matches against John Morrison. The PPV feuds with John Cena and Randy Orton left a lot to be desired. Miz struggled as champion and fell back into the mid-card for years after the reign ended.
6 Best: Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan had two four WWE Championship reigns in the decade, but two stand out above the others. Fans will always remember the incredible WrestleMania XXX ending, with Bryan winning the WWE World Championship as confetti rained from the ceiling.
That title run would get cut short due to injuries. However, Bryan returned from an early retirement and once again found his way to the top. A new heel character drove him past A.J. Styles as the WWE Champion. Bryan’s title reign was tremendous, with a completely different character once again connecting with the audience.
5 Worst: Randy Orton
Of Randy Orton's nine WWE Championship reigns, four came in the 2010s. Orton has a chance to add another, with his current feud with Kofi Kingston still going. Unfortunately, though, most of the title reigns for Orton have fallen flat.
Orton’s title matches against Sheamus, Big Show and Bray Wyatt were some of the worst of the decade. Despite being a legend, Orton often struggles most during his reigns as the champion.
4 Best: John Cena
The 2010s started with John Cena as the dominant face of the company and ended with him transitioning into his new path as an actor. Cena was the main player in the WWE Championship picture for the first three years of the decade.
Some of the best title matches involving Cena came against CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins, to help make them bigger stars. Cena truly thrived in the role as champion, as he perfectly represented the company. Eight of Cena’s thirteen WWE Championship wins have come this decade.
3 Worst: Sheamus
Sheamus was the WWE Champion to start the decade, as WWE tried to make him a top star. The run of Sheamus would not work, as fans were not familiar enough with him to buy him as the champion. WWE gave Sheamus one more chance as the champion by cashing in his Money in the Bank title shot to beat Roman Reigns.
The third and final WWE Championship reign of Sheamus was the worst one yet. Sheamus’ League of Nations faction came off as a joke and his role as the champion did not provide much credibility. WWE booked Reigns to defeat Sheamus during an episode of Raw, ending the title reign earlier than expected.
2 Best: CM Punk
CM Punk deserves the nod as the best WWE Champion of the 2010s, despite leaving the company in early 2014. A three-year period would see Punk have an amazing ride, getting to the top of the food chain during the Summer of Punk with outstanding matches and must-see promos.
Punk had two memorable title reigns. The first one came in the legendary match that saw him defeat John Cena, before leaving the company for a few weeks. Punk’s second reign lasted over a year (434 days), making it the longest title run of the modern era.
1 Worst: Jinder Mahal
The strangest WWE Championship run of the 2010s came when Jinder Mahal won the title out of nowhere. Mahal spent most of his WWE career as a lower-tier talent before getting the push of a lifetime. Fans were stunned when Mahal won a #1 contender’s match and even more surprised when he beat Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship.
WWE’s hope was that Jinder could step up and become a credible champion as a new consistent main-eventer. The title reign featured disappointing matches against Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura and others. Mahal lost the title to A.J. Styles and never won it again. In fact, he slowly transitioned back into a lower card act shortly after the title reign.