The top 15 ROH world champions in history


The ROH Death Before Dishonor event is in the books as they say, and what an event it was. Some champions were retained and some new ones were crowned. One new champ, in particular, is Claudio Castagnoli, who made his AEW debut just a few short weeks ago. This marks his first World Championship and that’s saying a lot for a man who’s been in the business for as long as he has. His win specifically gave us an idea to look at the top 15 ROH world champions in history.

There have been a total of 30 ROH Champions since the company’s inception back in 2002; we’ve narrowed it down to 15 which wasn’t easy.

15. Kyle O’Reilly

The ROH story is a rich one and perhaps it cannot be told without mentioning this champion. He had one single reign and held the title for 33 days, but having him as ROH champion sent a message all its own.

O’Reilly can be compared to Bryan Danielson in his execution and in-ring style and his accomplishments in ROH were definitely important to not only his progression but the progression of the territory itself. The same can be said of his time in NXT and now AEW. Great things to come still from this epic talent.

14. Christopher Daniels

This one seems like an understatement for sure. He’s a legend in the business and has made stops at indie promotions of important note and major companies in the world of professional wrestling. Having him hold this title brings up one word to mind for ROH, and that’s validation.

13. PCO

The word legend will be coming up a lot here in this piece, so be warned, but PCO, who wrestled in WWE for years as a member of the Quebecers tag team with Jacques Rougeau. He wrestled for IWS in Montreal, for Impact, and of course ROH. His single reign lasted 78 days.

12. Cody

Cody Rhodes definitely had a lot to prove at this time, he felt. He wanted people to forget about his days as Stardust in WWE and boy did they ever. He not only made impressions in ROH but in NJPW as well as other promotions on his way from where he was before to the American Nightmare.

His reign lasted for 175 days. He just may be at the cusp of now being the next face of WWE and all of that can most definitely be attributed to the work he did in ROH, the indies, and AEW during those years away from WWE.

11. Jay Lethal

A man whose reputation speaks for itself. He’s on his way to facing Ric Flair in his last match…a match that should be special, to say the least, and not just because it’s Flair’s last match. Lethal is the longest-reigning ROH Champion in history at 707 combined days as champ split over two reigns.

10. Adam Cole

Adam Cole s the only man to have held the ROH Championship a total of 3 times. That means he’s held it the most but not the longest…his combined days as champ add up to 445. We wonder only if he wants to make it number four at some point in the future.

9. Kevin Steen

Another IWS alumni. Kevin Steen, or Kevin Owens as you all know him today, cut his teeth in environments not at all different from the old ECW and of course ROH. Specifically, IWS is a promotion that needs its accolades. After all, so many people on today’s WWE and AEW rosters are alumni from that very promotion based out of Montreal. Steen’s reign as ROH champ was just shy of a year at 328 days.

8. Roderick Strong

Here, another indie wrestling king. He’s over at NXT right now and being severely underutilized. It was during his long run in ROH that he let it be known that he was a wrestler’s wrestler, and he racked in a lot of accolades during that time, specifically the ROH championship…and for a total of 189 days, he held it.

7. Tyler Black

You all know and love him as Seth Rollins, but even before he became the first-ever NXT champion, he was ROH Champion and a great one at that. He states that he learned a lot in WWE developmental (FCW first, then NXT), but he was already pretty darn good at this point in his career when he won the ROH championship. He held the championship for 210 days.

6. CM Punk

The current AEW champion, CM Punk is also a legend (there I had to use the word again; no way around it, sorry), and he has spent some time away from the business before he returned to the industry in 2021.

It sent shockwaves through the industry as it should and that underground, as well as mainstream following this man, was first built on in the indies and in ROH; thus his reputation was built and what a rep it undoubtedly is. One of the greatest to ever do it. 55 days his ROH reign was.

5. Samoa Joe

The second longest reigning ROH champion if you’re looking at combined days as champ. Here’s yet another man whose accolades speak for themselves. His single reign lasted for 645 days, which makes him the longest-tenured champ at consecutive days during a single reign. So he’s got that top spot in that regard for sure.

4. Bryan Danielson

Now it seems pointless to talk up this man any more than I already have in previous pieces. A GOAT for sure, but there are a lot of those in an industry as rich of talent as pro wrestling is, but his reign in ROH as champ was important because Danielson started a trend again at that time…an aggressive style of wrestling that had been first introduced by the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Chris Benoit, and he took even that further, which is saying something for sure. His ROH reign lasted 462 days.

3. Low Ki

And speaking of Eddie Guerrero…it was actually Low Ki he wrestled in 2001 after being fired from WWE. Guerrero has said that that match brought him back to where he needed to be; it motivated him to do it again after falling in bad times at that point in his story, and he would regain his position in WWE in 2002.

Low Ki is a very gifted performer, he only held the title for 56 days, but his rep speaks for itself, and his match with Eddie was a masterpiece that people are still talking about today.

2. Jonathan Gresham

Gresham sadly is upset with the way things went down at Death Before Dishonor, and from what I understand it has nothing to do with dropping the title. He was an epic champion and one that deserves his accolades and respect.

He carried himself professionally and was a defending champion. He’s always in tip-top shape and has never had a bad match to my estimation. A great ROH Champ and no matter where he goes next, nobody can take that away from him. 224 days he held the title.

1. Claudio Castagnoli

There’s no way he could have been placed anywhere else on this list but at number one. Not only did this man deserve the ROH Championship back then when he actively wrestled for the promotion, but he even deserved the Universal Championship when he had his match with Roman Reigns at Backlash 2021 as well.

Next. Why Becky Lynch could be Ms. SummerSlam, but only if all goes according to her plan. dark

His reign is only at just under a week as of this writing, but I believe it will be a great story to tell when it’s all said and done. We’re only on chapter one folks, and Castagnoli still has a lot to say. Just look at how much he’s done since debuting for AEW and already a championship to go along with his efforts. I’d say there are great things in store for this champion who was always a champion in my eyes.