We’re here. We’ve made it. We’ve reached it to the top of the mountain. We could use all the cliches in the book but seriously, after weeks of counting down champions from this decade or that decade, we’ve finally reached the zenith.
Going through the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and 2010’s, we’ve seen the prestigious start of the title and the ups and downs the championship has gone through throughout different promotions, from the NWA, to the WCW, and settling into the WWE’s where it stands today.
it’s been a long road here. Join us as we count down the greatest United States Champions of all-time.
10. Nikita Koloff
We kick off our list with Nikolai Koloff. Koloff held the championship once during his career, winning it on August 17, 1986, after defeating Magnum T.A. in a best-of-seven series. Koloff would go on to hold it for 328 days and successfully defend it 15 times against the likes of Lex Luger, Arn Anderson, and Ric Flair. Koloff would eventually lose the championship to Luger in a steel cage match. Koloff is ranked at number 10 both on this list and the all-time cumulative days held list.
9. Dean Ambrose
The man ahead of Koloff on both lists: Dean Ambrose. Like Koloff, Ambrose has only held the championship once…so far. The United States Championship was the first championship Ambrose held in the WWE when he won it on May 19, 2013, defeating Kofi Kingston. Ambrose would hold the championship for 351 days and successfully defend it 14 times. Ambrose would lose the championship to Sheamus in a 20-man battle royale.
8. Montel Vontavious Porter
Our number eight spot goes to the hottest free agent, Montel Vontavious Porter, a.k.a MVP. During the 2000’s, MVP would hold the championship twice. His first reign started after defeating Chris Benoit in a two-out-of-three falls match. MVP’s first reign would last almost a year at 343 days. During this reign, Porter would successfully defend the championship six times against the likes of Ric Flair, Rey Mysterio, and a no holds barred match against Batista. MVP would eventually lose the title to Matt Hardy at Backlash 2008.
Two years later, MVP would regain the championship on an episode of SmackDown against Shelton Benjamin. This time, Porter would only hold the championship for 78 days, bringing his overall total with the title to 419 days. During the second reign, MVP would defend the championship twice against Dolph Ziggler and Matt Hardy, respectively. Like his 2nd championship win, Porter’s 2nd time losing the championship would also happen on TV, this time against Kofi Kingston on an episode of Raw.
7. Chris Benoit
“The Rabid Wolverine,” Chris Benoit, comes in at our number seven spot. Benoit won the championship five times spanning two decades. His first win came in WCW after defeating David Flair on an episode of Nitro in August 1999. 34 days later, however, Benoit’s sixth title defense would not be a successful one, as he would lose to Sid Vicious at FallBrawl 1999. At Starrcade 1999, Benoit would be awarded his second title after Scott Hall injured his leg during their match. One night later, though, Benoit lost the championship to Jeff Jarrett in a ladder match.
It would be six years before Benoit won his next U.S. Championship. This time in the WWE, Benoit beat Orlando Jordan at SummerSlam 2005 to capture his third title. This time, Benoit would hold the championship for 58 days, defending it six times. Benoit would lose the championship to Booker T on an October episode of SmackDown. In a rematch with Booker T, Benoit would win back the championship at No Way Out 2006. Benoit would hold the title for 42 days before losing it to JBL.
Benoit’s final championship win would come when he beat Mr. Kennedy (…KENNEDY!) in Oct. 2006. This would be Benoit’s longest reign, holding the title for 222 days. Benoit would defend it seven times this reign before losing it to MVP, starting Porter’s nearly year-long reign. Overall, Benoit held the 357 days and 18 made successful defenses.
6. Rick Rude
Our number six spot goes to the “Ravishing One,” Rick Rude. Although Rude only held the title once, his reign was a great one, deserving of this spot. Rude won the title on November 19, 1991, at the Clash of Champions PPV against Sting. Rude would hold the championship for more than a year, defending it 24 times. After a 378 day reign, the second-longest reign ever, Rude would tragically suffer a neck injury, forcing him to vacate the championship. Although he tried multiple times, Rude never regained the championship.
5. John Cena
Next on our list, coming in at number five is John Cena, which is fitting because “Big Match John” has held the belt five times. Cena totals 403 days held with the championship with reigns of 114, 2, 105, 147 and 35 days, respectively. Cena has defended the championship 30 times, including open challenges and matches such as a street fight, a bull rope, and a steel cage match.
4. Greg Valentine
We’re getting into the final stretch. Rounding out our top four is Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Valentine won his first U.S Championship for the NWA in July 1980. He beat Ric Flair for it and 121 days later, he would lose it back to Flair. Two years later, Valentine would win his second championship, defeating Wahoo McDaniels. This time, Valentine would hold the gold for 163 days before losing it to Roddy Piper. Two weeks later, however, Valentine would win back the title after a gash on Piper’s ear caused the referee to call the title match between the two in Valentine’s favor. This would be Valentine’s last and longest reign, spanning 228 before losing to Dick Slater.
Overall, Valentine held the title 512 days, successfully defending the championship a total of 72 times across his three reigns.
3. Blackjack Mulligan
On March 13, 1976, the superstar at our number three spot defeated Paul Jones to become the fifth person to win the United States Championship. That person was Blackjack Mulligan, and he would go onto win the title three more times in that decade. His second time would be against Paul Jones in a rematch from one year earlier when Jones took Blackjack’s first U.S. Championship. Mulligan would beat Jones for the title a third time in December 1976. This would be the final blow in the Mulligan-Jones feud which spanned from March 1975 to December 1976 and saw the title switch hands five times.
Mulligan’s fourth and final reign started when he defeated Ricky Steamboat on New Year’s Day of 1978. In total, Mulligan held the championship for 509 days and defended it 85 times.
2. Lex Luger
Earning the silver medal on our list is Lex Luger. Luger holds the record for longest reign at 523 days, which was during his third reign. Luger’s first United States Championship win came when he beat Nikita Koloff in July 1987 in a steel cage match. 138 days later, Luger would lose the championship to Dusty Rhodes in a steel cage match at Starrcade 87. Luger would be the first champion to hold the belt under WCW when he won it in February 1989.
He would hold it for 76 before he and Michael P.S Hayes would go back and forth with the belt. Hayes held it for 15 days before losing it back to Luger, who held it for that record holding number of 523 days spanning from May 1989 to October 1990 before losing it to Stan Hansen. 50 days later, Luger would win it back from Hansen in December 1990 in a bull rope match. During this reign, WCW split from the NWA and the title was renamed the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship.
Luger held the title for 210 days during this reign before vacating it after he won the World Championship. Luger’s fifth and final reign happened eight years after his previous championship run. However, this would be Luger’s least impressive reign, only holding the championship for a day. He beat Bret Hart on an episode of Nitro, but lost it in a rematch with the Hitman the next night on Thunder.
Throughout his five reigns, Luger held the title for 948 days and defended the title 25 times.
1. Ric Flair
Finally…..THE greatest United States Champion of all time, ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. With six championship wins, Ric Flair is the man with the most amount of reigns among United State Championship winners. Flair has held the championship for 84, 253, 133, 98, 64, 141 days, respectively, totaling 773 days. What may be more impressive is the number of times Flair defended the championship, which totals over 120 successful defenses. Flair was a great champion that reigned in three different decades and is deserving of our top spot.