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The WWE Champion might go 7 months without wrestling in a PPV main event

We are currently in the midst of an extended main event drought for the WWE Champion.

The WWE Champion has not wrestled in the main event of a pay-per-view (PPV) since July 23, 2017 at Battleground when the Great Khali helped Jinder Mahal retain the championship over challenger Randy Orton.

The next opportunity for this drought to end is on December 17 at Clash of Champions, where AJ Styles will defend the title against the man who lost against Triple H in India over the weekend. At that time, the WWE Championship main event drought will approach 5 months in length.

However, this upcoming championship match between Styles and Mahal has taken a clear back seat on SmackDown television to the more important drama between Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan. If I was guessing right now, I would pick KO’s tag team match to main event Clash of Champions over Styles versus Mahal.

If that happens and the WWE Championship main event drought continues, then the next PPV will be Royal Rumble on January 28. The Royal Rumble match itself is almost always the favorite bet to main event that card, and Universal Champion Brock Lesnar will also be wrestling on that night, so it seems like an uphill battle for the WWE Championship to appear in the main event of that PPV.

After that there is Elimination Chamber on February 25. This is a Raw branded show, so unless there is a roster shakeup between now and then, the WWE Champion isn’t expected to appear at that event.

That means the next best chance for the WWE Championship to be represented in the main event of a PPV is at Fastlane on March 11, a SmackDown branded card.

Therefore if Styles and Mahal fail to main event Clash of Champions, the WWE Championship would most likely go from July 23, 2017 through March 11, 2018 without being represented in the main event of a PPV. That is more than 230 days, or approximately 7.5 months.

I looked back to 2010 to find other extended droughts of the WWE Championship from PPV main events, and there was one instance of a longer drought than 7.5 months. WWE Champion CM Punk headlined TLC 2011 (December 18) and Night of Champions 2012 (September 16), but nothing in between. That’s a drought of approximately 9 months. The next longest drought occurred between Night of Champions 2014 and WrestleMania 31 (slightly more than 6 months) when part-timer Brock Lesnar was champ.

When you combine this drought with the fact that the Universal Championship has been tied to Brock Lesnar’s part-time schedule for most of 2017, this has been a somewhat lost year for each brand’s top championship appearing in PPV main events.

There have been 15 PPVs this year so far, not counting Clash of Champions, and only 7 of these shows were main evented with the WWE or Universal Champion.

The WWE Championship headlined Elimination Chamber (Wyatt wins the chamber match), Backlash (Orton vs. Mahal), and Battleground (Mahal vs. Orton).

The Universal Championship headlined Fastlane (Owens vs. Goldberg), Great Balls of Fire (Lesnar vs. Joe), SummerSlam (Lesnar wins Fatal 4-Way), and No Mercy (Lesnar vs. Strowman).

Of the 8 PPV events that did not headline with one of these champions, three were dual-branded cards where both the WWE Champion and Universal Champion wrestled on the undercard (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania 33, Survivor Series).

Three events were Raw branded cards where Universal Champion Lesnar did not appear at all (Payback, Extreme Rules, TLC). That’s one of those built-in consequences of putting the belt on a part-timer for such a long time. When Lesnar did wrestle as Universal Champion, he usually did so in the main event.

Meanwhile the WWE Champion wrestled on the undercard of two SmackDown branded cards (Money in the Bank, Hell in a Cell) as well as the Raw branded Payback card.

I looked at some previous years to see how often the top championship was represented in the main event (counting non-title matches, as well as matches where the title was vacant but on the line) and here are the results:

  • 2017: 7 times out of 15 main events (so far)
  • 2016: 10 out of 15
  • 2015: 9 out of 13
  • 2014: 7 out of 12
  • 2013: 10 out of 12
  • 2012: 3 out of 12
  • 2011: 9 out of 13
  • 2010: 9 out of 13 (this counts the big gold belt for 2 main events)

The bottom line is that 2017 hasn’t been a great year for top championships appearing in the main event. Some of this is because Brock Lesnar is a part-timer, some of this is because Jinder Mahal, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, and Shinsuke Nakamura weren’t viewed as big enough stars to take enough main event spots, and some of this is because Shane McMahon, Kurt Angle, and Undertaker are presented as bigger stars than most of the newer talent.

If Jinder Mahal and AJ Styles do not main event Clash of Champions, we could be looking at a 7.5 month drought between PPV main events for the WWE Championship. That sounds insane to me, so let’s hope things turn out better for the WWE Championship in 2018.

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