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No major promotion has a babyface World champ

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Roman Reigns’s Instagram

Off the top, shout out to Kaydria4788 of r/Squared Circle for confirming a notion that had been in the back of my brain recently... it’s the Era of the Heel World Champion.

The top men’s singles title in every major promotion and brand is currently held by a heel. They’re different types of bad guys, but not a one of them is designed to be cheered.

  • WWE (Raw) - Bobby Lashley
  • Universal (SmackDown) - Roman Reigns
  • AEW - Kenny Omega
  • Impact - Kenny Omega
  • NXT - Karrion Kross
  • NXT UK - WALTER
  • New Japan - Will Ospreay
  • Ring of Honor - RUSH
  • MLW - Jacob Fatu
  • NWA - Nick Aldis

Several of these guys are also in the midst of lengthy reigns (pun semi-intended, too). That’s the basis of Kaydria4788’s reddit post, where they ask who will be the first of these guys to be dethroned.

I’m not sure what this means, but it’s an interesting moment in in wrestling history. That history was always divided between the WWF/E model of an unbeatable babyface superman like Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan or John Cena, and the NWA/JCP/WCW mode of telling stories about a villain who stayed on top by any means necessary for the hero to chase.

Is this just a coincidence, or a blip on the radar? Or is there something about the 2021 pop culture landscape that makes it easier or more lucrative to give the crown to the bad guy?