In the near 70 year history of WWE, the company has produced three different WWE World Titles. The oldest is the WWE Championship. The title was founded in April 1963, when the company broke away from the National Wrestling Alliance. In September 2002, WWE established the World Heavyweight Championship, following the brand split of Raw and SmackDown. The additional World crown meant both shows had their own World Title to promote. Finally, in August 2016, the Universal Championship was created as a replacement for the World Heavyweight Title, which had been unified with the WWE Title in December 2013.
No wrestler has ever won all three iterations of the WWE World Title. However, two wrestlers could do so at WWE’s next pay-per-view event, SummerSlam. Goldberg will challenge Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship, having already held the World Heavyweight Championship and Universal Championship.
On the same card, John Cena will face Roman Reigns for the Universal Title, having held both the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Title previously. As the World Heavyweight Championship is now defunct, only a select few wrestlers can now claim all three WWE World Titles. The amount of Superstars who could conceivably complete the treble in 2021 is smaller still.
This feature counts down the most likely candidates. Wrestlers who are retired, inactive or compete for other companies have not been considered.
Goldberg takes on Bobby Lashley at SummerSlam 2021 and could become the first wrestler in history to win all three iterations of the WWE World Title.
‘Da Man’ reigned as World Heavyweight Champion in 2003, when he upended Triple H for the belt at Unforgiven on September 21. He held the strap until Armageddon on December 14, when ‘The Game’ regained the gold. 14 years later and Goldberg incredibly became a World Champion again. He crushed Universal Champion, Kevin Owens in 22 seconds at Fastlane 2017, on March 5 that year. He infamously added a second Universal Title to his CV when he squashed ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt at Super ShowDown on February 27, 2020.
Goldberg has never won the WWE Championship. Could he complete the treble at SummerSlam 2021?
Much like Goldberg, John Cena could make history at SummerSlam 2021. Cena takes on Roman Reigns for the Universal Title in what will surely be the headline attraction on the card. Cena has won 16 World Titles in WWE. None of them were the Universal Championship however.
‘The Chain Gang Soldier’ won the WWE Championship, his first World Title, at WrestleMania 21 when he beat John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield for the belt. Cena has won 12 more WWE Titles in his illustrious career. His final reign ended at Elimination Chamber 2017 when he dropped the title to Bray Wyatt inside the Chamber.
The former ‘Doctor of Thuganomics’ has also held the World Heavyweight Title on three occasions between 2008 and 2013. Does Cena have a record breaking 17th World Title reign in his future? He could break two records if his 17th World title win is for the Universal Championship.
Edge has won a plethora of World Titles during his epic 23 year WWE career. ‘The Rated R-Superstar’ has held the WWE Championship four times and the World Heavyweight Title on a record seven occasions. There is one WWE World Title however that has so far eluded the ‘Rated-R Superstar.’ That championship is the Universal Title.
Edge won the 2021 Royal Rumble match and had the opportunity to win the Universal Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 37. However, he came up short, as champion, Roman Reigns defended the gold.
The 47-year-old challenged Reigns again at Money in the Bank 2021, but once more found himself on the losing end, as Seth Rollins interjected himself in the bout. Edge has a date with Rollins at SummerSlam 2021. However, he will be aiming to earn a spot back in title contention during the Autumn.
Perhaps the former King of the Ring winner can still achieve the treble in 2021.
Randy Orton is a 14-time WWE World Champion. The 41-year-old won his first World Title, the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam 2004. He has been a prolific collector of World Titles since that point. After 19 years on WWE’s main roster, there is very little ‘The Legend Killer’ has not achieved.
However, ‘The Viper’ has never held the Universal Title since it’s inception in 2016. In order to claim the one WWE World Championship that has so far eluded him, Orton would need to switch brands to SmackDown, where the belt is currently held by Roman Reigns.
After three years without capturing a World Title, Orton shocked many observers when he defeated Drew McIntyre for the gold at Hell in a Cell 2020. You can’t bet against Orton repeating the feat in 2021 and adding the one World Title missing from his extensive collection.
Rey Mysterio memorably won the World Heavyweight Championship from Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat bout at WrestleMania 22, when he pinned Randy Orton. Despite his diminutive stature, Mysterio has made a career out of battling the giants.
Mysterio claimed his second World Title when he defeated The Miz in a tournament final on the July 25, 2011 Raw. The title had been held up when CM Punk famously departed the company after his victory over John Cena at the 2011 Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Unfortunately for Mysterio, his reign was short-lived. Cena regained the strap in the main event of the show.
The 46-year-old has not held a World Title in the decade since. The veteran is still a major part of WWE storylines and he has already challenged Universal Champion, Roman Reigns on SmackDown. Mysterio could conceivably receive another shot at the gold. If he does so, don’t bet against him upsetting the champion and winning a third version of the WWE World Title.
Jeff Hardy is one of the most decorated wrestlers in WWE history, having held every title there is to win in the promotion.
Hardy has won four different Tag Team titles during his long WWE career and has also reigned as Intercontinental Champion, European Champion, Hardcore Champion, Light-Heavyweight Champion and United States Champion.
‘The Charismatic Enigma’ is also a former WWE Champion and 2-time World Heavyweight Champion. In fact the only title that has eluded Hardy during his WWE tenure is the Universal Title.
Although Hardy has not held a WWE World Championship in over a decade, the 43-year-old is still a major part of the company. He could easily be inserted into a World Title feud, although it is difficult to envisage Hardy winning a World Championship in 2021.
Sheamus has not held any version of the WWE World Title since December 14, 2015. However, he is a major star and could be slotted into a World Title feud at any time.
The Irishman won his first WWE Championship at TLC 2009 when he defeated John Cena in a Tables Match. He won his second WWE Championship the following year and his final one at Survivor Series 2015. Sheamus won the 2012 Royal Rumble Match and challenged Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVIII. He memorably squashed Bryan in 18 seconds to win the belt.
‘The Celtic Warrior’ is the reigning United States Champion. He is currently embroiled in a feud with Damien Priest. That will likely result in a title match at SummerSlam. In order to win his third version of the WWE World Title, Sheamus would require a switch to SmackDown in order to challenge for the Universal Championship.
That could happen before 2021 is out. However, it seems likely that Sheamus’s days as a serious World Championship contender are over for now – but anything can happen in wrestling.
Rumours persist that Daniel Bryan is AEW bound. Time will tell if that proves to be the case. If Bryan decides to re-sign with WWE, there is a distinct possibility he could win his third version of the WWE World Title.
In fact, he could have achieved that feat already, had he dethroned Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship in any of his title bouts at Elimination Chamber, Fastlane, WrestleMania or SmackDown. ‘The American Dragon’ has reigned as World Heavyweight Champion once. He successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on The Big Show at TLC 2011.
Bryan has also held the WWE Championship on four occasions. Perhaps in 2021, Bryan is more likely to win the AEW World Title than the Universal Championship.
You can watch SummerSlam and all of these World Title victories exclusively on the WWE Network.