The Universal Champion Roman Reigns announced last week on Raw that his Leukemia had returned because of which he wouldn't be able to fulfill his wrestling obligations. He then relinquished the Universal Championship and met his Shield brothers, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose along with several other Superstars and Raw Personnel before leaving the arena. Even if Reigns beats Leukemia for the 2nd time, it can take a few years before we see The Big Dog back in a WWE ring.
There’s no doubt that Roman Reigns’ announcement last week was one of the most shocking and heartbreaking moments in the history of WWE. However, Roman Reigns isn't the only Superstar who had to relinquish his World Title. There have been countless Superstars who were forced to vacate their titles. Although none of the other “title relinquishing” announcements were as disturbing as Reigns’, they were heartbreaking in their own right. Here are 5 WWE Superstars who had to relinquish their World Titles.
After wrestling in NXT for nearly 2 years, Finn Balor finally made his main roster debut in 2016. He was immediately given a huge push and went on to win a Fatal 4 Way match and defeat Roman Reigns on his first night on Raw to get a Universal Title shot at Summerslam 2016. Finn Balor then defeated Seth Rollins at Summerslam to become the inaugural Universal Champion. It looked like things were off to a great start for the “Demon King”.
During the match however, Balor suffered a shoulder injury (labrum tear). He underwent a successful surgery which required him to miss around 6 months of in-ring action in order to heal. Thus, Balor had to relinquish his Universal Title the following night on Raw, just 22 hours after winning it. After Balor returned in 2017, he never received a decent push again due to his durability.
Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart in a stellar Iron Match at Wrestlemania 12, which went into overtime, to win the WWF Championship. The Heartbreak Kid lost the title to Psycho Sid but managed to win it back early in 1997. At Wrestlemania 13, Michaels was supposed to drop the title to Bret Hart to return the favor.
In February 1997 however, Michaels relinquished the title due to a knee injury and delivered his famous “Lost My Smile” promo. He even stated that he was considering a retirement. Michaels ended up returning a few months later after undergoing a successful knee surgery. Many people, including Hart, believe that Michaels was faking his injury to avoid losing to Bret Hart. Regardless, the classic promo Michaels cut is still considered as one of the best WWF/E promos.
After Randy Orton was kicked out from Evolution in August 2004, it was only a matter of time before “The Animal” Batista broke away from the group too. Batista finally turned on Triple H and Ric Flair and went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 21. Batista reigned as the World Champion for over 282 days, thus becoming the longest reigning World Heavyweight Champion.
On the 13th January 2006 edition of Smackdown, Batista vacated the World Title due to an injury (tore his right triceps) sustained a week prior, during a live event match against Mark Henry. According to Batista, Henry was quite careless in the match. Batista returned in July 2006 and won the title back in November. However, if Batista hadn't gotten injured, we could have seen him defending the World Title against Randy Orton at Wrestlemania 22.
Daniel Bryan’s entire Wrestling career has been filled with memorable moments. His main event push in WWE began during the summer of 2013. Initially, he couldn't overcome The Authority (Triple H, Kane, Randy Orton, The Shield etc.). However, at Wrestlemania 30 in 2014, Bryan defied all odds and defeated Triple H and then Randy Orton and Batista to win the WWE Championship.
Bryan suffered a neck injury in May 2014 and was stripped of the title in June by The Authority. Bryan returned to in-ring action in 2015, won the Intercontinental Title and once again suffered an injury, a career-ending one, and relinquished it too. Bryan then announced his retirement in 2016 before coming out of retirement in 2018.
Edge is regarded as one of the best heels of Ruthless Aggression era. Between 2005 and 2011, he won 11 World Titles, two Money in the Bank briefcases and a Royal Rumble match. Edge won his 11th and final World title by defeating Dolph Ziggler in February 2011. After that, he successfully defended the Title against Alberto Del Rio at Wrestlemania 27.
8 days later on Raw, Edge [announced](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_(wrestler%29) his retirement after revealing that an MRI result forced him to retire. He was diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis, and the risk of neck-down paralysis or even death caused doctors to not clear him to wrestle any further. On the following edition of Smackdown, Edge officially relinquished the World Title and that was the end of a decorated career. One year later, Edge was inducted into the Hall of Fame.