WWE Championship History: Know the glorious history behind the belt - Wrestle MMA

wwe championship history, current wwe champion
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The WWE Championship has a vast and illustrious history of almost 60 years. After being introduced by the WWE in 1963, the title has undergone several name changes and wore by many renowned wrestling legends.

The appearance of this prestigious Championship has been updated numerous times thus far by the company. Its look has also been modified quite a few times, either due to unification with the World Heavyweight championship or customization of the belt's design, resembling a wrestler's gimmick. 

Before we begin any further, let's have a look at some of the most asked questions about this greatest prize in the wrestling business-

Who is the current WWE Champion?

Brock Lesnar.

Who was the first WWE Champion? 

Buddy Rogers became the first WWE Champion when he prevailed Antonino Rocca during a tournament held in April of 1963.

Who was the first black WWE Champion?

The Rock is regarded as the first black Champion. However, Kofi Kingston became the first African-born black WWE Champion.

Who has the longest and shortest reigning record? 

Bruno Sammartino's record of holding the championship for 2803 days straight is the longest reign in history.

On the other hand, Andre The Giant had the shortest reign of fewer than 2 minutes!

Who was the youngest WWE Champion?

Brock Lesnar was just 25 years old when he won the championship in 2002.

Various Designs of the Championship 


wwe championship history, current wwe champion
Image via - Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The look of the Championship was never stable during the early days of wrestling. Its design kept changing in those first 25 years of its existence. After Buddy Rogers, it was then won by 13 others during this time frame.

They include legends such as Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Antonio Inoki, Bob Backlund, The Iron Sheik, "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan and a few others.


wwe championship history, current wwe champion
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This version of the championship is popularly known as "Winged Eagle Belt". It was introduced by Hogan in 1988, which became the permanent design, lasted for about 10 long years. 

The world witnessed several classic matches for this very belt. Some of which worth disclosing here would be legendary Hulk Hogan winning at Wrestle Mania 9, The Ultimate Warrior's victory at WM 6, HBK vs Bret Hart, Undertaker's 2nd Then-WWF title win at WM 13.


wwe championship history, current wwe champion
Image via - Flickr/Tony; Licensed under - CC BY 2.0

The appearance of the belt was later updated to this look in 1998. It debuted in the golden, good old days of the attitude era and was a legitimate symbol of that time. 

Initially, the color of the strap was blue and had the WWF logo at the top, in block capitals. But shortly after that, it was changed to a black strap with the scratched style WWF logo, exactly as shown in the above image. 

Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock have earned it the most number of times, followed by Mankind and Triple H.


Lesnar walking with the then-WWE Undisputed championship

When Chris Jericho became the first-ever WWF Undisputed Champion in 2001, he went on the WM 18 to defend the same but lost to "The game" Triple H. Following night on Raw, Flair would then present this new belt (read the complete history below).

The look of this version of the Championship was still a little similar to the previous WWF title. It had the globe (Black in color tho)  and the eagle on top. But apparently, the design of it was compact in size and its shape was changed as well.


First of all, have a look at the spinner belt that existed for just about 8 years. It debuted on 14th April 2005 edition of Raw after JBL stole Cena's old WWE title. It was initially thought to be Cena's custom belt but was never changed until January 2013.

CM Punk and John Cena were the two guys who kept the throne for more than a year straight. However, Punk's record of 434 days as WWE Champ hasn't been touched yet by anyone since then! 

2013; 2016-present

wwe championship history, current wwe champion
Images via - Wikimedia Commons; licenses from left - CC BY-SA 2.0 and CC BY-SA 4.0

When The "Brahma Bull" beat Punk at Royal Rumble 2013 for the championship, he unveiled the brand-new WWE title to replace the old spinner belt on the night Monday night.

The sole existence of the Championship was however impacted when Orton and Cena had their clash in a classic champ vs champ matchup, with the viper ended up unifying both belts.

Subsequently, WWE reverted the belt's name in December 2016, after launching the Universal Championship in the same year.

Evolution of the WWE Championship

In the Vintage Era:-

wwe championship history, current wwe champion
Image via - Domain

Back in the day, The title was termed as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) World Heavyweight Championship. But then gradually, this long name kept getting trimmed over the decades.

When the promotion's name was changed from WWWF to WWF (World Wrestling Federation) in 1979, it erased the extra "W" from their historic belt and was pronounced as "WWF Heavyweight Championship".

From 1983, the championship was presented as the "WWF World Heavyweight Championship", adding the 'World' to it after WWE terminated its affiliation with National Wrestling Alliance. 

By 1989, it was simply referred to as just "World Wrestling Federation Championship" in announcements and commentary.

In the Attitude Era:

After launching the then-new WWF Championship in 1998, as mentioned before, WWE acquired World Championship Wrestling in 2001. 

In the process, it brought in the WCW title, which would be unified with the WWF Championship by Chris Jericho, at Vengeance 2001.

Those two belts were then reduced to one, that would represent the 'Undisputed WWF Championship' in the year 2002.

In the same year, WWE finally changed its name from 'WWF' and also announced its first-ever brand split, where the superstars were either signed under Raw or Smackdown, excluding the champion.

WWE Championship representing Smackdown and ECW:

When Brock Lesnar grabbed the Undisputed Championship in August 2002, he took the gold to Smackdown, just a few days later. 

This compelled Raw to have a new world title of its own and therefore, the World Heavyweight Championship came into the picture and was awarded to "The Game", Triple h in September 2002.

The Undisputed WWE Championship would then no longer include the term "Undisputed" and was ultimately given the name, what it's called today, the "WWE Championship". Since then, Smackdown was the domicile for the WWE championship belt, until June 2005. 

Throughout that time, the belt changed hands among veterans such as Big Show, Lesnar, Kurt Angle, JBL, John Cena and late great Eddie Guerrero. 

The Championship had a short run of only 22 days at WWE's then ECW brand (was closed in 2010). It was when Rob Van Dam beat Cena at One Night Stand '06. 

However, the "Rated R Superstar", Edge was able to cut RVD's reign short, by winning the gold and taking it back to Raw. Coincidently, Edge was the guy, who brought the belt back once again to the blue brand in November 2008.

Upon Dean Ambrose's victory over Seth Rollins for the WWE World heavyweight championship, he was then drafted to Smackdown weeks later, with his title in July 2016. That marked the championship's third-time stay on Smackdown.

It was later retitled as 'WWE Championship' at the end of the year. The name's still in effect to this date. 

Representing Raw:

Image via - Wikimedia Commons; licensed under - CC BY-SA 2.0

On June 6th, 2005 episode of Raw, this coveted championship came into the red brand, when then-champ Cena was drafted to Raw. That was the very first time the title came into this brand, since the implementation of the brand split. 

It was put on the line multiple times, making some of the epic, evergreen feuds in history. Perhaps, the most memorable rivalry of that time was between Cena and Edge at Unforgiven 2006 for the championship.

It started representing Monday Night Raw for the second time in April 2009, after being taken by Smackdown in November 2008, as mentioned before. It was Orton, who won it from Triple h at Backlash 2009.

Thereafter, Raw had it for the next 5 years, till 2014. Although the WWE championship belt was unified with the World championship when Orton outperformed Cena to earn the two golds (2013), both titles still had its separate existence.

However, it affected the title's name, as it began to be known as 'WWE World Heavyweight Championship'. A single title would then be given to Lesnar, thereby replacing the old belts in August 2014.

As of now, it is currently on Raw since 4th October 2019, brought in by the one and only "Beast Incarnate" of WWE.

Thanks for the read!

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