Current design of the WWE Championship.
|Current champion(s)||John Cena|
|Date won||April 7, 2013|
|Promotion||World Wrestling Entertainment|
|Date established||April 29, 1963|
The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Championship is a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It is the world title of the Raw brand and one of two in WWE, complementing the World Heavyweight Championship of the SmackDown brand. It was established under the then WWWF in 1963. After Raw and SmackDown became distinct brands under WWE, the championship has moved between both brands on different occasions, mainly as a result of the WWE Draft. The championship is generally contested in professional wrestling matches, in which participants execute scripted finishes rather than contend in direct competition. The belt is generally thought of as the most pretigious championship available today in professional wrestling. WWE is considered the dominant promotion worldwide, and the WWE championship is the highest accolade within that promotion.
The WWE Championship was introduced in 1963 with Buddy Rogers becoming the inaugural champion on April 29. However, its origin is attributed to events that began in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), a promotion with various subsidiaries. In the 1950s, Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC) was a subsidiary to the NWA and by 1963, CWC executives held a controlling stake over NWA operations. During this time, Buddy Rogers held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, the world title of the NWA and its subsidiaries, until January 24, when Lou Thesz defeated Rogers for the championship. Following a dispute over the result, CWC seceded from the NWA and became the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). The WWWF World Heavyweight Championship was then established as having spun off from the NWA title when the recognition was awarded to Buddy Rogers following an apocryphal tournament in Rio de Janeiro, defeating Antonino Rocca in the finals. Affiliated with the NWA once again, the WWWF was renamed to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1979, and after conclusively ending its affiliation with the NWA in 1983, the championship became known as the WWF World Heavyweight Championship and later simply as the WWF Championship by the 1990s.
In 1991, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), another subsidiary to the NWA, established the WCW World Heavyweight Championship to complement the NWA's world title. WCW then seceded from the NWA and grew to become a rival promotion to the WWF. Both organizations grew into mainstream prominence and were eventually involved in a television ratings war, dubbed the Monday Night Wars. Near the end of the ratings war, WCW began a financial decline, which culminated in March 2001 with the WWF's purchase of WCW. As a result of the purchase, the WWF acquired the video library of WCW, select talent contracts, and championships among other assets. The slew of former WCW talent joining the WWF roster began "The Invasion" which effectively phased out the WCW name. Following this, the WCW Championship was unified with the WWF Championship, at Vengeance 2001 in December. At the event, Chris Jericho defeated The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the WCW Championship and WWF Championship respectively. Consequently, Chris Jericho was named the final WCW Champion and the subsequent Undisputed Champion as the WWF Championship became the Undisputed Championship in professional wrestling with no other prominent world heavyweight title to dispute the recognition.
By 2002, the WWF roster had doubled in size due to the overabundance of contracted workers. As a result of the increase, the WWF divided the roster through its two main television programs, Raw and SmackDown!, assigning championships and appointing figureheads to each brand. This expansion became known as the Brand Extension. In May 2002, the WWF was renamed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the championship became known as the WWE Undisputed Championship. Following these changes, the WWE Undisputed Championship remained unaffiliated with either brand as competitors from both brands could challenge the WWE Undisputed Champion. Following the appointment of Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon as General Managers of the Raw and SmackDown brands respectively, Stephanie McMahon contracted then-WWE Undisputed Champion, Brock Lesnar, to the SmackDown brand, leaving the Raw brand without a world title. On September 2, after disputing the status of the Undisputed Championship, Eric Bischoff announced the creation of the World Heavyweight Championship, having spun off from the Undisputed title. Immediately afterward, the WWE Undisputed Championship returned to being the WWE Championship.
Following the events of the WWE Brand Extension, an annual WWE Draft was established, in which select members of the WWE roster are reassigned to a different brand. After three years on the SmackDown brand, the WWE Championship switched brands during the 2005 WWE Draft Lottery, in which the WWE Champion John Cena was drafted to Raw while the World Heavyweight Champion Batista was drafted to SmackDown. On June 11, 2006, Rob Van Dam used his Money in the Bank contract at ECW One Night Stand for a WWE Championship match against the WWE Champion John Cena. The holder of the contract is guaranteed a WWE, World Heavyweight, or ECW Championship match at anytime of their choosing. Rob Van Dam defeated John Cena to win the WWE Championship, moving the title to the ECW brand, a WWE brand established from purchased assets of the Extreme Championship Wrestling promotion. On July 3, Edge defeated John Cena and Rob Van Dam in a Triple Threat Match to win the WWE Championship. However, with Edge being a member of the Raw brand at the time, the title returned to Raw due to the circumstances. After the 2008 WWE Draft the WWE Champion Triple H was drafted to SmackDown, moving the WWE Championship to the SmackDown brand. The following year, the title returned to Raw after Triple H was drafted back to the brand during the 2009 WWE Draft, and has remained exclusive to the Raw brand since. When SmackDown's Batista won the title from Raw's John Cena at WWE Elimination Chamber, it remained exclusive to Raw while Batista was transferred to the Raw roster.
Custom belt designsEdit
Special custom belts have been created to match the gimmicks of some champions:
- "Superstar" Billy Graham (red leather strap)
- The Ultimate Warrior (white, blue, and purple leather straps)
- Sgt. Slaughter (blue leather strap, later changed to original black strap at WrestleMania VII)
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin ("Smokin' Skull" belt)
- John Cena (Spinner belt)- Current design with free-motion "spinner" WWE logo
- Edge (Modified "Rated-R Superstar" Spinner belt)
A much larger version of the belt was created for André the Giant before WrestleMania III, although he never wore it as champion. A custom championship belt was designed and constructed for The Rock which featured his trademark Brahma Bull logo in the center, but it never appeared on television. Similarly, Edge had originally designed an entirely different custom belt than the "Rated R Spinner" design he used for his second reign; however, the plans were scrapped due to time constraints. The "Spinner" belt's design has become the WWE Championship's primary design since April 11, 2005, although, since No Mercy 2007, the centerpiece no longer spins. The physical belt itself originally indicated the brand it was designated to. When it was first introduced, it featured a unique side plate design that read "SmackDown," though it was then replaced with one that read "Mon-Nite Raw" when John Cena was drafted to the Raw brand. When the title once again became SmackDown's primary championship after Triple H was drafted to the brand in 2008, the "Raw" plate was replaced with a duplicate of the opposite side plate that simply reads "WWE Champion." Furthermore, the belt also features a silver tip on the end of the leather strap.
- Main article: List of WWE Champions
The WWE Championship was the first World Championship introduced into WWE in 1963. The inaugural champion was Buddy Rogers. There have been 40 different official champions, with Triple H having the most reigns at eight. The longest reigning champion was Bruno Sammartino who held the title for 2,803 days from May 17, 1963 to January 18, 1971. The shortest reigning champion was André the Giant who officially held the title for 45 seconds. The youngest champion was Brock Lesnar who won at the age of 25. The oldest champion is Mr. McMahon who won at the age of 54. The current champion is The Miz who is in his first reign. He won the title when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract after then-champion Randy Orton defended his title after an assault by the Nexus on the November 22 edition of Monday Night RAW.
- ↑ "WWE Entertainment, Inc. acquires WCW from Turner Broadcasting". World Wrestling Entertainment Corporate. 2001-03-23. http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2001/2001_03_23.jsp. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
- ↑ WCW World Champion - Chris Jericho at WWE.com
- ↑ "WWWF/WWF/WWE World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-titles.com. http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wwf/wwf-h.html. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- ↑ Clayton, Corey (2007-09-06). "World Heavyweight Championship turns five years old". World Wrestling Entertainment. http://www.wwe.com/shows/smackdown/archive/08312007/articles/worldtitleturnsfive. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- ↑ "WWE Entertainment To Make RAW and SMACKDOWN Distinct Television Brands". http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2002/2002_03_27.jsp.
- ↑ "Brock Lesnar Biography at SLAM! Sports". SLAM! Sports: Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/Bios/lesnar.html. Retrieved 2008-12-21. "After the July 22nd edition of Raw, Lesnar defected to Stephanie McMahon's Smackdown brand. A month later, at SummerSlam 2002, Brock Lesnar defeated the Rock to become the WWE Champion, but while the previous title-holders had moved between Raw and Smackdown, Lesnar decided to remain exclusively on Smackdown, forcing Eric Bischoff's Raw brand to create its own World Championship."
- ↑ "Vince Mcmahon Biography at SLAM! Sports". SLAM! Sports: Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/Bios/mcmahon-vince.html. Retrieved 2008-12-21. "The entire WWE roster was broken up into two separate camps, with some rivalry (especially between future General Managers Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon) occurring."
- ↑ Nemer, Paul (2002-09-02). "Full WWE RAW Results - 9/2/02". WrestleView. http://www.wrestleview.com/news/1031022615.shtml. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- ↑ Dee, Louie (2007-06-07). "Draft History". World Wrestling Entertainment. http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/archive/06112007/articles/drafthistory. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- ↑ "2005 WWE Draft Lottery". World Wrestling Entertainment. 2005-06-13. http://www.wwe.com/inside/news/archive/draftlottery1. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- ↑ Sitterson, Aubrey (2008-06-23). "A Draft disaster". World Wrestling Entertainment. http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/archive/06232008/. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- ↑ "7 Championship Secrets Finally Revealed". (July 2009). WWE Magazine, p. 37.
- ↑ Robinson, Jon. "Edge Interview". pp. 2. http://sports.ign.com/articles/730/730263p2.html. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
- ↑ "WWE Championship Title History". World Wrestling Entertainment. http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/wwechampionship/. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
- Official WWE Championship Title History
- Wrestling-Titles.com: WWE Championship
- WWE Championship History
World Wrestling Entertainment championships and accomplishments