Current WWE Championship belt with default plates
|Date won||December 14th 2020 |
(aired December 14th 2020)
|Date established||July 2005|
WWE Championship title reigns are determined by professional wrestling matches, in which wrestlers are involved in rivalries that are played out on WWE programming. These narratives create feuds between various wrestlers, which cast them as heels and faces.
The WWE Championship was introduced in 1963 with "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers becoming the first champion. However, its origin is attributed to events that began in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), which had various territorial member promotions. In the 1950s, Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC) was a member of 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 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), a member of 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 (which had become known simply as the "world championship") was unified with the WWF Championship at Vengeance 2001. At the event, Chris Jericho defeated The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the WCW Championship and WWF Championship respectively. Jericho, recognized by WWE as the final WCW champion, went on to hold both the Big Gold belt (representing the "world championship") and the WWF title belt (representing the WWF championship) under the single Undisputed banner. WWE recognized these belts as representing separate championships until the introduction of a single belt by Triple H in 2002.
In 2001, after Team WWF beat Team Alliance (WCW/ECW) at the Survivor Series of that year, the superstars of The Alliance would become an essential part of WWF programming. There were two world champions, with The Rock holding the WCW Championship, and Stone Cold Steve Austin holding the WWF Championship. It was announced that the PPV following Survivor Series of that year would be a vengeance that would carry the slogan "One Undisputed Champion". It was announced that there would be three matches to unify the WCW and WWF Championships. It was announced that Kurt Angle would challenge Austin for the WWF Championship, and Chris Jericho would face The Rock for the WCW Championship. Austin would win against Angle, thus retaining the WWF Championship, and Jericho would beat The Rock to become the new WCW Champion. Following his win, Jericho would face Austin and won, thus unifying the WWF and WCW Championships. Jericho would hold the championship for four months until he would lose it at Wrestlemania X8 against Triple H. Ric Flair awarded the WWF Undisputed Championship on the first Raw after the draft to Triple H, Triple H would go on to hold the title for a month until he would lose it at Backlash 2002 against Hulk Hogan. Many would hold it afterwards, superstars such as The Undertaker, The Rock, and Brock Lesnar before it would find a new home on SmackDown!.
By 2002, the WWF roster had doubled in size due to the overabundance of contracted workers from the original WWF, as well as those who had come across from WCW and ECW. 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 brand designation of the Undisputed title, Eric Bischoff announced the creation of the World Heavyweight Championship, spun off from the Undisputed title. Immediately afterward, the WWE Undisputed Championship became known as the WWE Championship.
Special custom belts have been created to match the characters of certain WWE champions:
- The Ultimate Warrior - white, blue and purple leather straps
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - Smoking Skull belt
- The Miz - Spinner belt with the WWE logo turned upside down to resemble an "M", (which stood for Miz.)
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 as an answer to Austin's Smoking Skull Belt, but due to creative reasons 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, which featured a gold and diamond bling-bling style reflecting Cena's hip hop character, became the WWE Championship's primary design from April 11, 2005, to 2012. The belt ceased to spin in 2007, but spun again in 2012. 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 it was on Raw. In 2009, the RAW plate was replaced with a second "WWE Champion" side plate. Furthermore, the belt also featured a silver tip on the end of the leather strap.
During Shane Helms' reign as WWE Champion he got rid of the Spinner design and brought in the old "Winged Eagle" championship design. After Helms lost the championship the spinner title was quietly re-introduced.
In July 2013, Tyler Chandler got rid of the Spinner design and introduced a completely new design. The new title (which was partially designed by Orange County Choppers of American Chopper fame) features a black strap with a large diamond encrusted WWE logo on the front with the word "CHAMPION" directly underneath, with WWE logo side plates. A distinctive feature of this belt is that there is no nameplate for the champion.
In 2014 the design for the championship was again changed which has a slightly updated design from the belt introduced in 2013 as a result of WWE adapting a new corporate logo originally used for the WWE Network. It features a large center plate dominated by a cut out of the new WWE logo inside an irregular heptagon with the words "WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION" along the bottom edges, in very small print. The large side plates, like the previous design, feature removable round sections, allowing the holder's personal logo to be added to the belt; the default sections feature gold and red world maps with the WWE logo over them, with the only difference being that this new title's original side plates do not feature a crown at the top of the plates.
The WWE Championship was re-introduced in 2005. The inaugural champion was Christian, who won the title by defeating Kane in July 2005. Currently, John Cena holds the most reigns as champion with 6. Shawn Michaels, in his 2nd reign, had the longest reign in the title's history which lasted 371 days. Chris Jericho is the current champion, and is in his fourth reign. Overall, there have been 65 WWE Championship reigns.
List of WWE Champions
As of November 29th, 2020.
|#||Wrestler Name||Reign||Date||Days held||Venue||Notes|
|1||Christian||1||July 31, 2005||21||Bad Blood||
Christian defeated Kane to become the inaugural champion.
|2||John Cena||1||August 21, 2005||147||SummerSlam|
|3||Matt Cross||1||January 15, 2006||29||New Years Revolution|
|4||John Cena||2||February 13, 2006||55||RAW|
|5||Ken Shamrock||1||April 9, 2006||28||WrestleMania 22|
|6||Test||1||May 7, 2006||22||Backlash|
|—||Vacated||—||May 29, 2006||—||RAW||
The title was vacated following Test's release from the company.
|7||Randy Orton||1||June 5, 2006||155||RAW||
Randy Orton defeated John Cena to win the vacant championship
|8||Matt Hardy||1||November 7, 2006||67||Taboo Tuesday|
|9||John Cena||3||January 28, 2007||29||New Years Revolution|
|10||Triple H||1||February 26, 2007||188||RAW|
|11||John Cena||4||September 2, 2007||357||SummerSlammiversary|
|12||Kevin Thorn||1||August 24, 2008||28||SummerSlammiversary|
|13||Raven||1||September 22, 2008||146||Unforgiven||
Raven vacated the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble PPV.
|—||Vacated||—||February 15, 2009||—||Royal Rumble|
|14||Michael Noventa||1||March 2, 2009||41||RAW||
Noventa was awarded the title due to legal action.
|15||Chris Jericho||1||April 12, 2009||176||Wrestlemania 25|
|16||John Cena||5||October 5, 2009||48||RAW|
|17||Chris Jericho||2||November 22, 2009||63||Survivor Series|
|18||Cody Rhodes||1||January 24, 2010||91||New Years Revolution|
|19||CM Punk||1||April 25, 2010||8||Wrestlemania 26|
|20||The Undertaker||1||May 3, 2010||27||RAW|
|21||John Cena||6||May 30, 2010||91||Backlash||
This was was Cena's record setting sixth reign as WWE Champion, breaking his old record of five reigns.
|22||Shawn Michaels||1||August 29, 2010||28||SummerSlammiversary|
|23||CM Punk||2||September 26, 2010||105||Night of Champions|
|24||Shawn Michaels||2||January 9, 2011||371||New Year's Revolution|
|25||The Miz||1||January 15, 2012||21||New Years Revolution|
|26||Triple H||2||February 5, 2012||<1||Royal Rumble||
Triple H would defeat the Miz to win the championship however minutes later, Co-RAW General Manager, Shane McMahon stripped him of the championship and vacated it.
|—||Vacated||—||February 5, 2012||—||Royal Rumble|
|27||Sean Marino||1||March 4, 2012||49||Cyber Sunday|
|28||Matt Hardy||2||April 22, 2012||91||Wrestlemania 28|
|29||Shane Helms||1||July 22, 2012||98||Unforgiven|
|30||Ciaran O'Donnell||1||October 28, 2012||147||Halloween Havoc|
|31||Tyler Chandler||1||March 24, 2013||126||Cyber Sunday|
|32||Ciaran O'Donnell||2||July 28, 2013||91||Unforgiven|
|33||Shane Helms||2||October 27, 2013||78||Halloween Havoc|
|34||Matt Hardy||3||January 12, 2014||114||New Year's Revolution||Hardy won the Elimination Chamber also involving Shane Helms, Ciaran O'Donnell, Daniel Bryan, Edge, and Justin Gabriel|
|35||Raven||2||May 5, 2014||21||Raw|
|36||Ciaran O'Donnell||3||May 25, 2014||36||Extreme Rules|
|37||Randy Orton||2||June 23, 2014||36||Raw||This was a King of the Mountain match also involving Ciaran O'Donnell, The Miz, Shawn Michaels and Seth Rollins.|
|38||Ciaran O'Donnell||4||July 28, 2014||55||Raw|
|39||Roman Reigns||1||September 21, 2014||112||Night of Champions|
|40||Ciaran O'Donnell||5||January 11, 2015||41||New Year's Revolution|
|41||Finn Bálor||1||February 22, 2015||28||Royal Rumble|
|42||Baron Corbin||1||March 22, 2015||161||WrestleMania 31|
|43||Dean Ambrose||1||August 30, 2015||56||SummerSlam|
|44||Wade Barrett||1||October 25, 2015||35||Halloween Havoc|
|45||Seth Rollins||1||November 29, 2015||42||Survivor Series|
|46||Dean Ambrose||2||January 10, 2016||49||New Year's Revolution|
|47||Colt Cabana||1||February 28, 2016||260||Royal Rumble||Colt Cabana cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase|
|48||The Undertaker||2||November 14, 2016||<1||RAW|
|49||Roman Reigns||2||November 14, 2016||95||RAW|
|50||Noam Dar||1||February 19, 2017||146||Royal Rumble (2017)|
|51||Dean Ambrose||3||July 16, 2017||<1||Unforgiven (2017)|
|52||Adam Cole||1||July 16, 2017||100||Unforgiven (2017)||Adam Cole cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase|
|53||Jinder Mahal||1||October 22, 2017||112||Halloween Havoc (2017)|
|53||Edge||1||February 11, 2018||36||No Way Out (2018)|
|54||Adam Cole||2||March 19, 2018||118||Monday Night Raw|
|55||Chuck Taylor||1||July 15th, 2018||42||Unforgiven (2018)|
|56||Jinder Mahal||2||August 26th, 2018||77||Summerslam (2017)|
|57||Dean Ambrose||4||November 11th, 2018||56||Survivor Series (2018)|
|58||CM Punk||3||January 6th, 2019||42||Royal Rumble (2019)|
|59||Roman Reigns||3||February 17th, 2019||147||No Way Out (2019)|
|60||Finn Balor||2||July 14th, 2019||43||Unforgiven (2019)|
|61||Alberto Del Rio||1||August 26th, 2019||111||SummerSlam (2019)|
|62||Tyler Breeze||1||December 15th, 2019||196||Cyber Sunday (2019)|
|63||Chris Jericho||3||June 28th, 2020||63||Unforgiven (2020)|
|64||Kenny Omega||1||August 30th 2020||91||SummerSlam (2020)|
|65||Chris Jericho||4||December 14th, 2020||1+||Raw|
List of combined reigns
|†||Indicates the current champion|
|<1||Indicates the reign was less than 1 day|
As of December 15, 2020
|Rank||Wrestler||# of Reigns||Combined Days|
|5.||Chris Jericho †||3||303+|
|19.||Alberto Del Rio||2||111|