With WWE introducing new belt designs to several of their championships in the last few weeks, I was recently asked what my favorite Professional Wrestling Championship Belt design was. It was hard to narrow it down to just one option, so I’m going to give a list of a few of my favorites, in no particular order.
The Rock’s “Brahma Bull” Championship
First, here’s a championship belt that technically never existed:
After “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had a custom “Smoking Skull” championship designed for himself in 1998, The Rock had this custom Brahma Bull-emblazoned championship designed for him, styled after the tattoo on his right bicep at some point in 1999, while HE held the Federation’s biggest prize. The legend goes that then-WWF CEO Vince McMahon thought, after the Smoking Skull belt, adding this OTHER alternate design for the main championship in the World Wrestling Federation would “devalue” the main World Wrestling Federation championship belt. These days, the current WWE Championship has custom side plates for each wrestler that holds the belt, which is a decent middle-ground. WWE also sells “replica” Brahma Bull Championships on their shop website, but they’re modified to have the scratch “WWE” logo, and the banner across the top says “World Wrestling Entertainment.”
World Wrestling Federation “Winged Eagle” Championship
When I started watching pro wrestling in 1993, this was the design for the WWF’s biggest prize. This was the main design for the title starting in 1988, and would stick around until the night after Wrestlemania 14 a decade later, in 1998. The dark blue globe on the gold plate plays with complimentary colors, and the whole thing feels ageless and classic to me. I’m not one of those people who thinks they need to go back to the championships that were around when I was a kid, but this will always be the “true” WWF/WWE Championship to me.
Total Nonstop Action World Heavyweight Championship 2007
When Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling (now Impact Wrestling) broke away from the National Wrestling Alliance in 2007, they replaced the classic NWA World Championship with this new belt. Like the WWF Winged Eagle belt, I think that this has a very classic look, if a bit updated for the 21st century. I’m also a sucker for dual-colored belts, as you can see this one has both nickel and gold on the plates. This belt was replace in 2010, and I honestly don’t think any of the TNA/Impact belts have looked as good as this one.
The “Big Gold Belt” World Heavyweight Championship
I mean, THIS is probably the default Wrestling World Championship belt, right? Introduced by Ric Flair in the mid-1980s while he was champion of the National Wrestling Alliance, this became THE belt for the NWA, and then for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) when that company split away from the NWA a few years later. It was then brought over to the World Wrestling Federation following their buyout of WCW in 2001, and was re-dubbed the “World Heavyweight Championship” in 2002. A modified version with the WWE scratch logo on the top was introduced in 2003, and used on TV until 2013. With one exception, the general design of this belt spent more time on TV than any of the other belts on this list.
There are actually a few different versions of this belt, including one created in 1992 when Ric Flair took the WCW Championship to the WWF. Maybe I’ll do another article about the Big Gold Belt’s variations one of these days.
WWF Intercontinental Championship 1988
The overall design for this belt was introduced in 1985, but with a recessed, red “WWF” logo on the top of the center plate. However, “Macho Man” Randy Savage used so much Brasso polish on that belt to keep it shiny, that he actually ended up destroying the belt in the process. If you look at photos of Savage as IC champion, you can easily notice the blue paint on the globe is stripping away.
In 1988, that belt was replaced with this variation that has an embossed “WWF” logo. Ultimate Warrior wore a version of this with a yellow strap, Shawn Michaels wore versions with both a powder blue and a white strap, Goldust had a version with a gold strap, and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley brought back the white strapped variation.
When Cody Rhodes won the “oval” redesign in 2014, he replaced it with an updated version of THIS belt, adorned with scratch WWE logos and a white strap. This may be the championship with the most variations on this list, because it’s simple and, again, timeless. It’s such an attractive belt, it’s a shame that WWE can’t use their old World Wrestling Federation block logos anymore. I think this belt looks the best with the old logos.
National Wrestling Alliance “Domed Globe” or “Ten Pound of Gold” World Heavyweight Championship
If the Big Gold Belt isn’t THE default pro wrestling championship, then it’s got to be this one: the National Wrestling Alliance’s World’s Heavyweight Championship introduced in 1973. This belt is FIFTY YEARS OLD, and is still being used to this day. Sure, it’s gone away a few times, but it always finds its way back. I got to hold this very belt at an indy show back in 2007, which felt like touching history.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that when UK-based wrestler Nick Aldis held this belt, he had the Australia side plate replaced with one that featured a Union Jack and the text “England.”
New Japan Pro Wrestling International Wrestling Grand Prix World Heavyweight Championship 4th Belt
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest prize (until 2021) was the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and this specific belt design, introduced in 2008, is absolutely gorgeous. It’s two-toned, it has classy filagree between the various design elements, and it had tremendous depth. Additionally, the side plates are adorned with the names of every former IWGP champion, dating back to the title’s introduction in 1987.
There is nothing to not like about this championship belt design, except that it was retired in 2021 for a belt that, many feel, is inferior. But, this is called the “4th Belt” for a reason — it was the 4th design for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt. People will always have their preferences.
I’m not 100% decided, but if you held a gun to my head and forced me to pick one of these belts as my favorite? It would be the IWGP 4th belt. It’s just so pretty.
What are YOUR favorite championship belt designs? Sound off in the comments!
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