Last month at WWE SummerSlam, Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon finally revealed the design for the newly created WWE Universal Championship. The design, which was no more than the WWE Championship with a red strap and different text, was met with overwhelming jeers by the fans in attendance.
Just two days later, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon unveiled the newly created SmackDown Women’s and Tag Team Titles. Once again, these new championships we nothing more than pallet swaps of their Raw counterpart.
With these two reveals being indicative of an overall lack of creativity within the current WWE product, fans have taken it upon themselves to redesign all of the WWE belts in the same vein.
There used to be a time that not all wrestling belts were created equal. In the past, most title belts featured unique and distinct designs that almost conveyed prestige on their own merit. Taking a look back, I have compiled a list of what I consider the Top 5 wrestling belt designs of all-time.
5. WWF Attitude Era Title Belt
Presented to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin by Vince McMahon following his WrestleMania XIV victory in 1998, the Attitude Era version of the WWF Championship remained active until it was merged with the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2002 to become the WWE Undisputed Championship. Interestingly enough, this design wasn’t used much during it’s early days as with Stone Cold being the featured star during the Attitude Era, he often replaced this design with his own custom Smoking Skull belt.
As a proper upgrade over the previous Winged Eagle design, the WWF Attitude Era Title Belt took several key elements from its predecessor, while the larger middle plate fixed the issue of the WWF Championship looking too small.
Wore It Best: The Rock and Triple H
4. Reggie Parks Intercontinental Title Belt
While WWE currently features a design for the Intercontinental Championship that is a throwback to the classic Reggie Parks design, the original debut of this design took place in 1985. During its 13-year run, the Reggie Parks Intercontinental Title Belt was arguably held by more wrestling legends than any other belt design in wrestling history.
One of the more popular title belt designs, this Reggie Parks creation was brought back with a modern twist by Cody Rhodes in 2011, making it the one of the only championships to ever revert back to an earlier design.
In a WWE where most championship belts are overly gaudy, the classic Reggie Parks version of the Intercontinental Championship stands out as a beacon of classiness with it’s design that manages to both convey prestige and remain simplistic.
Wore It Best: Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon
3. WWF Winged Eagle Belt
Designed by Reggie Parks, the WWF Winged Eagle Belt first made it’s debut as the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1988, around the waist of Hulk Hogan. Lasting 10 years, the Winged Eagle Belt was held by every WWF Champion up until the design was changed following “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s victory at WrestleMania XIV in 1998. Being that the belt design spanned at least two different eras in the company, the Winged Eagle Belt is fondly remembered as one of the most prestigious designs in the WWF/WWE Championship’s history.
While retired at the start of the Attitude Era, the Winged Eagle Belt made an unexplained appearance in 1998 following Steve Austin losing the championship to both The Undertaker and Kane at Break Down: In Your House. During the ceremony in which Vince McMahon planned to crown a new champion, the Winged Eagle belt was on display instead of the Attitude Era deign that Austin was initially presented. Later that same year, the WWF Hardcore Championship would be created, being represented by a smashed and taped up Winged Eagle Belt.
As one of the best looking wrestling championships of all-time, the WwF Winged Eagle Belt suffered one major design flaw: it was too small. While extremely obvious when held by the bigger of champions (such as Hulk Hogan), the smaller wrestlers of the 90s fortunately helped to mask this design flaw.
Wore It Best: Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Randy Savage
2. WWE Undisputed Title Belt
First introduced in 2002, the WWE Undisputed Championship belt was created to consolidate the WWE and WCW Championship belts (that originally represented the championship) into one title. It was first worn by Triple H after becoming the second Undisputed Champion at WrestleMania X8.
Initially promoted as a dual-brand championship during the WWE brand extension of 2002, it was only a matter of months before the title became dispute once more with the revival of the World Heavyweight Championship on the Raw brand, leading to the Undisputed Championship being known simply as the WWE Championship. Once John Cena became WWE Champion at WrestleMania 21, this belt design was scrapped in favor of the infamous spinner belt.
A perfect mixture of past and present, the WWE Undisputed Championship stood out for its modern complexity and its traditional touches, such as the prominence of the eagle over the top of the middle plate as featured in many past WWF belt designs.
Interestingly enough, while initially referred to as the WWE Undisputed Championship, the belt never featured the word, “Undisputed”.
Wore It Best: Brock Lesnar and The Rock
1. Big Gold Belt
First introduced in 1985 as the NWA World Heavyweight Championship held by “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, the “Big Gold Belt” is known for representing a number of championships since it’s creation. Prior to becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 2003, the Big Gold Belt uniquely unbranded, bearing no promotion’s logo. Conveniently enough, this proved useful when the Big Gold Belt was used in 1991 to represent both the NWA and WCW World Heavyweight Championships simultaneously.
Another unique design feature of the Big Gold Belt was it’s nameplate, that would change according to who was currently holding the title. This was a feature that World Wrestling Entertainment adopted across the board for it’s championships in the early-2000s after purchasing World Championship Wrestling.
The over-sized middle plate and overall classy, subtle design makes the Big Gold Belt stand out as the most beautiful wrestling championship belt of all-time.
Wore It Best: Ric Flair, Hollywood Hogan and Goldberg