The WWE Championship is a world heavyweight championship created and promoted by the American professional wrestling promotion WWE on the SmackDown brand. It is one of two world titles for WWE's main roster, alongside the WWE Universal Championship that was created for the Raw brand as a result of the 2016 WWE draft. The current champion is Kofi Kingston, who is in his first reign.
The current WWE Championship belt with default side plates
|Date established||April 25, 1963|
|Current champion(s)||Kofi Kingston|
|Date won||April 7, 2019|
The original world championship of the promotion, it was established by the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) on April 25, 1963 as the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship, following the promotion seceding from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). The inaugural champion was Buddy Rogers. Since its inception, the title has undergone many name changes due to company name changes and title unifications. It is the oldest championship currently active in the WWE, and is presented as being the promotion's most prestigious title, with many matches for the title having headlined pay-per-view events – including WWE's flagship event WrestleMania. In professional wrestling in general, it is considered by many to be one of the most prestigious championships of all time.
From its inception until 2001, it was promoted as WWE's sole primary championship. An additional world title, the WCW Championship, was added after the then-World Wrestling Federation's purchase of World Championship Wrestling in early 2001. The titles were later unified as the Undisputed Championship. After the first brand extension in 2002 and the promotion becoming the WWE, the championship became exclusive to SmackDown, and the World Heavyweight Championship was created for Raw. ECW became a third brand in 2006, adding the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Over the course of the first brand extension, the WWE Championship switched between brands, usually as a result of the annual draft. The ECW Championship was deactivated in 2010, and the World Heavyweight Championship was unified with the WWE Championship in 2013. The championship was again the sole world title of WWE's main roster until the reintroduction of the brand extension in 2016.
The title was introduced in 1963 with 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, its 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 in a one fall match. Claiming the title can only be contested in a traditional two out of three falls match, the promotion disputed the title change, and thus seceded from the NWA and became the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). The WWWF World Heavyweight Championship was then established and awarded to Buddy Rogers with the explanation that he won a fictional tournament in Rio de Janeiro, supposedly defeating Antonino Rocca in the finals. After several years, the WWWF became affiliated with the NWA once again, and "World" was dropped from the championship's name. In 1979, the WWWF was renamed World Wrestling Federation (WWF), and then after conclusively ending its affiliation with the NWA in 1983, the championship became known as the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Although the full name appeared on the championship belts until 1998, the name was often abbreviated to WWF Championship, which became its official name in 1998.
Monday Night Wars and title unification
In 1991, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), a member of the NWA, established the WCW World Heavyweight Championship to replace the NWA's world title. In 1993, WCW 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 WWF purchasing WCW in March 2001. As a result of the purchase, the WWF acquired, among other assets, WCW's championships. Thus, there were two world titles in the WWF: the original WWF Championship and the WCW Championship, which was eventually renamed the "World Championship".
In December 2001, the two championships were unified at Vengeance. At the event, Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Kurt Angle to retain the WWF Championship, while Chris Jericho defeated The Rock for the World Championship. After this, Jericho then defeated Austin, unifying the WWF and World Championships, and becoming the first Undisputed WWF Champion; the Undisputed championship retained the lineage of the WWF Championship and the World Championship was retired. Subsequently, the Big Eagle Belt (formerly representing the WWF Championship) and the Big Gold Belt (formerly representing the World Championship) were used in tandem to represent the Undisputed Championship. Jericho held the championship for four months until he lost it at WrestleMania X8 against Triple H, who was soon after presented with a single championship belt.
The Undisputed Championship continued up through the beginning of the first brand extension, which saw wrestlers being drafted to the company's main television programs, Raw and SmackDown, each show representing the brand of the same name, with championships assigned to and authority figures appointed for each brand. The holder of the Undisputed Championship was the only male wrestler allowed to appear on both shows.
In May 2002, the WWF was renamed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the championships were renamed accordingly. At first, the championship remained unaffiliated with either brand as wrestlers from both brands could challenge the champion. Following the appointment of Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon as General Managers of Raw and SmackDown, respectively, Stephanie McMahon convinced then-Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar to become exclusive to the SmackDown brand, leaving the Raw brand without a world title. In response, on September 2, Bischoff disputed Lesnar's status as champion, stating Lesnar was refusing to defend his title against the designated No. 1 contender, Triple H, and awarded the latter with the newly created World Heavyweight Championship. Immediately afterwards, Lesnar's championship dropped the epithet "Undisputed" and became known as the WWE Championship.
Over the course of the first brand extension, the WWE Championship was used as the world title of the SmackDown brand twice and the Raw brand three times. In all but two cases, the WWE Championship switched brands as a result of the annual draft. In June 2006, the WWE established ECW as a third brand, on which former Extreme Championship Wrestling stars and newer talent competed. When ECW's Rob Van Dam won the WWE Championship at ECW One Night Stand on June 11, 2006, the championship briefly became a world title of the ECW brand; the ECW World Heavyweight Championship was subsequently reactivated for the ECW brand upon Van Dam's title win. Van Dam held both titles until he lost the WWE Championship to Raw's Edge the following month. The ECW brand was disbanded in 2010, subsequently deactivating the ECW Championship. The first brand extension ended in August 2011.
Just prior to the end of the first brand extension, a storyline saw CM Punk vowing to leave the company with the WWE Championship when his contract expired on July 17, 2011, the date of the 2011 Money in the Bank pay-per-view. At the event, Punk succeeded in defeating the defending champion John Cena to win the title, and left the company with the physical championship belt. Subsequently, the championship was vacated and Rey Mysterio won an eight-man tournament by defeating The Miz in the finals to be crowned the new WWE Champion, only to subsequently lose it later that night to Cena, for the latter's record ninth reign. However, following Cena's win, Punk returned to WWE with his own championship belt, disputing Cena's claim to the title. The two WWE Champions wrestled each other at SummerSlam; Punk defeated Cena to solidify his claim on the title.
Title reunified and second brand split
Following the end of the first brand extension in August 2011, both the WWE Champion and World Heavyweight Champion could appear on both Raw and SmackDown. In November 2013, the night after Survivor Series, then-World Heavyweight Champion John Cena made a challenge to then-WWE Champion Randy Orton to determine an undisputed WWE world champion. Orton defeated Cena in a TLC match at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view on December 15, 2013, to unify the titles. Subsequently, the unified championship was renamed WWE World Heavyweight Championship and retained the lineage of the WWE Championship; the World Heavyweight Championship was retired. Orton and subsequent champions held both championship belts until a single championship belt was given to then-champion Brock Lesnar in 2014.
After Dean Ambrose became champion in June 2016, the title's name was reverted to WWE Championship. In light of the return of the WWE brand extension the following month, Ambrose was drafted to SmackDown. Ambrose then retained his title at Battleground on July 24 against Raw draftees Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, making the title exclusive to SmackDown. On the July 25 episode of Raw, to address the lack of a world title for the brand, the WWE Universal Championship was created; Finn Bálor became the inaugural champion at SummerSlam. After the unveiling of the Universal title, the WWE Championship was renamed WWE World Championship, but reverted to WWE Championship in December 2016 during AJ Styles' first reign.
The title changed hands for the first time outside of North America when AJ Styles defeated Jinder Mahal to win his second WWE Championship in Manchester, England on the November 7, 2017, episode of SmackDown. This was also the first time in nearly 15 years that the championship changed hands on an episode of SmackDown; the last time was in 2003 when Brock Lesnar defeated Kurt Angle for the title.
Following the events of the first WWE brand extension, an annual WWE draft was established in 2002, with Ric Flair and Vince McMahon heading up the Raw and SmackDown brands respectively. Further individuals acted as General Manager of Raw and of SmackDown in subsequent years. Each year, the General Managers participated in a draft lottery in which select members of the WWE roster were assigned to a brand. The revived ECW became a third brand from 2006 to 2010. On August 29, 2011, WWE ended the brand extension and wrestlers (including all champions), were then free to appear on any program.
On May 25, 2016, WWE announced that SmackDown would move to Tuesday nights and go live starting July 19 and also receive a unique set of wrestlers and writers, as opposed to Raw, thus reintroducing the brand extension. The draft took place on the live premiere of SmackDown. On the July 18 episode of Raw, SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon named Daniel Bryan the SmackDown General Manager and Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon named Mick Foley the Raw General Manager.
The following is a list of dates indicating the transitions of the WWE Championship between the Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands.
|Date of transition||Brand||Notes|
|September 2, 2002||SmackDown||WWE Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar signs with SmackDown and the title becomes exclusive to that brand.|
The championship was renamed the WWE Championship, and the World Heavyweight Championship was created for Raw
|June 6, 2005||Raw||During the 2005 WWE draft lottery, World Heavyweight Champion Batista was drafted to SmackDown while WWE Champion John Cena was drafted to Raw|
|June 11, 2006||ECW||Following WWE's planned revival of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) as a third brand, Rob Van Dam was chosen by ECW Representative Paul Heyman to move to the new brand. At ECW One Night Stand, Van Dam cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE Championship and bring the title to ECW. The ECW World Heavyweight Championship was subsequently reactivated for ECW and awarded to Van Dam.|
|July 3, 2006||Raw||Edge won the WWE Championship, thereby bringing it back to Raw.|
|June 23, 2008||SmackDown||WWE Champion Triple H was drafted to SmackDown during the 2008 WWE draft.|
|April 13, 2009||Raw||WWE Champion Triple H brings the championship back to Raw following his drafting to the brand at the 2009 WWE draft.|
The ECW Championship, along with the brand, was deactivated in 2010
|August 29, 2011||N/A||End of first brand extension.|
The WWE Champion and World Heavyweight Champion could appear on both Raw and SmackDown.
The championships were unified in December 2013, subsequently retiring the World Heavyweight Championship
|July 19, 2016||SmackDown||Reintroduction of the brand extension.|
WWE Champion Dean Ambrose was drafted to SmackDown during the 2016 WWE draft.
The WWE Universal Championship was created for Raw
Championship belt designs
When introduced in 1963, the original WWWF World Heavyweight Championship was represented by a United States championship belt that Buddy Rogers had defended sometime prior to becoming the inaugural WWWF world champion. The center plate of this belt was an outline of the continental United States and there were two shield-shaped side plates with grapplers on them; the plates were on a red leather strap. On the center plate, there was a circle flanked by grapplers, and the circle was designed to contain a photograph of the titleholder. Above the circle was a shield with an eagle atop it with stars on opposite sides of the shield. The caption "World's Champion" was added below the circle. This title belt was worn by the inaugural champion Buddy Rogers in 1963 and the second champion Bruno Sammartino. After Sammartino became champion, a new title belt on a blue strap was created. The enlarged center piece contained a crowned globe and two grapplers, and read "WWWF World Champion"; the two side plates commemorated Sammartino's title win. Sammartino wore this version for the duration of his seven-year reign. After defeating Sammartino in January 1971, Ivan Koloff held this version for three weeks before losing it to Pedro Morales.
During Morales's reign, the championship belt was updated several times. First in 1971, this design was on an indigo colored strap and contained three shield-shaped plates. Below the center plate, which read "World Heavyweight Champion" and had a cross at its center, a separate horizontal plate read "WWWF". This was replaced with another design in 1972. This version, on a red strap, read "WWWF Heavyweight Wrestling Champion" around the edges with an eagle at the center, while six side plates represented several countries. 1973 saw the introduction of another yet similar design; this one was on a black strap and contained two grapplers above a differently designed eagle. This version was subsequently held by Stan Stasiak, Bruno Sammartino, Superstar Billy Graham – who wore a red leather variation – and Bob Backlund. During the latter's reign, the promotion's name was shortened to World Wrestling Federation (WWF), but the physical championship belt still read "WWWF".
A new design was introduced in 1982, nicknamed the "Big Green Belt" due to its size and the color of its strap. It included eight (later ten) side plates dedicated to the previous champions. The center plate featured a wrestler holding up a championship belt with a globe behind him. This design, held by Bob Backlund, The Iron Sheik, and Hulk Hogan, was replaced first by the "Hogan '84" design in late 1984, then by the nearly identical "Hogan '85" design in early 1985. Both were called "Hogan" belts as they were only worn by Hulk Hogan. Both championship belts were similar in design to the NWA Television Championship at the time. They consisted of silver plates on a black strap, the center plate read "WWF" at the top. Below that was an eagle with two banners below it reading "World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion". The bottom read "Worldwide Wrestling" and above that was a name plate commemorating Hogan's title win, while the side plates noted previous champions. The difference between the '84 and the '85 designs were that the writing (except WWF) was in red on the '84, and black background was added on the '85 belt. The next year, the "Hogan '86" was introduced and was again only worn by Hogan. The center plate featured a globe in the center, along with Roman columns and olive branches. It read "World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion" and included the famous WWF block logo at the top, while four side plates had flags (two flags per side plate) representing the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Soviet Union, and Italy.
In 1988, just before ending his first championship reign, Hogan introduced another new design, the "Winged Eagle" championship belt, which became the primary design for the next decade with many wrestlers holding this version, and is considered the most popular design of the championship. Its nickname is derived from the eagle's wings seemingly coming off of the center plate, which included the block WWF logo and read "World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion". The championship belt also had four identical side plates. Apart from the usual black leather strap, The Ultimate Warrior wore white, light blue, yellow, and purple variations. Sgt. Slaughter continued to wear Warrior's purple strap. In 1998, after Stone Cold Steve Austin became champion, he was presented with a new design, often dubbed the "Big Eagle" or "Attitude Era" championship belt. The center plate was similar to the previous design, but became fully rounded, and the side plates were updated. When it was unveiled, it originally contained the block WWF logo and was on a blue strap, but was soon updated to the WWF scratch logo and on a black strap. In addition to the logo, it read "World Wrestling Federation Champion".
After Chris Jericho unified the WWF and WCW Championships into the Undisputed WWF Championship, the "Big Eagle" championship belt was used in tandem with the "Big Gold Belt", the former WCW Championship belt, until a single Undisputed Championship belt was introduced to champion Triple H on the April 1, 2002 episode of Raw. This new belt was designed by New York-based tattoo artist Keith Ciaramello. Taking inspiration from WCW, this design included a name plate, and like the previous two designs, it had an eagle atop the globe. It originally had the WWF scratch logo and read "World Wrestling Federation Champion"; after the promotion was renamed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in May 2002, both the scratch logo and wording were changed accordingly. The championship later became the WWE Championship in September 2002 when it became exclusive to SmackDown, while the Big Gold Belt was resurrected to represent the World Heavyweight Championship for Raw.
After John Cena won the WWE Championship in April 2005, he introduced his own custom belt, the "Spinner Belt", which had a gold and diamond bling-bling style reflecting his hip hop character at the time. Although originally a custom belt for Cena, it became the WWE Championship's primary design from April 11, 2005 until February 18, 2013. The scratch WWE logo, placed between an eagle on top and the word "Champ" and a name plate below, could be spun like spinner wheels or a turntable in keeping with the hip-hop theme. The inner side plates read "WWE Champion", though before 2008, one side plate indicated the brand the title was designated to. The spinning function was phased out in later years and the logo set in a fixed place, most notably during The Miz's reign (2010–2011) when the logo was turned upside down to look like an "M". The Rock commented negatively on the spinning function on the night the belt was retired.
On the February 18, 2013 episode of Raw, The Rock unveiled a new WWE Championship belt. The new title was partially designed by Orange County Choppers of American Chopper fame. The championship included a large cut-out of the scratch WWE logo (encrusted with diamonds) inside a large irregular heptagonal plate. The word "Champion" appeared underneath the logo in large letters. On each side was a divider bar and a large plate. Default side plates consisted of a red globe with the WWE logo underneath a crown, but they were replaced with the reigning champion's personal logo in lieu of a name plate. This championship belt was used in tandem with the Big Gold Belt to represent the renamed WWE World Heavyweight Championship after Randy Orton unified the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship on December 15, 2013.
On the August 18, 2014 episode of Raw, reigning champion Brock Lesnar, who had won the title the night before at SummerSlam, was presented with a single championship belt. It has a slightly updated design from the belt introduced by The Rock in 2013 as a result of WWE adapting a new corporate logo originally used for the WWE Network. It includes a large center plate dominated by a cut out of the new WWE logo inside an irregular heptagon with the capital words "World Heavyweight Champion" along the bottom edges, in very small print. The large side plates, like the previous design, include removable round sections, allowing the holder's personal logo to be added to the championship belt; the default sections show gold and red world maps with the WWE logo over them, though they lack the crown placed on top of the plates in the previous design. The Big Gold Belt was retired with the unveiling of the new championship belt.
After the 2016 brand extension where the championship became exclusive to SmackDown, the similarly designed WWE Universal Championship was introduced for the Raw brand. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship was briefly renamed WWE Championship; the digitized belt in the pre-match graphic read "WWE Champion" below the WWE logo. It was then renamed WWE World Championship in July 2016 and the pre-match graphic was updated to read "WWE World Champion". In December 2016, the title was again reverted to WWE Championship; the pre-match graphic no longer includes the title's name. The physical belt, however, retains "World Heavyweight Champion" below the logo.
Custom championship belts have been created to honor certain reigning champions or match their characters. During Hogan's reign in 1986, he had a modified version of the Hogan '86 made, which included a picture of himself at the center. This was a short lived custom design as he reverted to the Hogan '86 version. A much larger version similar to the Hogan '86 championship belt was created for André the Giant before WrestleMania III, although he never wore it as champion.
A custom championship belt was presented to Stone Cold Steve Austin during his second reign in 1998, which included his "Smoking Skull" logo as well as rattle snakes. As an answer, The Rock also had a custom championship belt designed and constructed, including his trademark "Brahma Bull" logo, but due to creative reasons, it never appeared on television. The Spinner Belt, originally a customized belt for John Cena, remained the standard title belt from 2005 to 2013. During Edge's second reign in 2006, he introduced his own variation, the "Rated R Spinner" design, replacing the scratch WWE logo with his "Rated R Superstar" logo. Edge was going to have a completely new custom belt designed, but due to time constraints, it did not get made. During his fourth reign, in 2019, as part of his environmentalist heel gimmick, Daniel Bryan threw the standard title belt in a garbage can (bemoaning the fact it was made from leather) and introduced a new custom belt, dubbed the "Planet's Championship", featuring the same design as the standard belt, but made from "entirely sustainable materials" (such as the strap being made from hemp and the center and side plates carved from wood of a naturally fallen oak tree).
In what has become a tradition since fall 2014, WWE creates custom WWE Championship belts (current design) to championship winners in professional sports, with the team's logo on the side plates, which are non-removable. WWE may also present a custom belt to exceptionally notable people for their efforts in their profession.
WWE has presented custom championships to champions of the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, FIFA Women's World Cup, College Football Playoff National Championship, Stanley Cup Finals, Australian Open, Premier League, Indian Premier League, Liga MX, Bundesliga, Argentine Primera División, Major League Baseball Home Run Derby, Formula One World Championship, UEFA Champions League, WNBA Finals, and to individuals such as London police officer Charlie Guenigault for his "exceptional bravery" during the 2017 London Bridge attack and Captain Roy Love and staff for hosting the 2017 WWE Tribute to the Troops and helping to honor the U.S. armed forces.
The WWE Championship was the first world championship introduced into the promotion in 1963. The inaugural champion was Buddy Rogers, and there have been 51 different official champions overall and 11 vacancies. The longest reigning champion is Bruno Sammartino, who held the title from May 17, 1963 to January 18, 1971, for a total of 2,803 days (7 years, 8 months, and 1 day); Sammartino also holds the record for longest combined reign at 4,040 days. André the Giant is the shortest reigning champion, officially holding the title for 1 minute, 48 seconds. The youngest champion is Brock Lesnar, who won the title at the age of 25, while the oldest champion is Vince McMahon, who won it at the age of 54. John Cena holds the record for most reigns with 13.
Kofi Kingston is the current champion in his first reign. He won the title on April 7, 2019, in East Rutherford, New Jersey, at WrestleMania 35 by defeating Daniel Bryan. With this win, Kingston became the first African-born world champion in WWE history.
- "The 5 shortest WWE Title reigns in history". Retrieved June 26, 2016.
- "WWE Championship". WWE. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
- Chin, Mike (October 4, 2014). "The Magnificent Seven: The Top 7 Most Prestigious American Wrestling Championships of All Time". 411mania. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
- Sidgwick, Michael. "Every Major Wrestling World Title - Ranked From Least To Most Prestigious - Page 14". WhatCulture Wrestling. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- Sidgwick, Michael. "10 Most Prestigious Wrestling Titles Of All Time - Page 11". WhatCulture Wrestling. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- Lithgow, Jamie; Carbery, John; Damage, Brian (September 29, 2016). "Top Five Best Wrestling Championships". Ring the Damn Bell. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- Carbery, John (August 22, 2017). "Who is the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion?". Medium.com. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- Fordy, Tom (October 6, 2017). "WWE Champions: The 50 holders of the most famous belt in professional wrestling are rated with a very controversial winner". The Sun. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- "Rogers' 1st reign". WWE. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
- "WWE Entertainment, Inc. acquires WCW from Turner Broadcasting". WWE Corporate. March 23, 2001. Archived from the original on April 8, 2005. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
- "WWE Raw Results". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
- "Monday Night Raw – November 19, 2001: That's One Heck Of A Reset". KB's Wrestling Reviews. July 29, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
- "WCW World Champion – Chris Jericho". WWE.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2008.
- The complex history of WWE's era of unification. WWE.com (September 12, 2012). Retrieved on September 5, 2013.
- "WWWF/WWF/WWE World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
- Clayton, Corey (September 6, 2007). "World Heavyweight Championship turns five years old". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
- "The unification of the WWE Championship and WCW Championship". WWE.
- "WWE Entertainment To Make RAW and SMACKDOWN Distinct Television Brands".
- "Brock Lesnar Biography at SLAM! Sports". SLAM! Sports: Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
After the July 22nd episode of Raw, Lesnar defected to Stephanie McMahon's 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. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
The entire WWE roster was broken up into two separate camps, yahoo, with some rivalry (especially between future General Managers Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon) occurring.
- Nemer, Paul (September 2, 2002). "Full WWE RAW Results – 9/2/02". WrestleView. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
- "SmackDown results: Truth and Consequences". WWE. Retrieved July 30, 2011.
- "CALDWELL'S WWE TLC PPV RESULTS 12/15: Live, in-person coverage of Cena vs. Orton unification match from Houston".
- "Brock Lesnar receives the new WWE title belt on 'Monday Night Raw'". USA Today. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
- Johnson, Mike. "Future of top WWE championship already hinted at". PWInsider.com. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
- Benigno, Anthony. "Seth Rollins addressed 'The Roman Reigns Scandal'". WWE. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- "WWE Championship". WWE. Archived from the original on June 29, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
- Caldwell, James. "7/24 WWE Battleground Results – Caldwell's Complete Report". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- Hamlin, Jeff. "WWE Raw live results: title match set for SummerSlam & a new champion is crowned". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- "WWE SmackDown Live results, July 26, 2016". WWE. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- "WWE World Championship". WWE. Archived from the original on July 27, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
- "WWE Championship". WWE. Archived from the original on December 14, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- Powell, Jason. "11/7 Barnett's WWE Smackdown Live TV Review: Jinder Mahal vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, The Usos vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable for the Smackdown Tag Titles, Becky Lynch vs. James Ellsworth". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- Dee, Louie (June 7, 2007). "Draft History". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
- "WWE's destiny to be determined during SmackDown's LIVE premiere". WWE. June 20, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
- Fernandes, Steven (June 28, 2016). "WWE Championship name change official, Bellas and more news". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
- Nemer, Paul (September 2, 2002). "Full WWE RAW Results - 9/2/02". Wrestleview. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
- "2005 WWE Draft Lottery". WWE. June 13, 2005. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
- "KB's Wrestling Reviews".
- Zeigler, Zack (July 4, 2006). "Edge reclaims WWE Championship". WWE. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
- Caldwell, James (June 23, 2008). "CALDWELL'S WWE RAW REPORT 6/23: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live three-hour Draft Raw". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- Sitterson, Aubrey (April 13, 2009). "Rough Draft". WWE. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
- Murphy, Ryan (March 16, 2013). "From The Garden to an attic: How the original WWE Title was lost for 50 years — and found". WWE.com. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Melok, Bobby; Powers, Kevin (February 15, 2013). "The history of the WWE Championship". WWE.com. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Murphy, Ryan. "Seven Rare Championships from the WWE Vault". WWE. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- Ryan Murphy. (February 19, 2013) The making of the new WWE Title: How the WWE Championship was reinvented in 540 days. WWE.com. Retrieved on September 5, 2013.
- "WWE Raw Results". WWE.
- "Check Out – a Full Look at the New WWE Heavyweight Title". 411mania.com.
- "WWE Champions". WWE. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Tedesco, Mike (July 25, 2016). "WWE RAW Results – 7/25/16 (Live from Pittsburgh, fallout from Battleground, new era of RAW begins)". Wrestleview. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
- Monday Night Raw (Television production). Phoenix, Arizona: USA Network. June 20, 2016.
- Battleground (Pay-per-view). Washington, D.C.: WWE Network. July 24, 2016.
- SmackDown Live (Television production). Buffalo, New York: USA Network. July 26, 2016.
- SummerSlam (Pay-per-view). Brooklyn, New York: WWE Network. August 21, 2016.
- SmackDown Live (Television production). Houston, Texas: USA Network. December 6, 2016.
- SmackDown Live (Television production). Detroit, Michigan: USA Network. December 20, 2016.
- "7 Championship Secrets Finally Revealed". (July 2009). WWE Magazine, p. 37.
- Robinson, Jon. "Edge Interview". p. 2. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
- "Daniel Bryan's eco-friendly WWE Championship: photos". WWE.com. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
Bryan's title is made from 100 percent sustainable organic hemp and carved from a naturally fallen oak.
- Lynch, Andrew (June 21, 2016). "The Cavs received their new custom WWE title belt from Triple H". Fox Sports. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
- "Custom WWE World Championships in the sports world: photos". WWE.com. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
- WWE.com Staff (January 28, 2017). "Triple H tweets out a WWE Championship with custom plates for Serena Williams". WWE.com. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
- Bieler, Des (November 14, 2015). "WWE's Sheamus presents Notre Dame with its own championship belt, hangs out on sideline". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
- Brown, Luke (May 20, 2017). "WWE present Chelsea captain John Terry with an honorary championship belt after Premier League title success". The Independent. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
- "San Francisco Giants celebrate with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship". www.wwe.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- "Daniel Bryan joins the San Francisco Giants World Series Parade: photos". www.wwe.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Grathoff, Pete. "Royals receive their WWE championship belt". www.kansascity.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Anderson, R.J. "LOOK: Triple H unveils WWE championship belt for World Series champion Cubs". CBSSports.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Triple H [@TripleH] (November 2, 2017). "Congrats to the Astros on an amazing World Series win. WWE looks forward to celebrating with Houston at Survivor Series. Bring this along!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "New England Patriots receive championship belt from WWE". www.si.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Nguyen, Joe. "Broncos get customized WWE championship belt for Super Bowl win". www.denverpost.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Newport, Kyle. "Denver Broncos to Receive WWE Championship Belt After Winning Super Bowl 50". www.bleacherreport.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Mustard, Extra. "Rob Gronkowski shows off Patriots' WWE championship belt". SI.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Triple H [@TripleH] (February 5, 2018). "To quote Zach Ertz, you're "the World Champions" .... so you need a World Title! Congratulations" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Golden State Warriors celebrate 2015 NBA Championship with WWE World Heavyweight Title". WWE. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
- "Watch: Cleveland Cavaliers bring custom WWE Title to parade". www.wwe.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Silverstein, Adam. "LOOK: WWE's The Undertaker is at the Cavs opener, and NBA fans are loving it". CBSSports.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Satin, Ryan (June 13, 2017). "Triple H Sends The Warriors Custom WWE Championship For NBA Title Win (PHOTO)". Pro Wrestling Sheet. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- "Golden State Warriors celebrate 2018 NBA Championship with custom WWE Title". WWE. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
- WWE [@WWE] (July 10, 2015). "WORLD CHAMPIONS! @USSoccer_WNT midfielder @mPinoe sports her @WWE World Heavyweight Title! @FIFAWWC #USWNTParade" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Megan Rapinoe celebrates with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship". www.wwe.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Powers, Kevin. "Sheamus delivers WWE World Heavyweight Championship to Notre Dame Football". WWE. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- WWE [@WWE] (November 14, 2015). ".@WWESheamus presented a customized @WWE Championship to @NDFootball! @NotreDame" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Bathe, Carrlyn (June 13, 2016). "Triple H gives Pittsburgh Penguins a custom WWE championship belt | FOX Sports". FOX Sports. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Skiver, Kevin (June 12, 2017). "LOOK: WWE's Triple H congratulates the Penguins on another Stanley Cup". CBS Sports. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- "Washington Capitals celebrate 2018 Stanley Cup with custom WWE Championship". WWE. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
- Gould, Andrew. "Serena Williams Receives WWE Championship Belt After Winning Australian Open". www.bleacherreport.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Winehouse, Amitai. "Terry presented with custom WWE championship title". www.dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Laboon, Jeff. "WWE sends custom title to Premier League Champions". www.wwe.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- "Triple H sends custom WWE Title to Premier League Champions Manchester City". WWE. May 6, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
- WWE.com Staff (May 22, 2017). "WWE congratulates new IPL champions Mumbai Indians". WWE.com. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- WWE Español [@wweespanol] (May 29, 2017). "Felicidades @Chivas!! Que empiece la celebración, #ADarLaVuelta!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Triple H [@TripleH] (May 29, 2017). "Congratulations @Chivas on winning the Mexican League…we've got something special to help you celebrate. ¡Enhorabu…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Triple H [@TripleH] (June 6, 2017). "From @WWE to @FCBayern: Five years @bundesliga_de... ....ONE Champion! This is headed your way @David_Alaba &…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- De La Pena, Arturo (June 25, 2017). "Triple H sends custom WWE Title to Argentinian Primera División League champions Boca Juniors". WWE.com. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- New York Yankees [@Yankees] (August 15, 2017). "Champions deserve championship belts. WWE stars stopped by to award Aaron his belt for the HR Derby" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Bristow, Thomas (November 24, 2017). "WWE have given Lewis Hamilton a gift money can't buy". mirror. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
- "Triple H sends custom WWE Title to Champions League winners Real Madrid". WWE. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- "Triple H sends custom title to WNBA Champions Seattle Storm". WWE. September 26, 2018. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
- WWE.com Staff (June 20, 2017). "Triple H visits London police officer wounded in London Bridge attack". WWE.com. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- Triple H [@TripleH] (December 5, 2017). "Thank you to Captain Roy Love, Commanding Officer of US Navy Base San Diego and his staff for hosting Tribute to the Troops and helping WWE honor our armed forces today and always" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Bruno Sammartino". WWE. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
- "WrestleMania 35: Kofi Kingston beats Daniel Bryan to become first African-born WWE champion". sportingnews.com. April 7, 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2019.