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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 three in WWE, complementing the World Heavyweight Championship and ECW Championship. It was established under the then WWWF in 1963. After Raw, SmackDown, and ECW became distinct brands under WWE, the championship has moved between the brands on different occasions, mainly as a result of the WWE Draft. WWE Championship reigns are determined by professional wrestling matches, in which competitors are involved in scripted rivalries. These narratives create feud between the various competitors, which cast them as villains and heroes.



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 majority control over the NWA while in NWA board of directors. 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. CWC subsequently seceded from the NWA and became World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). The WWWF World Heavyweight Championship was thus established as having spun-off from the NWA title. The recognition was awarded to Buddy Rogers on April 29 following an apocryphal tournament in Rio de Janeiromarker, 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 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.

Brand designation

Following the events of the WWE Brand Extension, an annual WWE Draft was established, in which select members of the WWE Roster were 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.

Custom belt designs

Special custom belts have been created to match the gimmicks of some champions:

A belt with an exceptionally long strap was created for André the Giant before WrestleMania III, although he never wore it as champion. A custom championship belt was design and constructed for The Rock which featured his trademark Brahma Bull logo in the center, but was lost in the mail and 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 the centerpiece no longer spins. The Championship used to have a "SmackDown" side plate, but was replaced with a "Raw" plate when John Cena was drafted to Raw. The title once again became SmackDown's primary championship after Triple H was drafted to the brand in 2008 and the "Raw" plate has been replaced with a plate that says "WWE Champion."


The WWE Championship was the first World Championship introduced into WWE in 1963. The inaugural champion was Buddy Rogers. There have been 38 different 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 held the title for only 45 seconds. The current champion is John Cena, who is in his fifth reign after defeating Randy Orton in a 60-minute Anything Goes Iron Man match at Bragging Rights on October 25, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker.


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