Since I first signed up with Talk Whatever Online in April 2004 as WWFBeltMark and later just BeltMark, I’ve been asked numerous times by various members to give them advice on championship belts.
Whether it be buying, selling, modifying, choice, price range etc, I’ve tried to help people out as much as possible. Over the past 3+ years I have also been asked, several times, if I would write out a comprehensive guide to championship belts for those who might be interesting in learning more about them.
I have decided that I would finally put something together for those who might be interested, so here it is. Hopefully, this will help people who are specifically looking for information, and interest those who have a passing interest in the gold!
First of all, I should provide some backstory. I have been a huge fan – a Belt Mark, if you will – of championship belts since I first started watching the World Wrestling Federation way back in late 1983. There was always something that captured my attention about the belts, they seemed to be what everybody was fighting to attain, like THE most important thing in wrestling. Everybody wanted to hold the championship belt, be it the World title, Intercontinental title or Tag Team titles.
Shining under those bright lights and being proudly held by greats like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage and personal favourites such as the Ultimate Warrior, Rick Rude, Demolition, Mr. Perfect and later, Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H, the title belts have held my attention throughout my love-affair with the sport of professional wrestling.
I vividly remember the changes made to each belt. In 1984 when Hulk Hogan took the title from the Iron Sheik, he held what is commonly referred to among belt enthusiasts as the ‘Big Green’, because its big….and…green. That specific belt was made of trophy shop metal, very thin and flimsy. It was attached to the leather by rivets and later, when it became damaged, velcro. Not the most aesthetically pleasing belt, it was replaced in 1984 by a smaller, silver belt made by Reggie Parks.
Legend has it the Big Green was thrown in a trash dumpster outside an arena the day the new title was given to Hogan. Based on a design used over the years for other titles such as the NWA Television title and the AWA Tag Team titles, the new WWF title was labelled the ‘Hogan 84’. It only lasted several months until it was replaced by the ‘Hogan 85’. The two belts are extremely similar, but to the keen eye of belt fans, the differences are many. For example, the strap on the 84 is laced around the edges, whereas the 85 is tooled. The 84 has raised banners with the words ‘WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT WRESTLING CHAMPION’ engraved into them and painted red, the 85, on the other hand, has engraved banners painted in black with the words ‘WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT WRESTLING CHAMPION’ raised on them left silver. The 84 has no other paint on the main plate or side plates whereas the 85 has gold paint on the inner sections of the side plates and black paint on the main plate surrounding the WWF letters and the nameplate at the bottom. Hulk Hogan owns the Hogan 84 to this day, the Hogan 85 however is not in his possession and it is a mystery as to where it ended up.
In late 1985, the belt was changed again. Vince McMahon, feeling the belt looked cheap in silver as opposed to the other belts which were gold, had it changed again. The new belt was called the ‘Hogan 86’ and was completely different than the 84 and 85. The new belt had a much larger main plate with a dual plated gold and silver effect. It also had a large globe in the centre and was the first belt to carry the famous WWF block logo made famous throughout the 1980s and the majority of the 1990s. The side plates had various flags engraved into them with the WWF logo above. This belt is the one defended by Hulk Hogan in his famous match with Andre the Giant in 1987. Two were made, one with flower tooling around the edges and minus a gold tip on one end of the strap, and the other with seashell tooling and a gold tip on the end of the strap with ‘HULK HOGAN’ engraved into it. This was the one used at WrestleMania III.
During Hogan’s entrance to the ring at WMIII, Gorilla Monsoon commented that win, lose or draw, this would be the last time that particular belt would be worn to the ring, and the champion would instead carry the huge belt that was created in the run-up to WMIII which was ‘big enough to fit a Giant’. The belt made several appearances on WWF TV during the build-up to WMIII, mainly on Pipers Pit and the Snake Pit talk show segments. Despite Monsoon’s words, the belt was never seen on WWF TV again after the build to WrestleMania and Hogan continued using the same belt he had been using since late 1985. The ‘Andre 87’ as it has come to be known was eventually re-leathered onto a white, shorter strap and used as the belt in the movie ‘No Holds Barred’. Hulk Hogan, as ‘Rip’, is seen wearing it on promotional posters for the movie and so on, but it only featured in one scene in the film, when Hogan is in his locker room before his big showdown at the end of the movie with Zeus. Apart from that, a white leathered Winged Eagle is used throughout. The white strap Andre 87 ended up being donated to Planet Hollywood in Florida by Vince McMahon in the early 1990s. It has since been removed from the premises and is rumoured to be in a box somewhere in storage.
ANDRE 87 ON ORIGINAL BLACK STRAP:
ANDRE 87 RELEATHERED ON WHITE FOR NO HOLDS BARRED BEING DONATED TO PLANET HOLLYWOOD BY VINCE MCMAHON:
DISPLAYED AT PLANET HOLLYWOOD:
Throughout the remainder of 1987, Hulk Hogan continued to use the Hogan 86 until February, 1988. During an episode of Saturday Nights Main Event (Called ‘The Main Event’ due to it airing on a Friday night), Hogan wrestled Andre the Giant. During his pre-match backstage promo with Mean Gene, Hogan was wearing the Hogan 86, but when he stepped through the curtain, he was wearing the brand new ‘Winged Eagle’ which would continue to be used as the WWF title for the next decade and is, probably, the most famous championship belt of all time! That night, the title not only debuted, but was held by THREE separate men: Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase.
Here is a picture of the Blue strap WE, White strap WE used by the Warrior in late 1990, and the Yellow strap WE which never made TV:
Throughout the years this specific belt was in use, people such as Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Sid, Yokozuna, Diesel, Sgt. Slaughter, Bob Backlund, Undertaker and Steve Austin all held it until it was retired and replaced by the ‘Big Eagle’ on RAW, the night after WrestleMania XIV in 1998.
ORIGINAL BLUE STRAP WWF BLOCK LOGO BIG EAGLE:
The Big Eagle not only saw in it a new title belt, but also a new belt maker. Until 1996, Reggie Parks had been the maker of championship belts for the WWF (among others), but during 96, Vince McMahon had asked Reggie to sign a contract with the WWF stating he wouldn’t make the belts for the public, Reggie declined. Knowing his main source of income was coming from fans buying the WWF style belts (minus the WWF logo, of course), he refused to comply with Vince’s wishes and stopped making belts for the WWF.
The WWF continued using Reggie’s belts for two more years from the stockpile they had built up, but when it eventually came time to replace the belts with updated appearances for the new Attitude Era, the WWF contacted J-Mar based in Ohio, USA.
When Steve Austin was presented with the new Big Eagle, it had the old school style WWF block logos and was on a dark blue strap. Kane held this belt also, albeit for only 24 hours. While in action in the ring, the belt hit Austin under the chin and cut his face, he (without the knowledge of Vince and the WWF) contacted J Mar and asked him to create a new belt for him, incorporated skulls and rattlesnakes. J-Mar created the ‘Smoking Skull’ belt, of which two were made: A gold one and a silver one. Austin took the gold one to the next RAW without Vince knowing and used it as the WWF title belt, Vince was NOT happy and demanded Austin revert to the Big Eagle. Austin did, but the WWF was inundated with fan requests to bring back the Smoking Skull belt, Vince backed down and the Smoking Skull belt returned to TV and was even the focal point of a storyline involving Vince and Austin.
SMOKING SKULL BELT:
The Rock and Mick Foley were the only two other wrestlers to hold the Smoking Skull belt, but when Rock won the title, the Big Eagle was brought back, this time with the new WWF scratch logo and on a black strap. That incarnation of the belt was held by such guys as Austin, Rock, Triple H, Mick Foley, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Vince McMahon, Big Show etc.
BLACK STRAP WWF SCRATCH LOGO BIG EAGLE:
When Jericho won both the WWF title and World title in December 2001, a new belt was ordered to debut after WrestleMania X8. Triple H defeated Y2J for the Big Eagle at WMX8 and shortly after, the Undisputed V.1 was unveiled on TV by Ric Flair, and presented to Triple H.
UNDISPUTED WWF LOGO V.1:
The Undisputed (called the ‘Heritage design’ on the artwork for the belt) was a somewhat small belt, the last to carry the WWF logo and World Wrestling Federation name. Triple H held it who then lost it to Hollywood Hulk Hogan, who was the last EVER WWF Heavyweight Champion. During his reign, the belt was altered, the WWF logo painted over to read WWE and the World Wrestling Federation’s name was covered and painted over to read World Wrestling Entertainment.
UNDISPUTED WWE LOGO V.1:
Triple H, Hollywood Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker were the only guys to hold that belt, as it was soon replaced by the Undisputed V.2 which was the same design but A LOT bigger, and also carried the WWE logo, World Wrestling Entertainment name and a black border around each of the plates. It was also 2-tone gold.
That belt was debuted by Undertaker who lost it the same night to The Rock. The belt stayed on TV until SummerSlam 2002 when The Rock dropped it to Brock Lesnar who debuted the Undisputed V.3 the next night, which was a little smaller and also had no “Property of WWE” 6th plate on one side.
UNDISPUTED WWE LOGO V.3:
The V.3 was held by Brock, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Eddie Guererro, JBL and John Cena before Cena replaced it with the WWE Spinner V.1 belt.
SMACKDOWN! SPINNER V.1:
RAW SPINNER V.2:
The V.1 spinner had SmackDown! side plates, which was quickly replaced by the V.2 spinner which has RAW side plates after Cena switched brands. The V.3 has also been used on TV, it’s the same as the V.2 but the red swish under the WWF logo was black. That was the belt Edge won from Cena which was modified into the Rated R spinner. The V.2 spinner is the current belt used as the WWE title on TV.
WWE SPINNER V.3 & EDGE VERSION:
As of this writing, Cena is still champion, the V.2 spinner will no doubt remain on TV until he loses it, then I would expect to see the return of the Undisputed V.3 belt.
Update 24th May 2013:
And we’ve seen…and I was wrong! Several Superstars since this was written have held the belt, including a 1+ year run by CM Punk and the same design remained on TV. The only difference made was to the inner side plates which were both changed to match. Here are pictures of the side on its own and the belt showing both together:
WWE SPINNER SHEAMUS VERSION:
This belt remained on TV until just after the 2013 Royal Rumble when the Rock defeated Punk to take the strap. He debuted the new belt on RAW shortly afterward. So after an 8 year run as the WWE title, the spinner was finally replaced to the joy of many people.
The new title belt, which has been dubbed ‘The Big Logo’ by most enthusiasts, is a collaboration piece of work. Originally asked to make the belt, Dave Millican informed WWE that what they wanted would be overly heavy and wouldn’t stand up to the rigors of ring use and travel. So WWE went to the people at OCC (Orange County Choppers) who make all the great motorcycles as they are trained to work with aluminium, which is a lighter metal. They crafted the main plate which was then sent to Dave’s team for sanding, plating, bolts, drilling, jewel setting, painting and leatherwork.
The new belt has removed nameplates and instead now has custom side plate discs that are unique to each champion who holds it.
The Rock debuted the belt with Brahma Bull side discs:
John Cena, who took the belt from the Rock at WrestleMania XXIX has replaced those sides with his own:
WWE has ordered many side discs for future champions which will be revealed over time as new guys hold the title, it will be interesting to see which ones have been made.
This is the belt of the future for WWE and I don’t expect to see a redesign for many years. So, love it or hate it, this is what we have.
Click here to read a guide to the WWE Intercontinental Title Belt