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WWE World Heavyweight Championship

The WWE Championship was introduced in 1963 in the WWWF with "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers becoming the first champion. The WWWF was renamed to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1979, and the championship became known as the WWF World Heavyweight Championship and later simply as the WWF Championship by the 1990s.

In July 2011, CM Punk was involved in a storyline where he vowed to leave WWE with the WWE Championship when his contract expired on July 17, 2011 (the date of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view). At the event, Punk succeeded in defeating the defending champion John Cena to win the championship, and left the company with the physical title belt. With the championship seemingly vacated by Vince McMahon the following night on Raw, Rey Mysterio won an 8-man Championship Tournament by defeating The Miz in the finals on the July 25 episode of Raw 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 title belt, thereby creating both an ambiguity and a dispute in WWE over the presence of two WWE Championships. On the July 29, 2011 episode of SmackDown new WWE COO Triple H announced that CM Punk's claim to the WWE Championship was legitimate, meaning "there were two WWE champions." At the subsequent SummerSlam pay-per-view, Punk defeated Cena to solidify his claim on the title, only to lose the title moments later to Alberto Del Rio, who opportunistically cashed in his Money in the Bank contract after Kevin Nash attacked Punk. Also since August 29, 2011, with all WWE programming becoming "Supershows" featuring the entire roster, the title has been defended on both Raw and Smackdown.

Special custom belts have been created to match the characters of certain WWE champions:

  • The Ultimate Warrior - white, blue and purple leather straps
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - Smoking Skull belt
  • Edge - Modified "Rated-R Superstar" spinner belt

A much larger version of the belt was created for Andre The Giant before WrestleMania III, although he never wore it as champion. A custom championship belt was designed and constructed for The Rock, which featured his trademark Brahma Bull logo in the center as an answer to Austin's Smoking Skull Belt, but due to creative reasons it 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, which featured a gold and diamond bling-bling style reflecting Cena's hip hop character at the time, became the WWE Championship's primary design from April 11, 2005, to February 18, 2013. The physical belt itself originally indicated the brand it was designated to. When it was first introduced, it featured a unique side plate design that read "SmackDown", though it was then replaced with one that read "Mon-Nite Raw" when John Cena was drafted to the RAW brand. When the title once again became SmackDown's primary championship after Triple H was drafted to the brand in 2008, the RAW plate was replaced with a second "WWE Champion" side plate. Furthermore, the belt also featured a silver tip on the end of the leather strap.

On the February 18, 2013, episode of Raw, The Rock unveiled a new WWE Championship belt.

Following the unification of the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships in 2013, the now-retired World Heavyweight Championship, and multiple other titles before that - is being used in tandem with the current WWE Championship belt to represent the renamed WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

For the period between June 27 and July 25, 2016, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was referred to as the WWE Championship on WWE.com and across WWE programs. In light of the return of the WWE brand extension, WWE Champion Dean Ambrose was drafted to SmackDown on July 19. 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. On July 26, 2016, WWE.com updated the title information again and renamed the WWE Championship as the WWE World Championship, which was reflected on WWE programming.

ReignsEdit

  • Buddy Rogers became the first WWE Champion on April 25, 1963.
  • Bruno Sammartino won the belt on May 17, 1963. He would hold it for a record seven years.
  • Ivan Koloff won the title on January 18, 1971.
  • Pedro Morales captured the title on February 8, 1971.
  • Stan Stasiak took the belt off Morales on December 1, 1973.
  • Bruno Sammartino regained the belt on December 10, 1973.
  • Billy Graham won the title on April 30, 1977.
  • Bob Backlund grabbed the belt on February 20, 1978.
  • Antonio Inoki won the title on November 30, 1979. He vacated it a week later due to a no contest.
  • Bob Backlund regained the title on December 17, 1979.
  • The Iron Sheik took the belt on December 26, 1983.
  • Hulk Hogan won the championship on January 23, 1984.
  • Andre The Giant won the belt on February 5, 1988. He had to vacate it that same night due to trying to sell Ted DiBiase the title.
  • Randy Savage won the title on March 27, 1988 at WrestleMania IV.
  • Hulk Hogan won the title on April 2, 1989 at WrestleMania V.
  • The Ultimate Warrior won the belt on April 1, 1990 at WrestleMania VI.
  • Sgt. Slaughter won the title on January 19, 1991 at the Royal Rumble.
  • Hulk Hogan regained the title on March 24, 1991 at WrestleMania VII.
  • The Undertaker captured the title on November 27, 1991 at Survivor Series.
  • Hulk Hogan reclaimed his title at This Tuesday In Texas on December 3, 1991. He was stripped of the title by Jack Tunney on December 4, 1991.
  • Ric Flair won the championship on January 19, 1992 at the Royal Rumble.
  • Randy Savage regained the title on April 5, 1992 at WrestleMania VIII.
  • Ric Flair recaptured the belt on September 1, 1992.
  • Bret Hart gained the title on October 12, 1992.
  • Yokozuna won the title on April 4, 1993 at WrestleMania IX.
  • Hulk Hogan took the title off of him that same night.
  • Yokozuna won it back on June 13, 1993 at King of the Ring.
  • Bret Hart took the strap on March 20, 1994 at WrestleMania X.
  • Bob Backlund won the title on November 23, 1994 at Survivor Series.
  • Diesel won the belt on November 26, 1994.
  • Bret Hart captured the gold on November 19, 1995.
  • Shawn Michaels won the gold on March 31, 1996 at WrestleMania XII.
  • Sycho Sid took the strap on November 17, 1996 at Survivor Series.
  • Shawn Michaels reclaimed the title on January 19, 1997 at the Royal Rumble. He had to vacate it on February 13, 1997 due to a knee injury.
  • Bret Hart won the belt on February 16, 1997 at In Your House 13: Final Four in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Sycho Sid reclaimed the belt on February 17, 1997.
  • The Undertaker grabbed the championship on March 23, 1997 at WrestleMania 13.
  • Bret Hart recaptured the belt on August 3, 1997 at SummerSlam.
  • Shawn Michaels took the strap on November 9, 1997 at Survivor Series. This was the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin won the belt on March 29, 1998 at WrestleMania XIV.
  • Kane won the belt on June 28, 1998 at King of the Ring.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin won it back the next day on Raw is War. It was vacated on September 27, 1998 due to a no contest.
  • The Rock won the title on November 15, 1998 at Survivor Series.
  • Mankind took the strap on December 29, 1998.
  • The Rock won the title back on January 24, 1999 at the Royal Rumble.
  • Mankind took the belt back on January 26, 1999 on Halftime Heat.
  • The Rock regained the championship on February 15, 1999.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin gabbed the gold on March 28, 1999 at WrestleMania XV.
  • The Undertaker won the title on May 23, 1999 at Over the Edge.
  • Stone Cold regained the title on June 28, 1999.
  • Mankind rewon the belt on August 22, 1999 at SummerSlam.
  • Triple H captured the gold on August 23, 1999.
  • Vince McMahon claimed the title on September 14, 1999 on SmackDown. He vacated it six days later.
  • Triple H recaptured the the championship on September 26, 1999 at Unforgiven.
  • Big Show claimed the belt on November 14, 1999 at Survivor Series.
  • Triple H took the belt back on January 3, 2000.
  • The Rock captured the gold on April 30, 2000 at Backlash.
  • Triple H regained the title on May 21, 2000 at Judgment Day.
  • The Rock rewon the title on June 25, 2000 at King of the Ring.
  • Kurt Angle took the belt on October 22, 2000 at No Mercy.
  • The Rock won the strap on February 25, 2001 at No Way Out.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin won the belt on April 1, 2001 at WrestleMania X-Seven.
  • Kurt Angle regained the title on September 23, 2001 at Unforgiven.
  • Stone Cold regained the belt on October 8, 2001.
  • Chris Jericho captured the belt on December 9, 2001 at Vengeance.
  • Triple H rewon the title on March 17, 2002 at WrestleMania X8.
  • Hulk Hogan won the championship on April 21, 2002 at Backlash.
  • The Undertaker reclaimed the title on May 19, 2002 at Judgment Day.
  • The Rock regained the belt on July 21, 2002 at Vengeance.
  • Brock Lesnar won the gold on August 25, 2002 at SummerSlam.
  • Big Show won the title on November 17, 2002 at Survivor Series.
  • Kurt Angle captured the gold on December 15, 2002 at Armageddon.
  • Brock Lesnar took the gold back on March 30, 2003 at WrestleMania XIX.
  • Kurt Angle grabbed the belt on July 27, 2003 at Vengeance.
  • Brock Lesnar took the title again on September 16, 2003.
  • Eddie Guerrero won the belt on February 15, 2004 at No Way Out.
  • John "Bradshaw" Layfield won the title on June 27, 2004 at the Great American Bash.
  • John Cena captured the belt on April 3, 2005 at WrestleMania 21.
  • Edge cashed in his money in the bank to win the title on January 8, 2006 at New Year's Revolution.
  • John Cena won the belt back on January 29, 2006 at Royal Rumble.
  • Rob Van Dam cashed in his money in the bank to capture the belt on June 11, 2006 at ECW: One Night Stand.
  • Edge won the belt back on July 3, 2006.
  • John Cena regained the belt on September 17, 2006 at Unforgiven. It was vacated on October 2, 2007 due to an injury.
  • Randy Orton was awarded the title on October 7, 2007 at No Mercy.
  • Triple H won the belt that same night.
  • Randy Orton won it back that same night in a Last Man Standing match.
  • Triple H won the belt back on April 27, 2008 at Backlash.
  • Edge regained the title on November 23, 2008 at Survivor Series.
  • Jeff Hardy won the belt on December 14, 2008 at Armageddon.
  • Edge won the belt back on January 25, 2009 at the Royal Rumble.
  • Triple H regained the title on February 15, 2009 at No Way Out.
  • Randy Orton grabbed the gold on April 26, 2009 at Backlash.
  • Batista won the belt on June 7, 2009 at Extreme Rules. It was vacated on June 9, 2009 due to Batista tearing his left bicep.
  • Randy Orton regained the belt on June 15, 2009.
  • John Cena regained the belt on September 13, 2009 at Breaking Point.
  • Randy Orton reclaimed the title on October 4, 2009 at Hell in a Cell.
  • John Cena once again took the title on October 25, 2009 at Bragging Rights.
  • Sheamus won the championship on December 13, 2009 at TLC.
  • John Cena regained the gold on February 21, 2010 at Elimination Chamber.
  • Batista took it that same night when he was awarded it by Mr. McMahon.
  • John Cena took the belt back at WrestleMania XXVI on March 28, 2010.
  • Sheamus regained the title on June 20, 2010 at Fatal 4-Way.
  • Randy Orton won the belt on September 19, 2010 at Night of Champions.
  • The Miz won the title on November 22, 2010 when he cashed in his money in the bank.
  • John Cena won the title on May 1, 2011 at Extreme Rules.
  • CM Punk won the belt on July 17, 2011 at Money in the Bank.
  • Rey Mysterio won the title on July 25, 2011.
  • John Cena won the belt the same night when he beat Mysterio.
  • CM Punk won the title back on August 14, 2011 at SummerSlam.
  • Alberto Del Rio won the strap on the same night after cashing in his money in the bank.
  • John Cena won the title on September 18, 2011 at Night of Champions.
  • Alberto Del Rio won it back on October 2, 2011 at Hell in a Cell.
  • CM Punk took the belt back on November 20, 2011 at Survivor Series.
  • The Rock won the belt on January 27, 2013 at the Royal Rumble.
  • John Cena won the belt back on April 7, 2013 at WrestleMania 29.
  • Daniel Bryan beat Cena for the belt on August 18, 2013 at SummerSlam.
  • Randy Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank that same night to win the belt.
  • Daniel Bryan regain the title at Night of Champions on September 15, 2013. It was vacated by WWE COO Triple H the next night on Raw.
  • Randy Orton regained the title on October 27 at Hell in a Cell.
  • Daniel Bryan regained the title on April 6, 2014 at WrestleMania XXX. It was vacated on June 9, 2014 after Bryan's injury.
  • John Cena won the title on June 29, 2014 at Money in the Bank.
  • Brock Lesnar won the title on August 17, 2014 at SummerSlam.
  • Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to win the title at WrestleMania 31 on March 29, 2015. It was vacated due to injury on November 5, 2015.
  • Roman Reigns won the vacant title on November 22, 2015 at Survivor Series.
  • Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Reigns that same night to win the title.
  • Roman Reigns regained the title on December 14, 2015.
  • Triple H won the title on January 24, 2016 at Royal Rumble.
  • Roman Reigns regained the title on April 3, 2016 at WrestleMania 32.
  • Seth Rollins won the title on June 19, 2016 at Money in the Bank.
  • Dean Ambrose cashed in his Money in the Bank contract directly after to win the title.

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