Title belts represent the most prestigious awards in pro wrestling. When you’re holding a title, that means you should be considered among the absolute best wrestlers in the company, and possibly the world. That also means that the belt you carry should look the part, lending an additional air of quality to your reign. Over the many years of wrestling’s existence, there have been many good-looking titles, but there are a select handful that can be considered the absolute cream of the crop, and they can be found on this list. From the top to the bottom, we’d be thrilled to be able to carry any of these belts around on a daily basis.
11. WWF World Tag Team Championship
The classic WWF Tag Team titles survived all the way from the early days of Hulkamania, and unlike the WWF Championship, even made it through the Attitude Era with only minor changes, before finally disappearing during the first brand split, making them one of the longest-lived continuous title designs in WWE history. As a result, there is definitely a certain nostalgia for the titles held by many of the best tag teams in wrestling history, including (but not limited to) The British Bulldogs, Demolition, The Hart Foundation, the New Age Outlaws, Edge and Christian, and The Dudley Boys. Without that legacy, it’s possible that you could say that aspects of the belt seem a bit corny, especially the huge “World” in the center of the title, but somehow, the over-sized nature of the design comes together in something that actually looks really good. Thanks to the current “Spartan” versions of the Tag Team titles, this is likely the design most people wish WWE would bring back.
10. WWE Women’s Championship
There are currently four different iterations of the same title design currently floating around WWE, and while the WWE World Title that first introduced the design took a lot of initial criticism, and the WWE Universal Title gets even more for its questionable decision of using an ugly red strap, somehow, when WWE introduced the new Women’s Championship belt at WrestleMania 32, it just felt right. Something about the combination of a white strap and the red background on the main plate work perfectly from an aesthetic perspective, making the Women’s title the best new belt design in WWE in many years. The fact that it also represented women’s wrestling being treated as somewhat equivalent to the men by giving them a similar-looking title is a secondary achievement worthy of note. After the brand split, Smackdown introduced a parallel title with a blue background, which works almost as well, but we have to give the edge to the original.
9. WCW United States Championship
The problem with making a title that represents the United States of America is that there’s often a tendency to lean towards gaudiness. Listen, the American flag is great and all, but plastering a wrestling belt with stars and stripes often ends up making it look like a children’s toy instead of a serious wrestling title. Given that in WCW, the US Title was considered to be parellel to WWE’s Intercontinental title, with a fairly illustrious history in its own right, care needed to be taken to make sure its design reflected that level of importance. And while the current WWE US Title isn’t all that bad (though the less said about John Cena’s personal “spinner” US Title, the better), it can’t compare to the WCW version of the title, which manages to give a nod to the US of A while still remaining a classy, understated design befitting of the second-most important title in the company.
8. WWE Undisputed Championship
This belt was actually remarkably short-lived, as it was introduced after WrestleMania X-8 and retired just three years later, replaced by the ridiculous “Spinner” belt that sits prominently on a completely different list. The belt meant to represent the lineage of two of the longest-running World titles of the two biggest wrestling companies in North America had a suitably iconic design, combining many traditional elements of other World title belts, such as the globe and eagle designs seen on many WWE titles, as well as the all-gold aesthetic and prominent jewels of WCW’s “Big Gold Belt”, into the one title. Ironically, the title only remained “undisputed” for less than six months, before becoming exclusive to the Smackdown brand and reduced back to being called the WWE Championship. Over its short life, however, the physical belt was held by a truly elite list of wrestlers: Triple H, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, The Big Show, Kurt Angle, and Eddie Guerrero. Oh, and also JBL, who was (and still is) the longest reigning Smackdown-exclusive World Champion in history. Yeah, 2004 was kind of a dark period for WWE.
7. TNA X Division Championship
While the first design for TNA’s X Division title was, at absolute best, incredibly plain, especially for a division that featured some of the wildest and craziest high-flying wrestlers on the planet, the second attempt really hit that sweet spot between looking like a serious and valuable wrestling title and the appropriate amount of edginess necessary to represent a title whose tag line was that “it’s not about weight limits, it’s about no limits”. The stylized “X”, which in the initial design looked like it was using the same font as the ones on Family Feud, instantly stands out, while still managing to blend seamlessly with the rest of the front plate, and is definitely one of the most unique title belts in professional wrestling. A third redesign would come a few years later that also looks pretty good, this is the one people remember when talking about the glory days of the belt (yes, TNA did have some). Actually, if there’s one thing you can give to TNA, whoever designs their belt has been mostly on point (outside of that one time somebody let Jeff Hardy design his own).
6. NWA World Heavyweight Championship
Before the Big Gold Belt (don’t worry, we’ll get there), there was the World title which for a long time represented the absolute best wrestler, and was revered all over the wrestling world. In the territory days, holding the NWA World Heavyweight title was an incredible honor, and meant that a majority of North American wrestling promoters agreed that you were “The Man”, the wrestler who would sell out arenas anywhere in the country, travelling between territories and working with all the top talents everywhere you went. The belt itself is simple but iconic, having kept a similar design for decades (the original belt is so old, the Canadian flag on it isn’t even the maple leaf, but the one it used as a British colony), and continues that tradition to this day, even as the NWA has faded into an increasingly irrelevant organization from the past. That dedication to tradition and legacy is what helps to make the NWA World Title one of the most recognizable title belts in pro wrestling history.
5. WWF/WWE Intercontinental Championship
The smartest move WWE ever made with one of their title belts was to bring back the classic design of the Intercontinental Championship in 2011. The Intercontinental title is one of the most iconic and most popular designs in pro wrestling history, due to its unique “blocky” design and memorable white strap (the title actually had several color variants over the years, but the white one is the one most fondly remmembered). In addition, the original title’s place in some of the greatest matches in WWE history lend it an additional nostalgia factor that a slimmed-down, sleeker Intercontinental title design, which replaced the original during the Attitude Era, simply couldn’t measure up to. While the title itself has had a questionable legacy at best in recent years, fans have certainly appreciated the fact that it once again features the same design as the belt fought over by some of the best workers in the business, such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and Mr. Perfect.
4. IWGP Heavyweight Championship
We move overseas for this selection, and take a look at one of the most exclusive titles in wrestling history, the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the top title of New Japan Pro Wrestling. The list of former champions is a literal “who’s who” of Japanese pro wrestling history, including Antonio Inoki, Riki Choshu, Shinsuke Nakamura, Hiroyoshi Tanahashi, and Kazuchika Okada, and even includes some of the top North American wrestlers in history, such as Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles. In fact, if you ever want to know who has held the title, you can just look at the belt, as every former champion’s name is listed on the side plates, using the nameplates that hung on the front of the title when they held it! The belt itself simply looks like something that a champion should hold, full of intricate designs, studded with jewels, looking for all the world like an actual crown in belt form. It’s no wonder that it is considered one of the most prized championships in the industry, and a shining example of what a title belt should look like.
3. WWF Championship – “Winged Eagle”
To many older WWE fans, this is “the” World title, the belt held by Hogan, Savage, Hart, and Michaels. The one they had a special “super-sized” version made of for Andre The Giant, the one that Mr. Perfect smashed with a hammer, the one that had a brief period where the Ultimate Warrior kept changing the color of the strap to match his outfits, and the one that existed from the dawn of Hulkamania right up until Steve Austin took the wrestling world by the balls and started the Attitude Era. It simply looks like a title that signifies a World Champion, and the only complaint we could possibly come up with is that compared to modern titles (or even the Big Gold Belt), it’s definitely a smaller physical belt, which some could say makes it less impressive. However, its size represents a different era where you didn’t need to worry about things like “if the belt looks good on TV”, or making sure everything could be seen by the back row of the upper deck of a massive arena.
2. WWF/WWE Championship – “Attitude Era”
When WWE introduced a new World title after Steve Austin won it from Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV, it was almost certainly mostly so they could put the Attitude Era “scratch” logo on the belt instead of the classic block logo. It was also a symbolic new beginning for the company, the end of the mostly terrible New Generation and the beginning of an era that would change pro wrestling forever, a sign that WWE was finally ready to fight back against a company that had been kicking their ass for months. Wisely, WWE used the original “Winged Eagle” design as a basis for the new title, but made everything about it bigger and grander. Most notable is the emphasis on a central globe, seemingly emphasizing that it was a true “World” title, and establishing WWE’s position and belief that they were a truly global company (in fact, WWE always had that advantage over WCW, in that their overseas presence was consistently a strong source of revenue and fans, even during the lean years). And, of course, it was significantly larger than the previous belt, making it visually impressive and making their World Champion seem important by association.
1. NWA/WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Also known as “Ten Pounds Of Gold”, this belt, more than any other, is associated with World Championship Wrestling at its very best, and in particular, the career of 16-time World Champion Ric Flair, who held that title more times than any other person on the planet. Originally created for Flair as the NWA World Champion, it was one of the first to absorbed into WCW as part of a working relationship with the NWA, until WCW broke that agreement, which actually resulted in a tumultuous period where the title was literally referred to as “The Big Gold Belt” on TV, because of ongoing legal issues between WCW and the NWA. It was eventually unified with the WCW Heavyweight Championship and persisted even after the company went under, as WWE continued to use the title after purchasing their competitors, until also unifying it with their own WWF Championship in late 2001. The physical belt was brought back in 2002 as the more generic “World Heavyweight Championship” and served as one of two World titles in WWE during the first Brand Split, but very specifically did not carry over the original title’s lineage. The belt disappeared for a final time when the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship were once again unified in late 2013.