World Heavyweight Championship (WWE)

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World Heavyweight Championship
The World Heavyweight Championship belt with default side plates
Details
PromotionWWE
BrandRaw
Date establishedApril 24, 2023
Current champion(s)Damian Priest
Date wonApril 7, 2024
Statistics
First champion(s)Seth "Freakin" Rollins
Longest reignSeth "Freakin" Rollins
(316 days)
Shortest reignDrew McIntyre
(5 minutes and 46 seconds)
Oldest championDamian Priest
(41 years, 194 days)
Youngest championSeth "Freakin" Rollins
(36 years, 364 days)
Heaviest championDrew McIntyre
(275 lb (125 kg))
Lightest championSeth "Freakin" Rollins
(225 lb (102 kg))

The World Heavyweight Championship is a men's professional wrestling world heavyweight championship created and promoted by the American promotion WWE, defended on the Raw brand division. It is one of three men's world titles on WWE's main roster, along with the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship, which are jointly held and defended as the Undisputed WWE Championship on SmackDown. The current champion is Damian Priest, who is in his first reign. He won the title by defeating Drew McIntyre in his Money in the Bank cash-in match during night two of WrestleMania XL on April 7, 2024.

The title's creation came as a result of Roman Reigns, who at the time held the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. After Reigns became undisputed champion in April 2022, he defended the tandem title across both brands, but these defenses were infrequent due to the terms of his contract. With the announcement of the 2023 WWE Draft, the World Heavyweight Championship was unveiled on the April 24, 2023, episode of Monday Night Raw and subsequently became exclusive to Raw after Reigns and the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship became exclusive to SmackDown. The inaugural World Heavyweight Champion was Seth "Freakin" Rollins.

The title is distinct from WWE's previous World Heavyweight Championship that was contested from 2002 until 2013 when it was unified into the WWE Championship. The two titles share the same name, but do not share the same lineage.[1]

History[edit]

Inaugural champion Seth "Freakin" Rollins, shown here with the WWE Championship

On the April 24, 2023, episode of WWE's flagship professional wrestling television program, Monday Night Raw, WWE Chief Content Officer Triple H announced the 2023 WWE Draft, a process used by the promotion in which wrestlers are exclusively assigned to compete on a brand. He then addressed Roman Reigns and the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. Since WrestleMania 38 in April 2022, Reigns had held and defended the promotion's two world championships, the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship, as the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship across both the Raw and SmackDown brands. However, due to his contract, Reigns made infrequent title defenses. Thus, Triple H announced that whichever brand drafted Reigns in the upcoming draft, he and his undisputed championship would become exclusive to that brand, while unveiling a new World Heavyweight Championship that would be defended on the opposite brand. It was also revealed that the inaugural champion would be crowned at Night of Champions on May 27, 2023.[2][3] During Night 1 of the draft on the April 28 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, Reigns was drafted to SmackDown, subsequently making the World Heavyweight Championship exclusive to Raw.[4]

During the Backlash press conference on May 5, 2023, Triple H announced a tournament for the title including wrestlers from both brands with a bracket for each brand. The first round and semifinals for each bracket were scheduled for the May 8 and May 12 episodes of Raw and SmackDown, respectively. The first-round matches for each episode consisted of two triple threat matches with the respective winners advancing to the semifinals in a singles match the same night, with those respective winners advancing to the championship match at Night of Champions.[5] According to wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, the reason that SmackDown wrestlers were included in the tournament was due to WWE's attempt to retain viewership for the May 12 episode of SmackDown, as it and other wrestling programs that week were going head-to-head with the 2023 NBA playoffs.[6]

The participants for the World Heavyweight Championship Tournament were revealed on May 7 on WWE's YouTube channel: Cody Rhodes, Damian Priest, Finn Bálor, Seth "Freakin" Rollins, Shinsuke Nakamura, and The Miz from Raw, and AJ Styles, Austin Theory, Bobby Lashley, Edge, Rey Mysterio, and Sheamus from SmackDown.[7] On the May 8 episode of Raw, Rollins defeated Nakamura and Priest in the first triple threat while Bálor defeated Miz and Rhodes in the second. Rollins subsequently defeated Bálor in the semifinals to win Raw's bracket.[8] On the May 12 episode of SmackDown, Styles defeated Edge and Mysterio in the first triple threat while Lashley defeated Sheamus and Theory in the second. Styles subsequently defeated Lashley in the semifinals to win SmackDown's bracket, thus setting up the tournament final between Rollins and Styles.[9] At Night of Champions, Rollins defeated Styles to become the inaugural World Heavyweight Champion.[10][11] The title was defended for the first time on the June 5 episode of Raw.[12]

Inaugural World Heavyweight Championship tournament (2023)[edit]

Belt design[edit]

The World Heavyweight Championship belt has a design that pays homage to the historic Big Gold Belt, which was used for WWE's previous World Heavyweight Championship (2002–2013). It also features tributes to previous designs of the company's original world championship, the WWE Championship (1963–present).[13]

Like the historic Big Gold Belt, the title has three large gold plates on a black leather strap. All three plates include traditional filigree with each plate outlined in a rope trim to represent the three ropes of a wrestling ring. Like the majority of WWE's other championship belts, the side plates include a removable round center section which can be replaced with the reigning champion's logo in lieu of the nameplate that was found on the original Big Gold Belt; the default side plates feature a gold WWE logo over a globe (customizable side plates were introduced with the 2013–2014 version of the WWE Championship belt).[13]

At the center of the center plate, there is a large globe that has WWE's logo over top of it. The WWE logo is silver with black filled in the blank spaces of the globe. The globe itself represents that the title is defended around the world. Above the globe is a banner with the text "WORLD" written in silver with a banner below the globe that says "CHAMPION", also in silver. Also on the center plate are three lions, which represent the McMahon family crest (as WWE was founded and owned by the McMahon family until September 2023); there is a full-bodied lion on each opposing side of the globe facing outwards while the third is a lion's head at the very bottom of the center plate (the McMahon family crest was previously included on the side plates of the WWE Championship belts from 1998 to 2005). At the top of the center plate right above the "WORLD" banner is a crown, a nod to Bruno Sammartino's WWE Championship belt during his long reign (there was also a crown on the Big Gold Belt). Right above the crown is an eagle, which is an homage to the various WWE Championship belts that included an eagle up until 2013, most notably the Winged Eagle championship belt design (1988–1998). There are a total of 60 diamonds across the three plates; these were in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of WWE, as the company was founded in April 1963 and the title was unveiled in April 2023.[13]

Reception[edit]

The creation of the World Heavyweight Championship was met with mixed reception. Some liked the idea of the title, feeling that it would give new opportunities for several wrestlers, but others were critical.[14][15] Dave Scherer of PWInsider felt that since Roman Reigns was not in the inaugural tournament, it made the World Heavyweight Championship seem like a secondary title to his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.[16] Former WWE and Extreme Championship Wrestling wrestler Tommy Dreamer opined that the title's creation felt like a consolation prize, stating that it gave the impression that nobody could beat Reigns. Nonetheless, he praised the design of the belt.[14] Conversely, WWE Hall of Famer Booker T stated that he did not think it felt like a secondary title or consolation prize, agreeing with the sentiment that it would provide new opportunities, especially for younger wrestlers.[15]

WWE commentator Corey Graves said that having the title was great as it would allow Raw and SmackDown to identify as separate brands (as brand division had been lax over the preceding year), but he claimed that until Reigns was defeated, anyone holding the World Heavyweight Championship would feel inferior to Reigns.[17] Scherer also felt that whoever would finally beat Reigns, the impact would be lessened due to the existence of the World Heavyweight Championship.[18] Prior to competing in the tournament final, runner-up AJ Styles said that it was hard to argue that the new title was not secondary compared to Reigns' undisputed championship.[19] WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle also praised the design of the belt, but acknowledged the notion that it felt like a secondary title compared to Reigns' titles.[20]

Reigns[edit]

Current champion Damian Priest

As of April 22, 2024, there have been three reigns between three champions. The inaugural champion was Seth "Freakin" Rollins. He also has the longest reign at 316 days, while Drew McIntyre has the shortest reign at 5 minutes and 46 seconds. Damian Priest is the oldest title holder at 41 years old while Rollins is the youngest at 36.

Damian Priest is the current champion in his first reign. He won the title by defeating McIntyre in his Money in the Bank cash-in match on Night 2 of WrestleMania XL on April 7, 2024, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, right after the latter had defeated Rollins for the title.[21]

Key
No. Overall reign number
Reign Reign number for the specific champion
Days Number of days held
Days recog. Number of days held recognized by the promotion
<1 Reign lasted less than a day
+ Current reign is changing daily
No. Champion Championship change Reign statistics Notes Ref.
Date Event Location Reign Days Days recog.
WWE: Raw
1 Seth "Freakin" Rollins May 27, 2023 Night of Champions Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 1 316 316 The title was established and designated to Raw after the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship became exclusive to SmackDown following the 2023 WWE Draft. Rollins defeated AJ Styles in the tournament final to become the inaugural champion. [22][11]
2 Drew McIntyre April 7, 2024 WrestleMania XL
Night 2
Philadelphia, PA 1 <1 <1 [21]
3 Damian Priest April 7, 2024 WrestleMania XL
Night 2
Philadelphia, PA 1 15+ 15+ This was Priest's Money in the Bank cash-in match. [21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "World Heavyweight Title". WWE.
  2. ^ Keller, Wade (April 24, 2023). "4/24 WWE Raw results: Keller's report on Triple H announcement, Bad Bunny appearing in person, Rey vs. Priest". Pro Wrestling Torch. Archived from the original on April 25, 2023. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
  3. ^ Casey, Connor (April 24, 2023). "Triple H Introduces WWE's New World Heavyweight Championship Title". ComicBook.com. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
  4. ^ Bath, Dave (April 28, 2023). "WWE SmackDown live results: The WWE Draft begins". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved April 28, 2023.
  5. ^ Tessier, Colin (May 5, 2023). "Triple H: World Heavyweight Title Tournament Will Begin On 5/8 WWE Raw, Continue On 5/12 SmackDown". Fightful. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  6. ^ Casey, Connor (May 9, 2023). "Why WWE Added SmackDown to the World Heavyweight Championship Tournament". ComicBook.com. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  7. ^ Carey, Ian (May 7, 2023). "WWE reveals participants for World Heavyweight title tournament". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved May 7, 2023.
  8. ^ Keller, Wade (May 8, 2023). "WWE Raw Results (5-8-2023): Keller's report with analysis of World Title Tournament matches, Backlash fallout, Trish". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  9. ^ Powell, Jason (May 12, 2023). "5/12 WWE Friday Night Smackdown results: Powell's review of Roman Reigns' return, AJ Styles vs. Edge vs. Rey Mysterio, and Austin Theory vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Sheamus tournament matches, winners meet for a spot in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  10. ^ Lambert, Jeremy (May 27, 2023). "Seth Rollins Becomes Inaugural WWE World Heavyweight Champion At WWE Night Of Champions". Fightful. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  11. ^ a b Powell, Jason (May 27, 2023). "WWE Night of Champions results: Powell's live review of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles, Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Bianca Belair vs. Asuka for the Raw Women's Title". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Archived from the original on May 27, 2023. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  12. ^ Keller, Wade (June 5, 2023). "WWE Raw results (6/5): Keller's report with analysis of Seth defending World Title against Damian Priest, Cody Rhodes on Miz TV, MITB qualifiers". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  13. ^ a b c WWE (May 3, 2023). Get a closer look at the new World Heavyweight Championship. YouTube. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  14. ^ a b Rodriguez, David Gonzalez (April 28, 2023). "Tommy Dreamer thinks WWE's new championship looks like a consolation prize". Solowrestling.com (in Spanish). Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  15. ^ a b Rodriguez, David Gonzalez (May 9, 2023). "Booker T doesn't think the new WWE Championship is a consolation prize". Solowrestling.com (in Spanish). Retrieved May 10, 2023.
  16. ^ Scherer, Dave (May 10, 2023). "THE ONE PERSON WHO SHOULD BE IN THE WORLD TITLE TOURNEY BUT ISN'T, WWE IN NYC, THE WORLD IS VINCE'S OYSTER AND MORE". PWInsider. Retrieved May 10, 2023.
  17. ^ Jimenez, Mario (April 30, 2023). "Corey Graves believes the new world heavyweight champion will look inferior to Roman Reigns". Solowrestling.com (in Spanish). Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  18. ^ Scherer, Dave (May 1, 2023). "IF I WERE CM PUNK THE ONLY PART OF MY BODY THAT I WOULD GIVE THE ELITE IS MIDDLE FINGER, WRESTLING JOURNALISM (OR LACK THEREOF), HHH'S REIGNS COMMENTS AND MORE". PWInsider. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  19. ^ Lee, Joseph (May 22, 2023). "AJ Styles Says It's Hard To Argue WWE World Heavyweight Title Isn't Secondary". 411Mania. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  20. ^ Ranft, Shaun (May 25, 2023). "Kurt Angle Likes The New WWE World Heavyweight Title, But Says It's Definitely Secondary". Wrestling Inc. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  21. ^ a b c Powell, Jason (April 7, 2024). "WrestleMania XL results: Powell's live review of night two with Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes for the WWE Universal Championship with Bloodline Rules, Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre for the World Heavyweight Championship". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Retrieved April 7, 2024.
  22. ^ Miller, Gregory (April 24, 2023). "Triple H introduces the World Heavyweight Championship". WWE. Retrieved April 24, 2023.

External links[edit]