Over the last 50 years, WWE has given wrestling fans a lot of major championships. From the beginning of the company in 1963, we have seen slews of great events and matches taking place but it’s the titles that are important. The WWE title has been the big one but backed up for a time by the World title before coming to the Universal belt. The Intercontinental title has been a big deal for decades as well as the tag titles and the Women’s division coming along nicely as well. There have also been belts for Cruiserweights, Hardcore and more, all looking cool and WWE making a mint selling replicas in toy stores.
But not every title looks that great. Some, in fact, are utterly horrible to look at and are truly terrible designs. You can cut slack to some of the older ones, as a different time but plenty of the new ones look bad. The Universal Belt has gotten some trashing but it’s really nothing compared to all the past titles that have come before. Here are 15 of the ugliest championship belts WWE has ever presented and how bad they looked around someone’s waist.
15 ECW Title
There has been so much made of how badly WWE botched the revival of ECW. The main one among them was the title belt. The original ECW title belt had flair, looked fun and something original. This had none of them. It was bland silver on black, the “flaming wings” having no real spark and seeing the WWE logo mixed with ECW was terrible. The fact Vince himself was one titleholder just made it even worse and pushed the title down as a complete joke. Nothing about it screamed “ECW” at all, looking very bad and cheap for many fans watching. Some believe it was part of the deliberate effort by Vince McMahon to just bury ECW as the belt never looked like anything special…much like the entire ECW brand ended up being.
14 WWE title - Original
The circumstances that led Vince McMahon Sr to break away from the NWA and form the WWE are well known. Originally, the title belt was an old territorial one held by Buddy Rogers when he took on Bruno Sammartino for the title in 1963. It looks more like a U.S. title belt with the shape of America and thus not fitting for a world champ. Fortunately, the belt would soon be re-designed, as Sammartino was the world champion for eight straight years. He would then enjoy a separate four-year reign.
Also, the placing of the figures of wrestlers going at it are badly done, looking more an embrace than a grapple. It was used briefly when Bruno won the belt but shows how “World” belts back then could look bad.
13 Split Women’s Title
LayCool were a truly terrific act for WWE. Layla and Michelle McCool just got on great as these arrogant divas who acted up being total b****, selfish, cheating and more to achieve victory. There were really over as a fun act and reigned as Women’s Champions with the idea of being “co-champs.” They went around with each holding a title belt until they were ordered to just have one. They fought for it and “tore” the belt in half (showing some serious hidden strength to pull that off).
They then decided to continue to call each themselves the co-champions and each having one half of the belt. The sight of a jagged and broken title on a strap was incredibly unattractive, reducing the belt to even more of a joke. LayCool were fun but this title design was not.
12 New York Hardcore Title
When Tommy Dreamer won the Hardcore title, he decided to spice it up a little bit. Quite obviously, WWE took the old European title and slapped some plates on it like cops, fireman and more. The center was a New York license plate with barbed wire and the Statue of Liberty holding a Singapore cane. To say it looked bad was an understatement and while Dreamer wore it with pride, it didn’t look like it was deserving of a push. While it made sense for Dreamer it was, to say the last, absolutely horrible to look at. It looked totally cheap like something you’d buy off a garage store sale and not really worthy of being pushed as a title. Granted, the Hardcore title was already an ugly look but this just made it seem even worse and quite cheap to boot.
11 North American Championship
A lot of territories used the title of the North American championship for their own regional big belt. Bill Watts is the most famous for his Mid-South territory. WWE had their own for a while, created in 1979 and awarded to Ted DiBiase when he joined the company. The odd design of the title looks off and the copper plating doesn’t shine anywhere near as well as it should. The laurel wreath in the circle doesn’t look as impressive and the design work around it is distracting. There’s also little to point to a “North American” motif, just guys grappling without a big map or anything. The belt only lasted two years before being dropped in favor of the Intercontinental title and showcased that some titles are better off for regional places.
10 European Title
Created in 1997 as basically a vanity piece for the British Bulldog, this title got some serious push over the years. Of course, it was often held by guys who had nothing to do with Europe although it included a funny bit where Al Snow would come out “representing” a different European nation (like dressing up as John Travolta for Greece). The concept of the design is good with the globe, flags of nations at the center and the gold plating of wrestlers. Where it falls apart is the color. There’s way too much from the bright red for the main title to those of the various flags. It ruins an otherwise good design and just makes it look more garish than it should. The title wasn’t too bad overall but its look made it appear a lot worse than it really was.
9 World Tag Team Title
After years of having two tag team titles, one pair for RAW and the other for SmackDown, WWE had them as a “unified” title. This meant the champs carrying around two pairs of title belts which looked bad. However, looking much worse was their new design for the “Unified” titles. The copper makes it look like a giant penny and the plates are way too large. More notable is the ridiculous decision to have the centerpiece be a pair of Roman Centurion helmets back to back. It’s a bizarre choice and just comes off looking bad, especially with the copper coin look of the strap plates. The belts have been held by The New Day for over a year to come off a bit more prestigious but it’s still a strange look overall for what should be a major title in WWE.
8 Intercontinental Title, 1979
The Intercontinental title has long been seen as one of the best belts in all of WWE. The classic 1980s/’90s design is beloved, sleek, a cool logo, standing out well and thus comes off as a cherished prize. That is not the case for the very first IC belt, created in 1979 with the story of Pat Patterson winning it in a non-existent tournament in Rio de Janeiro. On a too-bright red strap, the belt’s centerpiece didn’t scream a “global” presence, two guys wrestling with an eagle sticking out at the bottom of the plate. The side plates had rivets which looked too obtrusive and the side plating rough and clashing too much. It wasn’t around too long, switched to a blue strap that looked a bit better but it took some trial and error for WWE to hit upon the IC design that became a major success.
7 Hardcore Title
It was meant as a major joke. In 1998, Mankind had been driving Vince crazy with wanting a belt so Vince decided to give him one. He got the old “Winged Eagle” WWE title belt destroyed, covered in duct tape and magic marker. He gave it to Mankind as the Hardcore title, which he happily accepted. Perhaps thanks to Foley’s great charisma and his following, the title actually became something serious for the fans. Before anyone knew it, the belt was being defended as a serious one in various matches, including the famed “24/7 rule” that had it changing hands constantly. While it was funny, it also just looked damn bad so even if it was meant as a joke and not many were too upset when it was finally retired.
6 Internet Championship
True, it was meant as a joke but it still looked pretty ugly. Realizing the company wasn’t going to do anything for him, Zack Ryder decided to push himself in various videos as this cocky Long Island guy. It got him over, winning more popularity and Ryder declared himself the “Internet Wrestling Champion.” He then got his own belt which was…rather strange. The centerpiece was designed with Ryder’s trademark spiked hair, headband and sunglasses and the side plates were all various Internet places like Facebook and You Tube.
Ryder had a fun time talking of the “64-man tournament” he won for the belt and it got him majorly over. However, it’s really not that pretty to look at so while good for Ryder’s career, it wasn’t a pleasant belt to see.
5 WWE Title, 1963-71
After winning the belt off of Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino got this new custom belt made. And it shows just how incredibly bad design work of that time was. The blue strap looks garish, way too bright and not fitting well with Bruno’s tough style. The stars are a distraction as you can’t make out what is said inside and the central plate is just too small and squared. The crown bit at the top looks silly and while it’s supposed to give a “regal” show, it just doesn’t click well in the final picture. This looks more like a regional belt than a World title and not something most fans would get excited for. It would be used for all of Bruno’s record seven year reign and while it helped put WWE on the map, its design today looks pretty bad.
4 U.S. “Spinner”
Long before he was the face of WWE, John Cena was rising at the “Doctor of Thuganomics.” His rapping character was a major hit with fans and led to his stardom. At Wrestlemania XX, Cena won the U.S. title off the Big Show, his first major championship to boost him up. Shortly afterward, he came out with a new custom belt. The plates were now studded like diamonds to stand out but the “US” on it looked garish. Worse, of course, was how the circular centerpiece was now a spinner. It really looked more like a belt buckle than a championship title and while it fit Cena’s character of the time, it was a bit of a joke to look back on today and many were happy when JBL trashed it.
3 Divas Title
Ah, the Butterfly Belt. You can’t do a list of the worst wrestling championship belts and not include this one. When WWE decided to introduce the Divas title, no one was quite sure what to expect. But it sure wasn’t this. That logo looks absolutely atrocious, pink and loud with a horrible font and the side plating looks damn bad too. It just came off incredibly bad looking and quite horrible around a lady’s waist. It got worse when LayCool decided to get “matching” titles. The worst part was how it just showed some disrespect to the women of the company, giving them something so wildly feminine and rather garish to boot. As bad as some say the current Women’s titles are, they’re miles above this horrible look.
2 WWE Title “Spinner”
An obvious choice of course. At first, it made sense, John Cena winning the WWE title in 2005 and doing the same thing he had done with the U.S. belt. But while that lent itself okay to a spinner bit, this was just stupid. The WWE logo spinning was really distracting and it made even less sense when Cena would lose the belt to various folks like Edge (whose own “Rated R” custom belt wasn’t that great either). It was shown to be a major bit for how Cena was pushed so often and keeping the title like that for so long just made WWE look a bit cheaper. So while it was a decent idea at first for Cena’s character, it has not stood the test of time and fans are grateful it’s been dumped.
1 The Big Green Belt (1982-84)
This version of the WWE title was introduced in 1982 and first held by Bob Backlund. Its name is obvious, a bright green belt with various gold plating on the side. It’s meant to be impressive but instead comes off incredibly gaudy, the plates an ugly mix and you can’t even make out what they say on the sides. The centerpiece looks off with the red dotting around the figure holding a belt on a badly drawn globe. Backlund had this belt when he lost it to the Iron Sheik who then lost it to Hulk Hogan.
Right afterward, WWE crafted a sleek new belt for Hogan that looked much better than this. While it was intended as a showcase, it just shows how ugly the WWE title good look, no matter whose waist it was around.