wrestling / Columns

Top 7 Secondary Championship Belts

May 5, 2023 | Posted by Steve Cook
Dolph Ziggler’s Dolph Ziggler Smackdown 121917 Image Credit: WWE

Us pro wrestling fans are known for fixiating on things that don’t seem all that important in the big picture. I was reminded of this recently when Triple H introduced WWE’s latest World Heavyweight Championship.

We are obsessed with how championship belts look. Wrestling fans through the decades have been. It’s not enough for a champion to deserve being a champion, we need to have a belt that looks good wrapped around the champion’s waist. Champions need to look like champions.

So the easy thing for me to do would be to throw up 7 random belts as the greatest of all time and let the masses complain over who was left out. I’ve never been about the easy thing. I am about dragging things out over many columns, and as much as people love belts, I see the potential for folks to talk about belts for days & days.

We can rank the best world belts. Maybe folks want to talk about the best women’s belts & tag team belts. I hope they do! Today, we’re talking about the seven most magnificent secondary championship belts.

7. NXT United Kingdom Championship (2017-22)

Ian Hamilton covered NXT UK like no other, he’s a gentleman, a scholar and a good man. He would probably agree that the UK Championship looks like something that would be in the Crown Jewels, minus that WWE/NXT logo. A magnificent looking belt that had some damn good matches over it. I must admit as an old man that I have a certain bias. I don’t like current title belt designs, but the United Kingdom belt design did speak to me.

Folks like Walter, Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne & Ilja Dragunov had killer matches for this championship, which looked much better than other belts offered to people with the NXT designation.

6. TNA Legends/Global/Television/King of the Mountain Championship (2008-16)

Yes, the same exact belt represented four different championships. Here’s how that went down…Booker T introduced the belt as the Legends Championship in the video above. He ended up losing it to AJ Styles, which made the belt officially sanctioned by TNA according to storyline. Eric Young changed it to the Global Championship since he was head of the Global Elite faction. Young lost it in Wales to Welshman Rob Terry. Once Styles beat Terry for the title, it became the Television Championship. Eventually the people booking forgot about it during the reigns of Brother Devon & Abyss, so the title was deactivated. It would return when Jeff Jarrett returned to TNA after a long absence, and a King of the Mountain match was held to award him the King of the Mountain Championship. The title would get other owners until it was officially retired in 2016 after Billy Corgan bought the company & Jeff wasn’t involved.

Here’s the thing. TNA wanted to keep this belt around because they spent a good amount of money creating it. It was a fantastic looking belt, so I don’t blame them for that at all. The LOLTNA factor comes in with the booking of the championship. I’m somewhat surprised that Impact Wrestling isn’t still using the belt. I can only assume that Conrad Thompson or Dan Lambert bought it off of them.

5. Mid-Atlantic United States Championship (1975-80)

Here’s where another bias of mine enters the picture. I’m an American. My grandpa fought for my rights, the rest of us weren’t made for that. I’m not as diehard about patriotism as some, but the aesthetic pleases me. In my eyes, it’s tough to mess up a United States Championship belt. The current WWE US belt is one of my least favorites in the genre because I don’t think it leans into ‘Murica enough. This particular championship doesn’t feature the red, white & blue, but it does represent the United States as much as possible. The main plate is the continental 48. Most of the side plates (which there are a lot of on this belt) are eagles, but Alaska & Hawaii both have side plates representing their status as part of the Union.

Most NWA territories had a US Champion to be the top guy on their shows while the World Champion went from place to place. From what I surmise, the Mid-Atlantic version had the most staying power, and WWE has continued to recognize that lineage as part of their own United States Championship. The NWA has brought back a variation of this design for their National Championship, which is nice.

4. WWE United States Championship (2003-20)

Image Credit: WWE

From what Wikipedia tells me, and I trust Wikipedia since I randomly see myself quoted in articles and I think I know what I’m talking about, the WWE United States Championship design from 2003 until 2020 is the longest running belt design in the history of the company. That doesn’t surprise me, because the front plate is absolutely fantastic with the Stars & Stripes on full display. Some nice Statue of Liberty sideplates. The design definitely screamed MURICA.

As much as I loved the WCW US belt I was familiar with and most of the people that held it through the 90s, the WWE US belt was an obvious upgrade. John Cena’s first title reign featured his first spinner belt, which was nice, but WWE was smart enough to end that belt’s tenure when Cena moved up the card. They did not display that intelligence when they had folks holding onto Cena’s WWE Championship spinner belt.

3. WWF Intercontinental Championship (1986-98)

Speaking of things I’m biased in favor of. The WWF Intercontinental Championship was the most well-booked title of my childhood. It was the “workrate championship” while Hulk Hogan was holding down the WWF Championship scene. Except when the Honky Tonk Man held the title for sixteen months, when he became the stereotypical heel champion that everybody else is judged against, or used to justify some crappy heel champion that will never get over. When I started watching, folks like Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels that won the IC strap eventually won the World strap. Part of working up the ladder. Razor Ramon & Double J never quite got there, but they were legends in their own right. Roddy Piper won the title and actually lost it to a worthy competitor, which was a bigger deal than childhood me knew.

The Intercontinental Championship got devalued at some point. Then, at random intervals, folks winning the title would complain about how it was devalued, and try to bring it back. Cody Rhodes worked this gimmick in 2011, and tried to bring back this version of the IC strap. Reg Parks’ company was not happy with the replication of the original IC strap not produced by them. Drama ensued and we got a replica of this version of the belt, but it never felt quite the same.

2. NWA World Television Championship (1985-92, 2020-present)

My favorite thing about this belt is the desire to represent all of television. Back in 1985, NWA programming was likely carried on ABC, CBS & NBC affiliates throughout the country. They had strong TV, which resulted in a TV Champion willing to be seen defending on all sorts of stations, even if there was a time limit involved.

It’s fairly obvious that AEW’s TNT Championship belt was inspired by this belt. A nice looking belt in its own right. Billy Corgan’s NWA brought the original design back, which was a smart thing to do…though I’m surprised they didn’t put a Fox News side plate on it since the idea was for Tyrus to put it over his shoulder while regurgitating right-wing talking points on that channel.

Honorable Mention: WWE Hardcore Championship (1998-2002)

This wasn’t a great looking belt, but it’s one of the most memorable. People have opinions about its origin, most of which involved Mr. Perfect destroying Hulk Hogan’s WWF Championship with a hammer. Folks thought that was the belt Mr. McMahon gave to Mankind as the Hardcore Championship. Turns out, good ol’ Mel Phillips auctioned that belt off, it was cleared as authentic and foot fetishists worldwide celebrated.

We still don’t know where this beat-up Winged Eagle with duct tape came from, but people sure fought for it over & over again. What was meant as a joke at the expense of Mick Foley ended up giving folks like Al Snow, Hardcore Holly, Crash Holly, Raven & many others something to do.

1. Million Dollar Championship (1989-92, 1995-96, 2010, 2021)

The “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase had tried to purchase the WWF Championship. Then he couldn’t win it on his own merits. So he decided to create his own championship, as he decided that the WWF Championship wasn’t worth his wearing. Fairly typical behavior from folks of his ilk. We humble folks didn’t know this until later on. Ted would bring back the title later on for the “Ringmaster”, then for his son, then for L.A. Knight & Cameron Grimes. The one flaw in the Championship: DiBiase didn’t exactly defend it on a regular basis against worthy competition.

This is the part of the show where I separate my love for the Million Dollar Championship belt & Ted DiBiase’s work in the ring with his alleged current work. (Gotta include “alleged”) The Million Dollar Championship tops this list because the belt looks better than any other wrestling belt I’ve ever seen, and its placement at the top of this list in no way, shape or form endorses the bilking of taxpayer money intended for welfare recipients. One must admit that ol’ Teddy is pretty insistent on staying in character in his later years.

Thanks for reading! Hit me up at [email protected] or on the social media with thoughts, comments or suggestions. Let the people know who got left out! Until next time, true believers!

article topics :

NWA, TNA, WWE, Steve Cook