Since the days I first became a wrestling fan one of the things I paid attention to was some of the actual title belts that wrestlers wore either around their waist or over their shoulder when they were champions. Sometimes it was secondary to who wore the belt around, I was a fan of the championship belt itself. All the other things like who was the champion or what matches they had came secondary to me.
Some of my favorites from the past were the WCW United States title belt from 1991 or so. I was big into it right after Lex Luger had to relinquish the belt for that World Title run and Sting won that tournament on a house show. The pictures of him holding the U.S. Title belt in WCW magazine were a big thing to me and the article that was written covering the 11 man tournament with Sting beating Steve Austin in the finals was an article I read many times back in the day. The WCW belt they used at the time was better then that thing the WWE has used for years. I’m all in favor of the WWE changing that out, especially since it doesn’t count for much of anything anyway.
Another belt I am a fan of is the “Winged Eagle” championship belt from 1988 until 1998. It’s a popular belt of fans from the era but that is beside the point. It was the WWF title when I became a fan with the big stars like Randy Savage and Hulk hogan had it around their waist. It was the belt they held a tournament for in the first wrestling videotape I owned in Wrestlemania 4 that I got for Christmas in 1988. A version of that belt came with the toy rings when WWF started using Hasbro for their wrestling figures in 1989. I STILL have that belt even though the silver paint has rubbed off of it long ago.
In the modern day, I really like what the NWA did with the TV title belt with this looking pretty much like the belt that was used in the NWA at that time of the early 1990s. The belt that was worn by Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Steve Austin and a bunch of other guys. That is kind of the thing the NWA puts on when it trying to be like it is an 80s style wrestling show. The original belt was one that had a lot of similarly designed belts but I have a soft spot in my heart for that one.
I’m also digging the current IWGP belt used in Japan. Granted I was a fan of the old belt they used back in the ’80s with the round title plate but I like the current version as well. Usually, when that belt is defended it means good wrestling and a match that will go for a while. I get into that. And besides that, it physically looks like it cost more to make than probably many of those guys in NJPW get in their paychecks every year. That is more of a thing going for it for me than the WWE Title or the Universal title that you can buy replicas for at some store like Wal-mart or something.
Title belts are a lot like the wrestlers themselves. Different people react to different belts, oftentimes for different reasons. Some belts, like the old WWF “Winged Eagle” belt, end up with a lot of fans that covet what the belt means to them. Other belts are sometimes forgotten about by fans and the matches for them are met with a yawn. Title belts are more than just props to have guys fight for on a show. They are meant to be a symbol of something they are actually fighting for. Sometimes the wrestling companies need to remember that.