Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few days, you already know that there is a new WWE Championship Belt.
So far, the reviews have been mixed, but I will get to that later. WWE has been posting some interesting information on their website regarding the creation of the belt, most of which have already been refuted as false by Dave Millican and Rico Mann, who helped create the belt, but if the truth ever can or does come out, it will just add to the already huge legend behind this infant belt.
Let’s rewind a little bit.
I hear things regarding belts on a pretty frequent basis. Some are solid leads, others just seem to be garbage rumors. For example, there is a pair of J-Mar made Undisputed tag belts that never made it to TV, of a different design than the “Penny Tags” currently made by Dave Millican.
Rumors of a new WWE title to replace the spinner have been around for years. Fans in general hate it mostly due to it’s association with John Cena. Older fans hate it more because of it’s “modern” look featuring stones and a spinning logo. The belt hasn’t spun in years, but that didn’t do much to help people embrace it. Despite all of this, the belt is one of the best merchandise sellers, and closely associated with WWE. It is easy to understand why there was such a delay in replacing it. If you look at the numbers, the Spinner was closely becoming one of the longest used WWE Championship belts.
- Winged Eagle: 1988-1998; 10 years
- Big Eagle: 1998-2002; 4 years
- The Undisputed: 2002-2005; 3 years
- The Spinner: 2005-2013; 8 years
Maybe it is just that I am becoming older, but sadly, most people will consider the Spinner the belt they remember. It is the main stay title of this generation of fans. I shutter to think how it will be referred to as a “classic” championship in the future.
So, back to the rumor mill: NEW WWE BELT IS COMING!!! But it wasn’t far off from what is starting to be leaked. According to the article on WWE.com on the new title, they began designing it over 15 months ago. This gives validity to some of the rumors I heard. One credible source has said that WWE had previously had a different replacement made before that, which they decided to never use. Pretty much every beltmaker I know, has submitted designs to WWE, some of which have even offered their services free of charge.
The first solid evidence of a new WWE belt actually came from a rival beltmaker. While checking out the status of their belt plates, he noticed other plates being made for Dave Millican. It was described on a message board as looking like the PRIDE Grand Prix belt, with a HUGE WWE logo in the center. This information passed around for a few weeks with much skepticism. Then the picture leaked.
Unbeknownst to the plate etcher, the person took some pictures of the then still in progress WWE belt, with a camera phone. These pictures were passed around to a few people, before one of those people posted them on BeltTalk. Photos uploaded to the site get watermarked with the logo. Many people immediately saved this picture, and started posting it on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Soon, the picture was picked up by numerous wrestling websites and it became a huge news story. Uneducated fans claimed it was fake, due to “not having a nameplate or eagles”. The other skeptics claimed it was only a side plate, despite other background items proving the scale to be the main plate. The picture showed the then unfinished belt partially assembled. Many people took to PhotoShop what they believed the finished belt would look like.
More credibility to this picture came at ComiCon, when CM Punk commented on the belt, claiming it wasn’t much better looking than the spinner, and it was very heavy. A unnamed source stated that the leaked picture of the belt was taken at a very early stage in production, and that the finished belt WWE received was heavily modified since. This gave some fans hope, as the early reaction to the new belt design was not positive.
The question then became, when would it debut? After SummerSlam? No. After Survivor Series? After Raw 1,000? Royal Rumble? Wrestlemania? Etc.
Things then got stranger, when ANOTHER picture of the belt was posted to Twitter by an employee of Orange County Choppers. The belt pictured was in an even earlier unfinished state, looked slightly larger than the previous picture, and most peculiar of all, why would OCC be working on a belt for WWE?
Some of this was answered in the WWE.com article, in which 3d printing technology was used to make a lighter, more durable belt plate.
I have not spoken to anyone about this, but my personal opinion is the 2 leaked pictures are of 2 different belts. The original leaked picture seemed to be 2 stacked plates, with a solid background behind the WWE logo. The OCC plate was a single layer with the area behind the WWE logo cut out. Maybe the plates in the first belt were actually completed. WWE thought the belt was much too heavy due to the stacked plates? This could tie into the WWE article which stated about numerous versions of the belt being made, edited, and changed before the final product. The OCC made, lighter plates, could then be etched to fit the stones, plated, and finished up by Dave Millican. As you can see on the belt debuted by the Rock, the background of the WWE logo is cut out, and tooling detail of the leather strap can be seen.
There are some other interesting details on the belt, including a massive amount of custom tooling, not only behind the WWE logo, but also throughout the rest of the strap. I also noticed some custom tooling stamps most likely made by Dave, in order to use on this belt. I believe anyone planning on releathering the replicas, might want to study up before taking those orders.
The rounded, 3d bars that separate the main plate and side plates, is an interesting detail, that will be overlooked by many. In a way it frames the belt but gives flow and separation between plates.
Custom 3d Brahma bull heads on the side plates give insight into a customizable option. These add on pieces are very expensive to do in 3d. It can be a touch that pays notice to the J-Mar made Brahma Bull WWF belt custom made for the Rock, which never made it to TV. That belt featured a huge, 3d, bull head on the main plate. Next to the miniature bull heads, are screws, which obviously means they are removable. Perhaps in place of using nameplates, champions will have their signature logos placed on the belt instead?
Some random suggestions:
- Fist and bolt for CM Punk
- “Yes” and “No” for Daniel Bryan
- Cenation logo for John Cena
- Mexican flags for Alberto Del Rio
- Celtic crosses for Sheamus
The replica toy belt gives more evidence to this suggestion, as the replicas feature generic WWE logos and globes on the sideplates.
Speaking of the replicas……
Immediately following the Rock unveiling the new belt design, WWEShop.com and Wrestling SuperStore (Fig Inc) posted all the information, pictures and prices for the adult replica belts. It was also noted that they are IN STOCK and ready to ship.
This is more fuel for the fire. Figures Toy Company usually needs a month to cast a real belt, and get their molds ready before the production of replica belts. For those fans who remember, Fig Inc had some replica belts available immediately, and others like the New classic IC belt, took a few months before it was released.
So with that being said, Figures Toy Company had early access to the new belt, in order to cast and produce the replicas from. This gives further credibility to the fact that the finished belt has been in possession of WWE for numerous months already. There is also small differences between the replica and real belt, including the lack of tooling behind the WWE logo, the lack of black outline on the WWE logo, different sizes in gem stones, and featuring generic WWE logoed globes on the side plates instead of the Brahma bull heads. This leads me to believe that WWE did not know who they would have debut the belt. They likely had the original belt with WWE logoed globes. Once they knew they were going with the Rock, they rush ordered the custom side plates to be put on the belt.
Given Figures Toy Company shady past regarding truthfulness on the replicas, they did a great job of not leaking any of the details or pictures of the belts first. With nearly everyone having a cell phone with a camera, I would have found it more probable for pictures of the replicas to surface early, rather than pictures of the real belt. They deserve some credit for helping keep this belt a surprise.
For years, people have complained and begged WWE to get rid of the spinner belt. They finally have! You would think fans are happy with it. Nope. No matter what you do, people will always find a reason to bitch about something. The new belt has received mixed reviews from casual fans, and diehard beltmarks alike. It is important to remember, that WWE is moving forward. I did not think they would go with a classic design like they did with the intercontinental belt, yet many were expecting a new Winged Eagle belt.
WWE is about promoting the WWE brand first and foremost. The Big Gold belt is the most recognized and heavily used belt outside of WWE. You will frequently see pro athletes and celebrities using the Big Gold for purposes outside of wrestling. The belt has no dominate logo or features to symbolize WWE. This new belt features the WWE logo as the focal point. Anytime a champion is seen with this belt for any media appearance, the WWE logo will prevail. It’s a marketing feature to get cross over appeal.
It is the further erosion of “pro-wrestling”. Hulk Hogan isn’t going to come out tomorrow night with the Winged Eagle belt to save the WWE. WWE is a corporate “entertainment” company. The belt is a advertising prop, and the action in the ring is not the focus. Accept it and get over it. The longer some people try to hold onto their childhood memories, the further away from reality you become.
I like it, I really do. It does everything a belt should do. It seems prestigious, valuable and represents a champion. It might be a little over sized though, but if that is the only fault, then I think they did pretty well. It was certainly not worth the $50,000 in development WWE claims though. In the end, let professional beltmakers come up with the designs. Everyone has designs for new belts that honestly blows this out of the water. WWE’s art department has proven track record of designing poor belts as proven by the NXT titles most recently. Take a look at the belts Midwest has done for IWGP and TNA. Imagine what they would come up with on a $50,000 budget….
Maybe in 10 years we will see……