In professional wrestling, championships are competed for in scripted storylines by a company or promotion's roster of contracted wrestlers. WWE is a Stamford, Connecticut-based company primarily focused on professional wrestling. The promotion was founded in 1953 as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC). In the company's 50-year history, over 40 different unique championships have been operated and contended for. These titles consisted of divisional, special stipulations, and weight-class championships. Of these titles, 24 have been retired and succeeded through replacement titles or title unifications. The first championship retirement occurred in 1961 with the Northeast version of the NWA World Tag Team Championship (created in 1957), with the most recent occurring in January 2022 with the NXT Cruiserweight Championship (created in 2016). The following is a compilation of the company's former championships that were once active and contended for by its roster.
In 1953, Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC) became a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). During this time, CWC wrestlers could compete for championships operated by the NWA. In 1958, the CWC created the NWA United States Tag Team Championship, which inaugural champions Mark Lewin and Don Curtis won in April of that year. In 1963, CWC ended its partnership with the NWA and established itself as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). To reflect the changes, the WWWF introduced its world heavyweight championship (WWE's second overall singles championship and the current WWE Championship), while the WWWF acronym was added to the United States Tag Team title. Without a formal explanation by the WWWF, the Tag Team title was disbanded in 1967, the first championship to be retired by the promotion. Ten years later, the company retired its first individually contested title, the WWWF United States Heavyweight Championship, also without a formal explanation.
The WWWF formed a partnership with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF), and Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) between the 1970s and 1980s, and as a result, created and lent titles to these promotions. In 1979, the promotion renamed itself to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and six years later ended its partnerships with NJPW and UWF. This resulted in the retirement of one UWF and three NJPW lent titles: the WWF International Heavyweight Championship (UWF), WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship, WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship,[a] and WWF International Tag Team Championship (NJPW). The company also ceased operations of three short-lived titles: the WWF North American Heavyweight Championship (1979–1981), WWF Canadian Championship (1985–1986), and WWF Women's Tag Team Championship (1983–1989). Despite their names, the geographic-name-based titles were not restricted to wrestlers from that location. During the 1990s, the WWF ended its relationship with the UWA; as a result, the WWF Intercontinental Tag Team Championship was abandoned, while the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (which UWA possessed) was reactivated in the United States for use by the WWF. In 1996, the Million Dollar Championship, a title created by Ted DiBiase, was retired, although it was never sanctioned by the WWF, but was reintroduced briefly in 2010 by Ted DiBiase Jr., and again in 2021 as part of a storyline in NXT.
In March 2001, the WWF acquired all assets of World Championship Wrestling (WCW), including its championships. Of these titles, the WWF operated the WCW World Heavyweight, World Tag Team, and Cruiserweight championships. In late 2001, the WWF discontinued the WCW World Heavyweight and Tag Team Championships (which were unified with WWF's world and tag team championships, respectively), while the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship was retired in favor of the Cruiserweight, which would also be retired in 2007. In 2002, WWF was renamed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and during this year, WWE discontinued the WWE Hardcore and European Championships after they were unified with the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
WWE also acquired all assets of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 2003, and implemented the ECW brand in 2006, along with the reactivated ECW World Heavyweight Championship; however, when the brand closed in 2010, the title was retired after Ezekiel Jackson became the last champion on the final episode of the ECW on Syfy series. The World Tag Team Championship, established in 1971, and WWE Tag Team Championship, introduced in 2002, were unified on April 9, 2009, maintaining separate title histories as the "Unified WWE Tag Team Championship". However, on August 16, 2010, the older title was retired in favor of keeping the newer title as the sole tag team championship contended for in WWE. The champions, The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd) were awarded a new set of belts that represented the 2002 championship, and were thus recognized as the final holders of the original World Tag Team Championship.
The original WWE Women's Championship, established in 1956, and the WWE Divas Championship, introduced in 2008, were unified on September 19, 2010, maintaining the title history of the Divas Championship. The older title was retired in favor of keeping the newer title as the sole championship contended for in WWE by the Divas. The self-professed co-Women's Champion Michelle McCool defeated Divas Champion Melina at Night of Champions to become the unified champion, thus making Layla the final holder of the Women's Championship. On April 3, 2016, at WrestleMania 32, Divas Champion Charlotte was originally scheduled to defend her title in a triple-threat match. At the event, however, the Divas Championship was replaced with a new WWE Women's Championship, with the winner of the triple-threat match becoming the inaugural champion, thus Charlotte was the final holder of the Divas Championship.
The World Heavyweight Championship was established in 2002 as a second world championship in WWE during the time of the first brand extension. During this period, the World Heavyweight Championship would be the primary championship for either the Raw or SmackDown brand, with the WWE Championship on the other. The brand extension ended in 2011, allowing both championships to appear on both shows. On December 15, 2013, World Heavyweight Champion John Cena faced WWE Champion Randy Orton in a match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, where the World Heavyweight Championship was unified with the WWE Championship as Orton defeated Cena. At the event, it was announced that the unified titles would be called the "WWE World Heavyweight Championship", retaining the lineage of the WWE Championship. WWE officially recognized Orton as the final World Heavyweight Champion, and retired the title.
In 2016, WWE reintroduced the brand extension. Shortly after, the cruiserweight division was revived and a new WWE Cruiserweight Championship was established. This newer title did not carry the lineage of the original Cruiserweight Championship that was retired in 2007. The title was originally exclusive to the Raw brand before it became exclusive to the 205 Live brand in 2018. It then also became part of NXT after 205 Live merged under NXT in October 2019. It was subsequently renamed the NXT Cruiserweight Championship and was then extended to the NXT UK brand in January 2020. However, in January 2022, the championship was retired. At the New Year's Evil special episode of NXT 2.0 on January 4, 2022, the title was unified into the NXT North American Championship. North American Champion Carmelo Hayes defeated Cruiserweight Champion Roderick Strong, with Hayes recognized as the final Cruiserweight Champion and going forward as North American Champion.
World championship recognition in bold.
|Championship||Date of entry||First champion||Date retired||Final champion||Years active||Notes|
|WWF International Heavyweight Championship||July 1959||Antonino Rocca||October 31, 1985||Tatsumi Fujinami||26||The title was retired after NJPW and WWF ended their partnerships.|
|WWWF United States Heavyweight Championship||April 6, 1963||Bobo Brazil||March 1, 1976||Bobo Brazil||13||The title was retired without a formal announcement.|
|WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship||September 1965||Paul DeGalles||October 31, 1985||The Cobra||20||The title was retired after NJPW and the WWF ended their partnership.|
|WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship||December 18, 1978||Antonio Inoki||December 31, 1989||Antonio Inoki||11||The title was retired after NJPW and the WWF ended their partnership.[a]|
|WWF North American Heavyweight Championship||February 13, 1979||Ted DiBiase||March 20, 1981||Seiji Sakaguchi||2||The title was retired without a formal announcement.|
|WWF Canadian Championship||August 18, 1985||Dino Bravo||January 22, 1986||Dino Bravo||<1||Bravo was the only champion as a result of the WWF abandoning the title without a formal announcement.|
|Million Dollar Championship||February 15, 1989||Ted DiBiase||August 23, 2021||Cameron Grimes||<5[a]||Ted DiBiase created the title, although it was never officially sanctioned by WWF/WWE. The title was retired without a formal announcement|
|WWE European Championship||February 26, 1997||The British Bulldog||July 22, 2002||Rob Van Dam||5||The title was retired after it was unified with the WWE Intercontinental Championship.|
|WWF Light Heavyweight Championship||December 7, 1997[d]||Taka Michinoku[b]||March 8, 2002||X-Pac||4||The title was replaced with the WCW Cruiserweight Championship without a formal announcement.[a]|
|WWE Hardcore Championship||November 2, 1998||Mankind||August 26, 2002||Rob Van Dam||4||The title was retired after it was unified with the WWE Intercontinental Championship.|
|WWE Cruiserweight Championship||March 23, 2001[b]||Shane Helms[c]||September 28, 2007||Hornswoggle||7||The title was retired without a formal announcement by WWE. This is not the same title as the Cruiserweight Championship introduced at the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016, later renamed the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.|
|WCW Championship||Jsnnurary 11, 1991[b]||Rick Flair[c]||December 9, 2001||Chris Jericho||<1||The title was retired after it was unified with the WWF Championship.|
|World Heavyweight Championship||September 2, 2002||Triple H||December 16, 2013||Randy Orton||11||Title unified with the WWE Championship at the TLC pay-per-view.|
|ECW Championship||June 13, 2006[e]||Rob Van Dam[c]||February 16, 2010||Ezekiel Jackson||4||The title was retired on the final episode of ECW with the closure of WWE's ECW brand.|
|NXT Cruiserweight Championship||September 14, 2016||T.J. Perkins||January 4, 2022||Carmelo Hayes||5||The title was retired after it was unified with the NXT North American Championship.|
|Championship||Date of entry||First champions
(Tag team name)
|Date retired||Final champions
(Tag team name)
|NWA World Tag Team Championship
|February 26, 1957||Wildman Stevens and Wildman Fargo||June 1961||Antonino Rocca and Miguel Pérez||4||The title was abandoned without a formal announcement.|
|WWWF United States Tag Team Championship||July 1958||Don Curtis and Mark Lewin||July 29, 1967||Spiros Arion and Bruno Sammartino||9||The title was retired without a formal announcement.|
|WWF International Tag Team Championship||June 1, 1969||Toru Tanaka and Mitsu Arakawa
|October 31, 1985||Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura||16||The title was retired after NJPW and the WWF ended their partnership.|
|World Tag Team Championship||June 3, 1971||Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler||August 16, 2010[f]||David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd
(The Hart Dynasty)
|39||The title was retired in favor of the WWE Tag Team Championship in April 2010, following a year of the two titles being defended together under the umbrella title of "Unified WWE Tag Team Championship".|
|WWF Intercontinental Tag Team Championship||January 7, 1991||Perro Aguayo and Gran Hamada||July 1991||Perro Aguayo and Gran Hamada||<1||Aguayo and Hamada were the only champions as a result of the WWF retiring the title without a formal announcement.|
|WCW Tag Team Championship||March 23, 2001[b]||Sean O' Haire and Chuck Palumbo[c]||November 18, 2001||Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley
|<1||The title was retired after it was unified with the WWF Tag Team Championship.|
|Championship||Date of entry||First champion
||Date retired||Final champion
|WWE Women's Championship||September 18, 1956||The Fabulous Moolah||September 19, 2010||Layla||54||The title was retired in favor of the WWE Divas Championship after the unification of both titles on September 19, 2010.|
This is not the same title as the Women's Championship introduced at WrestleMania 32, which is now called the Raw Women's Championship.
|WWE Divas Championship||July 20, 2008||Michelle McCool||April 3, 2016||Charlotte||8||On the WrestleMania 32 pre-show, former WWE Diva and WWE Hall of Famer Lita announced that the Divas Championship triple threat match with Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks would instead be for the new WWE Women's Championship. The Divas Championship was subsequently retired.|
|Championship||Date of entry||First champion(s)
(Tag team name)
|Date retired||Final champion(s)
(Tag team name)
|WWF Women's Tag Team Championship||May 13, 1983||Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria||February 14, 1989||Leilani Kai and Judy Martin
(The Glamour Girls)
|6||The title was abandoned by the WWF without a formal announcement. This is not the same title as the Women's Tag Team Championship introduced at Elimination Chamber 2019.|
Before it was ever known as WWE, the World Wrestling Federation, or even the World Wide Wrestling Federation, Antonino Rocca was the top Superstar in the company.
If he couldn't win the WWE Championship and he couldn't buy the WWE Championship, Dibiase decided to purchase his own championship, introducing "the Million Dollar Belt" to the WWE. The title was never official and rarely did Dibiase even bother "defending" the title.
Layla is the last-ever Women's Champion.