The World Wrestling Entertainment Championship or WWE Championship or WWE Heavyweight Championship, formerly known as the WWF Championship and WWWF Championship as the company name changed, is the top prize in the WWE, though exclusive to its Smackdown! brand since August 26, 2002 while the World Heavyweight Championship is exclusive to WWE RAW.
Originally known as the WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) World Heavyweight Championship until Vince McMahon, Jr. bought the company from his father and renamed it to WWF. After this it was called the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) World Heavyweight Championship, however it was often simply called the WWF Heavyweight Championship or WWF Championship.
It was unified with another title, then called the World Heavyweight Championship (though more commonly known through lineage as the WCW World Heavyweight Championship), on December 9, 2001 by Chris Jericho at the WWF Vengeance pay-per-view event in San Diego, California. While unified both championship belts were used and they were collectively defended as the WWF Undisputed Championship until April 1, 2002 when Ric Flair presented then champion Triple H with a unified belt which continued to be defended as the WWF Undisputed Championship. During the title reign of Hollywood Hulk Hogan, legal matters caused the company to change its name to WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and the championship was likewise renamed. The WWF logo on the belt was replaced with the new WWE logo. The belt style remained in use and the title was known as the WWE Undisputed Championship until the champion at the time, Brock Lesnar, refused to defend the championship against a RAW brand wrestler following a number-one contender's match. Lesnar claimed he would only defend his championship against SmackDown! brand wrestlers, despite previous tradition that the Undisputed Champion would defend their championship against wrestlers from either brand.
Following Lesnar's actions, the World Heavyweight Championship was reinstated by RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff and awarded it to Triple H on September 3, 2002, leaving the former Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar as simply the SmackDown! WWE Champion.
Facts and trivia
The longest reign is the second one of Bruno Sammartino.
The shortest reign is the first one of Yokozuna.
The most WWE Championship reigns is seven, held by The Rock, followed by both Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin with six, Bret Hart with five, and Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley with three. Due to some controversial matches, Bob Backlund can lay claim to two additional reigns on top of his two official ones, totalling four.
The youngest champion to ever hold the championship is Brock Lesnar, who was 25.
The oldest champion to ever hold the championship is Vince McMahon, who was 54.
The fastest debut-to-championship win is Brock Lesnar in just under six months.
The tallest champion is The Big Show, billed as 7'4. He is also the heaviest, billed as being 500 lbs. Big Show is in fact 7'2 and approximately 450 lbs, allowing André the Giant and Yokozuna able to challenge the claims respectively.
The current World Wrestling Entertainment Champion is John Bradshaw Layfield. He won the championship at The Great American Bash 2004 in a Texas Bullrope match after a controversial decision by (then) general manager, Kurt Angle. Mr. Angle reversed Eddie Guerrero's [original] victory and declared Layfield the winner after an action replay showed Layfield touched the final turnbuckle before Guerrero did.