|WWE United States Championship|
WWE United States Championship belt
|Promotion||WWE for Extreme|
|Date introduced||January 1, 1975|
|Past design(s)|| |
The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) United States Championship is a professional wrestling championship in WWE for Extreme. It was originally a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) championship, and is currently the secondary championship of the SmackDown! brand. The championship is generally contested in professional wrestling matches, in which participants execute scripted finishes rather than contend in direct competition.
The WWE United States Championship was originally known as the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship and began as a regional championship created by and defended in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling run by Jim Crockett, Jr.. Following the title's introduction in 1975, Harley Race became the inaugural champion on January 1. The title quickly replaced the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship as the top singles title in the promotion. While the National Wrestling Alliance recognized only one World Heavyweight Champion, there was no single and undisputed U.S. Champion as a number of NWA regional promotions recognized their own version of the title and champion. That all changed, however, in January 1981 when the NWA territory based out of San Francisco, the last remaining promotion outside the Mid-Atlantic territory that recognized its own U.S. Champion, went out of business. The title remained the primary championship within the Mid-Atlantic territory until 1986 when Crockett gained control of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The U.S. Title then became the secondary championship of the promotion. After Ted Turner bought the company and renamed it World Championship Wrestling in November 1988, the title continued to be used and recognized as secondary to the World Championship. WCW eventually began to slowly pull itself away from the NWA, demonstrated by the company changing the name of the title to the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) United States Heavyweight Championship in January 1991.
In March 2001, the World Wrestling Federation purchased World Championship Wrestling. Soon after, "The Invasion" took place in which the WCW/ECW Alliance was ultimately dismantled. During this time, the title was referred to as the WCW United States Championship. At Survivor Series 2001, the title was unified with the WWF Intercontinental Championship. The United States Champion, Edge, defeated the Intercontinental Champion, Test, becoming the new Intercontinental Champion while causing the United States Championship to become inactive.
In July 2003, the title was reactivated as the WWE United States Championship by SmackDown! General Manager Stephanie McMahon, and was commissioned to be a secondary championship to the SmackDown! brand. This was done shortly after the WWE Intercontinental Championship was recommissioned by the RAW brand, making the title its equal counterpart. However, WWE has yet to declare whether the United States Championship can be an acceptable substitute to complete the Triple Crown and/or the Grand Slam.
- Main article: List of WWE United States Champions
The inaugural champion was Harley Race. There have been 68 different champions, with Chris Benoit, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Wahoo McDaniel and Bret Hart having the most official reigns at five (WWE ignores one of Flair's title reigns). The longest reigning champion was Lex Luger who held the title for 523 days from May 22, 1989 to October 27, 1990. The shortest reigning champion was Steve Austin who held the title for approximately five minutes. During John Cena's last two reigns as the United States Champion, he made a custom "spinner" version of the belt. On an episode of SmackDown, the "spinner" version was destroyed, with the help of John Bradshaw Layfield, after Orlando Jordan defeated Cena at a previous event for the title, in which after destroying the belt, they returned the traditional style belt. Cena made a second version of the belt when he won the title later in 2008. The championship is currently being held by Viper.