10 Strange Things WWE Champions Did With The Belt

Or when the richest prize in the industry became the maddest prop...

Dean Ambrose

In late 1997, Shawn Michaels had gone so batsh*t nuts that, during a portion of Monday Night Raw that he couldn't have possibly know was airing or not, he deemed it acceptable to take his newly-won European Title and appear to manipulate it to issue in front of the live crowd.

There's the footage for you just above. This is not something off the legendary angelfire smut list, but Michaels had been equally as distasteful about the company's top prize right around the time too anyway. Pushing the envelope so far that their antics steered away from quite important pro wrestling conventions, early D-Generation X skits and segments saw 'HBK' inciting a race war, slapping his own c*ck and b*lls during a game of strip poker and - most criminal of all - referring to Bret Hart's WWE Championship as a "stupid piece of tin" that he only really wanted to take because he knew it would p*ss him off. It'd been quite the year since he'd achieved his boyhood dream.

The 'richest prize in the game' has had its share of adventures since then, and hadn't exactly had the easiest time before then either. Particular as it and Vince McMahon's vision of pro wrestling at large made strides into the global mainstream...

10. Changed It FOUR Times In One Reign (Hulk Hogan)

Dean Ambrose

Hulk Hogan's victory over The Iron Sheik signposted an earth-shattering change in the global wrestling landscape, but with the presentation of the industry's new face came several attempts at a belt to match.

Affectionately known as "big green" for two obvious reasons, the first strap slung over Hogan's shoulder was nearly as big as him but not in keeping with the sort of branding the company were looking for beyond what had still been something of a niche North Eastern interest up to that point.

Both versions of the second attempt were uninspired, despite one making the cover of the WrestleMania 2 VHS, but a strap the following year was iconic precisely because of the feud created the third edition of the show. Hogan had held the gold three years ahead of taking on former friend Andre The Giant in the mammoth main event of the even bigger WrestleMania III, but the prospect of Andre actually defeating him resulted in the company making a super-sized strap should he achieve the feat.

But what of the fourth redesign? That was a rarer indulgence altogether, not seen on a WWE strap again until the company decided to flog The Fiend...

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Michael is a writer, editor, podcaster and presenter for WhatCulture Wrestling, and has been with the organisation over 7 years. He primarily produces written, audio and video content on WWE and AEW, but also provides knowledge and insights on all aspects of the wrestling industry thanks to a passion for it dating back almost 35 years. As one third of "The Dadley Boyz" Michael has contributed to the huge rise in popularity of the WhatCulture Wrestling Podcast and its accompanying YouTube channel, earning it top spot in the UK's wrestling podcast charts with well over 60,000,000 total downloads. He has been featured as a wrestling analyst for the Tampa Bay Times, GRAPPL and Sports Guys Talking Wrestling, and has covered milestone events in New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, London and Cardiff. Michael's background in media stretches beyond wrestling coverage, with a degree in Journalism from the University Of Sunderland (2:1) and a series of published articles in sports, music and culture magazines The Crack, A Love Supreme and Pilot. When not offering his voice up for daily wrestling podcasts, he can be found losing it singing far too loud watching his favourite bands play live. Follow him on X/Twitter - @MichaelHamflett