Throughout professional wrestling history, there have been instances where a championship has died a painful death. So it’s time to acknowledge at least a few that deserved a kinder fate. Here is a list of ten wrestling championship belts that aren’t recognized, along with the surprising backstories of why they disappeared!
Unrecognized Wrestling Championships (and Their Surprising Backstory!)
When is a championship not quite a championship?
When a promotion doesn’t get behind or even recognize it.
Here are ten such examples!
1. FTW Championship
After months of frustration, on May 14th, 1998, Taz introduced the FTW Championship or “F*** The World” Championship to the ECW fan base.
Simply put, he got tired of waiting for a shot at injured champ Shane Douglas. The black and orange strap gave Taz an alternate world title while Douglas remained on the sidelines.
The FTW Championship was initially retired in 1999 after being unified with the ECW World Heavyweight title. It was not active until July 2nd, 2020 when Taz brought the FTW Championship back on Night 2 of All Elite Wrestling’s Fyter Fest Dynamite special and awarded it to his client Brian Cage.
Cage became the third person in pro wrestling history to hold it.
The belt’s future remains to be seen.
You can learn more about the surprising history behind this outlaw championship belt here.
2. The Million Dollar Championship
Due to his failure to win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1989, the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase created the Million Dollar Championship.
He held that gaudy gold for 321 days.
The title was abandoned but revived thrice- in 1992, 1996, and finally, in 2010.
Only six individuals have won it: Ted DiBiase, Virgil, Steve Austin, Ted DiBiase Jr., LA Knight, and Cameron Grimes. It appeared in NXT briefly during the pandemic era of wrestling.
Even though it was sometimes defended, it was never officially sanctioned by the World Wrestling Federation.
It has vanished for good because it never held any real significance beyond being a prop for The Million Dollar Man.
3. Real World Championship
In 1991, Ric Flair altered every wrestling fan’s brain chemistry when he left WCW/NWA and brought his Real World Championship belt to the then-WWF. It was indeed one of the most shocking moments in the history of wrestling.
Ric Flair and Jim Herd, the Executive Vice-President of WCW, were not on the same page regarding his character, and there were financial conflicts between them as well.
Flair succinctly once stated, "Jim Herd is the total reason I left. He had a lot to do with the destruction and bankruptcy of the company – ten years before it did go bankrupt. He will go down as the biggest idiot of all time."
Since Flair paid for the ‘Big Gold Belt’ deposit, he claimed it was his property. Hence he brought it to WWF.
After multiple lawsuits by WCW, Flair and Herd came to an agreement where the Real World Championship was returned to the Turner promotion in exchange for $40,000.
The championship was subsequently abandoned.
4. AWA Brass Knuckles Championship
Brass is a heavy metal (alloy) used for multiple things like locks, bearings, ammunition, and valves; for plumbing and electrical applications, and especially for things that need a lot of strength.
So, of course, brass knuckles was a gimmick reserved for gory grudge matches.
In 1979, on February 12th, the “Legal” Brass Knuckles Championship was introduced by American Wrestling Association (AWA).
During the whole run of the prize, there were just two champions, Don Fargo and Crusher Lisowski.
Soon this title was abandoned for reasons unknown.
5. IWGP Heavyweight Championship (IGF) 3rd Belt
The IWGP Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship owned by New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) that has existed since 1987.
However, controversy arose when Antonio Inoki, the founder of NJPW, left to form a new promotion called IGF (Inoki Genome Federation) due to various conflicts.
After being the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion for over 280 days, Brock Lesnar was stripped of the title; he failed to make an advertised appearance due to travel issues.
Lesnar, who still had physical position of the belt, took the strap to Inoki’s IGF and was recognized by the new promotion as their IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
NJPW maintained their stance that Lesnar had been stripped of his crown, and his title was dubbed the “IWGP 3rd Belt".
However, Lesnar lost the championship to Kurt Angle at IGF’s debut show, “Toukon Bom-Ba-Ye."
The Olympic gold medalist dropped the title to real IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinsuke Nakamura in a title unification bout at Circuit 2008 New Japan ISM.
The IGF version of the title was subsequently deactivated.
6. Internet Championship
Even though it was introduced as a joke and just a prop for the show, he started defending it at live events. Ryder would gain millions of views and subscribers because of it.
Soon, however, Ryder began to have a lesser role in WWE, and the title was never used on TV.
"The Internet title, I got that made,” Zack Ryder admitted in an episode of WWE’s Table For 3.
“I wanted it to be on TV. I’m not gonna say who, but somebody, when I presented the idea, they just called me a mark for myself.
“I said, ‘No, I don’t really think I’m the champion of the Internet; that’s like my gimmick. Like, the Million Dollar Title.'”
Ryder continued, “[It was] part of the act. I was never allowed to wear it on TV, but, it was on one of my t-shirts. They made an action figure of it, and it was in the video game. So, Mattel liked it."
After his release from the company in 2020, the renamed Matt Cardona introduced an updated version of the belt he carries on independent shows.
7. FCW Jack Brisco 15 Championship
FCW’s Jack Bisco 15 Championship stood out from other championships in pro wrestling, as a medal was awarded to the winner rather than a belt.
As the name suggests, the title was contested in a 15-minute match held by Florida Championship Wrestling.
The first wrestlers in the first-ever ‘FCW 15 match’ (an iron man match) were Seth Rollins and Hunico.
Later, FCW’s General Manager, Maxine, announced the FCW 15 Jack Brisco Classic Tournament.
Participants included Rollins, Hunico, Richie Steamboat, and Jinder Mahal. Rollins defeated Hunico in the final and became the ultimate holder of the medal.
The final match was released in 2017 by WWE, and the FCW Jack Brisco 15 Championship medal has been inactive to date.
8. DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship
Have you ever wondered if an animal or an inanimate object could be used in wrestling matches? Or if matches could occur anytime, anywhere, 24/7, as long as a referee is there to witness the win? If so, then the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship is for you.
On June 29th, 2000, Poison Sawada Black introduced a pro wrestling championship he created and awarded himself. The title was modeled after the WWE Hardcore Championship, which had a ’24/7′ rule.
This pro wrestling championship came before the public on June 29th, 2000. Poison Sawada Black created the title and awarded it to himself. It was designed to re-enact the WWE Hardcore Championship, which had a ’24/7′ rule.
After attacking Sawada and knocking him down, Mitsunobu Kikuzawa became the second champion.
On April 29th, 2014, the 1,000th Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion was crowned when the title belt itself won (you read that right) by pinning Sanshiro Takagi.
9. TNA World Beer Drinking Championship
From 2007 till 2008, the TNA World Beer Drinking Championship was an active prize in the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotion.
There was a feud between two wrestlers, James Storm and Eric Young, involving a beer-drinking competition.
As a result, Storm became the first and, surprisingly, the last champion.
There was a unique twist in the design of the belt. The strap looked like a plastic spinner with a beer bottle on it when it first aired at the Genesis PPV show.
The belt was demolished when it last appeared on an episode of TNA Impact!
10. WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship
Inoki held this title for eleven years before losing it in Tokyo, Japan, on April 24th, 1989, to Shota Chochishvili.
He won it back the very next month.
Eventually, the once-renowned title was abandoned, with the WWF and NJPW no longer having an alliance.
There have been many lesser-known titles whose prestige and importance have varied immensely. These are a few unrecognized wrestling championships that have mostly been abandoned or faded into obscurity.
These stories may also interest you:
- Mabel and the King of the Ring Championship Belt Controversy
- Mystery of Missing Wrestling Championship Belts
- Stan Hansen and the AWA Championship Belt Scandal
- Dave Millican: Tales From a Premier Championship Belt Maker
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