For over half a century, Superstars have battled to become the WWE Champion. With the victory comes personal triumph, dreams fulfilled, and satisfaction of being remembered alongside the immortals of wrestling who have held this coveted title. But how did it all begin, and why is this the most sought after, the most prestigious title in all of sports entertainment?
Now, for the first time, the definitive history of the WWE Championship has been chronicled by Kevin Sullivan in The WWE Championship: A Look Back at the Rich History of the WWE Championship.
Not knowing much of the earlier history, much less the origins, of the WWE Championship, the decision to pick up a copy was self-evident. The book does a great job telling the story of the WWE Championship with a mixture of kayfabe and real testimony from the men who held the belt. You will read about how guys, who came from WCW, found more fulfillment wearing the WWE Championship than any other title. How wrestlers rejoiced when The Ultimate Warrior finally lost the belt, leading to the real life-threatening reign that followed Sgt. Slaughter. Moreover, you will get insight into the lives of those who struggled to become WWE Champion.
Kevin Sullivan turns back the clock before there was even a WWE, starting us off while the future global phenomenon, then-known as Capital Wrestling Corporation, was still a subdivision of National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Then, after severing ties, WWE founders Vincent J. McMahon and Toots Mondt promoted Capital Wrestling Corporation under the banner of World Wide Wrestling Federation, and crowned Buddy Rogers as its first WWE Champion. From there, the WWE Championship would garner prestige, which would later define champions as the best in the industry.
The story quickly unfolds as Sullivan takes the reader on a nostalgic ride throughout the reigns of the first ninety-nine champions who were proud to call themselves WWE Champion.
“The Italian Superman” Bruno Sammartino took the title from Buddy Rogers to reign for an unremarkable seven years, eight months, and one day–the longest that anyone has ever held it. Wrestling fans witnessed a new kind of superstar when “Superstar” Billy Graham, with his outlandish tights and colorful charisma, robbed Sammartino of his second reign. Before long, the WWE Championship would lend itself to Hulkamania as Hulk Hogan’s win over the Iron Sheik sparked a four-year reign–the second longest reign. Before 18-0, The Undertaker was only 1-0 at WrestleMania before unseating The Hulkster in his third reign. Ric Flair, with claims of being “The Real World Heavyweight Champion,” emphatically backed his words when he won the vacant WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. From there, wrestling fans experienced the commanding wrestling abilities of the smaller Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Followed by the Attitude Era, which ushered in new champions in Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, and Mankind. Then in 2001, the fate of the championship was decided in a tournament to crown the first-ever “Undisputed” World Champion after WCW was bought by WWE. And just a few years ago, the WWE title would find a new champion in John Cena; lasting thirteen months before relinquishing the belt due to injury–the third longest reign. Now, the WWE Championship is rapidly changing hands as new stipulations are added, and new wrestlers enter the ring in hopes to one day be called WWE Champion.
From the first WWE Champion Buddy Rogers, to John Cena tapping out Batista at WrestleMania XXVI, The WWE Championship: A Look Back at the Rich History of the WWE Championship is a must for any WWE wrestling fan.