Ranking Daniel Bryan's Eco Belt and Top Custom WWE Championship Title Designs
Last week on SmackDown Live, Daniel Bryan unveiled the new WWE Championship he will be carrying around so long as he holds the title, and it is a gloriously disgusting piece of junk.
At face value, it seems almost like heresy to turn the most prestigious prize in professional wrestling into a monstrosity, but it's all in good fun and for the sake of getting his gimmick over.
It's also not the first time someone has had a custom championship made to better suit their character, as other wrestlers have had different takes on their belts.
Some had entire titles created for themselves, like the Million Dollar Championship for Ted DiBiase and Mankind being gifted a broken version of the WWF Championship, which would turn into the Hardcore Championship.
Folks like Ultimate Warrior simply replaced the traditional black leather strap with a different color, to varying degrees of success.
Layla and Michelle McCool even shared two halves of the WWE Women's Championship, which was fractured down the center so Lay-Cool could be co-champions together.
But no belt has had as many variants as the WWE Championship itself, so let's revisit the different customized versions from the past and rank them from worst to best.
6. The Spinner Belt
When John Cena won the United States Championship from Big Show at WrestleMania 20, a new belt was created, featuring a turntable-style centerpiece to reference his rapper persona.
Cena would keep switching to this belt when he was champion, while others like Orlando Jordan and Carlito would revert back to the previous design, as the custom belt didn't suit them.
The next year, at WrestleMania 21, Cena defeated John Bradshaw Layfield to win the Undisputed WWE Championship. Inspired by the United States title situation, WWE created a new belt for Cena once more.
The "spinner belt" version of the WWE Championship seen above would have been fine if it had followed the same rule of only existing when Cena was the champion, but for some reason, WWE didn't go in that direction.
When new champions were crowned, they kept this silly thing for themselves, even long after Cena had dropped the Thuganomics gimmick.
This stuck around far too long, being the top belt in the company until 2013. Supposedly, it was a top merchandise seller, which was fitting, as fans criticized it for years, saying it looked like a cheap, plastic toy.
Gone was the prestige of the Winged Eagle title that looked great on everyone from Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels to Hulk Hogan, Undertaker and Yokozuna. Instead, every new champion had a spinning logo around their waist.
This belt was passed between the likes of Edge, Rob Van Dam, Randy Orton, Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Batista, Sheamus, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk, who was the last to truly hold it before it was finally put out of its misery.
Not a single person looked right holding a spinning belt other than 2005 Cena, so for nearly a decade, the WWE Championship was one person's custom design that overstayed its welcome.
5. Edge's Rated R Spinner Belt
As a mockery to Cena, Edge modified the spinner belt design to feature his own Rated R Superstar logo as the centerpiece.
Fundamentally, this was the same ugly title as what preceded and followed it, and in some ways, was even worse as it didn't have the WWE logo to signify what exactly Edge was the champion of.
But this was done entirely to get heat on Edge and to put over his selfish, egocentric character. He even claimed during the unveiling that it was a symbol that he had conquered Cena for good, after Lita tossed the regular belt off Bridgeport Harbor.
Since this wasn't meant to be a regular thing and it only lasted two months, it served its purpose much better than the spinner belt did, as that simply came back after Cena defeated Edge, rather than a new, standardized belt being created.
Custom titles are best when they are made for only one person, which is an advantage Edge's belt has over Cena's. At least this served a purpose and suited the wrestler holding it.
4. The Rock's Brahma Bull Belt
In the same vein as Steve Austin's Smoking Skull title design to be featured later in this list, The Rock had a custom belt made with his Brahma Bull iconography.
The difference between the two is that The Rock's never made it into circulation the same as Austin's.
Clearly, it was made, as pictures of it exist and fans can see it in person at events like WrestleMania Axxess, but the reason why it wasn't featured on television is still clouded in mystery.
Bruce Prichard claims the belt wasn't finished until after The Rock had already lost it. Others say it was lost during the shipping process and not found until after WWE decided to go in a different direction.
The Rock has a different story, saying it wasn't delayed in manufacturing or lost at all, but WWE simply felt it wasn't an original enough idea to rip off Austin's belt, so it was scrapped.
Whatever the reasoning, this would have at least been a decent reference point for The Rock's pompous attitude in defiance of Austin's belt, had it been used.
Still, the Brahma Bull logo has never been as iconic as plenty of other Superstar logos, so having a championship with a giant bull in the center reads more like a steakhouse eating competition title or some kind of bullfighter prize than a professional wrestling championship.
It's not the most fundamentally ugly title WWE has ever created, but it was never necessary.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin's Smoking Skull Championship
The Rock's Brahma Bull design never would have even been workshopped had there not been the Smoking Skull belt used for Stone Cold Steve Austin.
This belt came about after the Attitude Era's "Big Eagle" belt cut Austin and he commissioned a personalized championship to feature his iconic skull in the center, along with rattlesnakes on the side.
Supposedly, Vince McMahon was not a fan of this at first, but he eventually came around to it enough for it to be featured for a short while on television.
Like any other custom belt, the downside to its design is once someone takes it from that champion, it no longer fits them, as there's no reason The Rock, Kane or The Undertaker would have wanted to carry around Austin's logo.
What makes this great for what it was is that Austin was always an outlaw who played by his own rules, so having his own championship fit his rebel persona and kept that iconography in the mindset of everyone buying t-shirts and anything else plastered with a Stone Cold skull on it.
2. Daniel Bryan's Eco-Friendly WWE Championship Belt
Our most recent addition to this list is one of the best, because it's absolutely grotesque and immediately evokes a reaction.
Bryan's character is all about saving the environment, veganism, zero waste and similar concepts, so it only made sense for him to want to replace his belt with one that didn't have a leather strap made out of a cow he named Daisy.
This new title was made out of 100 percent sustainable organic hemp for its strap and the plates are made out of wood carved from an oak tree that fell naturally, rather than one that was cut down and harvested for this purpose.
It is exactly the type of ludicrous thing that will make people boo Bryan, since nobody wants to see something this gross be the WWE Championship, no matter how much better it is for the environment.
If this physical appearance sticks around after Bryan's title reign, it will be a different story and usurp the old Big Green belt from the 1980s and other terrible designs as being one of the ugliest, but for now, that's what it's supposed to be.
Much in the same vein as an actor who is oddly happy to be cast as the ugly person in a film, this belt is perfectly disgusting, just as intended.
1. The Modern WWE Championship Itself
After he defeated CM Punk, The Rock unveiled a new WWE Championship title design, which is essentially the same foundation for the one used today.
The differences between the current one pictured above that Bryan recently ditched and the previous version is two-fold in that the older design had the scratch-style WWE logo and the word "champion" underneath, rather than "world heavyweight champion" on the modern belt.
It might seem strange to take the title design that has been the primary belt everyone has used for years and call that the best custom title of all time, but the key to that is the side plates.
With this belt's introduction, every single person who held the title has been able to get their very own customized version of championship with their logos on the side plates, rather than generic silhouettes of wrestlers grappling and such.
This has become the standard design for all titles in WWE, as every belt has been getting redesigns to allow for this function, with only the intercontinental, United States and tag titles still missing this feature, although that's sure to change somewhere down the line.
The modern belt has also allowed WWE to send personalized versions to different sports teams in honor of their championship victories, rather than just giving them copies of a generic WWE title like in the past.
You'll see this year's Super Bowl LIII champions get the same treatment in a few days with their own custom belt, too, so stay tuned to see how that looks.
These side plates are collectible from a marketing perspective, an interesting artistic feature fans are always curious to see—so much so that WWE even puts out videos of the plates being changed—and it makes every champion come across as if that's truly their belt.
While it isn't the flashiest or most out there idea, it's the best customizable version of the WWE Championship because its versatility is limitless and it's managed to change how every other belt in WWE is created going forward.
What are your favorite custom belt designs? Do all of them still pale in comparison to the Winged Eagle, no matter what the case? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment below!
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.