The design of a world championship plays a significant part in cementing the legacy of the person who holds it. It should have a majestic look and should stand out from the other secondary titles in a promotion. Many championship designs have managed to create an impact among the fans and performers combined, but none will ever match the legacy of the Big Gold Belt. The title design became famous in 1990s WCW, while WWE continued the legacy of the championship following the brand split in 2002.
Introduced in 1986 to replace the NWA Domed Globe belt, the Big Gold has been the top championship of three promotions throughout its lifetime and was held by many iconic names of the business. With that said, let’s take a look at ten interesting facts about the Big Gold Belt in the rundown below.
Who Coined The Term “Big Gold”?
Throughout its existence across three promotions, numerous iconic wrestlers have held the prestigious championship. But who was the one to give the title the nickname Big Gold?
There is no clear answer to that question, but reports suggest that Ric Flair coined the term during some of his promos. They also claim that David Crockett also used the name on commentary during a Flair match soon after the design’s debut.
Thus many fans, wrestlers, and collectors call it the Big Gold Belt to this day, and there might not be a better name to describe the legendary championship, which remains to this day as the favorite title design for many wrestling fans.
It Was Not Designed By A Championship Belt Maker
As hard as it is to believe, the Bog Gold title was not actually designed by a professional championship belt maker. When the NWA decided to replace their iconic Domed Globe title with a more modern design, they gave the responsibility to wrestler Nelson Royal.
Nelson Royal who owned a western apparel store used to buy some supplies from a silversmith named Charles Crumrine who used to make rodeo-style belt buckles.
Crumrine welcomed the opportunity and had the belt hand engraved. It was engraved by three people including Crumrine, Victor Ortiz, and Crumrine’s daughter Jeanne Lashelle.
The NWA Initially Chose To Not Buy The Belt
The original artwork for the title design had the NWA logo on top of the main plate. After hearing the quote from Crumrine, NWA chose not to purchase the title.
However, Nelson Royal chose to purchase the title for himself with no letters or logos to use it for himself. But Jim Crockett Jr loved the completed design and bought the belt from Royal.
Crockett then commissioned it to be the new World Heavyweight Championship of the promotion and presented it to Ric Flair, who unveiled the title on television in an NWA Saturday Night show on February 22, 1986.
Charles Crumrine Exaggerated The Price To Prevent People From Buying It
The price Nelson Royal paid to buy the finished design of the title from Charles Crumrine was somewhere over $12,000. It could’ve been higher, but Nelson Royal got a better price because of his frequent business with the Crumrine family.
Crumrine never applied for copyrights for the design, and it was the sole property of the promotion. To prevent people from buying a replica of the title design, Crumrine exaggerated the price to anyone who asked him to make the design for them. He used to quote $25,000 to anyone who would call him to try and buy the title.
The Four Name Plates Ordered Along With The Original Design
When the NWA assigned Nelson Royal the responsibility to come up with the new world title design, they also ordered four nameplates to go along with the title.
The names they gave for the side plates to be prepared for are Ric Flair, Stinger, Ronnie Garvin, and Dusty Rhodes. Ric Flair became the first superstar to hold the title, but there was an error with his nameplate as the creators engraved “Rick” instead of Ric. Flair used the design for a brief time until a proper nameplate was made.
WCW Made Cast Copies Of The Belt For Five Wrestlers
In 1988, Ted Turner purchased the assets of Jim Crockett Promotions to form World Championship Wrestling and inherited JCP’s membership in the National Wrestling Alliance. They continued to promote the Big Gold Belt as the world championship and Ric Flair as the champion.
In late 1999 or early 2000, WCW had the original Big Gold Belt casted and made copies for Kevin Nash, DDP, Scott Steiner, Jeff Jarrett, and one other superstar. The known names among the reported five went on to become WCW World Heavyweight Champions in the future and held the Big Gold Belt on multiple occasions.
Some Wrestlers Tried To Sell The Fake Stones In The Belt
Ric Flair revealed an interesting and humorous story regarding the Big Gold Belt in his book. Charles Crumrine used German silver and added cubic zirconium, fake rubies, and a genuine leather strap to complete the final design of the iconic title design.
However, some of the wrestlers on the roster didn’t know the stones on the title were fake. They often tried to pop out the stones and attempted to sell them. Because of this, the holes holding the stones had to be drilled deeper and larger stones had to be placed in the belt.
Ric Flair Once Held The Belt Hostage
Ric Flair parted ways with WCW in July 1991 while still being the World Heavyweight Champion. However, Flair’s exit wasn’t smooth as he took the original Big Gold Belt hostage along with him because of some issues with WCW Vice President Jim Herd.
Herd refused to return Flair’s $25,000 deposit which was required of reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champions until they get a refund at the end of their title reigns.
Flair took the original title along with him to WWE and refused to return it until he eventually reached a settlement with WCW.
WWE Had To Change Their Other Title Designs In Favor Of The Big Gold
The Big Gold Belt is one of the first championship designs to add a distinctive nameplate to feature the name of its holder. When WWE bought WCW, and after the conclusion of the Invasion storylines, they unified the Big Gold Belt with the WWE Championship to introduce the Undisputed WWE Championship design in 2002.
But thanks to the first WWE brand split, they re-introduced the Big Gold Belt as their new World Heavyweight Championship exclusive to Monday Night Raw. However, as soon as they re-introduced the title, WWE was forced to incorporate the Big Gold’s nameplate feature on their other title designs.
Does Scott Steiner Still Have The Original Big Gold Belt?
Scott Steiner was one among the five reported superstars who received a cast copy of the original Big Gold Belt from WCW. While Steiner was WCW Champion in 2000, a few insiders claimed that Steiner swapped the original Big Gold Belt with his cast copy.
They also claimed that WWE inherited Steiner’s copy belt while Big Poppa Pump still holds the authentic title made by Charles Crumrine in his possession.
The story is just an urban legend, as there is no evidence to prove Steiner swapped the belts. But all we know is that it has at least a 50% chance of being true.
A championship’s look doesn’t make it more prestigious but it’s still great to have a fantastic looking belt design. These are the best in history.
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