Legendary beltmaker Dave Millican was a recent guest on the Pancakes and Powerslams Show. Millican discussed the history of belts he and his company have made, a previous falling out he had with WWE, and much more.
Millican stated that it was the mid-1990s that he stated to have a partnership with WWE as far as his company designing for them. Prior to this, Millican designed belts for independent organizations, as well as in Memphis for Jerry Lawler. Since then, he has also created belts for Impact Wrestling, Pro Wrestling NOAH, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. He was under the tutelage of Reggie Parks, who designed many of the old WWE and NWA titles, most notably the Winged Eagle Championship.
The Intercontinental Championship is the first belt that Millican takes credit for designing, and discussed how his relationship with the company became sour because of WWE’s desire to create contracts for the beltmakers.
“Things were changing. They wanted contracts signed on belts, they wanted exclusive rights to the designs, which Reggie [Parks] wasn’t willing to sign over,” said Millican. “And thank God he didn’t, because that’s come to play for us many years later, and is part of our income. Reggie was always a handshake guy. Just no contracts and that kind of thing.
“It used to be very simple. Anybody in the old NWA office… sometimes Dusty Rhodes himself, would call and say [they] wanted a belt. Chief Jay Strongbow called and requested what we [now know as] the Winged Eagle belt, which is our most iconic belt. ish, we kind of had a falling out. They wanted to go another direction because no contract would be signed.”
Millican added that the “straw the broke the camel’s back” was when a guy went on television on a talk show with a version of the Intercontinental Championship and said that it was the Light Heavyweight Championship, and claimed to be affiliated with Millican’s company. He understands why WWE would want contracts, because the person was not affiliated with Millican’s company, but Parks and Millican was stern on handshake deals, so Millican eventually “thought that ship had sailed” because “it was not a pleasant breakup.”
Surprisingly, to Millican, WWE contacted him in 2008, and started working with them again by designing the oval-style Intercontinental Championship. Now, since WWE “has so many titles,” the company has a few companies working for them. Currently, the only titles that fans see on television that Millican takes credit for are the Intercontinental and United States Championship. He was originally supposed to do all of them initially, but “the left hand didn’t know what the right hand is doing” because the company has gotten so big.
Now, WWE sends the beltmakers, including Millican, designs for them to make, instead of the beltmakers creatively doing the designs. This is why the logo is such a big part of the designs now. Millican also stated that Stephanie McMahon was the person behind the current tag team title designs, which he was going to do initially but WWE changed their minds to a different designer.
“The tag team titles, I begged them, please let me make them nickel, let me make them gold, let me make them silver and gold. Just don’t make me do copper,” said Millican. “And it just came down from the top that copper is what they wanted, I think in particular, Stephanie McMahon really just wanted to do something different. They want to kind of reinvent the wheel every time, and something that is not used somewhere else, which is understandable. And so, when they bottom-lined it for me and said, ‘look, it’s gonna be copper,’ I was like okay, I can do copper.
“So I did that, thinking at one point in time we’re gonna change these. And man, when they changed them is when the brand split happened, they employed a few other guys… and I didn’t get a chance to make them. I was like, ‘are you kidding me?’ I begged them, please don’t make me make this copper. Really, kind of all of that stuff started with me and branched out.”
Addressing the rumors of potentially a Women’s Tag Team Championship design, Millican said that he has heard there was a design, but is not involved at all with making it.
“I have [heard], but I’m not privy to it,” said Millican. “Anything that I’ve heard is probably similar to what you heard or read. The way that works is you have a confidentiality clause. So, if I was involved in it, I couldn’t tell you anyway. But what I can do, is tell you unequivocally that I’m not. So, I think that probably exists. Now, sometimes things exist and they change their mind and they never debut. That’s happened with concepts they’ve sent my way. So I think that they probably are out there. I think that they’re probably already made. But, that’s just hearsay, that’s not based on anything official.”
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