The History Of The Million Dollar Championship Belt – First introduced in 1989 and after more than a decade of being off television, The Million Dollar Championship Belt was brought back in 2021. However, younger fans are still confused about this title, so here is the full story behind it.
The Million Dollar Championship is the first and only unsanctioned Title in WWE history and it has been introduced by “The Million Dollar Man”, Ted DiBiase, on the Brother Love Show in 1989.
In 1987-88, Ted DiBiase unsuccessfully tried to win the WWF Title against Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage several times. DiBiase also tried in vain to buy the Championship from Hogan.
When he finally put his hands on the coveted gold, it was for just a short moment, not aknowledged by the WWE even today. It happened at the end of 1987, when Andre The Giant handed him the belt, after a controversial win over The Hulkster. But, as stated in the rules book, a Championship could not be handed, so the WWE Title has been vacated.
Following those years of frustration at not winning or buying the WWF Championship, DiBiase introduced and awarded himself with The Million Dollar Belt. DiBiase held the expensive Title for a total 1010 days and almost never put it on the line.
Not long after the 1990 Royal Rumble, in the middle of a raging feud started the previous year, Jake “The Snake” Roberts stole DiBiase’s gold.
The rivalry culminated at Wrestlemania VI when The Million Dollar Man defeated Roberts by countout and took back his cherished belt. The Title was said to be on the line, but it didn’t officialy change hands since “The Snake” didn’t actually win it.
The Million Dollar Championship only changed hands twice in the middle of the ring. The first time was at Summerslam 1991, when Virgil defeated his ex boss to win the Gold and he held it 77 days. DiBiase regained the Championship in November the same year but abandoned it few months later, when DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster won the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1992 as The Money Inc. This was Ted DiBiase’s first official WWE Championship.
The expensive Title remained unseen until it re-appeared in January 1996 in the hands of a future icon and hall-of-famer. On a reborn Brother Love Show, The Million Dollar Belt was given to none other than the Ringmaster, also known as Stone Cold Steve Austin, who served as DiBiase’s Protégé. Despite it’s not a sanctioned Title, Austin is one of the selected few who can brag to have been a reigning Million Dollar Champion.
In May 1996, the Title was abandoned again when DiBiase left for WCW. After 13 years of absence, The Million Dollar Man brought back his mega jewel on TV twice, once in 2009 and once in 2010.
On the July 6 2009 episode of Raw, he carried it when he was the guest host of the show. He also had it with him at the 2010 Hall Of Fame ceremony for his induction.
Then, in April, DiBiase’s son, Ted DiBiase Jr., came out holding the Million Dollar Championship, claiming his father had given it to him. WWE’s official website confirmed the reactivation of the unsanctioned championship under DiBiase Jr.’s profile.
In October, Goldust attacked DiBiase Jr. and gained possession of the belt. On the November 8 episode, Goldust’s own wife Aksana stole the Million Dollar Championship belt from him. Goldust stole the belt back the following week and returned it to “The Million Dollar Man”, who then offered to return it to his son, who rejected the offer, thus the Million Dollar Championship was again deactivated.
After more than a decade of being off television, the title was brought back in 2021 for the NXT brand.
Cameron Grimes made his return from injury and claimed to have become a GameStop investor during his time away (in reference to the GameStop stock rise), thus making him the “richest man in NXT”.
Grimes began a feud with Ted DiBiase after encountering him in a jewelry store over their watches. Over the next few weeks, “The Million Dollar Man” would continue to one-up Grimes, outbidding him in various purchases. The two then had a “Million Dollar Face-Off” on the May 25 episode where LA Knight defended and allied with DiBiase. On the June 8 episode, DiBiase reintroduced the Million Dollar Championship and announced that the winner of a ladder match between Grimes and Knight at “TakeOver: In Your House” would win the title. The match was won by Knight, becoming the first Million Dollar Champion in over 10 years.
The following Tuesday on NXT, during the coronation of his Million Dollar Championship ceremony, LA Knight called Ted DiBiase his hero, but it was all just an act of deception on the new champion’s part.
Knight came out with nothing but high praise for DiBiase. He thanked him for building his wrestling fandom as a kid before asking the WWE Hall of Famer to officially crown him as the Million Dollar Champion. DiBiase does so with great pride and introduces him as the new champ.
Knight goes on to say he learned so much from Ted and now that he’s gotten everything he wants, he can drops what he doesn’t need. He then punches DiBiase and clears out his Million Dollar security crew before making further claim that he is the only Million Dollar Champion.
At NXT Takeover 36, Cameron Grimes faced LA Knight for the Million Dollar Championship where if he loses Ted DiBiase becomes LA Knight’s butler. With DiBiase’s help, Grimes defeated Knight at the event and won his first Million Dollar Championship.
On the 8/24 edition of NXT, Ted Di Biase said that all good things must come to an end. Grimes gives the Million Dollar Title back to Ted but Ted wants him to have it so he thinks of him and what they’ve accomplished every time he looks at it. Grimes takes the title back but notices it feels kinda light, a bit different material. Grimes looks on the back and Ted has switched the original Million Dollar Title with a WWE Shop replica. Ted does his signature laugh as he rides off in the limo.
That ends Ted DiBiase and The Million Dollar Championship run (for this decade?).
Million Dollar Championship Belt Design
The Million Dollar Championship belt was designed by Terry Betteridge of Betteridge Jewelers in Greenwich, Connecticut. The center plate features three large dollar signs that are entirely filled with cubic zirconia, and there are three small diamonds on the back. The strap itself is made up of multiple metal dollar signs that go around the entire circumference of the strap; there are small hinges between each dollar sign so that the strap can go around the title holder’s waist. All of the metal on the belt is gold plated. Although the belt was billed as being worth US$1,000,000, DiBiase claimed the cost was around $40,000,[ while Bruce Prichard claimed the cost was close to $50,000.