|Impact World Championship|
The current Impact World Championship belt
|Date established||May 13, 2007|
|Current champion(s)||Rich Swann|
|Date won||October 24, 2020|
The Impact World Championship is a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship owned and promoted by Impact Wrestling. It is the promotion's principal championship. Like most professional wrestling championships, the title is won via the result of a predetermined match.
Before the championship was created, the promotion, then known as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), controlled the NWA World Heavyweight Championship via an agreement with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). In 2007, the agreement between TNA and the NWA ended, leading to the creation of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. The championship was unveiled on May 14, 2007 at the taping of TNA's primary television program, Impact!, which aired on May 17, 2007. The inaugural champion was Kurt Angle, who also holds the record for the most reigns at six.
When TNA changed its name and became Impact Wrestling in March 2017, the title was renamed soon after to reflect the change. After Impact Wrestling rebranded to GFW later that year, the title was unified with the original GFW Global Championship at Slammiversary XV and became the Unified GFW World Heavyweight Championship. Following Destination X, the title took the GFW Global Championship name and kept the former TNA lineage. On October 23, 2017, the GFW name was dropped and the company name was reverted to Impact Wrestling when the company severed ties with Jeff Jarrett and he took the GFW name with him. However, Impact Wrestling kept the Global Championship name for their championship and the title was then called the Impact Global Championship. As of the February 1, 2018 episode of Impact!, the title has been known as the Impact World Championship. On June 4, 2018, the title was unified with the Impact Grand Championship.
Impact Wrestling was formed as NWA: Total Nonstop Action in May 2002. Later that same year, TNA was granted control over the NWA World Heavyweight and World Tag Team Championships by the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) governing body; subsequently becoming an official NWA territory as NWA-TNA. On June 19, 2002, NWA-TNA held its first show; a weekly pay-per-view event. The main event of the telecast was a twenty-man Gauntlet for the Gold match in which 20 men sought to throw each other over the top rope and down to the floor in order to eliminate others, until there were two men left who wrestle a standard singles match to become the first ever TNA-era NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Ken Shamrock defeated Malice to win the vacant championship with Ricky Steamboat as the special guest referee at the event.
The NWA World Heavyweight and World Tag Team Championships were contested for in TNA until the morning of May 13, 2007. On that day, NWA's Executive Director Robert Trobich announced that the NWA were ending their five-year agreement with TNA, which had allowed them full control over both titles. Trobich went on to state that effective that morning, then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Christian Cage and then-NWA World Tag Team Champions Team 3D were stripped of their respective championships. The alleged motivation behind these actions was because Cage refused to defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against wrestlers from NWA territories. That same day, TNA were scheduled to produce their Sacrifice event, in which both Cage and Team 3D were to defend their respective championships. On the card, Cage was scheduled to defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Kurt Angle and Sting in a match involving three competitors, also known as a three-way match.
That night, the onscreen graphic used to refer to the champions and their respective championships credited both Cage and Team 3D as still being NWA champions. However, the ring announcers for the encounters proclaimed the matches as being strictly for the "World Heavyweight Championship" and the "World Tag Team Championship". Angle defeated Cage and Sting to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
TNA held a set of tapings for the next two episodes of Impact! on May 14, with the episodes set to air on tape delay on May 17 and May 24. At the first taping, Angle came to the ring with the new TNA World Heavyweight Championship belt and announced that he was the "new TNA World Heavyweight Champion". TNA commentator Mike Tenay announced when Angle made his way to the ring that Management Director Jim Cornette, TNA's on-screen authority figure at the time, "made the decision that due to TNA's growing worldwide exposure, the company needed to have its own TNA title belts"; thereby not acknowledging the NWA ending their agreement with TNA and giving a storyline explanation as to why the championship was created. Later on during the broadcast, Cornette stripped Angle of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship due to a controversial finish to the match at Sacrifice. Cornette then announced the championship would be contested for at TNA's Slammiversary on June 17, 2007 in a King of the Mountain match—a match which involves five participants racing to gain a pinfall or submission to become eligible to hang a championship belt to win. On May 15, 2007, Jeremy Borash unveiled the TNA World Heavyweight Championship belt on that day's edition of TNA's online podcast TNA Today.
The five participants for the King of the Mountain match were determined in a series of standard wrestling matches that took place on Impact! leading up to the event, with Angle defeating Rhino in the first bout to gain entry on the May 17 episode of Impact!. On the May 24 episode of Impact!, Samoa Joe defeated Sting to become the second participant. The third qualification match was held on the May 31 episode of Impact! between A.J. Styles and Tomko, which Styles won. The next bout pitted Chris Harris against James Storm on the June 7 episode Impact!, which ended in a double disqualification, therefore neither man advanced to the King of the Mountain match. The final qualification match was won by Christian Cage over Abyss on the June 14 episode of Impact!. Angle ended up winning the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary over Joe, Cage, Styles and Harris, who was a mystery participant chosen by Cornette, to become the "undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion".
In early 2017 After TNA rebranded as Impact Wrestling, the name of its flagship show, the TNA World Heavyweight Championship changed its name to the Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship to reflect the name changes of the company.
At Slammiversary XV, GFW Global Champion Alberto El Patron defeated Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Lashley to unify the titles, with the GFW Global Championship being dropped and the Impact World Heavyweight Championship changing its name to the Unified GFW World Championship as Impact Wrestling began rebranding once again as GFW. In September 2017, GFW reverted their branding to Impact Wrestling.
Championship belt design
During the championship's history it has had five designs, with the original title belt (which was unveiled in May 2007) having on its center plate an imprint of an eagle with its wings extended. The word "World" was placed above the eagle's head on a ribbon. The ribbon was wrapped around the bird's wings and body. Five stars were engraved on the ribbon when it passed over each of the bird's wings and the word "Champion" as it passed over the bird's talons. The words "Heavyweight Wrestling" were printed across the bird's chest. At the top of the center plate there was TNA logo. Four smaller side plates had an imprint of a globe centered with TNA's logo at the top and bottom of each. At each end of the title belt there was a small plate that covered the championship belt snaps with TNA's logo engraved on each.
At the November 8, 2010 tapings of the November 11 episode of Impact!, TNA introduced a new design for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship belt, which the champion Jeff Hardy dubbed the "Immortal Championship", as part of the Immortal storyline. The new design consisted of a purple strap with a silver center plate depicting a masked head (designed to resemble Hardy's face with face paint), the TNA logo on the forehead and blue lines along the mask. There were four irregular dodecagonal side plates on the title belt, shaped like stars with rounded edges on two of the sides of these plates.
The Immortal title belt was replaced by the third design of the championship belt at the March 14, 2011 tapings of the March 17 episode of Impact!, introduced by the reigning champion at the time, Sting. The design featured seven gold plates over a black leather strap. The center plate had faux diamonds aligned along its multiple rounded edges, similar to that of the Big Gold Belt. Over the center plate was a large TNA Wrestling logo and below it the words "Heavyweight Champion" engraved in silver. On each side of the center plate was a group of three smaller plates, one with a TNA logo engraved while the other two featured separate corresponding halves of a globe, on either side of the TNA logo side plate.
Following Slammiversary XV, both the TNA and original GFW Global Championship belts were used in connection to represent the unification of both titles. At Destination X 2017, the GFW Global Championship belt, with an updated color scheme and Impact logos on the side plates, became the sole belt used. Following departure of Jeff Jarrett from the promotion, the company reverted to the Impact Wrestling name and the title belt was updated with an Impact name plate to reflect the change.
A new title design was announced and introduced at Impact Wrestling's Redemption on April 22, 2018. The gold center plate has the Impact logo with an owl design on top of it and "World Champion" inscribed below the logo. On each side of the center plate is a group of four smaller gold plates, with the first two on each side featuring separate corresponding halves of a globe with "World" inscribed above the globes and "Champion" inscribed below them and the second pair featuring the Impact logo without an owl design. In 2020, the belt was modified, with red replacing the previous blue, to reflect the new color of the Impact Wrestling logo introduced following the move to AXS TV.
Overall, there have been 50 reigns shared among 28 wrestlers. The inaugural champion was Kurt Angle, who won the championship by defeating Christian Cage and Sting in a three-way match on May 13, 2007, at TNA's Sacrifice event. Angle's first reign also holds the record for shortest reign in the title's history, at 1 day. Angle also holds the record for the most reigns, at six. At 256 days, Bobby Roode's first reign is the longest in the title's history. The title has been vacated six different times.
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