The WWE Universal Championship is a world heavyweight championship, created and promoted by WWE on the Raw brand. It is one of two world titles in the promotion, and was created to rival the WWE Championship, which became exclusive to SmackDown following the re-introduction of the brand extension on July 19, 2016. The championship is named in honor of the WWE Universe.
With the reintroduction of the WWE Brand Extension, a draft took place on the SmackDown Live premiere episode on July 19, 2016 and WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose was drafted to SmackDown. At Battleground on July 24, Ambrose successfully defended the title in a triple threat match against Raw draftees Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. When Ambrose retained the title, Raw was left without a world title.Subsequently, Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon and Raw general manager Mick Foley created a new championship, the WWE Universal Championship, the following night on Raw to serve as the brand's top championship. According to Foley, the title was named in honor of the WWE Universe, the name WWE uses to refer to its fan base.
The title was unveiled at WWE SummerSlam 2016. The title is similar in appearance to the WWE World Championship, with a few notable differences. The strap is red, to symbolize its exclusivity to Raw, with the underline of the WWE logo in the center plate being black to make it visible. As the belt is similar to the WWE World Championship, the center plate is a large cut out of the WWE logo with diamonds sitting inside an irregular heptagonal plate, with the phrase "Universal Champion" in small print sitting underneath the logo. Each side plate, sitting on the other side of gold divider bars, features the same default side plates of the WWE World Championship, with the champion's logo able to be customized for the side plates as a similarity of the name plate feature.
The physical title garnered a negative reaction from the live SummerSlam audience, who chanted "This belt sucks"; this sentiment was echoed online. Adam Silverstein of CBS Sports called it "ugly"
At Crown Jewel on October 31, 2019, SmackDown wrestler "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt won the title by defeating Seth Rollins in a Falls Count Anywhere match that could not be stopped for any reason, thus transferring the Universal Championship to SmackDown. The WWE Championship was subsequently transferred to Raw after reigning champion Brock Lesnar quit SmackDown on November 1, taking the title to Raw.
VACATED - August 22 2016 - Raw - Vacated due to injury
- Kevin Owens - August 29 2016 - Raw
- Goldberg - March 5 2017 - Fastlane
- Brock Lesnar - April 2 2017 - WrestleMania 33
- Roman Reigns - August 19 2018 - SummerSlam
VACATED - October 23 2018 - Vacated due to Illness
- Brock Lesnar 2 - November 2 2018 - Crown Jewel
- Seth Rollins - April 7 2019 - WrestleMania 35
- Brock Lesnar 3 - July 14 2019 - Extreme Rules
- Seth Rollins 2 - August 11 2019 - SummerSlam
- The Fiend - October 31 2019 - Crown Jewel
- Goldberg (2) - February 27 2020 - Super ShowDown
- Braun Strowman - April 3 2020 - WrestleMania 36 (Night 1)
- The Fiend - August 23 2020 - SummerSlam
- Roman Reigns 2 - August 30 2020 - Payback