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Why Roman Reigns—and Rhea Ripley and Asuka—Have New WWE Title Belts

The company recently unveiled new looks for all its top titles, with one goal in mind.’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

WWE’s title belt makeover

Roman Reigns is wearing a new WWE championship belt.

He isn’t alone. So are Rhea Ripley and Asuka, who are, respectively, the newly crowned women’s world champion and WWE women’s champion. There is also another new belt being worn by Seth Rollins, who is the first world heavyweight champion.

There is a reason behind the change. Paul “Triple H” Levesque wanted to freshen up all the titles and present a new look, multiple sources have confirmed with Sports Illustrated.

Despite the deluge of world champions, Reigns remains the undisputed top act. His title supersedes whichever belt Rollins is wearing, especially given its lineage. Reigns’s belt merges together the WWE championship and the universal title, and now carries considerable history with it.

When Reigns was given the new title two weeks ago on SmackDown, Paul Heyman had the WWE and universal belts resting on each of his shoulders. It will be interesting if Heyman will continue to carry both belts in addition to Reigns wearing the new title. That is a possibility still under consideration, sources say.

There is reason to keep the extra titles, beginning with how it further differentiates Reigns from the other champions. But it extends deeper than that. One of those belts represents WWE’s past—having been carried by Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Steve Austin, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels—while the universal title has its own meaning, becoming more valuable on SmackDown than the world title was on Raw. There is significance behind all that history, which is supposed to be transferred onto Reigns’s new gold belt.

The Bloodline story is expected to carry the summer for WWE programming. There is the ensuing Reigns–Solo Sikoa tag match against The Usos, as well as the inevitable singles match pitting Reigns against Jey Uso, which should be phenomenal. The cracks in The Bloodline have led to enhanced social media numbers, further justifying the decision to have Reigns retain the title at WrestleMania 39.

It will also be fascinating to see Ripley evolve as women’s world champion. She is incredibly talented, and at only 26, she has a ceilingless future in front of her. Headlining a pay-per-view should be a necessity for her. If Ripley can build momentum with the belt, there is the potential to become wrestling’s next breakout star.

Asuka is in a different situation. As she approaches her second decade in wrestling, she has established herself in WWE as one of the company’s more reliable, talented, charismatic stars. She is expected to use her veteran presence to highlight a younger star as the next women’s champion.

Right now, all signs point to that champion as Iyo Sky, who—pound-for-pound—makes a convincing claim for best wrestler in the world. Sky’s work has thoroughly impressed Levesque for years, and the reaction she drew from the crowd at Backlash in Puerto Rico only added fuel to the fire for those advocating for her first run as a singles champion on the main roster. Turning Sky face and having her feud with Bayley has been discussed. Bayley’s work championing the roster around her—especially when she could have instead pushed for herself to have a title reign—should not go unnoticed.

All the champions have a responsibility to make their titles stand out. When Reigns won the universal belt in August 2020, it was the secondary title. Asking Rollins to do that for the world heavyweight championship is a tall order, especially with Reigns now so established as champ, but his job—just like it is for Ripley and Asuka—is to add value to the title every week.

But right now, there is no title with more value than the one held by Reigns.

The (online) week in wrestling

  • The pro wrestling world lost The Iron Sheik last week. A true original, he is a former WWE champion—bridging the gap between Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan—and a genuine wrestling legend.
  • Alex Shelley is the new Impact world champion. This is a massive accomplishment for a company stalwart. While he is likely a transitional champ to get the belt to Nick Aldis, his title victory was a very meaningful moment for Impact.
  • Cody Rhodes will not be part of the Money in the Bank ladder match; instead, he will be wrestling Dominik Mysterio at the pay-per-view. Naturally, this begs the question: Who will win the Money in the Bank briefcase?
  • Charlotte Flair has returned to SmackDown. Should she dethrone Asuka?
  • In what should start his build to SummerSlam, Logan Paul returns next week on Raw.

CM Punk returns to AEW on Saturday

CM Punk will make his AEW return Saturday on the debut edition of Collision. He is wrestling in a must-see six-man tag, teaming with FTR against Samoa Joe, Jay White and Juice Robinson.

The last time we saw Punk was in September when he defeated Jon Moxley at All Out. Then came the All Out postshow press conference, which is the precise moment all hell broke loose. The ensuing backstage brawl led to the suspension of several AEW personnel, including Punk, Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks.

For Tony Khan, bringing Punk back is clearly worth the risk. Time will judge whether this is the right decision (could it alienate Omega and the Bucks?), but as of now, it is the only choice.

After Punk’s notorious comments during the infamous All Out presser, it initially appeared that he was finished with the company. But he was never fired and remained under contract. So why wouldn’t he return? His presence helped sell the new Collision show during negotiations with Warner Bros. Discovery, and his return should lead to a solid television rating and social media number for the debut episode. The entire show’s success or failure cannot be predicated on one individual, but there is no question that Punk gives more reason to watch Collision.

Credit to Khan for some shrewd booking on Saturday’s show. Instead of having Punk cut a promo Saturday, which would generate incredible interest, the decision was made to have him wrestle. That builds even more interest for his first promo, which will likely occur next week.

The six-man tag also protects Punk. He is partnered with FTR, one of the best tag teams in wrestling, and matched up with an all-world in-ring talent in White. Robinson will bump and sell for Punk, and there should be instant chemistry between the two Illinois natives. Then there is a highly anticipated showdown with Samoa Joe, a cherished rival from nearly 20 years ago. The last time Punk and Joe shared a ring together was 2005, and it is pretty neat to think that they will square off again this Saturday in a match that also includes FTR, Robinson and a Wrestle Kingdom headliner in White.

In case you’re curious, there isn’t a postshow press conference scheduled for Saturday night.

Tweet of the Week

This is a unique wrinkle for the men’s Money in the Bank match.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.