What Should WWE Do With The Universal Title After WrestleMania 39?

WWE's world title picture has always evolved. After the global leader in sports-entertainment acquired WCW in the early 2000s, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon brought his former competition's "big gold" belt into his company, sanctioning it as an official WWE title by branding it as the World Heavyweight Championship. For the next decade, WWE had two top prizes: one competed for on Monday Night Raw and the other fought over on WWE SmackDown. The quiet end of the brand split in 2011 meant that both champions would be featured on both main roster shows. That only lasted for two years, as WWE unified the world titles at WWE TLC 2013.

The lone WWE Championship would be carried for another three years before the brand split was reintroduced in 2016. With the WWE Title exclusive to WWE SmackDown come July 2016, WWE introduced a new top prize for the red brand: the Universal Championship.

While the red strap design was far from a hit with fans, the Universal Title quickly established itself as a highly-prestigious prize. NXT standout Finn Balor was the inaugural champion. Fan-favorite Kevin Owens had the first extended reign with the belt. WCW legend Goldberg added Hall of Fame lineage to the young title.

Regardless of the early success, the Universal Championship's prestige truly began in Summer 2020. After some hot-potatoing between Goldberg, Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt lessened the value, Roman Reigns reclaimed the Universal Title just one week after making a shock return at WWE SummerSlam. This began a historic 900+ day reign for the Tribal Chief, a run that has made him the longest-reigning world title holder since Hulk Hogan in 1984.

That said, change appears to be coming. It was reported that WWE higher-ups have already approved the design for a new world title, but it is unclear as to whether that new prize will run alongside the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship or if it will replace one of the two straps. Whatever the decision, signs seem to indicate that there will be two world titles following WWE WrestleMania 39, and there are three possible outcomes that could follow as a result.

The first could be that the WWE and Universal Titles are split once again, and this "new design" is simply a fresh look for one of them. Photos have circulated of an "American Nightmare" version of the classic winged eagle WWE Championship. 

As evident by reigns from John Cena and Edge in the past, WWE is no stranger to rebranding the WWE Title in the titleholder's image. The other option could see the big W design remain and the Universal Title be the one that gets a facelift.

That, or the Universal Title could go away completely. WWE refers to its top prize as the "Undisputed WWE Universal Championship," indicating that despite there being two physical belts, it is envisioned as just one prize. That could be exemplified after WrestleMania, with either Rhodes or Reigns only carrying the WWE Championship design moving forward, similar to how Brock Lesnar ditched the World Heavyweight Title in 2014. This would then lead to this "new design" being a completely new championship created for whichever brand does not have a world champion following WrestleMania.

The unlikeliest but still possible result is that this "new design" will be for the WWE Championship, which Rhodes will carry on Raw, while the Universal Title is vacated and returned to SmackDown, where a new champion will be crowned to carry the already-existing blue strap. Considering the WWE Championship is the one that the company sends to sports teams, a big advertisement that was acknowledged by Rhodes himself, it feels like if anything is going to remain the same post-WrestleMania, it's going to be the big W.

Whatever the case may be, fans will get a better idea of what's to come this weekend at WWE WrestleMania 39.