The current NXT Championship belt with default side plates
|Date established||July 1, 2012|
|Current champion(s)||Adam Cole|
|Date won||June 1, 2019|
The NXT Championship is a professional wrestling world championship created and promoted by the American promotion WWE, defended on their NXT brand. It is one of three world titles in WWE, alongside the WWE Championship on Raw and the WWE Universal Championship on SmackDown. The current champion is Adam Cole, who is in his first reign.
Introduced on July 1, 2012, the title was established as the top championship for NXT, which at the time was a developmental territory for WWE. It was also the first title created for the brand. The inaugural champion was Seth Rollins. In 2017, the title became recognized as a world championship. The brand itself eventually grew to become WWE's third major brand, which became official in September 2019 when NXT was moved to the USA Network.
In June 2012, the WWE established NXT as their developmental territory, replacing Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). On July 1, the NXT Championship was introduced as the brand's top championship, as well as its first title, in turn replacing the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship that had been retired along with the FCW territory. NXT Commissioner Dusty Rhodes announced an eight-man single-elimination tournament, dubbed the "Gold Rush" tournament, involving four wrestlers from NXT and four wrestlers from WWE's main roster competing to be crowned the first NXT Champion. On the July 26 taping of NXT (aired August 29), Seth Rollins defeated Jinder Mahal in the tournament final to become the inaugural champion.
On November 19, 2016, at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, Samoa Joe became the first performer to hold the championship on more than one occasion. During Drew McIntyre's reign in 2017, the title became recognized as a world championship, thus again having three world titles in the WWE, along with the WWE Championship and Universal Championship on the main roster. The NXT brand itself became WWE's third major brand in September 2019 when it was moved to the USA Network.
The original NXT Championship belt featured a simple design. The large gold center plate was the letter "X". On the center left side of the X was a smaller letter "N" while on the opposing right side was the letter "T". The belt contained six total side plates, three sitting on either side of the center plate; each side plate only featured the WWE logo. When first introduced, the side plates had the WWE scratch logo but in August 2014, all of WWE's pre-existing championships at the time received a minor update, changing the scratch logo to WWE's new logo originally used for the WWE Network. The plates were on a large black leather strap.
On WrestleMania weekend 2017, all existing NXT title belts at the time were redesigned. The new title belts were unveiled at NXT TakeOver: Orlando that same night and given to the winners of their respective matches. Like the previous design, the plates are gold and on a black leather strap. The letter "X" again dominates the center plate with smaller letters "N" and "T" sitting on the left and right sides, respectively. On this new design, however, the letters are on an octagonal shaped plate. Above the "X" is the WWE logo, while below the "X" is a banner that reads "Champion". Simple ornamentation with some silver fills in the rest of the plate. Coming in line with the majority of WWE's other championships, the new design includes side plates with a removable center section that can be customized with the champion's logo; the default plates feature the WWE logo.
As of December 5, 2019, there have been 18 championship reigns with 16 different champions and one vacancy. The inaugural champion was Seth Rollins. Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura have the most reigns with two. Finn Bálor's reign as champion is the longest at 292 days, while Samoa Joe's second reign is the shortest at 14 days (WWE recognizes it as 13). Bo Dallas holds the record as the youngest champion, winning the title two days before his 23rd birthday, while Bobby Roode is the oldest champion, winning the title at 39.
- Parry, Josh (July 26, 2012). "NXT spoiler – first champion crowned". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- James, Justin. "JAMES'S WWE NXT REPORT 8/29 – Week 11: First NXT champion crowned in big-match setting". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- James, Justin. "JAMES' NXT TAKEOVER: TORONTO REVIEW 11/19: Nakamura vs. Joe, Asuka vs. James, #DIY vs. The Revival, and more". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- "NXT Championship". WWE.com.
Fulfilling a prophecy first laid out by WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon years earlier, Drew McIntyre captured a world championship in a WWE ring when he defeated Bobby Roode to claim the NXT Title at TakeOver: Brooklyn III
- "Triple H Discusses NXT as a Third Brand, Putting Talent in a Position to Succeed, More – 411MANIA". www.411mania.com.
- WWE (April 1, 2017). "EXCLUSIVE: WWE NXT General William Regal arrives at WrestleMania Axxess with a HUGE announcement regarding NXT TakeOver: Orlando!". Facebook. Retrieved April 1, 2017.