The United States Championship has been in WWE since the promotions ownership of WCW, and it continues to share the same lineage. This is the second Championship to be defended on WWE under the United States Championship name, as the WWWF United States Championship was defended between 1963 and 1976.
Introduced on January 1st, 1975 in Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling (which was ran by Jim Crockett Jr. under the JCP banner of NWA) and replacing the NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship as the top title, the United States Heavyweight Championship was one of many regional NWA Championships under NWA by-laws, often followed by (Mid-Atlantic) in record books until 1981. In January of 1981, Big Time Wrestling in San Francisco closed it doors, thus ending its reign with its own version of the United States Championship, making the Mid-Atlantic US Championship undisputed. Harley Race was the inaugural champion, defeating Johnny Weaver in a tournament final.
The Championship was the main Singles title until 1986, when Jim Crockett Promotions gained control of the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship, thus relegating the US Championship to secondary title. In 1988, Ted Turner purchased JCP, renaming it as World Championship Wrestling, while retaining use of the United States Heavyweight Championship, and all other titles used by JCP. In 1991, all titles, excluding the World Championship were rebranded as WCW Championships, and WCW introducing their own World Heavyweight Championship (this occurred during Lex Lugers 4th reign).
The original NWA belt was retained by WCW until August 6th, 1991, when Nikita Koloff destroyed the belt during Lex Lugers 4th reign as Champion. A newly designed belt was introduced shortly after, which remained until 2001. Koloff destroyed the belt in protest, claiming to be true champion, knocking Luger out. In 2000, Lance Storm won the title briefly renamed it the Canadian Heavyweight Championship, with Canadian Flag stickers placed over the belt.
During the Invasion storyline, the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship was renamed to the WCW United States Championship. Both WCW and WWF wrestlers challenged for the title, from Chris Kanyon, to Tajiri, Kurt Angle, and Edge. At Survivor Series 2001, Edge defeated WWF Intercontinental Champion Test to unify the US and IC Championships, deactivating the US Championship.
Come back next week, as we cover the Championship after reactivation under the WWE name.