10 championships you never knew existed in WWE

World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship

Before coming to WWE in late 1978, WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki had already established himself as one of the most popular Japanese wrestlers of all time. After battling pop culture icon Muhammad Ali in Tokyo, Inoki had begun to achieve mythical status. On Dec. 18, 1978, at Madison Square Garden, Vincent J. McMahon was so thrilled to have Inoki in his organization, he bestowed Inoki with the World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship. The title was rarely defended, but when it was, it was in contests that resembled early versions of what is now referred to as mixed martial arts.

As champion, Inoki battled legends like The Iron Sheik and Hulk Hogan and faced off with Larry Sharpe in a memorable outdoor title defense at New York’s Shea Stadium in 1980. One year prior, Inoki defeated reigning WWE Champion Bob Backlund while holding the Martial Arts Title. The Japanese shooter held his personal prize for more than 10 years until he was defeated by Georgian judo master Shota Chochishvili, who had won a gold medal for the Soviet Union in the 1972 Olympic Games. Inoki regained the title one month later, but it was never seen again.

Visiti Inoki's WWE Hall of Fame profile