The making of the new WWE Title: How the WWE Championship was reinvented in 540 days

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February 19, 2013

Stanski’s plan to make the title instantly recognizable led the team to take the iconic WWE “W” — which was barely legible on older variations of the championship, but front and center on the “spinner” version — and make it so big and jewel-encrusted that it wouldn’t look out of place on the end of an MC’s gold chain.

Watch the history of John Cena's "spinner"

But there was also an urge to use the traditional aspects of the title — namely the metal plates and the leather strap — in a unique way. Most championships have their logos and symbols etched into the face of the plates themselves. It was creative director John Jones who thought of cutting the WWE logo out of metal so that the black strap underneath would show through. How to go about doing that was another question entirely.

“As an artist or a designer who creates things, you get into the engineering of what’s really doable?” Stanski said. “What we found really quickly was most of the title manufacturers were afraid to touch it. They said it couldn’t be done.”

Where others saw an obstacle, Dave Millican saw an opportunity. An unsung hero of the sports-entertainment set, the self-proclaimed “Ace of Belts” was a master at taking a strip of animal hide and a few precious metals and molding them into something men were willing to fight for. Millican was up for the challenge, but his early prototypes had issues — mainly with impractical weight stemming from the zinc that was used.

That’s when Jones thought of Orange County Choppers. Back in 2008, the creative director had collaborated on a custom WrestleMania XXIV bike with the motorcycle manufacturers from the hit reality show “American Chopper.” Years later, Jones recalled seeing a state-of-the-art 3D printer in their facilities. The type of baffling technology that makes it apparent that we are indeed living in the future, the printer allowed the guys at OCC to create custom motorcycle parts by cutting their three-dimensional designs out of a hunk of aluminum.

“Orange County Choppers’ involvement brought this whole process into the 21st century,” Jones explained. “We gave them our designs and they were able to feed it into their machines and produce these plates for us that are much stronger than the brass plates that we would have gotten from a title builder.”

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