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Championship unification or championship consolidation is the act of combining two or more separate championships into a single title.
In professional wrestling, championships may be unified to consolidate the number of championships in a given promotion, or to add legitimacy and prestige to a certain title's lineage. This may occur in one of two ways:
- Two participants, who both hold separate championships, face each other in a match in which the winner will gain both titles. One of the titles (typically the lower-ranking one) is then "absorbed" into the other, though this is rarely explained on-air; essentially, the smaller title is retired. The winner of the match may appear at events or on television with both belts once or twice, but eventually the smaller title is abandoned.
- As above, but the titles are combined into a new championship, often referred to as an "undisputed" title. The championship may be represented by both original belts, or a new belt may be introduced. If a new belt is introduced to represent both titles, then when the reigning champion loses the championship belt, he actually loses all of the titles that the belt represented.
- The first two prominent unifications of titles in the U.S. were done by Nikita Koloff. In 1986, he unified the NWA National Heavyweight Championship into his NWA U. S. title by defeating Wahoo McDaniel, and in 1987 he unified the (Mid-South) UWF Television title into his NWA World Television Championship by defeating Terry Taylor. In both cases, the unification process was started by Nikita's home promotion, Jim Crockett Promotions, upon absorbing another promotion (Georgia Championship Wrestling and the Mid-South UWF, respectively), and in both cases the titles from the absorbed promotions were abandoned.
- The AJPW Triple Crown World Heavyweight Championship was created with the unification of the NWA International Heavyweight Championship, the PWF Heavyweight Championship and the NWA United National Championship, when the NWA International Heavyweight Champion Jumbo Tsuruta defeated the PWF Heavyweight and NWA United National Champion Stan Hansen on April 18, 1989.
- The AWA World Heavyweight Championship was unified with the Omaha World Heavyweight Championship (a belt created by promoters in Omaha, Nebraska) twice when Omaha World Champion The Crusher defeated AWA World Champion Verne Gagne in Omaha, Nebraska on July 9, 1963 and then the titles was unified again on September 7, 1963 when AWA World Champion Verne Gagne defeated Omaha World Champion Fritz Von Erich in Omaha, Nebraska. The Omaha version was abandoned after absorb with the AWA World title.
- The AWA World Heavyweight Championship and the WCCW Heavyweight Championship were unified to create the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship at SuperClash III, when the AWA World Heavyweight Champion Jerry "The King" Lawler defeated the WCCW Heavyweight Champion Kerry Von Erich. The WCCW World Heavyweight Title was quickly abandoned, and later the AWA stripped the AWA World Heavyweight Title from Jerry Lawler.
- The J-Crown, a combination of several lightweight championships from various wrestling promotions (including the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship), was defended mostly in Japan and Mexico. The title has since been abandoned and all belts returned to their home promotions.
- The WCW International World Heavyweight Championship was unified with the WCW World Heavyweight Championship when WCW Champion Ric Flair defeated International Champion Sting at Clash of the Champions XXVII. The International Championship was immediately abandoned, though the physical belt was used as the WCW Championship.
- The ECW World Heavyweight Championship was unified with the FTW World Heavyweight Championship (an unrecognized title created by Taz) on March 21, 1999 at Living Dangerously when ECW World Champion Taz defeated FTW Champion Sabu. The FTW title was abandoned when Taz continued to defend the ECW title.
- The ECW World Heavyweight Championship and the ECW World Television Championship were unified when TV Champion Rhino defeated World Champion The Sandman at ECW Guilty as Charged in January 2001. Both championships were abandoned upon ECW's demise soon after.
- The WCW Tag Team Championship was briefly unified with the WWF Tag Team Championship at Summerslam 2001, when the Undertaker and Kane, the WCW Tag Team Champions, defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon. The titles were re-split when the Dudley Boyz defeated the Undertaker and Kane for only the WWF titles, not the WCW titles, a month later. The titles were reunified for the final time at Survivor Series 2001, when the Dudleys, then the reigning WCW Tag Team Champions, defeated the then-WWF champions, the Hardy Boyz. The Dudleys won the WWF Tag Team Championships, and their WCW Tag Team Championship was absorbed into the WWF titles and abandoned.
- The WWF Light Heavyweight Championship was briefly unified with the WCW Cruiserweight Championship when WWF Light Heavyweight Championship X-Pac defeated Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman. He later lost the Cruiserweight title to Kidman, but kept the Light Heavyweight title (which was abandoned following his departure from the company). The WCW Cruiserweight Championship later became the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
- The WCW Championship and the WWF Championship were unified to create the WWF Undisputed Championship at Vengeance 2001. After the brand extension, which split the WWF roster into two brands (RAW and SmackDown!), the Undisputed title served as the prime championship for both groups. The title became "disputed" when champion Brock Lesnar announced he would only defend the belt on SmackDown! The following week, RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff announced the creation of the World Heavyweight Championship.
- The WWE European Championship was unified with the WWE Intercontinental Championship in July 2002, when Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam defeated European Champion Jeff Hardy on RAW in a title unification match. The European title was abandoned as a separate championship.
- The WWE Hardcore Championship was unified with the WWE Intercontinental Championship in August 2002, when Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam pinned Hardcore Champion Tommy Dreamer. The Hardcore Championship was abandoned soon after.
- The WWE Intercontinental Championship was unified with the World Heavyweight Championship at WWE No Mercy 2002 when World Champion Triple H defeated Intercontinental Champion Kane. The Intercontinental Championship was immediately abandoned, then revived in May 2003 by RAW Co-General Manager Steve Austin.
- The WWA World Heavyweight Championship was unified with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship when NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett defeated WWA Champion Sting on May 25, 2003 in Auckland, New Zealand in an inter-promotional match.
- The Ring of Honor World Championship was unified with the ROH Pure Championship when ROH Pure Champion Nigel McGuinness lost to ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson in Liverpool, England on August 12, 2006, in a match contested under pure wrestling rules with the stipulation that both championships could be lost by disqualification or count out.