The WWE Undisputed Championship belt did not exist until 2001, as WWE had purchased competitor WCW and wanted a single title rather than a separate one for each company. Chris Jericho, who had already spent significant time in both organizations, was the first to win the Undisputed Championship after beating both The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at the WWE Vengeance pay-per-view in December 2001.
While Chris Jericho possessed the title of Undisputed Champion, he still carried both the WWE and WCW belts to the ring. Triple H defeated Jericho at Wrestlemania 18 in March 2002 to gain the title, and a single belt was made to replace the individual belts. Hulk Hogan took down Triple H in April 2002 at the Backlash pay-per-view to become the third man with the Undisputed Championship. The following month at the Judgment Day event, The Undertaker used a steel chair and a referee distraction to beat Hogan and claim the Undisputed Championship belt. In July 2002 at Vengeance, The Rock pinned Kurt Angle in a three-way match that also included the Undertaker to grab the belt. He would hold it until losing to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam in August 2002.
At this point, the Undisputed belt was split into the WWE Championship belt and the World Heavyweight Championship belt. The former could only be held by a member of the Thursday Night Smackdown roster, while the latter could only be held by a Monday Night Raw participant.