TAMPA — As a 14-time WWE champion, Paul “Triple H” Levesque has had his share of time with the professional wrestling federation’s title belt. And for as big as he was in his heyday, he realized that sometimes the belt itself was a bigger star — especially around other athletes.
“If you had the championship belt, they couldn’t get enough of holding it and taking a picture with it, walking around with it, putting it on, putting it over their shoulder, everything that they had seen on TV was such a huge thing to them,” said Levesque, now WWE’s executive vice president of global talent strategy and development.
“If you’re a champion in your league, you don’t have this sort of badge that says you’re the best. The belt is that.”
Several years ago, Levesque began sending custom-made belts to pro teams that won championships, and they became commonplace in the celebrations and parades that followed. WWE delivered belts to both the Lightning and Bucs after their recent Stanley Cup and Super Bowl titles.
When the Bucs won Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium — the site of this weekend’s WrestleMania 37 — a belt was delivered to the stadium with changeable plates on the side, one for the Bucs and one for the Chiefs, and ready to go into the winning locker room right after the game.
Bucs rookie safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. quickly swiped the belt and…