Championship Chumps

In one of my first articles, I created a diagram of the title structure in that time (May 2013), compared to that of a decade ago. Forward on a year or so, and this hierarchical diagram is still very much relevant and appropriate. Nowadays, WWE’s product is severely diminished due to the way championships are distributed and champions are portrayed. Back in the day, a championship belt made the man – which was a perfect ingredient to add to a concocted formula of creating a top-flight star. Today however, due to the degradation of title belts (being overshadowed and thrown on anyone), the trend of a man making a title belt relevant is starting to occur.

Let’s revisit CM Punk’s 434-day title reign last year. This was brilliant, as having the belt change so rarely revived its prestigious aura. It generated more anticipation as to who would hold it next, and it also boosted Punk and his career in more ways than one. This was a prime example of having the championship belt make the man – or making the man greater than he initially was. Aside from that instance, it’s difficult to think of an example of where this has happened in more recent times. In this current feud with John Cena and Brock Lesnar, it’s almost as if their rivalry is overshadowing the grand prize. This match would do just fine without the title at stake, but with it involved, it’s becoming an afterthought – especially after Cena got his a** so drastically handed to him at SummerSlam. A title belt should always be the primary factor that makes a match exciting, and should not be overshadowed by the combatants or story itself. It’s hard to think that this could ever be the case these days, and that’s because WWE’s portrayal of championship belts have made them irrelevant, which shouldn’t have happened in the first place!

It’s not just the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that’s been affected either – it’s safe to say that all of WWE’s belts have diminished in prestige and value. WWE could do several things to make their championship belts become more relevant to solve problems like the one above:

  • Join the Intercontinental and United States Championships. Yes, this’ll probably cause an uproar to life-long fans due to each belt’s prestigious history, but it would help create that one secondary title WWE have so desperately needed. The US Title alone does nothing for its wearer, so joining it with the IC Title – which has also lost its worthy reputation – seems like the logical move. Merging the WWE and World Heavyweight Championship belts was a step in the right direction, as we now have one ultimate champion and there is no longer a dispute over who the real champion is. However, as mentioned above, there is still more work to be done to make this belt the grand prize it once was.
  • Make the jointed IC/US champion have an actual goal of becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and pursue it. This shouldn’t be a title that collects dust around the waist of the holder, but more a stepping stone towards the next big goal – just like how it once was. The Rock and Chris Jericho are two examples of many who have won the IC Championship and gone on to win the ‘big one’. Look at the recent holders of this championship belt now. Kofi Kingston, Bad News Barrett, The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Big E Langston are to name a few. Excluding BNB due to his unfortunate injuries, what have the rest achieved since their IC Championship reigns? Let’s hope Dolph Ziggler’s history repeats itself, allowing his current reign as champion to lead onto bigger things for his career. Doing this would also make the WWE World Heavyweight Championship seem that much more of a worthy possession, and so this would lead to more stars involving themselves in title-related story-lines.
  • Stop showing title matches in pre shows and less-than-mid-card matches! This seriously degrades the value of the title at stake, let alone match itself. How can we feel any respect for a championship/champion if they’re competing in matches that don’t even make any slots on live television? It’s like WWE are telling us where their priorities lie, having story-line-driven matches take up live slots over title matches.
  • Edge & Christian, The Hardys, and The Dudley Boyz had one of WWE’s most heated rivalries over the tag-team titles.

    Make each division more about the belt. The tag-team division is a very confusing one. Yes, you have your tag-team champions, but then you have teams consisting of two random Superstars put together competing for it. Tag-team title defences don’t come too often either, and should happen on a more frequent basis and be the focal point of tag-team rivalries. Establishing more concrete tag-teams would also make a difference, making the belts seem more of a serious prize that the roster strives to acquire. Hopefully the newly-crowned champions Goldust and Stardust can be the ignition of this process. Much of the same could be said with the Diva’s division, although AJ Lee and Paige are greatly aiding its resurrection.

  • Back in the day, if a championship belt was involved, it was the ignition of a feud or rivalry. As mentioned earlier, the belt nowadays is thrown in as some sort of ‘bonus prize’, with it being overshadowed by the rivalry itself. WWE should ensure that story-lines involving complex plots, ‘edgy’ content, and extremely personal rivalries should exist outside title matches. This would allow for exciting title-less matches to occur, increasing the strength of the overall show/pay-per-view. You’re probably thinking, “Won’t we just be left with boring and meaningless title matches?” If WWE played their cards right, they could still generate intense rivalries that are all about the title belt, without making it so personal that it overshadows the treasure at hand.
  • Create a couple of other divisions so that all Superstars have a goal to strive for. At the moment, WWE have a lot of talent that are championship material, but are floating about aimlessly and are wasted on pointless story-lines or over-ambitious title matches that everyone knows they’re not going to win. If divisions such as the Hardcore and Cruiserweight divisions made a return, we’d have more Superstars with an achievable goal in hand, giving championship belts on the whole more recognition and value. It would also lead to some extremely entertaining segments – who didn’t like the 24/7 Hardcore Championship rule back in the day?!

    The Hardcore Championship could change hands anywhere at anytime.

  • The final (and most obvious) suggestion would be to have titles belts change less frequently. As explained earlier, having title changes occur so rarely would increase the belts’ value as a prized possession, making the WWE Universe become more anticipated as to who will hold each title next. It also does wonders for providing a boost in momentum for a built-up star.

These are just a handful of thoughts and ideas of how WWE could regain their titles’ prestigious value back. With these values restored, WWE can achieve the perfect combination of story-line and championship-driven content, ensuring that every match in a weekly show or PPV has some relevant meaning. This would lead to more interesting matches, keeping everyone watching more engaged.

What are your thoughts? Are you happy with the way things are going right now, or do you agree that WWE title belts have lost their aura due to their de-prioritisation? Let us know in the comment section, and please share!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

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Ushering in a new era: WWE’s game-changing week

What a week it’s been for the ‘WWE Universe’. It’s been an emotional seven days, with ups and downs all round. However, despite all the momentous events, the take-away message for this week has been difficult for some fans, and promising for others; the WWE seem to be transitioning into the newest era of its professional wrestling existence.

WrestleMania XXX

Many of you may disagree here, but this was one of the best WrestleManias to date (just beaten by WrestleMania XVII). It had all the ingredients for a successful show, but most importantly, it also signified the slow but sure ending of previous eras that we’ve all clung onto.

The opening

The show kicked-off with Hulk Hogan, introducing the show and welcoming everyone to the Silverdome (ha). He was only to be screen-shot-2014-04-06-at-6-34-01-pminterrupted by ‘Mr Attitude Era’ himself, Stone Cold Steve Austin. After some classic Austin talk, out came The Rock! It was an awesome segment, and long-time WWE fans have waited for years to see ‘The Rattlesnake’ and ‘The Brahma Bull’ in the same ring at the same time. We only got to see a glimpse of this at WrestleMania XXVII. It was probably the best WrestleMania opening we’ve seen to date, and quite frankly, it’s uncertain as to whether we’ll ever get another opening as epic as this one. Can you imagine any bigger legends of the industry opening the show in that fashion? It’s hard to imagine how the WWE would top this in future ‘Manias (unless they lazily brought the same three back in future years to come), and this opening was just one of the reasons to suggest WWE’s closing of one era and opening into another.

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

20140406_WM30_LIGHT_HP_CesarAndreCup1Many people predicted The Big Show to win this match, as it was only right for a legendary giant to be the first man to win such an accolade. However, while it did make sense to have The Big Show come out on top, WWE prioritised their future here, and gave Cesaro the nod to pick up the win. Having the ‘King of Swing’ be the first man to win this prestigious award should now persuade the people who weren’t already convinced that Cesaro is a fully-fledged competitor of the future. This is another indication of WWE shifting its way into a new era, as often relying on stars from the past to carry the company forward is definitely the incorrect move.

The Streak…is over…

What a shocker this was. The reaction from the live crowd (and probably everyone watching around the world) was immense. The end to this match was like Marmite, you either loved it or you hated it (I personally loved the chaos and buzz it caused). However, no matter what anyone’s opinion of this outcome is, it can’t be denied that this result is a major indication of the WWE’s era transition. We now have no ‘Streak’ to look forward to, and whether this be Taker’s last match or not, every future WrestleMania will never be the same again. Hey, maybe they’ll start a ‘Streak’ with someone else? Highly doubtful, but you never know. ‘The Deadman’s’ spot on the ‘Mania card will probably now be taken by a current/future star, once again highlighting the point of the WWE prioritising its future. Oh yeah, and Brock Lesnar was the guy who won, by the way.10150695_1424505227806276_7106890449998293072_n

The ‘YES’ movement flourishes…

An obvious indication of the future rising here; Daniel Bryan not only beat Triple H, but then went onto defeat Randy Orton AND Batista in the same night to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. WWE’s hottest acquisition beat three future Hall of Famers in one night, and to top it all off, he did it on the grandest stage of them all. If evolution ever came to an end, it would be now.WrestleMania-Daniel-Bryan

The Hounds claw their way forward

Not much to be said here. The result of The Shield vs The New Age Outlaws and Kane was another obvious indication of the WWE promoting its current echelon of stars so that the company can continue to gracefully exist in its new era.

But…what about The Wyatt Family?

Bray Wyatt’s loss to John Cena should not be looked upon as a contradiction this theory. Firstly, it would’ve been too soon for Bray to win against WWE’s poster boy. Secondly, The Wyatts have been given a huge push already, and there’s no doubt that by next year’s ‘Mania, they’ll be even bigger than they are now. Last of all, John Cena may not be a ‘new guy’, but he’s certainly far from done. He’ll be like the Taker of the next generation – a living legend that up and coming Superstars will strive to beat to get themselves noticed. The Wyatts will most-definitly be part of the future. All in good time.

RAW after ‘Mania

paigeWithout going into too much detail here, it’s safe to say that this RAW really made it clear that the future of the WWE is near, and that a new era is beginning. Alexander Rusev made his long-awaited in-ring RAW debut, and annoying Adam Rose and corny Bo Dallas vignettes were scattered throughout the show. The biggest story of the show, however, was twenty-one-year-old NXT Diva, Paige, who interrupted AJ Lee and nabbed the Diva’s Championship off of her. While many can agree that she shouldn’t have won the gold just yet, you can be sure that WWE has its future in sight. Let’s not forget about Cesaro becoming a ‘Paul Heyman guy’ as well, joining the likes of CM Punk and his 434-day title-reign, and Brock Lesnar’s defeating of ‘The Streak’. Before you say it, let’s leave Curtis Axel out of this one, shall we?

The late great Ultimate Warrior also said his final words in the public-eye, which mentioned the current-future WWE locker room: “In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well.” Don’t be surprised if next year’s WrestleMania contains less matches with legends and more with the current roster.

To conclude, many of this week’s events in the WWE have indicated a potential shifting of era. Stars of the past have ended their reigns, current stars are further securing their spots, and new stars are gradually making their way-in and stealing the show. It seems as if we’re currently experiencing the transition into a new era. It certainly has been a game-changing week for the WWE, and is definitely an exciting time to be a fan.

May I also take this opportunity to wish Warrior’s (James Hellwig’s) family and friends all the very best. Rest in peace Ultimate Warrior, we appreciate what you have done for this business. tafkagadotcom-rip-ultimate-warrior

Do you agree? Can you sense the transition? Let’s hear your thoughts below!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended.