There's simply no reason in the current era of WWE to have two top titles, those being the WWE Championship, and the World Heavyweight Championship. The latter was brought in back in 2002 and presented to Triple H after then-Undisputed WWE Champion Brock Lesnar signed a story-line contract to remain exclusively on SmackDown, and so RAW needed it's own Championship in order for the shows to really feel like separate brands.
Back then it worked. WWE had enough stars to warrant two full rosters with their own championships and even staged "brand exclusive" Pay-Per-View events for a couple of years. How times can change!
When it was introduced, many believed that it diluted the box office appeal of Brock Lesnar's WWE title. The new championship (which has NO lineage or connection whatsoever with the NWA World Heavyweight Title or the WCW World Heavyweight Title - even if it is the same belt) was the genius idea of none-other than it's first ever holder - Triple H himself!
The story goes that Triple H was penciled in to win the Intercontinental Championship, but he felt that if that was RAW's top title, it would make RAW look inferior to SmackDown and him to Brock Lesnar. In all honesty, you can't really blame his thinking there - it makes sense which is why the Intercontinental Championship was, if only temporarily, abolished. As the years rolled on, the WWE's version of the World Heavyweight Championship began to rise in prestige after it was held by names such as Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, Goldberg and Randy Orton. In 2005 the titles were swapped with the brands. Batista (as World Heavyweight Champion) was drafted to SmackDown, and John Cena (the WWE Champion) was drafted to RAW. Both brands had a major top tier title and for most of the time period I'm inclined to say it worked very well even if I wasn't a fan of the "WWE Draft".
The fact that each brand had it's own stars who very rarely strayed onto the other show, and it's own set of Pay-Per-View events made it appropriate to have the titles. After a while, we got used to it - accepted the fact that a SmackDown-only PPV HAD to be headlined by it's World Title.
Fast forward ten years to 2012. The brand-exclusive Pay-Per-Views are gone. The WWE and World Heavyweight Champions appear on almost every episode of RAW and SmackDown and most definitely EVERY SINGLE PPV. The thin-ness of the roster has forced the WWE to pool its rosters and effectively end the roster split, and now that RAW is 3-hours for what seems to be permanently, a roster split now makes absolutely no sense. Neither does 2 World Titles. The fact that also, apart from Night of Champions, neither of the titles has main evented a PPV the entire year of 2012 so far only goes to devalue BOTH titles. I propose the WWE bite the bullet and unify the titles at Survivor Series in a six-way elimination match featuring CM Punk, Sheamus, John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler.
As the single lone heavyweight championship (as it was up until 2001) it can be booked as the ULTIMATE prize. The centerpiece of the organisation. The competition would become more intense, and more interesting. Instead of 3 or 4 superstars competing for 2 titles, you'd have 7 or 8 competing for 1. WWE has so few main-eventers these days that they're struggling to find fresh new opponents ti challenge each Pay-Per-View. Let's face it, it's been Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus and CM Punk vs John Cena for what seems like an eternity now. The fact that WWE had Mark Henry as World Heavyweight Champion for 3 months says it all. That's not a knock on Mark Henry, because when he had the title he had a great run in my opinion, but nobody expected it, and frankly it was because WWE was out of options.
So when the WWE have done that, what about the rest of the title picture?
Well again, we had the US and Intercontinental Championships serving as second-tier titles for upcoming main eventers on BOTH brands. Again, no need to have both titles anymore. Now is an absolutely perfect time with Antonio Ceasaro serving as United States Champion to denounce the title and bring back the European Championship, you know, cos he's European? I would then have an up-and-comer like Tyson Kidd or Justin Gabriel defeat him for it. Or perhaps even Zack Ryder. That way, you establish that title again much like the WWE did back in 1997 when it first introduced it. It can be the title that those guys who get little to no TV time fight for. Guys like Heath Slater, Brodus Clay (OK he gets TV time but seriously where is that gimmick going?), Gabriel, Kidd, McGuillicutty, and some of the NXT guys can be brought up to compete for it.
The Intercontinental Championship then automatically becomes a much bigger pictures, and once again becomes THE title if you want to establish yourself as a top contender for the future. To be fair, currently the title has more prestige than it has had in years, but it's not defended nearly enough. Remember in 2001 when almost EVERY PPV opened with an Intercontinental title match that was usually one of the best matches of the night? Yeah, let's do that again!
Cody Rhodes was an absolutely fantastic champion last year, and in your writers' opinion was the absolute epitome of what an Intercontinental Champion should be. Thanks to his and Randy Orton's feud in November, Rhodes seemed poised to take the next step. His dispute with Booker T was perfectly done but sadly WWE dropped the ball and instead of capitalizing on Rhodes' enhancement, they stuck him with Big Show in a pointless feud which erased all of the hard work that Orton and Booker had done with him.
The title needs to be rehabilitated so to speak. It should become THAT title again, that guys like Cody, Miz, Christian, Ryback, Swagger, McIntyre, Kofi put on superb matches for to win (which they're capable of). It's the ultimate stepping stone to what will be the brand new unified WWE Championship. It'll take time, but it can be done. A few hard fought matches, the odd ladder and cage match and that championship is prestigious again. In order to make it credible though, the IC champion should defend the title at EVERY PPV, but very rarely on TV and he should ideally hold the title for a while. That way, when he loses it, the person who beats him is seen as a headliner-in-the-making. The former champion already has the credibility of holding a major championship for a long time.
So now you've got 3 singles championships to be competed for on 2 flagship shows instead of 4. Suddenly the title picture looks much better. Especially now that you have a "top, middle and bottom" title system in place.
I was going to talk about the Tag Team Championships, which apart from the Divas title, is the most worthless piece of junk in WWE history. A title for a non-existent division. However, Triple H has taken personal responsibility of the tag team division, and it finally looks like it's going somewhere. This is great news. Tag Teams are getting over, and the fatal four way recently at No Way Out proved it. Making their entrances, neither team got a very good reaction, but by the end of the match they had drawn the crowd into the action and won them over. A tough New Jersey crowd as well, no less. The fact that (if my plan was to be done) there's no US title anymore, that means more TV time for the tag teams, and now that RAW is 3 hours, that first hour is the ESSENTIAL time to book the European and Tag Team divisions. Regardless of whether or not WWE unified any titles, the tag team division is something they MUST invest in. When someone isn't getting over, put him in a tag team.
WWE is a company who is quick to blame others for it's talent crisis (unappreciative fans, other feds etc...) yet there's a lot of things it isn't doing to help matters. A lively tag division identifies talent who connect with an audience. Just look what it did for Shawn Michales, Jeff Hardy and Edge. Less pressure on newcomers as well if they're put in a tag team. There are so many things a newcomer can do with a partner IF he's allowed to deviate from WWE's punch and kick style. If given the chance, the best individuals of a team would shine. That way, a year or so down the line the split and heel turn of one member can occur. It worked wonders for the guys I mentioned above.
It's WWE's ideal solution and it's staring them right in the face.
As for the Divas division? I'd get rid of it completely. Or if absolutely neccesary, move it to WWE Superstars. At least until they call up the ladies from NXT who can actually put on some good wrestling matches.
My next column will discuss who WWE should turn and who they should push. Development, and why they should give Daniel Bryan his own talk show. Join me again soon!
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