IN THE ROOM:
Let’s Make This Year’s WM For All The Marbles
People come up to me all of the time and ask my opinion on WWE’s World title situation. All of the time. Like so many others, I don’t see how ONE company can trot out TWO major heavyweight championships, especially when the title often regarded as the more important of the two (Raw’s WWE title) actually implies something so much less prestigious than its counterpart (Smackdown’s World title).
But there are two brands within one company. I get that. They are two brands that WWE has – despite some small degree of inter-mingling – managed to keep as separate entities for almost a decade. With two touring brands and the breadth of the legacy WWE inherited when it acquired WCW, I understand why WWE feels itself entitled to continue carrying around the rich history of both its own heavyweight belt and the big gold one, which represents a 100+ year legacy that was the NWA (and later WCW).
I get it.
That is exactly why I think the answer is to take a page from what the National Football League has been doing here in the US for more than 40 years.
Despite technically being one juggernaut company, the NFL’s two conferences actually represent two different leagues that operated independent of one another as competitors for many years. When the old National Football League (now represented by the NFL’s National Football Conference) acquired the American Football League (most of the teams from which now compete in the NFL’s American Football Conference), it suddenly made a lot of sense to have the two league champions square off every year in one grand match: The SuperBowl.
All together now … WWE’s SuperBowl is … WrestleMania. If need be, WWE would be wise to use SummerSlam and Survivor Series for this purpose as well.
Every month, WWE presents a pay-per-view with at least two main events, each with its own corresponding championship title match. I have always felt – from the moment that Vince McMahon appeared on WCW Nitro and held the fate of all of WCW in his hands – that WrestleMania and other major shows should become the showcase for the two title belts to be put up in a winner-take-all match to crown one, undisputed champion. From there, this undisputed champion would go on to defend his WWE title exclusively against Raw challengers and his World title exclusively against Smackdown contenders.
Another element that would make the brands special is that pay-per-view defenses would be made against the top challenger on the brand the champion DOES NOT call his home brand. That ensures every title match on ppv will be an inter-brand match. And what of poor wrestlers on the brand the champion calls home? That is actually one way to make WWE’s television programming an infinitely more important feel than it now has. Every month, the champion should be locked into a title match with the top challenger on his home brand … on that brand’s pay-per-view go-home show.
What would soon happen is the champion’s monthly pay-per-view and TV defenses would begin to feel more and more important. Perhaps wrestling fans might even start to care about the title belts and the men who wear them even more. And when the champion finally loses one of his titles, WWE will be back where it started … in a prime position to begin the push to once again unify the titles at the next major show.
How can WWE begin to make changes to implement all this? I’m not sure. In a way, they have painted themselves into a corner by announcing a Cena-Rock match all-but-guaranteed to be for the WWE title, even though it is clear WWE is not interested in a part-time, retired champion, such as The Rock, any more than Rocky is interested in headlining for the company every month.
For this to work, WWE needs to back off of the idea of Rock-Cena for the title, and it needs to do so immediately.
My idea might just be the only way to get the fans to start to care about championships once again. So what do you all say? Let’s give WrestleMania a clear main-event this year to complement a featured, well-hyped Cena-Rock match.
Let’s have WrestleMania’s real main-event go to an undisputed winner.
Brady Hicks has been writing about wrestling for more than 15 years, for Web sites, newspapers, and magazines. He is a contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated, and the host of his renowned wrestling podcast, IN THE ROOM, on thebradyhicks.com.