Life After Wrestlemania: WWE Championship
Our Life After Mania series continues today with a look at the WWE championship and its treatment over the next 12 months.
As we discussed yesterday with the WWE network, it is supremely important that the company refocus its priorities on building up the monthly PPV's. But to do that, viewers must feel they are tuning in to watch something important. Well, nothing should be more important than the world title.
Over the last few years the WWE has had a major issue with devaluing the championships. There is an old saying that used to be, the title makes the man. Well, Vince McMahon's well known philosophy is different, as its the man makes the title. Vince believes the title is a mere prop. he even hates calling it a belt or a title and those words are banned. In the WWE it is to be referred to as a championship.
I honestly believe both points have merit, but if the title is treated as it means nothing, the man and the title won't mean a damn thing.
Historically the WWF/WWE title was the cream of the crop when it came to prestige. Once the WWWF split from the NWA and only recognized its own World champion.
Champions were given long title runs and treated like legends. The standard barrier, without question was Bruno Sammartino. Bruno was the World champion for 8 consecutive years. Pedro Morales was champion for 3 years. Bob Backland held the title for 5 consecutive years. Hulk Hogan took the championship to new heights as he led the WWF's evolution into the mainstream during his first 4 year run as champion.
Then times started changing, and the strap changed hands on a yearly basis, usually culminating with a big win at Wrestlemania. But even then, the win meant something because there was a story surrounding it. Then the Monday Night Wars changed everything.
During the height of the Monday night war, both WWF and WCW felt a need to one up each other. Enter the art of hotshot-ting. Hotshot-ting in wrestling is a term used for when a promoter shoots an impromptu or unplanned angle, out of the blue or without long term planning. This is usually done to create buzz or attention. Occasionally, if done right, this can be a great change of pace and keep things exciting. But during the late 90's, it did allot more bad than good.
To be clear, before 1999, the most the WWF title had changed hands in a calendar year was 5 times, and that was in 1997, also during the Monday night War.
In 1999, the WWF title changed hands 11 times. 11 times. There are only 12 months in a year, and a new champion was crowned 11 times. The short term positive effects were, people felt something important could happen at anytime, so they had to tune in every week, to every show, to make sure they didn't miss anything.
The long term negative effect was , people felt nothing was really all that important about the championship, if it was changing hands every month. How prestigious could it be if everyone was winning it?
This act of hotshot-ting the world title had devastating long term effects on the WWF title and while the company remained hot due to the superstars such as Austin and Rock, the emphasis soon became more about the individual superstars and not about the championships. So when the individuals were no longer present, the title began to mean less and less. The emphasis shifted.
So when Vince McMahon won the WWF title, the jumping of the shark was complete. Why would you really care at this point.
The philosophy over the last 15 years has been so different in regards to the WWE World title. In the past it was about long significant title reigns, and today its all about multiple title reigns. Its like everyone is competing to see who can top Ric Flair's record for most title wins. Everyone wins the title, everyone loses the title. And very few people are viewed as important.
A few years ago, CM Punk held the World title for 434 days consecutively. That's a little more than a year. And it was treated like an important feat. This was so refreshing as it positioned Punk and the title as the best in the company and it up that whomever beat him, would instantly be a made guy, because he beat a long reigning, important champion. Genius right?
Well, of course, instead of using that platform to elevate someone, Punk got beat by a guy who was already made and didn't need it, The Rock. Just dumb.
But the point is, the best way to make the championship important is to book the champion as important and give him time to defend his title in important matches. The WWE needs to return to making things prestigious again. There is no competition, you won the war, so act like it dammit!!!!
Which brings us to current day WWE. Brock Lesnar lost the WWE title to Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania, after a 8 month run as champ. Normally I would say that was too short, but due to Brock's part time schedule and the benefit of Rollins capturing the title at Mania, I liked it.
What they do with it next will be key. Rollins should not be a transition champion. If you are going to go with the guy, run with him. That is the only way fans will take the title run and the championship itself seriously.
That title around the waist of Brock Lesnar meant more than anyone in the company. No knock against Daniel Bryan or anyone else, but Brock is just a different animal. His MMA credibility adds a different layer to his mystique and without question, he elevated the title.
Seth Rollins deserves a run on top, and I wouldn't beat him until at least Survivor Series. The obvious choice is Summerslam, but I believe more time on top, with Seth escaping with the title, will make fans want to get behind whomever is chasing him for the title in the Fall, and a huge win would be a memorable moment. Seth up against an opponent the fans think will beat him at Summerslam, and him surviving, will only add to his heat.
But most likely, he will be done as champion by Summerslam, and Vince can move on to his next project. It's sad that I'm so pessimistic sometimes when it comes to Vince. But the guy continues to create self fulfilling prophecies and then says "I told you so", when they come true.
If the WWE doesn't get back to consistently booking whomever they make their champion as a legit star, not just the already made guys, then the value of the championship will continue to deteriorate.
Check back tomorrow as I look at the Intercontinental and United States Championships treatment going forward.