Photo Credit – Wrestling-Edge
One of the many problems that WWE has that not a lot of people are talking about is that they have too many championships and that in itself hurts the product because they have championships just for the sake of having them and do little to nothing of importance with them. At present on the main roster WWE has a total of 12 championships (2X World, Tag and Women’s titles, 3X tag team titles and 1X IC, U.S. and the 24/7 titles), that is an insane amount of titles. They are like participation trophies everyone has one and in the eyes of the fans very few mean anything. I remember in 2001 when the WWF bought WCW and Shane McMahon appeared on Byte This! as the “new owner of WCW” and one of the things he said was that everyone had a title in WCW and that would change in his WCW. Well WCW never had anywhere close to 12 active titles at the same time. If you add in NXT’s 4 titles, the number balloons to 16 but NXT’s 4 titles isn’t as bad but it has one too many which I will get into further down the article.
There is a old saying that less is more and it could not be truer when it comes to gold in the WWE. Former WWF/WCW/TNA head writer, Vince Russo, has famously said over the years that titles are just props, well Russo is partially right if they too many of them and they have no real value in the eyes of the fans or even the wrestlers carrying them. So you may ask what makes a title mean something, well to me these are the key things that are needed:
1) History – a championship that has been around for a long time and has been held by legends and HOFamers is a huge part of its prestige. The WWE Championship is one of the oldest championships in the business, with only maybe the NWA Championship being older but due to that titles checkered history, its easier to say that for most the WWE Championship is the definitive world championship. History greatly helps to bring prestige to a championship. The WWE Universal title had a very rough start as a new world championship but arguably it has reached its most prestigious point now during Roman Reigns’ great tribal chief run with it.
2) Current Champion – Just as important as who held the title is who is currently holding the title. Building on what I said above, arguably Roman Reigns new tribal chief persona is the best work of his career. For years fans buried WWE for shoving Reigns down fans throats as the top guy as a babyface and I remember going make him heel, half the audience hates him so give them a reason to boo him and those that cheer him will join the haters. It is much easier to be a heel than a face. Anyway, Roman carries himself as a legit champion and treats it as the definitive world title in WWE. He gives the impression to the audience that this title matters and that is crucial.
3) Feuds – Part of the mystic of a championship is the legendary feuds and matches that took place over that title. The sacrifices men have made to win or retain a championship are a huge part of the prestige. Yes we all know matches have pre-determined outcomes but it is the story that the wrestlers tell that makes us ignore that fact and just be a fan. From the legendary ladder match at WM 10 over the IC Championship to this past year’s WM where Reigns defended against Edge and Daniel Bryan, these matches kept fans on the edge of their seats as they didn’t know who was going to win and the story they told made us care about the outcome and therefore made us care about the championship.
4) TV Time – This is the final piece, championships need TV time to help make them seem important. Although a lot of negative things have been said about Vince Russo over the years, I will say every title had TV exposure and was defended on almost all the PPVs in the late 90s. Today, that isn’t true and part of it is because there are too many of them to feature, which in and of itself should be a wakeup call to them that it’s a mistake to have so many. Champions need TV time and need meaningful storylines that lead to the monthly PPVs.
So I’m sure you are asking, how many titles should there be? Personally, I would have 4 or 5 and that is it. So here’s what I would like to see happen:
ELIMINATED ALL TOGETHER:
1) 24/7 Championship – this title started as a joke and for those that remember the hardcore title it seemed like they brought that back with wacky title changes. Now like Crash Holly did with the hardcore title, Truth has made the 24/7 title entertaining for a little while but the title has worn out its welcome a long time ago and has ZERO prestige at all. Retire the thing for good and end it.
2) Women’s Tag Team Championship – the only reason I say end it is because they have completely mismanaged this from the start. They created the championship without the tag team division to support it. Just throwing together singles wrestlers and going you’re a team now doesn’t always work. Adding to that the releasing of Rudy Riott and Lana eliminated two tag teams. If you don’t have the infrastructure to support it being the tag teams and won’t give them meaningful storylines it doesn’t make sense to have the titles as it does a disservice to women’s division to even have the titles. Almost every team that has won the titles were part time teams and almost immediately broke up after one reign, that’s not a meaningful division. The one right thing they had going for it was that they were defended on all three brands until they decided to give NXT their own Women’s tag titles which was also a mistake. The single set of women’s tag titles being defended on all three brands meant you could develop teams in NXT who could challenge for those titles and they’d eventually be teams on the main roster as well. Instead WWE is just throwing short time teams together and going this will work and it is not. Don’t have a title if you aren’t willing to support it.
1) WWE & Universal – I know there are two separate brands but I have always been of the believe that there should only be ONE world champion. There can only be one top dog and I feel the champion should be on both Raw and SD. This is the man that is the face of the company and by splitting it, you are diminishing the appearance of that person truly being the best. For me, even though the WWE Championship is the more prestigious title, I look at Roman Reigns as the true world champion of WWE right now. He is hitting all the key points that I stated above and although Lashley is carrying himself as a champion he isn’t having the matches and feuds that Roman is having over the title. If only one title remains its the WWE Championship.
2) Tag Team – This is another obvious one, WWE has always struggled with the tag titles for the most part because Vince is supposedly not that big a fan of it. Unlike the women’s tag titles, WWE does have male tag teams to support the division but having one team defend across both Raw and SD as WWE Tag Team Champions could help add value to the titles instead of only being the champions of Raw or SD.
3) Women’s – Just like the men’s top titles, the women’s championship should be unified. Like I stated above, the champion can defend across the brands and feud with women across the brands. There can only be one top spot and splitting it doesn’t help it. Now I will say like the men’s world title, WWE has made both the Raw and SD Women’s titles appear important but I think a unified title makes it even more prestigious and makes it more competitive if there is only one. Could the Women’s division support a secondary title like a IC or U.S? I’m not sure at this moment it could but it is definitely something that could be possible in the future as the roster including NXT is very talented.
1) IC and U.S. – On one hand, these could be merged but both titles have a tremendous history and I think the brands have enough secondary talent to support these. If you would merge them only the IC would remain as it’s origins are exclusively WWE and the U.S. title, they are leaning on the NWA/WCW history and WWE will not drop their own title for another promotions history. The problem that WWE has had is that over the years between multiple title changes, less than stellar champions and feuds that were meh both titles suffered. Both titles, specifically the IC has been given more prominence on TV and from the Zayn title run to now Apollo and the feud over the title at the moment it is trending in the right direction. The U.S. title at the moment is getting TV time but the jury is still out on Sheamus’ reign as he is barely defending it.
I know this was a long article but just to sum everything up, WWE reduce the number of titles and put some effort into the remaining titles. If you care about them it will go a long way in helping us care about them. Putting a title on a talent doesn’t just make someone a star if it is just a prop and means nothing to the company or in the fans eyes either. Both the title, the talent holding it and how the company presents it helps make the title mean something and makes the talent a star. It is a team effort and that is something that the powers that be have forgotten. Titles shouldn’t just be props to sell fans toys and replica belts they should mean something!