WWE: Assessing the Prestige of the WWE Championship

Michael Prunka@MichaelPrunkaCorrespondent IJune 8, 2012

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 07:  A replica of the WWE world championship belt rests on top of Kyle Busch's #18 Z-Line Designs/WWE Smackdown Toyota prior to the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

The WWE Championship is the crowned jewel of professional wrestling. As such, its prestige has often been the subject of discussion.

The value to the WWE's top title has risen and fallen over the past few years.

Many argue that the title hit a low when Sheamus captured it as a rookie. After only being on the main roster for a few months, the Celtic Warrior found himself challenging John Cena for the title.

Sheamus had been booked as a rather strong heel going into his title match with Cena. However, his title win was a fluke. His reign as WWE Champion would be rather short and forgettable. In the end, he was pushed into the main event scene before he was ready, ultimately hurting the championship.

Others will argue that The Miz's lengthy reign as WWE Champion was detrimental to the championship's prestige. Even though he defended the title against tops names like Randy Orton and John Cena, Miz was one of the weakest WWE Champions in history.

Everything from Miz's look to the manner in which he retained the championship reinforced his image as a weak champion. His only redeeming qualities as a world champion were his above average in ring abilities and his astounding mic skills.

The prestige of the title seems to be on an upswing, though.

CM Punk's long reign has done a lot to bring the belt's prestige back. He's defined what it means to be a fighting champion by defending the title against every competitor that comes his way.

As champion, he's defended the title against the likes of Miz, Alberto del Rio, John Cena, Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan. His matches with the latter two wrestlers are Match of the Year contenders. That said, his wrestling ability and fighting spirit aren't enough to rebuild the title to what it should be.

Nine times out of 10, Punk isn't defending the WWE Championship in the closing match of a pay-per-view. Of the six, PPV's Punk has defended the title on, the only one he he had the chance to close the show was TLC back in December.

John Cena, on the other hand, closed out four of those six PPVs. Even though the last match on the card isn't necessarily the main event, it would seem that the WWE regards Cena as their true top dog.

If the WWE does regard Cena as their top talent, he should be WWE Champion.

By consistently giving Cena the opportunity to close PPVs, they're portraying Cena as above the WWE Championship. That, in and of itself, devalues the championship.

To truly reestablish the WWE Championship as the top title in professional wrestling, it must be held by the industry's top guy. Personally, I believe that to be CM Punk. If the WWE wants to make fans really believe that Punk is the undisputed all-star of pro wrestling, they need to put him in more positions of importance.

If they choose to keep their current model with Cena continuously closing Raw and PPVs, they should make Cena the WWE Champion. As much as I have enjoyed Punk's reign, they're not portraying him as the top guy in the WWE.


Michael Prunka is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist. To stay up to date with his WWE and NHL commentary, you can like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter.