WWE: Will the World Championship Always Be Considered the 'Secondary' Title?

Tom ClarkFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

photo by listas.20minutos.es
photo by listas.20minutos.es

Which title is more important, the WWE or World Championship?  

Not everyone at once now, I’m trying to count the votes.

Okay, forget the count.  The majority of you said the WWE Championship.  Don’t lie, you totally did.

It likely goes without saying that the World Title is No. 2 in Vince McMahon’s company.  It has arguably been that way since the belt’s beginning back in 2002, when Eric Bischoff handed the title to Triple H.

Yep, just gave it right to him.  May as well have had a bright red bow on it.

At the time, I was honestly a little outraged by it.  Despite the fact that pro wrestling championships are not won or lost due to legitimate athletic competition, I personally am of the old school belief that they should be earned.

So, when Hunter accepted the title I, like other fans out there, threw down the remote, picked up a pistol, and shot the TV, Elvis Presley style.

What, you guys didn’t do that?

After regaining my composure, however, I accepted that the title being served up to the Game on a silver platter was just a means to an end.  Hunter was the top heel in WWE at the time, and being awarded a championship that he did not win gave him unspeakable heat with the crowd.

His character then followed the Ric Flair archetype as World Heavyweight Champion, and he carried the big gold belt with more swagger and more ego than fans had seen since the days when the Nature Boy wore it in the NWA.

Since its reintroduction, the belt has been held by many top names in the business, including Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, the Undertaker and Randy Orton.  After 10 years of title defenses by some of the biggest Superstars in WWE, the belt has gained some real credibility, and should be considered a top tier title, on par with its counterpart on Raw.

But at this point, the issue of even the WWE Championship’s importance has become the topic of heated debates among fans.  This is due to the man who has held it for nearly a year now, and his particular place in the company.

CM Punk is hotter than he has ever been, enjoying a lengthy title reign, and a storyline involving an equally hot Paul Heyman.  He is considered a talented worker who gets it done in the ring.

Yet, he has rarely been featured in main events on Raw or on pay-per-views.  That spot goes to John Cena, who has not been champion since October of last year.  

While this is disappointing for some fans, it is not surprising, as Cena is the face of WWE, and has been for quite some time.  Everything is centered around him, whether he is champion or not.

So, has the WWE title now become perhaps a little less relevant? 

Regardless of the fact that Punk’s lack of main event exposure is also by design, the question of just how valuable the WWE title has become because of it is still being discussed as we speak.  So, where does that leave the World title?

Sheamus is over with the crowd, he’s entertaining and he has had his share of hard fought, smash mouth matches.  He does have marketability thanks to his image, and he is enjoying his own fairly long title reign.

But, does anyone consider him to be above CM Punk in any way?  If a title unification match were held on Raw next week, do we really believe that Sheamus would go over?

However, is that a reflection of Sheamus as a performer, or the popular recognition of the World title as WWE’s secondary championship?  

Or, is it both?

For me, it is very obvious that the WWE Championship is the one that garners the most attention and the most focus because of the history behind it.  That title has seen a lot since its inception in 1963, and has outlived nearly every other major championship in the industry.  This is WWE’s top prize, its bread and butter.  This is the one that so many kids and current Superstars dreamed of wearing.

I would guess that no one has ever said “I want to grow up and be considered the second best in WWE, wearing a title that was created only because the roster was so big the shows were split into two separate brands.”

It’s a bit wordy, anyway.

Yes, the World Championship has been worn by some of the all-time greats, by Superstars who weren’t concerned with the title’s perceived lack of unimportance as they were getting in the ring and bringing the house down.

The fact is a championship’s value is largely determined by the guy who holds it.  If that man is good, if he’s over, then the title’s status is uplifted, and considered more relevant.  No one ever questioned the World title’s value when Undertaker wore it.

But, what about Goldberg?  No disrespect to him, but he has always carried a certain amount of heat throughout his career, and his reign as World Champion in WWE was not the legendary run that some others have had.

Basically, the World Championship is only as good as the worker who holds it.  Many Superstars undoubtedly see that as a challenge to step up make it count.  And, there is nothing wrong with that.

But for fans to take any championship in WWE seriously, an effort must be made to feature it prominently on TV and on pay-per-view.  Then the right Superstar has to wear it.  When these things happen, titles immediately mean more and become hugely important.

In the case of the World Championship and its status next to the WWE Championship, it may always have an asterisk by is name as the “other” WWE title.  And as long as that is the case, then the discussion of its value may never end.

The debate rages on.