For eight long years, many fans have been waiting for a change to WWE's top title. John Cena introduced the spinner belt on April 11, 2005, and it wasn't until the most recent episode of Raw that a new belt was brought into the fold. As much as most welcome the change, WWE could have done much better had it taken past designs into account.
When WWE set the stage for The Rock's WWE Championship celebration one night after he defeated CM Punk to retain the title, a stand could be seen with something covered by a sheet. This immediately fueled speculation of a new title, and it came to fruition as The Rock tossed Cena's signature title aside in favor of an alternative.
Should WWE have drawn from past designs for the new title?
I have been tired of the spinner belt for quite some time, especially since it doesn't really fit anyone other than Cena. It was a bit too gaudy for my liking and the fact that it said "Champ" rather than "Champion" always bothered me.
With that said, I'm not sure that the new title is an improvement. If it is, then it's only a slight improvement as there was plenty to complain about at first sight.
The thing that I immediately noticed was that there was no shine to it. Say what you will about the spinner belt, but at least it looked like gold. The new title is extremely dull, and it doesn't pop at all when you see it.
Part of that likely stems from the fact that the leather behind the main plate can be seen. All of that leather takes away from the plates, and it doesn't create a big-time feel.
I'm also not too keen on the main-plate design. The WWE logo is certainly iconic, but it wasn't made to be featured on the front of championship belts. The logo is asymmetrical, and I simply don't like it as the main focus.
It was in the center of the spinner belt for eight years, but the logo is now much bigger and more prominent. It draws all of the attention, and that isn't a positive.
The one thing that does intrigue me is the possibility of customizable side plates. The Rock's title currently has Brahma bulls on either side of the main plate, so perhaps each new champion will have side plates of their own.
The basic side plates are simply WWE logos, though, so they may take the place of the bulls when The Rock loses. There is also no nameplate on the belt, which is a huge departure from the norm. I'm certainly not a fan of that as it has been a part of the WWE Championship for so many years.
I totally understand that WWE is constantly trying to move forward and innovate, but moving backward wouldn't have been a bad idea when it comes to the WWE Championship. The new title design is something that has never been seen before, however, the WWE Championship should have a classic feel that each and every fan can identify with.
Because of that, the ideal move would have been a reprisal of the winged eagle, which was used from 1988 until 1998, or perhaps even the big eagle belt, which succeeded the winged eagle and was used throughout the Attitude Era.
Those are unquestionably the two best-looking WWE Championships of all time, and a modern spin on them likely would have generated a much more positive reaction from the audience.
The eagle may not be the symbol of WWE, but it is one that every American understands. Vince McMahon likes to think of WWE as a slice of Americana, and the eagle represents that extremely well.
The WWE logo was never a focal point of the WWE Championship until the spinner belt, and rather than totally departing from a design that most fans disliked, WWE exacerbated the issue.
My argument is that less is more when it comes to title belts. All people want to see is a nice, clean, uncluttered, recognizable design. Most would probably agree that the spinner belt failed in that regard as there was simply too much going on with that title. The new one certainly isn't as flashy, but it looks forced and I simply don't enjoy it.
One of the first things I thought of when I saw it was that it looked like a Super Bowl ring blown up into belt form. It's definitely a unique look, but it all comes back to the main plate overwhelming the belt as a whole.
The two eagle-based belts were subtle, yet spectacular and should have remained the standard for years. Once the Undisputed Championship came into existence, however, the eagle was no longer a part of the WWE Championship.
Perhaps the current belt is only temporary, but I have to believe that it will serve as the main title for the foreseeable future. WWE had to know that fans were calling for the demise of the spinner belt for years, but that never seemed to phase the company. The spinner belt overstayed its welcome in a major way, and I'm hopeful that the same thing won't happen with the new championship.
The most important thing for WWE when it came to titles used to be a great, classy design. Now it seems to me like the main goal is to showcase the WWE logo so that everyone who sees it relates it to WWE.
Essentially, WWE is catering to fringe fans and non-fans in hopes that it can convert them. Hardcore fans are already hooked, so there is little desire to give in to their demands.
Maybe this title will ultimately grow on me and the majority of WWE's fanbase, but I'm certainly not impressed at this point. As much as I can respect WWE's effort to move forward, tradition should never be forgotten.
WWE has had some incredible title designs, and I cannot see the current one ever being mentioned in the same breath as the winged or big-eagle belts.