Randy Orton: WWE World Heavyweight Champion
After 11 years, there's no more confusion. WWE has finally gone back to the sanity of a singular world champion, the way it's always been in a given pro wrestling company.
One of the amazing things about having two world titles is that WCW did it first, and I bet there are a lot of people who never would have approved if they knew that. In 1992, after the WCW and NWA World Heavyweight Titles had been split for a year, the NWA title was revived and eventually treated as equal to or more important than the WCW title. It was confusing to say the least, and the titles being unified after two years came way too late.
WWE took a confusing situation and made it more confusing. At least the NWA and WCW titles represented two different organizations. It wasn't like the "World Heavyweight Championship" didn't represent WWE. Until the last few years, the importance of both titles went back and forth depending on what brand each represented and what wrestler held it. You couldn't just say a wrestler was the number one guy in WWE because he held the WWE Championship.
The names didn't necessarily track with the importance of the titles. Logically speaking, the champion of the world should be more important than the champion of WWE. In practice, I guess WWE often was bigger or more important than the entire world.
When a lapsed fan (especially one who stopped watching before Summer 2002) asked you who the champion was, what was your answer? Did you have to think about it?
Sums up the problems pretty nicely, doesn't it?
Having two champions wasn't all bad, though. A lot of deserving wrestlers wouldn't have gotten a shot at being champion if WWE didn't add the second title:
- Mark Henry had a great, great storyline in 2011 about never being champion that not only won over his remaining critics, but actually boosted TV ratings and house show business for SmackDown when he won the World Heavyweight Championship from Randy Orton.
- CM Punk wouldn't have gotten his early runs as World Heavyweight Champion, the second of which gave him a major spotlight for his initial heel turn on Jeff Hardy where he really cut loose doing interviews.
- In general, Money in the Bank might not have ever existed and if it did, it would have been a lot different.
And so on.
That could very well be part of the problem, though. The ill-timed World Heavyweight Championship reign of Jack Swagger never would have happened with one title. He got it way too early and failed, which tarnished his career as a singles wrestler. Three and a half years later in the Real Americans team, he's finally starting to make a positive impression again, but even then he's an ancillary part of an act where he's in third place behind his partner and their manager.
As for the two separate house show tours WWE runs (formerly the Raw and SmackDown tours), I don't see the end of the two titles making a difference. If one tour was going to draw more than the other in a given city because the "world champion" is there, it's because of the wrestler holding the belt. John Cena, Daniel Bryan or CM Punk without a belt is a lot more valuable than Alberto Del Rio with one.
It's not going to solve all of WWE's problems, but I think it's a nice step forward. Agree? Disagree? Want to reminisce about Jack Swagger, World Heavyweight champion? Sad that the big gold belt used for the World Heavyweight Championship is disappearing? Let us know in the comments.