We all know the title quite well: The World Heavyweight Championship is one of the top two championships of the WWE (three if you consider the ECW title a top championship). The belt is fairly young, having just been created in 2002.
Some choose to credit this belt along the lines of the WCW title. However, WWE has since confirmed that it is a whole new title altogether and that its roots cannot be traced back to either the WCW or NWA heavyweight titles.
The world heavyweight championship once meant something in the WWE. It was a fairly important title and one that was difficult to win. However, it is slowly becoming worthless, and there are several contributing factors to this.
1) Length of the Reigns
I will not go into too much detail surrounding this due to the fact that there is already a whole slideshow about this, by up and comer The Rookie, that can be seen here.
To make a long story short, the world heavyweight championship's longest reign length clocks in at roughly 282 days, the shortest is about five minutes, and the longest reign in the last two years only lasted 105 days (Edge's second reign). The average reign lasts less than two months.
The sheer number of title changes is a joke. Not even John Cena held the title a truly long amount of time (less than three months) and he is the longest reigning WWE champion in the last 20 or so years.
2) Quality of Reigns
This section in no way disputes the quality of the people holding the belts at the time, simply the quality of their title reign.
Tying into the last section, a great majority of the title reigns are short. Since they are so short there is not enough time to create a truly great title reign.
I think the only truly memorable feuds I've seen that involved this title were Batista vs. Undertaker two years ago (a lot of people I've talked to don't remember that the title was even involved) and Edge vs. Undertaker, last year.
CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy is close but it is being ruined by the number of title changes.
3) Number of Champions
Since the title belt's conception almost seven years ago, there have been 32 title reigns and 16 distinct champions. That averages roughly two or three champions a year since the titles creation, and a little less than five title reigns a year.
Out of those 16 champions, seven are on Smackdown, three left the company, one is dead, and the remaining five are on Raw. (Speaking of which, two of the previously mentioned champions are injured, and three will possibly be retiring in a year or so.)
The WWE title in its own 46 year history has had only 39 distinct champions, and 92 separate title reigns. Now I ask you which title is more credible?
4) Statistics and Title Facts
Almost one-third of the current Smackdown Roster has held the championship at some time in their career. Edge, Batista, and Triple H are responsible for 14 of the 32 title reigns.
These same three held the title for more than half of its respective lifespan. The championship has been vacated four times. Since its creation the championship has been traded between Raw and Smackdown three times.
The Belt has been won three times (one Edge, two CM Punk) through use of money in the bank. The respective reigns afterward failed to last longer than two-and-a-half months.
In the last two years, only two people have succeeded in holding the title longer than three months (Edge and Batista). With the exceptions of Punk and Randy Orton, all holders of the title were older than 30 when they won it.
The title has had many champions who are sure-shot WWE Hall of Famers. (Batista, don't be frustrated, but he has been a main eventer for almost his entire career, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and Edge.)
It was involved in some notable feuds during the first few years of his creation, possibly the most notable between Triple H and Batista, and Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
However, no one in the WWE is yet to hold the title for longer than a year since its creation and since Batista set the longest reign in the history of the title, 282 days, no one has held the title for half that length. The closest was Booker T and Batista himself whom both held the title 126 days.
The title is young and the current trading back and forth between Main Eventers is not adding to the value of the title in any way. If the WWE continues this, and fails to produce notable feuds for the title, the world heavyweight title's overall value may be overshot by the IC and United States titles which have both recently had very notable feuds, matches, and title holders.
Note to the Community
I want to address the community briefly on the current situation.
With JLB, M, and Ray leaving to start their own site, and possibly taking a good deal of talented writers with them, we all need to pull through as a community to help Shane and each other in these chaotic times. There are still a lot of talented writers here, and some good ones that don't get a lot of attention.
There is also opportunity in this. With some of the section's notable writers leaving, there is a chance for those underappreciated writers to get noticed.
I am asking—no—I am begging you as a member of this community to step it up and write the best you possibly can.