WWE Positive Counterpoints, Volume III: 5 Reasons a New WHC Is Actually Okay
Once again, someone's gotta do it. Please see the last slide for past Positive Counterpoint articles of mine, as well as a link to FightLife Magazine. Take a look!
THIS ARTICLE DEALS HEAVILY WITH SPOILERS OF LAST NIGHT'S SMACKDOWN TAPINGS, IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY READ THEM! THERE, DISCLAIMER OVER!
Upon formulating this article, I attempted to come up with catchy names within the character limit to veil what had occurred during last night's Smackdown tapings, as I tend to be as considerate with my articles giving away Friday Night reveals as I can. However, since so many writers have already carelessly decided to unleash their feelings without any consideration for the folks who wish to be surprised (even in article TITLES), I figured spending anymore effort in covering up the details were rather futile, so I picked this one and a photo.
In short terms, last night's Smackdown tapings have seen Randy Orton put in an impromptu match against Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship and the Viper taking the title off Edge's best friend.
That's the short version.
Thing is, you can read all the spoilers you want and unless someone describes in excruciating detail every word of every promo, every facial expression, every match, every single thing that occurs no matter how minuscule, all you can really judge is the short version, the outcome.
So once again, I feel compelled to counter the wave of negativity with some level of optimism.
Don't get me wrong about any of what you're about to read, and what you can retroactively view in the links to my past Positive Counterpoint articles. I'm not necessarily implying that every negative thing that people say about events such as the WWE Rebranding, the 2011 Draft and Christian having the World Championship pulled off him and slapped onto Randy Orton is wrong.
It's not. My first reaction to seeing my followers on Twitter complain was exactly as theirs was. Anger, bitterness, frustration.
But let's do a little breaking down of this situation, in hopes of calming down...
Two Schools of Thought on Christian
Let's start by calling a spade a spade, okay? When it comes to Christian, there are easily two schools of thought.
One school of thought says the guy has been a midcarder in WWE for a reason. It says that he ascended to the heights of TNA because TNA is an inferior wrestling promotion who wanted to stick it to WWE by slapping a championship on one of their midcarders. It says that Christian isn't main event material, isn't that interesting, isn't that entertaining and deserves to stay out of the main event/world title scene altogether.
The other school of thought says that of all the guys in WWE, who have put in years and years worth of their time, effort, dedication and heart into each and every one of their performances, Christian is one of the few who deserves at least a short run as World Champion.
Personally, I'm a subscriber of the latter school.
After all, Kane's run as World Heavyweight Champion last year seemed pretty satisfying. He snuck in after winning Money in the Bank and basically stole the title from Mysterio; however, he succeeded in defeating his legendary brother cleanly shortly after, thus proving that Kane did indeed deserve to wear the belt.
Christian, on the other hand, was clearly inserted into the ladder match at Extreme Rules as a replacement for his best friend, his mission being to keep the belt off of Alberto to honor his fallen retired compadre. Add to that Edge's cameo at the Extreme Rules PPV and Christian's victory gets considerably watered down and less significant for his own personal advancement.
Still, like many out there, I would've liked to see Christian at least have a chance to prove himself as champion before taking the belt off him. However, since this may not be the last time we Christian wearing WWE gold, let's take a look at what good could come from Christian losing the title at this juncture...
1. Randy Orton Has a Better Reason to Turn Heel
I know it's a subject that not everyone likes dealing with, but to those out there who are real enthusiasts of judging decisions and body language, the feud between CM Punk/New Nexus and Randy Orton started by painting Orton as a bit of a heel. Maybe not the only heel, but his actions to start things were slightly heelish, let's be honest.
He had far too much momentum as a face to be booed, though, and CM Punk and Nexus were collectively too strong as heels for the roles to change because of something that happened some two or three years ago, but logically speaking (at least according to Punk), Orton started the feud. And if you look back in time, he did so as a heel.
Orton punted Punk at the Unforgiven PPV as a member of the heel stable known as Legacy. It caused a face Punk to forfeit his World Heavyweight Championship. At the time, we were meant to be sympathetic to Punk and boo Orton and Legacy. When the roles reversed, and Punk cost Orton the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble, fans had Orton as their favorite and weren't relenting despite Punk laying out a perfectly good reason for his actions.
All that being said, a lot of people have been dying for Orton to turn heel. He's heralded by many in the IWC as being better as a heel. Personally, I think he can be strong asboth heel and face; however, during his recent face run, he hasn't been nearly as destructive or powerful or as much of a loner as he needed to be to reach that top rung.
Furthermore, being on Raw forced him to compete with John Cena for that top rung and there was no competition there. Cena's the top guy in the company and no matter how much more interesting Orton's character is than Cena's, he was destined to be No. 2 next to Cena. Thus, it seemed only natural for Orton to go to the blue brand, but I guess people got they wished for.
People were clamoring for Orton to go to Smackdown and he has. According to the spoilers, he demanded a title shot, along with Mark Henry and Khali, Teddy Long asked the fans to choose who they wanted to challenge Christian for the belt, and here we are.
Fighting Nexus wasn't the way to turn Orton heel, but for Orton to sneak in, demand a match before Christian even has time to process his victory at the PPV and basically steal the title from a guy who's never won it?
Kind of disrespectful, if you think about it. At least, on paper.
Next week on Smackdown, Orton will likely get a "new champion address," like many people get when they win a belt. Depending on if and how Christian responds, Randy Orton's image may just see a slight change.
An easy way to go would be for Christian to "invoke his rematch clause," so we may just see Orton/Christian 2, which it's very possible Christian may lose; however, getting beaten back by Orton, who has an unstoppable current level of momentum, may lead Christian into a new feud, which could be very beneficial.
2. Christian's Victory at Extreme Rules, His Intro to the Main Event Scene
As I pointed out with Kane, he won the World Heavyweight Championship last year. But with Kane, he was established as a major superstar/mainstay in WWE by that time, and defeated Undertaker cleanly at the following PPV. Only reason he wasn't busy defending the title over and over on Smackdown was because his rivalry with Undertaker was largely dramatic and theatrical.
Taker considered the belt his "holy grail," Kane now had it, the little brother put the bigger brother in a vegetative state, etc., but it was far more entertaining watching Taker and Kane fire magic shots back and forth and use their powers against each other, than it was to watch them fight match after match, which we had pretty much already seen a million times in the past.
In other words, maybe Christian winning the title at Extreme Rules, then losing it shortly after to a guy who's held numerous titles in past years, is a way to introduce Christian into the main event scene by establishing for him a strong adversary that he's yet to face, and truly overcome, somewhere down the road.
Picture it. Christian loses the belt this week, next week he gets his rematch and after a fantastic bout, loses again. The following week, Christian cuts a promo, apologizing for letting the fans down, some heel comes out to poke fun. No matter who it is (hopefully not Sheamus or Cody, because both of them could use wins), if Christian were to further a feud with that person through Over the Limit and come out victorious, it would establish him as a contender once again.
He won the title at Extreme Rules; he was wrapped up in his celebration and didn't have time to prepare. It happens to all new champions; look back in history if you don't believe me. He gets pissed off that his title was taken away so quickly; he demands his rematch and in a fit of rage, makes some crucial mistake and fails to recapture his belt. Also happens plenty.
After those encounters cool off, Christian has time to rethink things, get his head back in the game with a new feud. Once that ends, maybe he'll get another chance. Maybe he'll get the opportunity to look like even more of a competitor after proving that he can win when he needs to.
Thus it would prove that Orton had snuck in at an opportune time, not that he was better than Christian overall.
3. Elevation of New Members to Smackdown Roster
Alex Riley, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Ted DiBiase, Sin Cara, The Great Khali, Tyson Kidd...what do these guys all have in common?
All of them were drafted from Raw to Smackdown only a week ago. Clearly, we have some former world champions mixed in with some new folks to the main event scene. How many are likely candidates to take on Randy? How many are likely to continue getting buried on Superstars? Hard to tell, but the combinations that could arise are intriguing to say the least.
Perhaps Sin Cara's not ready. He's extremely talented, but maybe his time winning a huge title like that should be put off. Don't want to peak him too soon (same with Alberto, quite frankly). A-Ry, too. He hadn't won a single match on Raw as Miz's protege, so for him to get a title shot might not be all that believable. Maybe a promo war between the two with Riley losing the match properly could at least give him his own solo rub, but for A-Ry to demand a shot, get it and win the belt? Really transparent booking there.
But what about Khali? He's won the World Heavyweight Championship before, why not put Orton against him? With the added influence of Jinder Mahal, Khali's invigorated relevance could propel him to the main event scene once again.
Or how about Mark Henry? He's in the same place as Christian's thought to be, isn't he? Midcarder most of his career, nothing huge of note to hang his hat on. If Mark Henry's busy racking up wins, a feud with Orton and a title reign might be right up his alley.
Then again, maybe WWE wants to tread more familiar territory...
4. Do We Rehash Old Storylines or Turn Them into Something New?
Out of one side of the IWC's mouth, I hear people complaining about how WWE never takes into account what happens in the past. They pull the plug on storylines and rivalries way too quickly, they leave a lot of things unexplained and unfinished and then never deal with those things again because they think we're idiots with short memories. Did I nail that one down?
Then, out of the other side of its mouth, I hear how frustrated people are that WWE's rehashing old rivalries and not giving us new ones to chew on.
Here's the thing. I know some of you out there have done this, so don't be afraid to cop to it. You can't have both, okay? You can't complain that WWE doesn't take the past into account, then complain that they're rehashing old rivalries. One, in essence, satisfies the other. If they "rehash" an old rivalry, they're taking the past into account.
In the list of folks I mentioned in the previous slide, we have a couple that have faced Randy Orton before.
Sheamus, for instance. Last year, Randy Orton took the title off of Sheamus, a guy who won the belt by luckily surprising John Cena in a Tables match, held the belt through largely underhanded means, won it back, held it longer and then lost it to Orton at Night of Champions. In that case, Sheamus was viewed as a paper heel champion who was constantly taking the easy way out.
For Sheamus to be cornered and tested to that degree at Night of Champions, and Orton to come along and survive to win the belt, made a lot of sense. His momentum practically demanded it.
Now, we see Orton in a very different light. CM Punk called out his vicious nature and, in a way, Orton's lack of feeling toward his fellow competitor in Christian basically proves what CM Punk had claimed. As I said, depending on how Christian responds, Orton might come out the heel in the encounter. If that were to occur and Sheamus were to appear to challenge Orton, how would that make people view Sheamus? He just lost the US belt to Kofi, and the belt itself was a symbol that Sheamus wasn't out of the game yet.
For Orton's image to turn into a vicious, unfeeling bad guy, snatching the belt away from a preening Christian? And for Sheamus to be the powerhouse that the fans desire to put Orton's newfound glory down? Not only would that address the past, but it'd make us see the future differently.
And what about Ted DiBiase? Orton and Ted have plenty of history. First they were buddies, then they were enemies. They went their separate ways after Wrestlemania 26 and never really addressed their successes or failures afterward. Clearly, though, there's a vast difference. Orton's been bulldozing people, had a brief run as WWE Champion.
Ted? Bickering with Maryse...that's about it.
Thus, Ted has a good in for a feud with Orton, whether Orton's a face or a heel.
If Orton's the face, Ted can establish a new situation for himself. Even if he pays people off to help him take the World Heavyweight Championship from Orton, he can still rise to some level of power holding the World Title as the rich, powerful, influential figurehead heel that we once saw Alberto Del Rio as on Smackdown.
If Orton's the heel, and Ted were to upset Orton and take the title, Ted would get a newfound respect and suddenly take the lead over his other former teammate in Legacy, Cody Rhodes, who's only achieved a couple short tag team title reigns with Drew McIntyre. Cody has yet to score even one singles title and is seen to be the far more successful midcard member of the stable.
That's right, Cody is also on Smackdown now, we need to keep this in mind. All three former members (I'm excluding Manu, because I don't ever remember him being in the group let alone fitting in) are now on Smackdown and the interactions between the three can yield some amazing reigniting of old feuds in completely different lights.
5. Christian's Getting Tested
Despite all the parallel benefits that could occur as a result of Christian losing the belt to Orton, ultimately, it's gut check time for Christian.
He's like a face version of Miz, in a way. Midcarder most of his WWE career and most of the more discerning fans doubt his ability. As great as it was for him to win his first World Title in WWE, honestly, it was booked just as suddenly and perfectly as Sheamus and Swagger winning their respective belts.
Does this mean that Christian is merely a flash in the pan, like Sheamus and Swagger have looked? Certainly not. Christian is a great talent, on the mic and in competition, and deserves his opportunity to really prove that. Even if he takes another loss to Orton next week, he can still be kept looking relevant and strong.
Keep in mind, after the Draft shook things up, what does Smackdown's main event scene look like? Orton, Christian, maybe Sheamus, maybe Khali, maybe Mark Henry, maybe Kane? Pretty much it for the short term, and short term is about all we have leading up to Over the Limit in a little under three weeks.
Christian may have lost the World Heavyweight Championship, and even if he loses a possible rematch next week on Smackdown, at least he'll have held the belt at all.
Fans use that all the time as reasoning for people to be in the main event scene. "Swagger's a former world champion, and now he's blah blah blah?" Well, he won the belt using a Money in the Bank contract and never defended the title cleanly. Doesn't that kind of leave him out of the main event scene? "Sheamus is a two-time WWE Champ, and now he's blah blah blah?" Same deal.
You lose that level of credibility, you lose your main event status. Can characters' images change? Sure they can! But they need to reestablish that credibility before they can reemerge as main event level.
Anyone can call any performer "main event quality." Whether they are or not depends on two things: their level of talent and their on-screen rep. If they're booked to constantly lose matches, they can be the greatest talent in the company, but they're not in line for title opportunities.
Just as CM Punk.
Christian was a last minute replacement for Edge in the ladder match and succeeded in pulling off the victory thanks in part to Edge himself. Christian gets placed in a surprise WWE Title match by Teddy Long and loses the belt; it's somewhat believable. However, what defines Christian as a character isn't that he wasn't good enough to beat back Orton's undeniable momentum in one single match.
What defines Christian best is how he takes things next. Another thing I hear all the time is how guys like Orton, Cena and Mysterio are boring to watch because they always win. Well, if winning is what they do best then it's only natural that someone, anyone, gets mad when they win and tries that much harder to defeat them. Christian's main event status is rising and despite what many cynics feel, he can, in fact, lose this one and still be main event level quality.
He just can't lose over and over and over. If he does, he'll have to work that much harder to pick himself back up.
Again, Don't Get Me Wrong...
Are any of my arguments here implying there's absolutely no chance for bad things to occur? Of course not. All of them have some cracks and even if they all happen, they can still go horribly wrong thanks to bad booking, unfair views of the staff by management and the decision to keep people down when they clearly deserve some time at the top.
But again, let's try to give things some time to cool off. The great thing about waiting till Friday to find these things out, people, is that we wouldn't have to wait as long to get answers. You spoil things early and you have to spend even more time wallowing and stewing over things being bad and never getting good ever again.
Stop that right there.
There can be good that comes out of this. Will Christian be guaranteed a spot at the top in the end? Perhaps not guaranteed, but hopefully, he comes out looking good enough in future matches with Orton to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that he does deserve a rematch and he does deserve to stay at the top somewhere.
Thanks for Reading, Here's Some Other Stuff...
Here are two links to my previous Positive Counterpoints articles:
Please visit this website as well and check out FightLife Magazine, a new publication about WWE, TNA, MMA, etc. While there, take a look at the first installment I've written in a sci-fi themed wrestling novel entitled Annihilating Affinity, focusing on Randy Orton. Brainstorming is telling me Chapter 2 will involve Edge, who is mentioned heavily in the first installment.
In short, the characters you see in the ring are far more than they seem. In fact, what you believe to have been the World Wrestling Federation, and World Wrestling Entertainment, is in fact...the Wages Within Environment...where the beings behind the characters truly dwell.
Give it a read and let me know what you think.