WWE Analysis: Reviewing the State of Every Current Title and Championship
I mentioned in my last article that the WWE cares more about John Cena and the Rock’s WrestleMania match than it does about any of the current Championship pictures. In this article I will examine each title and confirm how good or bad of a job the WWE has done in making its championships relevant or exciting lately.
In order for us to come to a definitive conclusion we must take each title and inspect it thoroughly. Each championship scene has its own strengths and weaknesses, and should be looked at individually.
Has the WWE inadvertently overshadowed all of the titles, or has it intentionally made the Rock and John Cena the focal point and stopped caring about their titles entirely?
Only you, the fans, can decide.
The United States Championship
Dolph Ziggler has been the United States Champion since June, making him the longest reigning title holder of any of the current WWE champions. I commend the WWE for sticking with Ziggler for over five months, but can anyone remember an outstanding rivalry or match that occurred over that span?
Ziggler is an excellent heel, great on the mic and is a skilled worker in the ring. However, the WWE has done little in creating talented rivals for Dolph Ziggler to take on every pay-per-view. We have seen the WWE throw together a match days before a pay-per-view without a storyline or purpose. Sometimes Ziggler does not even defend his title at a PPV.
We have a fantastic heel champion without any real contenders, storylines or rivals. The WWE needs to do a better job pushing their mid carders so that there are at least three possible contenders, including the champion, at any given time.
Zack Ryder is the current “rival” for Dolph Ziggler, and we have seen far too many inconsistencies over the last five weeks to even consider this a true feud. Ryder has disappeared without even being in the same room as Ziggler and then he somehow gets back into the title picture. It feels like WWE Creative cannot make up their mind if they want to push Ryder or not.
What bothers me most about the Ryder push is that we witnessed him losing to Ziggler at the last pay-per-view. When you are the contender and lose to the champion, why would I want to see the same match again? If you lose cleanly to the champion, there should be a fresh opponent at the next PPV.
A mid card title, such as the Intercontinental or the United States Championships, works best when there are lengthy championship reigns full of exciting title defenses. In order to have exciting title defenses you need to have wrestlers who are credible challengers for that specific belt. I love Ryder, but I do not consider him a credible threat because he pushes himself better on Youtube than the WWE does for him on television.
I think this belt has potential if the WWE would exploit Ziggler’s strengths and get him some real challengers. A lot of people, including myself, see Ziggler as a main event champion one day. A belt such as the U.S. title should be utilized as the fast track to the main event for superstars like Ziggler. However, the WWE needs to create a believable division of contenders for the United States Championship first. We need to see a few wrestlers who we believe are future main event talents contending for the belt.
Remember the Intercontinental Championship in the 1990’s? How many future WWE Champions first held the IC belt during that period? The WWE should be doing the same with either the IC or U.S. titles currently.
If not for Ziggler, this title would be extremely irrelevant. Until we see some real contenders, the United States Championship picture just seems stale.
Current Champion: Dolph Ziggler
Last PPV Match: Dolph Ziggler def. Zack Ryder
Next PPV Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder (Unofficial)
The Tag Team Championship
Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne won the Tag Team Championship in August and became known to the WWE Universe as “Air Boom.” Since they won the titles they have successfully defeated anyone in their path. Unfortunately, Evan Bourne has recently been suspended for violating the WWE’s Wellness Policy.
What does this do for the “revival” of the Tag Team division we heard so much about?
Without a partner, Kofi Kingston will most likely be forced to surrender the Tag Team titles. Air Boom was actually over with the fans as legitimate faces, so Bourne’s suspension comes at a terrible time.
Air Boom may have been legitimate champions, but to say they were “reviving” the Tag Team division would be a complete overstatement. They were two singles competitors with a lot of talent who came together and formed a nice Tag Team. Bourne and Kingston were not involved in anything, so the WWE made the right decision and used them to help bolster a failing Tag Team division.
The problem is that there are not many Tag Teams for Air Boom to compete against. In order to successfully revitalize a division, you need multiple teams. The WWE created a solid team and most of their opponents have just been random heels thrown together.
Where are the other teams?
I think back to the late 1990’s when you had so many Tag Teams in the WWE that were popular from the Head Bangers to the New Age Outlaws to the Hardy Boyz and more. In fact the WWE has always had a good track record with the Tag Team titles because they had so many widely popular teams throughout history, both heels and faces.
When you just throw heels together for a one time match against your current champions, I think that makes the WWE Creative staff look lazy and uncommitted to reviving the Tag Team division.
With Evan Bourne out, I am assuming Air Boom will be taking a break for the next month or so. The hottest Tag Team in the WWE right now is R-Truth and the Miz, commonly referred to as “The Awesome Truth.” Sadly the WWE cannot get them in the title picture because they are set to take on John Cena and the Rock at Survivor Series. So their championship aspirations will have to wait until that drama is over.
I have been a WWE fan since the late 1980’s and I am sad to see the Tag Team division at an all time low. I wish the WWE would back up their words on “restoring glory” to the Tag Team division. Right now the picture is bleak.
Unless the WWE is planning to create new Tag Teams that are exciting and cohesive, I am not convinced the Tag Team division is coming back any time soon. I did like Air Boom and I thought they were a step in the right direction, but you need more than one team to revitalize the entire division. It also does not help when one half of your Tag Team Champions is suspended.
Current Champions: Air Boom
Last PPV Match: Air Boom def. Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler
Next PPV Match: TBD
The Diva's Championship
After two unsuccessful tries, Beth Phoenix finally beat Kelly Kelly last month to become the Diva’s Champion. Beth is widely considered to be the most talented woman in the Diva’s division so she has given some credibility back to the belt.
So why do so many fans consider the Diva’s division so weak?
My lack of interest comes directly from the fact that only three Divas have been involved in the Championship picture since late June: Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix and Eve.
Kelly Kelly fought Beth Phoenix at three consecutive pay-per-views. I was absolutely bored to tears by the time Beth Phoenix actually won because I had seen the same terrible match so many times. I am willing to admit that I have a pet peeve when a challenger loses cleanly to the champion and gets a rematch for no real reason. I find it lazy of the writers to just milk the same match over and over.
At the last PPV, Beth Phoenix defeated Eve to retain her Diva’s Championship. You would think that we would see a fresh contender to take Beth Phoenix on, but then you would be wrong. Eve just won a “Costume Battle Royal” to become the number one contender. Again.
So now we will most likely see Beth Phoenix against Eve for a second consecutive pay-per-view. If Eve wins, everyone will just act like she deserves to be champion and if Eve loses she will probably get a third try just because the writers and trainers do not care enough to groom new talent.
To top everything off, the last few matches have been almost unbearable to watch. Although I agree Eve is a MUCH better performer than Kelly Kelly, she was not consistent enough in her last match for me to be convinced she should be the face of the Diva’s roster.
Kelly Kelly is another story. She is very attractive and I understand why the WWE would want to market her as the ultimate Diva face. The problem is she botches the simplest of moves and just looks terrible out there in the ring. If the WWE was truly committed to making the Diva’s division better they would find superior talent and retrain the girls who need the most help, such as Kelly Kelly.
We are FAR removed from Trish Stratus, Lita and Mickie James. The WWE even ensured further damage to the Diva’s division by coming to terms with Maryse’s release, who was probably one of the most popular and talented Divas left on the roster.
I am a Diva’s fan and I am proud to admit that. I think a lot of Diva’s fans get no respect because of just how terrible the roster currently is. The WWE seems hell bent on separating the “talented” Divas and the “sexy” divas instead of trying to find women who are both attractive and skilled in the ring. I do not think Trish Stratus was discredited because she could win both matches and bikini contests.
If the WWE wants extremely beautiful Divas who cannot perform in the ring, then make them managers. The Bella Twins are a perfect example of attractive women who can market products and would probably be decent managers. They have a place in the WWE, but it is not necessarily in the ring. Right now the Diva’s division is full of untalented women who are solely there for their looks. Why can’t the WWE find women who are both attractive and talented wrestlers?
Of every division in the WWE currently, I think the Diva’s division requires the most overhaul. The roster needs an injection of new blood and they need to scrap this whole storyline with the “Divas of Doom” against the “pretty” divas. If the WWE writers would stop being lazy and book new matches instead of having the same match over again, perhaps fans would be interested.
Current Champion: Beth Phoenix
Last PPV Match: Beth Phoenix def. Eve
Next PPV Match: Beth Phoenix vs. Even (Probable/Unofficial)
The Intercontinental Championship
Cody Rhodes became the Intercontinental Champion in August. His only pay-per-view title defenses have come against Ted Dibiase and John Morrison, which were both forgettable matches. At the last PPV, Cody Rhodes fought Randy Orton in a non-title match and lost. Rhodes is a very gifted performer, but that cannot change the fact that the Intercontinental Championship scene has become a joke.
When I grew up, the Intercontinental Champion was essentially the “second best” wrestler in the WWE, right under the WWE Champion. At one point the Intercontinental Championship picture was more interesting than any other belt in the WWE! Some of the greatest and most memorable matches of the eighties and nineties involved the IC belt.
In 2011 the Intercontinental title picture has become bleak. Cody Rhodes is talented, but there are no challengers for his belt. In over two months he has had meaningless title defenses and a feud with Randy Orton that did not even involve the IC title. How bad is it when you are the Intercontinental Champion and do not even have legitimate contenders for your belt?
Rhodes has the talent to put on great matches; he is an excellent heel with a fun gimmick. However the theme of this article thus far has been great champions with no challengers around them. The Intercontinental Championship picture needs other talented wrestlers to challenge Rhodes for the title. Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) would not have been such a great IC Champion in the past if not for Shawn Michaels, Jeff Jarrett and Kevin Nash challenging him for the title and having superb matches. There were always contenders waiting for their shot.
The WWE has the talent to make the Intercontinental Championship picture credible. Insert Sheamus, Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett into the mix and you have challengers ready for Cody Rhodes. If we are expected to believe these guys are the future then why not have them all feud over the IC title? It will buy them time to become even more credible to the fans, while making the Intercontinental Championship an exciting division again. Isn’t that better than having Bryan and Barrett on the brink of irrelevancy?
Everything could be in place to revive the IC division if the WWE wants to make it important again. The writers really need to understand that they have to pay attention to all of the titles, not just some “dream” match at Wrestlemania.
Current Champion: Cody Rhodes
Last PPV Match: Randy Orton def. Cody Rhodes (non-title)
Next PPV Match: TBD
The World Heavyweight Championship
Mark Henry did the impossible and defeated Randy Orton for his first World Heavyweight Championship in September. Henry looked unstoppable for months, and then the Big Show showed up and has slowed the momentum of Henry lately. At the last pay-per-view, Henry vs. Big Show ended in a no contest because the ring collapsed underneath their weight.
For a while the World Heavyweight Championship was the most exciting title in the WWE. We were treated to an exciting feud between Randy Orton and Christian and then Mark Henry powered his way into the picture. When Henry was having his way with the entire WWE roster, he became the most dominant man in the WWE. He is a monster heel and had confidence. Every time he destroyed his opponent he called their defeat an “induction into his Hall of Pain.”
So what happened?
The WWE decided to bring back Big Show and instead of having Henry defeat him, they had the match end in a no contest due to a gimmick they ran once before with Brock Lesnar.
If Mark Henry continued to roll, the WWE could have been building the next major face to challenge him down the road. Think about what would happen if Mark Henry remained unstoppable for months and then the WWE had Sheamus or Daniel Bryan defeat him at Wrestlemania? They would become HUGE.
Instead the WWE is milking the Big Show and making Henry look weaker than he did a month ago. I have no doubt that Kane will get involved down the road as well. If Henry can continue to look strong and keep the belt, than the World Heavyweight Championship picture will remain interesting.
For the time being Henry will be busy with the Big Show, so the WWE should really be continuing to build up who they want to be the next major face to contend for the Heavyweight Championship. Of all the titles, this is still the most solid in terms of rivalries, challengers and storylines.
Current Champion: Mark Henry
Last PPV Match: Mark Henry vs. Big Show (No Contest)
Next PPV Match: Mark Henry vs. Big Show (Unofficial)
The WWE Championship
The average reign of a WWE Champion since July has been around three weeks. There have been six title changes in the last three and a half months and the WWE Championship is supposed to be the most prestigious title in the WWE.
The current WWE Champion is Alberto Del Rio, who may be the most criticized heel we have seen this year. Going off what my readers say, the IWC does not seem to view the cowardly Del Rio too highly. I do believe many people think Del Rio has the tools to be a good champion, but the writing seems to make him look too weak and gutless to be viewed as a plausible champion.
The good news is that internet darling, CM Punk, is set to take on Del Rio at “Survivor Series” for the WWE Championship. The people crave CM Punk and we may be seeing a potential run for Punk if he can find a way to defeat Del Rio in the future.
The WWE Championship picture has been up and down over the last few months. There have been questionable decisions having to do with so many irrelevant title changes that have left fans asking “Why?”
The one problem with CM Punk’s potential win over Del Rio is that it would be another short title reign the former champion. I think more than anything the fans just want to see a long title reign that has a purpose and is chock full of interesting feuds.
Of all the titles that have suffered, I feel like the WWE Championship has suffered the most. It may not be the worst in terms of challengers or storylines, but since this is supposed to be the greatest belt in the company I feel like it deserves a bigger spotlight. On the last few episodes of Raw, the segments involving the WWE title have been smack in the middle of the card.
Can anyone guess what the main event is always centered around?
You guessed it: John Cena and the Rock.
The irony in all of this is that the Rock and Cena are two of the biggest champions of the last decade and they are overshadowing the belt that made them who they are today. I find the WWE’s lack of interest in creating more buzz over the WWE Championship disturbing.
If the WWE can find a way to make Alberto Del Rio a more ruthless heel and get CM Punk to play more of the anti-hero rather than a full-fledged face, then they may be able to create a heated rivalry between these two. If they can deliver exciting matches with unpredictable results, then the WWE title picture can only get better.
If the WWE really wants to make the WWE Championship race exciting then I would push another contender into the mix so you have three legitimate threats for the title. While Cena is playing around with the Rock, it would be nice to see a fresh face involved in the title picture along with Del Rio and Punk. Fans do not want the same match over and over.
During the late nineties, there were literally half a dozen legitimate contenders for the WWE Championship. Men like Sid, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, the Undertaker, Steve Austin and more could be considered challengers for the belt. Some of the best rivalries during that time were the wrestlers fighting just to become the number one contender for the belt!
Until Survivor Series and the Rock are behind us, the WWE Championship picture will be overshadowed. I think things will only get better, but there will need to be a focus on making the WWE Championship the center of the WWE Universe again. That honestly will not happen until after Wrestlemania.
Current Champion: Alberto Del Rio
Last PPV Match: Alberto Del Rio def. John Cena
Next PPV Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk
What do you think needs to change for the Championships to become relevant again? Let me know your feedback down below. Remember to follow me on Twitter @ClassicJoeyMac. I enjoy answering your questions and hearing your ideas.
As always, keep it Classic!