The Championships - Simultaneously Important & Meaningless?
Happy Friday TJR faithful, I hope that each and every one of you has had a productive week heading into the weekend. It’s been a long week for me that included putting in some serious work on a script, several hours in the office, and of course several hours of WWE Programming. The WWE’s incredibly consistent saving grace NXT totally delivered everything I’d expect this week, which unfortunately can’t be said for everything else. The WWE has taken a turn for the even more ridiculous this week (I guess it’s just that time of year) with the unveiling of Bad News Barrett on Live TV (which serves no purpose to the narrative or our entertainment), the revelation of the Slammy Award Nominees which dubiously includes Eva Marie in the Diva of the Year category, and excludes CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena from the Match of the Year Category (not that I’m expecting anything legitimate from the farcical award show that is the Slammy Award Raw).
With all that said, possibly the most ridiculous thing said all week on WWE Television was uttered during Raw’s main event, which featured Monday Night Raw’s 273,989th contract signing. During this fresh and exciting segment, John Cena proclaimed that Randy Orton, an 11 time Champion, the youngest World Champion in WWE History, a Royal Rumble Winner, a Money in the Bank Winner, a multiple time Wrestlemania Main Eventer, is an underachiever. Think about that for a minute. A guy whose resume so closely resembles Cena’s own, as was made clear by the tale of the tape graphic that was shown earlier in the evening, is an underachiever.
If you can’t tell, I have several problems with John Cena making such a statement, including but not limited to the fact that Randy just sat their and didn’t retort with his resume, that John’s statement basically undermines his own achievements which so closely resemble Randy’s and undermine the match that the two are about to have to unify the WWE and World Championships which obviously don’t mean much because winning them a combined 11 times for Randy Orton is part of an underachieving resume.
In one sentence Cena basically undermined every narrative in a company whose fictional universe is supposed to revolve around winning the company’s most prestigious prize. The WWE Title and the World Title are supposed to be the benchmarks of success, and regardless of how you get there, or how long you hold the titles, for that time and the rest of your career, you reached the top of the mountain within the WWE Narrative. Funny enough this was a sentiment that John Cena proclaimed in a promo before the contract signing. For those of you that don’t know why that’s incredibly stupid, it’s because the WWE and World Championships cannot be simultaneously the most important and meaningless prizes in the WWE, which is basically what John Cena had to say about the titles on Monday Night Raw.
Its all part of the problem that I’m having with the WWE right now, and that is the fact that they are undermining their own narratives so often. I’ve always believed that the overarching narrative of the company was that the athletes employed by the WWE all want to be WWE Champion or World Champion. Those titles are the most important prize, and while many of them will never reach the pinnacle of the WWE, they all want to and recognize the Championships’ importance. I mean that is the key to the WWE’s fictional universe; it’s what everybody should strive to achieve. But why stop there? The other titles are achievements too, and deserve to be treated as such. No matter how I feel about Curtis Axel, the fact is that he has tangibly achieved more than Ryback, who has yet to win any title in the WWE. Monday Night Raw and the WWE’s narrative already lack so much structure, to eliminate the importance and the hierarchy of the titles by declaring and treating them as meaningless takes away any semblance of structure the company has, and transforms it into a chaotic parody of sport, which might be the goal because let’s face it, Monday Night Raw has become a variety show akin to Saturday Night Live (the only difference being that Saturday Night Live isn’t an excruciating 3 hours each week).
Which brings me to the question that has been posed several times by a substantial portion of the WWE’s fan base: How do they build back the importance of the titles? They can book champions stronger instead of having them lose most of their non-title matches. They can have the announcers hammer home the fact that the titles have long histories and are incredibly important achievements in the WWE. They could develop a structure around how one receives championship opportunities, possibly by instituting a ranking system (maybe like the one that I developed in an article some time ago). All these ideas help, but the biggest help would be to show the WWE Universe that the Champions in the WWE are more important than everybody else by virtue of holding the titles that they do.
If it were up to me, the night after TLC, regardless of whom walks out the Unified Champion, instead of holding a Championship celebration (which is the only Raw segment nearly as played out as the contract signings) Triple H announces a Champions Summit as the featured segment on Monday Night Raw. The main event segment will feature Unified Champion John Cena/Randy Orton in the ring with U.S. Champion Dean Ambrose (flanked by The Shield), Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston, Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust, and Divas Champion AJ (or possibly Natalya). Triple H will introduce them all, congratulating those that successfully defended or won their titles the previous evening at TLC, and will proceed to monologue about the importance of all the Champions in the WWE. Yes the Unified Champion is the face of the WWE, but all the Champions are important to the WWE, and their image. Each and every Champion in that ring is a representative of the WWE’s long and storied history, is a representative of what the WWE stands for today, and most importantly a representative of The Authority.
He will say that several of them have had problems in the past, with each other and with The Authority, but after crowning a New Unified Champion at TLC, the WWE is starting fresh. Champions deserve to be treated as such and with the utmost respect. Champions also have a responsibility to the company they represent and may be asked to do things that they don’t like. It’s the sacrifice one must undertake to be champion. Triple H will finally say that anybody who doesn’t believe that they will be able to live up to the responsibilities or sacrifices of being one of the WWE’s Champions can leave their title in the ring now. It is at this point that Cody and Goldust speak up about not trusting Hunter or The Authority, and that they earned their titles. They will not become part of the Championship Guard of The Authority, and if you want their titles you’ll have to pry them from their hands. Hunter will respond by saying that their choice is a disappointing one, and that prying their titles from them can be arranged. When it looks like the rest of The Shield are going to make a move on The Rhodes’, Big E Langston sides with the Rhodes’ and after a brief melee, Cody, Goldust and Big E escape through the crowd with their Championships held high as Triple H seethes in the ring.
This segment would do several things. First it showcases all the champions in the main event in a way that I can’t remember being done before. Second, it features Triple H waxing poetic about how important the titles are to the WWE, re-establishing to those who have forgotten that every title is important. Finally it puts a focus back on titles, with Triple H now trying to wrestle the titles away from Big E and Cody Rhodes and Goldust for their open defiance during the Champions Summit. This would be the quickest and most effective rehabilitation for the state of the WWE’s Championships.
There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think! Do you find John Cena’s comment as damaging a remark as I do? What would you do to make the titles seem more important? Would the WWE benefit from a little more structure? And would you get a kick out of the WWE’s Champions Summit if it happened?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas realizing that this year’s Best Actor race at the Oscars is going to be a dogfight. Tom Hanks, Leo, Chiwetel Ejiofor (why can’t the WWE come up with awesome names like this?), Robert Redford and Matthew McConaughey just to name a few, and there are quite a few more very deserving names. Has been a great year in film if you like great acting and character pieces. Have a great weekend everybody!