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  " The Gravel Pit "

Wrestling

Stop Fighting Over Belts
Posted by Dr. Tom on Jul 30, 2002, 19:40

STOP FIGHTING OVER BELTS

I bet I know what you're thinking already.

"Stop fighting over belts? But then what would wrestling be about?!" Fear not, loyal readers; the good doctor has not taken leave of his senses. I fully expect wrestlers to fight over belts, and I'd much rather see the belts as the point of contention than, say, an untalented trailer trash bimbo. No, I want the Raw and Smackdown brands to stop fighting over the belts.

This was actually going to be part of a longer rant I had started about a month ago, when WWE was at its most recent creative nadir. In the past three weeks, though, the product has improved greatly, and some of the things I mentioned in the original rant just wouldn't apply anymore. The title situation is still applicable to the Bischoff Era, though, so I'll discuss it in greater depth than I had before.

The Undisputed Champion moves between the two primary shows. Good. That allows WWE to put a high-profile superstar in the role and showcase him twice as often. But why don't the other belts have the same flexibility? The Tag Team titles are tethered to whatever show happens to house the champions. There's a hot new tag team on the other show? Too bad, they'll never get a crack at the straps.

Having the rosters trade talent back and forth isn't the answer. HHH goes to Raw, but it's no big deal since he's currently injured, isn't a champion, and isn't half as over as WWE likes to think he is. Brock Lesnar jumps ship to Smackdown, but again, not a big deal because he's not a champion (yet) and isn't particularly over (yet I do think it's a matter of time with Brock). Lance Storm and Christian jump to Raw, along with Test, and it's a little more important, because suddenly the tag titles have moved to the "other" show. I like the inter-show competition the current storylines have been breeding, but I think they're getting certain aspects of it wrong.

Eventually, the roster shakeups will stabilize, but if the all the important belts save one are still tied to a certain show, why shouldn't more wrestlers move? If John Cena wants the Intercontinental title, and it's the property of Raw at the time, wouldn't it make sense for him to go to Raw and fight for it, as opposed to languishing without a belt on Smackdown? I know titles have been greatly devalued ever since the Crash TV era took hold, but we're supposed to believe the wrestlers still covet them.

My solution is twofold. First, in addition to the Undisputed Champion being able to move between shows, the same should apply to the Tag Team champions, the Women's Champion, and the Cruiserweight Champion. They're the only champions in their respective fields, and the ability to appear on both shows gets the belts out there and defended more often, and might actually make them look important again.

The second part is a bit more radical. Eliminating the worthless European title was a good start. Now they need to follow that by getting rid of the Hardcore and Intercontinental belts. The ridiculous 24/7 "rule" has turned the Hardcore title into a joke, with trash can lids and kendo sticks only serving to help deliver the unfunny punchline. The Intercontinental belt is still useful as far as titles go, but it needs to be sacrificed for the greater good of my plan.

With those titles gone, two new titles can debut: The Raw Television Championship, and the Smackdown! Television Championship.

I know, there's a stigma about TV titles ever since the WCW belt was forgotten for a long time until surfacing in a trash can. The point is, these belts would be built up as important from the start, second only to the Undisputed Championship among singles titles. If the wrestlers are actively vying for the belts and treating them as important, then the fans will buy the title as significant. (WWE could stand to do that with all its titles, by the way.)

The new belts could even be introduced with a tournament. After the rosters get more stable, the Hardcore and Intercontinental titles could be vacated, and sixteen wrestlers from each show would start competing in a tournament to determine the winners. The finals can be held at a Pay-Per-View, thus giving the titles an instant rub. It's too late to do this at Summerslam, by why not at Survivor Series? WWE could even hold the semifinals and finals for each title there, thus playing to the name of the PPV.

To keep the perception that the belts are important, second only to the Undisputed title, they would have to be defended every show, without fail. Feuds should start over the belts and carry into the PPV events, where again, the belts would be defended. This gives each show a hotly-contested title to call its own, while allowing the "global" title-holders to appear on both shows.

WWE has taken some positive steps in the past three weeks, and they've begun to revitalize what was a very dreary product. They could bring more excitement to the shows by adopting the new belt structure outlined above. If all the important belts were defended, that would be least three title matches per free TV show, and at least four on a PPV. Get the belts out there, make them important to the wrestlers, and the fans will see them as important prizes.

Now if they could only get away from hot-shotting the titles around . . .

Dr. Tom




 

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