Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Unification

So tonight is a fairly historic night for WWE.  After over a decade they will, presumably, be unifying their two World Champions into one undisputed title.  And, surprisingly, I'm all for it!

Long time readers will likely know that I've been a vocal supporter of both the brand extension and having two World Championships.  Yet, I now think both should be completely abolished.  When Triple H effectively ended the brand extension by making both talents available to each show, it really only diluted the importance of Smackdown (and, truthfully, a lot of the midcard talent suffered).  Much of me wishes they would "officially" end the brand extension, so that all of the top talent (including Punk, Cena, and the like) would appear on Smackdown on a consistent basis....hopefully removing the feeling that the show has turned into a modern-day Thunder.

But anyway, back to the title unification.  The World Heavyweight Championship -- which, at one time, actually main evented more PPVs than the WWE title -- has been treated so poorly over the past 3 or so years that, sadly, it really does need to be removed.  When Chris Benoit won the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XX, it felt like he was THE MAN.  Dolph Ziggler winning that same title almost a decade later felt nothing like that.  Having a World Championship that doesn't feel like a World Championship could conceivably hurt somebody.  Daniel Bryan's WWE title win at SummerSlam may have felt even more important if he hadn't already had a multi-month reign with the World Heavyweight Championship, where he typically opened the show.  The World Heavyweight Championship has become tainted goods, where unless you're a John Cena (or perhaps a CM Punk and MAYBE a Randy Orton), where you're an established World Champion, the title just doesn't seem that prestigious.  It hasn't since Edge last held it.  If the title is going to be shuffled around the same cast of characters, why not just make one championship?  It makes sense.

There are only a couple of things that upset me about this.  For one, this almost certainly means that the physical World Heavyweight Championship will be written off of WWE television, which is upsetting because it's always been my favorite looking championship.  But at least I like the new WWE title enough that I don't mind -- too much -- that title replacing it (although I suppose it's possible they'll have the champion carry both titles, but I think that would dilute the feeling of there being "one champion").  And the other thing is that it's not happening at a bigger show, like WrestleMania (or even a more appropriate show, like Night of Champions).  Admittedly, they've made lemonade with lemons here and have done a pretty great job of building up the prestige of the match despite the limited timeline.  But still, there's SO MUCH MORE they could have done.  Interviews with former World Champions.  Interviews with former WWE Champions.  Perhaps an episode of Raw and Smackdown that acted as a tribute to each title.  Discussing the significance, on screen, of what it means to have one of those titles gone.  But, really, that's just nitpicking.  I also can't help but feel like we're only seeing a unified champion because we "caught" WWE and correctly predicted the title switch ending.  This is almost like an "FU!" to the fans.  Giving us a unified title out of spite, because we don't think they'll actually do it.

For what it's worth, my money is on Orton.  They tend to like to go with the "surprising" heel win with these title unifications.  See Jericho, Chris.

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