On Tuesday night I posted a blog about Jay ‘Christian’ Reso’s World Heavyweight championship win and future prospects as a main event talent in WWE (that can be read here if you’re interested). Just hours after I’d posted, Randy Orton defeated Christian at the SmackDown taping. ‘Captain Charisma’ had a title reign of just two days.
There has been heavy criticism of the title change, and rightly so. Christian and a large number of WWE’s fans had waited patiently for a world title to finally be sent his way, and it was cruelly snatched away before he got the chance to show that he belonged at the top.
Randy Orton, while far from untalented, is a safe pair of hands. That’s not what WWE needs right now. They need somebody new to the main event fold whom fans can embrace, someone who will provide the company with fresh feuds and angles whilst being good enough in the ring to not be an embarrassment. Randy Orton has been at the top of the card for over half a decade and cannot be that fresh face. He’ll do a very capable job as champion, but it’s a step backwards.
That’s not a knock on Orton. A lot of people have said he should have insisted Christian retain the title. How do we know he didn’t? Just because he won the belt doesn’t mean he thought he should have, or that he thinks he’s better than Christian, or that he thinks Christian wouldn’t have worked as a long term champion. It means is that he did as he was asked, which is his job. For all we know Orton argued Christian’s case. Anyone saying Orton should have refused to win needs to remember that WWE is run by one man: Vince McMahon. In the position he’s in Orton is likely able to make the odd suggestion, but if McMahon disagrees it’s not going to happen. Blaming Orton for winning a world title isn’t just unfair, it’s ridiculous. Besides, isn’t it the goal of everyone on the roster to be world champion?
The most saddening part of the situation is that Orton pinned Christian clean. Had Orton defeated Christian by questionable means then the seeds of a heel turn would have been sown. That would have been a good thing. Orton has not been the red hot babyface the company wanted, needed and expected him to be since he shed his heel persona in early 2010, and a return to the dark side would really capitalise on his strengths. Christian, on the other hand, is a monumentally popular wrestler. As I’ve said, he’s someone fans want to see winning world titles. WWE should capitalise on that while they have the chance.
In fairness, I can’t see into the future and don’t know what is being planned by WWE. It’s possible that an Orton heel turn is in the works. I think that would be the best move the company could make now. Orton is a natural heel: everything about him, from the way he saunters to the ring to his speech patterns, screams “bad guy”. My fingers are crossed that he will turn heel some time soon.
Alternatively a Christian heel turn may be in the works. ‘The Instant Classic’ is a naturally likeable man, but he’s also very effective as a heel. The fact that fans are currently solidly behind him means nothing: Christian would be able to make people boo him with a single promo. That’s how good he is. A gradual turn in which Christian uses increasingly underhand tactics to try and steal a victory over Orton and regain his world title would be the most logical way of doing that, and would also have the advantage of necessitating a series of matches between the two. The only downside is that it would waste the opportunity to create a new main event babyface and leave Orton in a role he’s best off leaving behind.
Fans need to hope there’s a long term plan in mind. Whatever it is, it should involve either Christian or Orton being the champion. They’re the shows two best all round workers SmackDown has, and the two best qualified for carrying feuds with the likes of Sheamus, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes, and Daniel Bryan, the most likely candidates to be awarded title feuds in the near future.
The loss of his first world title after just two days may seem a slap in the face to Christian, not to mention a step backwards when it comes to building new headline acts, but it’s not the end of the world. The short reign could be seen as WWE testing the water on a man they have long had their doubts about as far as main event potential goes. Edge’s first WWE title reign lasted only three weeks but he went on to become one of the company’s most reliable stars. Look on the bright side: the title change is likely to lead to the best feud SmackDown has to offer in Orton v Christian. It may be frustrating, but I’m sure that Christian will get back to the top sooner or later. We just need to have some patience.