Monday 6 April 2015

The Divisional Approach

At WrestleMania the one thing I didn't want to happen, happened. And it happened twice.

Daniel Bryan won the Intercontinental championship in the show-opening seven man ladder match. Later in the night John Cena won his first United States championship in over ten years when he defeated Foreign Menace™ Rusev. Both men are former multi-time world champions. For various reasons (see here for more) I think having these traditionally secondary titles is bad for Cena, Bryan and the titles themselves.

For Bryan a reign as the IC champ has made him look like a guy who knows he couldn't cut it competing against guys like Roman Reigns (whom he lost to clean at Fast Lane) and Brock Lesnar. Going after the white belt was a safer and easier option. Meanwhile the US title looks like a trinket Cena picked up because he happened to be feuding with the guy who held it, not because he wanted to win it. Cena was motivated more by national pride and showing a Russian how great America is than by winning a championship. It also looks like something he's doing to kill time before he decides he wants the world title back. That time will come and it will be a big story within WWE because it will see Cena trying to equal the much-hyped sixteen world titles record set and held by Ric Flair.

On the same night that Bryan and Cena won their belts Seth Rollins won the WWE world championship. The only title he'd held before that (on the main roster) was the tag team title alongside Roman Reigns. Instead of Seth spending years ploughing through the ranks and winning a secondary title or two to mark himself as a rising star his first singles title was the WWE championship. This makes the world championship look like it's on the same level as the mid-card titles. Which is possibly what WWE intended, but instead of the secondary titles being elevated by this the status of the world heavyweight title has been decreased. This isn't t say Rollins isn;t a worthy champions (he is), but his victory would have meant more if he'd spent time with mid-card singles belts that meant something first.

There's hope left though. WWE could, if they wanted, position the three championships as three separate divisions. Cena and the US title could head up an unofficial hoss-slash-big lad division consisting of guys like Rusev, Big E, Cesaro, Luke Harper and Ryback. D-Bry could be the standard bearer for an indy guys-slash-nippy fellas Intercontinental division of guys like Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, Stardust and Kalisto. The WWE championship could remain the alleged top prize, something the best on the roster won, with guys filtering in and out of competition for it and challenging for the other titles in the meantime.

I wouldn't go so far as to advocate them actually announcing these divisions (that would be a turn off to a lot of people) but if they just did it I think most people would follow along and understand what was happening. Personally I'd rather they took this approach and never had any former world champs regressing to other titles (except for obvious duds like The Miz, Big Show and Sheamus) but if they're going to present all of their singles titles as more or less equal they might as well do something interesting with it.

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