Friday 27 April 2012

Golden Opportunities

In the weeks since WrestleMania XXVIII WWE has done an exemplary job of building up challengers for world titles.
It started on the post-WrestleMania RAW with The Rock's statement that he wants to be the WWE champion again (read more on that here)
. A big name film star such as him expressing his desire to capture the WWE championship does the company's mainstream image a world of good and also serves to elevate the championship. By extension CM Punk also receives a rub: he looks like a bigger star in the eyes of fans if he has something The Rock wants.
Later on in that same show Brock Lesnar returned to the promotion and smashed perennial headliner John Cena. While he still has yet to expressly state that he wants to win his fourth WWE championship it has been implied in the interviews he's given and the video packages that have been dedicated to him. 'The Pain' has made it very clear he's motivated by success: what greater measure of that in the world of professional wrestling than winning the WWE championship?
With Lesnar and Rock joining top boy John Cena (who’s never too far away from a title challenge) as title contenders the company’s top prize suddenly looks like a very important piece of kit. ‘The Brahma Bull’ and the former UFC supremo are not likely to be tackling Punk any time soon. But they don't need to. The fact that we know they're keen to win the big one again is enough for the time being.

CM Punk may not be too far away from a title defence against The Rock or Brock Lesnar

There are currently rumours of a Lesnar v Rock title match at WrestleMania XXIX. That would be interesting to see and would certainly add to the prestige and lustre of what is historically WWE’s greatest prize. That we already know that the 2013 mega-show will be 'The Pain's' last night with WWE would allow for an enjoyable and easily accessible scenario in which Lesnar becomes champion and announces his intent to leave with the gold, setting up Rock as the avenging hero wanting to maintain company honour.

It’s similar in essence to the CM Punk storyline of last year but different enough to not detract from its impact. 'The Great One' winning the Royal Rumble and going on to clash with Lesnar should guarantee fan and media interest when the time comes. In the meantime Punk has men such as Lord Tensai, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz to work with, adding variety to his title reign and establishing him as a dominant champion.
WWE have smartly adopted a different approach with storylines involving SmackDown's World Heavyweight championship. A healthy number of challengers have been lined up for Sheamus. If he makes it through his rematch with former champion (and fan of the word "yes") Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules 'Great White' has Alberto Del Rio and Christian to tangle with. Both have earned title bouts (through various means) over the last month which is a nice change of pace for WWE, who tend to have one clear challenger for a world champion at any one time. A multitude of challengers is somewhat of a novelty in the sports entertainment world and serves to highlight how desirable the WHC is.
Further down the line we can expect Sheamus, should he remain champion (and I suspect he will) to battle the likes of Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett. I hope WWE continues the approach of having two or three men in contention as it gives the World title a different feel to the WWE strap and makes the product less predictable. That's never a bad thing.
It's pleasing to see WWE elevating their top prizes again. It's a positive sign and implies that they have long term goals in mind. If we end up seeing a big name such as Brock Lesnar or The Rock holding the WWE championship in the next year it will help the promotion’s image and hopefully bring in some new fans too.

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