The 5 Star Truth: A Slow Death

Mike Steele


In my last column, The MacGuffin , I touched on the significance of the Heavyweight Title. This week I am coming from another direction, but still have the gold on my mind. The other day I was day dreaming about owning my own wrestling promotion. While I was thinking about the concept of the Heavyweight Championship Title, I thought that it needed some tweeking. A lot is changing in wrestling, and the Heavyweight Championship is slowly dying.

The entire concept of having the ultimate prize in wrestling being exclusive to bigger, more powerful wrestlers is discriminatory. There was a time when the bigger men in wrestling were the only ones to sell out the arenas, and perhaps the only ones to get the opportunity in the first place. But that time has since passed. Not that a big man such as Triple H or Undertaker can’t draw, because lord knows they do, but now the fans aren’t solely behind them. Smaller wrestlers have been achieving greater and greater success in recent decades. Ric Flair is about 6’1″ and has obviously become one of the absolute greatest wrestlers in history. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels both stood under 6’2″ and both reached ultimate success headlining main event after main event. Today Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Jericho are relatively smaller men compared to giants like Batista and have achieved “heavyweight” status at least once. But men like Shawn Michaels don’t exactly fit the bill of being “heavyweights”. You see, “Heavyweight” is just becoming a label, and is dwindling in actual significance slowly but surely, as it should be.

When I was thinking about how I would set up my World Championship if I owned my own promotion, I would call it just that, The World Championship, leaving out “Heavyweight”. The World Title should be more than just a weight class. Defining someone as being main event worthy by their weight class is like automatically relegating Booker T to midcard status because he is black. To me, the World Title should be about being the absolute best in the world, not just the biggest and most dominating. Being the best means being the most entertaining, being the most skilled, and being the biggest draw. There was a time when people DID want to see Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior in the main event. But more and more fans are coming to appreciate the world class skill of Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, American Dragon, and more. The demand is changing, and so too should the supply.

It was pointed out to me that TNA’s flagship championship was the X Title. The point was somewhat valid, in the sense that it definitely draws more than the Heavyweight Title does and the better matches usually come from the X Division. But as far as booking goes, it’s still midcard. Though the fans may be more interested in the X Title, it’s still the Heavyweight Championship that gets the main event billing. Despite that, it does remain the driving force behind TNA’s success, leading the world of wrestling into the future through its innovation. What does that say for the future of the Main Event as we know it?

The World Title in the bigger promotions is still about who’s the strongest and not about who’s the most skilled. But it is changing and eventually those with the most skill will reign. Some of wrestling’s most loyal fans are those who support the smaller wrestlers, such as in Ring of Honor. Fans of Christopher Daniels, American Dragon, Low Ki, and others are more loyal than fans of Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton, and Goldberg. And it’s not all about size, it’s about skill. Brock Lesnar is definitely a Heavyweight, but possesses far more skill than Goldberg. Undertaker can also work a match better than many smaller wrestlers. The point is that the door should be open to all comers, not just those who fit the profile on the scale and height chart. The World Title should be reserved for the best, not just those who can throw other wrestlers really far or give a huge powerbomb. The Heavyweight Championship is dying, and the World Title is evolving. This isn’t just a hope of mine, it’s an observation of a slow movement that is already in progress. The next step…women vs. men? All in good time.

-Mike Steele

twvmikesteele@yahoo.com

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