The Purpose of the Championship:
The most obvious example of this at least for me comes from Ring Of Honor and their current champion, Austin Aries. Aries who made history on December 26th by ending Samoa Joe’s record breaking 21 month reign as champion is by no means the best wrestler in the promotion nor is he the top draw; yet he is the champion and thus gets to main event most of the shows. I found this very perplexing as CM Punk is without a doubt the top draw as he is the most sought after independent talent in the world currently but is not the champion. Aries who came into ROH in March of last year is definitely in the top five as regards to talent and is a draw as well, but not on the level of a CM Punk. So why is this guy the champion?
Could it be ROH just doing things differently? Are they just giving different people the spotlight? I think it could be a combination of those but I really think it is to give a wrestler the extra push that makes them a huge star. This worked successfully with Samoa Joe as when he became champion nobody had ever heard of him. After 21 months with the belt he is now one of the most in demand wrestlers in the world. Aries when he won the belt was more established then Joe so are they trying to outdo their previous success of making stars or is it to continue the credibility of the championship?
Another example of this is the current reign of WWE Champion, John Bradshaw Layfield Lets be honest we all thought about puking when we Bradshaw became champion and hell most of us so do but after nine months with the title he is now being looked at as a credible champion and a much bigger star then he ever was. When JBL does lose the title he will go down as one of the longest reigning WWE/WWF Champions in history and because of this he will never be forgotten and a legacy will forever be attached to him. If you don’t believe me, look at the Honky Tonk Man. He is the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in history at 14 months and because of that he is considered one of if not the greatest Intercontinental Champion ever. If you ever go to his website he has that stigma plastered all over it and he is still talked about and remembered today because of that history making reign.
So what is the point of the championship? I thought and still think that it should go to the top guy in the company. After all we are portraying a sport here and in what sport is the mediocre team or guy the champion? It doesn’t happen so why does it happen in pro wrestling? Because the bookers are using the title as a tool to help build a man’s career. There are two types of champions in my opinion, those who deserve to be champion and those who need to be champion. Chris Benoit deserves to be champion, JBL needs to be champion. It is amazing that the guy who is already established doesn’t get the belt but yet the guy with a small reputation, no reputation or a crappy reputation gets the belt. What’s even more interesting is the fact that the established guy like a Chris Benoit, a CM Punk or a Shawn Michaels gets to main event some shows but Austin Aries and JBL get to main event every show. How does that make sense?
To me it doesn’t. I think Aries makes a great champion in Ring Of Honor and will continue to do so but why not have your top drawing guy be champion? Wouldn’t you draw more if your top guy was in the main event of every show? I always thought that the goal was to make money, after all this is a business isn’t it? I guess not.
The Television Champions:
On RAW we have HHH who vacated the title to win it again and is on his tenth reign as champion in his race to catch Ric Flair. On SmackDown we have JBL who underwent a complete metamorphous and is currently celebrating the longest title reign of the last 10 years. You have an established main eventer on one side and a fresh new character that was thrust into the spotlight on the other.
What amazes me as that believe it or not these two men actually personify the direction of their respective brands to a “T”. Let me explain. RAW has been holding steady with ratings being in between a 3.8 and 4.1 pending what is going on the show. HHH believe it or not is holding the ship steady on RAW as PPV buys have been relatively the same since he went to RAW in July of 2002 and the ratings have recovered since the crappiest title reign in history back in 2003. Meanwhile SmackDown was struggling in the ratings sometimes drawing under a 3.0 so in an utterly gutsy move to bring up ratings they morph beer drinking, ass kicking Bradshaw into the Million Dollar Man Ted Debiase and then out of nowhere make him WWE Champion. Ratings have improved as SmackDown now draws consistently in between a 3.4 and a 3.7 every week on the worst network on the toughest night. Unfortunately though PPV buys for SmackDown shows are still doing abysmal to say the least so I decided to dig further into the situation.
Take a look at the type of champions we have here. HHH is one of the most boring if not the most boring character in the entire company right now as he has now cut the same exact promo every week for the last five years. He is though still one of the best in ring talents that the company has and will always give you at least a good match every time he is in the ring. JBL when it comes to in ring talent may be the worst champion ever, even worse then the Ultimate Warrior but he is one of if not the most entertaining character in the entire company as his promos are great every single week. Basically what this tells me is that the Game’s job is to hold the ratings and the PPV buys steady while JBL’s is to raise ratings but not really PPV buys. You can tell because fans do not tune into RAW every week to hear HHH talk, however they do spend the $35 to watch him wrestle because they know they are going to get a five star effort and most of the time a four star match. With JBL on the other hand, fans will not spend their money to watch him wrestle because they know he is still horrible in the ring, however they will tune in every Thursday night to listen to him talk and watch him cut promos and build up storylines.
Now here we come to the biggest show of the year and yet again you see completely different directions. On the SmackDown side you have the most hated man on the show taking on the most popular man on the show for the WWE Title while on the RAW side of things you have the cagey veteran and proven champion taking on the upstart that he made in a battle of the teacher vs. the student. Which booking style has worked better? Which philosophy will be used to lead the company into the future? Hopefully we will have answers to these questions at WrestleMania.
Wrestling has had three golden ages in its illustrious history. The first was in the 1950’s with Gorgeous George, Lou Thesz and Whipper Watson to name a few stars. Wrestling was then off the national scale for 30 years until 1984 when Hulkamania came in and the second golden age happened. That golden age lasted until about 1991 and then in 1996 wrestling hit its third golden age with the nWo, ECW, the Attitude Era and of course Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Now that time in between the golden ages wrestling was certainly not dead, it was just on a down time. That is what we are in right now. Since 2002 we have seen numbers drop in almost every aspect of the industry. With only one big player in town and their numbers being in the 3 to low 4 areas in the ratings, house show draws and pay per view buys are considerably down. This though has not stopped the machine known as World Wrestling Entertainment as international distribution is up, they have had their stars cross over into big time celebrities such as the Rock, Austin and HHH, and they have launched a new in demand service and are now making money off of British pay per view. The company is fine.
One interesting thing to note here is when you look at the television ratings and pay per view buys of the last three years and compare them to the last down time which was 1992-1996 they are the same give or take a couple of weeks. While the amount of PPV’s has changed as the TV spots have, people are still watching or at least remembering that there still is wrestling on television.
What we as fans have to remember is that not everybody will be a Hulk Hogan or a Steve Austin. Some will be a Bret Hart or a Ric Flair, where they are big draws for the eras and dynasty’s in their own right but will never be the trendsetter of that golden age success and there is nothing wrong with that. Brock Lesnar was never part of that golden age success but I would bet you anything that most people know who he is so relax everybody. The WWE is not going out of business anytime soon so just give it time because wrestling one day will have a golden age once again.
Who was the guest referee at the first WrestleMania?
The answer was none other then Pat Patterson! Muhammad Ali was the guest outside enforcer just like Mike Tyson was but he was not the referee.
Our Medium TimBoski’s are: Daniel Courtney, David Ruiz, Dennie Carver, Infamous TJ, HBKKID, and SixerFan! That’s it just six got it right out of probably around 50 guesses, congratulations to you six! As for you other people haha I got you guys good!!!
Now here we go with this week’s trivia.
How many guys main evented their first WrestleMania? Good Luck!
Well that will about do it for this edition. As always I hope you all found it insightful and entertaining. Please remember to send all of your feedback and your trivia answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and remember you can check me out on the Big Wrestling Show every Tuesday night from 10 until Midnight by going to www.oswego.edu/~wnyo Until next time LATER!
Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?