Call me old school…Call me a mark…Hell, call me delusional…Whatever the case may be, I still hold true to the belief that championships should be earned pursuant to a legitimate system that protects the value of the title itself. Such a system provides significance to every match and brings structure and purpose to the entirety of the roster.
Although I understand that WWE has strayed away from this concept on many levels, I simply don’t view that reality as a legitimate reason to abandon the philosophy. In other words, when the opportunity presents itself to re-establish a division, past failures to do so don’t suffice in my mind as a legitimate explanation to fail once again.
I hate to beat a dead horse, but the IC Title and the Tag Titles have been staples of the WWF/E during some of the most successful periods in the history of the company. Unfortunately, every time it appears as though the current product is inching toward rehabilitation of these titles, a giant step backwards stops any progress in its tracks.
After weeks of inaction, with a somewhat entertaining commentary stint sandwiched in between, the Miz finally appeared poised to thrust the IC Title division back into the spotlight. Many fans, including myself, salivated over the prospect of a prolonged feud between the Miz and Cody Rhodes.
These are two young superstars, with charisma, potential, but most importantly, a legitimate entitlement to the opportunity from a storytelling standpoint. Cody is a former champion who resurrected the classic Title, while the Miz is a former WWE Champion who headlined and won the main event of Wrestlemania…Yes, these are kayfabe accomplishments, but we’re operating within the confines of a kayfabe world.
With this stage set, Ryback entered the picture…He entered without warning and without much in the way of kayfabe success…Let’s not forget that a victory over Jack Swagger stands as his most impressive victory to date. Again, I get it…It’s fake, wins are contrived…Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that the aura of a title that once was a stepping stone for established break-out talent is tarnished when an individual’s first legitimate feud is going to result in a championship reign.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Ryback…He’s over with fans, has a great look, and accomplishes feats of strength that haven’t been seen in the ring for quite some time. I’m also a bit terrified at the prospect of him working longer matches, as I legitimately feared for Swagger’s safety during their match a few weeks back.
Ryback very well may sell as the IC Champion…His “feed me more” persona may meld perfectly with the concept of a fighting champion, as challenger after challenger lies in his wake. Regardless, of this potential, I can’t help but feel that the IC Title still would be nothing more than a prop throughout this endeavor…A “division” is non-existent when the champion went from 0 to 60 in a heartbeat.
The same certainly can be said for the state of the tag division at this time. Less than a month ago, we saw a promising backstage segment on Smackdown featuring 5 legitimate tag teams comprised of young stars, all of whom have the potential to entertain if given the opportunity. The Prime Time Players were winning number one contender matches…I saw fatal four-ways in the future…I saw ladders matches…I saw a division ready to be reborn….Instead, we saw Kane and Daniel Bryan.
Again, don’t read this to mean that I don’t like what we’ve seen from Daniel Bryan and Kane the past few weeks…In fact, I think these two individuals quite possibly have been the most entertaining aspect of WWE for the last month.
Unfortunately, the further development of this tandem has been facilitated at the expense of the tag titles and the tag division. All progress made with the concept of establishing legitimate contenders via in-ring advancement was flushed down the shitter when a thrown together tag-team went from group therapy to champions in the span of 6 days.
The titles once again are nothing more than props to further an individual storyline, rather than the ultimate prize at the end of a hard fought road. Yes, that’s all the tag titles have been for as long as I care to remember, but that simply isn’t a legitimate excuse to continue the travesty.
In the end, the WWE needs a solid IC Title and Tag Title division more than ever at this stage in its existence. Currently, talent is woefully underutilized despite the fact that three hours of Raw often feels devoid of content and structure. Unfortunately, every time a title change is hot-shotted or used to further an individual rather than the division itself, this much needed renaissance gets pushed further to the backburner.
I apologize for this being a somewhat negative article given the column’s name…This issue simply has irked me given the potential that continues to flash before my eyes. Maybe my concept of a successful product is outdated, or maybe we’ve become accustomed to accepting the status quo that comes our way…In either case, teasing a resurgence while failing to follow through simply is unacceptable in my mind.
I’ll enjoy a run by Ryback if/when it occurs and I’m sure that Kane and Daniel Bryan will continue to provide entertaining moments on a weekly basis….I simply want more…I want the titles to have a reverence and a purpose.
At the core, we watch to suspend reality by believing that we are seeing meaningful competition. Each cheapening of the prize for such competition makes that suspension all the more difficult.