THE UNDISPUTED WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENT
Some people say that Stone Cold and HHH are a lock to headline Wrestle Mania. They say Austin versus HHH is the surefire, money-drawing main event. While it may be true that Austin/HHH would do great business, I have to say that Chris Jericho and HHH will be the title match at WM. When HHH returned, I predicted the title match would be Angle/HHH, simply because of their history. Since then, I realized that there is one factor in today's WWF Title picture that, in my opinion, makes Chris Jericho a lock to headline WM. Jericho and HHH can draw just as much, if not more, money for WM than Austin and HHH, because of this one factor. That one factor is simply…
The title of "Undisputed WWF Champion."
Chris Jericho is the *first ever* Undisputed WWF Champion. If you ever forget that fact, Jericho himself will remind you every time he speaks. He crams it down our throats and rubs our faces in it twice a week. It's a pretty big deal to him. And becasue it's a big deal to him, it becomes a big deal to the fans. The fans pray that somebody like Stone Cold, the Rock or HHH beats the living piss out of him, just to shut him up.
Now, assume HHH is walking out of WM with the title. Assume HHH is the one who's going to carry the WWF throughout 2002. If that assumption is true, then it should also be true that HHH's one and only motivation is to become the *Undisputed* WWF Champion. It should be the one and only thing that HHH lives and breathes for.
The common denominator in this whole story is the prestige and power that comes with being the *Undisputed* WWF Champion. Chris Jericho is the first ever. Does he deserve it? He's arrogant, he's cocky, he's an egomaniac, and he's a cheater. BUT, he has beaten Stone Cold and twice in six weeks, he's beaten the Rock. HHH chasing the arrogant, possibly undeserving, cheating Chris Jericho for a month fits the mold of the classic "face chases heel" scenario. But because Jericho and HHH (and Stephanie) have a heated history together, the chase would make for some pretty decent and dramatic television.
The monkeywrench in this whole situation is Stone Cold Steve Austin, or whoever challenges Jericho for the Title at No Way Out. Under any other circumstances, creating a transitional champion for WM would be fine. The Rock was a transitional champion for Stone Cold last year. In making the Rock a transitional champion, the WWF probably presented the most profitable Wrestle Mania that they could. But, aside from the fact that Jericho *would* draw money for WM, there's an inherent philosophical problem in creating a transitional champion *this* year. And that is, the underlying theme in this whole scenario: the Undisputed WWF Championship.
I believe that the WWF consolidated the World Titles partly because they wanted to *add* value to the WWF Championship. Chris Jericho and the WWF Championship have both been elevated greatly by their partnership together. If Jericho drops the title to a transitional champ, the title automatically loses some of the luster Jericho gave to it. With each title change, the word "Undisputed" is spoken less and less frequently. Look at it from a booking standpoint. If HHH is really going to be the champion after WM, then wouldn't it be a MUCH bigger deal if he were to be the *first* babyface Undisputed Champion? If HHH beats Stone Cold for the title at WM, then I feel HHH's accomplishment wouldn't be as big of a deal. Obviously, it wouldn't be hard at all for the WWF to get people to pay for Austin/HHH, but HHH has the chance to be the conquering hero - the first face to hold the Undisputed Title. And if HHH is the consummate politician that everyone claims, then wouldn't he want to beat Jericho, because of this?
The overall point is this: saying a HHH/Austin main event would draw more money than a HHH/Jericho main event is certainly debatable. I think both would draw great money. However, they should definitely run with Jericho/HHH. It is a better choice from many perspectives. The WWF certainly knows the profitability of its own performers. They should have a good grasp of how much money Jericho would draw. Even if the WWF is scared of running with Jericho, they have a big ace up their sleeve. In much the same way the Ultimate Warrior's return at WM12 was used to cover the potential lack of interest in Hart/Michaels, the NWO would certainly be used this year to cover a potential lack of interest in HHH/Jericho.
Whatever the case, the WWF should preserve the value of the Undisputed Title, at least until Wrestle Mania.