THIS IS ME - MARKING OUT
The WCW Title returns!
The Big Gold Belt
I watched RAW on Monday and I just KNEW what was in the case that Bishoff carried to the ring. I was on the edge of my set, ready to mark out like a 12-year old. But, the opening segment ended up leaving me ambivalent. HHH was just HANDED the "Big Gold Belt" and declared the World Champion of Raw. That one simple act encompasses so many facets of wrestling today that it will take me a few paragraphs to break it all down to explain just what I think about that.
The first, and most important, is the introduction of a Champion on each program. This, by itself, is a wonderful thing. To me, it definitely symbolizes the much-needed break-up of the so-called brands. It is not the final step, by any means. In my opinion, it is second only to the initial draft in importance, and it is the biggest thing to happen since that time several months ago. In addition, I believe it is going to force further separation between the brands.
For example, the WWE has already tried having dual "Champions" competing on the same PPV. Having more than one match for the "highest" title a promotion has to offer on the same card is impossible to do while maintaining the import and prestige of each belt. When the WWF had a match for both the WCW and the WWF title on the same PPV card, the WCW title was always diminished. They certainly tried to push the importance of both titles but it clearly did not work. Only one match can be the Main Event. No matter how hard the WWE tries to convince us that the first match of a double or triple Main Event is just as meaningful as the final match, but that is never the case. The final match of the evening is something special, and it automatically garners a respect and awe (no matter how potentially bad the match may be) that you simply cannot capture in an earlier match. The introduction of a "Champion" of each promotion is a fantastic idea, but in order for it to work the WWE needs to take steps to ensure that only one belt is defended on each PPV. If this means dividing the PPVs between Raw and Smackdown, so be it. Yes, I think the re-introduction of this title is a very positive step. But more steps will certainly have to be taken to ensure its success.
That being said, I have very serious misgivings about the manner in which the WWE reintroduced "The title formerly known as the WCW World Championship." To begin with, what claim does Raw have to decide that champion? From a purely plot perspective, I know it might seem nitpicky to bring this up, but from an integrity standpoint, no one ever declared Raw to be the possessor of the title heritage of the WCW. This detail could be quite easily overcome by having Vince or another "WWE representative" independent of Raw and Smackdown formerly acknowledge the title and its history, since they are now the administrators of that belt. Granted I think that will never happen, and I am willing to overlook that.
However, the manner in which the belt was re-introduced was atrocious. In my mind, the World Champion belt has yet another ugly stain on it. To simply hand the title to HHH was perhaps the worst possible thing they could have done. So what if he was named the #1 contender last week on Raw, and that was taken from him. That does not give him any claim to that title. The #1 contendership is not like a "Vice-Champion." There is not a title situation in existence where the number one contender becomes the de-facto champion if the belt is left vacant. No matter what the situation, a champion must earn his title by some means.
"Wait a minute!" some might say. "HHH earned the right to hold that title by winning his match against Ric Flair!" That, frankly, is bullshit. First off, HHH was declared champion before that match. He was not wrestling to win the title- he was defending it. And there is a huge difference. Just because he managed to hold on to something that did not belong to him in the first place does not now make it his.
Yes, as the Raw #1 contender he did deserve some consideration. A bye in a tournament for the title or the #30 position in a Royal Rumble format match for the belt, for example, would have been perfectly satisfactory. But being handed the belt and defending it on the same night does not make a champion.
That brings up a point I have been resisting bringing up until now- HHH's selection as the new champion. If there was ever a clearer example of his "pull" in the company, I can't remember it. Last week there was the issue of the number one contender's match. I said then that I could not see a solid reason why he was worthy of a shot at being the number one contender, and I stand by that assertion. It is clear now that match was leading up to this. The WWE put HHH in the #1 contender spot for the explicit purpose of handing him a title. Mind you, this was the very same HHH who lost a match against a non-active wrestler at the last PPV. His first and only real match as a member of the Raw promotion- he lost.
The whole point of a wrestler "wrestling" is supposedly to gain a winning record, to become a contender for a title. What is the point of ANY match if someone can come into a promotion, have a winless record, and be handed a title? HHH used his pull, or his relationship with a certain writer, to be handed the top spot on the promotion. This is the same HHH who has been handing in far less than stellar performances in the ring (And don't point out the HBK match, because one match against a Kliq member does not establish a trend), and terribly long and boring promos for the last several months. I will not say that HHH being handed the World Title is as bad as say- David Arquette holding it, but there is one thing that I can say about David Arquette- at least he WON the damned thing.
I think the return of the WCW title is a very good thing. I am happy to see it, and I am very glad that the WWE has finally decided to split the title between the two promotions. Even though I do like to talk about what is good in the wrestling world (and this is definitely a good thing) I cannot let this slide without mentioning how HORRIFIC I think the manner in which it came about was.
I am still waiting for a Jericho "Clean win." Does anyone out there actually remember the last singles match that Chris Jericho had a clean win in?
Raw vs. Smackdown!
Well, last week I mentioned that Vengeance was coming to LA, and I had a quandary to whether I would go to the PPV, Smackdown, or Raw, all of which were in the area. First I am surprised that not a single person mentioned that it was UNFORGIVEN that was coming to LA, and not Vengeance. My bad- but perhaps that just goes to show that unless it is one of the five majors, no one gives a rats ass what it is called. I usually do not-
Anyway, I asked everyone to email me and let me know which show they would rather pay to see- Smackdown or Raw. And the results were OVERWHELMINGLY in favor of- Smackdown. In fact, only one person voted in favor of Raw! Since all of the Smackdown! Votes had the same theme; I will just post what the single "Raw" vote had to say.
Bill D said this-
I've been to both but if I had to choose between the two I would definitely rather go see Monday Night Raw live. Even though my all time favorite wrestler wrestles for Smackdown (Angle). Raw just has the "anything can happen-big time feel" to it.
Everyone else mentioned the same things- better wrestlers, better matches, better production and angles- everything was better on Smackdown. Raw's saving grace appears to be that it is live. I can't really disagree- I think if I were going by myself I would probably go to RAW, but since I talked my non-wrestling-fan girlfriend into going, I thought Smackdown would be a better choice. Besides- she likes Matt Hardy and Rey Mysterio now (we watched Smackdown last week, to get her interested), so I will go with the vote and her preference. So the Wednesday after Smackdown in San Diego, I will have a pretty good live Smackdown report to give you all (with plenty of SPOILER warnings!) so be sure to check back for that! Thank all of you who emailed me your choices- I found your thoughts very useful. And since so many of you actually did email me- I thought I would try another "poll." Email me your thoughts at email@example.com and tell me what you think about this-
Now that the WCW title is back- What was your favorite WCW (World) title match of all time, and why? This can be ANY match that involved this title, including its WWE days. I will post some of the responses next week.
I kept it short this week- everything else I wanted to talk about was so overshadowed by the "Raw title" that it seems unimportant. Raw was a decent show overall, and I am eagerly anticipating Smackdown this week (I don't usually read spoilers, and in this case, I definitely won't). Even though I do not like how the WCW title has returned, I still like the idea and I am curious to see how Smackdown responds. With they mothball the Undisputed title and bring back the original WWF/E belt? I will have to wait and see. Thanks for reading- see you next week.Craig Reade
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