There was a time back in the 90s when it wasn’t that difficult to remember all the WWE title changes dating back to the early 80s when Bob Backlund was the champion, even Bruno Sammartino if you had a really good memory. Try doing that now, have a quick attempt at remembering exactly all the WWE and World Heavyweight title changes since the start of 2008. Not easy is it, especially not when the simple fact is that in 2009 the WWE title alone has changed hands eight times and on three occasions between September 13th and October 25th. Since November 23rd 2008 the title has changed hands on ten occasions. The World Heavyweight title has also changed hands eight times this year and ten times since November 2008. Edge and John Cena have both had four WWE/World Heavyweight title reigns while both Orton and Jeff Hardy have had three and that’s in one calendar year. What the heck is happening here?
The IC title has had six title changes this year, the US title three changes, the ECW title has had four title changes, the tag titles three changes, Women’s title twice and the Diva’s title three changes. In all the seven titles in WWE have had 34 changes and we’ve still got a month and a half to go. It’s an even higher figure if I include the pointless Ms. WrestleMania title but as the editor of ‘Fighting Females’ magazine I’m really trying to forget that ever existed.
You just cannot keep switching champions like this and expect the titles to have some kind of value. Out of all the changes this year only injuries to Batista and Maryse, JBL leaving the company and the suspension of Rey Mysterio meant the title had to change.
Continual changing of the belt can be defended I guess by the bosses simply claiming it’s a really competitive division now and everyone is capable of beating everyone else but that excuse means the division doesn’t have a dominant champion. That’s something I always like to see in pro wrestling and even better if it happens to be a heel holding the belt. A dominant heel leads to the creation of a face challenger that can finally rid us of this hated champion. Think back to when Yokozuna held the title for nearly a year before Bret Hart won the belt from him at WrestleMania X.
There’s other ways in which companies can make their champions look weak and one is when they decide that they’re going to have an Iron-Man match on their card. For starters an hour long Iron Man match isn’t always that welcome because there are few wrestlers in the company that are capable of putting on a good performance for such a length of time. Even worse is the fact there’s few wrestlers in the company who anyone would want to watch for an hour.
The last Iron Man Match took place recently at ‘Bragging Rights’ when Randy Orton who had held the WWE title for an amazing 24 days lost the belt to John Cena who he’d also lost the belt to just over a month previously. Cena won the match by six falls to five and instantly became one of the weakest WWE Champions of all time? Why you ask, let me explain.
How can Cena claim to be an all-powerful WWE Champion when on a PPV we’ve just seen him get pinned five times in an hour? How can he go up to Randy Orton and brag about how he beat him when Orton can just say “Well I pinned you five times in an hour a few weeks ago so you know full well how capable I am of beating you.” Turn it the other way round and how can Orton say he’s so deserving of a title shot when he’s just been pinned six times in an hour by the champion?
You know what else bugs me and coming from the UK I’ll probably get shot for writing this, I really don’t like best of three falls matches. British matches always used to be fought over a rounds system and the best of three falls but that tradition has slowly died out in the past two decades. Totally the fault of the Americans of course as we were introduced to WWE and WCW where it was all one fall matches. Only a few companies in the UK now use best of three falls matches but for me the idea just doesn’t work, well not in a business where results are pre-determined.
So what’s my problem? Well you see the problem is it always seems to end with matches ending in two falls to one. As soon as one wrestler goes a fall up I’m usually just counting down the minutes until the equalising fall and then it’s time for the decider. That’s one problem but it also affects the superiority of a champion in title matches. With the one fall system the champion can hold the belt for months winning his matches and never being pinned. With the best of three falls system the chances are he or she will get pinned or made to submit in virtually every match that they have. Where’s the superiority in a champion who everyone can actually get a pin or submission over?
WWE need to create champions who can hold the title for a significant time and that means four or five months not four or five weeks, or in the case of Jeff Hardy four or five minutes when CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot. WWE have to remember the days when they built up a champion who could have a series of matches against several wrestlers over a period of time and build up to a major title match at WrestleMania. Make the champion look strong and to a degree unbeatable not someone who we know can lose the belt anytime because he’s already done it several times this year.
We’re never going to go back to the days when champions held belts for years and years but all this constant changing just damages the credibility of the belts and the champions who hold them. WCW was like that in their dying days and no one wants a repeat of that. These days it’s sometimes difficult to even remember who all the champions are and that’s not just because there’s so many of them. It’s almost as difficult as working out who the members of UK girl group The Sugababes are this week!