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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Why the World Titles Mean Nothing
April 6, 2005 by David Barker


World Titles used to mean something. The champion was a champion who, whether you liked him or not, you could respect because of their work ethic. The champions had lengthy runs, but the runs were interesting. If a heel was champion, you tuned in to hopefully watch him lose, and when he retained the title through some stroke of genius, you were outraged, so you watched the next show. If the face was champion, you watched to see him over come the odds and retain. But now, the World Titles in NWA:TNA, and the WWE mean nothing. I'd like to take some time out to discuss them.

The WWE World Heavyweight Title is a disgrace. If you were to look at the people who've held it, it's gone like this: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Goldberg, Triple H, Benoit, Orton, Triple H. Basically, it's the Triple H Title. Now, I'm not going to bash Triple H, because I enjoy watching him wrestle. But honestly, I wish the WWE would take a break from Triple H. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit as champion. People are beginning to realize that when Triple H loses the title, he's going to have it back in a few months, if not a few weeks. For me at least, the World Heavyweight Title has become a disgrace. The title RAW uses is supposed to be the carry-over WCW Title, which was created in 1991, when WCW stopped using NWA titles. Through all the history of that title, it has seen many great champions: Ric Flair, Sting, Vader, Bret Hart, Kurt Angle, and Chris Jericho. While in the latter years of WCW, it deteriorated tremendously with the likes of David Arquette and Vince Russo each getting a chance to hold it. When the WWE first brought it back after it got retired (when Jericho become Undisputed Champion) I was excited. I even thought using Triple H to build up the prestige of the title was a smart thing. I loved the Elimination Chamber, when Shawn won. Then I began to grow frustrated, as did many of my group of wrestling friends. We hated Goldberg getting a run with the title. Then we saw our salvation in the form of Chris Benoit. He is/was what the World Title used to be about. He has spent almost two decades wrestling, giving of himself to the sport. He doesn't have a flamboyant personality, he doesn't need one. He's a no-nonsense character who steps out to wrestle. I was ecstatic to see Benoit win the title. The WWE also let him have a nice lengthy run, not as long as I wanted, but I was happy. Then came, in my mind, the worst moment in the WWE since the Necrophilia angle, Randy Orton won the World Heavyweight Title. In my mind, that is when the title lost all meaning that Benoit, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels had built up. Here was this kid winning the World Heavyweight Title after having been wrestling four years, doing what it had taken men like Chris Benoit 18 years to accomplish, or Shawn Michaels 12 years, this kid did in four. Now, (at the time of me writing this), Dave Batista is going to be battling Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 21. The outcome is still unknown, but I'm hoping that Batista fails to win, and someone like Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Kane, or William Regal gets a chance to carry the ball. I'm hoping to see the WWE do a 180, and start rebuilding the credibility of the World Heavyweight Title.

SmackDown!'s WWE title is almost as bad as RAW's World Heavyweight, the only difference is, I love JBL's reign. It's a classic Heel title reign. People tune in to see him lose, to see him dethroned, but he never is. He always finds some way out of it. And before JBL, we had Eddie Guerrero as champion, which was another dream come true for me. But before we got to see Guerrero as champion, or JBL, we were force-fed Brock Lesnar runs. I want to make this clear, I HATE BROCK LESNAR! The way he came right in and won the title makes me sick, still to this day I want to vomit every time I think of it. Then, for a fleeting moment, in mid-December of 2002, I thought Vince had wisened up. Kurt Angle defeated the Big Show for the strap. I was overjoyed. Kurt Angle is a full package wrestler. He can talk and wrestle, and he's got a good look. But sadly, my hopes were tarnished as I saw him lose to Lesnar, then win it again, then lose it back to Lesnar. The quick title changes, and multitude of Brock Lesnar runs had me fed up with SmackDown!. Then Eddie won it, in what I saw as a gift from the divine. On February 15, 2004; after 17 years of professional wrestling, Eddie won the title. He went on to hold it until June 27, 2004 when he lost it to John Bradshaw Layfield. I'll admit, at first I was weary to see JBL win the title. I thought he'd but just a transition Champion to Cena, but he wasn't. Instead, JBL has held the title for an impressive 10 months (at the time of writing this), which couldn't make me happier. Thank you Vincent Kennedy McMahon and your writers, you did something good. Despite what anyone else may think, JBL has set a standard; he has, with help from his opponents, helped build the SmackDown! title up to, in my opinion, the premier title in the WWE. But we're on the verge of seeing that all destroyed. John Cena could possibly defeat JBL at WrestleMania and become the WWE Champion; I'm on my knees right now, begging the God of Wrestling not to let this happen. In my opinion, Cena is over-rated. Yes, he can sometimes perform on the microphone. But, his promos are repetitive, his catch phrases are tired, and his matches are stale. He as World Champion of SmackDown! will/would completely destroy all of Eddie's and JBL's hard work in establishing it as a respectable title.

NWA: TNA is supposed to be the next big thing. With a rumored deal with Spike TV in the works, a show already on Fox Sports Net, they are supposed to have what it takes to give the WWE a run for their money as the dominate force in 'Sports-Entertainment'. That's all well and good, except for one factor. The man who is called the King of the Mountain, that's right folks, Double J Jeff Jarrett is going to keep them from this. How do I know" What happened when TNA debuted on Fox Sports Net" Jeff Jarrett was the NWA World Champion. That was last year, June 4, 2004. In that time, TNA has seen no changes in its World Champion. Normally, I would not be against this, if the man holding the title was worthy. At first, I figured it'd be a good thing. Besides Raven, Double J was really the only person TNA had who had ever had main stream wrestling exposure, being a former WCW Champion. He was obviously the man to start TNA's Television Era off as Champion. I thought, maybe after three or four months, when Impact had gotten a following, and TNA had gotten more exposure, surely Jeff would drop it to someone else. But no... Instead, TNA has become Jeff Jarrett's personal stomping ground. He's beaten them all right" Among the list of names are: AJ Styles, Abyss, Raven, Monty Brown, Kevin Nash, DDP, etcetera. His promos have gotten stale, his matches are not exciting, he's DESTROYED the LEGACY of the NWA. The legacy that men like Lou Thesz, Harley Race, Jack Brisco, The Funks, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhoades, Kerry Von Erich, Ricky Steamboat, Sting, and others have built. He took all that, and destroyed it by making himself the focal point of TNA for it's entire running period. I'm not against him ever holding the title, but really now, is it necessary to see him beat every body, and let no one get built up to his level. You know who should be NWA Champ" No, not AJ Styles, Monty Brown, Abyss, DDP, or Nash. One man, who has paid his dues, has shown himself to be a draw, who has the most unique, and most mimicked gimmick ever... Raven. That is the man who should be leading TNA right now. So please Jeff, step away from your own ego, and let some one else have a chance, for the good of your own company.

That's a wrap on the three World Titles I wanted to discuss. All three of deteriorated to a revolting level, but hopefully they will all pick up soon, other wise, I'm just going to focus on the one company that still gives me goose bumps, Ring of Honor, but that's a different column.

by David Barker ..


Bill Tyrrell wrote:
First of all I want to make a minor correction to your post, AJ Styles did win NWA World Title from Jarrett, and then Ron Killings won it from AJ less than a month later, and Jarrett won it on 6/02/04, which is still ignorant that they think Jarrett deserves that title for one week, but I thought I would tell you...I agree with you on thing I am sick and tired of seeing Triple H as champion, but I guess that is what happens when you are banging Vince's daughter, but I was personally glad to see Batista and John Cena win the titles at Wrestlemania XXI, because both are very worthy of that title...Granted either man means as much in wrestling as a champion should, but honestly wrestling fans are getting tired of the same old champion, and I also agree that I would have been happy with JBL keeping the title at Wrestlemania, because I personally believe he was a great champion, and there is no denying that JBL definetly earned his stripes, hell I remember a young punk kid named Justin Hawk Bradshaw, whom had hardly any wrestling skill, and he like branding people, and I am sure I am not the only one that said this guy isn't going to make it anywhere in this business why is he here, and look here we talking him as a champion nearly 13 years later also talking about a much much improved wrestler, and some people will say he can't wrestle, don't listen to them they are stupid especially if they saw when debuted on Raw...

I also agree that it is horrible that it took Benoit and Guerrero nearly 20 years to win their first world title, because there is not and I doubt that there ever will be two more hard working wrestlers ever, they are the only wrestlers that perform at least 300 days a year the average star performs 275 days times a years, and I have nothing but respect for those two wrestlers, and I am honored that I got to see such great performers in my lifetime...
Tod Sullivan wrote:
I would like to respond to the above column by first of all agreeing with some of the sentiments written, they were very well expressed and interesting. On the TNA title I couldn't agree more, a long heel reign (as was stated) can garner a great desire from the fans to see the champion beaten and for the title to change hands, however this has to be handled in a very careful way, otherwise the fans will simply stop tuning in to see the champion beaten as they don't believe it will happen. This obviously defeats the purpose of the idea and the big title change will not be seen by as many people as it should be.

In my opinion TNA are staring this very firmly in the face, at a time when they can hardly afford to lose viewers that they don't even have. WWE on the other hand has some problems similar, some different, over on RAW they began the HHH reign well in my opinion, simply handing him the title (and the famous belt) garnered instant heat and a desire to see the champion beaten, this was followed with a great match against RVD in which Flair first aligned with HHH.

This, meant that when the time came for Michaels to win the title in the Elimination Chamber (a great match by the way), the fans loved it, from this point they began to book HHH in very strange ways, first they attempted to book him as a sick minded heel with the Kane / Vick angle and then the borderline racism of his WM match with Booker, as this began to wear on the fans the decision was made to book the heel champion (Hunter) as though he were a babyface, whilst still being a heel!

This meant that we saw him overcome tremendous odds time and again against Nash, Steiner, Goldberg, Kane with each of this challengers being built up without us ever getting the payoff. Finally when Benoit went over we saw HHH dispose of Orton immediately and at survivor series time he was booked as the ultimate face when he was up against the odds week after week and still overcoming them.

The problem with all this is that WWE is always much more comfortable booking the face chasing the champion, unfortunately once they have the belt on the face they are not so good, the only time this was a genuine exception was probably during the McMahon heel role as he was able to place seemingly insurmountable odds in front of the face champions Austin (primarily) but also The Rock.

As for Smackdown! I will simply say that at the time of the brand split they produced great in ring shows for quite some time thanks to Lesnar, Angle, Edge, Benoit, Mysterio, a great tag team division and eventually the addition of Big Show, who served a great purpose in showing off the amazing strength of Lesnar, I am an unapologetic mark for Lesnar strength and great in ring work and thoroughly enjoyed his time in WWE, I hope he returns one day. Lesnar deserves credit for this period as he was at its very core (Heyman deserves a big mention on the booking side too).

Finally I don't agree with the premise that it's wrong for wrestlers to win the title after just 4 years, 3 years or whatever, to say that Orton was unworthy because he'd only been in the business for 4 years is totally unfair, Angle won the title in his first year as a 'professional' and I didn't complain because he hadn't paid his dues, I was happy because he's a great performer. I can accept an argument that says Orton didn't have the required talent (although I think he will prove otherwise in the long term), but not one that simply suggests that he didn't deserve the title because he hadn't waited long enough.

All in all a superb article and very thought provoking.
Willis Smith wrote:
William Regal and Raven" Those are your answers" William Regal and Raven" After they win the belts, maybe we could have Val Venis and BG James challenge them, respectively" That would fill the seats. How about Benoit and Jericho or Abyss and AJ Styles. The difference there is that these guys are actually good, whereas those two guys saw the highlight of their careers about 5 years ago.
Jesse Larkin wrote:
I agree with your article David. I know the Benoit reign was the best, and we all thought JBL would loose in his first major title defense. but what JBL had said many times before, "I Sell Pay-Per-Views!" He said that right on Smackdown! but what alarmed me was that he broke his Role for a few seconds by saying that. he was basicly telling the officals who were watching, "Hey! i am making you money! gimme a long reign on top!" I am so glad you wrote this article! i don't really watch RAW or TNA...so i don't have a reply for them!
Jake McDowell wrote:
I'm from England so I shouldn't really care about what Hassan an Davari say, it's just they say the same thing every week an it gets annoying, especially with Davari at ringside screaming things through all the matches. As a lot of others have said the whole racial gimmick is over used and wrong, I'm an aethiest an think all religion is BS but I still respect other peoples beliefs. They need to put an end to the Hassan thing soon and I think a good angle would be for him to say something about England and then William Regal comes and beats him, but thats just me an I am a bit biased. Or if they have Shawn Michaels beat him as they've got the rivalry at the moment, that would work to.
N. Panesar wrote:
wow i really do think that you have a point on this subject well until i red that you thought that batista did not deserve a shot at the World Heaveryweight championship on Raw. this has been written after Wrestlemania so i do know that Batista has won the strap and am personally estatic because it hasnt stayed in posetion of the corprate champion Triple H. i have seen Triple H's run since he practically joined and i have seen how he has literally tried everything to get out of Shawn Michaels shadow but then i think that triple H is going to end up like Ric Flair as good as Flair is, lets just face it, he cant admit that his time is up and that it is time for him to retire. Flair cannot live without Wrestling, just like Triple H. being the son i law to Vince he cannot see that he is using his position to get him everything. Batista is a worthy champion, he proved it when he became the OVW champion.

i cannot believe what you just said, JBL has nto disgraced the champions. wow have me and you been watching differant Smackdowns every week. JBL is a waste of space who basically like Jeff Jarrett cannot bare to lose the championship because of his ego and the fact that he is useless in the ring and you go on to say that he can work the crowd. well how would you feel if sum guy came out and said he was better than you every week, well wouldnt you get bored of it. that is the reason people boo him, because he is a waste of good air time. John Cena is no better, he is just an over-hyped for saying wots on a peice of paper and having the most useless move-set in the world, nowonder they called him the "Prototype" in OVW, well me and personally every person on the planet thinks that he should be sent back to the factory and incinerated.

finally the NWA Championship which has been held by the most worthless Triple H wannabe in the world. yes i did say that Jeff Jarrett is a Triple H Wannabe because does everybody see the differance betweek the Guitar and the Sledgehammer. the NWA championship was worth something a long time ago but when it changed into the TNA World Championship it lost all meaning because Jeff Jarrett needs to get over the fact that he was only a World Champion in WCW and considering that WCW Died because they were letting no-marks hold championships like Jeff Jarrett. My God Jeff get over yourself because you are nothing special. now to agree with my dear friend writing this article because Raven should be the Champion well or either Scott Hall or DDP or AJ Styles because lets admit it, that they deserve it, now Raven theres a man who has held practically every major title in the business today and i bet if he was still in the WWE he would have held the championship. JEFF JARRETT I WONDER WHY PEOPLE DONT BOO YOU ALL AROUND THE WORLD BECAUSE YOUR WORTHLESS, YOU HAVE O USE YOUR OWN FATHER TO OWN A BUSINESS
Roderick G wrote:
I would like to think of The WWE Title as just that the WWE Title. Its the Feds title not a world title I dont care what anyone says WWE or other wise...its the Feds title. Just like any Indy fed has its own title the WWE has its own TITLE and thats what I think of the WWE title same goes for the WWE Tag Team titles.

The WWE World Title...I still think of it as the WCW World Title even though its been said how the lineage changed when it combined and rebirthed and gave to HHH. But its a WORLD title that was around the same time that NWA was around.

NWA:TNA...NWA is nothing new...its older then the WWE is it not" And I would think its World title is def. worth something. Forget the TNA part at the end there are a lot of small parts of NWA around America and even Japan. If im not mistaken Double J yeah he always wins but he defends his title in a lot more places than the WWE World champ does. Infact I was watching Smackdown here in North Carolina and it commerical a small event where Jeff would be taken on Dusty Rhodes with the NWA title on the line. But NWA is nothing new...TNA is just a repackage verison. When I watch TNA I dont think of it as TNA I think of it as NWA. Wrong or Right...when I sit down at my TV I am watching NWA. With NWA Champs. When you look at the champ list most of them travel to the other NWA indy spots and defend their titles. I dont see why NWA TNA wouldnt bring in such state champs.

It just seems they have Always been Two World titles NWA's and WCW's and WWE always just had a Fed title. But in the end arent they all driven from the same force to begin with"
trenny ray wrote:
I think the problem with wrestling business' nowadays is the character developement of the champions they create. i find that they ruin ones character which in the long run degrades the championship to a certain extent. also other superstars are under appreciated.

john cena in my opinion does not really deserve his place in the business, his shameful attepts at rapping encourage wwe to put him where he is now, maybe because then kids will think its cool and he's cool and that being part of the (chain) gang will be cool. just like rap itself, john cena's place within wwe is a joke. this means that real wrestling superstars are losing the spotlight they deserve. i would much rather see rey mysterio as champ, i honestly feel that he is much more worthy rather than cena. superstars like big show, angle, 5 time wcw champ booker t, undertaker and hardcore legend of ecw rob van dam are neglected with the idea of having cena as a champ.

now when it comes to raw, HHH's title reigns did become a bit boring but i think it could have been more amusing. i think turning HHH into a fear driver coward was a wrong turn. how can the cerebral assasin be enourmously afraid of a man he created. i think hunter's title runs would be more amusing if he were still the hungry, fired up, no fear monster (with a sledge hammer). i think the under appreciation of superstars also applies to RAW. someone give rhyno a decent gimmick which will set him up for title contendership, i think he deserves a bit of a push. also edge is a good candidate for the belt but i find his crying and sooking to be irratating and it downplays his credibility. jericho and kane and possibly benoit could have another run, but they would need to compensate for their recent losses to slightly unformiddable opponants first. in addition to the raw title, goldberg was a good example of a poor character creation. goldberg can only work as a silent monster, no words just action. wwe made the bad mistake of making him talk more than he should. goldberg would be a great champion on raw but only if he persued the same character as he did when he started in wcw, refer to his first nitro match against hugh mourus, walk in - destroy - walk out, mysterious and entertaining, thats the way he should be.

now that we have talked about wwe, lets respond to tna. i think jarret as a champ is a shame, even in wcw. develope some of those loyal superstars who are just dying for a title run, also if superstars of old such as nash and ddp and sting are to appear, give them a decent role, not just a job for jarret to hit over the head with a guitar. fix tna quickly, somehow, i cant give any suggestions because i feel tna are knee high in a pile of crap and are at the point of no return. sorry tna.

writers need to wake up and shape up in regard to these major titles. but it doesnt stop their, wwe have ruined the cruiserweight championship that wcw and the mexican luchadors built up to be great, and dont even get me started on tag team wrestling. in 5 years time, people will ask, what is tag team wrestling" is their such a thing"
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