Now that Daniel Bryan has drifted away from the main event title scene with the rest of the talented-but-undersized jetsam, WWE can return to its regularly scheduled programming of John Cena vs. Randy Orton for every championship belt ever created in the history of professional wrestling.
And you suckers think Roman Reigns is going to be winning the big one in 2014?
Anyway, what we have here is John Cena as World Heavyweight Champion challenging Randy Orton, the WWE Champion, for the right to carry both belts in a Table, Ladders and Chairs match at next month's aptly-titled TLC pay-per-view (PPV) in Houston, Texas.
See how it all unfolded here.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon -- known as "The Authority" -- have been careful not to refer to it as a title unification match because hey, this is TLC we're talking about and that kind of first-rate angle is better suited for WrestleMania. In the interim, we can expect a muddled finish in "The Lone Star State," followed by a lot of arguing the next night on RAW.
Then the slow but steady build toward one strap to rule them all.
I don't like it.
In theory, it makes a ton of sense and it's actually one of my biggest complaints in other sports, like boxing. How can you have 17 champions in one division? But WWE is not a legitimate sport, has no weight classes and nothing to distinguish the parameters for its existing titles.
What, exactly, must one do to wrestle for the United States Championship?
But that holds true for every title. That's why a guy as small as Rey Mysterio can wear the same strap as a guy as large as The Great Khali. A belt is nothing more than a prop designed to complete the arc of a character's cyclical development, which is why I was sad when WWE said goodbye to that busted-up piece of junk known as the Hardcore Championship.
Damn you PG era!
It's no secret that WWE operates a class society and just like the real world, there exists the haves and the have nots. You give the U.S. title to the lower class so it doesn't appear that you've completely abandoned them, then award the middle class with the Intercontinental Championship.
The upper class?
They get the WWE Championship. For that reason, I always liked having the World Heavyweight Championship as an option, sort of like the belt for the upper middle class. Think of those lateral promotions they give middle management at the office.
You're not getting any more money, but your new title is sure to wow your co-workers in the employee break room!
Less belts means less reasons to care about individual feuds that may otherwise have captured the imagination of the "Universe." The issue is not having competing titles, the issue is how you book them. Nobody cares about the Intercontinental Championship because it's applied like a Band-Aid to damaged careers, or lazily gifted to greenhorns like Curtis Axel as a cheap, quick-fix way to elevate their status.
It should be the other way around.
The man makes the title, the title doesn't make the man (or woman). And as you can see, Axel has outlived his usefulness and the torch was unceremoniously passed to Big E. Langston. Why Langston? Well, the company wants to push the former powerlifter, but he's not (entirely) over just yet, so they'll ask him to wear a gold name tag and hope the fans realize he's a big deal.
First become a big deal, then wear the strap.
CM Punk held the WWE Championship hostage for 434 days. The program took a few months to get off the ground, but once it did, it was electric. Every bout had a built-in narrative, much like The Undertaker's streak. Holy shit, is this going to be the match?
Who's going to be the guy to break it?
WWE can afford to make those types of commitments when it has a Plan B. The roster wasn't handcuffed by Punk's title reign because we still had the Big Gold Belt up for grabs. It doesn't carry the same prestige as the WWE Championship, but that's the point.
It lets guys like John Cena and Randy Orton have their belt and defend it, too.