Blogcast w/Chris Graham: WWE needs one world champ, not two
Yes, all three: Raw, Smackdown Live and NXT.
You do this, and you bring back to the product the best thing about the territory days: when the NWA world champ traveled from region to region, defending the belt against whoever the top guy was in the territory at the time.
That top guy may have been the top regional champ. May have been just the top face, assuming the champ was a heel, which was almost always the case back in the NWA days, the idea being, make the world champ a heel, and when he comes to town to face our best face, we basically print money selling tickets to the payoff.
The WWE champ wouldn’t need to automatically be a heel for this to work in the modern day, but he would need to be allowed to float from show to show, from feud to feud, one month against a top guy from Raw, one month against a top guy from Smackdown Live.
The NXT part of this equation could be more a driveby, but imagine, an occasional one-off between, say, A.J. Styles and Velveteen Dream, or Roman Reigns and Adam Cole.
I’m tuning in those weeks, guaranteed, is what I’m saying.
How this works is proven by what WWE did with booking Brock Lesnar as the Universal champ the past couple of years.
In the absence of having a world champ consistently on each week’s Raw, and working the house-show tours, the ball was given in that respect to Reigns, who creative built around even though he was still just chasing the belt.
That was the best part of the territory era: the chase.
That, and the recognition that the NWA world belt was the top world belt. WWF and AWA also claimed world belts, but both promotions were regional in terms of geographic reach, until WWE jumped onto USA and AWA landed on ESPN, and even then, those belts were defended only within their own respective companies.
The NWA belt was defended literally everywhere else: Mid-Atlantic, Memphis, Georgia, Florida, Continental, Mid-South, World Class, St. Louis/Kansas City, Pacific Northwest, Japan.
Each had to wait their turn until the champ would be available to work a program with one of their guys, and built programs up and down their cards in the meantime.
WWE could do the same, again, as it had done on Raw for the longest time with Lesnar being an absentee champ. You make the Intercontinental title the top Raw title, make the U.S. title the top title on Smackdown Live, and everybody jockeys to get into position to be part of that title picture.
The chase for those belts then determines who gets to chase the WWE world champ from each roster.
In doing this, you raise the value of the IC and U.S. belts, and the chase for those belts.
You also raise the value, exponentially, of your WWE world belt.
It’s not a stretch to say that a company that claims to have two world champs really has none.
Schedule a unification match between Reigns and Styles. Build it up as the main event at Royal Rumble in January. Winner of that match main-events WrestleMania against the winner of the Royal Rumble match.
Again, you’re printing money doing this.
WWE will never do this, of course, but it should.