Night of Champions is tonight, so what better reason to talk about the most coveted prize in sports entertainment? I won't be watching the PPV because I'm at work all evening, but I'll check out the results when I finish in the morning.
Before I begin, please follow me on twitter using the link at the end of this post, because I NEED FRIENDS.
There have been a few incarnations of the WWWF/WWF/WWE championship over the years, some lasting longer than others. For the last 7 years or so, the WWE Championship, then named the Undisputed Championship, had a makeover. A makeover specifically tailored to the infamous John Cena. As he was the Dr. of Thuganomics at the time, a Vanilla Ice/Eminem gimmick, he had previously changed the United States Championship by putting a spinner in the middle. That was fine, since I've never particularly cared for the US belt. Maybe because I'm English, but pretty much because I never watched WCW, where it originated from. The same was done for the WWE Championship and, although it no longer spins, the design remained and has done to this day.
Personally, I'm not a fan of it. I think it looks cheap and tacky and is too busy to be a championship in my opinion. I know a lot of people agree. I'm paraphrasing but I read an interview with The Miz a while back who made a fantastic point. He said that at other American sporting events, fans (and athletes) would have replica belts.. but they were all the World Heavyweight Championship belt, not the WWE Championship. It could be that they were all WCW fans, but more likely is the fact that the WWE Championship looks like crap. However, it sells really rather well, as most things affiliated with John Cena do. Which brings me to my main point of this article. When will the supposed new Championship design be unveiled, and who will be the one who holds it first?
I would be a fan of a Champion vs. Champion match (which Punk/Sheamus alluded to on the go-home show of Raw) at a big PPV like Wrestlemania or Summerslam to unify the top prize, much like they did for the Undisputed Championship. However I don't think they will ever unify the belts due to a lack of main event talent.
The person who does end up getting the belt, through whatever means, is very important. Triple H was handed the World Heavyweight Championship by Eric Bischoff and he was probably the best man for the job. Not only did it put him over even more as a heel, but he was, and is, already a very established professional wrestler with many accolades to his name. If you gave the title to Heath Slater, and nothing against the One Man Band, but it wouldn't come across as a legit title to be taken seriously, would it? So I am going to pick a few likely candidates that could christen the new WWE Championship, if/when it finally arrives (in no particular order).
The Rock - The Rock is a legendary wrestler, known for being the most Electrifying Man in Sports and Entertainment, he even had a wrestling show named after one of his phrases (Smackdown!). He is a very credible candidate to give instant momentum to the prestige of a new belt design, his only disadvantage being that he is perhaps more known as an actor rather than a wrestler, which could detract from the belt long-term.
CM Punk - The Best Wrestler in the World - not many could argue with that statement. He is certainly the best heel in the WWE and, particularly since the middle of 2011 has sky-rocketed to main event status, and will easily be known as a legend for years to come. He has talked about receiving a lack of respect from everyone, including the booking team, who since the end of 2011 (NoC not included) have not put the WWE Championship (the most important one) last on the card, devaluing it as well as the person holding it. This would be Punk's chance of making Cena eat his words by saying that Punk's reign has made that championship irrelevant. Of everyone on this list, I would prefer Punk of anyone else to be the first man to have it, especially if Heyman is by his side.
John Cena - John Cena is Vince's cash cow. He has sold a ridiculous amount of merchandise over the years and continues to be popular with WWE's target audience. They buy the t-shirts, the wrist bands, the caps, and the WWE Championship, because it is affiliated with Cena. For this reason, from a business standpoint, it would make perfect sense for Cena to be the first man to debut the new design, so kids can associate it with him and buy replicas. As much as I would love Punk to be the man (as I feel it would advance his current heel persona, giving him reels of material to work from) to hold it first, Cena is probably the most likely to do it.
Triple H - I would be incredibly shocked if Triple H makes himself the first Champ. Key phrase: makes himself. As everyone is aware, the COO has real power backstage that is growing more and more as Vince slowly hands the reigns over to him and his wife. Triple H has been accused many times in the past of politicking to put himself over others, although he is a fantastic worker and certainly one of the best of all times, so could history repeat itself?
Brock Lesnar - I doubt they'd put the strap on Brock, unless they do it next year towards Wrestlemania, where he is more likely to work more dates. He doesn't need a belt anyway, especially since that in less than a year he'll have moved on.
Randy Orton - Orton is another contender, although since his position on Smackdown! as top baby face, it's unlikely that he'll be in the WWE Championship picture. Although, after filming the new 12 Rounds he could shift over to Raw, who knows? I doubt that'll happen since Smackdown! needs the star power.
Chris Jericho - No. He's committed to Fozzy, which is fair enough, and he's more interested in putting others over, not himself.
I can't think of anyone else who can give the belt some legitimacy. Notice how four of the seven of the picks are either part time or have departed the company? That's bad. I don't think Sheamus is there yet. He could do with a few more years under his belt (hur!) to get over. Doesn't matter how many people he Brogue Kicks, these things take time. D-Bry, again since his amazing awesomeness has only just blessed us in the last year or so could probably do with a few more to take him to the Orton/Cena level.
Is there anyone I missed (I missed 'Taker on purpose due to obvious reasons) that you think could take the belt to the top? Do you disagree with any of my picks? Comment below and/or follow me on @jbrinkleyreview. If you made it to the end, thanks for reading. If not, you've not read this part so screw you! I jest, of course..