There are a lot of fans who think they know better than you. They think they know what’s best for WWE, and which superstar should lead your company into the future.
That’s not me.
I’m not here to tell you who should be crowned the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but I do have an opinion on how future champions should be crowned.
You’re in a tough situation right now. Seth Rollins had to vacate the title after suffering a serious knee injury. Making matters worse, worthy contenders are in short supply. John Cena is taking some time off. Randy Orton is out with an injury. Brock Lesnar presumably won’t be back until next year. I’m sure you’ve noticed.
If anyone hadn’t, it must have become apparent when the tournament to crown the next champion began Monday on Raw.
I like Titus O’Neil and Kalisto. It’s safe to assume you do too. After all, they’re in the tournament, but you must also agree that when 2 of the 16 men in the tournament bracket to crown the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion wrestle almost exclusively in tag team matches, there is an issue.
There are some self-styled “experts” who think they know what the problem is. I hear them talking all the time about WWE’s habit of even-Steven, 50/50 booking. No one gets over, right? In my opinion, the forces that created the current void at the top of WWE’s main roster run deeper than that.
If you asked me, I’d suggest it’s because WWE has repeatedly failed to properly and decisively crown the men who have won the world title. It’s a lack of conviction. Almost no one truly wins a world title. Instead, it’s the era of the shortcut to the top.
I trust you know the facts I’m about to lay out, but please indulge me while I bring the rest of the readers up to speed.
Over the past 2 years, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion has changed hands four times. The defending champion has been involved in the decision that cost him the title once – SummerSlam 2014, where Brock Lesnar emphatically won the title from John Cena.
Cena had won the title in a ladder match at Money In The Bank 2014 after it was vacated by Daniel Bryan due to injury. Bryan had won the title at WrestleMania XXX, but the defending champion, Randy Orton, wasn’t involved in that decision. It was Batista who tapped out to Bryan.
Getting back to Lesnar, after dethroning Cena at SummerSlam 2014, he held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship until WrestleMania 31, where history repeated itself and he lost the title without being involved in the decision. Seth Rollins cashed in Money In The Bank and pinned Roman Reigns to win the title.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. In fact, WWE.com published an article this week in which it listed 5 WWE World Heavyweight Champions who lost the title without being pinned.
In my opinion, a championship’s greatest value lies in the moment when a reigning champ is defeated, and a new title holder is crowned for the first time. This is precisely where your company has repeatedly erred. WWE has not crowned a first-time world champion in a match where the defending champion was involved in the decision since Alberto Del Rio pinned CM Punk after cashing in Money In The Bank at SummerSlam 2011.
The last time it happened without someone cashing in Money In The Bank was Night Of Champions 2011, when Mark Henry pinned Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship.
The last first-time holder of the WWE Championship (your company’s most prestigious) to win the title in a truly decisive manner was Sheamus, when he defeated Cena in a tables match at TLC 2009. Did you know it’s been that long?
Here’s how other first-time world champions have been crowned in WWE since Sheamus’ victory at TLC 2009.
- March 30, 2010 (Raw) – Jack Swagger won World Heavyweight Championship by pinning Chris Jericho after cashing in Money In The Bank.
- November 22, 2010 (Raw) – The Miz won WWE Championship by pinning Randy Orton after cashing in Money In The Bank.
- February 15, 2011 (SmackDown) – Dolph Ziggler awarded World Heavyweight Championship after Edge was stripped for using banned move (Spear). Edge was granted a rematch, and won back the title later in that same show.
- May 1, 2011 (Extreme Rules) – Christian won vacant World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Alberto Del Rio in a ladder match.
- August 14, 2011 (SummerSlam) – Alberto Del Rio won WWE Championship by pinning CM Punk after cashing in Money In The Bank.
- September 18, 2011 (Night Of Champions) – Mark Henry won World Heavyweight Championship by pinning Randy Orton
- December 18, 2011 (TLC) – Daniel Bryan won World Heavyweight Championship by pinning Big Show after cashing in Money In The Bank.
- March 29, 2015 (WrestleMania 31) – Seth Rollins won WWE World Heavyweight Championship by pinning Roman Reigns (defending champion Brock Lesnar not involved in decision)
There are some promising potential first-time world title winners waiting in the wings right now – Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens, to name a few. When you decide it’s time to crown one or all of these men, you would be wise to do so in the most decisive way possible. That means the reigning champion must be dethroned.
It’s how Batista and John Cena were crowned at WrestleMania 21. It’s how Brock Lesnar was crowned at SummerSlam 2002. It’s how Chris Jericho was crowned in late 2001. It’s how Triple H was crowned in the summer of 1999. It’s how “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was crowned at WrestleManiaXIV.
Fans remember these moments. They hold more value in our memories than someone winning a vacated title, or a triple threat match where the defending champion wasn’t involved in the decision. They certainly mean more than someone cashing in Money In The Bank.
I don’t care who wins the tournament for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series. You can choose whoever you want, but understand the victory will not make your new title holder truly whole. There’s far greater value in the next title change – the reigning champion being defeated by his challenger. That’s decisive. That’s crowning a champion with conviction.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I welcome your feedback.
Your pal in the mainstream media,