Sunday, December 8, 2013

The World Heavyweight Title (WWE): Disrespected and Undervalued

On the November 25 edition of "RAW", Triple H announced that a WWE and World Heavyweight Title match will take place at the WWE TLC PPV. Both belts will be hung above the ring and John Cena and Randy Orton will face in each other in a, "Tables, Ladders and Chairs", match. One of three things will happen: Either Randy Orton or John Cena will win both titles and unify them, they will both grab a belt therefore delaying a unification of the titles, or the match will end in a controversial fashion leading to both titles being vacated. No matter what happens at WWE TLC, it is inevitable that the World Heavyweight Title/Big Gold Belt is going to be phased out in the very near future.

Which will be a travesty. Make no mistake- from a financial standpoint, the WWE Title is the most valuable title in the pro-wrestling industry. Being WWE Champion gives a talent the distinction of being the face of the biggest drawing pro-wrestling company in the world. However, to phase out the World Heavyweight Title would be a injustice to one of the most prestigious titles in pro-wrestling history- arguably even more prestigious than the WWE Title.

For starters, let's look at the lineage of the World Heavyweight Title, which started in 1905 (then known as the World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship), making it the oldest title in the pro-wrestling industry. The industry was very different during this period. While today the pro-wrestling industry focuses mainly on giving fans the best shows possible, during that time it was focused mainly on in-ring competition. And for that reason, George Hackenschmidt became the first holder of the World Heavyweight Title. Whether or not he had the ability to work a crowd was irrelevant, because during that era, the wrestling skills of the talents in the ring were all that mattered. Hackenschmidt was the first pure wrestler to become a world champion, and he is a former champion who is a part of the World Heavyweight Championship lineage, and not the WWE Title's.

Following George Hackenschmidt in the lineage of the World Heavyweight Championship is Frank Gotch, a talent who revolutionized the pro-wrestling industry in the 1900's and 1910's, just as Hulk Hogan did in the 1980's and 1990's. Both the WWE and World Heavyweight Title lineages have the distinction of Hulk Hogan being a part of them, but only the World Heavyweight Title lineage has the distinction of Frank Gotch being a part of it.

In 1949, Lou Thesz was given the NWA World Heavyweight Title, and then merged the World Heavyweight Wrestling Wrestling Title into it (which he won in 1952). The NWA World Heavyweight Title is the only title that was ultimately defended in WWE, WCW, TNA, and ECW. Also it has the distinction of having legends who are a part of it's legacy and not the WWE title's legacy: Dory Funk Jr., Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Jack Brisco, Kerry Von Erich, Ricky Steamboat, and Terry Funk.

In 1991, the NWA World Heavyweight Title began to be referred to as the WCW World Heavyweight Title in WCW. In 1992, Ron Simmons became WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He is currently a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, which makes Simmons another legend who is a part of the World Heavyweight Title's lineage, but not the WWE Title's.

It's understandable that WWE takes pride in their title and wants it to be the only world title represented in their company (even though it will be called the Unified Title, in reality it will only be the WWE Title, since the World Heavyweight Title will be merged into it). However, the World Heavyweight Title has importance and a relevant legacy behind it- the title should be respected and not discarded as if it doesn't have any value.

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