Number 1 Contender Debacle

The one thing that seems to be missing in professional wrestling today, is something that truth be told is really starting to grind my gears. This will be what I touch on today. In WWE, it is something that very recently has occurred in not just the men’s division, but the women’s division as well. You’ll notice that last week, WWE Superstar, The Glorious Robert Roode made his return to action after quite the hiatus. During this episode, current champion, the Scottish Psychopath, Drew McIntyre issued a challenge for the heavyweight title.

Under normal circumstances, this would be an exciting direction to go. Believe me, it was. But that’s when things got confusing.

With the recent programming within the company, one would expect to see Randy Orton take up that challenge… To me, this would make the most sense. Not just over the fact that they are in a feud, but for the fact that he is a former 13 time Champion and he has also proven to be a number one contender on several different occasions. The same could be said for The Monday Night Messiah Seth Rollins. Arguably, he could have stepped up for another shot at the title after his impressive showings against The Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar and for his matches again The Prize Fighter Kevin Owens among others. Even the Showoff Dolph Ziggler worked his way up to earn a title shot. These three men however, surprisingly (or not) were not in the equation.

No, instead, Drew stated that he would put his title on the line against someone whom had not previously been given a title shot.

Again, perhaps WWE was looking for a way to boost ratings by making Roode’s return that much bigger, but this is something that would have never happened in previous eras. This writer misses the days of stars having to earn their shots. Perhaps with the creation of the Tough Enough competition and to a smaller extent NXT, members of WWE staff have forgotten the days of working your way up the ladder and having angles that result in title shots being given to those who work to earn them. But be that as it may.

With McIntyre advertising a shot in this manner, it opened the door for Roode to come in and make the challenge. This, in turn brings up a question.

Robert Roode for the most part in his WWE tenure has competed primarily in tag team matches. Prior to this during his time in Impact, things were different and he had quite the successful singles run and even won a few championships along the way.

But with his path being within the tag team division, and for the most part, not having the most impressive run, whether it be due to injury, or through pure opinion of this writer. Tell me, what has Robert Roode done to earn a title shot. More specifically, what has he done to earn a WORLD title shot? While you chew on that, I will say that perhaps if it was a United States championship match, or even an Intercontinental Championship match, then I may be able to take things seriously, but it was not. It was for THE belt. The most coveted championship in the entire company. Therein lies the problem.

This has happened not only with this last week, but also with the Women’s Division that has now paired Zelina Vega and Women’s Champion Asuka into a fued with the former somehow being named number one contender. (If anyone can explain to me how I somehow missed when she earned this honor, please feel free to let me know.)

Again, Zelina Vega is impressive, of that there is no doubt, but she has spent a good portion of her WWE tenure outside of NXT in a managerial role in an effort to elevate Andrade, Garza and Austin Theory. Where during that time was it established that she worked her way up to number one contender status?

Let’s look back shall we? In the Golden Era, everything seemed to make more sense more often than not. A competitor came in, matches were televised through shows like Prime Time, or Wrestling Challenge. Then, said competitor would earn some impressive (and in some cases, not so impressive) wins, and then inevitably would earn a shot at the Intercontinental Title. The Intercontinental Title has also been considered the title for the workhorses within the WWE. Those whom were trusted to elevate other stars, while in turn using the championship to elevate their own careers. People like Mr. Perfect, Kerry Von Erich, The Honky Tonk Man and more. People who made names for themselves prior to signing a WWE contract. OR people who made a name for themselves within WWE by getting so over with the fans that the only logical choice was to give them a title run.

Then, once the run with the Intercontinental Title was completed, it could be widely accepted that, that very same competitor could be seen as a creditable threat to the World Heavyweight Champion. Thus, if the powers that be chose to go that route, then that person was elevated to the number one contenders position instead of just being placed into that position.

Going back to today, almost on the exact same week two albeit impressive competitors were given title shots that in my opinion they have not earned. Keep in mind that this is not including any of their previous work, it doesn’t take into account previous championships, or drawing power, or how over they are. The simple fact is, both Vega and Roode have been in the WWE fold for essentially a cup of coffee, so to see them as legit competition for the World Title without having climbed their way there is ridiculous.

Have there been times when this has happened where you can make an exception? To say no would be a lie as in the case of Paige, she had the look, and she had the ability, and with the set up and it being WrestleMania, in that environment, under those circumstances, to me, it was acceptable. When Paige won she went on to be quite the fighting champion so in that specific case, it worked for the better, but after wracking my brain, I can’t think of many other cases where that would be deemed acceptable or moreso taken seriously by the fans.

To  me, WWE has done some questionable things regarding their title situation. Take for example Braun Strowman winning tag gold with a 10 year old as a partner… Referee’s son or not, it tarnished the prestige of those belts. I mean, being honest, the fact that both sets of tag titles look like cheap plastic toys doesn’t help either, but I digress.

If I may voice an opinion, I think WWE needs to take a step back and really re-evaluate how they treat their championships. The WWE title used to mean so much. As did both the tag titles and the Intercontinental strap… Now? Not so much. Hell, you see a title change almost on a weekly basis, thats something you would never see in the “house show days” and if you did it was a very very rare occurrence.

It seems to me that today, anyone who is deemed a favorite is thrust into #1 contender position with very little build up and very little explanation. Unless this changes, I fear that the titles will never regain the importance that they once had.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to let me know!

This column is short, and sweet but it does raise some compelling points. Enjoy the week and look forward to the next edition of The Magnificent Mind!  

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