Champion. It’s a phrase celebrated for its exclusivity. To be a champion distinguishes an athlete as one of the elite.
But, in WWE, we might be entering a territory where just about everybody will be the champion of something. There was a lot of speculation regarding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship headed into the WWE Draft. Many wondered whether WWE would allow the world champion to compete on both brands or whether a second world title would be introduced.
But with both brands beginning to come into their own, WWE has not only confirmed a second world championship, but seems to be on the verge of bringing in a whole new fleet.
Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor will be competing at SummerSlam for the brand new WWE Cruiserweight Universal Championship, while Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler compete for the suddenly diminished WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In the coming weeks, Raw will house the Cruiserweight division, while it is being reported that the SmackDown brand plans on bringing in new championships for the Women’s and tag team division. All this with WWE recently filing a trademark for King of The Ring, which could be yet another paper championship WWE brings into its already saturated fold.
It’s safe to assume the Clash of Champions pay-per-view will run a little long this year.
Even with two separate brands, having so many championships will dilute what it means to be a champion. Dolph Ziggler, who has been damaged goods for quite some time now, is currently the No. 1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Mark Henry, who is 45 and on the verge of retirement, just competed for the United States Championship; and WWE’s answer is to introduce more titles? This is great news for Heath Slater, but bad news for prestige.
This makes sense from a merchandising standpoint, WWE replica championships are hardly in demand. As of this writing, of the top 50 items currently on WWEShop.com, only one of those items—the WWE Championship, currently ranked fifth, which retails at $429.99—is a replica championship. Remember that Women’s Championship the Internet wanted so bad? It’s all way down at No. 149.
The concept of floating champions could have not only established championships as unique, but WWE Superstars as well. Being able to appear on two brands could have been a unique privilege reserved for a small cluster of championships. With WWE looking to unleash 12 championship gimmicks between two rosters, it’s shaping up to be an entirely different type of cluster.