Prestige - A forgotten art form of Pro Wrestling.
by, 08-16-2012 at 06:51 PM (2139 Views)
Hello there EWN Readers. It has been a number of months since my last blog, which was the Chris Benoit blog back in May, but I have returned to talk about something which is more important then ever for the wrestling industry.
It all comes down to one word... Prestige.
What is Prestige? Well for those unaware with the term, let me explain it to you.
Prestige is a feeling of grand worth and ability. You think about the Olympics, automatically you think about just how prestigious it is, it has been around for centuries, and it shows us the best of the best in their field.
It is the same for Pro Wrestling, however prestige is maintained in a unique way, and cannot be handled the same as actual sport. However back in the old days, Pro Wrestling was displayed like a sport, creating the illusion that they were actually fighting, very little people would say, "Its fake!" back in the days of Bruno Sammartino and Lou Thesz.
The evolution of wrestling has made it into more of a circus over the years, wrestling used to be very basic, and when you went to see a wrestling show, you was given wrestling matches, some promos, and nothing else.
In today's wrestling, it is much more difficult to create prestige, not just because of wrestling fans becoming a lot wiser, but because wrestling companies have to spend more time being socially interactive, then working on what is important. What is important you ask?
If you are having to ask this question, then you have never learned what the most important aspects of wrestling are..
What makes a wrestling company great, is defining who their number one man is, by having one World Heavyweight Champion.
But wait!? The WWE has two primary titles?? So who is their number one guy?
Remember Ric Flair when he told his opponents, "To be the Man, you gotta BEAT the Man!" This was referring to who the number one guy in the company is, the World Champion, and right now the WWE has two of them.
Time - The longer a championship is active, the more prestigious it is, this makes the WWE title very much so.
Long title reigns - Championships define greatness, long reigns put them in the history books, and when the champion loses the title, the reaction is much greater, whether its positive or negative amongst fans. This can be thought of like a bubble slowly growing over time, until its so large it pops.
The Wrestlers - Austin Aries said lately. "A Championship is only as prestigious as the man who holds it, which means the TNA World title is the most prestigious of all". It is important for a championship to be held by wrestlers who deserve to hold it, otherwise the title cannot be taken seriously.
Feuds - Feuds create special moments, if those moments are centered around the title, people remember that feud more, just think about the feud between The Rock and Austin for the WWF title back in the day. A title will become less prestigious if the competitors do not display how desperate they are to take that title away from the champion.
Special events - The Royal Rumble used to be more prestigious, as the winner got to fight the WWE Champion in the main event of the biggest PPV of the year. Now they get to choose one of two titles, and may end up as the first match of the card, for 18 seconds... This takes away prestige from championships, and special events.
King of the Ring was a great concept but seems to have been left out in the cold. It would crown a number one contender for the title, and it helped wrestlers careers, like Stone Cold Steve Austin.
TNA is doing right with the Bound for Glory series, creating great matches that have point rewards in order to determine a number one contender.
Just some examples of how special events can help championship titles.
Number One Contenders - They need to have earned the right to fight for the title, or it shows a lack of respect to the legacy of that championship. Competition is everything, but too much competition over one title will take time away from others, so its all a matter of balance.
The Look - The look of the title is very important, which title looks more prestigious to you, the WWE title, or the World title? Well the world title design takes from the NWA/WCW title and has been around for many years, while the prestigious WWE title was redesigned for John Cena and has yet to be changed. The majority of titles should have gold on them, the WWE tag team titles are Bronze, and Bronze does not define a Champion.
So what can be done to help? Here are some thoughts on what I would do.
In the WWE, there used to be a brand extension. It seems wrestlers still get contracted to either Raw or Smackdown, but with the "Supershow" concept, it leaves less time for some wrestlers to be showcased.
What's even worse in my view, is that the WWE has two primary World titles, can anyone really believe that (for example) Hulk Hogan would not want to fight another World Champion in the same company if the WWE had one back then?
Its a tough one though, because they want to keep the World title around to push wrestlers who may or may not be the number one guy, but at the same time its counter productive because it makes the Iintercontinental and US titles more secondary then ever.
Unification of titles - If they unified the WWE and World title into the Undisputed WWE World Heavyweight title, this will get wrestlers over in a much bigger way. Can you imagine CM Punk becoming Undisputed champion? It would also mean we get a true champion of the WWE.
Unifying the Intercontinental and US title is another option, as then the secondary title will once again be given to the best "Worker" in the company, and create future legends.
Changing the look - I have already stated how the WWE title could be changed, but what about the tag team titles and Divas title? The WWE could make a title like the TNA Knockouts title, and showcase some real female athletes that will grip the audience.
Retiring titles - If the WWE retired the World title and United States title, I am sure it would not make any negative effects. It would create a lot more competition in the mid card, and wrestlers will be forced to get themselves over with great feuds over number one contender matches.
The TNA Knockouts Tag team titles need to be retired, the title is used rarely, they were great when Taylor Wilde and Sarita had them, but after that it went downhill due to having no time to showcase them. This will make the main Knockouts title more important.
Saving champions for PPV - This is something which wrestling companies are afraid to do nowadays, but it used to work really well.
If you see any champion wrestling every week, when it comes to them defending their title on PPV, against an opponent they have fought many times leading up to it, the match becomes much less important.
If you only see the champion wrestle once or twice a month, you will tune in to see it, you will make absolutely sure you don't miss the PPV main event, as your champion is there defending.
If you keep Champions from regularly appearing it will create a lot more mid card action, they will have more time to showcase their talent and get over. It is easy to create a feud between wrestlers without having them in matches leading up to the PPV against each other.
Use secondary titles in main events - This goes to any promotion really. For example in the WWE, they could defend the Intercontinental title in the main event of Raw, and the US title on Smackdowns. This will create a load of prestige for those champions, and the main titles could be saved for PPV.
Tag Team Wrestling - The Tag team art form has been on the back burner for a while now, in its history it has been the stepping stone for future legends to get over. With less singles titles, and less defending of them on regular shows, the Tag Team titles would automatically become more important.
As you can see, a lot could be done in today's wrestling, I believe WWE has forgotten what their titles really mean to them, but I suppose that is up for debate. They continue to bring back wrestlers for nostalgia reasons, instead of putting their WWE Champion in the main event.
They recently had CM Punk change his attitude and demand that the title and the champion is respected. I thought it was about time he said that lol.
TNA is doing really well lately with their championships. They built up two champions in Bobby Roode and Austin Aries, and had a great moment when Aries took the title off him.
They are once again using the Bound for glory series to crown a number contender for their main PPV of the year. They are also defending the TV title a lot more (granted, its not every week like Hogan said), whereas before it was rarely used.
ROH has always been about prestige, but is it as great as when Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Aries and Joe was there?
Prestige is something that needs to come back in a big way, before "Sports Entertainment" completely destroys what wrestling is all about.
Without it, wrestling companies will slowly lose fans, as they become disgruntled with the product, and decide not to tune in the following week. Has anyone else felt like that lately, not tuning in?
Prestige is everything, and while companies decide to treat their titles, and wrestlers with little care, people will slowly stop caring about them too.
Give me your opinions below, what do you think wrestling companies should do to bring back prestige? Is it bad to have two major world titles in the same company? How can TNA further themselves and their championships? What is Ring of Honor doing wrong nowadays?
Thanks for reading my blog. Have a good day!