As the opening credits began to role on this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw, the WWE’s flagship show was bereft of WWE Champion and Championship. One night earlier at its Battleground pay-per-view the belt was retained in a solid triple threat by Dean Ambrose. That’s the same Dean Ambrose who was drafted exclusively to Smackdown Live less than a week ago.
So with a roster of top performers on the cusp of becoming main event stars, Raw was left without a top prize for them to fight over. As a worked sport which mirrors the likes of Boxing and MMA this is a big problem. Without that top prize to compete over or struggle towards wrestling loses that sense of fighting for competition. It becomes soap opera .
WWE know this, which is why the very first action of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley on the first Raw of the ‘New Era’ was to announce a new shiny bauble for its wrestlers to compete for. We’re talking about the WWE Universal Championship.
The Universal Championship
I know. It’s as goofy as hell. Everyone knows this. It’s also exactly the sort of thing Vince McMahon would think is a good idea. This is the guy who insisted his top stars splutter out the words ‘WWE World Heavyweight Championship’ every single time they referred to the top belt. For nearly three years, you guys.
Right now the WWE Universal Championship means nothing. It’s a name written on a memo at WWE HQ. It’s a championship devoid of history or prestige. It’s cartoonish to the point that it wouldn’t surprise me if someone told me they’d seen it in an episode of Futurama.
But what’s the alternative?
Thanks to its aggressive acquisition of other wrestling companies over the years, WWE probably have a shipping container stuffed full of redundant championships somewhere. The most well known of these? The World Heavyweight Championship.
Better known to a certain generation of wrestling fans as the WCW Championship, it’s been nearly three years since the thing was unified with the WWE Championship. This was done for a reason, because after years of being booked as second place and as less important, it just feels exhausting. The very idea of bringing that belt back yet again has my eyes glazing over like I’m being forced to sit through Michael Bay’s entire catalogue of Transformers movies.
The belt of Ric Flair and Diamond Dallas Page has been irredeemably tarnished. It’s defining years are long behind it, both good and bad. The WWE Universal Championship on the other hand? It’s story hasn’t been written yet. The WWE has created a blank canvas on which its new generation of stars can paint their battles.
This is their championship. If the belt does indeed survive for an extended period of time into the future, fans will talk about the glory days of the belt as the era of Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Names like Rusev and Finn Balor will give it a fresh mystique all of its own. Every belt has to start somewhere, and giving Raw’s new generation the chance to define what the Universal Championship means is absolutely a smart choice.
Of course, this is the WWE we’re talking about. The company that dropped the ball with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan is the best in the world at giving us hope only to rip it away from us like the Anti-Santa. After an excellent Pay-per-view in Battleground and a solid Monday Night Raw our optimism could be leading us astray. Still, it is starting to feel like Vince and Co might just have a plan. Maybe. Possibly.
Admit it. You want to know what the WWE Universal Championship is all about. Imagine how bored out of your mind you’d have been if Stephanie McMahon had strutted down the entrance ramp on Raw clutching the World Heavyweight Championship over her shoulder.
The WWE Universal Championship is a wise move, even if it does sound like an accessory which comes with a He-Man action figure.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.