With recent news confirming that Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns‘ mammoth WrestleMania main event will be a WWE world title unification bout and not a simple “winner takes all” match, there is much speculation about whether or not this is a good thing for the WWE. We have decided to assess both arguments and conclude whether unifying the titles will benefit the main roster long-term or, ultimately, hinder it.
Arguments Against WWE World Title Unification
There are plenty of arguments which can be made against unifying the titles. Firstly, and most popularly, is the tricky subject of potentially limiting one world championship to only a small number of the main roster. After all, if there is only one world title, the prestige is raised – meaning the chances of the title only being competed for by the same main event names (Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton, for example) skyrocket. This creates a ceiling for young, up-and-coming superstars; meaning that they can only reach so high on the main roster, as the veteran names keep them held down. Additionally, if a part-time superstar like Brock Lesnar is the world champion, on weeks when he is not around, the show is world title-less – a potential big problem for the WWE and its superstars chasing the title.
Secondly, to follow on from this problem, there is the issue of there not being enough big names on the main roster – or, indeed, not enough names in general. Last year, the WWE released a whopping 85 superstars from the company – on SmackDown, in particular, the sudden vacuum of names is very noticeable. Because of this, it suddenly feels as though are are not enough big names in the company and the potential for creating more has been reduced. Therefore, there are simply not enough names who are believably capable of capturing the sole world title. When WWE had one world title after the brand split in 2002, the company had The Undertaker, Steve Austin, The Rock, a young Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and many more legendary (and future legendary) names to rely on. Now? As a result of the company’s “cost-cutting”, it simply does not have enough.
Arguments for WWE World Title Unification
Arguments in favor of unifying the WWE world titles are largely related to the potential to increase the value of the title and those who hold it. Let’s be clear: anyone who holds a cross-brand defended, sole world title is instantly the biggest name in the company; they do not become a Big E Champion, where they are severely overshadowed by other champions within the company (through no fault of Big E’s own). The prestige of the championship is raised by being the company’s only world title, too. Additionally, there is the bonus of the world champion being able to compete with members of both SmackDown and Raw. With the sole criticism of Roman Reigns’ epic title reign often being that he has run out of opponents to “smash”, this would largely benefit his reign and others like it.
Though it might be more difficult for a WWE superstar who isn’t a former world champion and WWE veteran to earn a title shot, those who manage to breakthrough – and someone like a Riddle or Austin Theory quite possibly could – will instantly be elevated to a higher level previously unattainable. For this reason, one title on two brands is a largely positive thing very rarely explored by the WWE, who – throughout the entire existence of the brand split – have insisted on two world titles. We all remember the late 2000s and early 2010s when the WWE Championship had all the recognition and the “Big Gold” World Heavyweight Championship was an afterthought. Though both world titles are not currently treated as afterthoughts as a result of being handled by the two biggest names in the company, they were previously and would be again in the future. Therefore, despite the negatives, the overwhelming positives are too difficult to ignore.
A Potential Likelihood: The Brand Split Ends
We have seen it time and time again: after a few years of doing a true brand split, the WWE creative department tends to grow bored and opens the floodgates. We have seen that in recent times, with an increasing number of “free agents” (Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Goldberg); more superstars from SmackDown appearing on Raw and the same for Raw superstars appearing on SmackDown. Blue and red ropes get replaced with the brand unified “white ropes” and, eventually and gradually, the brand split ends. With the titles being unified once more, we are very likely to see the brand split end in 2022. With ratings down in the WWE and a depleted roster from the vast number of releases, it is an inevitability. If the brand split does end, then one world title certainly makes sense. The positives of a WWE world title unification are bigger than negatives.
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