Who Should Be the Next WWE Champion?
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This isn’t exactly a Money in the Bank prediction column, because most of the names listed aren’t among the 7 men currently booked to be involved. That’s why the title isn’t “Who Should Win the WWE Title in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match next Sunday?”
Now, this isn’t my normal slice of realism. I usually avoid far out predictions that are next to impossible or beyond reason. The problem is that WWE have painted themselves into one hell of a corner, or dug themselves quite the hole to climb out of (whatever analogy you prefer), and it is likely going to take a miracle to make up for their inability to make stars in the era of Cena. This Sunday, we might see Cena win his 15th WWE/World Championship. I’m a fan of the man, but in the memorable words of a man we lost 15 years ago, “enough is enough, and it’s time for a change.”
I’d have no problem with Cena overcoming Ric Flair’s 16 titles, but it shouldn’t be happening under these circumstances. Right now, WWE needs to fix an uncontrollable circumstance in current champion Daniel Bryan’s injury. But the reason they are in need of desperate measures is because of how poorly WWE has worked to developing the next generation of Cenas, Austins, or Hogans.
There are basically two ways to go about moving forward:
1 - Transitional short term Champion until Daniel Bryan comes back to regain his championship.
2 - Making a new star, and putting off Daniel Bryan’s next reign in an effort to give a new champion time to hold the gold
To the Daniel Bryan fans out there, you might think the 2nd option is ludicrous. To you I say option 1 is ludicrous. Not because Bryan doesn’t deserve to continue being on top, but because there’s no one in a position to do the honors. Cena is the only man credible enough, but not only did that happen last year, it also shouldn’t be Cena’s time to gain his 15th title if he’s only going to drop it in a couple of months. At this point of Cena’s career, if he is going to inch towards defeating Flair’s 16 title record, those title reigns should be monumental. There are plenty of discussion about a heel turn on the LOPforums, but the time isn’t right for that either since there aren’t enough face stars to make up for his Make a Wish appearances. Sheamus and Roman Reigns might be on the way, but unlike Cena’s theme song, the Time is NOT Now.
Quickly, here’s what I wrote about the possibility of Cena turning after it was proposed that his turn would lead to people signing up or resubscribing to the WWE Network:
The Cena turn is a short term fix to a bigger problem that has yet to be addressed. The turn now would mean nothing and not be what drives sales up for the Network.
The reason Cena is face is for kids. Kids are not buying the network. Turning him heel won't get adults to suddenly buy the network, and many kids risk to be turned off.
Again, get your head out of your ass and read/listen:
I'm not against a Cena heel turn. But it has to be done right, and there's too much at risk right now. He is one of their only guaranteed money makers at time when they are penny pinching. It won't be now.
WWE have dug themselves a hole, as a heel turn should have been done by now. They've had a decade of face Cena, and 8 years of "mixed reactions". They should have corrected this issue a long time ago. But right now, they've lost everyone that has even the potential of making up for his departure to the dark side. All that's left are Sheamus and Roman. Both could breakout, but are nowhere near ready.
You want a HUGE MONUMENTAL storyline that drives sales? You open the checkbook and get Punk back. Nothing beats that. Not Rock, not Undertaker, and not Brock. Those are all three names that can drive up money, but can't be used full time the way Punk would most likely be. And book him right. Not as 434 day champion defeating everyone, but making him one of the elite top 3 guys you books shows around. Make him EVEN to Cena, Bryan, HHH, and Orton, and not below. As face, Punk would join Bryan as enough star power (down the line) to allow Cena to turn.
Another reason a Cena heel turn makes no sense is that there isn't room for him as a heel. Rollins is now siding with the Authority in an upper midcard capacity. Orton is still second fiddle, but #2 to HHH who can still wrestle when needed. And Bray Wyatt is on a roll as perhaps the best character to debut in the last decade, and is in no way losing steam from the angle with Cena. All these guys would be playing second fiddle to Cena is he turned heel.
Now is not the time. The time is now (haha) to use Cena to make new face stars. He can turn heel against them at some point, maybe by Mania. But right now he is the only name that can take on the Authority with any credibility. Having him help Roman Reigns will give Roman a great rub. Same for Bryan in a couple of months when he can return. But even with Cena as a face, and Bryan back, there's still only Sheamus and Roman as the other top babyfaces.
Get over it, and stop thinking so closed minded. This ^^^ is reality.
Now, that aside, there’s a long list of stars who would be perfectly positioned to become WWE Champion, and only one of them is currently booked in the Money in the Bank match for the WWE Title.
When I say that, many must think Roman Reigns or Cesaro deserves to be mentioned. The fact is that neither is quite there yet. Roman has yet to prove himself as not only a singles star, but as an in-ring performer. Reigns is still very green, and any match where he has shined has been when he is surrounded by a plethora of superior performers: 6 man tags, Elimination Matches (Survivor Series), the Royal Rumble, and last week’s Battle Royal. But one-on-one? Not yet.
Cesaro can certainly wrestle, but he’s not over enough. Maybe after WrestleMania it would have worked. He was getting great reactions with the Swing that could have catapulted him into the main event as a babyface. Instead, WWE associated him with Heyman to keep him heel, and is now at a level that isn’t quite ready for prime time. He isn’t lacking much, but he does need a feud like Bray Wyatt had with Daniel Bryan or John Cena to make himself a true top contender. Working with an upper midcarder in a storyline that allows him to be more than just a European Uppercut throwing bruiser.
So, if Cena, Cesaro, and Reigns aren’t right, who does that leave?
Sheamus? If he wasn’t US Champion, I’d say it would be possible, perhaps with a heel turn to help him become The Authority’s latest hand-picked champion. But he hasn’t had the right amount of momentum, so no.
Randy Orton? He was champion until WrestleMania, and it would leave him with only exact duplicate challengers from that title reign, so no.
Del Rio? Ha, fuck no.
That leaves one person in the Ladder match, but there are a few others as well. They can be included in the Ladder Match last minute as an 8th man, or as a replacement for someone who gets injured during the event like CM Punk had done to him at Unforgiven 2008. Or they can just run out amongst the chaos and take the title unannounced for the match, leading to even more chaos.
Lots of options. Let’s take a look.
To anyone pointing out Wyatt’s loss to Cena in the recent feud as a reason he shouldn’t be champion, I will remind you of when Randy Orton lost the Intercontinental Championship to Edge at Vengeance 2004, and then won the World Title the next month at SummerSlam. And Orton won the title clean.
Next Sunday, Bray has the chance to win the title in a very open match, and we all know he has 2 disciples who hardly hold back from interfering on his behalf. I personally loved how Harper and Rowan got involved during the Last Man Standing match, but in a Ladder match they can have an even bigger impact. Think of how Spike Dudley, Rhyno, and Lita helped add to the TLC match from WrestleMania X-7. Would the Wyatt Family have as memorable a moment? Possibly.
The point is that Orton lost a midcard title clean one month, but won the biggest title in the world clean the next.
Wyatt barely lost last month, and it wasn’t exactly clean. And the numbers could be in his favor in successful fashion at Money in the Bank. In fact, it’s the best option. No matter what route you want to go from the 2 proposed paths I suggested above, Bray as a heel champion winning and keeping the title with the assistance of his 2 giant sidekicks works. I would hope if he wins the gold, he holds onto it for a bit. He would have built in challengers in Daniel Bryan or John Cena. After the promo last week about having power from the gold, it could be a wise move to give him a chance to brandish that power, especially if the association with The Authority that was hinted at last year into their feud with The Shield is brought back into play.
There are a lot of routes that can be taken with Bray as WWE Champion. Right now, no single star in WWE is as captivating overall, nor as fresh. He would be best served using a title reign to make a bigger name for himself, including an eventual victory over Cena with the championship on the line at a show like Battleground or SummerSlam. Let Bray and his Family cause havoc in WWE as Champion for a few months, and legitimize his career.
This is in no way saying he’s a top star, but if you need to have someone show up and surprise everyone to become champion, only to drop it to Daniel Bryan in a couple of months, The Miz is a strong choice. He’s a former champion, and when backed by Ric Flair as a heel could easily fit into the cheap transitional champion position that could help rejuvenate his career. There’s no doubt he could use it.
He could also have a long title reign if Vince is feeling ballsy, but I think as a 2-month reign as champion until Bryan returns, it would work for everyone involved.
This is all supposing his injury is healed up and he is just waiting for his chance to find a place on TV. And it’s very similar to The Miz as a surprise transitional champ, except he’d be the face version. Or heel, if everyone in Titan Tower is feeling adventurous. They could run with him as the title holder for a month or two, or for longer if they wish. He isn’t an option that will sell out too many seats that haven’t already been purchased, but he gives the main event some versatility.
If there is someone needed to step in and hold onto the WWE Title while Bryan is out until he returns to get a championship match, who better than HHH? He’s been the root of all the evil towards the Bearded Goat. There’s no doubt that a rematch from WrestleMania would do decently well, and adding the title like this into it would click nicely. He’s easily the top heel in the company right now, though not the most interesting (Bray). Giving him another title reign wouldn’t suck at all, and would be easy to do right.
Not the best option, but it would one of the most shocking ones. As big a name as he is, there’s a lot of risk in giving him the title, as he most likely can’t defend the gold every 30 days right now, which is a problem since the whole reason we need a new champion is for that reason. Around the Rumble, he could win the title, defend at the Chamber and Mania, and have no problems. At SummerSlam? It’s not as simple. First, no one is really in a good position to get that victory off him and benefit from it. Even Bryan, who is the most mentioned name, is going to need to regain some momentum first. Also, even if Bryan wins the title from Brock at Night of Champions, what do you do with Brock at WrestleMania 31?
It won’t be happening here, as much as it could work.
How injured is the Deadman? If he has even 2-3 matches in him where he can perform over the next couple of months, bring him in now. Give him those titles, and open up all the options for possible contenders at SummerSlam. You want to put over Daniel Bryan upon his return? Want to have the dream match vs Cena? A target for Cesaro, Wyatt, or Reigns?
There’s no doubt it would work, if his body can do it. That’s the question.
Anyone who has ever read any of my columns, or listened to Tuesday Night Titans, knows this name was coming. Hell, you don’t need to know I’m a superfan for this idea to pop up. There is no bigger name who can be WWE Champion and make an impact than CM Punk.
Yet, there’s still one option that most wouldn’t think of, but could work, and would really be huge. If done right. Let me set the picture on how I would do it.
If they do go the route of injuring a current participant (please be ADR, please be ADR, please be ADR...etc.), leaving a spot open, all it would take is a backstage segment that would get a new entrant included. It could be as simple as having Stephanie announce she will draw a name out of a tumbler. All the superstars are standing by, as she spin a barrel like they do for the Royal Rumble. She pulls out a name, smirks, and announces...
Before saying anything, remember when Edge retired as World Champion in 2011, it led to Christian winning his first World Title against Alberto Del Rio in the ladder match? Remember that feeling when he won the big one?
This isn’t to say Goldust is on the roll Christian was on back then. But those emotions are powerful powerful things, and there’s no doubt how huge it would be. I don’t mean huge as money making, or revolutionary enough to turn the company around. But it’s that type of title win that would just work across the board. You’d get that feel good moment, you’d get a fresh name in the main event mix, and you can either use him short term or long term.
Now, I’m not saying he should just walk into Money in the Bank and win the title out of nowhere. It wouldn’t be that simple. He’s already in the middle of a storyline in getting Cody over as Stardust, and getting the tag team back on track. But with the random entrant method, you can have him get involved without ruining that storyline.
To really capitalize on it, capitalize on the assets on the roster. Touch on how it’s his only chance, and let Dustin Rhodes play for the sympathy. There’s rarely an actor as sympathetic as Dustin Runnels in wrestling. He pulls that off better than 99% of the roster. Have Dusty Rhodes give him a pep talk, Cody say “Go get him brother,” maybe bring back for a one night only appearance Terri Runnels/Marlena to wish him luck.
With that simple booking, you’d have a new fan favorite going into the match. Everytime he would climb the ladder, the live crowd would be on their feet. When he wins, you have Sheamus and Cena shake his hands, congratulating him like Savage, Razor, and Luger did at WrestleMania X for Bret Hart.
After Money in the Bank, you’d have the freshest Main Event Champion possible.
Goldust vs Cena
Goldust vs Orton
Goldust vs Big Show
Goldust vs Kane
Goldust vs Bray Wyatt
Goldust vs the World
And, at any point, Cody/Stardust could cost him the title to get him back in the spotlight. Or if you want to make Cody a face star, he can go after a midcard title as Stardust. As interested as I am in this Stardust character, I think it would be worth sacrificing or delaying for the feeling of giving Goldust that moment to shine.
And on that note, Peace out
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