Championships are critical to the survival of professional wrestling companies. They indicate which stars are the best in the division, and serve as focal points for many feuds. Without them, the storytelling element of pro-wrestling would be almost impossible to communicate.
But wrestling championships are more than just props to be worn by the promoter’s flavour of the month. For fans to care about those titles and the champions that wear them, they need to be protected and promoted as items worth chasing.
If a championship’s reputation isn’t well-maintained, or if the matches in which it is at stake, aren’t interesting, why should fans even care if someone’s a champion or not?
This brings us to 2016, the year of questionable title changes.
WWE (and especially Vince McMahon) think they know who the fans want as top champions. If that were true, Cesaro would’ve won the WWE Championship long before the brand split and the only gold Roman Reigns would be wearing would be a fake Rolex on his wrist. But alas, that is not the case, and Vince gave his stamp of approval on many sudden and sometimes irrational, title changes.
As of November 2016, WWE has a whopping nine different championships on the main roster: two main singles championships, two sets of tag titles, two secondary singles titles, two women’s titles and the cruiserweight championship.
You’d think that with so many different championships on their programs, we’d see fresh match-ups all the time and each division would have something interesting each week.
Again, you’d be wrong (and foolish) to think WWE plans things out that way. So instead of interesting and logical title changes, we got the following five, which were done with little to no forethought whatsoever.
#5 Brian Kendrick defeats T. J. Perkins
When WWE announced the Cruiserweight Classic, it was a sign of joy. It was hoped that the Cruiserweight division would finally get the respect it deserves, especially since so many of the promotion’s most popular wrestlers fit into the style.
On the one hand, WWE delivered the goods with this tournament, which made stars out of everyone involved, especially the eventual winner T. J. Perkins. He put on several outstanding matches and really elevated the championship with his victory against Gran Metalik.
Since this was a new belt and most of the WWE roster was unfamiliar with the cruiserweights, the logical direction would’ve been for Perkins to hold on to the title for a long time and have the division built around him. This would’ve made the division more exciting, as fans would have more of a vested interest in seeing which brave challenger would take on the fighting champion.
Instead, WWE surprised everyone with a confusing decision and booked Brian Kendrick to defeat Perkins after only 45 days. The Cruiserweight division was less than two months old and already the supposed face of the division was made to look weak and lost his upward momentum.
Perkins’ loss was made worse by the fact that, a) he looked like an idiot for believing Kendrick’s lies (lies that even a 6-year-old could see through); and b) he was straddled with a cheesy character that uses video game references in everyday conversation.
No disrespect to Kendrick, but he didn’t really need this championship victory, as much as Perkins did. WWE needed to build the division up as much as possible to get casual fans more interested in it, and that could’ve only happened if the face of that division was someone fans wanted to see.
Who wants to see a gullible guy like Perkins when he loses so soon after winning the belt? Not as many as those who’d have wanted to see him if he was built like a 2016 version of Rey Mysterio or another cruiserweight of yesteryear.