Straps, titles, belts, championships, whatever you call them these leather belts with heavy metal plates are as synonymous with wrestling as boots and tights. To a viewer it’s usually pretty clear whoever holds the championship is usually the best wrestler at their level, but what does it mean inside the business.
Well, some disgruntled vets will say they mean nothing. Some people might try to kayfabe you and tell you that it means they’re the best worker. But the answer that rings true in my experience with multiple companies across several states has left me with one answer. There isn’t an answer. Some companies it’s the locker room leader who holds the championship. Sadly a lot of companies the booker, regardless of skill or talent, put the title on themselves so that they look good. I’ve even seen companies put a title on a major name that only came in once but still “holds the championship” just so they can tie their name to a star, even if that star has formally announced their retirement. So like many questions in wrestling, the right answer is there is no right answer.
Now everybody in the business has their preferred method of picking their leading man for their own promotion. But for me, I think for the betterment of the business it should be the hard-working locker room leaders who get put in those high profile positions on the card. From what I’ve seen it creates a good dynamic of everyone trying to help the company and earn their spot. The guys who help promote the shows, show up to training sessions, actively keep a good appearance on social media, and are involved in growing and helping the company deserve to be rewarded. Now it’s not like winning a title boosts your paycheck or guarantees a growth in merchandise sales but it certainly could do that and get your name around to other promotions as the face of the promotion you’re in. I believe this method creates a healthy respect in the locker room and helps grow business for said promotion.
With the good comes the bad, so since I mentioned my favorite method of picking a champ I might as well mention the one I despise like Jim Cornette despises Vince Russo. Besides isn’t that what you read wrestling opinion articles for? Blow-ups, cuss outs, and general chaos in a form of entertainment that is built on chaos. I absolutely can not stand when a booker, especially an out of shape, untalented, sometimes untrained, and self-righteous prick, decides the “best idea for business” is putting the title on themselves.
A company which shall be unnamed had a booker who made himself the champion of this company. He decided he would spike his hair up, put on his skull face paint, his hot topic t-shirt (and not even a bullet club one), his beat up and torn jeans, Chuck Taylors, and leather jacket and recreate a Smackdown vs Raw 2006 Create-A-Wrestler who is so “hardcore”. To try to hide the fact that his gut that stuck out like a mountain in the middle of a flat prairie, he couldn’t run for longer than 30 seconds because he was in the locker room chain smoking bummed cigarettes, and that he wasn’t properly trained to even take a bump he decided to put himself in a 6 man tag.
His partners were two of the most talented guys on the roster. One was a black guy who was built like a bodybuilder and stood at 6’5” easily and a classic story based wrestler who knew psychology and had a body like Arn Anderson but could move like Ric Flair. Their opponents were a trio of small, lightweight, high-flyers or vanilla midgets as Kevin Nash would have called them. This should have been a no-brainer of a match. Let the big guys get some heat on the little guys and then fire up a high-speed high flying comeback to take it home.
This was going great until he got tagged in for a fiery heel comeback that absolutely killed this crowd of maybe 20 people. He tried to portray himself as a “cool heel” who got his heat by being a shitty worker apparently. I kid you not when the hot tag was made to him you could hear a collective sigh and pall mall’s and mountain dew cans being sat down. Now if the booker is a talented wrestler and doesn’t hold onto the title for years on end maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but if you can’t work stay out of the ring.
Now after four paragraphs of negativity almost three times as long as my positive paragraph I must say again there’s no right or wrong way to do it. This is my opinion on it and you could ask 100 different people in the business and get 100 different answers. But whether you think titles are signs of respect from management or pointless paperweights that go around your waist there’s no doubt belts have been, are, and will continue to be an integral part of this sport we all love so dear.
Wrestling with the Revolution from the desk of James Southard