Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guest Post: ECW Championship

Before we get started with this week's Guest Post, I wanted to apologize for the lack of updates this week. It was my birthday on Monday, I've been enjoying time off work, I've been painting my apartment all week, and as a result of the latter, my cable was off Tuesday night and I didn't see ECW and WWE still hasn't put it up on Hulu. So thanks for hanging in there while I handle all my silly real life stuff that's keeping me from wrestling! And a big thanks to frequent Kick-Out!! commenter, interpolred, for supplying this week's Guest Post!

When wrestling fans think about ECW, they often think about both the current incarnation of the brand as well as the original independent promotion based in Philadelphia. It’s inevitable. There are those who appreciate the new vision of ECW, and there are those who shun Vince McMahon’s ECW, claiming that Paul Heyman’s ECW was the real format of Extreme Championship Wrestling. The same applies to the brand’s championship. Many times, I’ll go on YouTube and watch some ECW Championship matches, scroll down to the comments, and read things like, “Vince killed the ECW Title,” “That championship means nothing now,” and so on. Whether or not Vince McMahon really buried ECW is something that has been debated many times, and it will no doubt continue to be debated countless times down the line. When I hear that the ECW Championship means nothing, though, I can’t help but disagree.

The WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship are considered the company’s top titles. They epitomize the top dog in their respective brand as well as the two top competitors in the entire company. However, it has become very apparent that these two titles aren’t treated with the amount of care that a world championship should be treated with. When I think about the qualifications of a world title, I think about memorable matches and significant title reigns. These are two things which have become somewhat rare with the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles. The belts bounce back and forth between competitors, and we’re lucky if we see a champion hold on to the title for more than two months.

Then we have the ECW Championship, the title belt that I consider the spirited “third world title” in the company. I put that in quotations because as much as I feel that the championship is worthy of world title status, let’s face it; it doesn’t have said status within the company. Regardless of that fact, though, the ECW Title may very well be the most important championship in the company.

Now, I know that’s a very bold statement, but the only reason I make such claim is because the title’s record speaks for itself. In the last few months, ECW Championship matches have been exciting, must-see spectacles (with the exception of Regal vs. Christian at SummerSlam). Matches have been back-and-forth contests with numerous false finishes and satisfying results, with Zack Ryder vs. Christian being the most recent match to fulfill all those qualifications. Another excellent ECW Title match was Tommy Dreamer vs. Christian in an Extreme Rules match. This match was symbolic of Dreamer’s past in hardcore wrestling, and it was far from ever being “trash wrestling.” These two matches alone, which were televised on Syfy, were much more satisfying than the ho-hum WWE Title bouts between John Cena and Randy Orton (two excellent wrestlers who I really enjoy watching, by the way), which were presented on pay-per-view.

SmackDown’s world title is not without its flaws either. While still more enjoyable to watch than the now-monthly Cena vs. Orton matches, the World Heavyweight Championship has bounced back and forth between competitors since February. Since that time, World Heavyweight Championship reigns have not even surpassed the 50-day mark, and that’s something that really bothers me. I’m not saying I long for the days when the top guys held the title for nearly 3,000 days (Bruno Sammartino comes to mind.); I just wish the World Heavyweight Champion defended the title two or three times before dropping it to the next competitor.

And that’s why I hold the ECW Title in such high regard. Whether the title reign lasts four months or 49 days, there are sufficient successful title defenses in between champions to the point where the title just seems special. I know I speak for many when I say that I can’t stand seeing world titles change hands in less time than it takes for Scott Steiner to experience fatigue. That’s why even when an ECW Championship reign doesn’t last longer than two months, at least the fans got to see some excellent title defenses on Syfy, title defenses worth paying money to see.

Another reason I feel the ECW Title is the most important championship in the company is because of what it represents. While Raw’s title has proven that only guys like John Cena, Randy Orton, and Triple H are worthy of holding it, the ECW Title is geared towards seasoned veterans as well as the younger talent. Tommy Dreamer, Christian, and Jack Swagger are all extremely different from one another. They almost personify the past, present, and future of wrestling. Despite that, however, when either of those guys held the ECW Title, it was relevant. The championship is not designed for a specific brand of athlete; it’s designed for the superstar who can get the people to care about him and can carry the title successfully. It makes a veteran look good, and it makes a fairly new superstar look like a main-eventer.

When a veteran like Christian holds a championship and has successful, entertaining title defenses, that championship gains credibility. However, when a rookie can hold that same title (much like Jack Swagger and CM Punk did when they got started on the brand), and still have pay-per-view quality match-ups, you know the title is being given the care that it deserves. The ECW Championship actually means something, and thanks to some great creative planning and some phenomenal competitors, it comes off as a more illustrious title than its Raw and SmackDown counterparts.

The WWE and World Heavyweight Titles are in serious need of a creative revamping. When titles change hands too often, they lose some of their luster. Since its resurrection in 2006, the ECW Championship has been a strong title for the most part. Title matches have been fun to watch, exciting, and most importantly, meaningful. Champions have defended the title on pay-per-view and on regular programming, and have made the title look like a world championship. It’s safe to say that a lot of ECW Title matches have put WWE and World Heavyweight Championship bouts to shame. So, when you take into consideration the fact that the ECW Title can be held by a veteran, make a rookie look like gold, and impress much more than the other top titles, you’re damn right the ECW Championship may very well be the most important championship in the WWE today.

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