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 Posted: Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 03:40 pm
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bpickering
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Like most of the others writers on the creative team, I wanted RVD to be the first World Heavyweight Champion when we created that crown in September 2002. The thinking was that he and Brock Lesnar would be the fresh-faced champions to carry the titles through the following WrestleMania, building interest and a unique identity for each of the brands.

As you probably know, it didn't work out quite that way. Besides the fact that Brock actually lost the title just three months later, RVD never even got his moment in the sun, as Triple H actually was named the first champion, and went on to hold the title for 11 of the first 12 months of its creation.

At the time, it was disheartening to see the plans change so drastically (yes, the official plan at first was for RVD to win it). Yes, it only contributed to all the buzz and rumblings I'd heard about Triple H that I'd tried to keep an open mind about when I joined the creative team.

But here we are, years later, blessed with the gift of perspective, and I gotta say -- and you will probably disagree with me -- I was totally wrong.

Putting the title on Triple H was the best thing we could have done.


The start of 2002 was a trying time in Triple H's career -- after his return from his quad tear, he enjoyed success on-camera (winning the Royal Rumble and then the Undisputed Title at WrestleMania). But he was thrust into two roles that weren't exactly his strength -- he was a babyface (he's always been a better heel), and he was on his own (he's always thrived better when he had someone to play off of -- DX, Stephanie, Evolution, etc).

So heading into the summer, he wasn't exactly the Triple H he'd used to be.

But he was still the biggest star on the show. Rock was gone after SummerSlam, Austin was on his hiatus, Undertaker was on SmackDown, HBK was out with a worked injury from SummerSlam and Hogan was out of action.Triple H was your superstar.

So here you have this new World Heavyweight Championship, which, if introduced and portrayed correctly, is going to make you money and validate the Raw brand for years to come.

It's like Vince used to say -- spotlight. And the fewer things you spotlight at any given time, the more attention you can give to whatever's under the spotlight.

So the young superstar that Triple H needed to give the rub to, at least at that time, wasn't Rob Van Dam.

It was the World Heavyweight Championship itself.

By Triple H -- the biggest star on the show and the biggest attraction on the Raw brand -- holding that title, he made it mean something. Sure, we as marks may have hated it -- heck, I as a creative team member might have hated it at the time -- but there's no doubt that Triple H as champion gave the title instant legitimacy.

Heading into Unforgiven, it was explained to us that just awarding someone the belt is a heelish thing to do, which is why it was simply awarded to Triple H, rather than put up for grabs at the Pay-Per-View. And there were a whole bunch of reasons explained down the line -- I add the caveat that I was on the SmackDown creative team, so although we did have a lot of meetings in mixed company, I missed a lot of the discussion on the Raw title -- the main thinking is that it would mean more for RVD's (or any babyface's) win down the line if a heel were to hold it for any length of time. That's just Booking 101 -- you draw money with a babyface when they're in the thrill of the chase.

You want more proof? Think of how the early days and months of the World Heavyweight Championship were handled, and now think of how the early days of the ECW Title were handled (which, ironically enough, did start with RVD).

Both were pre-existing brands that had name recognition and a built-in fan following. Both had thin rosters, albeit with a few big stars (in September 2002, SmackDown was actually the bigger show than Raw, with Triple H being the biggest star). I'll give Raw the edge on the audience share -- Raw's timeslot was a lot more fan-friendly and established than the upstart ECW on Sci Fi.

But today the World Heavyweight Title is one of the two titles that dominate the wrestling landscape, while the ECW Title is not regarded by fans as being the prize it should be, or once was.

There's many reasons for that, not the least of which is that it's changed hands so often, and also that at one stretch, they tried to build the title concurrently with building Bobby Lashley, which didn't allow either of them enough of that "spotlight."

Let's say RVD had won the title at Unforgiven. Would he have become a big star? Maybe. In fact, probably. But when you're introducing a title that could become the flagship of your company, becoming a bigger star and drawing more money than any one individual in the longterm, you can't take that chance.

Another issue -- remember how, when Chris Jericho or Chris Benoit first became champion, and Stone Cold, Hogan, Rock and Triple H still felt like the biggest deal on the show? No knock on Jericho or Benoit, and a lot of it had to do with their positioning on the show, but it just didn't feel like the champion was the biggest thing?

That might be fine with an established title when you're trying to build something new. But Triple H was the biggest star on Raw, and giving RVD the title only meant that there was a good chance that your World Champion might not be the biggest deal going on Raw.

You needed that title next to Triple H, at least at first, to make sure that where the action was, the World Title was.

Add in the fact that he was a heel again and that we were developing this heel faction called "Evolution" for him to sink his teeth into, and it was a near foolproof plan to make sure that this new World Heavyweight Championship would be a success.

At the time, I, and many of the other writers, fought back on this, wanting to see the fresh face atop the company, and to Vince's credit -- he listened to every one of us. He was really good at listening to everyone and putting stock in what everyone had to say. But the longrun, I think he just really felt that the title itself needed to succeed above all else, and he knew Triple H was the guy who ensure the best chance of that happening.

Much as I hate to admit it, Triple H was the right guy for that job. And he did it. Say what you want about other things he's done, but he made the World Heavyweight Championship mean something, and that alone is something he deserves props for.



Posted by Seth Mates on March 22, 2008



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 Posted: Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 11:47 pm
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BuddyPSHayes



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Has it been verified that this guy is legit?



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 Posted: Mon Mar 24th, 2008 02:16 am
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Bix



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Yes, and it's a newspaper's website.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 24th, 2008 03:10 am
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beejmi
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I am enjoying these blogs. They are pretty interesting.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 24th, 2008 05:41 pm
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Kid_Naitch



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This blog entry makes me think that the World Heavyweight Title was just a new belt with no lineage. At first I thought it was just the WCW title revived and renamed. Guess that lineage is wrapped up in the WWE (formerly the Undisputed) Title.



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