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The W - Pro Wrestling - First title reigns
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King Of Crap
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Since: 17.9.03
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.19
I've seen my share of complaining about the handling of Benoit's and Eddie's title reigns, and it got me thinking, about other people's first reigns, and came to the conclusion was that maybe WWE wasn't intentionally trying to cut them off at the ankles, but rather they really don't know how to book someone on their first reign.

Let's take a look at first world title reigns in the WWF/E since the Hogan era (mostly because I really don't know much about title reigns before that)...

Randy Savage: Holds the title for a year, but often didn't have a moment of glory without you-know-who in the background. His was a classic case of what happens to champs when you have someone else clearly positioned as "the man".

Ultimate Warrior: WWF tries to create the next Hogan, fail, and thus Warrior drops it so Vince can run one of his ultra-jingoistic angles.

Sgt. "Lamb being led to" Slaughter: Only got the belt for cheap heat, and to be Hogan's designated victim at WM VII.

Undertaker: Only holds it for a few days so the WWF can indirectly move the belt to Flair w/o Hogan actually dropping it to him.

Ric Flair: Only held it for a couple months, big WM match against Savage is overshadowed by Hogan/Sid.

Bret Hart: Hadn't fully shaken off the mid-carder label, and only PPV defenses before WM IX were against fellow mid-carders HBK and Hall.

Yokozona: I think we all know what happened here.

Nash: Held it for a year, but that was one of the worst years in WWF history, as he had a parade of shitty opponents before dropping the title to Bret.

HBK: Had a good reign, but if Scott Keith's rants are correct (not sure how accurate he is), he was asked to drop the title a couple of times (to Vader and Mick) before actually jobbing to...

Sid: Only holds it for a couple months so Shawn can have a conquering hero moment in San Antonio.

Steve Austin: Was in the Hogan spot at this point, but because title changes became so frequent, wasn't really given the time as champ that he should have been given, until his heel run of 2001.

Kane: 24 hours of glory. Next!

The Rock: Booked as Mick's bitch, even jobbing at a PPV named after him (which, in fairness, HBK did too).

Mick Foley: I think he only had one TV defense, and got his head smashed in by The Rock.

Triple H: Like most of his reigns, was booked to have only gotten the title through connections than being any good, and only had it for a couple weeks before dropping it too...

Vince McMahon: Immediately vacates the title.

Big Show: Only major feud was the infamous angle with the Boss Man, then dropped it back to HHH.

Kurt Angle: HTM 2000, finally jobbed to the Rock to set up Rock/Austin II.

Chris Jericho: If you're going with his WCW title win, he dropped it back to the Rock to set up the heel turn, if you want to go w/the Undisputed title reign, he won it on a fluke, spent his reign gaining tough wins over the likes of people like Maven and being made to look like a bitch by the Rock and Austin before getting upstaged by HHH and Steph.

Brock Lesnar: Built up as a monster, finally gets his huge win over UT, then inexplicably drops the title to Big Show to set up a babyface run.

Goldberg: Constantly fought against HHH before losing it in two months in a triple threat match.

Eddie: Gains a big win over Kurt at WM XX, then gets stuck in a feud with JBL, finally losing at the ill-fated GAB.

JBL: Despite some smarks objections, has really grown into his role as champ IMO, but the feud with UT really did nothing to establish him as any kind of force.

Chris Benoit: Overshadowed by Triple H (following the "Hulk Hogan" principle) and his feuds before dropping it to Randy Orton so WWE could thumb their noses at Brock, and set up a presumably long-running Orton/HHH feud.

Randy Orton: Defends it twice, losing the 2nd defense to HHH to set up their angle.

It just looks to me that for whatever reason, if Vince and Co. do not feel that a wrestler is clearly "the man", a wrestler's first title reign suffers because they really don't know what to do with them.



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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.48
    Originally posted by King Of Crap
    It just looks to me that for whatever reason, if Vince and Co. do not feel that a wrestler is clearly "the man", a wrestler's first title reign suffers because they really don't know what to do with them.


I really have to differ on this point. I sincerely doubt that WWE thought that Steve Austin WASN'T "the man" in their eyes when he first won the title. He was already the most popular guy in the business.



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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.86
    Originally posted by TL_Hopper
      Originally posted by King Of Crap
      It just looks to me that for whatever reason, if Vince and Co. do not feel that a wrestler is clearly "the man", a wrestler's first title reign suffers because they really don't know what to do with them.


    I really have to differ on this point. I sincerely doubt that WWE thought that Steve Austin WASN'T "the man" in their eyes when he first won the title. He was already the most popular guy in the business.


Hopper, you're probably right, Steve Austin was on huge run when he beat Shawn. Yet I sorta have to agree with his theory just on some of the basis that the WWE tends to screw up first runs. Generally I don't think there bad but they could be better because they seem a bit lack luster. Though I think both Eddie and Chris at the beginning of there runs transcend this theory...maybe toward the end it could be applied but not to the whole run.

(edited by jwrestle on 30.10.04 1641)


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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.10
    Originally posted by TL_Hopper
      Originally posted by King Of Crap
      It just looks to me that for whatever reason, if Vince and Co. do not feel that a wrestler is clearly "the man", a wrestler's first title reign suffers because they really don't know what to do with them.


    I really have to differ on this point. I sincerely doubt that WWE thought that Steve Austin WASN'T "the man" in their eyes when he first won the title. He was already the most popular guy in the business.


That isn't what's being said here. The point being made is that IF the first time champ ISN'T "the man" (as he stated Austin actually was) then Vince doesn't know what to do with them. Austin was admittedly 'the man', he just didn't get enough time as champ, is all.
King Of Crap
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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.19
    Originally posted by TL_Hopper
      Originally posted by King Of Crap
      It just looks to me that for whatever reason, if Vince and Co. do not feel that a wrestler is clearly "the man", a wrestler's first title reign suffers because they really don't know what to do with them.


    I really have to differ on this point. I sincerely doubt that WWE thought that Steve Austin WASN'T "the man" in their eyes when he first won the title. He was already the most popular guy in the business.


You missed this part TL:


    Steve Austin: Was in the Hogan spot at this point, but because title changes became so frequent, wasn't really given the time as champ that he should have been given, until his heel run of 2001.




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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.35
The Hogan/Flair/Taker switch was a great way to put over The Taker without diminishing the Hulkster, then switching to putting over Ric Flair. At that point, Hogan was the only top guy...and this situation created two more.



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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.56
I always thought that Austin might have been the one top star that was better not being champion.
His character was all about fighting and clawing to accomplish something, when he was the champion I think he lost something (his heel run being the lone exception.)

I think the theory holds well, on some level. I think it boils down to the fact that in the post Hogan era (84-on) the belt has often been used to elevate people to mega-star status.
Like, when Savage was champion Hogan was still far and away the top star.
Austin was far and away the top star even when Rock and Foley were trading the belt.

No matter who has a run in today's WWE, HHH is their number 1 star. So, I don't think it's that they botch title reigns, it's that unless the belt is being held by the number 1 guy, the champion won't be portrayed as such.

And y'know, the WWF has had a lot of transistional champions to bridge baby face wins, or in the modern day to pop a buyrate or rating (Koloof, Stasiak, Inoki, Andre, McMahon, Kane etc. etc. etc.)
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.81
The problem with a lot of guys first runs is that they are made out to not be able to beat anyone on thier own. Prime example Y2J. Extremely over face or heel, beats Rock at RR with help, beats Austin at NWO with help from nWo, jobbed to trips at WM because of Steph and thier dog.
Angle, booked alright but not strong enough to be over initially. He just seemed like an extremly over midcard guy they threw the belt on initially.
As for Rock, it made sence for him to have to cheat to win initially because he was shoving it down the "peoples" throat that he was the champ and could do what he wanted.

(edited by mercer on 30.10.04 1644)


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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.07
Angle's first run was great, spoiled really only by the very strange Rikishi "I did it for you!" turn. Kurt managing to weasel his way out with the belt everytime, even during the 6 man Hell in the Cell, was great. They even managed to end it well with the Rock match at No Way Out (Tick tock!). I don't see how Kurt's first run could've been done any better.

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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.48
    Originally posted by Jaguar
    Angle's first run was great, spoiled really only by the very strange Rikishi "I did it for you!" turn. Kurt managing to weasel his way out with the belt everytime, even during the 6 man Hell in the Cell, was great. They even managed to end it well with the Rock match at No Way Out (Tick tock!). I don't see how Kurt's first run could've been done any better.

    -Jag


Not to bash Kurt or anything, as I did love his first run as champ, but he won the belt from the Rock and lost it to the Rock. Why did they even bother giving him the belt in the first place? I may be alone on this, but I think his Wrestlemania match with Austin would've been even stronger had the Rock had that extra four months with the belt.



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#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.18
I think Shawn Michaels was definitely "in the Hogan spot" that Austin was. With Bret gone, Shawn was clearly the number one guy in the company, no one was portrayed as anything even close. An eight-month reign during which he did no clean jobs is definitely "you're the man" booking. Even if he was asked to drop it to Vader, he would still have been the one that it went back to. I'd imagine that Vader would have done the same thing Sid did, dropping it back to Shawn a short time later.

Also, can't say they booked Warrior's reign wrong either. Hogan left when Warrior became Champ, as Bret left when Shawn became Champ. I think that's as good a test of management's faith in someone as anything. Shawn wins, Bret leaves so Shawn can have the spotlight and shine on his own (well, Bret was actually hoping Shawn would fall flat on his face, but you get my point). Hogan did go, made Suburban Commando during this time I believe, and when he was there he was buried in tag-team matches with Tugboat or midcard matches with Perfect. Warrior's failure wasn't the fault of the booking.

Savage was Champion because Hogan was making No Holds Barred, so when Hogan was gone, Savage was a clear top guy. He was always going to job it back the next Mania, but giving a year reign isn't exactly a transitional run. It more of a "here's the ball" type thing.

Nash, again, failed all on his own. They couldn't have been more behind him. Another year-long reign is a substantial investment on the part of the company.

Also, Slaughter first reign was his only reign, so he probably shouldn't be on the list. Also, anyone who won the title as a heel, you have to factor in that those guys are bound to be someone's "designated victim" because, well, they're heels, quite frankly, and heels are suppsoed to job to faces. It was only Triple H's christ push in his later reigns that immolated this long and properly unwavering fact.

I like this topic, but it ought to be refined. Just a humble criticism, but some really good responses here. I'm lovin' this.




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#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.73
"Steve Austin: Was in the Hogan spot at this point, but because title changes became so frequent, wasn't really given the time as champ that he should have been given, until his heel run of 2001."

Austin was champ from WrestleMania through to Breakdown in September, with that one non-reign of Kane's sandwiched in June. He had the same length of time with the belt then as he did in 2001. I'd say Austin's first run with the belt was booked juuust right.



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#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.17
Austin's first run as champ was incrediable, it was booked correctly and it helped eveluate guys like Mick, Kane and Rock. This heel turn run on the other hand is very questionable. I was sick of Austin with the belt after Judgement Day and he held on to thing till Unforgiven, which I saw live. His second run should have ended at King of the Ring which Jericho getting the belt turning on the WWF and joining his old homesteads WCW/ECW. If Benoit didn;t get hurt, I think that is what would have happened.

Warrior, Nash and soon to be JBL are failures. Some of it has to do with their foes, the other part has to do with storyline and the last part has to do with the characters themselves. Warrior was hella over and deserved the belt, but after that his gimmick started to wear on the fans. Bradshaw and Nash are just not main event caliber guys and its sad too when you have a great mid-card guys who could go, but they waiste it on people like this.

I do think Kurt's first run was booked good, but I think it hurt him and the company more than anyone. Kurt got it too soon and the company kinda waisted their time on him when everyone wanted to see either HHH, Taker, Austin, Kane, Benoit, Jericho or Rock with the belt. I just think they shot themselves in the foot with Kurt when a long term Rock/Austin fued with Rock telling Rikishi to hit Austin with the car would served better for their epic Wrestlemania match. Kurt's last few runs have been good, but I think even Kurt would like to have that one back.



They did a great job with Benoit even though Orton winning it, again which I saw live, and then dropping it made no sense. Eddie was mainly due to Vince's major problem, his ego. Eddie could have had a hot fued with Booker T through out the summer then drop the belt to Kurt. I think Eddie screwed it up for himself to with the Euro-trip from hell, but again how can you punish Eddie when JBL gets fired from MSNBC and makes the company look like a group of racists. It makes no sense and the buyrates with JBL as champ are worse than Eddie's championship run.

So, the lesson here is, t he first title reign is the trickest one to handle even HHH's first run was cut short by Vince beating him. It takes a well thought out long term gameplan, a star who has the crowd fully behind him and someone who can bring in the cash. And if you ever see me at a live event, a title change will happen. I am 4 out of 5 on live events, but since one was this year's Rumble, I don't bitch.
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#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.03
"His second run should have ended at King of the Ring which Jericho getting the belt turning on the WWF and joining his old homesteads WCW/ECW."

Austin needed to keep the belt until SummerSlam for the big rematch with Rock who he ran out of the company after Wrestlemania that never happened. I agree with you that Jericho and not Austin was the guy who should've jumped with the WWF title, but he could've done that after, conveniently, his "win the big one" feud with the Rock.

"If Benoit didn;t get hurt, I think that is what would have happened."

Neither of them were ever getting the belt. They gave up on their pushes before the PPV even happened, and you saw Jericho go right back to the middle of the pack after KOTR.
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#15 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.17
Well, I don't think they totally gave up on the idea of Jericho has champ since three months later he beat Rock for the WCW title and got the first Undisputed six months later. I still don't understand why they just don't go ahead with Austin/Rock for SummerSlam, but I guess they wanted to build up the WCW threat which eventually wasn't that much of a threat. Oh well, I still think his heel reign was very disappointing.
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Since: 12.12.01
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#16 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.03
"I still don't understand why they just don't go ahead with Austin/Rock for SummerSlam"

Yeah seriously. Basically I think it was just their seat-of-their-pants booking making it impossible to carry anything out. After they blew everything up in July, turned Kurt, and put Austin with WCW, they had to do face Kurt vs. heel Austin, so Rock went with Booker.

Then Rock won his comeback match and Austin and Rock each had the world titles, so you can't do the match then because they didn't want to unify the titles. Then by December, they've given up on keeping the titles separate, but now Austin is a face and it's been decided that Jericho will get the title to drop it to HHH. So still no match. It only took another 15 months to get to.


"Oh well, I still think his heel reign was very disappointing."

They did blow it, incredibly bad, but he made the best of it by being hilarious and having phenomenal matches.

I must say, if you want to complain about unsatisfying Austin reigns, taking the belt off of him two months after the Wrestlemania XV win that he spent six months fighting for was shitty.
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#17 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
If Keith's thing about Vader is true, that's a damn shame. He's had success all over the world apart from WWE and would have been a fine champion.



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Since: 4.1.02
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#18 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.60

    I must say, if you want to complain about unsatisfying Austin reigns, taking the belt off of him two months after the Wrestlemania XV win that he spent six months fighting for was shitty.


Word. Not to mention that the title was lost on the tragic night that Owen Hart died. If there was ever a time to rearrange the booking, that was it.



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#19 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.73
On Savage's first run: After years of Hogan being able to go over everyone cleanly after breaking a submission hold/kicking out of a finisher, Savage's credibility was hampered by having Hogan use a chair to interfere to break the Million Dollar Dream to get Savage the belt. Also, Andre's utter deterioration even from '87 when he faced Hogan to '88 caused Savage's feud with him not to have historic overtones.




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#20 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.28
    Originally posted by Big Bad
    Word. Not to mention that the title was lost on the tragic night that Owen Hart died. If there was ever a time to rearrange the booking, that was it.


This is new, criticism for the way the show went on. I don't think anyone was emotionally fit at that moment to rethink the creative direction, which you've gotta figure was irrelevant to most people at that point.

Edit: Savage was clearly being cheated during that match w/ Andre helping Ted out. Hogan was evening the odds, as I saw it and at the same time getting revenge on the jerk who screwed him out of his title. Would you make the same argument for Austin helping Foley beat Rock for Mankind's first reign? I would argue Mankind was made to look much weaker than Savage, because they had him hold Shane hostage to get a title shot and still end up needing help. Savage had wrestled three times previously, whereas Dibiase had gotten a bye.

(edited by Hogan's My Dad on 1.11.04 2045)


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