The brilliance of a champion in today’s day and age of wrestling is a rarity. Disregarding the frequent criticisms of the championships for a moment — think of what holding a championship really means. Hasn’t a championship title always been, as people like to refer to them, a prop? Perhaps the essential component to constructing a champion isn’t the belt, but rather the wrestlers themselves.
Holding a championship title is an honor, there is no disputing that. The journey of attaining an illustrious title is something of inspiration, regardless of who it is. Being one to capture a championship, of any form or shape, is absolutely a representation of one’s hardwork, dedication, ambition, and so on and so forth. Nonetheless, a championship should never define the performer. In fact, the opposite should reign true. For example: CM Punk’s reign was wildly successful because of CM Punk, not the WWE Championship. Punk’s position ascended from becoming WWE Champion, that’s no lie, but think where he would be should that reign have failed. Each one of the 434 days as WWE Champion added legitimacy and prestige to the championship, not because of the duration of the reign, but rather because Punk flourished as a character. As a result, his 14 months as champion will be regarded as one of the best.
Take Mick Foley as another example. In 3 reigns as WWE Champion, the overall days only culminate to a staggering 47 days. Although reigns longer than that would have been nice, Foley defined himself as a champion after obtaining the belts on three separate occasions.
Now don’t get the wrong idea with getting caught up in days and reigns. I believe as long as the wrestler is given the ability to carve their mark into the history of the title, they have been a successful champion. Now that’s not to say they can’t go above and beyond, as one should always strive for their full potential. Sometimes though, one should question the purpose of giving a championship to someone.
Remember Alberto Del Rio as WWE Champion or Jack Swagger as World Heavyweight Champion? Probably not, but I digress. These are just two of many examples where the gun was jumped, and an unproven Superstar was given too much responsibility. You aren’t invested in them at that point, making the victory less illustrious. In fact, I doubt many even remembered the two aforementioned wrestlers even had the respective belts until now. Not that they are to blame, however a forgettable reign for transitional purposes is.
What I’m trying to get at, if anything at all — allow a champion to prosper. Those who are worthy of the championship will flourish, creating history in the process. They will define their character, bringing a seeming prestige to the title. Others who don’t will crack from the pressure, being a name that will be listed as a forgettable champion in a future article to come.