For some weird reason, the WWE decided to end its brand split last year. There was no longre a Smackdown champion and no longer Raw champion. For awhile the WWE kept both belts, even though there was only one champion. That all ended when Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena at Summerslam to win the WWE world heavyweight championship.
Now the WWE has this for its championship belt:
It’s not the worst belt the WWE has ever used, but it’s also not the best. If the WWE was going to keep one belt, it should kept what is commonly referred to as “Ric Flair’s” belt, the former World Heavyweight Championship.
Flair’s belt looks like this:
It’s referred to as Flair’s belt because it’s the belt that Ric Flair defended every night while Hulk Hogan was out posing to Rock ‘n’ Roll music in the 1980s with the old WWF.
The WWE never really respected the “Big Gold Belt” the same it respected Hogan’s championship belt.
The belt rose to national prominence when in 1991, Ric Flair showed up on WWE television with his championship. This was stunning at the time because Flair was the unbeaten WCW/NWA heavyweight champion. He left WCW over a contract dispute, and took the belt with him.
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan showed off Flair’s belt on Primetime wrestling, saying that very soon “The Real World Heavyweight Champion” Ric Flair would seen be on WWE television. It was unbelievable at the time to think Flair would jump to the WWE. It would have been better than seeing Floyd Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao during their primes.
Flair eventually showed up on WWE television with the title, but WCW sued, and Flair was forced to return it. Flair eventually won the 1992 Royal Rumble to win the WWE championship, so he got a new belt.
The WWE became re-united with the Flair’s belt after the WWE purchased WCW in 2001. Several wrestlers, including Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton, John Cena and Chris Jericho.
But apparently Lesnar doesn’t want to carry around two belts and the WWE decided, since there are no longer two brands, that there was no reason to have two belts.
The problem with the change is that the new belt will always be associated with Lesnar. There’s no history to it. It’s not the belt that Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat traded with Flair in the Carolinas. It’s not the belt Shawn Michaels won in the Elimination Chamber after a four-year layoff.
The WWE does a lot of things right, but letting Lesnar win the title at all, then giving him a new championship belt isn’t a highlight in WWE history.
The WWE misses out on so many angles. It’s unfortunate that Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson aren’t just booking all the story lines like in the good old days. The WWE’s current crop of writers don’t have the full scope of history. How about a storyline where Flair becomes upset that his belt is no longer on WWE television so he goes out to recruit someone to defeat Lesnar and bring the belt back?
At a time when the WWE is trying to promote subscriptions to the WWE Network, displaying a little bit of history in its current product couldn’t mean something.