Wednesday, August 19, 1998
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Give WWF titles some meaning
What comes first to your mind when I say "European Title" and "Lightheavyweight Title"? First thing that comes to MY mind, is - WASTED TITLES.
Let's start with the European Title. Introduced in 1997...Bulldog probably deserved a title at that time, so what did the WWF do? Create a European title! That was the easy way out for them. Who were the European wrestlers that time? If my memory serves good, only Bulldog. So the WWF created a European title, with only one European wrestler in the Federation, and they knew they can't defend the title in Europe all the time.
So a tournament was done to elect the first ever new European Champion. Some participants were Bret Hart, Rocky Maivia, Mankind, Vader, Owen Hart among others, and of course, the British Bulldog. Even a one-year-old kid could have predicted the winner. A tournament was held in Germany, and the final match saw British Bulldog vs Owen Hart in one of the best matches I've ever seen. Every time Bulldog touched Owen, the crowd exploded. The match ended almost the exact same way Bulldog/Bret at SummerSlam 92 did, with the Bulldog on the winning end and a poor Owen on the other end.
From that day onwards, the European Title was defended less then 15 times (where's the 30 day rule anyways?). It was then time to move to Europe again, this time in Manchester, England, for the One Night Only pay-per-view. Home of the British Bulldog. Main event was Bulldog vs Shawn Michaels. To everyone's surprise, Shawn Michaels came out victorious, winning the belt...so Michaels became the first athlete to win all four belts in the Federation.
The belt moves to Shawn Michaels, everyone thinking he will give the belt some meaning. No, that didn't happen. After winning the WWF title from Bret Hart in November '97, Shawn had to face Triple H for the Euro title. And what a match that was! A classic! Michaels goes down on the mat, Triple H runs against the ropes like five times, a big fake splash, the cover, the count, and a new winner. That match continued to put down the value of a WWF belt.
On the 20th of January '98 on RAW, Owen Hart defeated TripleH-Dust to capture the Euro title....only to lose it back to Hunter Hearst-Helmsley a while after. Now, one of the best talents the WWF has, D-Lo Brown holds the crown.
The belt was defended less then 15 times, and changed hands six times. This is one of the most meaningless -- and ignored -- title belts in the sport of wrestling.
What can be done? Turn it into a RAW title, where the champion has to defend the belt every week on RAW. You can push smaller guys with this belt, get them over with the fans bit by bit. What's the point of having a European title when you have no European wrestlers on the roster whatsoever? It's like having an aeroplane, with no pilot to fly it. It just doesn't make sense.
The other wasted title is the Lightheavyweight one. The WWF started this division when they didn't have at least five true light-heavyweights under contract. Taka Michinoku has been holding the damn title since December '97.
Who can be his opponents? Let's see...you have Too Sexy Brian Christopher and Too Hot Scott Taylor, Kaientai, and, hmm, er, where are the others? The weight limit for this division is 215 pounds. Now, they will have Taka face Venis for the light-heavyweight title. Venis isn't a light-heavyweight. Try around 250 pounds. But, they can make an exception for this. Give Venis the belt...he's over with the fans, and probably Taka is fed up of that title since he's been wearing it for nearly a year. But what difference it will really make? None, zero, zippo. There are still no competitors for Venis to fight him in the division.
Get people like Sasuke and other Japanese highflyers. They can add something to the division. You can't have a division with only five people in it. You need the talent, and Vince McMahon certainly knows how to create them, but I guess he forgot that there are two titles who are being totally wasted. Taka has now turned heel, so that leaves ZERO "face" light-heavyweight wrestlers. All of them are "heels".
As Owen says, "Enough is enough, and it's time for a change". You either get the talent, or else scrap the title and division.
The WWF rushed the whole thing, and look how it ended....a total flop.
Colin Vassallo is from Malta, way over in Europe, so you can see why he might have a beef with the European title. He can be emailed at ColinWWF@wrestling-online.com