When the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship were unified at TLC last December, the ramifications were felt all down the WWE roster.
The idea behind unification was to consolidate the “power structure” at the top of the card. Instead of having main eventers divided, with some chasing the WWE title and some chasing the WHC, they would all have a singular focus. As added motivation, despite protestations from WWE superstars that one title wasn’t superior than the other, the truth had been clear for some time: the WHC would always be the number two belt. Having one main belt for all the top guys to pursue just made more sense.
An added benefit was that wrestlers who existed on the fringe of the WWE and WHC title pictures could now serve to elevate the long-diminished Intercontinental and U.S. Championships. Unfortunately, the flip side of that notion is that these guys were essentially being demoted relative to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (“WWEWHC”), and were more or less devalued as serious contenders. Since December, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto del Rio, Sheamus, Mark Henry, Big Show, and Rob Van Dam have all been moved away from the title picture, to varying degrees.
Since Randy Orton and John Cena had their unification bout seven months ago, nine WWE superstars have either had a shot at the WWEWHC or have seriously associated themselves with the strap. While nine guys orbiting around the WWEWHC sounds like a perfectly adequate title picture, five of those nine are no longer actively wrestling.
Daniel Bryan: indefinite injured reserve
Batista: indefinite hiatus
Triple H: returned his focus to Authority-related matters following his conditional Wrestlemania XXX title shot
Brock Lesnar: on a super-part-time schedule (never got a title match, but declared his desire for the belt)
Christian: he’s injured, right? Probably.
This doesn’t even take into account the surprise vaporization of title picture mainstay CM Punk.
Furthermore, the four remaining guys aren’t without their own issues.
Randy Orton: The top heel in the company after a SummerSlam MITB cash-in, his character has been undermined since being christened the “face of the company” by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Orton’s primary issue is that once he became the Authority’s hand-picked champ, he lost all autonomy. Instead, Orton is merely a stand-in for the Authority’s wishes and Triple H’s seemingly constant flirtations with other potential “faces” (Batista, Seth Rollins, Trips himself, and even John Cena), give credence to the notion that Orton really can’t hack it as a top guy. Naturally, being cast as desperately clinging to his “favorite son” status, Orton has come off as insecure. That insecurity has manifested itself in the worst ways, as he’s needed help from every Triple H crony from Billy Gunn to Shawn Michaels to retain his title.
Recently, while the Evolution reunion was cool, it further damaged Orton’s status. Triple H was the unquestioned leader and Batista got over as a somewhat-fresh face with a hilariously trollish attitude. This left Randy Orton to be the “third guy,” and without a specific role other than to round out the numbers. Furthermore, as Triple H has proven that he can still go (and go hard) in the ring, as long as Randy Orton serves as an arm of the Authority he can never be a true top heel, as Triple H will have the final say-so, backstage as well as between the ropes.
Kane: Everything said about Randy Orton goes double for Kane. All the issues Orton has due to being an underling for the Authority, apply even moreso, as Kane is even lower on the totem pole than Orton. Kane did manage to get a bit of his mojo back with his re-masking and title shot against Daniel Bryan, but the fact remains that he’s spent the better part of his post-Wyatt return having his hands full playing office politics with Brad Maddox.
The bottom line is that Kane looked way too at home getting squashed alongside Road Dogg and Billy Gunn at Wrestlemania XXX at the hands of the Shield.
Hit the jump for a look at the last two main event guys and how this could all change at Money in the Bank. Continue reading →