One key difference between WWE and TNA is that for TNA’s World title they used a ranking system to determine who is the number one contender for the championship. Former WCW & WWE commentator Jim Ross, believes that one way to improve a wrestling show is to utilise a logical title ranking; not only will this make the matches more relevant, it will give superstars a direction and a purpose to the matches.
Here is what Jim Ross had to say on his latest blog.
Two small points that could arguably make many TV wrestling shows better utilize a logical Top Ten or Top 15 to book matches and also to present the vast majority of bouts in one segment on a show. Also, by using a rankings system, it puts more spotlight on the titles of which could all could mean more in every wrestling company. Titles may be perceived by some inside the business as props for a fictitious TV show but that can’t be the case for how Titles are perceived on air.”
I couldn’t agree more, TNA have done this and utilised this effectively to make Ethan Carter III the number one contender by defeating the likes of Bobby Rhode, Eric Young and Kurt Angle on his way to the top. Whilst some title matches have been mixed within feuds, the bulk of TNA title matches in 2015 have been based around the weekly top 5 ranking system.
Simply put, whilst we live in the fantasy world of wrestling but fundamentally wrestling is still a competitive environment. If we look back at Seth Rollins recent title reign; none of his title defences were determined via a number one contenders match, they were simply rematches or via forced challenges. Randy Orton was only in the title picture because he was in a feud with Rollins. Roman Reigns got “screwed” at Wrestlemania, whilst Brock Lesnar was invoking his rematch clause. Neville accepted an open challenge with only wrestlers under 200 pounds. Whilst Kane forced his way into a title shot in a very creative feud with Seth Rollins.
- Extreme Rules – Randy Orton
- Payback – Seth Rollins vs Randy Orton vs Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns
- Elimination Chamber – Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose
- Money In The Bank – Seth Rollins vs Dean ambrose
- Battleground – Seth Rollins vs Brock Lesnar
- Raw 3rd August – Seth Rollins vs Neville
- Summerslam – Seth Rollins vs John Cena
- Night Of Champions – Seth Rollins vs Sting
- Hell In A Cell – Seth Rollins vs Kane
On the light of it, history tells us that title opportunities are purely testing grounds for potential champions of the future. Stone Cold, Mankind, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Rob Van Dam and Edge all received title shots well before they were “ready” and sometimes years before they held WWE gold. There is nothing wrong with that, it helps elevate stars in a positive light.
Did anyone take John Cena seriously when he won a time gauntlet match to become number one contenders for Brock Lesnars WWE Championship at Backlash 2003? No-one, but it helped him so much to establish himself as a credible superstar. No Mercy 2001, Rob Van Dam was placed in the middle of a Steve Austin and Kurt Angle feud for challenge for the WWF title. WWE are doing this, Dean, Seth, Roman received title opportunities in 2015, but WWE should take a risk and allow a star much lower down the pecking order to challenge for the gold, for example Cesaro.
Ultimately a title ranking system will allow lower establish stars crawl up the pecking order and make you believe they deserve the shot. It will also give a bit of a change from the stale rematch after rematch story which WWE has etched in-stone. Once you have had your shot you move down the ranking. WWE do have the Power Ranking, which ranks the top 25 stars, however this is a mixed bag of male,females and tag teams and shows now real comparison to who should be number one contender. If you look at this weeks The New Day are the number one contenders.
Right now, WWE need a spark. Something to ignite some change to make the show more interesting. Adding a layer of competitiveness back to the wrestling world is a risk worth trying. A title ranking system is a sensible move; WWE please listen to Jim Ross.