|BORK LAZER doesn't need to be around every week|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It started this past week on RAW, when incumbent WWE World Heavyweight Champ John Cena - The Greatest in WWE History™ - was absent to film a role in a movie. I would love to point out the hypocrisy of this move after Cena had such issue with The Rock always being absent for the same reason during the build to both Once In A Lifetime matches, but I'll refrain for the time being. Scheduling rumors also indicate Cena will be missing the August 4th episode of Raw for more movie stuff.
And SummerSlam will be headlined by Cena defending his world championship against Brock Lesnar. With Lesnar a heavy favorite to capitalize on The Streak momentum and win, does he have enough of his limited dates left to appear regularly with the Championship should he be victorious?
Who cares? The better question is, does it really matter if the World Champ is on Raw every week?
When Monday Night Raw premiered in January 11, 1993, the only Champion who appeared was Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels. WWF Champion Bret Hart did not appear until an interview segment during the second episode; he did not wrestle until March. In fact, the World Champion - whoever it might be at a given point - did not regularly appear on Raw until the beginning of the Monday Night Wars in 1995. With Vince McMahon determined to be the top game in town, all stops were pulled out to earn victories in the ratings.
Fast-forward to today. The Monday Night Wars ended nearly 15 years ago. There are no other promotions worthy of being considered "competition" at the moment. TNA is the only other company with a major television deal, and they are perpetually on the verge of going out of business. Hardcore WWE fans are likely to watch every week, and casual fans don't necessarily tune in to see the C0hampion. If they flip past the USA Network and like what they saw, they'll watch for a bit to see what happens.
Back in the 1980s, it was considered a treat if the Champion showed up on Superstars or Prime Time Wrestling. Fans watched to see the action, and then bought the pay-per-views to see what they couldn't normally see. If McMahon wants to build up his WWE Network subscriptions, maybe this is a good way to do it - keep your top draw in your pocket for special events.
That's not to say a Champion can't be involved in the show - video packages, recaps, "backstage interviews" and the like are all ways to give someone airtime without having them live. Something as simple as another character mentioning the champ is good enough.
You want evidence to support this theory? Flash back to post-Rumble, 2013. The Rock ended CM Punk's historic 434-day Championship reign, and promptly disappeared from television. Did his appearing or not appearing influence the ratings? Not really. Whether the Champ was on the show or not, ratings held more or less steady.
In this day and age, you don't need a World Champion to be on a show any more than jobbers. Times have changed, and as long as the overall in-ring action is good, you can get by with just your secondary Champions holding down the fort.
So when Lesnar wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and runs away with the belt, let's not complain, huh? Let's save the complaints for something worth complaining about, like why is Dolph Ziggler always getting buried, or why Bray Wyatt is starting to look incompetent.
Or maybe even why the hell is Kane still playing the part of a potential World Champion?