The Booking Sheet

I can remember the first time I ever thought that titles
were important.

It was during a Flair/Luger match; Clash something or other,
Fall Brawl, Mountain Madness. But unlike other Flair/Luger matches, it was for
the US title, and I can distinctly remember the voice of Jim Ross throughout
the match, screaming about how Flair NEEDED to win the US title so he would be
the number one contender for the World title. It was pounded home, the entire
match; need to win the US title to get another match with Sting. Then, at the
end, Stan Hansen attacked Luger to set up their program, and that had been set
up earlier in the show by Hansen wanting to move up the ladder so he could get
paid more money, which would be accomplished if he won the US belt.
Long story short, EVERYTHING in that match, from beginning
to screwjob, revolved around that belt.
Of course, now, the prestigious US title is….well, how
exactly would you describe the current positioning of both the US title and the
ostensibly equally prestigious Intercontinental title, guest wrestling critic
Jay Sherman?

Danke, Mr. Sherman.
Let’s admit something here – the ultimate goal of making
title belts little more than props has been achieved, to be sure, especially
over the last 10 years or so. The ‘prestige’ of a title reign is less than it
used to be.
How can we fix that?
Let’s start with the Intercontinental title this week. We’ll
tackle the US next week.
The Intercontinental title has been, shall we say, passed
around at a rate rivaling a French whore in a Victor Hugo novel in the last
several years, with an actual French whore probably holding the belt at some
point in that time period. (Fun exercise in the comments section: Name that
French Whore/IC Champion!)*
So, what we need is some stability for the belt, some kind
of reign that will legitimize the title again; what we need is someone who requires
some rehabilitation but is still a legit threat to the upper card if we’re going
to try to make the belt strong again.
Bray Wyatt, meet the Intercontinental Title.
Intercontinental Title, meet Bray Wyatt.
Please don’t leave the belt alone with Rowan for any
extended period of time during your days together; he makes us nervous.
Why Bray Wyatt, you may ask?
Well, let’s break it down:
WHY DOES BRAY NEED THE BELT? 
Wyatt is spinning his wheels – and that
may not actually be a cliché, considering the Wyatt family gimmick. You tell me
they have a spinning wheel on that farm, I’d believe it. But still, Wyatt has
been on an uphill treadmill in the fed since the Cena feud. Sure, he’s hanging
out near the top of the card, he main-evented Raw last week for God’s sakes!
Of course, a few weeks ago, so did this man….

….and at least he won!
Ahem.
Bray perfectly fits the profile needed to rebuild a title
right now. He’s an upper mid-card heel; traditionally, for chase type
scenarios, they work best. His character has been defined with him being the one
who chases, which means that we can evolve the character by giving him a belt
and letting him become the hunted as opposed to the hunter. It’s a key part of
how his character needs to move forward – he needs to be on the other side of a
feud, and giving him a belt provides that.
But why would Bray want a title? Well, let me ask you a
question: what the hell DOES Bray’s character want? His motives haven’t been
clearly explained for a lot of these feuds; does he want more family members,
power, what exactly is his deal? So, clarity is necessary. But no problem, WWE –
I already wrote his promo for you!
(This promo works best if you turn out your lights. You
know, for mood and stuff.)
“Heh. In this world, the rich man is the king! Money,
wealth, fame; you all follow the idols created by the television shows they
beam right past your eyes into your sheep’s brain! It’s all about the gold in
this world, this world that needs (giggle) a new prophet, a poor man who will
lead his brothers in revolution! A revolution that burns the false idols of the
blind who worship that which shines away the things they cannot see!
(Muttering) But they tell me that to be the shepherd, you have to play the
game, the game by their rules, the game before you change the rules.
There’s a story they tell in the churches on Sundays, a
story about the golden idol and the vengeance of a God who swept away the
sinners! But those sinners saw the truth of the future, that the gold would be
held above all until the God came to punish the (giggles again) weak. I am the
God. I am the Eater of WORLDS. And this world needs its God, so I’ll play the
games of the false prophets; but when I take your golden idol as my own, you’ll
have to fall to your knees and worship at my feet! You’ll all listen when you
hear the Commandments as read by the God who holds the gold, I will unite the sinners and virtuous alike in ways the story’s God never did; you’ll scoop up
the sand in the desert when I tell you to drink because you can only see the
shine’s arc of the gold adorning the Eater of Worlds.
(Singing) He’s got the
whole world in his hands, he’s got the whole wide world, in his hands.”
Bray Wyatt gets that belt, and then he has a reason to
prophesize and preach, because he finally has something that people want. That alone
should be enough to get him motivated to win the belt, because it gives him
something to force people to chase him; there’s nothing that a cult leader wants
more than to have followers. In Bray’s demented mind, he can see those who want
the belt as a chance to create new members of the Wyatt family. And, in some
cases, he should probably succeed.
The title can be used to evolve Wyatt’s character in several
different ways. 1) As stated above, he can create new members of his stable. 2)
He can start to inject subtle hypocrisy into his positions; what does the poor
man prophet do when he gets a taste of the gold? How does it change him? 3) He
could LOSE family members as well, if jealousy gets injected on behalf of
Harper or Rowan wanting the shiny title. 4) If he were to turn face, the
natural conflict he would have with the Authority could be used; right now, most
of his feuds have been ‘outside’ the main power brokers and structure, but that
conflict could be brought into apparent relief if there was a belt on the line.
Of course, these are all things that would help Bray Wyatt
if he had the belt.
But….
WHY DOES THE BELT NEED BRAY?
Short answer: it doesn’t. The belt is an inanimate object
that has no actual feelings or needs.
Longer, less sarcastic answer: There is no title that needs
rehabilitation more than the IC title. What is it when we say ‘rehabilitation’?
Well, to me, it’s all about the positioning of the belt to enhance the title’s prestige. You know, unlike, say, fishing a belt out of a trash can. Back in the day,
positioning the belt holder as the number 1 contender did the job.
Nowadays, it’s normally just whoever is holding the belt
doing the job.
That’s a big part of what needs to change. Therefore, the
person who tries to elevate the title again must be only slightly stronger than a
mid-carder (to give a greater variety of wrestlers the chance for a title feud), while still able to make a plausible main eventer (should the time come to elevate them again).
Again – Bray Wyatt. His most high-profile jobs since
Wrestlemania 30 have been to Cena and to Jericho, both of whom there is no shame in losing to. The title needs a strong heel
more than it needs anything else, because heels tend to be stronger standard
bearers for long title reigns, especially with a correctly positioned IC title.
Look at the long roster of IC champs, and most of the best were heels. Savage,
Honky Tonk, Perfect – these were the guys who held that belt and made it one of
the strongest titles in the company.
But more to the point, we’re at a place in the WWE right now
where the belt is necessary if Brock Lesnar is going to hold the world title
until Wrestlemania. The current scenario is tailor-made for the IC title to
once again rise in importance, especially if the main belt is gone for long,
extended periods of time. It will need a strong wrestler and promo guy to be a
part of that rebuilding. Bray Wyatt is the answer. He can elevate the title to
something akin to what it once was. He would make a great champion for either a
long chase by a midcard face to finally go over, a dominant heel champ for many
months, or to use the title as a hotshot to a rookie like Sami Zayn (since the
IC title works better as a hotshot title than the World Title).
Allow me to draw a comparison here between Bray Wyatt and
the most obvious character in the same position….

…um, no. I meant Bray Wyatt and…Curt Hennig.
Hennig’s career trajectory followed Bray’s in some ways. He
went over jobbers for months, was given vignettes that established the
character before he came in, and he worked his way up Hogan with a perfect
record before doing the job to him – but instead of sinking him to the bottom
of the ocean, he went over for the IC belt and became a standard bearer for
that title, holding it for multiple reigns and treating it as though it were
quite prestigious the whole time.
Let’s take a quick look at Bray: vignettes to build up the
character? Check. Winning streak to build up his character? Yup. Worked his way
to the top face in the company and lost the feud? Cena says hello. And now…..
That’s why the IC title was so important. Wyatt is perfect
for it at this point in his career. It gives him focus and it gives him a
storyline that can relate both his strengths as a character in his wacky-ass
promos while still allowing the traditional wrestling storylines to permeate through;
sometimes we forget that the reason that some things are tradition are because
they, you know, WORK. Combine the two and we have a winner.
And that’s the Wyatt is so important for the title. The
title can only benefit from a strong reign by an over heel that could go many
different directions. The title can only be elevated by someone making it a
focal point of their character, especially if that character evolves along the
way as a result of that reign.
So, WWE, take my advice:
Follow the buzzards.
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on twitter
*As far as I know, there weren’t any French whores that held
the IC title, but here’s hoping it’s good for some chuckles from you all in the
comment section. Fire away. All jokes about The Miz will be ignored because, face it, that one’s too fucking obvious.