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  Nov 16, 2001



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SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: History to be destroyed at Survivor Series?

By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling

At the Survivor Series this Sunday history will be made as the WWF Intercontinental and WCW United States titles and the WWF and WCW Tag-Team titles will be unified.

Scratch that, history will be destroyed.

The World Wrestling Federation -- in a move to eliminate a few title belts -- will be dumping either the United States title or the Intercontinental title, and one set of Tag team titles following the "Thanksgiving Tradition".

To say that this is a travesty is an understatement.

No matter which way the WWF decides to go important pieces of WWF and/or WCW history will go the way of the WCW TV title. In all likelihood, the WCW belts will fall as I just can't see Vince killing off the IC title or WWF tags.

Both of the WCW titles have a lot of historical significance. The U.S. title, in particular, has a large history. Held by such greats as Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Harley Race, Magnum TA, Steve Austin, and more recently Booker T, Jeff Jarrett, Bill Goldberg, Kurt Angle, and Shane Douglas. The title has also been held by several Canadian grapplers, including Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, Lance Storm and Edge.

The title has long been considered as an indicator of the next WCW or NWA champion, with good reason. Many wrestlers who had the title around their waist went on to become heavyweight champions including Flair, Booker, Jarrett and Goldberg. In that respect, the U.S. title was more than just a secondary title such as the WCW TV title. It was an indication of greatness with a promise of more greatness to come to a wrestler who held the belt. The only true blotch on the title's storied list of holders was David Flair, who was awarded the belt by his legendary father after Scott Steiner was stripped of the belt in 1999.

The tag team titles tell a completely different story. While the U.S. title was a carry-over from the NWA (the title was inagurated prior to 1975), the WCW belts were created exclusively for the promotion. They were, in fact, the only WCW starter titles (along with the championship title) that were active throughout WCW's tenure. The tags were held by such legendary tag teams as The Steiner Brothers, The Fabulous Freebirds, The Outsiders, the Four Horsemen and Harlem Heat -- who held the belts on a record 10 different times. There are few names on the title list that have not enjoyed a measure of individual success, further indicating how important the belts were to each holder. Names like Sting, Arn Anderson, Brian Pillman and Ron Simmons are on this list, a true indicator of some of the best wrestlers over the last ten years.

So why is Vince allowing the titles, along with their history, to be thrown aside? Simply, the titles are become nothing more than props. Foley was right when he said that the titles have become meaningless. It's not because titles are passed around like a bowl of party-mix, nor is it because of the undeserved like David Flair, Vince Russo, or even David Arquette wearing the title. It's all because the titles have become secondary in the storylines being written today. All they serve as nowadays are smaller plot devices. When Kurt Angle was fighting "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for the WWF title, no one bought that Kurt wanted to be the WWF Champion; he wanted revenge for Austin chucking his medals off a bridge. Chris Jericho and The Rock fighting over the WCW Championship is, in reality, a feud between the two because of egos clashing. The fact that one has bragging rights over the other with the belt as a symbol makes the title secondary.

Those who make the title belts as a believeably precious entity are few. Triple H is one of the best at making the titles mean something and he shows it each and every time he cuts a promo. Flashback a couple years and look at his initial speeches when he declared himself in the title hunt. You could see the emotion in his eyes and hear it in his voice. What he said was he wanted to be WWF Champion by defeating "X" wrestler, where as today it's Jericho defeating The Rock to be "X" Champion. Jericho simply wants the title because it will put him up on The Rock, where as Triple H wanted the title because he wishes to be known as the best in the game.

There are also too many titles out there. The European title has been a joke since its inception. The Hardcore title, which was a hot-talk belt for a while after its inauguration, had fallen to being a comedy piece when Crash garnered the belt and has become an afterthought since Rob Van Dam first got the belt a few months back. The cruiserweight/light-heavyweight belts are also throwaways, since there is no one of a high enough standing to get people interested in it. Hell, the Women's championship has been shelved for a few months now and not many fans even noticed.

If the WWF is intending on putting value back on the belts, then get rid of the belts that people didn't care about in the first place. The U.S. and WCW Tags still have significance to a lot of viewers becuase they know of their historical significance. Tradition is not something that can easily be parted with and once fans realize that the belts are going, they will want them back. Hopefully the wrestlers will do the same before the WCW Championship joins these titles in storage bins.

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