10 Stages Of The WWE Championship’s Devolution: From Prize To Prop

The Bronze Age.


How prestigious is a fabricated sporting achievement?

The only objective definition of the WWE Heavyweight title, reductively, is a platform for monetisation - but in order to be monetised, it needs to be marketed and believed in as prestigious. On the whole, WWE has managed a sterling job of marketing the gold - or perhaps "historically" is a better segue. Because there is no objective answer, the WWWF/WWF/WWE Heavyweight championship is as prestigious as you want it to be, or as Vince McMahon wants it to be - and increasingly, he is treating it as shorthand, which is backwards; its appeal lies within its longevity.

Interestingly, the physical redesigns of the strap have downgraded in parallel with its prestige. The classic golden eagle design was possibly the most perfect, beautiful belt design ever - both visually, in and of itself, and symbolically. Hulk Hogan was a decorated, soaring predator. Steve Austin's smoking skull was a neat marketing tactic, but John Cena's spinner was a damning indictment of the WWE landscape either side of this decade. Until part-time star The Rock was afforded the current design (another problem in itself), all of Cena's contemporaries were made to wear his prize - as if it always belonged to him. In effect, it did; it was always his to reclaim. It's now looks as basic as the man who holds it.

The answer, obviously, isn't reverting back to the golden eagle - but that's a far better shortcut than a manufactured "opportunity".


Former Power Slam Magazine scribe and author of Development Hell: The NXT Story - available NOW on shop.whatculture.com!