When I had some free time on a Saturday night, I put into my VCR my newly acquired VHS tape of the pay-per-view that World Championship Wrestling produced in 1998. The PPV was WCW World War 3 and the 60-man battle royal saw Kevin Nash eliminated 59 other men to go on a month later to challenge Goldberg for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and Diamond Dallas Page retaining his WCW United States Championship against Bret “the Hitman” Hart in the main event.
What got me a-thinking was, I knew “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan had a limited schedule when he was under contract to WCW back then and I knew when he was champion, which was the main reason why he didn’t defend the title at every pay-per-view. At times I question why the bookers would put the title on him, but who better than Hogan to be the company World Champion when Hogan was the head of the invading bad guy group?
Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, and Bobby “the Brian” Heenen mentioned a lot during World War 3 1998 was Hogan wasn’t scheduled for the battle royal and how surprised they are since Hogan’s been complaining, wanting to win the World Heavyweight title back since he lost it over the summer. When they mentioned that during the first match, I assumed the World Champion was defending his title later in the show, right? That didn’t happen, yet he still made an appearance.
All this got me a-thinking about how they booked the WCW Championship and the United States Championship. Yes, the WCW title should be the title that everyone shoots for and should be in the main event when defended at every show it’s scheduled on. But what should be put in the main event when the WCW Champion wasn’t on the show?
Insert the United States champion and the feud that the US title brings with it. Diamond Dallas Page and Bret Hart were in the middle of an awesome feud and their match at the 1998 World War 3 was a really decent match (probably the best of the card, hands down), and their match main evented the card, even though Goldberg was there and did a run-in when newly signed Bam Bam Bigelow tried to interfere during the battle royal.
I can’t see many arguments where in 1998 why DDP or Bret Hart can’t close a pay-per-view in WCW and not have to grapple for the Heavyweight title of the World. So my mind started to ponder, why didn’t WCW raise the United States Championship as a close second to the World Heavyweight Championship and have their main eventers challenge for the belt when they aren’t tied into the storyline for the WCW title?
There isn’t any argument that I’ll accept where if booked right, whoever held the United States title who got pushed to the WCW title, the US title helped their career. Look at Goldberg, look at Ric Flair, heck, look at the WWE and the Intercontinental title (the Rock, Triple H, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, etc.), that “mid-card” title pushed guys to the “main event” title. So if the “main event” title isn’t going to be defended at every pay-per-view, why not let the “mid-card” title main event and give those mid-carders a chance to taste the main event and see how well they do under pressure without giving them the top strap?
If I were old enough and had the opportunity to speak to the man who had the book in World Championship Wrestling, I’d suggest to them to keep this trend up, if the WCW Championship wasn’t going to be defended on every PPV (even if the champion was going to grapple but not defend the title, he should be bumped to the US title match). That way, if the WCW Championship wasn’t defended because Hulk Hogan was the champion or the booking committee didn’t want the champion to wrestle due to the battle royal, the fans wouldn’t think twice why the United States Championship main evented the show they paid their hard earned money to order (or for me, buy on VHS).
Could this be implemented into the WWE nowadays in 2013? I couldn’t see why not, but with them having two World titles, if the WWE title wasn’t defended, the World Heavyweight Championship could be a suitable main event championship match. If WWE would do that, they would have to explain away the whole “the title has to be defended once every thirty days” rule they had in the early-to-mid-90s that they never explained away since and the World Heavyweight title would started to be seen as an equal to the WWE Championship.
Eric Darsie is known as a ‘common-man’ among his peers, at least he thinks so. He works hard with his hands in the heart of Minnesota and on his free time, he thugs and a bugs with his family and friends. Whenever he doesn’t do that, he’s found to be writing. Now more of a rare thing, he’s gems could be found here. If you would like to see more of Eric’s work outside of the professional world, check him out at http://vintagedarsie.wordpress.com/, http://www.writerscafe.org/Darsie/writing/, and on Twitter @IAmDarsie.
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