The New Face of Fear defies the numbers as he prepares for the Royal Rumble Match, courtesy of the award-winning WWE Network.01/18/2017 - 00:15
Five ways WWE will be changed after TLC
In case you haven’t heard, a big change is coming at WWE TLC. The WWE and World Heavyweight Championships will cease to exist, merged into one supreme Unified Championship that will be earned in that most treacherous of crucibles, a Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match. By now, the WWE Universe knows the players involved: Randy Orton, WWE Champion, and John Cena, World Heavyweight Champion. They know the match was instigated by Cena after Orton retained his title through various hoodwinks by his handlers in The Authority, and they know Orton – despite the backing of the corporate power – is on somewhat shaky ground going into the biggest match of his life.
That said, the changes don’t just end with the crowning of one Champion of Champions. Having a unified titleholder just scratches the surface of what’s about to happen as 2013 comes to a close. Everything is going to change, and though the unification of the titles will undoubtedly reverberate in ways no one has yet even contemplated, WWE.com has a few ideas of the immediate transformations the WWE Universe can expect.
The Royal Rumble Match is changed
This is a “gimme” in terms of sniffing out WWE’s paradigm shifts, to be sure. But it’s an important one. For years, The Road to WrestleMania has gone through the Royal Rumble Match and the Elimination Chamber, two of WWE’s most unpredictable contests, and two of its most rewarding for the Superstars who survive them. As recompense for defeating 29 opponents, the winner of the Rumble Match gets first dibs on the title they challenge for at the big dance; the right to contend for the other World Title goes to the Chamber winner (or, given the brutality of the last few years’ contests, whatever’s left of him). With one Undisputed Title, though, the system reverts to its original incarnation: The Rumble Match winner gets to challenge for the World Title. As a result, the WrestleMania main-event picture forms much earlier on, and the champion is put on notice almost the second he rings in the New Year. Whoever walks away with the Unified Title at WWE TLC isn’t exactly going to have a lot of down time on his hands to enjoy the victory.
The Intercontinental Title gets a boost
Wrestling purists have long pointed to the Intercontinental Championship as the second-most important title in WWE, an argument that has rung of white noise since the advent of a second World Championship. Yes, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon risked life and limb over the mantle at WrestleMania X and SummerSlam 1995. Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage famously stole the show over it at WrestleMania III. However, with Superstars battling over a pair of brass rings, it’s arguable that the Intercontinental Title became a little lost in the shuffle.
Full Match: Savage vs. Steamboat at WrestleMania III
Several of the championship’s recent holders have spoken of restoring the title’s prestige; ironically enough, World Title unification accomplishes this by default. With one fewer World Championship up for grabs, Big E Langton’s title becomes (once again) the second-most important title in WWE, and perhaps looks a lot prettier to Superstars who might have previously thought it beneath them.
Money in the Bank gets a shake-up
When Money in the Bank’s cash-in stipulation was born, it was after the World Heavyweight Championship’s creation, and the contract-holder could strike against any World Champion he so chose. That undoubtedly made for a lot more sleepless nights on behalf of the top titleholders, as neither of them knew who was in the crosshairs of the heir apparent. Lately, of course, there has been one contract for each championship, and the proceedings have been comparatively straightforward as a result. So, with one World Title, will the WWE Universe be losing one of its two Money in the Bank Matches? Or – and this is really interesting – could an Undisputed Champion face the ultimate challenge of fending off two contract holders for the same title? Only seven months until we find out.
The field of play gets tighter
The stiff competition isn’t just limited to the Intercontinental Champion. With one fewer title to compete for in WWE, the pressure is on Superstars to go big or go home and separate themselves from the already-crowded pack. Let’s put it this way: If success is measured by title victories and contentions – and, let’s face it, in pretty much every sport out there, it is – there’s one fewer benchmark by which a Superstar can measure his proficiency. Suddenly, forming an impromptu tandem and challenging for the WWE Tag Team Championship doesn’t sound like such a far-fetched idea, does it?
The best of the best is determined
We can call it a Unified Title, we can refer to a Champion of Champions, but the WWE Universe knows there is only one true adjective for the kind of titleholder they’re going to get at the end of WWE TLC: Undisputed. As in, unquestioned. Unchallenged. Unmatched. This Superstar – whether it’s Cena, Orton or any titleholders beyond – will be beholden to no one and his dominance won’t be up for debate. And whether he wins by hook or by crook doesn’t matter, either. Championships are won by whoever comes through at the moment of truth, and only one Superstar will be able to say he did that with all the marbles on the line. It has been a long time since the WWE Universe could say it had that kind of champion – undisputed in every sense – with the utmost certainty. The fact that it will get to do so again is the biggest change of them all, not to mention pretty damn exciting.
So, who’s it gonna be?