Current WWE Champions: Yay Or Nay?
Hi, I’m Justin Watry. You may remember me from such classic columns as March 2012’s “WWE WrestleMania 28: Sheamus Should Defeat Daniel Bryan in Less Than a Minute” and October 2015’s “WWE NXT: Bobby Roode, You’re Next.”
In the past week alone, I wrote two WrestleMania 33 previews, an NXT Takeover: Orlando preview, a Shawn Michaels/WM count down, monthly reader feedback edition, my NXT review, live in person Mania review, WWE Network business breakdown (and random thoughts), a Superstar Shakeup preview, and last but not least, I wrote about my journey to Orlando in a fairly personal column I am quite proud of.
Honestly, I have received such positive feedback on me new column that I feel compelled to plug it a little more than usual. From reader Sam, he emailed:
“I have been reading your stuff for the longest time now and I have never felt inclined to email in. The general consensus of you not being most popular is harsh at times but also can be well-founded too. But I still read your stuff because I do enjoy your articles and find your perspective interesting most of the time.
That said, your article about your friend Megan and trip to Wrestlemania was the greatest thing you have ever wrote. This is your crowning piece. Maybe it is because I can relate as going to Wrestlemania is my ultimate dream and it will be happening next year. But I genuinely loved your article.”
Thanks a lot for that. It is not often I write about my personal stuff, so that kind of feedback is really appreciated. I welcome all of you to click and check it out for yourself…
Enough of the gaga, let’s talk champions in WWE!
Current WWE Champions: Yay Or Nay?
With the Superstar Shakeup just hours away, I am sure there will be plenty of headlines Monday and Tuesday night. No idea WHAT the stories will be but surely, it will be interesting. One thing I am pretty confident on is that no title belts will change hands in the next 30 hours or so. Could be wrong on that but feel okay in assuming here. Because of that, I felt the column suggestion from @KingOfBeards86 on Twitter was perfect.
@JustinWatry Curious thought i figured id ask. Who would you personally prefer as current champions? I know it doesnt really matter but m bored and sick
— BeardyNoMore (@KingOfBeards86) April 5, 2017
Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 33 – Love it. The problem with his previous part-time run as a top champ was NOT the fact that he was only around for big events. It was that he and Paul Heyman up and disappeared for months on end without a single promo, video, vignette, update, match, etc. I think things will be different in 2017. Okay, he won’t be at Payback. Boo hoo. Cry me a river. All that does is give others a chance to step up (like Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in late 2014) for RAW. Heck, if Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens is still on, let them headline and wrap up their mega feud in the main event. Lesnar will be back in a few weeks to beat Braun Strowman, and all will be well.
RAW Tag Team Champions: The Hardy Boyz at WrestleMania 33 – The right move. The New Day single handedly killed the Raw tag division throughout 2016, slowly but surely until we were left with makeshift team Sheamus and Cesaro and the faltering Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. To WWE’s credit, they tried to reboot The Club in January, but that was too little too late. If anybody needs a new beginning with the Superstar Shakeup, it is those two guys. Bring back the Hardyz, have them front and center on Monday nights, and let the duo do their thing. Fans want it, fans knows them, fans love the extreme brothers, and Matt and Jeff are more than capable of backing it up in the ring.
RAW Womens Champion: Bayley in February 2017 – I would stick with this for awhile yet. All depends on Sasha Banks. Despite rumors, I REALLY hope she does not get moved to Smackdown LIVE. I know she said that was the brand she wanted to appear on last year, but last week, she back tracked and called Raw her home. I don’t know. The heel turn from Banks has been teased so well that it almost HAS to happen, right? For that, a feud with Bayley is a must. We shall see, but minus that, it is Bayley and everybody else. Emma provides a nice boost, as does Alexa Bliss (if she heads over). Still though, the belt belongs to Bayley…for now.
United States Champion: Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 33 – Hot off his dominant run as Universal Champion, Kevin Owens is not holding yet another title in WWE (and NXT). This guy sure seems to find a lot of gold around his waist…or shoulder. Not to bash the WM card lineup, but Owens and Jericho were second on the show. For the United States Championship. That says it all where things stands right now. While last summer, I correctly predicted the US Title to Raw and IC Title to Smackdown, that may be flipped soon. Probably not to be honest but not out of the realm of possibility either.
Cruiserweight Champion: Neville at Royal Rumble 2017 – The entire division should revolve around Neville, Austin Aries, and Jack Gallagher for the next few months. Those are the three fans have gravitated towards. Akira Tozawa, Cedric Alexander, TJ Perkins, THE Brian Kendrick, and others fill their spot nicely, but you have to listen to the audience. Neville deserved that title after his awesome heel turn in late 2016. Plus, I would argue he may have deserved that WM victory MORE than Austin Aries last week. Time will tell because the cruiserweight division has had so many title holders in its short (recent) history. Stick with Neville with Gallagher and Aries chasing.
Summary: Honestly, as much BS as the red brand gets, I do not have many complaints about their current title holders. Yeah, three hours is too long and doesn’t have the internet love like Smackdown LIVE, but Brock Lesnar, The Hardyz, Bayley, Kevin Owens and Neville are pretty darn good champion choices. Kurt Angle has a nice lineup there.
WWE Champion: Randy Orton at WrestleMania 33 – Another new champion crowned at Mania, which is how it is supposed to be. I think? Truth be told, I soured on this feud the moment AJ Styles and Luke Harper were inserted. I know some got all pumped for more Styles and Harper in the spotlight. However, that completely derailed the WWE Championship feud between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. No longer was the story about Wyatt reaching the top or Mr. RKO winning his second Royal Rumble. Rather, it was BS about battle royals, Styles’ getting screwed, and Harper suddenly treated as a top contender on a random episode of Smackdown. No use for any of that. KISS Method folks, KISS Method. On the whole, WWE should be applauded here. They told a six month story of The Wyatts and Orton battling, with the face tricking the heel and taking his title on the grand stage. It was a long-term plan with a payoff. That SHOULD be commended, except it has not clicked for weeks now. Maybe more. One of the few duds at Mania. I am fine with Orton as champ but certainly would not complain if WWE calls an audible after the Superstar Shakeup and goes in a different direction.
Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The Usos in March 2017 – Ugh, American Alhpa beat The Usos in like 30 seconds after the WWE Draft? Remember that moment? The new kids from NXT had arrived and were going to take the entire division by storm…and well, yeah. An injury (real or not) derailed all of that, and we got Rhyno and Heath Slater as joke champs instead. Ugh, might as well make James Ellsworth a champion too! The Usos are refreshed as heels, so I am all for that move. Also, they had a spectacular promo a few weeks back that really made me take notice. Still, American Alpha had a hugely disappointing run on Smackdown LIVE since getting called up. My belief is they should be champs and be waaaaay more over right now. Part of me believes they may be headed to Raw; Jason Jordan and Chad Gable may be better off associated with Kurt Angle anyways. I have no idea what to do with The Usos here. I guess keep them as champs until The New Day or some other team comes over after the Superstar Shakeup stuff. Maybe The Revival fit better to dethrone The Usos, even if they are heels battling heels. Any suggestions on what to do with the blue brand and its’ confusing tag team division?
Smackdown Womens Champion: Naomi at WrestleMania 33 – Good story with Naomi returning to reclaim the title she never lost. In Orlando, no less. Maybe it is just me, but I never got it. Good athlete, cool moves, clearly loves the business, etc. Lots of positives there. It just never all came together inside the squared circle, despite years of experience. Luckily, I believe her injury and being forced to give up the championship actually may have helped her in the long run. During her promo and tough choice to hand over the title, I finally found myself cheering for Naomi. I felt the emotion. I felt terrible for her. I felt the glow dangit!!! her coming back to win in Orlando was cool and wish to see it continue. My fear is Charlotte comes to the blur brand and defeats her fairly quickly. I hope not though. Lots of talented women in the division.
IC Champion: Dean Ambrose in January 2017 – Baron Corbin should have won at Mania. I don’t care if he won a non-title street fight on Smackdown last Tuesday. My ONLY explanation is the US/IC Titles will be swapped this week. If not, then the entire thing is baffling. Corbin might be the one shipped off to Raw then; I really have no idea what is going on with the IC Title. Ambrose is fine and certainly has a rabid fanbase, but he never seems to stick as a champ. His US Title run years back was a joke, he bombed big time as WWE Champion in 2016…and now this? The Superstar Shakeup is tailor made for changing stale title scenes like the IC Championship picture.
Summary: Smackdown LIVE is getting a face lift. Not only with Tye Dillinger and Shinsuke Nakamura debuting but also with the incoming RAW talents. I am more than ready.
There you have it folks. Lots of quality champs in WWE with some room for improvement following Mania. Now if only that Tyler Bate fellow could be found…
Follow me on Twitter: @JustinWatry
Email me: [email protected]