Home > Guest Blog, Kieran, WWE > The Hunt For Heavyweight Gold – Who Will Be Number 50? by Kieran

The Hunt For Heavyweight Gold – Who Will Be Number 50? by Kieran

In all the uproar over Christian’s premature World Heavyweight Title defeat, it seems to have escaped notice that when he climbed that ladder at Extreme Rules he became the forty-ninth individual to lift World status championship gold in the WWE.  As The Miz’s new baseball jersey says forty men have won the WWE Championship; in addition to this, another nine have lifted the World Heavyweight Championship, and a select few have worn both.  The ever mounting pressure on the WWE to develop new main event stars combined with the current booking trend towards regular title changes would suggest that this number will likely increase before the year is out.  So, who will be number fifty?  There are a number of contenders for this honor spread across both the Raw and Smackdown rosters. Some are more likely candidates than others, but each has a chance, however slender it may be.

The now defunct ECW Championship (2006 incarnation, created under the auspices of the WWE) cannot, in my opinion, be considered a true world championship, being little more than a tertiary belt.  This means that I do not consider anyone who held this title to be a former World Champion.  It is also worth noting that, forgettable as their reigns may be, individuals like Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler are both former World Champions and not eligible for inclusion in this article.

On The Raw Roster

Kofi Kingston is an undoubtedly talented superstar, perennially in the hunt for mid card gold.  He has worn both the Intercontinental and United States Championships and a World Title reign would seem the next logical step for him.  John Morrison’s neck injury has created a vacancy in the number three babyface spot on Raw and it is time for Kofi to make the step up that he has been threatening for a while now.  His rapidly aborted 2009 top line feud with Randy Orton is a distant memory, the sudden elevation and subsequent descent he suffered through no longer tarnishes his character.  With arch proponents of pandering to the fans and Rey Mysterio and John Cena both featured on the Raw roste,r it may be time for Kofi to tone down the crowd pleasing antics and display a more business-like edge.  The competitive spirit and ruthless streak he displayed against Sheamus at Extreme Rules needs to become a consistent aspect of his character.  If Kofi is going to evolve into a World Champion then it needs to be less about having fun and more about winning matches.

Drew McIntyre was very much on the cusp of main event status last year, but never quite managed to break through.  His “Chosen One” gimmick seemed set to thrust him firmly into title contention, but he never had that defining feud or match that would elevate him to the top.  His chiselled physique and his imposing presence combine well with his solid mat skills and aggressive ring style to make him a very credible threat to the gold.  He’d do well to keep the ponytail; it’s a good heel look and prevents him from blending in with the assortment of nondescript heels currently clogging up the midcard.  John Cena seems likely to retain his WWE Championship for some time and so will need a fresh supply of heel challengers.  Drew possesses all the tools that he needs to step up and become one of these, but it may be too early to expect him to topple “The Champ”.  One proviso though, some solid promo time is desperately needed to establish some motivation for him. I know he’s a bad guy, but I don’t really know why – acting arrogant and entitled will only get you so far, there needs to be something at the root of it and it needs to change for Drew to shine.

You could be forgiven for thinking that John Morrison has found himself benched at the worst possible time, hot off of a scintillating performance in the triple threat cage top-liner at Extreme Rules and at the outset of a promising feud with R-Truth.  However, I think this may be an opportunity for the Prince of Parkour to consider why, for all of his promise, he has yet to fulfil his undoubted potential.  If success in the WWE was all about in-ring ability then he would already be a multiple time World Champion.  His consistent thrilling performances and impressive arsenal of flashy maneuvers should see him in a prominent position on the card of every Pay Per View, but until he establishes an identifiable character he’ll never ascend to the top tier of superstars in the WWE.  Demonstrating a renewed focus upon his return could jumpstart this process, he has the motivation to show some real aggression in the inevitable feud with Truth.  Time out from active duty should make him realise that his high risk offence is accompanied by a real possibility of injury and that he needs to start making it count if he is to be remembered as anything more than a pretty boy who can somersault.  It is time for Morrison to prioritize victory; this doesn’t mean he needs to cut out the crowd popping aerials, just that he needs to avoid entertainment for entertainment’s sake.

We have not yet seen R-Truth wrestle a match as a heel, his new-found penchant for sneak attacks has seen him avoid in ring action so far, but he has cut some superb heartfelt promos.  The contrast between his new bug-eyed paranoid conspiracy theorist character and his previous just-happy-to-be-there persona demonstrates superbly how a well executed turn can revitalise a tired character.  As a face, Truth had nothing worth to say, but his aggressive “honesty” (from his perspective at least), has served the dual purpose of distinguishing him from the pack and relentlessly antagonizing the crowd.  The absence of any entrance music is a nice touch to further set him apart.   It would be smart to drop some of the pointless comedy though, the bad breath and constipation jokes from the last couple of weeks fell flat and simply come across as juvenile.  If he can back up his words by wrestling in a more aggressive heelish manner then he can continue to build up momentum.  The likely feud with Rey Mysterio, suggested by the ending of Raw, will only enhance the crowd’s newfound disgust with him; the masked superstar is unmatched at generating sympathy.  A promising program with John Morrison then awaits him on the Rock Star’s return from injury and it is not hard to envision him challenging Cena at some point during the year.  At the outset of 2011 R-Truth could not have looked less like a potential champion, but now I would not be surprised to see him wearing gold before the year is out.

Alberto Del Rio is certainly destined to win the title at some point, he’s earned his WWE spurs on Smackdown and now his training wheels are off as he’s arrived in the big league of the WWE, Raw.  While a degree of his momentum has been eroded by the defeats he suffered at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules, he still possesses the aura of a champion.  It’s evident in the way he carries himself and the way he talks that it is only a matter of time before he gets the chance to lead the Raw brand.  For a performer who has spent much of his career in a mask, the range of facial expressions he has developed is superb, and gives a very visual insight into his brash character.  He has already picked up on the small details that separate a main eventer from an upper mid carder, just watch him when someone else is talking – his reactions make him believable, and fans will always invest in a character they believe.   His confidence on the microphone continues to increase and he has already shown that he can assemble fine matches with the right opponents.  The only concern with the Mexican Aristocrat is that the WWE has already failed to pull the trigger on him twice, if they continue to do so, it will start to undermine his “destiny” routine.  If the predicted feud with Cena comes to pass, then Del Rio needs to prise the Championship away from Mr. Hustle, Loyalty and Respect because otherwise he’ll acquire a reputation for coming up short which will be difficult to shake.

On The Smackdown Roster

Mark Henry is probably the closest thing you’ll find to a monster heel in the WWE these days.  His sudden turn in the aftermath of his drafting to Smackdown returns him into the role with which he’s had his greatest WWE success.  His enormous physique, sulky looking face and lack of any real charisma prevent him from really connecting with crowds as a fan favourite, but are no obstacle to his progression as a bad guy.  If you want your face champion to appear in jeopardy then there is no better opponent than someone who looks as intimidating as The World’s Strongest Man.  His raw power and size make him a formidable opponent.  At least that’s what we’re supposed to believe.  His drafting was designed to help us forget that he had made a negligible impact on the Raw title scene during his time there and that he has never been a consistent threat for gold during his fifteen year tenure with the company.  I don’t really see much more happening than Henry crushing a few hapless mid-carders as he hunts down whoever the World Heavyweight Champion may before coming up short in the big one.  I don’t think he’s actually capable of wrestling the fifteen minute plus matches required to main event a Pay Per View and his promo skills are no more developed than they were back when D’lo Brown used to do all his talking for him.

The massive media drive that followed the WWE’s acquisition of Sin Cara suggests that he is considered a very hot prospect indeed.  The drafting of Rey Mysterio to Raw has left a gap at the top of the Smackdown roster that this new masked luchadore seems born to fill.  He has an excellent opportunity to make an impact here and has been an immediate hit with audiences.  His innovative offense reminds me strongly of the WCW incarnation of Mysterio before he found himself pushed into the homogenised style that WWE requires all of its main eventers to wrestle.  Can he force himself into the title scene though?  It cost Rey a couple years of hard toil and enduring a tragic set of circumstances to open the door to the main event, he didn’t get there on ability alone.  Sin Cara’s lack of English will count strongly against him.  He’ll pop a crowd with his startling moves and fast paced style, but a WWE Champion needs to be able to sell a match on the microphone, not just in the ring.  I believe his time may well come, but I think it is some way distant yet.

Cody Rhodes is at a critical point in his rise, the jettisoning of the “Dashing” character for the psychologically troubled persona he now portrays was extremely well handled and he didn’t look out of place in his feud with Rey Mysterio.  Though he may not have emerged from their series as the ultimate victor, he certainly enhanced his credibility, holding his own in both of their high profile bouts and winning at Mania.  The question now is what will be his next step?  Continuing to accuse the crowd of being ugly will make him a heat magnet and he has some justification from his perspective, their continued support for Rey after the wrong Cody felt was done to him could suggest ugliness both inside and out.  However, the brown paper bag thing is a little too cheesy for what has been presented to this point as a serious shift in persona.  The damaged Cody Rhodes needs to figure out his next step.  Does he attempt to salve his mental scarring with the acquisition of championship gold?  Perhaps a Beauty and the Beast like obsession with one of the Diva’s might make his character more layered?  From watching Cody cut his promos and seeing the way he slouches down to the ring it is clear that he has really bought into his new role and is doing all he can to make it work.  Ultimately this will sell his character to the audience and as long as he is given the right feuds I can see him progressing to world title contention sooner rather than later.   Beautiful people get all the love and adoration, do they really deserve all the gold as well?

Daniel Bryan must be thankful now for his release last year.  Without it he’d currently be slowly sinking along with the rest of his old running buddies as the New Nexus and the Corre compete to see who can plummet down the card the quickest.  Striking out on his own initially did him no harm and although his fine autumn series with Dolph Ziggler seems like an ancient memory now, it served to confirm his potential.  He may have got lost somewhat in the post Wrestlemania shuffle but his drafting to Smackdown gives him a fresh chance to make an impact.  He hasn’t yet had the opportunity to showcase his fine promo skills, but if anyone has the capability to get over purely based on his ring work then it’s this guy.  Smackdown is generally known for being more of  a wrestling show than Raw and an absence of established top liners on the brand should lead to Bryan competing in the longer matches where he needs to effectively demonstrate his abilities.  I think his strong work ethic and a professional attitude will eventually lead to world title recognition for Bryan, but his will be a slow rise.  Don’t expect rapid movement up the card this year, rather solid, steady progression.

Last summer Wade Barrett looked poised to evolve into the breakout star of the Nexus angle.  He received a massive push, heavily interacting with the likes of John Cena and Randy Orton and possessed an undeniable heel charisma.  His sneering arrogant persona provoked serious crowd heat and he maintained his dignity even as the Nexus angle was slowly disintegrating around him.  Unfortunately, while he is tied to the dead weight known as the Corre his career is unlikely to progress anywhere.  His ring skills remain largely untested; we have yet to see what he can do in a lengthy match with a generous opponent.  The numerous main event bouts he was featured in last year were all too storyline driven to assess his true level and he’s barely wrestled for more than a few minutes at a time since his move to Smackdown.  He needs to urgently strike out on his own if he is to recapture any of the momentum that has deserted him.  The Intercontinental Championship he currently holds has fallen a long way since the days when matches fought over it would headline house shows whenever the World Champion was absent, but defending it regularly against credible opponents could ultimately establish him as a legitimate World Title contender.  The WWE has not yet missed the boat entirely with Barrett, but too much time spent hanging out with the wrong crowd could see him become nothing more than a tale of wasted potential.

There are certainly some strong contender’s to be the fiftieth winner of World Title recognition in the WWE, and it may well be that the man who does achieve this honor could be surpassed by another on this list eventually.  After all, it is not just when you win that’s important, it’s how long you hold it, how often you are in contention and how many times you raise the gold.  Ultimately, despite many people’s belief that the WWE is over reliant on certain individuals to carry the main event workload, there is plenty of talent underneath them which I strongly believe will get its opportunity to shine.

  1. May 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I’m confused by one of the sentences you wrote. You wrote that Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger are NOT eligible for inclusion? I wonder if that was a typo because like you pointed out, both of them are former World Champions especially Swagger who actually won the title in a match and held onto it for more than a day other than Ziggler.

    Other than that….really good article! You made a lot of good points about each superstar. I like what you wrote about Sin Cara. Masked Kane is the first former champion I think of who won the title despite having a character who doesn’t speak. How long did that title reign last? One day—he won the title on the same night Mick Foley nearly killed himself during his Hell in a Cell match and then lost the title to Stone Cold the next night on RAW. His recent WHC reign in 2010 was the first time Kane had been World Champion since then (not including the ECW Championship which I agree doesn’t count).

    • May 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler can’t be included because no matter how short or pointless their World Heavyweight Championships were they have held the belt and are considered official champions in WWE history. This is only for people who have never tasted a World status championship in WWE and they already have.

      • May 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

        Oh I get what Kieran meant now….included in the discussion of who will be the 50th champion. I was thinking Kieran meant those two cannot be included among the first 49. Thanks for the reply Jcity….I can’t believe the misinterpreted that sentence so badly….I understand exactly what Kieran meant.

        • May 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm

          Yea Kieran writes in a sophisticated style, I admit to breaking out the dictionary a few times, but I like that. I learn alot from his sentence structure and “big words”.

  2. May 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    You chose some of the IWC sweethearts…they surely deserve a belt, however I don’t see it happening in some cases (aka bryan, drew or kofi)unless some of the big stars suddenly get injured.

    If I read this a few months ago, I would totally say Barett is the next one, but for now, I think Alberto is the one who will win it first from this list. After him, maybe Cody Rhodes (I like to think that they didn’t let him win over Mysterio for nothing…it was a test and he passed).

    • May 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      I think Kofi has a good shot, I thought he was ready during his feud with Orton, but his momentum was quickly fizzled out. I just hope that it doesn’t come at the expense of his face run. Not everyone needs to turn in order to be notice, He cans till be a fan favorite, but like Kieran said a bit more business orientated. He gets gold constantly and is underrated, it’s only a matter of time before he wants a taste of the a World status championship. Hopefully he gets there before WWE gives up on him like they did with the likes of Shelton Benjamin.

      • Capt. Smooth
        May 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

        The thing about Kofi is the grin. He looks like he’s having fun out there. I have an idea for a column, if anybody is interested in it. I know this sounds dark and it is, but I’m not. Just curious. Book the aftermath following a wrestler’s “death”. What would the first tv show look like? What type of reaction does the crowd give? What storylines could come out of it? I’m not talking about somebody who could go soon.(Hall) I’m talking about anybody from a megastar(Cena), to a respected veteran(Goldust), to a jobber(JTG).

        • May 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

          Smooth! That’s awful!

          • Capt. Smooth
            May 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm

            I’m not trying to be. I’m just curious how others might envision how a death aftermath goes.

            • May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

              If Cena died that Raw would be EPIC and hopefully the IWC can show some respect instead of jumping for joy the way I think they would.

        • May 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

          In the future after I get a few things out of the way, I was interested in writing about my favorite wrestlers that passed on. Now that the cat is out of the bag I might as well push that column up before someone elsewhere steals the idea and if they do you read it here first.

          • May 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm

            I’m currently doing a story on Mark Henry…I already got 1,000 words…so no one better steal my idea! I don’t even like Mark Henry that much but good old Sexual Chocolate hasn’t gotten much love since joining the WWE in 1996.

            • May 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

              Can’t wait to read that. That’s what I like about this site, no one has to confirm to shit and we can write about whatever the hell we want to. I don’t give a fuck if someone wants to write something praising The Brooklyn Brawler, it gives the site something different than all the rest and I love that.

              • May 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm

                Yeah the first half is pretty much done…I just got to do the booking part. I guess I’ll keep a surprise what the exact topic that I’m booking is but I will say a lot of the article will be focused on way people should feel more sorry for Mark Henry than Christian.

                • May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

                  *”why people should feel more sorry” not “way people should feel more sorry”.

                • May 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

                  I read somewhere that Mark Henry wished to hold the World Heavyweight Championship before he retired. Maybe he will have a Kane like run before he calls it quits.

  3. Ace O. Hart
    May 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t mean to be ‘that guy,’ but I’m a little confused as to why hornswoggle was left on this list. Kieran, normally I enjoy your articles, but I’m a little disappointed in you after this one.

    • May 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      The title won’t mean shit if Hornswoggle won, just look what happened to the Cruiserweight Championship, lol.

    • May 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      If you are gonna nitpick….he left out several other names too. Where’s Zack Ryder? Ted DiBiase?

      • May 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

        The Swagger Soaring Eagle deserves a shot too, lol.

        • Ace O. Hart
          May 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm

          If Michael Cole doesn’t get a world title shot sometime in the next 6 months, I’m done watching WWE.

          • May 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm

            Lmao, for real, he has been a focal point of Raw and he’s not even a unified champion but still manages to be on both shows.

  4. May 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I think Alberto Del Rio is the one most likely to be World Champion by the end of the year. Personally, I don’t think he’s that great. He’s good at times, but can also be boring at times. But maybe that’s becuase of his never ending feud with Rey Mysterio…or his boring feud with Edge. Until he has an entertaining feud for me in not convinced he’ll be a good champion.

    John Morrison and Wade Barrett are also top contenders. No one ever thought Miz would be champ, so don’t count those two guys out from being World Champ by the end of the year.

    But I guess Wade’s the only one who could be the 50th World Champ since Morrison and Del Rio are on Raw.

    And Drew Mcintyre….he will make a great champ someday. He needs way better booking though. He’s one of the youngest guys on the roster so he has plenty of time.

    • May 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      The WWE Championship counts as a world status championship. The 50 is a combination of WWE Champions and World Heavyweight Champions (WWE lineage) most on the WWE Championship side have also won the World Heavyweight Championship so out of the 20 that did only 9 haven’t won the WWE Championship. So yea Raw guys can go for a world status championship as this post pertains to both main championships.

  5. Anonymous
    May 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    All I have to say is: can they finally replace that damn spinner belt? It wasn’t all that clever when it was introduced, and it’s not gotten any better.

    • May 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      The spinner belt isn’t that bad. It’s actually very elegant when you hold it up close. Its not a traditional belt though and thats where the problem lies. People see it as more of a gimmick championship, the entertainment championship. WWE is no longer a traditional wrestling promotion so the awesome belt of the Attitude Era is no more. Too bad to because it was my favorite of all WWE championships, in design and in lineage.

  6. Capt. Smooth
    May 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    THE INFAMOUS JCITY™ :If Cena died that Raw would be EPIC and hopefully the IWC can show some respect instead of jumping for joy the way I think they would.

    I think so too, but I keep getting the idea that there would be a faint pop from a few Cena haters.

    • May 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      There will be a pop and until it happened and depending on my mood that day I cant honestly say what side of the coin I would be on.

  7. Anonymous
    May 11, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I like the attitude era belt the best of any of the WWE/F lineage belts, but I’ve always liked the “Big Gold Belt” the best, and I’m glad that the WWE kept it.

    • May 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      To be honest, I’m surprised WWE didn’t “Alundra Blaze” that championship.

  8. Capt. Smooth
    May 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    THE INFAMOUS JCITY™ :Lmao, for real, he has been a focal point of Raw and he’s not even a unified champion but still manages to be on both shows.

    WWE should get the pic of Cole’s face pressed against the Cole Mine, put it on a shirt and sell it.

  9. May 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I read somewhere that Mark Henry wished to hold the World Heavyweight Championship before he retired. Maybe he will have a Kane like run before he calls it quits.

    Really? I figured his lack of a push was because he had no interest in the title.

    • Capt. Smooth
      May 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      He has recently lost about 80 pounds and seems motivated in getting the title before he retires.

    • May 11, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      I forgot where I read it, but he thinks he deserves one run as the champion for all the years he has been in WWE and feels disappointed that his character hasn’t taken a step in that direction. If I remember correctly he looks to be retired in 2 to 3 years.

      • Capt. Smooth
        May 12, 2011 at 6:20 am

        I heard 18 months.

        • May 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

          Fine. Let him win the Rumble, main event wrestlemaina, then win the World Title. Then he can retire the next night on Raw.

  10. Max
    May 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Great read. I think if R-Truth got drafted to Smackdown he would have a better chance of being a champion soon. John Morrison will get there when he comes back. Since he would likely take it easy on his neck maybe he will come back with a more mat based style.

    • May 14, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      I think R-Truth was over enough as a face to have won some gold. I like John Morrison better as a heel. Some say his moves are better suited for a face wrestler, but so are Justin Gabriels moves and he’s been a heel since debuting as part of the Nexus. I think Justin Gabriel should win it from Wade when he eventually gets it in a few years (if ever).

  11. Capt. Smooth
    May 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    The plans for some house shows in July are RKO and Justin vs. Christian and Sheamus.

  12. May 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    do you know of any android app which will update me everytime you do a new post?

    • May 18, 2011 at 6:47 am

      No idea I’m afraid – I’m not too technologically minded, it’s all I can do to use a PC! Guess you’ll just have to bookmark the site – I post pretty regularly 🙂

    • May 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      You can subscribe to the site by clicking the RSS Feed button on the top right hand side. I optimized the site for mobile viewing and I will look into creating an app in the very near future.

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