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Over the last few years, the World Heavyweight Championship has fallen from its once lofty heights as arguably the most important title in professional wrestling, into more of a mid-card title, a title for wrestlers who were popular, but not necessarily ready to be the top dog in the WWE. With John Cena reclaiming the WHC, things started looking up for the title, as it was now being carried by a wrestler that everyone knew the WWE would get behind.
In a shocking twist, after holding the WHC for a few weeks, Cena said that he was sick of being just the WHC, and he wanted to become the WWE Champion. Clearly, holding a title that has roots all the way back to Orville Brown in 1948 was not important enough for John Cena, so he decided to challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, which Triple H obliged and created a title unification match at Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
The unification of the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship has been idea that has been floating around for over a decade, ever since Triple H was awarded the WHC on Raw back in 2002. Now, with the WHC becoming less and less significant, and the exclusivity of the brand extension destroyed, it makes more sense than ever to unify the two titles and to have one world champion in the WWE.
The big obstacle for title unification has always been the WWE's touring schedule. Due to the WWE's large roster and its near monopoly in the wrestling industry, the WWE has been able to run two different tours of live shows simultaneously. Because they have two world titles, they can promote both tours as having a "World Title Match" on their card. With only one person as the world champion, they can no longer use that marketing strategy, and without a world title to promote, it is likely that the two-tour system is going to be dropped.
Whatever gains the WWE gets in having one champion to rule them all, increased PPV buys for the unification matches, better ratings for Raw or whatnot, they will mostly likely lose in the second tour being shut down, or greatly reduced. It may not seem like a lot going by the WWE's standards, but drawing 4,000 people to a live show in Omaha is a big piece of the WWE's business and without it, they could take some really big steps backwards.
The biggest issue with the titles being unified is not financially, but the fact that the WWE is really handicapping themselves by unifying the titles. The beauty of having two world titles is that you can use two programs to showcase different talents. For instance, on Smackdown you could have John Cena defend the WHC against The Shield, with Roman Reigns representing The Shield, and Ambrose and Rollins scheming to get their man the world title. On Raw, you could do something with Punk or Bryan, or even a returning Mark Henry, working with Randy Orton as the WWE Champion. Instead, we have Cena and Orton working with each other for the 3,000th time, and everyone else has to fend for themselves in feuds without the benefit of working with a world title to help stimulate the storyline.
The WWE feels that the WHC has drifted so far into anonymity that it would be easier to just have one, undisputed world champion as opposed to two. But I believe that it is possible to get the WHC back to its past glory, if only the WWE actually tried to put some effort into booking the title out of obscurity and into the spotlight.
It was not that long ago that the WHC was on even ground with the WWE Championship. At Summerslam 2009, it was not the WWE Championship, but the WHC that main-evented the show. Randy Orton and John Cena were matched up for the WWE Championship, but it was Jeff Hardy defending the WHC against CM Punk in a TLC match that closed the show. How was this possible? Because the WWE built a program around two popular wrestlers, gave them plenty of time on their own show, and that made the WHC seem extremely important.
Instead of doing stuff like that, the WWE has made the WHC seem like a second-rate title. They open most PPVs with the WHC match; give it far less time than the WWE Championship and put in noticeably less effort creatively. They also have remained stagnant in making decisions that could greatly increase the interest in the WHC. They could have had a good run with Dolph Ziggler as champion, but they dumped the title back on ADR. They could have had RVD as champion, but they let him go off on his little pot vacation instead. They could have used Cena as champion to let him work with some younger talent, but instead they rushed a quick and unenthusiastic feud with Del Rio before pushing him into working with Orton again. The WHC has become irrelevant because the WWE has made it that way, which means that they could conceivably make it relevant again if they just put a little bit of effort into it.
From a business standpoint, it is unquestionably better to have two major world titles. In case the WWE has forgotten, they did much better business when they had two major world titles being viewed as equals during the 2000s then they have with one title being vastly superior to the other during the 2010s. If the WWE was serious about reforming the WHC, they would stay far away from unification and they would actually maybe put some effort into booking the WHC instead of making it look like a second-rate World Championship.