Roman Reigns now holds both the WWE Championship and Universal Championship titles, currently branded as the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. He’s still holding both belts, though.
Is that because WWE is waiting on a single title design to be finished? Could it be that the plan isn’t for the belts to stay unified for long, so he’ll just carry both titles until he drops one, similar to what Becky Lynch did to go from Becky Two Belts to just the Raw women’s champion?
This all remains to be seen, but with The Usos in line for a shot at unifying the Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Championships, it got me thinking: What if WWE went ahead and unified their titles across all the divisions?
That doesn’t mean one person holding all the titles in “belt-collector” mode. Rather, it would mean champions were all cross-branded.
In this three-part series, I’ll be breaking down the tag titles, women’s titles and midcard titles to discuss possible pros and cons of how this could play out. Since The Usos have made the tag titles the most imminent of these, we’ll start there.
One Title Belt = A New Design?
To make a statement that the belts were truly unified, WWE would need to eventually stop having The Usos carry two sets of titles. The visual is fine for a little while to accentuate how many belts The Bloodline has, but if the Raw and SmackDown titles aren’t defended separately, it serves no other purpose.
WWE would have to create a new pair of belts that didn’t have the red or blue straps. Since these current designs have been around for over a decade and most people have hated them from the time they looked like pennies until now, where they’re more like nickels or quarters, it’s more than time for a redesign.
Hopefully, not only would those new belts look better for the main plate, but it would incorporate the changeable side plates, too. These are the only titles in the company missing that functionality outside of the 24/7 Championship, which not only doesn’t stick around on any one person long enough to justify it, it’s also a title the company puts zero value in.
The Cross-branded Titles Approach
WWE would very much book this like the way the Women’s Tag Team Championship is, in that there would be traveling champions and their challengers could pop up on Raw and SmackDown, too.
This isn’t feasible for the long haul with Roman Reigns. FOX and USA will both Fox and USA will both want “the world champion” on their programming, and The Tribal Chief can’t do both shows each week. Not only would that be burnout for him on the road, it would also be creative burnout on the company that finds it too hard to do anything but copy and paste rematches 90% of the time as it is. So far, all we’ve had is Reigns saying “Watch SmackDown” and then, on SmackDown, “I want The Usos to win the tag titles.” Do you really want that every week?
It’s much easier with the tag team division. A singles match can be booked where only one person travels. Sometimes, they just won’t be on the card, and the networks won’t really notice, as it’s “just the tag team titles” and not the biggest draw of the roster.
Likewise, we’ve seen that WWE LOVES to utilize tag team titles for bringing big stars over to the opposite brand. They milked Sasha Banks and Bayley on Raw and SmackDown as much as possible in 2020, for example. You don’t think they’d consider it a bonus to have a team like RK-Bro able to pop up on SmackDown one week as a “special treat” to try to boost ratings?
That brings up something about the quality of the roster and the division itself, though…
Less is More, but Less is Also Less
In the best case scenario, WWE is able to have one tag team title that is more prestigious because only one team can hold them. Everyone is fighting for the same prize, so whoever holds the gold is truly the top team.
It would also promote variety. The Usos could feud with The Street Profits, who have been off-limits since they’re on the opposite brand. That way, Jimmy and Jey aren’t just fighting The Viking Raiders for 10 weeks in a row.
However, WWE does not care about the tag team division. We know this from how history has played out. Especially in this era, most tag teams only last a few months at most before WWE nixes them. Singles stars are put together for the sole purpose of breaking up. 90% of the time, they aren’t even given a tag team name, as WWE just wants you to focus on the two singles Superstars, rather than them as a unit. There’s a concerted effort to have “Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley” rather than “Super Brutality” outside of the rare instances of RK-Bro, Alpha Academy and so on.
What WWE should do in this scenario would be to keep a roster of at least 15 tag teams in rotation. Sadly, what will likely happen is that WWE will think “We don’t need all these tag teams if we only have one belt” and trim that down to about 10 at most.
Just look at the women’s division for an example. There wasn’t a single tag team to fight Carmella and Queen Zelina Vega at WrestleMania until a few weeks prior to the show. WWE simply put some new pairings together and said “good enough.” By and large, that was a success, showing them that’s all they need to do. If it fails? So what? It’s just the tag team division.
Should This Happen?
For my tastes, I like having two sets of titles if there are enough teams to fight for them. If WWE is already looking at these belts with the idea of unifying them, though, it’s probably best to just cut to the inevitable chase. However, when that happens, I’ll be wondering how long it will take until the brand split ends and we’re back to seeing just the same handful of Superstars on each show every week while other wrestlers get cut from the roster.
It seems The Usos will beat RK-Bro. I can’t imagine this is being set up just for Jimmy and Jey to fail. Whether we come around to Survivor Series and there’s no set of “champion vs. champion” matches because the brand warfare doesn’t exist anymore will be interesting.