Creative Direction: The TV Title

In the latest instalment of ROHWorld.com’s ‘Creative Direction’ series, Dave Wood addresses the criticism of the World Television Championship.

Over the course of it’s 18-month history, the ROH Television Title has been much maligned. It’s usage has been frequently questioned, by fans and critics alike. In truth, the belt has never had the strong identity that previous midcard championship, the Pure Title, had.

Although some fantastic matches have been contested over the blue and red strap, there have, seemingly, been no special rules and regulations, no fixed time limits, and so on, associated with it. Nor has a distinctive division, in the vein of the tag team ranks, sprung up around the belt. TV Title opportunities have, apparently, been handed out willy nilly, with no clear hierarchy ever being established. Throwaway defenses; against random enhancement talent like Daivari, Petey Williams and Devon Storm; have devalued a title that, originally, showed a lot of promise.

ROH has also, in this writer’s opinion, made the mistake of holding title defenses on DVD and iPPV shows. This has only served to water-down the purpose of the belt, whilst increasing the number of continuity gaffes, between the HDNet show and the rest of ROH’s portfolio.

With SBG now taking the place of HDNet, in this writer’s opinion, the TV title needs to be re-established as the centrepiece of ROH TV.

It seems clear to me that everything should pivot around the belt and that the Champion (El Generico) must become the face of TV. He should be featured strongly, in matches that can get his personality over, with the more casual ROH fans. Doing things this way could, effectively, springboard Generico (and future TV champs) into a position where they could, one day, comfortably hold the ROH World Championship.

If given the power, I would immediately go about creating that, aforementioned, “strong identity” for the TV title.

I’d sell the championship as though it were sanctioned and overseen by SBG – “prize purses paid for by the broadcaster” and so forth. I thought it was a nice touch, when, along similar lines, the Pick 6 was “Sponsored by HDNet in association with Pro Wrestling Illustrated”. That lent an extra bit of credibility to the Contenders Series.

Expanding upon this concept, I’d try to present the TV belt much like a lesser federation’s World Title, in boxing. It would be a World Title that’s entirely decided based upon wrestlers’ performances on televised events but a World Title, nonetheless.

I’d also enforce a strict, short time limit of 10 or 15 minutes, for all TV title matches.

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Traditionally, in other promotions, midcard titles have been known as workrate belts. A lot of the more critically-acclaimed matches, throughout wrestling history, were contested over midcard championships. Putting smaller, more athletic wrestlers into matches for the midcard belts is something that has always been done, in a deliberate attempt to differentiate those belts from the popular entertainment razzamatazz that, typically, surrounds World Heavyweight Championships.

I think that ROH should go about things in the opposite way.

ROH’s bread and butter is the high-workrate, hard-hitting style more associated with the Intercontinental and Television championships of years gone by. Therefore ROH’s TV title could and should be presented as more of a Sports Entertainment belt.

With many newer and more casual fans likely to have access to the TV show, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, it’s inevitable that ROH will need to, to at least some extent, present them with a product that they are somewhat familiar with.

Without straying too close to the fast food wrestling of the WWE, ROH could produce short, snappy TV matches featuring the more gimmicky personalities on their roster. Talents like Colt Cabana, El Generico, Mike Bennett and The Embassy – with Truth Martini also getting a decent amount of facetime, by association with his charges.

It would also make sense to feature a lot of the names that have international TV exposure from their time spent elsewhere. These names include Cabana (again), Steve Corino and Rhino, as well as Jay Lethal and those of his fellow TNA alumi that are still around or are likely to come into ROH, in the near future.

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It’s crucial to tell the audience that the strict time limit and slightly different ruleset happens to play into the hands of precisely the kind of wrestlers that are fighting over this belt.

You could, perhaps, sell the belt as being more suited to explosive wrestlers like, the aforementioned, Rhino and House of Truth member Michael Elgin, as well as balls-to-the-wall, high-risk merchants, like El Generico.

By doing this you would avoid giving off the impression that this is just a belt for people who aren’t good enough to hold the other belts.

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Putting these ideas into practice would vastly improve the situation surrounding the World Television Championship, in this writer’s opinion.

A consistently-booked championship, with a clear identity, a demonstrable purpose and a visibly competitive division build around it, all add up to the illusion of credibility.

I’d imagine that the new corporate ownership would have no problem with ROH modifying the midcard in such a way.

What are your thoughts on the TV title’s usage, so far?

How would you book it, going forward?

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Dave Wood

Dave is a former member of the ROHWorld team who wrote feature articles on a semi-regular basis.