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Dome Pondering Export - "What Does it Mean to be "Champion of Television"

Yours truly once again took his talents elsewhere and had his work published on the TNA Wrestling-focused blog, TNAsylum. I've become an avid follower of the blog and a guest columnist under the name of "Mortimer Plumtree", which happens to be the name of one of my favorite managers from the company's earlier days. Nonetheless, the latest export takes a look at the situation regarding TNA's World Television Championship. If your a pro wrestling fan, it's an interesting read.

You can read the column here on TNAsylum, or the entire text below.


What does it mean to be the "champion of television"?
By Mortimer Plumtree

Honestly, I ask you, fellow wrestling fan and devout TNA enthusiast, what does being heralded as the grand puba of a television broadcast mean. Essentially, what does the TNA Television Championship represent?

For weeks the comments on this site have varied from many of you on what should be done with the TNA World Television Championship. There have been various responses from having it be defended every week (as once declared), to being used as a mid-card title, to the easy fix of replacing the red belt with a new design, to some simply just claiming, "put the strap on Magnus". Heck, there are some who believe it's best if it were tossed in a trash can much like Scott Hall did the WCW Television Title at one time. All viable claims on the surface to be honest with you, but if TNA were to keep the championship, there still seems an underlying issue that will constantly arise when it comes to the step-child championship of TNA, and that is it's identity.

Once again, what is the Television Championship? What has it been? What should it be?

Quite frankly, as a fan of TNA since day one, I honestly cannot answer that question, and I'm willing to wager that you can't as well. Even when the X-Division didn't have much tangible structure to it the way it does now, there was still a distinct quality to the championship. What it meant, and it's overall purpose was never in doubt, and could be explained to a non-fan or casual fan. And of course, there are no needs to explain the others championships (World, Tag Team, Knockouts), which are very self-explanatory.

Take a look at the TNA Television Title History:

*Introduced as the "Legends Title" by Booker T as a unsanctioned title - A huge no-no among TNA fans with the WWE Hall of Famer starting the lineage in a not-so prestigious way. And then of course, the lackluster cycling of it between Kevin Nash and Mick Foley.

*Changed to the "Global Title" - Eric Young's reign and the championship rename felt more like an addition to help get over the idea of World Elite rather than the idea of holding a major championship. Soon thereafter, a tremendously green Rob Terry won the championship which surely didn't help the situation.

*Changed to the Television Championship - So alright, a name that is a bit more conventional, espsecially when christened by the Face of TNA, AJ Styles. Something we all can get behind, right? The program between AJ Styles and Douglas Williams seemed like a foundation being placed for the future for the championship which started to mirror what Chris Benoit (Am I allowed to mention that name on this website?) and Booker T did for WCW's Television Championship during the 90's. Then of course, that program was derailed due to injury, never to be heard from or followed up on again. Shame too, Douglas was really coming around in that program.

*Hogan Declares TV Championship Defended Every Week - Another change, and yet, another false start for a championship that gained a bit of momentum behind Devon's first run with the wheels beginning to spin when Samoa held the strap. Unfortunately, Devon (Shouldn't it be D-Von?) regained the championship in what felt like a way to justify the Ace's and Eight's program. Another change, and another stop to some - any - momentum the championship had.

*Inactivity - And here we are with a championship that looks ragged, worn, and like it's been through a lot physically, yet has done nothing and has absolutely zero identity.

If a championship is seen, yet no one knows what it means, does it really exist? I can only imagine if you've started watching Impact Wrestling over the last two months, you must be highly confused on what "that red belt" represents. Don't feel left out, neither do any of us.

So what does it mean? Heck, what SHOULD it mean?

Before moving forward or taking any quick-fix approaches, TNA should push the reset button on the championship, and define the purpose of the television championship. With that said, here are three options that in which TNA could go with the identity of what the Television Championship confines allows:

1. Hogan and Bischoff Original Vision

Identity: Television Championship is Defended Every week.

Special Rules/Customs: 10 (or 15) Minute Time Limit (as standard by old-school television championship rules).

Positives:

-Opportunity to set standard for quality match every week making the TV Championship it's own segment.

-Chance to offer secondary title without making it feel "mid-card-ish". Former World Champions can win TV Championship without making it feel like a step down.

-Provides opportunity for new feuds and direction for many "wondering" characters.

Negatives:

-Title Matches seem forced and monotonousness

-Doesn't allow for Championship and it's matches to breathe through storylines.

-Could overexpose the importance of championship matches to the audience.


2. Development Stepping-Stone

Identity: Television Championship is only defended on Second Show (Xplosion, Web Based Show, or future expansion programming)

Special Rules/Customs: Championship becomes synonymous with developmental or newly signed wrestlers/characters with promise.

Positives:

-Gives the championship it's own show where it is the main focus for those new to the roster or those not being used on the flagship show.

-Allows for champions to become known and synonymous with audience before moving up the ladder while creating a buffer from OVW to TNA.

-Championships become a premium asset with so few on the main roster.

Negative:

-Could negate the importance of OVW Titles.

-Could create a sense of "never making it" for wrestlers who either move back to secondary programming, or never leaves programming (e.g. Think D-Lo Brown and the European Title).

-Because of ties to secondary programming, may not effectively give largest audience to champion to allow for overall development and growth.


3. Mid-Card Title Championship for TNA

Identity: Becomes the secondary Title for TNA

Special Rules/Quirks: None. Seen as secondary to World Championship similar to Intercontinental Championship and United States Championships were/are.

Positives:

-Gives those away from the World Championship hunt some direction and purpose.

-Allows for future World Champions to have a gradual hurdle and progression which could effectively set them up in the coming months or years.

-Gives creative another option to develop championship storylines, including important feuds.

Negative:

-Alienates X-Division fans who at one time saw X-Division Championship on same par with World Championship

-Adds another championship into mix with only two hours of programming per week.

-Would probably take quite a few months to establish prestige after recent championship history.

All in all, I personally favor option #2 as it gives the championship a distinct purpose and a division onto itself, much like their others do, which is something very unique in all of professional wrestling. Nonetheless, all three options give the Television Championship guidance and direction. A reason for being, and a reason and purpose to us, the audience, in why it exists.

Rationally looking at the situation, maybe the inactivity of the championship is time needed in which creative is brainstorming a direction for the strap. A direction it has never had since it's inception. As the spoilers indicate, it seems there are immediate plans for TNA's World Television Championship. And judging by the way the X-Division has been revamped with concepts which have slowly grown on me, the evidence is there that it can be done.

However, unlike the X-Division Championship focus which was about evolution and refining a division, the Television Championship is about foundation and defining a championship. It's a foundation TNA needs to set for all of us fans before it moves forward. It's time to make the Television Championship more than just a red belt. More than just a traditional and historical name for championship. It's time to give the Television Championship an identity. What do you think that identity should be?

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