One Belt to Rule Them All: Five WWE WHC Champions

As of May, 2023, the unveiling of the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship had polarized the wrestling fandom. Some loved it, seeing it harken back to the “Big Gold” belt from days passed, but some weren’t so kind to it. I see both sides. There’s a lot to admire in the effort and detail put into it, but there’s a big honkin’ blemish that really could’ve been toned down. It looks like when SpongeBob SquarePants took Mermaid Man’s belt and switched it to “Wumbo”. Only real ones will understand this reference.

Another more crucial criticism lobbed the way of the new WHC is that it feels like a participation trophy, or a “consolation prize”, a phrase that was so common for the first week, it almost became the new “Smackdown’s roster in 2008 was STACKED” meme.

While this criticism is absolutely valid, there are ways to make it feel like something special. One of the reasons this belt came along was because of Roman Reigns’s vice-like grip on the Universal and WWE Championships, right? He’s beaten most of the damn roster, and WWE is running out of viable contenders. Yet the demand sat for another main event belt on a separate brand, one that would see a champion defend their title more often and change up the scene. While Cody Rhodes winning could have seen him separating the titles, his story is apparently not over yet.

Speaking of Mr. Neck Tattoo, I’ve seen fan discussion of how the aforementioned “consolation prize” will be awarded to someone the likes of him or Drew McIntyre, or any man that has faced off in a title match against The Tribal Chief. These concerns are understandable and WWE is to blame. For as much praise as I give Triple H on creative, I think I’m fair in my qualms on some of his decisions, and my faith is a little shaky and we can’t always pin things on Vince. 

They’ve booked themselves into a corner and all that’s left to do is wait until we see if WWE shits the bed or can triumphantly walk into the living room, look their mother straight in the eye, and celebrate not pooping on their sheets and comforter with unbridled pride. 

This belt has to mean something. This belt has to have a holder that we can have some sort of connection to, be it hope, hype, or in one case, disgust.How do we get here, then? Well, here are some five options and my reasoning behind them.:

Seth Rollins

Credit: WWE

The Architect, the Mercenary, the Beast Slayer, the whatever nicknames he has. He’s been doing excellent work since his heel turn in late 2019/early 2020, but it didn’t really start rollins-ing until he became the “Drip God”, acting like The Joker from Batman. Flamboyant and silly while putting on excellent matches, he feels like a character. A cynical babyface since spawned from this, no matter what the booking has been thrown his way.

Why should he be the inaugural champion? Well, a multitude of reasons. The most important being is that he holds a rare victory over Roman Reigns – a disqualification at the 2022 Royal Rumble. I would know, I was there and I saw him up close. Another reason is the sheer connection and reaction he has to the fans. You’ve heard them sing along to his battle hymn as he conducts the WWE Universe in holy union. Against everything, he’s been one of the secret best workers, regardless of what he’s been given. He’s put over giants, unpopular talents, and outside celebrities. Such hard work must be rewarded because I know that frustration has to be setting in. If you’re handed a Seth Rollins, you make the best use of him and capitalize on him. He’s the second biggest babyface on the WWE roster, next to Cody. Capitalize on that.

Damian Priest

Credit: WWE

You could argue that WWE’s resident punisher would not be a good fit, because “wins and losses matter” and whatnot, and boy did Priest take a massive L at May’s Backlash, but what a big moment that will solidify his place in the company! His match with Bad Bunny that saw the Judgment Day member be so powerful that Bunny had to summon the LWO, Savio Vega, Carlito, and Raven’s shopping cart just to stop him. He was that dominant a force, even if Finn Balor and Dominik Mysterio didn’t leap to his aid. 

The Judgment Day could use this needle in the arm to tattoo their place in title lineage, and what better to this group of degenerates than a walking ode to Scott Hall? Damian has made the most of any time he’s allowed to bring his brand of violence to the ring. Tall, domineering, and brimming with machismo, the man could make the belt and the belt could make him as he rains judgment.

Shinsuke Nakamura 

Credit: WWE

Um…yeah. Okay. So, The King of Strong Style has crossed paths with Roman before. Whether it was that wondrous gauntlet match in early 2021 or the non-title match at Tribute to the Troops, but he hasn’t had an actual concrete chance at the title. He hasn’t fought Roman for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, and that is your “in”. 

At the time, Shinsuke seemed to be in the midst of finding himself. He turned face after the gauntlet and he was an over the top comedy act during the Troops match, which he is neither now. Following his victory over The Great Muta at 2023’s The New Year at Pro Wrestling NOAH, he shed that skin. He feels like he’s taking himself seriously, the legitimacy of a shoot fighter that will lull you into a false sense of security with his charisma and aura. All he needs now is for everyone to sing his song once more.


Credit: WWE

Newly a babyface, the Celtic Warrior Sheamus could make a great inaugural champion. However, this does feel like a bit of a compensation for him, following his grasping and failing to defeat Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship. I personally feel his story still lies with that gold and with his Brawling Brutes at last trouncing Imperium. So why did I pick Pasty McCaucasian?

For the simple fact that his defenses could be their own bit of fun. If Gunther is to surpass Honky Tonk Man’s IC record, Sheamus could find his own confidence as he stiffly topples anyone who dares to climb his mountain with his Beats of Bodhran and Celtic Crosses. Sheamus’s underutilization as a force needs to be capitalized on and he has held main event gold before – why not once more?

AJ Styles

Credit: WWE

So this one is one that fills me with hope, despite my wish to have seen him face off against Roman Reigns as the Tribal Chief. He wouldn’t win though, sad as it is, and I must accept it like we have to accept being partnered in science class with the kid we didn’t like that much. We do not have long left for AJ Styles in this industry. After decades of a memorable career both in and out of WWE, how phenomenal would it be to see his twilight glisten and sparkle with a championship?

On a main event level, when it is requested of him, Styles can deliver, and in some instances, over-deliver. He’s at that stage where he’s earned it. Fresh off of an injury, Styles does not have to worry about losses as he’s got a clean pallet to paint from. Talents like AJ come around rarely in our lifetimes, and time always runs short in this business. To have the title held by a legend on his way out as he puts over a younger wrestler could do wonders for AJ Styles’s legacy and the future of whoever fells him.

You could run the risks all day, but when wrestling takes risks, that’s when the learning process starts and it’s how greatness is made. But whatever the choice, it has to be the important one. The right one. The one where the room is read and the story is told with everyone perfectly in place. Just don’t give it to Cody. Have him finish the story, and give us something new with this Wumbo Championship. Personally, out of all of my personal picks, Seth is the one I’m rooting for most. 

The World Heavyweight Championship needs something to mean something. We need a little different, right this very minute. Listen to Avril Lavine and don’t make things so complicated.

That’s my list, told in my humble opinion. If yours is different, or if I gave an opinion that aligned with yours but I somehow told it the wrong way, well I’m sorry. Sorry that you’re wrong. You should perhaps stop having dumb opinions and agree with me, because my word is the end-all, be-all. Thus, it is better than yours and carries more weight. I’m right. Get over it.

Seacrest, out.