As the WWE Universe prepares for the 2023 Draft, where Roman Reigns' fate will be decided, and the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship will find its brand home, fans, pundits, and wrestlers alike have discussed the forthcoming brand split and how the company has handled the effective desolation of the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, even if Triple H isn't technically calling it that.
Is splitting up the belts without Reigns doing the j-o-b a cheap way out of the biggest storyline in WWE over the past year? Or is the decision to christen a new strap simply a benefit to the fans watching at home and in arenas around the world, as they'll get to see world champions in the ring far more often? In the opinion of Matt Hardy, who has recently reunited with his brother Jeff in AEW as The Hardys, Triple H's announcement firmly falls into the latter category, as the pros outweigh the cons.
“First and foremost, I’ll talk about the actual physical structure of the title and how it looks. I’m okay with it. I know there were a lot of people right from the jump that came out and said they didn’t like it, but I’m okay with the design,” Hardy said via Fightful. “It’s a combination of the big WWE symbol and a big gold belt, and I’m okay with it. I think it’ll grow on me as time goes on.
“As far as the idea of having another champion on another brand, I’m good with that, too. I like that. I feel like it was very powerful for Roman Reigns, holding both of the titles and being the Undisputed Champion. But I feel like if you’re gonna have two different brands, and they’re going to be hard splits, I feel like it’s important to have the champion on both brands. That way, whenever you have live events, you get to see the World Heavyweight Title defended, and that’s a very important thing, I think. I think that’s also something that sells tickets. So I am totally good with having two different brands, having somewhat of a hard split, and having a world champion on both brands. I think that’s a good thing.”
Historically, WWE has waxed and waned when it comes to the rigidity of their brand splits, with the division virtually non-existent when it comes to The Bloodline over the last year plus. If WWE wants to close the proverbial “forbidden door” between the two brands, save for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships, which are roaming by design, and the WWE Tag Team Championships, which will both be held by either Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens or The Usos at the end of SmackDown, giving both brands their own top title and undercard title is the right way to do it.
Matt Hardy believes the title lets WWE have its cake and eat it too.
One of the questions many fans have asked about the new WWE World Championship is whether or not the newly christened title is simply a “bronze medal” for whoever secures the strap at Night of Champions, as they didn't have to defeat Roman Reigns to get the strap. Hardy was asked about this question too, and, in a very interesting take, actually believes the opposite, suggesting that WWE gets to push a new star and will still earn an opportunity to make a new star when Reigns' run is done too.
“I think it’s a positive to have champions on each brand, especially definitive World Heavyweight Champions,” Hardy added. “As far as Roman not dropping one, it would be tricky because now that he’s the undisputed champion, every time he wrestles, the Undisputed Title is what’s on the line. Am I correct in saying that? So I think this draft is a clever way to make this happen. Still, the biggest star is going to be made and someone’s going to get the biggest rub whenever they defeat Roman for his title. Because it will still carry on that legacy of being the Undisputed Championship. So that is still where your money’s at, and you make a guy by beating Roman. Because when Roman Reigns’ reign ends, whoever gets it is going to get a huge, huge run. It’s going to be a big deal for that person. I think whoever ends up on the other brand, winning the new world heavyweight title, I think it’s gonna be a big deal for them. But it’s gonna be nowhere near as monumental as whoever defeats Roman.”
Is Hardy's assertion correct? Kind of; if the World Heavyweight Championship goes to a Superstar who can provide legitimacy to the strap and provide fans with thrilling matches and incredible efforts, the decision will look downright prophetic, a perfect way for WWE to have its cake and eat it too. But if, however, the run falls flat, fans will forever see it as yet another concession to Reigns, who gets to pretty much do whatever he wants without consequence. Keep an eye on this one, folks, as it will go a long way in defining Triple H's vision of WWE.