There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Titles

12/29/2023 6:42 PM

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There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Titles

There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Titles

December 29, 2023 6:42 PM
There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Titles
Wrestling News

The More the Merrier?

It’s time to clear up a common misconception about wrestling titles, so let’s get to the point—there’s no such thing as too many titles in professional wrestling. When it comes to wrestling titles, it’s not a question of having too few or too many, it’s all about how they’re booked. While this might seem like a no-brainer, some fans seem to forget that championships are a storytelling tool in wrestling. In the hands of a skilled storyteller, they make for entertaining television. In the hands of a hack, they’re meaningless.

A Common Complaint

The question of wrestling titles usually comes down to two categories. Fans either lament the lack of enough titles in a promotion (a discussion that usually involves the WWE) or a proliferation of titles (a discussion that usually involves AEW). However, as we’ll see, promotions smaller than the WWE and AEW have incorporated a wealth of titles into their storylines without the titles losing value and, in many cases, helping to enhance the quality of their product.

1. Build angles

Wrestling is still about putting butts in seats. Whether this is ticket sales at an arena or fans watching at home, promoters craft compelling storylines to entice fans to tune in. One storyline tool is a title. Wrestling titles can be used for many different storylines. The most common is the quest to win a title. However, there are also nuances that can add to a story such as two wrestlers competing for the same title. Will their quest for gold lead to animosity between them? Another is to have a wrestler win a title by underhanded methods, leading to the previous champion chasing for the belt. For some promoters, the chase is viewed as more important than the title win.

2. Establish a pecking order

Wrestling titles can also let fans know who the top stars are in a promotion. Unless you’re booking your promotion to lose money, chances are your world champions are main eventers. Sure, a promotion can elevate someone outside the main event with a world championship win (which the WWE has occasionally done with its Money in the Bank briefcase), fans expect the world champion to be a promotion’s crème de la crème.

However, wrestling promoters have effectively utilized secondary titles to establish a wrestler’s credentials, often utilizing them as a stepping stone to the world championship. The Intercontinental Championship is a classic example as it provided fans with a chance to see a title match featuring some of the WWF’s best workers (hence its reputation as “a workhorse title”).

Wrestling titles can even be used to help develop mid-card talent. As we’ll see, wrestling history is full of examples of titles for mid-card wrestlers that gave them added storytelling opportunities and also gave fans the thrill of a title match.

3. Reward wrestlers

In some cases, promoters give wrestlers a run with a championship as a reward for years of loyalty. Sometimes, a promoter will offer a wrestler a title because they think it will please a wrestler and/or motivate them to stick around. In other cases, a promoter may award a title to a wrestler to spite another wrestler, such as when a wrestler breaks a wrestler’s previous record for titles. Some historians have accused the National Wrestling Alliance of doing this with Harley Race when it had Race surpass Lou Thesz’s previous record for holding the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Championships Booked Effectively

Promoters capitalized on multiple titles during the territory days. While the business model was different in that promoters derived the majority of their income from house shows, they used titles to build interest in live events and to enhance their TV (which for many promotions was the equivalent of a one-hour long commercial).

Jim Crockett Promotions (aka Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling) had multiple titles including singles and tag team titles. The NWA World Heavyweight Championship was not defended there on a regular basis because JCP was just one of dozens of NWA territories. Consequently, JCP booked belts to keep fans invested, even when the champion wasn’t on tour in their region. The promotion utilized the following titles:

The United States Championship: This was the top prize in JCP and was typically booked as giving the titleholder the status as the number one contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

The Mid-Atlantic Television Championship: This belt stood out because it was created as a championship to be defended on TV, usually with the provision that the belt was only on the line for 15 minutes. This inevitably led to matches at live events where challengers might get additional time to win the title.

The Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship: This title often seemed like a stepping stone for younger wrestlers but the reality was that JCP often booked upper-card or main event stars in programs involving the championship.

JCP also had two tag team titles. Ironically, JCP focused on tag team wrestling for decades until the death of promoter Jim Crockett Sr. However, tag team wrestling continued to be an important part of the promotion, giving more opportunities for wrestlers to compete in high-profile programs.

NWA World Tag Team Championship: Although the NWA only had one world heavyweight championship, it sanctioned several world tag team championships in its territories, with JCP being one such territory. This title made for many exciting programs and JCP wasn’t afraid to book heel vs heel matches in addition to traditional babyface vs babyface teams. It also booked top stars in the tag ranks to ensure fans knew these weren’t throwaway titles.

Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship: These secondary tag titles effectively added another title for the territory’s many teams to chase after.

NWA Brass Knuckles Championship: The JCP version of this title was a championship that was only used to book stipulation matches such as taped fist matches. What usually happened would be that a wrestler would come into the territory and be recognized as the Brass Knuckles Champion. This inevitably led to hardcore-style matches for the title and the title was often out of commission for months at a time. Nevertheless, it served its purpose as a vehicle for hardcore matches.

JCP Doubles Down on Its Titles

While JCP’s titles might seem like too much, the promotion added several more titles after Georgia Championship Wrestling folded, bringing in the National Heavyweight Championship, the National Tag Team Championship, and the National Television Championship. JCP also brought in its version of the NWA Six-Man World Tag Team Championship. Over time, some of these titles were scrapped or merged with existing singles titles but through it all, Jim Crockett Promotions maintained the high standards it had always used with booking its belts.

What Makes Titles Effective

Jim Crockett Promotions is just one example of the many promotions that effectively utilized multiple titles. Promotions such as Memphis’ Continental Wrestling Association, World Class Championship Wrestling, and Championship Wrestling from Florida all had multiple titles and used them successfully.

What makes titles stand out? We’ve seen their uses. Let’s look at how they’re used properly.

1. Titles Are Booked as Prestigious: A title is booked as something prestigious whether it’s a secondary title or the top prize. It’s essential that wrestlers and announcers talk up the value of being a champion. This includes fame, money, and opportunity. Unless a wrestler is a world champion, there’s always room for upward mobility.

2. Titles Are Defended Regularly: Titles should be defended regularly. The rule of belts having to be defended every 30 days was always a good way to remind fans that champions couldn’t dodge opponents forever. Likewise, babyface champions enhanced their image as honorable athletes with frequent defenses.

3. Title Shots Are Earned: Wrestlers competing for a title need to be shown earning their title match. There are different ways to accomplish this. One is to have a wrestler beat the champion in a non-title match. Another is a ranking system that lists which wrestlers are in line for a championship match. This can enhance non-title matches by showing wrestlers fighting to jump up a promotion’s ladder. Finally, there are methods such as tournaments, gauntlet matches, or one-on-one matches between two top contenders.

4. Titles Change Hands: This may seem odd, but it’s also important that titles change hands where fans never know when to expect it. Certain top titles, such as a world championship, are an exception as a promotion should clarify that winning a world title is not easy. At the same time, champions shouldn’t defend the belt infrequently or a lengthy reign is meaningless (you know who WrestleLamia is referring to). Promotions should have titles change hands at house shows to show fans that they’re more than the wrestling equivalent of a pre-season sporting event.

Championship belts can be props or they can be effective storytelling tools

Has the Business Changed Too Much to Have So Many Titles?

Some fans may feel that the business has changed too much to keep a multitude of championships around. However, this makes no sense, especially given the hours of content that promotions have to fill. Jim Crockett Promotions (up until its final years) only had two to three hours of programming, far less than the WWE and AEW have. They also did the bulk of their business through house shows where titles were often defended.


AEW seems to have a good balance with its titles and for the most part, the titles are booked well. The world title is treated as a prestige title that isn’t defended on television every week, making it more of a draw when it is. However, AEW’s other titles are frequently defended and help elevate the wrestlers defending them and the wrestlers challenging for them. AEW’s biggest problem with its titles is that some of its titles have uneven challengers, primarily with its Trios Championship and its International Championship.


Triple H has done an amazing job restoring prestige to the WWE’s secondary titles,The Intercontinental Championship and the United States Championship. The addition of RAW’s World Heavyweight Championship has also given fans a top title they can see defended on TV, at live events, and on PLEs. The women’s division has improved of late as the Women’s Tag Team Championship finally seems to be a priority in terms of booking. As for the WWE’s women’s singles titles, there’s little to complain about besides the lack of top challengers for Rhea Ripley on RAW.

The exception to this is the Undisputed Tag Team Championship and the Undisputed WWE Championship. So much has been said about how the WWE’s mishandling of Roman Reigns’ run as champion. The bottom line is that the WWE has followed none of the traditional ways of utilizing a championship regarding Reigns’ title (at least not for the last two years). While the Undisputed Tag Team Championship situation isn’t as bad, the WWE’s failure to have the titles defended on a regular basis (particularly on both RAW and SmackDown) has damaged the titles and the tag team division.

Despite these shortcomings, the WWE has improved its title picture and fans have a better appreciation for the promotion’s different championships. While the addition of a secondary women’s title has been discussed, the WWE would do better to fix the problems with the undisputed championships and to improve the women’s undercard before introducing a new title.

If a promotion follows these rules, championships can enhance weekly TV, live events, and PLEs/PPVs. Fans will have another reason to tune in or attend a show. Promoters can also elevate wrestlers by putting belts around their waist and showing how they’ve improved over time. As we’ve seen, multiple titles aren’t a problem, it’s how they’re used. A promotion can have less than a handful of titles and fail to make them special if they’re not booked properly. It’s something that is elementary booking but as fans have seen in the past, booking titles properly and consistently can be problematic for wrestling promoters who struggle with the fundamentals.

Do you think promotions should limit the number of titles it has? 

Photo Credit: WWE