Should Legends Have to Earn Title Shots?

Michael Patterson
brock lesnar

Photo Credit: Getty Images

At WrestleMania 33, the WWE Universal Championship will be on the line when champion Goldberg defends his title against Brock Lesnar. The fact that a championship match between two part-timers — none of whom won the Royal Rumble — is going to headline WWE’s premier show has resulted in a lot of angry fans. But it also raises major questions about legacy, status and championship matches. Among those questions, we find ourselves wondering if returning legends or part-time stars should have to earn their championship match like everyone else, or should their legacy qualify them for such a task?

Should Legends Have To Earn Title Shots?

We all love a good comeback. It’s just in our nature to cheer for a returning superstar, hoping they succeed when the odds are stacked against them. Icons from a former era who step back into the spotlight for one more chance to shine.

But lately, it seems like WWE have grown too fond of these kinds of superstars. All you have to do is look at their current Universal Champion — Goldberg. The legendary superstar was a WCW headliner, known for his dreaded spear and jackhammer. However, his recent return to WWE has angered a lot of the Universe. After squashing Brock Lesnar in a matter of minutes, he culminated his successful return story by winning the WWE Universal Championship from talented young star Kevin Owens in just 22 seconds.

While the match and its outcomes was frustrating, in many people’s eyes Goldberg didn’t even deserve the title shot to begin with. After one previous victory since his return — in a match that ran under 2 minutes — Goldberg walked straight into a title match with Owens. And when there are countless talented superstars working endlessly — on screen and behind the scenes — Goldberg’s Universal Championship match seems unfair, especially when he’s going to defend it against Lesnar at WrestleMania — who also didn’t earn a title shot. Thus, despite his legacy we are left wondering if Goldberg should have had to qualify for a Championship match like everyone else.

Legacy Should Speak For Itself

On the other hand, if you have worked incredibly hard for the business you love for over two decades, some would suggest that puts you on a different level than everyone else. And in that sense, they’re absolutely right. While most of today’s amazing athletes still need to earn their shot at the prize, returning legends have earned their spots many times over during their own lengthy careers. So they wouldn’t need to prove themselves one more time when they have already done it countless times before.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t feasibly see an authority figure tell someone like the Undertaker that he would have to earn his title shot — should he ever want to compete for the Championship again. Surely his three decades of legendary battles, incredible achievements and company loyalty should speak for itself.

Furthermore, if it’s for the part-timer’s final run, I could definitely understand why they would be awarded a title shot. It would be the ultimate award to a star who helped carry the torch for professional wrestling in a bygone era.

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It Depends On The Legend

It’s definitely an interesting argument which I suppose really depends on the legend in question and their status with the company. For instance, if Kane was offered a title shot out of the blue, there would be much less animosity. And the reason for that is because Kane still competes full-time. Moreover, he usually ends up putting on a solid match before allowing the heroic champion to overcome him. When it comes to part-timers like Goldberg and Brock Lesnar this isn’t the case. All you have to do is look at the latter’s match with Owens for evidence.

This is definitely something that has been plaguing the WWE recently, especially due to the fact that Goldberg isn’t competing full time. Much like when Brock Lesnar won the gold back in 2014, fans don’t like to see part-timers competing for championships because if they should win the title, they end up carrying it off into obscurity during their lengthy time away from the company.

While the thought of Goldberg defending his championship against Brock Lesnar — in what is likely going to be another short battle — doesn’t seem very fair, I can understand that this might be Goldberg’s final run as an active competitor and he deserves the reward of a championship reign. But on the other hand it’s also understandable why much of the WWE Universe is unhappy with the fact that Goldberg walked straight into a title match without having to qualify — especially when he squashed Kevin Owens in a matter of seconds.

While WWE will never truly please everyone, they could have had Owens put on more of an impressive outing during the match to get a good match out of the legend. Had Goldberg been able to hang with the young star— rather than squash him — fans probably would have responded a lot kinder to his eventual title win. But then again, maybe they wouldn’t have.

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