The Professional 3 10.20.13: Gimmicky Championships and Stipulations
Posted by Jon Harder on 10.20.2013
411’s Jon Harder looks at his favorite gimmick titles in wrestling, and the special stipulations that went along with them…
WELCOME EVERYONE to another edition of the Professional 3 on 411mania.com! I'm Jon Harder and yet another exciting week in the world of pro wrestling. The WWE title vacancy is still the topic of discussion in the WWE Universe and the internet as well. Most of all, titles in general have been rattling around my brain and as per usual, I have been trying to think of different ways to talk about them in some sort of fashion. Thankfully, within this week's P3, I can.
Before we go any further, check out this week's Hardway Podcast on TheJonHarder.com with Dan Murdoch, ACE Diamond Division champion. We sit down and talk about a multitude of topics, including his web-series Darkest Days, ACE, and so much more. You can find him on Twitter at @DMurdoch.
Also, on 411 yesterday, I was a part of the TNA Bound For Glory prediction column among the other 411 writers, which you can find here. I'm not too outlandish here, because that's what the P3 is for. I just state facts and truth, in my own humble way.
Finally, you can find me on Twitter at @TheJonHarder. I like feedback, long walks on the beach, getting angry about Carlos Beltran, and posts of ridiculous nature. Follow me. I might follow you back. MIGHT.
Now, onto this week's P3. I will not lie. I absolutely love gimmicky championships. Not so much the unsanctioned belts like the FTW championship, the Million Dollar Championship, and the TNA World Beer Drinking Championship, which are awesome, but actual championships that have certain rules to abide to in championship matches or ability to gain a shot at the gold. Just my thing. I do have an ulterior motive behind writing about this particular topic. As I have alluded to in previous columns or in my podcasts, I am a play-by-play man for American Championship Entertainment. Within three weeks, the development of a new championship - A GIMMICKY CHAMPIONSHIP - will debut for the company. The installment of the ACE Fight for Flight Championship.
At Crossroads 9 in Wallington, NJ on November 2, 2013, ACE debuts its Fight for Flight championship. The championship is dedicated to the multi man match format that a plethora of promotions put on; however, due to the amount of athletes that specialize in that match type, ACE has developed a championship for the high-flyers, risk takers, and death-defiers of pro wrestling. "The Magnificent" Giovanni Marranca, "Flawless" Blake Morris, Chris Raze of the New Age Wrecking Crew, "King of Funk" Josh Starks, "Showtime" Chris Taylor, and "All Star" Lou Torres will fight for the opportunity to become ACE Fight For Flight champion. There might be new champions in due time, but there will only be the first ever champion. It's time to FIGHT FOR FLIGHT!
That's what we call Jon's hype type. Regardless, a championship dedicated to multi-man matches? Honestly, it sounds as if it should have been created years ago. In this day-and-age, you need to have to be innovative when it comes to creating a championship, yet not over the top with it. Granted, the original X-Division every championship needs to be defended in triple threat matches earlier in the year was a unique concept, but it legitimately limited the matches for the belt. At the very least, Fight For Flight championship matches can be fought in all types of multi-man matches. 3-ways, fatal four ways, 6 ways, the listing of matches can go on and on and on. Plus, the amounts of different styles in Fight for Flight matches can mesh with one another, which is definitely a positive. Sorry, I truly admire the creation of such a gimmicky title with stipulations involved.
Which leads me to this week's column. This week's P3 will revolve around championships that have either stipulations within the rules per championship matches, or rules that set up how you can receive a championship opportunity. Again, you need unique ideas to make a company stand out, and utilizing a championship with different rules and stipulations ultimately creates fan interest and excitement in one's product.
Without further hesitation...
THE PROFESSIONAL 3: Gimmicky Championships and Stipulations
1) THE HARDCORE CHAMPIONSHIP 24/7 RULE - 2000
On February 24, 2000, after winning the Hardcore championship from Test on an episode of Smackdown, Crash Holly proclaimed that he would be the greatest Hardcore champion of all time and announced that he would defend the championship 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was the craziest statement ever uttered and it snowballed into quite possibly the most tumultuous 2 years in any championship's history.
At that point, wrestlers at will would have to worry about not only an officially sanctioned Hardcore championship match, but wrestlers trying to intervene and starting their own separate Hardcore championship match of their own. As long as each wrestler brought their own referee to count their own three count, every Hardcore title match was official. Until the day after SummerSlam 2002, August 26, 2002 to be exact, there were exactly 219 title changes once the 24/7 rule was put in effect. Airports, amusement parks, shopping malls, house shows, multiple countries, etc., there were NO shortage of Hardcore championship matches in the early 2000s, all thanks to Crash Holly and his institution of the 24/7 rule.
In truth, it made the championship stand out and gave all the lower to mid card performers something to do on TV. When you are able to establish everyone on the roster by just doing something as fun as the Hardcore championship, you know you are doing something right.
2) THE ROH PURE CHAMPIONSHIP (February 2004 - August 2006)
At ROH's 2nd Anniversary Show on Valentine's Day in 2004, the Pure Wrestling championship was installed into Ring of Honor as a part of an 8 man tournament in Braintree, MA. In the finals of the tournament, AJ Styles became the first champion by defeating CM Punk (under controversial decision) to become the first champion. What made the Pure championship different from the ROH World championship? Three DISTINCT rules, that is! The rules are as follows...
A) Each wrestler has three rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls during the match. After a wrestler exhausts his rope breaks, submission and pin attempts under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
B) There are no closed-fist punches to the face allowed in a Pure match, only open-handed slaps or chops to the face are allowed. Punches to other parts of the body (save for low-blows) are permitted. The first use of a closed fist will get a warning, and the second will cause the wrestler to be penalized a rope break. If he is already out of rope breaks, he will be disqualified.
C) A wrestler is subject to a twenty count by the referee if the wrestler goes to the floor.
The Pure championship stood out in the mid 2000s due to these rules under the championship banner. Although ROH for several years considered AJ's Pure Wrestling championship (which was ended due to TNA and ROH's falling out in April 2004) and the Pure championship (which Doug Williams won in a mini-tournament at Reborn: Completion in July 2004 and that I saw LIVE in Elizabeth, NJ), two separate championships for some reason, ROH determined in January 2013 that AJ Styles was the first ever Pure champion.
Although Gabe Sapolsky booked the Pure title away in a unification match against World champion Bryan Danielson due to "going as far as he could with the championship", I disagree. Although Nigel McGuiness was the last champion and a tough person to overcome as champion (especially with the utilization and effectiveness of the countout victory), there could have been multiple different directions to go with the title. Just my personal opinion, but the Pure Wrestling champion was a great experiment and something I truly enjoyed in the "golden days" of Gabe Sapolsky's ROH.
3) CHIKARA'S CAMPEONATOS DE PAREJAS
In 2006, at the end of the third night of Tag World Grand Prix on February 26, the Kings of Wrestling won the Campeonatos de Parejas, Spanish for Duos championships, becoming the first ever champions for CHIKARA. Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli held the championships for over 9 months, but only had two title defenses before losing them to Gran Akuma and Icarus. How does that transpire? Well, according to the Director of Fun, Leonard F. Chikarason, you needed to gain three points to gain a title shot. How does one gain three points? You needed to win three matches in a row to get the three points. If you won two matches and lost the third, instead of keeping those two points you had, the team goes directly back down to zero.
This fully institutes the importance of a championship and how important it is to work hard to gaining a championship match. You have to earn it. Every single Campeonatos de Parejas have been rightful, deserving, and defending champions. There is, in fact, only one team that has NOT cashed in on their three-points for the Campeonatos shot and that's Mike Quackenbush and Shane Storm, due to an issue with the leaking of the CHIKARA Special counter and Quackenbush being betrayed by his former best friend. Regardless, this is a great stipulation and again, shows the value and prestige of wanting to be champion.
Sometimes in wrestling companies, you need to stand out. Each of these championships signifies the innovation and hard work of the wrestlers and promotions to make championships look different. Gimmicky as they are, these championships are experimental and just fun. On 11/2 in Wallington, ACE debuts its own gimmicky championship. And trust me; it will stand out on the Indies as no other.