BANK STATEMENT #10 - Maverick 24:7
This really is the tenth edition of the Bank Statement. I didn’t think I’d actually be able to get to ten articles on Hardway HQ, as everything else I’ve tried, I’ve fallen quite short of expectations, especially of myself more than everything else. Happy to make it to double digits.
After the last article written about a vintage independent wrestling idea, I decided in #10 here to get a tad more modern with my material. Can’t stay stuck in the past.
Last week on Raw, during the big battle royal to open the show, seemingly out of nowhere, the WWE 24/7 Title re-emerged from the ashes. Champion Akira Tozawa lost his title to Drew Gulak, who then got pinned by R-Truth, who then got pinned by Tozawa to regain the championship, all within a thirty second span.
This really came out of left field and, in total honesty, stuck in my craw as a fan. The 24/7 Championship had so many possibilities, and now, it’s a complete afterthought.
Ugh. My rant begins.
The WWE 24/7 Championship started on May 20, 2019, the day after the Money in the Bank PPV. The night before, a graphic came up, stating that a new championship was coming into WWE.
A lot of fans were clamoring that it was the return of an old title within WWE’s long history. Many believed it would be the return of the Hardcore Championship. Some believed that it could possibly be the European Championship. Even a select few believed that it could possibly be the debut of the Television Championship, a title best known for its days in NWA/WCW and ECW.
Regardless of which, the buzz was building. People were intrigued. And, in the third hour of Raw, Mick Foley, WWE Hall of Famer and Hardcore Legend, made his way out to the ring.
Within a few moments, Foley pulled out a dark green leather belt with a giant circle on the front with a large “24/7” directly in the middle, and two BLANK side plates. Initially, I’m not going to lie when I say that the font for the center plate legitimately looked like a Denny’s logo. It was an awkward championship belt, but the WWE 24/7 Championship was in existence regardless.
(WRITER’S NOTE: There was a rumor I heard that the championship was designed on a piece of looseleaf paper by Paul “Triple H” Levesque during a meeting. Literally. It was drawn with a pen, sent to the group that creates WWE championship belts, and developed. If true, BRILLIANT. It just fits with the motif of the division.)
The rules of the 24/7 Title, according to Foley, was as follows:
The belt can and would be defended 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
As long as a WWE referee is present, the match is official under WWE jurisdiction
ANY Superstar from ANY WWE brand, male or female, are eligible for the title
Foley announced that the inaugural champion would be crowned in a “scramble”. The first person to hit the ring and pick up the title belt would be the winner. In the midst of nine men running towards the ring, attacking one another, TITUS O’NEIL became the first ever 24/7 Champion. Almost 90 seconds into the first ever reign as champion, Robert Roode rolled up O’Neil on the entranceway and became the second champion. Minutes later, in the parking lot, R-Truth began his first of 52 title wins by rolling up Roode to win the gold.
There are two sides to how I feel about this, as a fan.
First, the negative. According to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, “one main reason why The WWE 24/7 Title was created is due to the continuous pressure from The USA Network. Officials from The USA Network have reportedly been complaining for some time now about the continuous drop in ratings of Monday Night RAW, particularly in the third hour.”
I hate to be that type of debbie downer, but if the 24/7 Title was created to combat ratings issues, it’s a moot point. A new title would not turn momentum towards growing ratings. The characters fighting for the championship would need to have fan investment in them for the viewership to tune in. Honestly, it’s a little short sided to be blunt.
However, I also saw it as a positive. With the major foothold the WWE has in social media, title changes could happen ANYWHERE. Instead of having WWE cameras around, wrestlers could use their phones to record their title wins and upload directly to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or whatever popular app is out there. It builds intrigue and helps establish performers as people who will do ANYTHING to become a champion.
The best example of this comes from DDT Pro in Japan. During the Summer of 2016, Joey Ryan brought the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight title over to the United States after winning it in Kusakabe, Japan in May. Over the next several months, Ryan took to social media and independent wrestling shows and contributed to almost 100 title changes. Cerealman, Ron Funches, a cat named Bunny, and VINCE MCMAHON’S STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME were just some of the names that held the title for a cup of coffee. The buzz on social media was tremendous and brought eyes to not just Ryan, but DDT Pro as well.
A few performers have tried to take hold over the division. The man that the championship is best known for, R-Truth, has been the centerpiece of the entertainment that those segments bring. Akira Tozawa and Drew Gulak have come close, but they haven’t truly had enough time to showcase the importance of being 24/7 Champion. Hell, even Bad Bunny, Latin music SUPERSTAR, got the title on Saturday Night Live and THE GRAMMYS.
But, there has only been one to grab the figurative “brass ring” and make the most of an opportunity to get on TV via this championship. Literally, he even brought people into his personal life in a way never before done from a WWE perspective.
That would be Drake Maverick and “Maverick 24:7”.
By the time the 24/7 Title came into existence, Drake Maverick was already splitting time between two shows. In early 2018, the former “Rockstar Spud” came into WWE as the General Manager of 205 Live and carried an aura of professionalism bringing stability to the Cruiserweight division after champion Enzo Amore was fired in January. By the fall, Maverick also found himself becoming the manager of RAW Tag Team Champions the Authors of Pain.
The one thing, as a fan, that I’ve always enjoyed about Maverick’s career was his ability to “show his ass” and not be afraid to make a fool of himself. Maverick’s overall entertainment value was a 10, to me. For example, at Survivor Series 2018, the Big Show, the Bar’s muscle, startled and started to strangle Maverick on the frame of the ring. Maverick’s response: he peed his pants, in front of the entire viewing public. Add in his facial expressions, it was a brilliant segment.
With the 24/7 Championship now in play, Maverick made his own opportunity, utilizing his Twitter to make flyers, trying to use them to find the location of the current champion. Fans started reacting to the fun of this, which in turn caught the eye of the WWE creative team.
Every chance Maverick went for the title win during that first month, he always was bamboozled or hoodwinked. Just one step short of obtaining his goal. He had to strategize. He had to go to Plan B.
On June 18, 2019, R-Truth was leaving the building following SmackDown, championship in tow, Truth was calling for Carmella, his “Dance Break” partner. Suddenly, outside of his car, there stood “Carmella”. Truth was looking perplexed. “Carmella” then un-disguised as MAVERICK, went to attack Truth, but was caught with an uppercut. As Truth turned to get into his car, door ajar, Maverick persevered, schoolboyed Truth, put his feet onto the car seat for extra leverage, and got the three count. Drake then hopped into Truth’s rented SUV, stated that he was “getting married”, and sped away.
Drake Maverick was FINALLY WWE 24/7 Champion and about to be a married man.
On June 20, Maverick married Renee Michelle in a very intimate ceremony. EC3 helped celebrate the wedding in his solo cup filled to the brim with beverage as a groomsman. As Drake and Renee walked up the aisle in married bliss, a referee stood at the top of the entrance. From behind, a blazered up and shirtless Truth delivered a schoolboy rollup on Maverick to win the title belt.
Losing a championship. Losing at his own wedding. Losing while suited up. That’s a testament to character and the business. Maverick didn’t even get to consummate the marriage. He went for the championship instead. Business is business.
Maverick instantly wanted a rematch the following episode of Raw, but fell short of the goal during an episode of MIZ TV. One week later, Maverick caught Truth off-guard backstage in Dallas, TX after being chased from fellow WWE competitors. Maverick took advantage of Truth’s exhaustion, hit him with his luggage bag, procured a referee, and got the three-count. Maverick won the belt again! But the real fun happened two weeks later.
In Uniondale, NY, Maverick and his wife FINALLY wanted to have a small honeymoon celebration. After handling their WWE duties at the Nassau Coliseum, the couple checked into the hotel close to the venue, renting out the honeymoon suite and ordering their finest champagne.
Once in the room, Renee Michelle was in a robe, preparing to make the magic happen, while Maverick was in his skivvies, 24/7 Championship still around his waist. Kissing was about to commence when a knock at the door came. Room service had decided to deliver the expensive bubbly now. Once inside, the maître d' turned out to be a WWE official. Maverick started to tear apart the hotel room, looking for whoever it was underneath the bed.
Underneath the cover of the cart that brought the booze was that dastardly R-Truth. He snuck out and went to schoolboy Maverick. ONLY A TWO COUNT!! Maverick got up, still stunned. Truth, in quite possibly the move of the year, nailed a picture perfect cross-body block on Maverick onto the bed, got the three count, and won the 24/7 Championship again! Truth left the room and Maverick, the now former champion, in his dust.
Poor Drake still didn’t consummate his marriage.
From that point forward, Maverick was 100% obsessed with the belt that eluded him. The following week at Raw Reunion, the STILL 205 Live GM pinned Truth to win back the belt, but lost it mere moments later to Hall of Famer Pat Patterson after the Boogeyman scared the bejesus out of him. Then, a couple hours later of a figurative hot potato, Maverick surprised and pinned the now-champion “the Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase in his limousine. However, seconds later, Truth stopped Maverick from escaping in the same limo, got the three count, and won the belt back! Two title wins on the same night and he couldn’t end it as champion.
The distinguished Englishman became even more unhinged. He tried to find Truth at every turn. Before that Raw Reunion, Maverick ended up at the San Diego Comic Con, invading the Mattel Action Figure Panel dressed up like a banana and handed out flyers. He tried to break into the recording studio and catch another new 24/7 Champion, Elias, in the middle of a session. He tried to ruin the FOX Sports Founders Day event in August, but FOX commentator Rob Stone, Truth, and Elias beat him to it. Hell, even during SummerSlam weekend, he even tried to dress up like a John Cena fan and catch Truth off-guard during a meet-and-greet event.
Maverick won the title two more times, on August 27 and September 3, respectively. However, once “the Summer of Maverick” ended, he went back to 205 Live exclusively. In April 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was released by WWE in a budgetary move. But thanks to his previously booked, and coincidentally, his incredible run in the interim Cruiserweight Championship tournament in NXT, Maverick gained a new contract within WWE by the beginning of June.
I 100% respect the work ethic and dedication of Drake Maverick. The “Maverick 24:7” started as a trickle and evolved into a full-fledged rain. He maximized his minutes and made the absolute most of his TV time. He allowed himself to “blur the lines” and bring his real life into WWE storytelling. The fans, like I, became INVESTED in him. We all hoped and prayed that his run would have translated into more of an opportunity in higher profile ideas. Although not everything goes to plan, his little run was a fun blessing in disguise.
Everything after Maverick’s run in the 24/7 division hasn’t had the same buzz or care about it, save the insane creativity of R-Truth. The wasted potential of more fan interaction via social media regarding the title is mind-numbing. The room for organic creativity regarding this title has been non-existent.
But, we were blessed with a few months in 2019 of Maverick 24:7. And that, truly, is better than nothing. BANK ON IT.