Damian Priest is not a transitional champion in WWE

There are a lot of opinions on Damian Priest's run as WWE Champion but he is not a transitional title holder in any sense.
WWE Clash at the Castle Scotland
WWE Clash at the Castle Scotland / WWE/GettyImages

There’s an interesting narrative forming about Damian Priest online. There’s a perception that he is a “transitional champion” as some look for him to drop the title to any of the several challengers facing him. But as he prepares to do battle with Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank on July 6, it’s important to recognize that Priest is far from being dismissed as someone who is keeping the title warm for another superstar.

Priest should never be considered a transitional champion, but it is understandable how this idea came into play. As he held the Money in the Bank briefcase, it was hard to see where he fit in the title picture. Drew McIntyre was surging. CM Punk returned. Roman was being Roman and Cody Rhodes needed to finish the story. Priest didn’t fit into that space, nor could it be predicted that he’d overthrow any of those men if they gained the championship.

Yet, his cash-in at WrestleMania 40 was perfectly executed. It made the MITB briefcase relevant again and furthered the storyline between Punk and McIntyre. Everyone involved won out.

Still, many predicted Priest would lose to McIntyre, and when that didn’t happen the complaints about WWE missing the moment were numerous. GUNTHER is waiting in the wings at SummerSlam on August 3. With Bash at Berlin later that month, it makes sense why the prediction is that he’d be champion going into that show. Rollins’s surprise return on WWE Raw set up the big match at the next PLE, and again there are calls for Priest to lose the belt to Rollins, setting the stage for Rollins versus Gunther at SummerSlam. Either way, Damian Priest should not be pushed to the wayside.

First, let’s talk about Priest’s in-ring performance. Ever since being called up to the main roster, Priest has been one of the best-protected performers. He rarely loses televised or PLE singles matches, and he performs well when given the opportunity to shine. His catalog includes several entries rated at an 8 or higher on Cagematch, with some dating as far back as 2020 while he was in NXT. Priest can work and it's time that he’s recognized as such.

Second, Priest has value as a crossover star for WWE. He’s the first Puerto Rican World Champion since Pedro Morales 50 years ago. He highlights that community from everything to his theme music, to showing up at the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City with the championship. At any moment, WWE could pair him and Bad Bunny in a storyline that would garner headlines once again. As fans push TKO to bring a WWE and UFC event to Mexico City and other Spanish-speaking countries, Priest is one of the pillars those shows can be built around. That’s a valuable contribution that can’t be overlooked in a champion.

Being a transitional champion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a role that certain superstars play, and they are a necessary component of any roster. Yet, that term is thrown around as a derogatory phrase too often. Damian Priest has shown that he deserves to be recognized among the best in WWE today and he is in no way a transitional champion.