Santino Marella is still the United States Champion,
In fact, his current reign of more than 135 days is longer than seven of the previous nine US Champions, including Kofi Kingston, The Miz and Sheamus.
Pretty impressive, huh? Well, not really.
As we all now by now, the length of a title run doesn’t define its quality. There are plenty of other factors that do that, including the number of title defenses and the quality of the matches and story lines involving the title.
It’s in that quality department that Santino has failed as United States Champion, or should I say that the creative team has failed the US title.
Santino may have held the US Championship since March 5, but his reign as champion has been defined by infrequent title defenses, squash matches (with Santino himself as the one who’s getting squashed) and a general disregard for the prestige of the belt.
That makes me wonder: if Santino is booked so badly as the United States Champion, then why is he still holding the title?
The answer to that question is a simple one: The WWE has no mid-card.
When you look at the way the company is currently constructed, there are the main-eventers, the guys teetering on the borderline of the main event and then everyone else is lumped into one big group.
The main-eventers (John Cena, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Triple H, etc.) dominate the big segments of both Raw and SmackDown, mainly the top-of-the-hour and main event segments.
Meanwhile, the majority of the rest of the show is filled with the borderline main event guys (Big Show, Kane, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, etc.), Twitter and Tout hype and other pointless filler.
The result has been the death of the mid-card.
If you’re not a household name or on the cusp of becoming one, then you’re not getting a noteworthy feud, match or storyline. It’s really that simple.
So far in 2012, the WWE’s biggest angles have been dominated by CM Punk in the WWE title picture, Sheamus in the World Heavyweight Championship scene and whatever it is that John Cena’s doing at the moment.
Perhaps a direct result of the informal end of the brand split, the WWE crams those three major feuds into every episode of Raw (and some episodes of SmackDown), which take up at least half—if not more—of the show combined.
As a result, this severely limits the WWE’s ability to create any sort of advancement in its non-main event storylines.
The time constraints on both Raw and SmackDown, combined with the WWE’s refusal to put the focus on newer stars, have put a stranglehold on its mid-carders.
Guys like Christian and Cody Rhodes can’t have memorable feuds because they’re needed to fill in the gaps in major matches (like at Money in the Bank this past Sunday).
The same goes for Santino.
Santino isn’t putting on feuds that are worth our while because of the extinction of the mid-card that has resulted from the need to use guys like him in major matches.
If Santino is needed to take up space in the World Heavyweight Championship Contract Money in the Bank Ladder match, then how on Earth is the WWE going to simultaneously book him in a feud that matters?
I guess it’s possible if Santino has beef with someone in the WHC Contract MITB Ladder match, but of course, the WWE chose not to go that route.
Has the WWE given up on the United States title?
Instead, Santino has become just the latest casualty of the death of the mid-card.
He holds the United States Championship—which is supposed to be one of the WWE’s two mid-card titles—simply because the creative team has no idea how to book it in a feud that matters.
It’s damn near impossible to do that, though, when the mid-card is dead. And unfortunately for us, the plight of the mid-card is a never-ending cycle.
The mid-card is dead because the WWE doesn’t know how to book it properly, but the WWE can’t book it properly because the mid-card is dead.
Know what I mean?
The WWE doesn’t want to waste the time and energy to put together a meaningful feud, and as a result, the mid-card turns to crap, which, in turn, makes the WWE even less likely to care about it.
That’s made painfully obvious by the fact that Santino’s still holding the United States Championship, a belt that is hardly even mentioned, much less defended.
The WWE is treating that belt like crap, it knows it, and that’s precisely why it’s still on Santino.