At WWE's TLC pay-per-view, Wade Barrett came up short in his attempt to win the Intercontinental Championship against Kofi Kingston after getting pinned with Kingston's powerful Thunder in Paradise move for the one-two-three.
The match itself was very good, packed with some tremendous near-falls and smooth exchanges. The crowd in Brooklyn reacted well to everything as well. The pair were expected to deliver a decent match and they did not disappoint. Notably, Barrett continues to excel as a wrestler; this may have been his best in-ring performance to date.
The finish itself was a surprise in some ways. WWE seemed to be getting heavily behind Barrett in recent times—sans his two-minute loss to R-Truth on last week's Raw—and many fans considered a title change likely as Wade progressed his way up the card.
So, what does his loss here mean?
Well, first of all, it may just be that Creative are on board with Kingston's title reign and don't want it to end so soon (he only won the belt in October, after all).
After years languishing in the lower mid-card, Kingston seems to be finally gaining momentum as Intercontinental Champion. It's very possible the company simply decided he needed the title more than Barrett, rather than the former Nexus leader get demoted.
Or, maybe WWE just wanted a feel-good moment for the fans in attendance. There are a few potential reasons, it doesn't have to mean WWE has grown lukewarm on Barrett.
So, what's next for Barrett?
Well, presumably he'll go after Kingston's title again—come on, he can't give up that easily, can he? Maybe he will win the championship in the next few weeks and go on to have a lengthy reign.
Certainly, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him goad the proud Kingston into a rematch, then take his title through nefarious means.
It's also possible Barrett could decide, on-screen, that he's above a secondary belt like the Intercontinental Championship and resolve to move on to bigger and better things, say winning next month's Royal Rumble event. It's very possible the Kingston/Barrett program ended with Barrett's clean loss here.
If so, it's no great loss. While Kingston/Barrett has had its entertaining moments—including the emergence of a more arrogant and bolder Kingston—it sadly never managed to rise above being yet another time-filling, mid-card battle.
Neither man was damaged by it, but they weren't truly aided, either. The muddled face, heel dynamics of the program didn't help either (Kingston, our apparent good guy, has been coming off as increasingly heelish in recent times, even attacking Barrett for no good reason on more than one occasion).
Certainly moving on the world title picture with the likes of Sheamus and The Big Show would be a step up for Barrett. Maybe management knows this too, and this is their mentality behind Sunday night's result.
In summation, despite his loss here, there are a few options for Barrett going forward as he continues to navigate his way up the card. Maybe he'll get another shot—and this time a win—with the intercontinental belt in the future. Or, maybe it's time for him to move on to something else. We'll have to wait and see.