Wade Barrett has been feuding with Kofi Kingston over the Intercontinental Championship for the past month, and while he came up short at TLC, Barrett captured the prestigious belt at Saturday's Raw taping. The win also marks the start of Barrett's ascension to the main-event scene.
As things currently stand, there isn't much room for Barrett to move up the ladder. The World Heavyweight Championship is held by a heel in the form of Big Show and Dolph Ziggler is next in line as the Money in the Bank holder, while CM Punk is the WWE champion with the likes of The Rock and John Cena on deck.
Will winning the IC title lead Barrett to a main-event push?
There simply isn't an obvious route for the Barrett Barrage to go from a mid-card act to a main-eventer in the immediate future, so having him win the IC title is the right decision. The Intercontinental Championship isn't quite as important as it once was, but its lineage is impressive as it has been held by many of the all-time greats.
Barrett has already held it once before, but it wasn't a reign to remember. He was basically given the title in order to get The Corre over, but that group failed miserably and he ultimately dropped the strap to Ezekiel Jackson. Barrett is in a better spot currently than he was during that time and should benefit much more from the Intercontinental Championship.
On the surface it may seem like Barrett winning the title is a product of the writers not knowing what else to do with him, and that could partially be the case, but having him hold the belt and putting him in meaningful matches is a lot better than allowing him to wallow in the mid-card without any rhyme or reason.
It isn't inconceivable that he could help restore some of the shine that the Intercontinental Championship has lost over the years either. Cody Rhodes' run with the belt was a fruitful one, and although the IC title hasn't been quite as relevant since then, Barrett has the in-ring ability, mic skills and overall presence to make it mean something.
Throughout the 1990's especially, the Intercontinental Championship used to be put on guys who could work, guys who were on the verge of a main-event run or, in some cases, both. Barrett isn't considered a great worker like Kofi is, but he is more than capable, especially for a man his size. The big difference is that he's far more likely to jump to the main event than Kingston is.
At the very least, the IC title should lead to Barrett being booked better over the coming weeks and months. When he initially returned from injury he was beating everyone, but Barrett has been on the losing end on several occasions as of late. I'm not really sure what prompted the change in philosophy, but hopefully it has come to an end.
The best thing that Barrett can do now is roll through some of the mid-card faces such as Kingston and maybe even someone like Randy Orton. Barrett and Orton had their feud cut short last year when Orton suffered an injury, so they could pick up where they left off and beating Orton with the title on the line would do Barrett a lot of good.
It seems like the WWE has been unsure of how to utilize Barrett since his return from injury. Although he was winning almost every match when he first came back, his wins were over lower-card talent. Rather than having him move up through the ranks, he has been losing a lot lately and the creative team hasn't done a good job of capitalizing on his momentum.
Winning the Intercontinental Championship will most definitely change that, however. I can't imagine that Barrett will lose it any time soon, so he should be winning the vast majority of his matches for the foreseeable future. In fact, I would love to see him go on a dominant run through WrestleMania and beyond with the belt.
Barrett's move to the main event is obviously contingent upon what happens with the World Heavyweight Championship and WWE Championship in the coming months, but there is no question that he is one of a small handful of guys waiting in the wings.
The best thing for him would probably be Cena winning the title at WrestleMania, beating CM Punk in a rematch and then moving on to something else. Cena and Barrett feuded back when Barrett was the leader of Nexus, but Barrett is a lot different now than he was back then and he could be an excellent challenger for the WWE Championship.
Until that opportunity presents itself, though, Barrett deserves a dominant run with the Intercontinental Championship. If his title reign is handled correctly, then he should be a believable main-event player down the line.