The biggest question when Wade Barrett defeated Kofi Kingston for the Intercontinental Championship on Raw last week focused on who he would feud with. After his exchange with Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat on this week's Raw, however, the answer should come in the form of Steamboat's son—Richie.
Ricky is a well-known commodity in professional wrestling, as he is a WWE Hall of Famer, a former Intercontinental Champion and a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion as well. He also had what many fans consider to be the greatest match of all time against Randy "Macho Man" Savage when he beat him for the IC title at WrestleMania III.
Richie certainly doesn't possess anything resembling the accolades of his famous father, but he has made a name for himself over the past few years as well. Richie signed with Florida Championship Wrestling back in 2009 and has become one of the most popular stars in the WWE's developmental territory.
At 25 years of age and with enviable bloodlines, Richie is probably the most polished wrestler in all of NXT Wrestling right now, although an argument can obviously be made for Kassius Ohno as well. He is one of the veterans in NXT, and there is no use waiting on him any longer. At some point, he needs to get called up in order for the WWE to see what it has with him.
There has been an influx of young talent in the WWE lately, with Brad Maddox, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Big E Langston all making the leap over the past few months. That tells me that the WWE is willing to give its prospects a chance, and it stands to reason that Steamboat is the next person in line.
Barrett's run-in with Ricky Steamboat was too random for it not to mean something, and it was left open-ended as well. Steamboat accompanied Santino Marella to the ring for a match with Barrett, and after Barrett picked up the victory, he was poised to deliver a Bull Hammer to the Hall of Famer. Steamboat turned around in time, though, and Barrett retreated.
That likely means we haven't seen the last of Barrett and Steamboat together on WWE programming. If there was ever a time for Richie to debut, this would certainly be it. Barrett is between feuds currently, and it would be quite natural and obvious to have Richie defend his father's honor if Barrett attempts to get physical with him.
Many superstars with famous fathers try to distance themselves from the connection—or the WWE does it for them. I can understand a guy trying to blaze his own trail, but a famous name is a very easy way to get over. The fact that Michael McGillicutty goes by a fake name rather than Joe Hennig is probably one of the biggest reasons why he is being used as a jobber.
Richie has never shied away from using his father's name, though, and it has been a big part of his character in developmental. Because of that, he should debut alongside his father in WWE. It would give him instant credibility, and the fans would care about him immediately, even if they aren't necessarily familiar with his FCW and NXT work.
This would also put Richie in a meaningful feud from the start, as Barrett is the Intercontinental Champion and is widely viewed as a future world champion. Even if Richie comes up short in the feud ultimately—which I believe he would—simply facing Barrett to kick off his WWE career and putting on some good matches against him would put him on an instant path to success.
It may seem far-fetched for a guy to get called up from NXT and immediately challenge for the IC title, but The Shield is a group of rookies that has already made a huge impact against top stars, so it isn't unprecedented. Also, the mid-card face roster is a veritable wasteland, so it isn't like there are any good options for Barrett to feud with anyway.
He has already beaten Kofi Kingston, The Miz is feuding with Antonio Cesaro and nobody wants to see a guy like R-Truth in the title picture. I'd much rather see a young guy like Steamboat go after Barrett for the time being, because it would be something different and exciting.
Steamboat and Barrett already have chemistry from facing each other in FCW, and all the stars are aligned for a reprisal of their feud in WWE. The WWE has done a great job of building up young stars lately, and Richie ought to be next in the WWE's barrage of up-and-coming talent.