The WWE has recently gotten into a bad habit of putting on the same matches over and over again.
Oftentimes, those matches involve its two midcard champions, United States Champion Antonio Cesaro and Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett.
Widely viewed as two future main eventers and world champions, it’s not a bad idea to put Cesaro and Barrett in matches with guys who have already been to the top of the WWE. The execution of this concept, however, has been very poor.
We’ve seen both Cesaro and Barrett face top stars on a number of different occasions, and almost every time, the champions wind up on the losing end. Mainly, it’s been Barrett’s never-ending series of matches with Orton and Cesaro’s stretch of matches with Ryback that have really done them in.
It certainly makes sense to have up-and-coming heel champions go toe-to-toe with top babyfaces every once in a while, but at what point do the drawbacks of doing so outweigh the benefits?
When the midcard champions consistently lose, that’s when.
It’s almost impossible to count just how many times Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett has wrestled Orton over the last several months, but other than one Barrett win on Raw, that mini-rivalry of sorts has been absolutely dominated by “The Viper.”
The same goes for Cesaro’s “rivalry” with Ryback. The US Champion has gone one-on-one with Ryback at least a handful of times over the past few months, and not once did Cesaro emerge from a match victorious.
What’s the point of doing that? To bury your midcard champions? Because if that’s the goal, then the WWE is certainly reaching it.
Due to a lack of, well, creativity from the creative team, we consistently see two guys who should be the top upper-midcard heels in the WWE putting established guys over instead of dominating the midcard division.
As fans, we can certainly understand that the WWE has three weekly TV shows that it needs to fill with matches, and therefore, we will see some matches pretty often. But it’s the circumstances surrounding the midcard champions’ matches that have become a real problem.
We aren’t given much of a reason to believe in Cesaro when anytime he steps in the ring with Ryback, his biggest challenge to date, he either walks out of the match or is beaten cleanly. Similarly, there’s no real reason to have faith in Barrett as Intercontinental Champion when he loses to Orton what seems like once a week.
There are so many other things the WWE could do with its midcard champions, like, you know, giving them victories over other quality midcarders every once in a while.
The WWE seems to have this incessant need to have its rising stars tango with its top ones, but if the up-and-comers are going to lose every time that happens, then it completely defeats the purpose of doing so.
A guy like Cesaro or Barrett is going to benefit much more from beating an upper-midcard heel in clean fashion than he ever would from losing cleanly to or walking out of a match with a main-event talent.
The bottom line is that Cesaro and Barrett are facing the same problems that anyone who’s not solidified as a top star faces—they just lose way too much. In turn, that results in a significant blow to their credibility.
Yes, Cesaro has held onto the US title since way back at SummerSlam, but he’s spent most of his reign beating lower card acts like R-Truth, Santino Marella and Justin Gabriel. His biggest victory to date came over The Miz on the Royal Rumble Pre-Show, but other than that, it’s hard to think of any major wins Cesaro has picked up.
Similarly, Barrett has been booked pretty badly as Intercontinental Champion. Sure, he’s got one win over Orton, but he’s also got about 20 losses to The Viper and has also been defeated by guys like main roster rookie Bo Dallas.
An up-and-coming superstar is only going to reach the heights that the WWE is willing to push him to, and obviously, the WWE isn’t willing to push Barrett and Cesaro as credible champions just yet.
There are a couple of ways to fix that, but here are the easiest two: Either have Barrett and Cesaro show that they can hang with main eventers by actually beating them, or simply don’t put them in matches with main-event level talent.
Perception is reality, and right now, Barrett and Cesaro are perceived to be guys who can beat lower card workers but will struggle with the big dogs.
Until the WWE chances that, Cesaro and Barrett will continue to be midcard champions who can’t hang with the WWE’s top talents, and the secondary titles will continue to matter much less than they should.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!