It has been several weeks since Wade Barrett defeated Kofi Kingston for the Intercontinental Championship, and while it's no secret that the IC title doesn't possess the same prestige that it once did, most believed that Barrett was due for a push.
It's now blatantly clear that isn't the case.
Prior to beating Kofi for the title, Barrett was essentially used as a midcard rover. He was coming off an injury that kept him out for several months, and the creative team wasn't sure what to do with him. He had numerous matches with Sheamus, Randy Orton and other comparable superstars, but he never engaged in a true feud that led to anything bigger.
When Barrett won the Intercontinental Championship, the main positive was that he had a built-in reason to start some meaningful feuds. Aside from beating Kingston in a rematch, however, nothing much has happened.
I suppose the highlight of Barrett's reign thus far has been getting eliminated by Bo Dallas in the Royal Rumble match and then proceeding to lose to Dallas in a singles match the following night on Raw.
Is the WWE handling Barrett properly right now?
Barrett is a guy who has all the tools to be world champion right now, yet he's been treated unfairly ever since his return from injury. Barrett should be defending his title and winning pay-per-view matches at the very least right now, but instead he has put over an NXT rookie and essentially acts as the WWE's go-to jobber to the stars.
Perhaps I was naive to think that the Intercontinental Championship was going to help him in some way.
I thought the same thing when The Miz beat Christian for the title this past summer, but The Miz lost a ton of matches as well. I wouldn't have a problem with Barrett losing on occasion if he had some type of direction and was made to look like a threat every once in a while, but the WWE seems content with him losing almost every match and doing absolutely nothing with the title.
If what happened on Raw is any indication, Barrett may be feuding with Sheamus and having a match with him at WrestleMania. I like both Sheamus and Barrett and believe that they can have a fantastic bout on the big stage, but there are a couple of issues.
For one, we have seen Barrett face Sheamus so many times over the past few months that there is nothing new or exciting about their rivalry. The WWE has already given away what could have been an intriguing program.
Also, there is no doubt that Sheamus is going to go over and leave Barrett in disarray. The Intercontinental Championship should be used as a stepping stone to greater success, just like it used to be.
The plan should have been for Barrett to hold the title until a spot in the main-event scene opened up, but apparently that was never the plan, because I can't see Barrett moving up on the card with so little momentum behind him.
It's tough to figure out why the WWE is utilizing Barrett so ineffectively. For one, there are very few top heels currently on the roster. Aside from CM Punk, there is no featured attraction on that side of the ledger.
The likes of Big Show, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler could all step in when needed, but none of them are leaps-and-bounds better than Barrett. In fact, the only one with a better all-around skill set is probably Ziggler.
I'm a big fan of Swagger and can understand why the WWE has him feuding with Alberto Del Rio over the World Heavyweight Championship. Swagger has a xenophobic, anti-immigration character, so he will serve as the perfect foil to Del Rio.
At the same time, Barrett has been waiting his turn for the past couple years and continues to be bypassed when it comes to main-event opportunities. Even back when Big Show feuded with Sheamus, Barrett could very easily have been put in that spot instead.
Barrett was immediately thrust into the spotlight when he debuted in WWE, as he won the first season of NXT and led Nexus against many of the WWE's top stars. Barrett earned a shot at Orton's WWE Championship early in his tenure and engaged in a feud with Cena as well.
It was blatantly obvious from the start that Barrett was being groomed for greatness, but he still hasn't won a world title—and he hasn't even really come close, for that matter.
Since Barrett is 32 years of age, he still has some prime years left, and I believe that he can still become world champion, but the clock is ticking.
There was once a time when Drew McIntyre appeared to be a shoo-in as a future world champion and now he's part of an imaginary band. You never know what can happen to a guy when his window of opportunity closes, and I often fear that the WWE believes that Barrett's chance to win a world title has already come and gone.
If not for the elbow injury that knocked him out of commission the night after Elimination Chamber 2012, Barrett probably would have been world champion by now. He was on a roll at the time, and the Barrett Barrage was in full force.
The timing of the injury was extremely unfortunate, especially since there were whispers about Money in the Bank being added back to WrestleMania XXVIII, with Barrett potentially winning.
The worst-case scenario for Barrett as Intercontinental Champion should have seen him running through the midcard without a set-in-stone feud, like Antonio Cesaro did for several months as United States Champion.
Barrett wasn't even given that, though, and it's safe to say that his run with the once-important strap has been meaningless.
If Barrett does indeed drop the title to Sheamus at WrestleMania, then maybe it will lead to bigger and better things for him.
Based on the way things have gone for him lately, though, I wouldn't count on it.