It is no secret that the WWE's mid-card title scene has been in shambles as of late, but it appears as though the creative team is trying to generate some interest. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett kick-started a feud on Monday night with The Miz and Chris Jericho, however, nothing good can come from Miz and Barrett facing each other at WrestleMania XXIX.
Since beating Kofi Kingston for the IC title a couple months ago, Barrett has been booked about as poorly as possible. He hasn't engaged in a feud and has lost far more than he has won. He was even beaten by Bo Dallas, which would have been fine if an angle came of it, but it was dropped before Barrett could get revenge.
Barrett has spent most of his time since the Dallas debacle losing to upper-tier guys such as Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio. I have no problem with Barrett losing matches here and there since he's a heel, but the Intercontinental Champion should be made to look strong. The writers obviously haven't bought in to that notion, so now Barrett is being forced to engage in a feud at arguably the lowest point in his WWE career.
Over the past couple weeks Barrett's character has been a joke. Rather than portraying the no-nonsense, bare-knuckle fighter that we all anticipated when he returned from injury, Barrett has been more concerned with promoting his new movie, Dead Man Down. I understand that the WWE is telling him to promote the movie, and I have no problem with that, but it is a little disconcerting that it has become his gimmick.
Although The Miz is probably in a better position than Barrett, he has been stuck in quicksand to some degree as well. It seemed like big things were in store for The Miz when he turned face around Survivor Series time, but the WWE has really squandered his momentum. The Miz could very easily be in the position that Alberto Del Rio currently occupies as World Heavyweight Champion, but the WWE decided to put The Miz on the back burner in favor of ADR.
The Miz certainly wins more matches than Barrett and is fairly popular, but he isn't utilized like other top faces are. Perhaps some of that has to do with that fact that he hasn't transitioned to the face role as seamlessly as many expected him to, but the creative team shoulders a lot of blame for that. Barrett and Miz are two guys who have been mishandled worse than anyone over the past several months, but the answer is not pitting them against each other.
I realize that I haven't discussed Jericho's involvement in this situation at length, but that is because I don't anticipate him remaining in the Intercontinental Championship hunt past next week's episode of Raw. On the surface it may seem like the odds of this happening are deteriorating, but I still firmly believe that Jericho will face Dolph Ziggler at WrestleMania XXIX, so Y2J isn't really part of the IC title equation.
Right now a Miz vs. Barrett feud reminds me a lot of Frankenstein's monster. The WWE has taken some spare parts, thrown them together and shocked them with the electricity that is Jericho's involvement. The monster did nothing but cause pain and suffering for the villagers, and this Miz vs. Barrett program promises to do the same for the WWE Universe.
The main issue is that the entire rivalry is predicated on low-level movies. For the next three weeks I'm sure we'll continue to have Dead Man Down and The Marine 3 shoved down our throats. That is the definition of lazy booking and it is going to result in a WrestleMania match that has no heat behind it. Because of that, the fans naturally won't care about it either.
Additionally, there is no satisfactory way to end the program. If Barrett wins then it will obviously be great for him as it would be his first WrestleMania win. It would also give him a victory over a former WWE Champion who once beat John Cena in the main event at 'Mania. At the same time, it would make The Miz look awful and it would stall his progress as he would be saddled with a loss against a guy barely ever wins.
The opposite result wouldn't be any better. Winning at WrestleMania would be good for The Miz on the surface, but he has no use for the Intercontinental Championship. He won it last summer and it seemed like big things were on the horizon, but as has become customary for IC titleholders, he lost the majority of his matches and was simply spinning his wheels.
Another loss would also damage Barrett's credibility even further, although I'm not sure how much lower he can possibly go at this point. When wrestlers with great promise are struggling, they should be put in a position to turn things around. The Miz vs. Barrett at WrestleMania might help one of the combatants, but one of them will continue to plummet.
The WWE seemed to have the right idea by having The Miz feud with Antonio Cesaro over the United States Championship as they could have had their blow-off match at 'Mania with Miz finally vanquishing the foreign heel. Also, the writers had weeks and even months to build something logical for Barrett, but they neglected to do so.
I have no issue admitting that the WWE has done a pretty nice job with its main-event programs as of late, but the mid-card has unquestionably suffered in the process. Because of that we are in line to see a thrown-together match involving what used to be one of the most prestigious titles in professional wrestling, and neither man involved really has anything to gain.