The WWE’s midcard is a shell of its former self.
Just four or five years ago, the middle of the card was absolutely loaded with star power, featuring guys like Chris Jericho, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Rey Mysterio and countless other great performers. It also featured entertaining storylines, like the Intercontinental title feud between Y2J and Mysterio in 2009, that made the division seem much more important than it does today.
Although today’s midcard division features a ton of talent (Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow, Kofi Kingston, etc.) and some great wrestling at times, it has had one big issue that has really held it back: It feels like the midcard.
Look, we all know that there is going to be a midcard that is a notch below the main event. But just because the midcard isn’t going to quite measure up to the main-event scene, that doesn’t mean that the midcard has to be treated like an unwanted stepchild.
Perception is reality, and if the midcard is perceived to be a big deal, then the reality is that it will become one. But that’s not going to happen if the WWE’s midcard Superstars don’t get some much-needed main-event exposure.
That could come in a variety of forms, too.
Just think back to the days of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat, when the Intercontinental Championship—by all accounts the WWE’s midcard title—often featured some of the company’s biggest matches and best feuds.
The Intercontinental title was right up there with the WWE Championship in terms of prestige because it was portrayed as an equivalent (or at least nearly an equivalent) rather than a “midcard” title that was a notch below the World title.
Today’s WWE, however, has completely abandoned the philosophy of putting its midcard titles, or its midcard in general, on the same level as its World titles.
When we see a midcard feud, like Wade Barrett vs. The Miz, we know that it’s a midcard feud. It doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of TV time that the main-event rivalries do, and it doesn’t have that same special feeling that usually accompanies World title or main-event level feuds.
What’s resulted is a midcard that is struggling mightily.
Simply put, it’s hard to care about the midcard scene at all because the effort just isn’t there compared to the main-event picture. We get about a million video packages highlighting Ryback vs. John Cena or Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar during each Raw episode, but how many Barrett vs. Miz videos did we see?
How many video packages aired on Raw promoting the United States Championship feud between Antonio Cesaro and Kofi Kingston? How many times was The Miz in the main event on Raw when he was the Intercontinental champion?
You get the point—it’s that the WWE doesn’t make the midcard out to be something that the fans should care about. As a result, I—along with many other fans—hardly even pay attention to it because it’s not worth paying attention to.
The solution to that problem? Give the WWE’s midcard Superstars the main-event exposure that they desperately need.
If, for example, we were to see a United States Championship match between Kofi Kingston and Big E Langston main event an episode of SmackDown, imagine how much more important the U.S. title would feel. Then make U.S. or IC title matches main event either Raw or SmackDown fairly consistently, and the fans will begin to think: “Hey, maybe this title is worth caring about, after all.”
The more that the fans see a midcard match and/or feud in a main-event segment, the more important the fans will think the midcard is.
Right now, the midcard has largely been relegated to random segments on Raw and SmackDown and is stuck in time slots that don’t usually generate high viewership. If more effort was put into those segments and if those segments occurred during segments that would attract more viewers, that would go a long way toward upping the importance of the midcard.
Just because it’s called the “midcard,” that doesn’t mean it has to be spotlighted in the middle of the show. After all, there’s money to be made in the midcard.
The midcard is where stars begin their journey to superstardom. Without it, we would have no John Cena, no Randy Orton, no Sheamus or no CM Punk.
But with a midcard that is treated like a main event? We get midcarders for today and main eventers for tomorrow.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!