5 Potential Challengers for Dean Ambrose's U.S. Title Who Won't Devalue His Push
Whenever Dean Ambrose moves on from his feud with Kofi Kingston (he may already have), he is going to need another WWE superstar to feud with over the United States Championship.
But being that Ambrose and his faction, The Shield, have been booked so well so far, his next opponent can't be just anyone.
Whoever steps up to challenge Ambrose next will have to be someone with name value—someone who won't devalue his push or make him go from main-eventer to midcarder.
Although the US title doesn't have anywhere near the prestige that it once had, that can easily change now that Ambrose is holding it. That just depends on how the WWE portrays Ambrose as champion and who he feuds with.
So, which major stars will go after Ambrose's gold? Well, there's really no telling, but the WWE better make damn sure that whoever it is can rival the star power that Ambrose is building up for himself.
Here are five potential challengers for Dean Ambrose's United States Championship—challengers who are big enough names to ensure that the title is treated like more than just a secondary belt.
5. Rey Mysterio
A couple of weeks ago, Rey Mysterio tweeted that he hopes to be back in the ring by late August, which is just under three months away.
If Mysterio meets his goal and returns at or around that time, immediately thrusting him into a US title feud with Dean Ambrose is a very logical possibility.
Although Mysterio may not be quite the star that he was 10 years ago, he's still one of the WWE's best babyfaces and most popular stars. Being that the WWE is pretty thin on the babyface side, he's one of only a handful of babyfaces who could make a US title feud with Ambrose actually matter.
Mysterio is not really a main-eventer (at least in the eyes of WWE officials) anymore. But an upper midcarder? Absolutely.
As a former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion, he'd bring instant credibility to the midcard title scene, and it's safe to assume that he and Ambrose would be able to put on some classic matches, which the midcard desperately needs.
There may not be much in the way of obvious feuds lined up for Mysterio upon his return, so a feud with Ambrose could benefit all parties involved, including the fans.
4. Mark Henry
It was recently reported by F4WOnline.com (via WrestlingInc.com) that Mark Henry may be returning as a babyface after his current hiatus from TV.
If that's the case, then who better to try to stop Dean Ambrose and The Shield than "The World's Strongest Man?"
Henry has evolved into such a good heel that it won't be all that easy for him to transition into a babyface role, but if he goes good by stepping up to try to stop The Shield, he should catch on as a babyface pretty quickly.
Of course, Henry would also give Ambrose a very credible opponent to feud with.
Henry is one of the WWE's most intimidating and dominant figures, and over the last couple of years, he's solidified himself as a top superstar. He's exactly the type of guy that Ambrose needs to be feuding with.
He's entertaining, credible and a favorite of the fans, whether he's face or heel.
Put Henry in a feud with Ambrose, and the WWE would be killing two birds with one stone: Getting Henry over as a babyface and giving Ambrose a worthy challenger.
Apparently, Christian is ready to return after missing most of the last year, but he's simply waiting on the creative team to come up with a storyline for his return.
Well, here's an idea for creative: Bring Christian back as a babyface, and have him feud with Dean Ambrose over the United States Championship.
Christian is a guy who can seamlessly slide into just about any role. He can be a face, a heel, a tag team performer, a main-eventer or a midcarder, and he can make any of those roles work.
Why not take advantage of that by bringing him back in a major storyline where he returns to try to fend off Ambrose and The Shield?
As an established veteran and former World Heavyweight champion, Christian certainly deserves the opportunity to make an impact upon his return, and there might be no better realistic way for him to do that than a US title feud with Ambrose.
After all, it would likely result in an entertaining feud with great mic work and great matches. What's wrong with that?
Over the last several weeks, The Shield has been engaged in an intense rivalry with Team Hell No over the WWE Tag Team Championship.
But The Shield has already beat Team Hell No for the titles and then successfully defended them in a rematch, so what's the next step?
Well, the WWE is apparently planting the seeds for the breakup of the partnership between Kane and Daniel Bryan. But what's not so clear is exactly where Bryan and/or Kane will be headed after their split.
It's definitely time for Bryan to move up as a main-event singles star, but what about Kane? What's he going to do once Team Hell No is a thing of the past?
Being that he's one of the most over babyfaces on the WWE roster right now, it would be dumb to turn him heel. Instead, the WWE should keep him face and let him feud with a man that he has a lot of history with: Dean Ambrose.
Not only would it be logical for Kane to continue feuding with his bitter rival, but it would do wonders for Ambrose to feud with a great veteran like Kane, whose resume speaks for himself and who is currently one of the most over guys in the WWE.
If Ambrose is going to make the US title truly matter, having him feud with guys like Kane (instead of other mid-card babyfaces that the fans couldn't care less about) is a great way to ensure that that happens.
1. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is so over right now that it's hard to imagine him feuding for a midcard title as opposed to either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship.
But Bryan has been arguably the most over babyface in the company for a year now, and yet, he's spent the vast majority of that time in the tag team title picture rather than the main-event singles scene.
That's why it really isn't that farfetched to imagine Bryan feuding with Dean Ambrose over the United States Championship.
After all, if the WWE really wants to up the prestige and credibility of the US title, then having one of its very best babyfaces and its best in-ring performer challenge for that title is a great way to do that.
If a wildly popular guy like Bryan feuds over a secondary championship, the fans won't view it as such anymore. Instead, they'll view it as a belt with a prestige, a belt that actually means something.
Ultimately, that benefits the US title and the man who's holding it, which is, of course, Ambrose.
Just imagine seeing two of the WWE's most entertaining and best performers in a feud over a midcard title. When's the last time that happened? Been a while, huh?
Give us Ambrose vs. Bryan for the US Championship, though, and that immediately changes.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!