Given the tremendous amount of animosity between Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose, it seems only logical that the former World title holder be the first challenger to The Shield leader’s United States Championship.
But don’t think for a minute that a former World champ challenging for the U.S. title would be a step down for him.
Sure, the belt has been considered a mid-card championship for some time now. However, the fact that Ambrose, who last year rose from mere obscurity to a top-shelf star, currently wears the belt seems to give it an upper-card feeling that it had been lacking for so long now. No longer should it be considered the top prize in a pay-per-view pre-show.
The attractiveness of the title may be enhanced somewhat by the fact that Ambrose’s Shield stablemates, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, are World Tag Team champions. Nonetheless, the U.S. title has risen to the point where it is at least in the same area code as the WHC title and not too far away from the WWE or World Tag Team titles.
That’s where a Bryan challenge comes in and adds to the title's reborn integrity.
Bryan has been a house afire over the last several weeks as he tries to prove that he was not the “weak link” of Team Hell No. This sometimes-maniacal drive to prove his mettle has been one of the most refreshing storylines in WWE this year.
Bryan essentially has been a one-man wrecking crew in handling The Shield lately, but even one-man wrecking crews fall to the strength of numbers that Shield members possess.
He has done a great deal of his damage outside of the ring with acrobatic dives over and through the ropes onto Rollins and Reigns. But he has aimed a huge chunk of his in-ring Shield wrath at Ambrose. It is only when the other Shield members intervened—as they are prone to do—that Ambrose is able to gain the upper hand on Bryan.
But that does not mean Ambrose needs his stablemates’ help whenever he climbs into the ring by himself. Look back to a few weeks ago when he faced The Undertaker on SmackDown. He held his own against the Deadman for the duration of the match, and it was only after he tapped out that Rollins and Reigns—whose presence at ringside always is a concern—really got involved in an Undertaker beatdown.
Should WWE ever sanction a match for Ambrose where the other Shield members are barred from ringside, you can be sure that Ambrose will shine.
So will Bryan.
Bryan also is not a stranger to the U.S. title, having held it a couple of years ago when he was still an up-and-comer in WWE. Now that he is an established top-shelf Superstar and probably the best all-around performer in WWE, challenging Ambrose this summer for a title once held by greats with the last names Steamboat, Flair and Mulligan should restore the legendary status to a legendary belt.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.