WWE's United States Championship is being wasted on Dean Ambrose, a man who doesn't need it.
There is no question that Ambrose is talented enough to carry the U.S. title, but because he is one-third of The Shield, that golden strap has too often gone unused. WWE would be better off passing it to a wrestler in need of the championship's power to boost momentum.
Ambrose would still be in high-profile matches without that belt, and he is rarely asked to defend it.
The way that Ambrose has been booked as of late, the championship is nothing more than a fashion accessory.
WWE's midcard titles are designed to elevate Superstars. There are a number of other Superstars in more need of elevation than Ambrose. Just as Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins are in a similar position before and after losing the tag titles, Ambrose's career trajectory would barely be affected by a title loss.
A decreasing amount of title defenses eliminates the need for him to be champ.
In the nearly seven months since Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston at Extreme Rules to become the U.S. titleholder, there have already been three pay-per-views where he hasn't defended the belt.
At Money in the Bank 2013, Ambrose was thrust into the world title Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Meanwhile, Curtis Axel defended the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz. At the inaugural Battleground pay-per-view, Ambrose stood in Reigns and Rollins' corner in the match of the night against Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
This year's Survivor Series had Ambrose battle in a traditional elimination tag team match.
Ambrose took on Dolph Ziggler in two title defenses on TV in October. In November, the United States Championship mostly went unmentioned.
There is no No. 1 contender for the U.S. belt. Ambrose doesn't even have a particular rival who could eventually work his way into the title picture. That has some fans throwing out the dreaded "boring" word for Ambrose's reign.
It's not boring; it's just too inactive as of late. Battling big names like Rob Van Dam made Ambrose's title reign feel more significant.
It has since been the victim of a lack of attention. The only reason Ambrose defended the title at Hell in a Cell was because Axel was injured. WWE had actually built Axel vs. Big E Langston up, giving it some story to work from.
Axel vs. Langston had no such benefit. It was thrown together, which has made it a lot like the rest of Ambrose's recent reign.
The issue is that Ambrose being part of The Shield trumps his championship duties.
While Axel needed to win the Intercontinental Championship to earn his airtime, Ambrose is constantly on the main events of Raw and SmackDown because of his ties to The Shield. Were he to stop being champion tomorrow, that wouldn't change.
Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Rey Mysterio and The Usos vs. The Shield and The Wyatt Family ended last Friday's SmackDown. Ambrose joined Rollins and Reigns against Rhodes, Goldust and Mysterio in the excellent opening bout to last Monday's Raw.
The U.S. title wasn't needed for either of those matches, and the same is true for much of Ambrose's recent in-ring action.
Being U.S. champ means taking on guys like Kingston, Fandango and R-Truth. Being in The Shield, on the other hand, has him facing bigger names like Punk and Daniel Bryan. WWE will struggle to pursue feuds with Ambrose's title contenders while simultaneously booking rivalries for The Shield.
That's partly why the Ambrose and Ziggler rivalry never truly took off.
Ambrose was too busy playing Triple H's guard dog alongside Reigns and Rollins, torturing Bryan and Big Show, to focus on building a program with Ziggler. Having Ambrose drop the title allows WWE creative to fully commit Ambrose to whatever storyline is in line for The Shield.
It also lets the title boost someone whose career is in need of boosting.
Ryback's climb back to respectability could come courtesy of Ambrose's championship. The U.S. title would serve as a buoy for Zack Ryder's sinking career, a means to skyrocket Xavier Woods or a way to build on Tyson Kidd's return.
For those Superstars, the title would get them more high-profile matches and force WWE to send enemies their way.
For Ambrose, defending the title against midcards is actually a step down. As one-third of The Shield, he is in the midst of a series of battles against the hottest team in WWE, the Rhodes brothers. Without the U.S. title, it would make more sense for The Shield to rotate the two members fighting for and potentially defending the tag titles.
The other feud that The Shield appears to be headed toward is with The Wyatt Family.
That is an electric clash waiting to happen. Those two trios of rising stars locking horns is excellence waiting to happen. Being U.S. champ adds nothing to that battle. Booked the way he has been, being champ has done little for Ambrose in the last few months.
Dropping the title would free him, benefit others and simplify things for WWE creative. For now, the U.S. title is an idle creature locked around Ambrose's waist, not lifting the wearer the way it is meant to.