The United States Championship has become a forgettable part of the WWE's ongoing drama.
A lack of top contenders is to blame for that. Dean Ambrose continues to hold onto the title, thanks to precious few Superstars stepping up to take it from him. In fact, him not defending has become a running joke that even the announcers are in on.
"When Ambrose ever defend it? You can hold a title for 14 years and never defend it." THANK YOU, JBL! #Raw— Graham Matthews (@WrestleRant) February 4, 2014
WWE has a number of potential candidates on the roster who need the spotlight that the championship would give them and flourish under it.
It's a title best suited for a rising star, one who isn't quite ready for headlining status, but who should have a larger slice of airtime than the company's bottom feeders. The following three men fit that criteria.
Chasing the United States title gives them direction. Their skills give them a chance at being a memorable champion.
Although he once owned the Money in the Bank briefcase, Sandow has yet to hold a title. Since losing that shot at the world championship, he has slid down several rungs.
The worst part of this recent stretch is that WWE has gotten away from Sandow's strength—working the microphone.
We haven't heard him insult the fans, his foes or mouthbreathers in general lately. That was his most entertaining trait. It's hard to be boastful, though, when you occupy an ecosystem's lowest level.
Having Sandow enter the U.S. title picture gives him a goal and a reason to blather on.
While earning victories en route to becoming the No. 1 contender, Sandow can show off his crafty, tough and relentless sides. During his feud with Cody Rhodes and his match with John Cena last October, he showed great promise.
Pushing him as a U.S. title contender makes better use of that promise rather than have him be the punching bag that he plays now.
Kidd would require the most buildup of the top potential U.S. title contenders.
WWE has severely underused this talented wrestler and would have to reconstruct how the audience perceives him. It would only take a few big wins to take him from forgotten benchwarmer to Superstar gathering momentum.
He is one of the fastest, most athletic performers on the roster, as we saw last year against Justin Gabriel.
Fans have seen little of him since then, though. Santino Marella has gotten more consistent ring time than Kidd.
Kidd's mic skills and charisma aren't at a world champ level. Men like Bray Wyatt and Cena are simply more magnetic. Kidd's strengths are in the ring.
That's why the U.S. title is the ideal fit for him. He can defend it under a less severe spotlight.
He'd provide exciting matches on Main Event and SmackDown, making better use of the title than Ambrose is. Let the bigger stars have the bigger stories. Kidd would thrive as a midcard workhorse.
Rey Mysterio recently told Sky Sports that Kidd "hasn't really been given the opportunity but when he gets it he will blow people's minds."
"The Bulgarian Brute" is ready to begin his tour of destruction.
After dominating at NXT, WWE has moved Rusev to the main roster. He has quickly piled up two wins with victories over Zack Ryder and Sin Cara.
Having him set his sights on the U.S. title gives him something concrete to drive him. Every win he amasses onward has more meaning, as it brings him closer to contention.
The powerful new prospect tearing through the bottom half of the roster is a reliable formula. It worked for Ryback for a while, and it propelled Goldberg in a big way. Goldberg's first championship was the WCW United States Championship.
That title helped build him into a main-eventer.
Is Rusev capable of that role? WWE can certainly find out, should it put the U.S. title across his massive shoulder and see what develops.
We've only seen glimpses of Rusev's power and athleticism so far. Many of his bouts at NXT were short, but hinted at a great future.
Being in the hunt for, and possibly carrying, the U.S. belt gives him a stage on which to build that future.
If he succeeds under that amount of pressure, WWE can be confident in giving him more. It's an experiment worth undertaking to see what this powerhouse is capable of.
It's far more productive than letting the United States Championship develop atrophy.