Top 5 Things WWE Can Do to Improve the Midcard Titles
WrestleMania season has ended, and with it, the WWE moves into a whole new phase. As strong as the storylines leading into 'Mania were, the two midcard titles were conspicuous by their absence.
Both the WWE United States Championship and the WWE Intercontinental Championship have been treated badly of late. Dean Ambrose and Big E have worn the belts for a long time, allowing the previously prestigious gold to stagnate and become unimportant. The fact that neither title was defended at WrestleMania speaks volumes.
Fortunately, the intercontinental title has seen a renaissance of late, with an eight-man tournament to decide the No. 1 contender.
That tournament alone, though, isn't enough to salvage two straps of gold that need an adrenaline shot in the arm. The following slides offer a number of long-term strategies to make these belts worth wearing.
Give them to midcard heels
All of the championships in the WWE are currently in the hands of babyface Superstars. There needs to be some bad-guy gold soon. A heel with power can be terrifying and beautifully arrogant.
Use them to propel new talent
Bo Dallas and Adam Rose are set to come over from NXT soon. Alexander Rusev is already storming through the roster's jobbers on the way to becoming the next Umaga.
A lot of new talent is bursting into WWE at the moment, and there's no better way to reward their success than with a brief title run.
Rusev already seems to be on the path to gold, with a match booked at Extreme Rules and an impressive dynamic with his manager Lana. He will be a champion very soon, and a midcard belt is a great way to move him up to the higher echelons.
5. More Tournaments
The No. 1 contender's tournament has been the highlight of Raw for the last two weeks. It has provided consistently high-quality matches as eight Superstars have battled for a shot at Big E and the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Six former world champions featured in the tournament, battling it out for a midcard belt. If anything adds prestige to a title, it's that level of talent.
Tournaments have been a part of WWE's championship battles since Randy Savage won the vacant WWF Championship at WrestleMania IV.
They haven't really been used recently, so it's refreshing to see WWE Creative pulling one out of the bag. This needs to be a regular thing.
4. Pay-Per-View Exposure
Neither the intercontinental title nor the U.S. strap was defended at WrestleMania. That bears repeating. It's difficult to see how a title is supposed to be prestigious when it doesn't even get an airing at pay-per-view events.
The last time a midcard belt was put on the line at a pay-per-view was when Big E pinned Jack Swagger to retain the intercontinental title at Elimination Chamber in February. You have to go back as far as October of last year to find Dean Ambrose's last PPV title defense.
Going forward, at least one of the midcard titles must be defended at every major PPV. Otherwise, they simply do not seem important.
3. Book Proper Feuds
The central problem with the WWE's midcard titles is a refusal on the part of Creative to script any sustained championship rivalries.
It seems that, when WWE does force champions to defend their titles, the organization plucks challengers from the roster at random. This means that there is never any story behind the title bouts, and consequently, no real chance of a change.
If the WWE is serious about getting its midcard titles right, it has to make sure that there is some bad blood around the title defenses. This could benefit everyone.
A Superstar like Sheamus, down on his luck of late, could benefit from a top-quality midcard feud, especially if he turns heel. Well-written feuds could also allow some neglected babyfaces like Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler a chance to shine again.
2. Use Them as a Main Event Springboard
John Cena won the WWE United States Championship from the Big Show at WrestleMania XX. A year later, he won the WWE Championship. Nearly a decade down the line, he is still at the top of the company after a glittering career.
He is the perfect example of the way in which the midcard titles should be used to propel promising talent. The best champions shouldn't just bounce around the midcard when they drop their belt. They should move up to the next level.
The knowledge that a good title reign can lead to a main event push would give the gold a real sense of prestige. It would make the midcard belts something worth fighting for rather than just something shiny to wear.
1. Defend the Belts Regularly
This should be simple. It shouldn't need to be said. There is no point in someone being a champion if he doesn't defend his belt often.
Sometimes storyline gets in the way, of course, but there should always be room for a high-stakes title bout at least once per month. The champion should always be a visible target who is willing to answer all challengers.
He shouldn't spend the entirety of the WWE's flagship show staring at a video monitor, like Big E has.
It seems that WWE Creative is trying to inject some verve and importance into its midcard titles again. But until the fundamentals are right, the belts will continue to lose their shine.