Top 10 Candidates for Dean Ambrose's WWE United States Championship
In recent weeks and months, Ambrose has come under fire for rarely defending the belt. His last pay-per-view defense was at Night of Champions in October. It seems inevitable that, with The Shield at main-event level, the U.S. Championship is going to leave its spot around Ambrose's waist very soon.
The performer who is able to knock off Ambrose is going to have an uphill struggle to win back the credibility of the title. Its recent invisibility has damaged its prestige, so the new champion has to be special.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of excellent midcard Superstars queuing up to win the belt.
10. Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes was a great heel. He was arguably more fun as part of Rhodes Scholars than he is now alongside his brother, Goldust. The former Intercontinental champion is also a solid worker with an entertaining move set.
Seeds have recently been planted for a schism within The Brotherhood. Recent events are hinting heavily that Cody will split from his brother, turning heel and igniting an interesting feud.
After that, though, Cody will be free to climb the midcard ladder again. There would be no better way to do that than holding the WWE United States Championship.
9. Jack Swagger
Despite all of this, it would be foolish to waste a Superstar with such great in-ring skills. Zeb Colter is a reliably excellent mouthpiece for Swagger who can pull him through title feuds with ease. He has great chemistry with Paul Heyman, so there could always be tension between "Heyman Guys" and "Colter Guys."
Swagger deserves to be a real force in the WWE. The United States Championship could help him get over this difficult spell and achieve that.
8. Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston has been reduced to nothing more than a Battle Royal highlight reel. He spends most of the year as a jobber, until he can pull off some crazy acrobatics at the Royal Rumble.
What has happened to the "Kofi of old"? He is a four-time Intercontinental champion and a three-time holder of the United States Championship belt. The midcard roster is currently made up predominantly of brawlers and submission specialists, so Kingston's high-energy style could be a breath of fresh air.
He is an exciting Superstar who deserves another run at wearing some gold.
7. Bo Dallas
The NXT invasion of the main roster is in full force. Paige has already captured the WWE Divas Championship, and Alexander Rusev is leaving destruction in his wake. Still to arrive, though, is the longest-reigning NXT champion in history: Bo Dallas.
He sat at the top of the tree in NXT for 280 days, so he has a lot of experience in being a champion. His gimmick is an interesting one, and he could easily play the serious NXT transfer, whilst Adam Rose is partying.
There would be no better way for Dallas to arrive than with a huge title win. Ambrose's championship belt could be a great opportunity.
6. Alberto Del Rio
In terms of storyline, the unification of the world titles last year was a great idea. Unfortunately, this has narrowed the field of potential title holders and relegated former main-eventers to the midcard. Few have suffered from this more than four-time world champion Alberto Del Rio.
Del Rio has been in a strange career limbo recently. It seems that WWE Creative just doesn't know what to do with him. He has beaten Big E cleanly a few times, but he hasn't even come close to a shot at the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
He is an intense presence on the mic and in the ring who should be in the upper echelons of the company. If he is to reach those heights again, a United States title run could be the stepping stone.
5. Dolph Ziggler
Like Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler was hurt by the unification of the world titles. His big push last year came to an abrupt end when he suffered a legitimate concussion at the hands of Jack Swagger.
Ziggler has spent a lot of time since then being the midcard's resident jobber. He sells better than anyone in the business at the moment. Any Superstar in the ring with Ziggler immediately looks twice as talented. His match with Bad News Barrett in the Intercontinental title tournament is the perfect example.
He has languished in the midcard too long for a man of his talents. Ziggler deserves a run at main-event status, starting with a run as United States champion.
4. Damien Sandow
Does anyone actually remember the Damien Sandow in the above video? His beatdown to weaken John Cena before cashing in Money in the Bank was ruthless, Machiavellian and clever. That is everything Sandow's character should be.
Before you can say "sharp career decline," Sandow has now jobbed to Sin Cara and been beaten up by Hugh Jackman whilst wearing a Magneto costume. This isn't the way the "Intellectual Saviour of the Masses" should be treated.
WWE Creative needs to put in the work to rebuild Sandow's career. He's one of the more talented workers on the roster and completely owns his gimmick. He deserves a run at Ambrose.
3. Alexander Rusev
Alexander Rusev has blazed a trail of destruction since his arrival. Not a single Superstar has even come close to stopping the "Bulgarian Brute."
He will meet Xavier Woods and R-Truth in a handicap match at Extreme Rules, which will likely be another squash for the "Super Athlete." Rusev has real momentum and the instantly popular Lana on his side. The man is clearly being groomed for title success.
Why not start by ending the longest WWE United States Championship reign in history?
Sheamus, once one of the top guys in the WWE, has not worn a championship belt since October 2012.
Yet another victim of the unified championship, he has been positioned in the upper echelons of the midcard. In recent weeks, he has helped to put over guys such as Bray Wyatt and Bad News Barrett who are in the midst of big pushes. This has led to calls for Sheamus to return to his past as a heel.
WWE Creative has positioned Sheamus weirdly. He is a midcard act that rarely loses but never reaches the main-event picture. As a heel, he could get over as a dastardly challenger to Ambrose.
There would be no better way to introduce Sheamus as a heel than with a victory over one of the biggest babyface champions in the company. Well, he's the biggest without a beard.
Cesaro's push is beginning to look like another wasted opportunity for WWE Creative. The feud with Swagger has come off badly, and there's a lot of confusion about where he sits on the face-heel spectrum.
Something needs to be done quickly before Cesaro becomes another failed experiment. He managed to hold the WWE United States Championship for 239 days in 2012-13 and could have another great reign.
With Heyman by his side as a heel or going alone as a babyface, Cesaro could carry some top upper-midcard feuds with many of the other names on this list.
A rivalry between a heel Sheamus and a face Cesaro could be a recipe for Match of the Year action.