There's a popular theory that all dogs look like their owners. Such has been the case with the Intercontinental championship and its recent owners.
The vintage Intercontinental championship was reintroduced by Cody Rhodes in 2011. WWE initially tried to make it work, both with Rhodes' character and the title.
At the time, Rhodes was booked as a psychologically scarred individual who had previously prided himself on his looks under his "Dashing" persona. This was the type of character development that builds top stars.
Then a rising star in his own right, an Intercontinental championship feud against the Big Show at WrestleMania XXVIII only elevated the profile of both Rhodes and the title. But it wasn't long before the title was passed around carelessly. It went from Rhodes, to Show, to eventually a cold and directionless Wade Barrett, and then to an even colder and more directionless Curtis Axel.
Despite the feel-good moment of Axel winning the Intercontinental title on Father's Day at WWE Payback, the title, like Axel, virtually disappeared during his tenure.
When the championship moved to a surging Big E, both the title and its owner were on the rise. Subsequently declining title defenses, however, would coincide with a de-emphasis of Big E.
Despite a recent Intercontinental title tournament that restored some amount of glory to the title, Big E was relegated to standing backstage and looking on during each week of competition.
Once the title gained meaning again, it no longer resembled Big E, who had suddenly entered a downward spiral.
Needless to say, Big E dropped the title Sunday at Extreme Rules. The new champion is Bad News Barrett. Like the Intercontinental title, Barrett has seen a sudden resurgence over the course of several weeks.
The night after Extreme Rules, a similarly resurgent Sheamus captured the United States Championship from Dean Ambrose. As a babyface who should be a heel, Sheamus was previously in no man's land. Now teasing a slow heel turn, Sheamus is on the verge of a renaissance.
Both Sheamus and Barrett would benefit from a unification match. Regardless of the winner, a title unification can be booked as a big deal that will further both the current champions. An ensuing feud between two revitalized stars over the unified title would help both the title and its combatants.
Nothing will re-establish a WWE secondary championship as a meaningful entity like unification. If all championships really do resemble their owners, only a unified title will fit the stature of its champion.
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