Attention for the U.S. Title
In the last couple of weeks, the United States Championship has been a real focal point of the WWE’s weekly programming—and given the company’s prior handling of the midcard belt, this is very much something new.
How long has it been since the U.S. title was given such precedence?
Last week’s Battle Royal regained our attention, and Dean Ambrose’s subsequent rematch on SmackDown only fortified that interest. Having the title holder then feature in a hard-fought, and fairly impressive, succession of matches this week maintains the wave that the title is riding.
Sure, the belt wasn’t on the line on Raw, but the holder was booked very strongly. More importantly, though—and here’s where the new comes in—the match wasn’t billed as Sheamus in action; it was billed as the U.S. champion in action.
How often was that the case when Ambrose held the strap?
Let’s forget about cries of "Super Sheamus" for now and just enjoy the fact that the U.S. title was given a level of recognition that has recently been unprecedented.
It looks as though we’re set for reruns of John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt and Evolution vs. The Shield at Payback.
And though we’ve already seen battles within these rivalries, we were given various hints on Monday Night Raw that we could be in store for some new stipulations to shake things up.
Triple H promised that Evolution would take the Shield apart “one by one.” Does this mean that we could be set for a series of singles matches rather than one six-man brawl? Or perhaps some kind of elimination match?
And we saw a similar suggestion from Bray Wyatt. After he and his Family lost to Cena and The Usos, Wyatt thanked Cena for showing him what he now must do. Based on this, it seems that Wyatt has something significant planned for his next showdown with Cena—and that’s exactly what this feud needed to maintain its momentum.
We may not have any clear-cut answers on what exactly Triple H and Wyatt meant, but it looks like there’s certainly something new coming to each man’s respective rivalry.
The Divas division has seen plenty of storyline developments lately. But other than Paige’s title win, very few of these developments have actually been about wrestling.
Drama from Total Divas and a budding relationship between two dance partners have both dominated the female division as of late, but on Raw this week, we saw a segment that actually related to in-ring competition.
After tasting defeat at the hands of Paige, Alicia Fox went on a rampage, hurling every object she could get her hands on and screaming at anyone who got in her way that she is in fact “championship material.”
Needless to say, such a development was hugely refreshing. Having given the Divas more attention lately, there’s still been something of a lack of competitiveness. Hopefully Fox’s outburst and her new, steelier attitude will do something about that.
Big E vs. Rusev
As mentioned previously, Big E came out to save Duggan from Rusev on Raw this week, though he was promptly set on his way by the imposing Bulgarian newcomer.
It all suggests that these two could be on course for a head-on collision, and I for one think this could be a pretty great rivalry.
I know a lot of people, including American rapper Wale, have been slightly peeved by the WWE’s insistence of pitting Rusev against the roster’s African-American contingent (first R-Truth and Xavier Woods, then Kofi Kingston and now Big E).
But I highly doubt this is any sort of conspiratorial racism. If anything, it’s maybe a part of Rusev’s pro-Russian storyline—but I don’t want to get into some political debate on here, largely because I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about…
Either way, Rusev vs. Big E could be an awesome new feud to add to Payback. Both men are tremendously athletic strongmen and thus could put together something rather entertaining.