Not in His Yard: Roman Reigns is the Wrong WWE Star to Elevate IC Championship

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2017

It's the wrong time for Roman Reigns to be intercontinental champion.
It's the wrong time for Roman Reigns to be intercontinental champion.Credit: WWE.com

It doesn't matter who has held the Intercontinental Championship in recent years; no one has been able to restore the title to its former glory, and that won't change with Roman Reigns as champion.

The only individual who has come close to making the prize feel prestigious was seven-time champion The Miz, whom Reigns beat for the belt on the Nov. 20 edition of Raw. PWInsider reported soon after that this was done to write Miz off WWE TV for the time being so he can film The Marine 6 (h/t Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc).

That would seem to indicate WWE doesn't have plans to keep the title on Reigns for a substantial period of time or aim to gradually build the belt back up with him holding it. Basically, don't expect the title to be any better off despite the fact it's in a former WWE champion's possession.

On Monday, Reigns' Shield brethren Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins will have the opportunity to recapture the Raw Tag Team Championships when they do battle with Sheamus and Cesaro. It's possible that the outing will end with Ambrose and Rollins regaining the gold and the entire Shield standing tall as champions.

It would be a sweet visual, but how does that help the Intercontinental Championship?

The last time every member of The Shield was a titleholder, Ambrose defended the United States Championship on rare occasions. That was a result of his focus largely being on Shield six-man matches and not singles competition, so Reigns might fall victim to that as well.

Speaking of the star-spangled prize, Reigns' last reign with the title around this time one year ago was hardly memorable. He instead had his sights set on Kevin Owens and his Universal Championship, so the U.S. title was relegated to serving as a stepping stone.

That said, the original purpose of the secondary titles was to elevate their holders to main event status. That hasn't been the case in a great while, and WWE has instead had former world champions occupy the intercontinental and U.S. title pictures.

In theory, that should give the championships a bit of a boost, but as soon as the stars relinquish the gold, the titles almost immediately return to irrelevancy.

Credit: WWE.com

To Reigns' credit, his first reign as intercontinental champion is off to a solid start. He issued an open challenge on the latest edition of Raw, which was accepted by Elias, and they went on to have a solid match later in the evening.

That was what worked so well about Cena's U.S. Open Challenge in 2015; it gave Superstars who would have been overlooked otherwise a chance to shine against an established veteran. It was a predictable formula, with Cena winning more often than not, but his opponents always came away looking good.

Elias had the best bout of his main-roster run versus Reigns, but his intercontinental title open challenge gimmick might be over quicker than it started if Samoa Joe's post-match attack on Reigns was any indication, hinting at an encounter at January's Royal Rumble.

There is zero question Reigns is being primed for a championship clash with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34. It doesn't look like he will be entering the event with the Intercontinental Championship in tow. Nor should he, as it would automatically play second fiddle to the Universal Championship.

Reigns is unquestionably a talented performer, but it is not the time to experiment with him as IC champion. Someone such as Finn Balor would have benefited much more from taking that title from Miz and breathing new life into Raw's nearly nonexistent midcard scene.

Time will tell whether Reigns can break the curse and revive the Intercontinental Championship or whether he will follow the same pattern of neglecting the title like every other notable name before him.

            

Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.

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