Breaking Down State of the IC Title Heading into WWE WrestleMania 34

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2018

Finn Balor, The Miz and Seth Rollins have breathed new life into the IC Championship picture.
Finn Balor, The Miz and Seth Rollins have breathed new life into the IC Championship picture.Credit: WWE.com

WWE fans have gone a while without an important Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania, but the belt will be back to being prominently featured at this year's installment.

The title's recent resurgence can be largely contributed to The Miz, who has done more to make the prize feel coveted than anyone else in the past decade. He has held the strap more often than not for the better part of the last five years, and thus it's only appropriate he enters WrestleMania 34 as the defending champion.

Whether he will walk out with the title in tow, however, remains unknown. Miz will have the odds stacked against him when he faces Seth Rollins and Finn Balor in a Triple Threat match that will likely steal the show.

Credit: WWE.com

Miz's work as Intercontinental champion essentially speaks for itself. Currently in his eighth reign with the title, he has taken on all comers and successfully elevated the strap to a level it hasn't been at in quite a while.

Even before he regained the gold at the 25th Anniversary of Raw back in January, the Intercontinental Championship was already on the ascent thanks to Roman Reigns. Fans feared he would treat the title no different than he did the United States Championship in 2016 by rendering it an obsolete prop.

Despite that, Reigns defended the belt against elite competition on a weekly basis and solidified it as the premier prize on Raw in Universal champion Brock Lesnar's absence.

Ideally, that won't be an issue coming out of WrestleMania 34 if Reigns is able to dethrone Lesnar as Universal champion. That doesn't mean the Intercontinental title should return to obscurity, and whoever leaves New Orleans with the strap should continue the momentum it has had in recent months.

Unlike in past years, the Intercontinental Championship match at 'Mania actually has high stakes and isn't considered an afterthought compared to the rest of the card. The back-to-back Ladder matches that were contested for the belt in 2015 and 2016 were enjoyable, yet they held no real meaning.

It helps that each of the three combatants in the Triple Threat at WrestleMania 34 have a reason for wanting to become Intercontinental champion and are therefore giving this bout a big-fight feel.

Furthermore, the midcard scene is stacked on Raw at the moment. While there is no doubt Miz, Rollins and Balor belong in the Universal Championship conversation, they bring legitimacy to the Intercontinental Championship by setting their sights on it in the meantime.

They are far from the only ones who could feasibly enter the IC Championship conversation at any point. Braun Strowman, "Woken" Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt are all waiting in the wings as well, providing Miz, Rollins and Balor with plenty of fresh faces to do battle with once WrestleMania is over.

With this Triple Threat being the most must-see Intercontinental title matchup at 'Mania in years, it deserves to be slotted on the higher end of the card and not be relegated to the opening slot or the dreaded Kickoff show.

To illustrate just how much the Intercontinental Championship has evolved from where it previously was before Miz got it in his grasp, the belt has since returned to serving as a stepping stone for those ready to move up to the main event picture.

Considering The Awesome One has proved himself as a world champion-caliber competitor lately, there's nothing stopping him from passing the belt along to either Rollins or Balor at WrestleMania. Those two could inject an equal amount of excitement into that title and re-establish it as the championship for WWE's biggest and brightest workhorses.

It's safe to say the IC Championship hasn't been in this strong of a state in some time. The build to this three-way coming up on April 8 has been a blast, and if Miz, Balor and Rollins can deliver the exceptional outing they are capable of, perhaps the prestige the belt lost long ago will finally have been restored.

      

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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