The U.S. and Intercontinental titles have long histories of being a much-needed step on professional wrestling’s ladder to greatness. But they serve other purposes as well. They are also consolation prizes for guys not quite ready for World title reigns and even nice going away presents for older stars on one last run. If used properly, these titles are important elements of the WWE’s biosphere.
Currently however, they are simply props.
In WCW, stars the likes of Chris Benoit, Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page held the strap before they got the big gold belt around their waists. In WWE, Edge, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart used the IC title to thrust themselves into world title contention. Guys like Tito Santana and Raven used the IC and U.S. belts to cement their roles on the upper mid-card. Towards the end of his career, Ric Flair’s IC title run was a nice way to cap off his career.
But what are these belts being used for today? It seems like every time someone tries to bring credibility to them, a-la Cody Rhodes and Antonio Cesaro respectively, the WWE puts the kibosh on their runs and puts the belt on guys that can’t get over for a majority of reasons that winning a belt won’t fix. Nothing against Kofi Kingston, but it doesn’t matter if he’s a champion. He simply needs more mic time and a gimmick fans can relate to. He’s a great worker, easily one of the best in the company, but it’s not enough. Although Cesaro had a lengthy run with the belt, he went over two months without a legitimate win and lost a plethora of non-title matches. By March, he went from being one of the gems on the card to an afterthought. You can blame creative for that.
While Wade Barrett doesn’t quite fit into the same category, the fact that his match wasn’t on the Wrestlemania card and he lost the title to The Miz during the pre-show, to only win it back on RAW, hurts both the title and Barrett’s credibility. For the most part, a Barrett match is considered filler. Even though Kingston is gifted, ask yourself this, when was the last time you ran to the TV when he was on it?
It’s okay to say never. Back in the day, even with a limited repertoire, Ultimate Warrior inspired awe in fans. A much better worker in Rick Rude made you hate him so much you couldn’t miss his antics. That just doesn’t happen anymore.
In order for both titles to be taken seriously again, the WWE needs their mid tier champions to get mic time, ring time and even a vignette on occasion. Currently Barrett and Kingston do the majority of their talking in the ring. Simply put, the WWE has to make these titles sexy again. Otherwise, they’ll continue to mean bunk.