How the US and IC Titles can save the WWE
by, 03-05-2013 at 05:35 PM (7459 Views)
If the non fan watched WWE programming for one week, they would leave with the notion that there are two titles and they have no difference. The average fan knows that there are multiple titles, The World Heavyweight Championship is quite important, and the WWE title is king.
These are observations that have been thrust upon fans as this era of wrestling has taken shape. When WWE purchased WCW, and consequently the World Heavyweight Championship, many wondered how things would shake out. In the grand scheme of things, the integration of the World Heavyweight Championship has been very beneficial for the WWE. But the casualties have been mid card wrestlers and the secondary championships. There is so much emphasis put on winning the titles and grabbing the proverbial brass rings within the organization, that many have forgotten that the secondary titles have made more superstars than anything else in the modern era.
Here are a few examples to defend this belief:
Wrestlemania III - In one of the greatest matches ever wrestled, Ricky Steamboat took on Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Title. The end of the story was the greatness of the match, but the build up and story behind the resulting match is what made this such a war. The title itself was an enhancement to the feud. Steamboat taking the title was the ultimate vindication, but the feud, match, and result propelled Savage to super stardom within the next year.
The Ultimate Warrior - As his popularity grew from his ring entrance, high intensity, power, and his look, the need to elevate the Warrior to the next level was apparent. At the time, the Honky Tonk Man was in the midst of a long IC Title reign and had little to no heat as champ. Although the Warrior's victory to win the belt was short and sweet, winning the title at Summer Slam 88 was a huge part of making him a star. It wasn't only the winning of the title, but feuding with Rick Rude for the next year and carrying the title into Wrestlemania VI to go title vs title with Hogan was just as important.
Stone Cold, The Rock, and HHH - All three of these guys owe what they are today to their time with the IC title. Austin won the title in the match against Owen Hart where Owen broke Austin's neck, creating the Raw moment where Owen held up the Owen 3:16, I Just Broke Your Neck t-shirt continuing the feud that culminated in Austin defeating Owen for the title again later that year.
Rocky Maivia won his first IC tilte from Hunter Hearst Helmsley in February of 97 and they feuded over it, with a few more superstars for the better part of 2 years. In that time frame, Rocky Maivia became The Rock and Helmsley became HHH.
During those two years, Austin, The Rock, HHH, and Owen Hart were the only ones to hold the title, but they were all feuded over becoming the IC champ. It made for even better feuds when 3 of the 4 made it to the main event level. There was a back story to the rivalry. They didn't need to manufacture storylines to start a feud. They were already in place. And by elevating one of those guys to the top slot, the other two had the instant credibility to make the jump themselves.
You are probably saying to yourself, how would this change things now?
Well, think long and hard about when the last time there was a legitimate feud for the IC or US belt. Sure, there have been times where the IC champ has been in a feud, but most of the time the title was a secondary storyline. It seems like everyone on the roster that has been in the company for longer than a year has won a secondary title but no great feuds to go along with it. There is nothing for them to jump to once they are deemed ready for the spotlight. There is no chance for promotion by association as I referenced with Austin and The Rock.
When Wade Barrett, the current IC champ is deemed ready for the main event (which in my opinion should be soon), he will have a rivalry with Randy Orton because they have wrestled so many times, John Cena because of Nexus, and Sheamus because they are both from Europe. Other than that, they will have to create storylines to get him into position. Title reigns are not just accolades. They should serve a purpose.
The biggest reason this needs to happen is that there is no development at the midcard level. They have so many wrestlers with promise and talent that are being wasted. These wrestlers can still be used as fodder for the upper level guys, but there has to be some middle ground to build respectability. The better your midcard wrestlers appear, the better your main eventers will look when they beat them.
With two secondary titles and two major shows, it would be easier to build for the future if the US and IC titles were utilized better. Building resumes with secondary titles and great feuds is what develops better characters and viable opponents for the more established stars. It also gives the company a chance to see if the younger talent actually has what it takes to be a major champion. Feuding over a title puts the mic in the hands of superstars. Carrying a title means exposure. The more exposure they get, the more likely it is that the fans will accept their character as a legitimate superstar.