The WWE used to make their secondary titles mean something. Those days have come and gone inexplicably.
Even the tag team championship has become a shell of its former self, but at least it stands by itself in a separate category. The same goes for the Diva’s title, but the WWE is making a conscious effort to raise its profile with AJ Lee and Paige.
The Intercontinental and United States titles, on the other hand, are not even second fiddle. They are just there. There is little to no prestige with those belts anymore, and many fans would like to see them combined.
Dean Ambrose recently held the U.S. strap for nearly a full year, and there was not a plethora of defenses. Now the belt is on Sheamus for no apparent reason other than to try and give Sheamus something to do. The belt has no meaning.
The true bastard of the WWE titles is the Intercontinental.
The Intercontinental Championship is one of the most beloved in sports entertainment. From its design to its history fans have loved that belt and what it stood for. And for a time it almost rivaled the main strap.
The Intercontinental belt used to be placed on the workhorses of the roster. The guys who could steal the show with their work, and who the WWE saw a bright future for. In recent years, the Intercontinental belt has just been hotshotted around with no emphasis placed on its storylines.
Dolph Ziggler, the current title holder, resembles the old guard of Intercontinental title holders. Yet, the WWE has put him in a near meaningless storyline that the majority of fans do not care about it. The last PPV defense of the belt was an eight-minute bout that opened the show. It was just… there.
Prior to Ziggler, who was the last Intercontinental champion that resembled what the belt used to mean? Certainly not Big E or Curtis Axel who held it for a combined 322 days. Most definitely not Cody Rhodes and his 236 days as champion. No, you likely have to go back to 2003-2004 when Randy Orton held it for 210 days just prior to becoming the man with the main belt.
How does the WWE remedy this?
It starts with the writing.
Ziggler is a good Intercontinental champion, and if they can make the belt mean something again then they can help elevate both the belt and Ziggler.
The WWE has to create a compelling, meaningful story for Ziggler. There is a treasure trove of talent for the WWE to chose from for this role. Ziggler could be put in a long term program that is not opening PPV cards, but rather be given time to steal the show. The same time that was allotted to Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and so on.
Ziggler holding the title could help bring the Intercontinental Championship back to its former glory. But only if the powers that be want him to make it mean something again.
There is nothing wrong with having a tiered system for the belts. In fact, that’s what it’s supposed to be. However, the belts are there to mean something to help elevate the talent who hold them. In the WWE’s current state, that’s not the case. They are just props.
The belts cannot just be props.
It is time for the secondary championships to have meaning put back into them. Everything is there for the WWE to change course and begin to put an emphasis back on the gold, but they need to commit to it long term for it to be successful.
Do you think the mid-card titles matter? Let us know in the comments below.