Tuesday 4 November 2014

The Top Prize

WWE is currently wasting an opportunity to elevate the status of the Intercontinental championship. With the WWE title currently sitting on Brock Lesnar’s mantelpiece and not appearing on RAW Dolph Ziggler is the highest ranked champion in the promotion. The WWE champ’s continued absence is an opportunity to raise the significance of the IC strap, but it’s not being taken.

Obviously Randy Orton and John Cena are not going to suddenly show an interest in a second string championship. Nor should they. Doing so would send the message that the IC gold is something world champions go for when they’ve nothing else to do, which would devalue it. My feeling is that once a wrestler has been world champion, the best of the best, no other singles championship should satisfy them.

The man who would be king.
But WWE has an entire roster of guys who could express an interest in the Intercontinental hardware. Since Dolph Ziggler won it the only significant challengers he’s had have been The Miz and Cesaro. Both are the sort of guy who should be challenging for the title but to have only two people (plus the not exactly high profile Bo Dallas) being the only people to express an interest in the title doesn’t make it seem like a particularly valued prize.

It also devalues the title if everyone who mentions wanting to win it gets the chance to, as has happened since ‘The Show Off’ won it. It means more if shots at it are earned. The easiest way around that is to have mid-card guys mentioning the championship in interviews and promos even if they’re not involved, or about to be involved, in a feud for it. That way it seems like something people are constantly striving to win, making it feel more valued.

Seth Rollins would be an ideal guy to express interest in it. He’s just main evented a pay-per-view and is perfectly happy to refer to hismelf as the future. He’s even gone so far as to dub himself ‘The Undisputed Future of WWE’. He is ideally placed to challenge Ziggler: he’s a major name who hasn’t yet won a world championship.

The IC title is something commonly associated with rising stars, guys who are on their way to the main event. Holding it would not harm Rollins, but it would boost the status of the belt. That status would be further enhanced when Rollins, having lost the IC title, cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to become WWE champion: the Intercontinental title would have just come off a guy who went on to quickly become the WWE champion. It would demonstrate that the IC title is the gateway to the main event.

You may be wondering why it’s so important that the Intercontinental title is seen in this way. Put simply, it’s because the more important it seems the more useful it becomes as a star-building tool. If a wrestler wins a belt that doesn’t mean much they’ve accomplished little, if anything. If they win a title that’s seen as only a smidge beneath the world strap, and a title that has recently come off a man who went on to capture a world title, they’ve done something considerable and will be viewed as a bigger star.

There’s still time for WWE to get their act together on this. Lesnar isn’t expected to make regular contributions again until the build for his Royal Rumble defence against Cena begins in late December or early January. That gives WWE at least two more months to script some guys to express an interest in the championship and make it seem like something that’s desired by the roster.

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