State of the Intercontinental Championship – September 2014


WWE’s Intercontinental Championship has been mired in a state of mediocrity for years. The second-tier title is held in slightly higher regard than the United States Championship, but isn’t even in the same league as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and it certainly isn’t the stepping stone it once was.

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Legends like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chris Jericho, and Edge all won the Intercontinental Championship on their way to a world title. One of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, a ladder match between Michaels and Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X, was to determine the Undisputed Intercontinental Champion.

However, in recent years, the IC Title has done very little to propel the floundering careers of talented guys like Bad News Barrett, Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes, Curtis Axel, and Big E. In fact, the argument could be made for the title doing more to hurt them.

Now, in the past week, the title has been defended three times, and has changed hands twice. Dolph Ziggler walked in to Night of Champions with the title last Sunday, but lost it to The Miz. Ziggler used his rematch clause to take the title back from Miz on Monday Night Raw. Then on Friday Night SmackDown, Cesaro won a #1 Contender’s Battle Royal, but was unsuccessful in his match later in the night against Ziggler.

There’s way too much going on there.

First, the worst thing WWE does the night after a pay-per-view is have immediate rematches, especially with titles on the line. Aside from it just being a poor way of doing business, it waters down the importance and significance of a title match.

Second, Miz cheated to steal the title from Ziggler on Sunday, then Ziggler returned the favor to take the title back on Monday. I can live with that, but why did Miz then spend Main Event and SmackDown tied up with Dean Ambrose? And why did Ziggler defend the title against Cesaro? Ziggler and Miz’s storyline should continue, and if it is going to, they shouldn’t be used as pawns in other storylines.

As WWE moves forward, a big step in upgrading their programming and increasing ratings and PPV/Network buys, is elevating the importance of the IC Title.

Looking to the next PPV, Hell in a Cell, Ziggler needs to defend the title against Miz, and pick up a clean victory. In the build to that show, Ziggler can look weak during post-match attacks from Miz, but he can’t lose any matches.

The next time Ziggler should be pinned is in a Survivor Series Match at the traditional November PPV, because he can be pinned in that match without being damaged too much, and without losing his title.

A clean win over Miz, along with solid involvement in a Survivor Series Match, wouldn’t completely turn perception of the title, but it would be a foundation for big things in December.

In December, Barrett is expected to return from injury, and with Ziggler and the title not in the middle of anything, Barrett should jump right into a feud for the title he only lost due to injury.

A feud between Ziggler and Barrett could be very special. The two could put on some very good matches, and could have some good back-and-forth during promos. Most importantly, if Barrett can regain the momentum he had before the injury, the feud would be between two of the most popular Superstars in WWE. That would certainly do wonders for the title.

The title will still be a long way away from the prominent status it once had, but this would be a very good start on its road to recovery.

Elevating the title should be easy, as WWE is currently in possession of one of the most talented rosters in company history, and there’s plenty of young talent who need a chance to prove what they can do. The IC Title used to provide that spot for young guys, evidenced by all the Hall of Famers, and future Hall of Famers who have held it, but it hasn’t done that in quite some time, and if that’s going to change, WWE needs to prove that they can focus on building more than one storyline at a time.

WWE hasn’t been able to do that successfully in a very long time, which is why, even in the hands of Ziggler, one of WWE’s brightest stars, the Intercontinental Championship still finds itself falling into a black hole.

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