The Intercontinental title used to be known as the worker’s title, but somewhere recently WWE has almost forgotten that it exists. Forgetting as such has hindered the growth of many champions, but none worse than what it’s done to Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura is in the midst of a 107-day tenure as the IC champion on WWE SmackDown. He picked up that title back in August when he defeated Apollo Crews, another individual who did not see a career boost after picking up this mid-card championship. For a moment it looked like Nakamura was going to experience the push that many fans have been waiting for since getting called up to the main roster. Instead, what’s come since has been gross mismanagement and this is the worst aspect of it all.
Nakamura has remained active on SmackDown each week, but it seems like his presence is to elevate Rick Boogs’s character. Whenever the duo is on television the focus is on Boogs’s antics, especially around his guitar and singing skills. All the while, fans want to see more out of Nakamura, who was once considered one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Within his 107-day reign as champion, Nakamura has defended the championship just once on television. Back in September, he picked up a victory over Crews. Since then, the belt has been an afterthought. At a time when Roman Reigns needs fresh competitors, WWE Creative needs to make a shift in how it’s booking Nakamura to build him into a potential challenger sooner rather than later.
To begin, splitting Boogs from Nakamura is necessary. It’s too late for the split to be subtle but creating a feud between the two builds the opportunity for the two men to get over in some sort of way. But in keeping the title on Nakamura, WWE needs to look at the SmackDown roster and leverage that talent for feuds around the title. Names like Ricochet, Mustafa Ali, Xavier Woods, and Cesaro could all fit perfectly into a mid-card feud with Nakamura and eventual run with the Intercontinental title.
From there, it’s imperative to elevate Nakamura back into the main event. At 41-years old he is past his athletic prime, but that doesn’t stop the WWE as they consistently book the older generations higher on the card. Nakamura’s resume is just as strong as anyone in the industry today and he could carry the company as a main event threat to Reigns. Royal Rumble and WrestleMania are quickly approaching. Something must change to keep interest in the top of the card and Nakamura could help be a part of the solution.
Shinsuke Nakamura may be one of the worst used individuals on the WWE main roster. The multiple-time IWGP Champion came into WWE with a wealth of fanfare that was immediately snuffed out on the main roster. It’s time to correct that, rebuild his brand and that of the Intercontinental title for everyone involved.