Following the positive reception to my idea for creating an actual Tag Team revolution, I've decided to take a crack at coming up with a way to save two more title scenes that are currently languishing in mediocrity: The Intercontinental Title and the Divas Title.
Before I get started on my ideas for those title scenes, I'm going to make a quick comment on the status of the US Title. Quite frankly, I'd leave it in the hands of Antonio Cesaro until he is ready to be called up to the main event scene. While his current booking and lack of a real feud leaves something to be desired, his run with the title has been about as good as one can reasonably hope for after the embarrassing fall in prestige that title experienced starting with Zach Ryder and leading into Santino Marella's ludicrous 167 day joke reign.
So, keep that one in Cesaro's hands for the time being. Let him wave the US flag and slowly add red, white, and blue to his wardrobe. Otherwise, anything I have below about the IC Title could also be applied to it.The Intercontinental Title
"Macho Man is probably turning in his grave at the treatment this title has received in recent years..."
The Intercontinental Heavyweight Wrestling Championship: Once upon a time, this title was a reward for the hard workers on the roster who didn't have the right look to crack into the WWE Title scene during the time it was dominated by hulking, roided out monsters of men. Immortals like the Macho Man and Bret Hart had career establishing matches with this title. Then, throughout the 90s, it evolved into a "proving ground" title of sorts. Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, HHH, The Rock and Stone Cold all got their first singles gold in the WWE with this title.
Unfortunately, the IC title has been mostly displaced since the addition of the World Heavyweight Championship as a second primary title in the WWE. Even then, it still held onto a little prestige as the superior mid card title and was often still the first singles gold many wrestlers got their hands on.
But the steady decline for this once proud title has continued. Since Cody Rhodes' somewhat prominent 236 day reign in late 2011-early 2012, the title has gone to hell in a hurry. Christian had a largely forgettable reign with the title until losing it to the Miz, who I swear lost every match he had as champion except for title defenses.
One particularly egregious span of losses this summer saw Miz getting defeated cleanly by Kane, Randy Orton, John Cena, and probably some others I'm forgetting in non-title action. And then in classic #WWELogic fashion, he lost several more times to wrestlers in matches to earn title shots. Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett have followed up Miz's joke of a reign in similar fashion, losing in just about every match that isn't a title defense. (Until they finally lose one of those as well...)
It's hard to tell how the canceled Intercontinental Cup would have affected this title scene. Based on some of the names involved (Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler in particular,) I think it could have been a major boon for the title. Getting a couple of guys from the outskirts of the main event scene competing for the title would have definitely elevated it somewhat, even if those guys didn't actually win the tournament or the title.
Unfortunately, the Cup was canceled, most likely so Wade Barrett could have a mini-feud with Bo Dallas. I'm all for getting new talent over, but I don't think further devaluing of the IC title is the best way to do that.
It is my longstanding policy not to bring up issues without attempting to offer a solution, so what would I do to (realistically) bring interest and prestige back to the IC title scene? Well...
1.) (Short Term) Put the title on a current main event level star in order to elevate it
Generally, when discussing one of the secondary titles or the tag team titles, at least a dozen or so superstars are immediately out of the mix because these titles are considered "beneath them." The usual crowd of John Cena, the WWE champ, the WHC champ, and whoever those guys are directly feuding with at the time are understandably out of the mix. But that doesn't account for everyone currently considered to be at the "main event level."
So why not, every so often (maybe once or twice a year) bump a few of those guys down to the level of the IC title in order to give that scene a shot in the arm of high level talent?
Example Scenario: Ideally, at this moment, my choice for a guy to elevate the IC title would be Chris Jericho. He has held the title a record 9 times, so I would make this his 10th. Play up the history of the title as he feuds for it and then wins it. I'd have him win it, successfully defend it in a rematch with the previous champ, then put over an up-and-comer shortly there after.
A series of quality matches with Jericho, even if he loses out in the feud, would probably be better for Wade Barrett at this point then continued jobbing to the Randy Ortons and Sheamuses of the world.
As for who Jericho would put over, there are a number of possibilities. If he stays a face, a good feud and match with Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, or a Shield member would be excellent choices in my book. One idea I'd love to see is to have him lose the title to Daniel Bryan following a Hell No break up and full heel turn by Bryan. While most of us would like to see him back in the main event scene, it is rather crowded at the moment and D-Bry has lost a bit of his edge as the "weak link" in Hell No.
Taking the title from Jericho and then having a lengthy, dominant reign as IC champion could be the spark he needs to shoot him back up the card. If Jericho were to turn heel (as has been rumored,) this role could easily go to Ryback (Jericho's rumored feud partner after his heel turn.) Ryback's status as an indomitable monster has taken a hit with several big PPV losses, and a lengthy, dominate reign as IC champion could help to reestablish him. (Think Goldberg's US title reign prior to defeating Hogan.)
Unfortunately, with Jericho likely only sticking around until WrestleMania, time might be too limited to play this out fully.
In that case, I'd be willing to substitute Randy Orton in his place. Orton remains one of the biggest fan favorites on the roster and is an excellent talent who is floating in the void around the main event levels right now. (Being one positive Wellness test away from a year's suspension has made the WWE skittish about putting him in a primary title feud.) He, like Jericho, is a current face who could bring some prestige back to the title before dropping it to an up-and-coming heel, or turn heel himself and set up a face like Ryback for the title.
2.) Keep the title AWAY from Main Eventers UNLESS that person is competing for it!
I can't be the only one who gets disgusted when we come back from commercials to see the IC title holder already in the ring (no televised entrance) while the music for one of the main eventers hits and comes down to the ring. You know a non-title job is about to happen, and that is bullshit. I've said many times that I believe the 4 singles title holders on the WWE roster should be 4 of the most strongly booked guys at any given time. These guys should not be shown losing unless it is a title match and they are losing their title, with only a select few exceptions.
Instead, the IC and US champions are often just the most highly decorated jobbers. This is a practice I would end immediately. While sometimes it does elevate a guy just to be seen competing with those on a level above it, they should not be doing it while holding any of the title belts.
3.) Keep the IC Title exclusive to SmackDown and Main Event
Let's face it, the WWE needs filler material for the 3 hour Raw, so this one is less realistic. But ideally, I'd keep the IC title fairly exclusive to the two other main shows to keep it from getting lost in the Raw shuffle.
At absolute best, the IC title scene would be the 4th biggest thing happening during a Raw broadcast after whatever Cena is doing, the WWE title picture, and the WHC title picture. And it's often even further down the card than that, with the IC champion getting jobbed out to an idle main eventer in the first two hours. (See #2.)
On SmackDown, the IC title could be the #2 scene on the show since Cena and the WWE title rarely make appearances. (Ok, maybe #3 if you include all the recaps of Cena and the WWE title scene...) But still, it's a better position where the champ and his challenger can actually get a little more mic time and put on better quality matches.
In fact, I'd even consider making Main Event thee place for the IC (and US) titles. While they can still make appearances on the other shows (and PPVs obviously,) the two matches shown weekly on Main Event can be used to really get those in the IC title scene some exposure.
4.) Make the IC title once again the "launchpad" to the Main Event scene
As I detailed in the introduction above, the IC title has basically been held by almost all of the all time greats at one point or another before they got their hands on the WWE title. It was an excellent proving ground for showing that they could handle themselves as a champion before being given the biggest title in the company.
While you could still argue that this is the case, it is a much less direct path than it once was. During the 90s and early 2000s, you could almost bank on a guy who has a successful IC title reign to be in the main event picture shortly thereafter.
Now, I'm not even sure who the last up-and-comer to first hold the IC title then get elevated to a primary title picture within a year even was. (Not counting the Big Show last year as he was already well established at the time.) Maybe Jeff Hardy or, even, going all the way back to Edge. And both of those guys were well established tag team wrestlers prior to their singles success.
While this issue itself would simply require intelligent long-term booking to fix (don't hold your breath,) I do have a couple of ideas for "quick fix" solutions:
4a.) The IC and US champions get guaranteed spots in the MitB matches
Maybe this is something that already happens on occasion, but it is something that should happen for every MitB match that takes place. And some of the time, these guys should actually win the match. Holding the MitB briefcase can almost be a curse, like a lead weight tied around your neck.
Rarely, do these guys actually get to directly feud with the champion until their cash in, and they are also considered to be above the secondary title scenes. So the MitB holder often spends their time in poor-booking purgatory like we're seeing with Dolph Ziggler right now.
Allowing the IC or US champ to also be the MitB holder would give them something to do to keep them looking strong (as long as my previous suggestions are heeded) while being ready to cash in at any time on the primary champ.
4b.) Allow the IC and/or US title holders to directly challenge the WWE and WHC title holders at one PPV each year
This is almost as good as a MitB briefcase. And yes, I'm ripping this one off from TNA's "Destination X" idea. Basically, the IC or US champ could get a shot at one of the primary titles at one PPV each year. Personally, I'd set it up like this:
The event where this happens will be one of the lower end PPVs. I think Night of Champions would be ideal. On the Raw immediately after the previous PPV, the main event will be between the IC title holder and the US title holder. The winner of the match gets to choose whether he challenges the WWE champion or the WHC champion a few weeks later at Night of Champions. (The loser of the match can automatically get the other title shot or, more realistically, not get a title shot.)
This would provide a great platform for the lower level champ to elevate himself. A great match with one of the primary champions would be a great career boost, even in defeat. And hell, he could even win it there. Obviously, he'd have to give up his secondary title after, which would then give us a tournament or battle royal or something fun to decide on a new champion. It could even be a rule that the IC or US champion has to vacate that title in order to get his shot at the WWE/WHC champ (as it is for the X-Division champ in TNA.)
I whole heartedly encourage the WWE to steal all or any of these ideas in order to bring back prestige to the Intercontinental title which richly deserves it.
But my ideas don't stop there...I have one more for the WWE to ponder:
The Divas Title:
The WWE Divas division is a complete mess right now, and it would take more time and effort than I am willing to expend in order to come up with ways to fix it. So I'm only going to present one that could at least bring some short term interest to the scene...
via i.imgur.comA Divas Money in the Bank Holder
It seems as though the WWE is unable/unwilling to have more than one storyline going in the Divas division at a time. This is a big reason why I think there are so many problems there. If you don't hold the title, and aren't the #1 contender, the only way you even get to be on TV is if you're willing to whore yourself out to a male superstar as his valet.
Having a MitB holder with a pink briefcase would help this a little bit by at least adding a 3rd Diva worth caring about to the scene. Knowing that there is a MitB holder out there is exciting for a fan. If the champion shows any moment of weakness, we are all on the edge of our seats wondering if the MitB holder will come cash in, starting a whole new feud.
Even if most of us still use Divas matches as designated bathroom breaks, we might hurry back a little faster to see the end just in case the MitB holder comes out to attack the champ while she's busy giving post-match ass and cleavage shots to the crowd.
While it may not help much in the long run, adding a women's MitB briefcase could at least add some minor interest to a scene that is currently lacking anything to really care about.
So what say you Cagesiders? Would these ideas actually work? Have any of your own to add? Let me know in the comments below.