There's been a lot of talk the past few days about the extent to which the minor WWE singles titles have been languishing in irrelevance, and a lot of proposals on how to best go about fixing the problem. Here's a solution I think would be both simple and effective, wherein the Intercontinental (IC) title is restored to being something other than a stage prop:
(Disclaimer: I write this having not yet watched last night's Raw, so I have no knowledge of what's happened with the #1 contender IC title tournament. But I don't think it makes a hell of a lot of difference anyway.)
1) Retire the US title and/or unify it with the IC title. The WWE and world heavyweight titles are not going to remain unified forever (or, in all likelihood, for very much longer), and four singles titles in the post-brand extension era simply doesn't work. Too many belts cheapens all the belts. One of them has to go, so get rid of the one with the least historical importance.
2) Put the IC title on a great in-ring worker, preferably a guy who has credibility as a heel, let him have a long run with it, and have him do what the Honky Tonk Man did in 1987: declare himself the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Have him regularly cut promos wherein he talks about this history of the title and the Hall of Fame greats who have held it, and explains why he's better than all of them. Drag out some former IC champions to get into confrontations with the current guy (and, if their physical condition permits, to get beaten down by him). The list of guys you could use is practically endless: Pat Patterson, Tito Santana, Ricky Steamboat, the aforementioned Honky Tonk, Bret Hart, Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels, and on and on. Maximum emphasis must be placed on connecting the title to the era in which it was a major championship that was heavily sought after. Its post-2000 history should be utterly ignored.
In my estimation, the most obvious guy to play this role is Cesaro. The quality of his in-ring work is pretty much above reproach, and the audience knows it, so his "greatest of all time" boast would have instant credibility. At the present time he's not really over as a heel, and he's still a bit green on the stick, but being a Paul Heyman Guy solves both of those problems (and let's face it, Heyman could do some delicious work if you gave him the chance to get up in some legend's face and tell him in the harshest possible terms why he's not fit to stand in the same ring with the King of Swing). I tend to think that if you give Cesaro and Heyman six months to a year, they could put more luster on the IC strap than it's had in over 20 years.
3) An IC title match must headline a PPV (sorry, I tried to use the new nomenclature, but my fingers refused), and it must happen more than once. You simply can't make a title legitimate and important if you aren't willing to give it a significant slot on a major show. I don't really need to expound on this one; it's just a basic truth as I see it.
I'm interested to hear how the rest of you would feel about the proposal I've outlined above, any adjustments you'd make to it, or whether you'd do it in a completely different fashion. But I guess there's one overriding two-part question that must be answered first: Is the IC title worth saving, and can it even be saved at this point?