As the main man Geno Mrosko pointed out in his coverage of the Aug. 12 SmackDown, in a matter of weeks, Triple H has addressed an issue people have had with WWE booking for years.
All belts are props, their value depending on the storyline and the person holding them. And with Vince McMahon holding the pencil, WWE’s secondary titles were all meaningless props. The United States, Intercontinental and Tag Team championships would change hands out of nowhere to whichever wrestler McMahon was happy with or intrigued by at the moment without a build. When the person holding the title fell out of favor or was forgotten about, they’d disappear from our screens for weeks before dropping the strap and shuffling off to Main Event. For most, being a former U.S. or IC champion meant little.
This was never a hard problem to fix. And through a variety of simple tweaks to the formula, The Game’s fixed it. In addition to reminding/explaining why these titles are important, WWE is once again demonstrating their importance with things like last night’s Intercontinental championship main event, and the mini-tournament that happened on Raw to set-up last Monday’s heavily promoted United States title clash. The tournament also led to Bobby Lashley’s next title defense, as AJ Styles has a good argument he would have emerged from it as the #1 contender if not for Miz’s involvement in the final.
It looks like Bobby & AJ have a good chance at main eventing on Aug. 15 — it’s the focus on the commercial WWE’s pushing for the episode.
Styles vs. Lashley is a good example of how the Triple H-led booking is elevating these belts while WWE simultaneously positions more people to be worthy of competing for them. Like Gunther vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, it’s a current champ vs. a former one. Both The Phenomenal One and The All Mighty are well thought of across all segments of the business; they’re the kind of Superstars who’d only occasionally enter a secondary title program when they had nothing else to do, or when Vince remembered those championships existed.
Throw in the marquee value of a “first ever” singles encounter between two future Hall of Famers? Boom, the U.S. title feels main event worthy.
Raw in Washington, D.C. will also feature Alexa Bliss & Asuka vs. Doudrop & Nikki A.S.H., the third first round match in the WWE Women’s Tag tournament, which (along with the looming possibility Sasha Banks & Naomi return to confront the winners) has made those belts feel more important than they have since they were first introduced.
The men’s tag titles could probably use some work, but it’s hard to argue they’re not valued when The Usos like them to Reigns & his titles, and they just defended them in a hot program with Street Profits. Having Jimmy & Jey lose to makeshift team of Drew McIntyre & Madcap Moss last night may have irked some fans... but at least it served Reigns/McIntyre feud and advanced the Sami Zayn/Bloodline program, rather than just being a case of 50/50 booking.
Let us know if you’re hyped for Lashley/Styles, and if you think the future is bright for the secondary titles going forward in WWE, in the comments below.