The United States Championship in WWE is essentially useless, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be the bridge belt for NXT call ups and main roster mid carders who have lost their way, place, momentum, or all of the above.
In a by gone era, a title belt like this was called the Television Title. The best wrestler on television today is how it was branded in kayfabe. However, in reality it was a way for new wrestlers to a promotion to make their mark, for young up and comers to show if they were worthy of moving from the mid card to the main events, and for former main eventers to regain some momentum or play gatekeeper.
The NWA, WCW, and ECW all utilized the Television Title correctly for many years and created many stars with that roster spot. Even TNA had a TV Title for a while, technically they still do, but let’s not go down that very dark, very disappointing road now.
From the late 1980s through the late 1990s wrestlers like Steve Austin, Steven Regal, Paul Orndorff, Ricky Steamboat, Arn Anderson, Chris Jericho, Shane Douglas, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Rob Van Dam all had runs as Television Champion in either the NWA/WCW or ECW or in the case of Jericho, both. The title helped each wrestler as well as many not listed. The shiny gold belt around their waste let the masses know to pay attention to them. It was made clear by how early on the show their match was taking place that they were not to be confused with the World Champion. But it got more eyeballs put on the talent, which allowed them to get over as a heel (Austin) or a face (RVD) or in the case of gatekeepers like Anderson help get younger talents over or show that they weren’t yet ready for prime time.
In the year 2014 there is no reason to have Intercontinental and United States Champions. But there is no way that the WWE will ever rebrand the US Title as TV Title. That’s fine, don’t rebrand it, just treat it like a TV Title.
WWE is in the midst of a youth revolution. In my opinion, I think there is an overkill of NXT call ups who are not ready for the main roster flooding my television screen. However, regardless of opinion, one need only have working ear drums to hear that the majority of these talents are not over with the live crowds. For every Wyatt and Shield member, there is a Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Xavier Woods, Alexander Rusev, and Curtis Axel who through no fault of their own draw cricket noises when they are in the ring. Why? The fans have no reason to care about them. They’re all green in the ring or don’t have a unique character or don’t have mic skills or a combination of the three. How would a US/TV Title get them over?
It would help. A shiny belt draws eyes and symbolizes importance. That’s why world titles are big and gold. Bo Dallas got called up to the main roster because he spent over a year as NXT Champion. But was he NXT Champion because he was over? Or was he over because he was NXT Champion? Or is he nepotism incarnate? Regardless, the Bo-lieve gimmick/character would gain some steam with a win over Sheamus (as of writing the current US Champion) and a lengthy run with the United States title. Bo could then drop the title to another NXT call up who needs to get over as a face like Xavier Woods, Adam Rose, or Sami Zayn (fingers crossed).
Or much like Sheamus; a former main eventer needing to pick up some purpose and momentum again; perhaps someone like Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow, Ryback, Mark Henry, or Rob Van Dam could have a transitional run with the title before dropping it to someone like Adrian Neville, Tyson Kidd, or Kalisto.
Dean Ambrose was the right person to hold the US Title for a year. However, management not booking him to defend it for multiple four-month clips did him and the title no favors. This is the perfect time to rebrand or in the case of WWE, repurpose the United States Title. Changing the look of the physical belt also wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Unofficially officially making the US Title the NXT bridge belt, as well as a way for main roster journeyman to regain some shine is what is best for business in 2014.
Over half of the main roster is doing nothing of storyline substance. Every NXT call up since the Wyatt Family have been greeted with silence. Using the US Title to put a wee bit of spotlight and attention on these talents to see if they can generate heat, good promos, good feuds, and god forbid money will be good for everyone in the long run. It puts the US Title to use, it puts it in its place, and gives the talent another safety net to fall back on before getting a creative has nothing for you pink slip.
And let’s change the look of the physical belt please. Every other belt in the company has changed looks at least twice over since 2003. No time like the present for a new look and a new purpose for the illustrious United States Championship.