WWE – How the Intercontinental & United States Titles Can Boost the Mid-Card Stars – by Mike Sanchez

World Wrestling Entertainment news and story-lines in recent months have revolved around the usual suspects: Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, John Cena and the welcome inclusion of Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon. For those who watch the shows weekly, it could appear that the ‘secondary’ titles in WWE (the Intercontinental & United States) have been an afterthought in favor of the main belts. This wouldn’t be unusual and is quite understandable. The main focus of Raw or Smackdown Live should be the main Heavyweight belt, as I’ve moaned about on many an occasion. However I feel each secondary belt is in very safe hands, being kept warm for the right star to take the strap and be elevated.

On Raw, the Intercontinental Title is being held by the wonderful Miz surrounded by his Mizterage. Miz has been spectacular in 2017 and fully deserves a main spot on the flagship show. Without doubt he’s elevated the IC Title and done his best to keep it at all costs. He rightly takes pride in being the holder of such a prestigious belt, but in recent weeks, the title has taken a backseat to his new feud with Roman Reigns and the other members of the disbanded Shield. I think WWE can go one of two ways here:

  1. Have Reigns win the belt.

I think this would be the wrong way to go for several reasons; Reigns is above the IC Title level. The guy is a main eventer and has been for the past couple of years. Like him or not, I don’t think he could bring anything to the IC title scene, nor do I believe he would defend it with such passion as Miz. Reigns’ feuds are based upon personal reasons that don’t involve belts or their prestige. His recent spat with Cena proves this. Reigns shouldn’t win that belt.

  1. Whatever the outcome of the feud, Miz keeps the title.

This is where I think WWE should go, however don’t drag it out for too long. The Miz and his cohorts aren’t good long-term opponents for a reunited and rejuvenated Shield. By all means, have Miz be the reason and vehicle to get the Shield back together, but the IC title shouldn’t be a casualty of it. That comes later.

With the Shield or Reigns out of the way, Miz (still with his title) can push on to feud with mid-card talent who can carry on with making the belt a worthy prize to both carry and fight over. If we look at the talent ‘in waiting’ on Raw, there’s plenty for Miz to get his teeth into. Bray Wyatt may carry the air of a supernatural being, but his loss record is pretty bad, no matter who he’s faced. His current fling with Finn Balor can only end one way with the Demon King triumphant. That being said, I think a battle with Miz can elevate Balor, hopefully leading to a big PPV showdown. True, Balor may be a former Universal Champion who technically never lost his belt, but that picture has changed and is now occupied by a beast in the form of Lesnar. I love underdog stories as much as anyone, but there’s no way Balor is wrenching that title from Brock. We can’t forget others waiting in the wings like Jason Jordan and even Elias who grows in popularity and is given a spotlight every week. Perhaps we should walk with Elias into the IC title picture?

Over on Smackdown, everything I’ve said about Miz and the IC Title can be repeated for the phenomenal AJ Styles. While Miz is reluctant to put his belt on the line every week (especially on his own), Styles relishes new challenges and fresh opportunities. Styles could or should be in the WWE Heavyweight Title picture, but he’s not being wasted or forgotten about as the US Champion. Styles too has elevated the belt into a prize to be won. He’s staunchly proud of holding the belt and will fight anyone who tries to take it from him.

Smackdown Live’s roster isn’t as deep as Raw’s, but there’s plenty of talent on display that can be worthy of dethroning Styles and be crowned the new US Champion. Styles can lose the belt in a big PPV and move on to the Heavyweight Title picture with Jinder Mahal. In his absence, the US void can be filled by someone fighting up the mid-card. Baron Corbin has been on a slide since his failed Money in the Bank cash in, and although would benefit from being the US Title holder, needs a little momentum for us to believe he can topple AJ. Kevin Owens is on his own crusade and is doubtful to be involved in the US Title scene, but his long-time advisory Sami Zayn would be a popular choice. Zayn shows the same commitment and desire, passion and pride that Styles and Miz do and would be a terrific choice to hold the belt. I can imagine the pop he’d get at winning in a fair, hard-fought title match with Styles. Sometimes face vs face matches don’t work, but this would be an epic if given the right build and right time.

We don’t have to limit ourselves to pinning hopes on Zayn as both Tye Dillinger and Bobby Roode are making great inroads on the blue brand. Either man could be seen as a possible US Title contender.

What do you think? Have Miz/AJ been wasted in their current roles, or have they elevated their respective titles? Who would you have to beat each man for the belt? Would it mean more if it was a mid-card talent who broke through, or should a higher ranked star like Reigns carry on the prestige of the title? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.