Posted by Bob Cavicchioli
So, I just finished watching the March 22 episode of Smackdown. Because I work nights, I generally catch up on Raw and Smackdown on the morning after. Raw sometimes takes me two days, but that’s another story. What stuck out at me was the match between United States Champion Antonio Cesaro and The Miz. A week ago, I complained about the recent booking (and losses) of Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. In all fairness, I will now complain about the booking (and losses) of Antonio Cesaro.
With Wade Barrett sitting at ringside, it was pretty apparent what the focus was supposed to be in the Cesaro/Miz match. Ironic, because didn’t WWE just have a running feud of sorts between Cesaro and The Miz over the U.S. Title? In this match, Cesaro’s title was merely an afterthought, a minor detail that was glossed over. The attention was on Barrett and the Miz. Barrett’s commentary focused solely on the triple threat match from the previous episode of Raw between himself, Jericho, and The Miz. Barrett’s main point was that he didn’t feel The Miz was a threat to his title because Barrett had just beaten him.
Incidentally, during the match, The Miz applied the Figure Four Leg Lock on Cesaro, forcing the champion to tap out in what looked like a fairly easy victory. Is that any way to showcase one of your champions? Is it any way to showcase any superstar who barely just ended a feud with his opponent? WWE has been making their Intercontinental and U.S. Champions look weak for months. They have been racking up the losses and their titles have become mere props.
This upsets me in many ways. Growing up as a child of the ‘80s, the Intercontinental Title had a strong influence on me. I didn’t find the WWF Title very interesting. Hulk Hogan seemed to have it for the entirety of the 1980s, and the title was then held for long periods of time by “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Hogan again, The Ultimate Warrior, Sergeant Slaughter (for the benefit of a horribly insensitive storyline), back to Hogan, and a little trading back and forth between he and The Undertaker which resulted in Ric Flair becoming champion by winning the 1992 Royal Rumble Match. This became the origin of the Rumble winner getting a shot at the title, as in 1993 the Rumble winner would earn a title shot at WrestleMania (with a couple exceptions).
But the Intercontinental Title… That had my interest. It seemed like it could change hands at any time. Hogan’s WWF title didn’t. I never watched a Hogan match as a kid and had any doubt in my mind that he would win. The wrestling was more interesting too in an Intercontinental Title match. Still considered one of the best matches of all time, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat defeated then Champion Randy Savage at WrestleMania III, and this solidified my love of wrestling.
The title was held by The Honky Tonk Man, The Ultimate Warrior, Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, etc… during my childhood. I remember being so disappointed when Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake had his parasailing accident in 1990 and couldn’t work his title match with Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam. Beefcake was one of my favorites as a kid and I was sure he would win the title.
How times have changed. These two titles have very little merit anymore and something has to be done to make them relevant again. My suggestion? Unification. Make the title mean something! It may be too soon to do something about it at WrestleMania, but I think the titles should be unified this year. And the way I would do it is through The Miz. He’s had a mini feud with Cesaro, and WWE is clearly trying to start something between him and Barrett.
So, How about extending these feuds for a while? And in one night, have The Miz defeat both champions to unify the belts. The ideal place to do this would be Night of Champions, but that is too far off (September 15). SummerSlam, as a Big Four pay-per-view, would be ideal too, but that’s in August. Time will tell when and if this can happen. But as for me, I sincerely hope it does.
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