According to various online reports, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar is not currently scheduled for another appearance with WWE through the end of the year. Naturally, that has a lot of people in an uproar. WWE is already having to cover Lesnar’s absence at Hell in a Cell with the blowoff of the Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins feud, and the idea of not having another WWE World Heavyweight Title defense until Royal Rumble in January is definitely cause for concern.
Still, this can be seen as a glass half-full situation. Boxing and UFC don’t see their World Champions defending once a month or even once every two months. Because the World Titles in those sports are defended less often, each defense means more. WWE could benefit from the less-is-more theory in this instance, especially given Lesnar’s booking as the “real guy” with his UFC background.
While it’s not likely that Lesnar is going to be MIA all the way through January, WWE fans, as of this writing, shouldn’t expect to see too much more of the WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2014. This is where WWE should take advantage.
If the World Champion is going to be scarce for the remainder of the year, it opens an interesting opportunity for WWE to push its mid-card titles. Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler is in the midst of a hot potato title feud with The Miz and United States Champion Sheamus is fresh off an incredible title defense against Cesaro at Night of Champions.
If Brock Lesnar isn’t going to be at the forefront for the next three months, Sheamus and Ziggler should be. WWE has three hours of TV to fill on Monday alone, and the show is already saturated with recaps and replays and filler. If WWE is smart, they’ll be using that time to feature the IC and US titles.
In years past, the Intercontinental and US titles were called “workhorse titles.” The titles were usually held by up and coming stars and strong ring-workers. Guys who may not be selling millions of dollars of merchandise in the WWE Shop, but are putting on 10-15 minute wrestling clinics each time they’re in the ring. Winning the Intercontinental or US Title also once meant that a Superstar was only one step below being WWE or World Heavyweight Champion. With only one World title to go around, as opposed to having two in years past, that desire to ascend to the number one spot should be even more fierce.
While seeing Sheamus and Ziggler in tag matches together is entertaining, WWE should be pitting them against each other. While both are crowd favorites, neither should be complacent with just being second best. From a logical standpoint, Sheamus and Ziggler should be beating each other up in an attempt to prove which one of them is truly deserving of being the next contender to Brock’s WWE title.
Of course, that was a different era. Pro wrestling has changed a lot. WWE has changed just as much. It’s been a long time since the IC and US titles have truly meant anything. But if the WWE Champion is going to be occupying the bench, it’s time for the mid-card champions to step up.
This also can’t just be WWE’s responsibility. As long as Sheamus and Ziggler are the champions, they need to be doing everything they can to maximize their minutes and putting on matches folks go home talking about. They did it at Night of Champions and can do it again at Hell in a Cell. For as much grief as fans like to give WWE Creative, the writers can’t do all the work.
WWE Hall of Famer Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig had a habit of getting himself over, even if he wasn’t the one getting pushed. While Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble match in 1995, Mr. Perfect managed to keep the cameras on him throughout his time in the match by selling like crazy and maximizing his minutes.
The WWE has a unique opportunity to turn a negative into a positive with this situation. If they can’t rely on Brock to sell the WWE Network and the PPVs through the end of 2014, they need to trust and rely on their midcard champions. There was a time, though long ago, that every title in WWE meant something. Even the WWE Hardcore Championship was held in a certain regard. It’s been too long since that’s been the case, and with some luck and savvy, WWE can make that a reality again by January.
[IMG Credit: WWE.com]