The WWE is obsessed with history, so obsessed it can sometimes be at the expense of the present. So it surprises me greatly that the Intercontinental Championship, which is associated with so many key moments in WWE history, has been so badly treated to the point it is almost forgotten.
It isn't just this title that been neglected, The Usos reclaimed the WWE Tag Team titles at the end of December but are still awaiting a captivating storyline and feud. But for me the Intercontinental Championship should always be near the top of the card and should be hotly contested on a regular basis. It is the step every superstar has to take before they move to the next level, a right of passage before challenging for the WWE title.
It is currently just an afterthought, there was no title match at the Royal Rumble and at Fast Lane Bad News Barrett will have his first meaningful match since winning the title at the turn of the year. Despite this since Dolph Ziggler won the title at SummerSlam it has changed hands five times, just to put that into perspective the title only changed hands twice in a year ten years ago in 2005. Nothing devalues a title more than frequent changes as WCW so wonderfully demonstrated in 99/00.
The recent back and forth title reigns have served to devalue the title even further as the matches were less about the title and instead more about getting heat for The Authority. Luke Harper seemingly destined to sit alongside The Godfather, D-Lo Brown, Carlito and Big E Langston in the list of forgotten one time winners.
The title was defended in the main event of Wrestlemania VI and SummerSlam 1992, In Your House 3&8 and Backlash 2001. The feud between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship is seen as one of the greatest of all time and you'd do well to find a better match than theirs at Wrestlemania X. Coincidently the current champ Bad News Barrett has stated that The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith defeating Bret The Hitman Hart for the IC belt was his inspiration for becoming a professional wrestler. It has been hard to imagine such meaningful matches happening for the title these days when it is lucky to get a mention on Raw but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
In the now infamous Colt Cabana pod-cast, which is back in the news this week for other reasons, CM Punk accused WWE of having no long term planning in place and the way the belt has been passed around in the last 12 months would certainly suggest that. It was only after the Royal Rumble a few weeks ago Dean Ambrose declared an interest in the belt and a "proper" title feud has begun, despite not receiving as much air time as I would have liked. This has got huge potential for both parties and I would like to see it carry on until Wrestlemania as a minimum. Both Barrett and Ambrose have got heaps of natural charisma and great in-ring ability, I would class both as having the complete package required these days to maintain longevity at the top of the WWE.
One writer on this site has described Ambrose as a cross between Steve Austin and Mick Foley, another has said they see him as being like a young Razor Ramon. It is no surprise to me that he is being mentioned in the same breath as such legends as he showing all the required skills to make it to that level. To quote fellow writer Kendra Bunyon "his characterization and use of his body and face is SICK!". Indeed it is.
Wade Barrett has got his "Bad News" gimmick working brilliantly for him and it was a real shame when he got injured. He has got the classic heel technique of offending audiences down to a fine art but I do wonder how long he can remain a heel. His sense of humour is so good it could unintentionally result in him becoming a hugely popular face as we have seen with other hugely charismatic heels in the past.
What concerns me is that despite having such talent at their disposal the writers will blow it, like they did with Ambrose and Wyatt. That also had the potential to be an intriguing feud between two fascinating characters with the skills to carry a lengthy series of matches. Sadly the writers appeared to lose interest and by the final match in the series nobody could even remember how it all started, including Ambrose by his own admittance.
I hope that WWE creative can see the potential in this feud and invest some time and energy into developing something special, as if they can't do it with these two I can just see the title and its wonderful history being lost and forgotten.