Why Are the Secondary Championships Such an Afterthought in WWE?

Tom ClarkFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2012

photo by wrestlingbuddies.net
photo by wrestlingbuddies.net

Remember the last time WWE placed any sort of relevant emphasis on its secondary championships?

No one else does, either.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Oh great, another Bleacher Report Featured Columnist complaining about something he can do nothing about.  Well, wah wah.  Get over it, you big baby!”

That’s a little harsh, give a guy a chance to explain, will you?  Geez.

Despite my apparent negativity on the matter, there can be no denying that it has been quite a while since WWE seemed to care all that much about the other titles.  They are only as important, and only as credible, as the fans consider them to be, and let’s face it, we have had no real reason lately to regard them as anything more than just filler.

The championship road to nowhere begins with the belt that should be the company’s third-most valuable strap, the Intercontinental Title.

This is the championship that Ricky the Dragon Steamboat took from the Macho Man Randy Savage at WrestleMania 3, in one of the most classic matches in WWE history.  

It’s the same title that Stone Cold Steve Austin, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret the Hitman Hart and Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig each wore with pride, adding respect and credibility to the belt during their individual runs.

Cody Rhodes, son of the American Dream, is the most recent worker to be entrusted with this championship, which WWE has always painted as being an extremely illustrious prize in the company.

The problem, however, is that though his first run lasted an impressive eight months, his record of title defenses ranks somewhere between slim and none.

This is not his fault, of course, but for a championship to be taken seriously, work must be invested not only by the Superstar wearing it, but by WWE to promote it.  Booking Cody in one challenging feud after another against different legitimate contenders would have done nothing but help him, and bring the spotlight that the title deserves.

Christian is now the Intercontinental Champion, and he is without a doubt a man who has worked hard for his spot, and he's earned his place in WWE.  But his victory over Cody for the title came mere moments after a very slight spark of animosity began between the two Superstars.  Suddenly, Rhodes looks weak, and Christian gets the better of a champion who seemed to really be not that difficult to beat in the first place.

Then we have the United States Championship, a title belt dating back to the Mid-Atlantic era of Jim Crockett Promotions.  The title was built on the backs of Harley Race, Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes and Tully Blanchard.

Zack Ryder is a recent United States Champion, another guy who works hard for what he has and seemed to fit the U.S. Championship as much as Cody fit the IC title.

Ryder was a real success story, making a name for himself on his YouTube show and eventually getting a shot on TV, thanks to the fans who would settle for nothing less.  When Zack won the belt, it just felt right in so many ways, and it appeared as though he would bring respect to the title, as it would certainly help build him up even more in the eyes of the crowd.

Yet 29 days after he was crowned United States Champion, Zack Ryder lost the belt to Jack Swagger, who in turn lost it to Santino Marella only two months later.

So much for Zack.

This is not to take away from Santino, who is definitely a talent that has found his niche in WWE and has gotten extremely over with the fans.  Seeing him as U.S. Champion has been a welcome change of pace, as he has been very entertaining, and very successful, pinning nearly every challenger put in front of him.

But as with Cody Rhodes and the Intercontinental Title, Santino has not had the career-defining feuds that would bring attention to either himself or the U.S. Championship.

It’s almost as if WWE says, “Here’s a belt.  Work a few matches, and drop it in a month.  Have fun.”

Then we come to the Tag Team and Divas Championships.  There’s a good reason why I grouped these two titles together.  The fact is, they belong together.

There are two major complaints from fans when discussing WWE: the lack of a true tag team division, and the total waste of the Divas division.  Amidst all of the countless reasons for both of these segments of the company being in trouble, the biggest reason in my mind is the fact that neither championship has been presented in the right way in a very long time.

A championship is only as important as the work put into it by the champion wearing it.  And when that champion is not allowed to really explore what he or she is capable of against a variety of different opponents, the title suffers, the worker stands still and no good is accomplished whatsoever.

For WWE, the main focus is the WWE and World Championships.  These are the top two trophies in the company, and a vast bulk of WWE’s attention should be aimed at maintaining their importance in the minds of fans all over the world.

But when there is no real focus placed on the secondary titles, then they become irrelevant window dressing that pale in comparison to the top two slabs of gold.  These belts have traditionally always been used to establish a worker’s career and as possible stepping stones for the two top belts later on.  

However, the secondary titles are not being used in that fashion all that much anymore.  A lack of focus, combined with a weak array of feuds and rivalries for the champions involved, have lessened the impact and decreased the value that the titles have on the company as a whole.  And for some fans, the question that is now being asked is very simple.

Why do these championships exist, anyway?

Good question.  Wonder if WWE really knows the answer?