Wade Barrett is the Intercontinental champion again, so his fans should be rejoicing, right?
Anytime a superstar wins a title, no matter what that title is, there is usually an air of excitement and optimism surrounding that championship victory. But there are exceptions to every rule, and Barrett is undoubtedly an exception to this one.
Whereas an Intercontinental Championship win might be a career-defining moment for a big chunk of guys on the WWE roster, it doesn’t seem like anything but a major step backward for Barrett because we know how he’s previously been booked as the intercontinental champion.
Anyone remember his first run with the belt on SmackDown in 2011? Yeah, me neither. It was one of the most forgettable Intercontinental title reigns in recent memory, which is really saying something when you consider how poorly that title has been booked over the last few years.
While that may have been a lackluster title reign, however, one could argue that it was better than Barrett’s most recent run with the belt—a reign that not only did nothing for Barrett, but actually hurt him pretty badly.
Barrett won the Intercontinental Championship for the second time on Dec. 31 of last year, and even before he won the belt, he probably wasn’t winning as much as he should have been. But for some odd reason, the WWE decided to make him its “jobber to the stars” once he did become the Intercontinental champion.
Think about how many times you saw Barrett, as Intercontinental champion, lose to Randy Orton—it seemed like that happened every week. Unfortunately for Barrett, though, he also lost countless other non-title matches to superstars who seemed to be much lower on the WWE’s totem pole than he was.
As a result, what once seemed like a very promising career for Barrett has taken a turn for the worse. In late 2010, he was main-eventing and feuding for the WWE Championship with the likes of Randy Orton and John Cena. He also found himself as the leader of the one of the WWE’s biggest stables in recent memory, The Nexus.
Now, however, he has lost virtually all the momentum he had just a few short years ago, and his downfall can mainly be attributed to his poorly booked reigns as Intercontinental champion.
Barrett’s first title reign in 2011 saw him booked somewhat strongly as champion, but his last run with the belt was an absolute joke. Just like other midcarders such as Antonio Cesaro and Zack Ryder, the creative team—for whatever reason—just hasn’t gotten behind Barrett, despite many fans feeling like the Brit is one of the WWE’s better heels.
The problem for Barrett is the same problem that guys like Cesaro have had: he’s a heel, and heels tend to lose way more than win, regardless of whether or not they’re carrying a championship.
That holds true for Barrett, who has gotten the shaft from a creative team that will do anything and everything to keeps its babyfaces looking strong and usually does so at the expense of its heels. Barrett has suffered greatly from this odd booking philosophy, perhaps more so than anyone—yes, anyone—on the roster.
As a result, his Intercontinental title victory and subsequent reign that should seem like a step in the right direction instead feels like punishment for Barrett.
Judging by the way we’ve seen him booked when he has held the belt, his future doesn’t figure to feature a ton of major matches and successful title defenses. Rather, it seems destined to feature more forgettable matches and losses upon more losses in non-title matches.
That’s just how the WWE operates these days, and even though it’s clearly hurting its midcard heels and jeopardizing the future of its midcard titles, that hasn’t seemed to bother those booking Raw and SmackDown.
Barrett will lose continue to lose on a consistent basis just like The Miz did when he was the heel Intercontinental champion—just like Antonio Cesaro did as United States champion.
It’s not the smartest philosophy to say the least, but there’s nothing to suggest that it will change anytime.
And until it does, Barrett will continue to be booked incredibly poorly as Intercontinental champion.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!