WWE got something right! The opening segment of Monday Night Raw proved the company knew what it was doing with a Fatal Five Way match that gave Kevin Owens a win and another run with the Intercontinental Title. By forcing a title change (another on free cable television) the former champion Dean Ambrose is a legitimate threat for the WWE World Title without tying up another title should he win the match at Fastlane on Sunday night with Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.
We all know that won’t happen, but for the purposes of creating drama, Owens is now a two-time champion and Ambrose can come at both his opponents with one thing in mind. It also sets things up nicely for a rematch at WrestleMania 32 with Owens. I was beginning to worry WWE had once again forgotten about the mid card titles. Since John Cena left the building at Hell in a Cell and Alberto Del Rio claimed the United States Title, the belt has lost its luster. Cena’s ability to make the strap the most important belt during his reign shows how far the importance of the title has fallen. This is by no means an opportunity to disparage Kalisto and his run, but Cena was the right figure to make the U.S Title important again.
Not since the days of WCW was the U.S. Title a major part of programming. Here’s hoping Owens and his next opponent – which could be AJ Styles if the creative team decides to enter the former TNA Champion in a title program. If Owens is not going to be the opponent for Undertaker, which is now a certainty, Styles is dynamic enough to make this a main event-type match and a series that truly sells itself based on fan appreciation.
I don’t see Styles competing for a shot at the WWE World Title, but I do see him heavily involved in the mid card, with a tease at a chance at the main event roster. Owens is still one of those performers – despite the heel persona – who steals the crowds and gets the pop he deserves. Few are as big and as agile as the Canadian. If Styles is not the wrestler of choice, could Sami Zayn get the call-up from NXT to the main roster and immediately challenge his former nemesis? Who else besides Styles presents a challenge fans would love to get behind?
For all of my complaining about the promotion and how they miss opportunity after opportunity, the first six weeks of 2016 have shown a commitment to better booking and more storytelling. The art has been lost the past few years. Each wrestler should have a backstory and they should have more depth. Owens is one of those performers who works with any superstar and no matter how many times fans see the same moves or the same “match”, there is still a sense of shock and awe.
That cannot be taught, as Owens is a throwback of sorts for his ability to draw the crowds in. WWE needs to lean on Owens and his “tweener” status because of its roster issues. When other superstars begin to come off the disabled list, he gives the company more options for feuds and a potential face turn.
Either way, WWE has made the right move in taking the strap away from Ambrose and putting on the shoulder of the one character who can sell its importance more than almost anyone.
Except for maybe the wrestler he took it from in the first place.
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