A boisterous crowd at Madison Square Garden was treated to something rarely seen at non-televised shows. The Phenomenal One AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens to earn The United States Championship Belt. This is very out of character for the WWE as they have often saved the title matches for PPV events. On Smackdown last night, the WWE Universe saw 3 of its top talents (Cena, Rusev, and Kevin Owens) all vying to get a chance at AJ’s new hardware. Currently, there is only one contender for the WWE championship belt, Randy Orton. This begs the question of which belt is currently more elite. Digging even further, was this a team-wide effort to bring the United States Championship Belt back into relevance? I believe the decisions throughout the entire company have been a massive effort to elevate a once exciting Championship Belt.
Looking back a bit, the United States Championship belt had tumbled into borderline obscurity. It was being fought for during the pre-shows by the likes of Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio. The Miz had successfully elevated the Intercontinental belt back to relevance using his superb mic skills and rivalry abilities. This left the United States belt at the way bottom, even below the cruiserweight title. A friendship turned feud between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho bumped the belt up a tad, but with Jericho on tour with Fozzy all seemed lost for the belt.
So how does the company get the United States Championship belt out of the basement? For starters, the fans have to stop caring so much about the main belt. Months before, superstars like Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, John Cena, and AJ Styles all had their legitimate chances at the WWE Championship belt. That is way too many big names for one belt. So they give it to Jinder Mahal who has done a fantastic job as a heel champion almost reaching Edge levels of crowd control. Jinder however, is not a huge name, at least not yet, and many were unhappy with his quick rise to the top. Money in the Bank brought another challenge in slowing down the main belt as the entire ladder match is centered on that greatness of a title opportunity. So they give it to Baron Corbin. Deserving? Arguably. Exciting? Not Really. The threat of a cash in is not nearly as exciting as in years past drawing even fewer eyes to the main belt. So far mission accomplished.
The United States Championship Belt
The WWE seemingly brought down the hype of the WWE Championship belt giving the United States Championship some life. They really pressed down on the gas by putting its biggest names in contention for it. John Cena is always in contention for this belt as he has that All-American persona. Add a foreign heel in Rusev and you are sure to get the crowd to pop. With three former WWE champions in Cena, Styles, and KO as well as Rusev’s previous reigns as United States Champion, expect nothing but fireworks for this belt at Summerslam and beyond.
This may seem like a bit much to try to bring the United States Championship belt back to relevance but it is certainly worth it. No belt should be decided in the pre-show but the prowess of a match is earned not simply given. One could only hope that the talent is dispersed evenly throughout the belts after this push is over. Only then will all the belts remain a hot item for years to come.