How often is the answer to a question in professional wrestling as simple as just saying ‘Lance Storm’?
Last week, I wrote more than a few words about the Intercontinental title and it’s, shall we say, horrendously atrocious booking done by those who probably have combined IQs equal to a severely retarded walrus.
But that PALES in comparison to the gleeful destruction of the once-proud United States Championship. And this week, we’re going to look at where it belongs on the midcard, and how the title can be rehabilitated….hopefully.
The US championship pretty much became the sullen 13 year old that came with the marriage when the WWE swallowed up WCW whole. While the IC title was a creation of Vince’s and therefore a blessing from the Gods, the US title was a crappy reminder of life in Hell. In the list of the top 10 wrestlers who have held the belt for the most number of days, Dean Ambrose comes in at #8, ahead of Nikita Koloff. I would wager to guess that at least 2-300 of those days came about because he forgot the belt at home and no one really noticed anyway.
Of course, right now, Sheamus is currently using the belt to prop up some loose drainpipes after winning it in a Battle Royale (the culmination of all great wrestling feuds); first things first, we need to get that thing off of him.
WHO SHOULD WIN THE TITLE:
See, the one thing that the US title has going for it is that it can be used to tap into the jingoism that the WWE is so effective at coercing from the audience. You can count on the crowd chanting ‘USA’ pretty much on cue whenever presented with one of the following:
-A firefighter or police officer (this last is less true in Missouri these days)
-An opponent who glanced at the US flag sideways
-Curtis Axel (gotta chant SOMETHING when we’re bored. See also: Divas, The)
So, get the crowd invested in their own pseudo-patriotism by having a foreigner degenerate the belt in front of them. Of course, the last guy to do that was our answer: Lance Storm, the one and only Canadian heavyweight champion in WCW history. Unless, of course, you count what John Cena did to the belt as degenerating it; if you do, you are correct, but we’re going with Storm’s renaming of the belt for our purposes. The angle drew heat, put the spotlight on the belt, and made it a bigger deal when…sigh….Hugh G. Rection won it from him and rechristened it the United States Championship.
I hate it when my point falls apart because of a Vince Russo dick joke.
Alright, so Storm is out. To be fair, my expert sources claim he’s retired anyway, so we need another guy. Perhaps another foreigner, one who can use the belt as a way to gain even more heat, a way to build on some sort of Anti-USA fervor….
WHY HASN’T THE BELT BEEN WELDED AROUND HIS WAIST FOR MONTHS NOW? (Not Xavier Woods)
It’s amusing to me that this type of booking needs to even be discussed. There has never been a more perfect way to both rebuild a title and to keep building a character.
Rusev, love him or hate him, has been booked extremely well to this point, especially for someone who will in all likelihood be jobbing to Cena soon. There is almost literally no reason that he shouldn’t have won the title from Sheamus by now, rechristened it the Russian Federation Championship, and pissed all over it while singing a Russian translation of Yankee Doodle Dandy.
One of the keys to this booking, especially in rehabbing the United States title, is to wash the stink off the belt that has been associated with its less than frequent title defenses. So, I’m going to suggest a two-pronged approach to this whole idea.
#1 – Rusev wins the belt in convincing fashion, and 2.
RUSEV DEFENDS THE BELT ALL THE TIME:
Let’s face the facts here – Rusev isn’t sniffing the World title anytime soon if anyone up in Stanford has any brains. He shouldn’t be near the inevitable Cena burial either. What we need is to establish a hierarchy of titles in the WWE, with the World and IC belts being defended very rarely on TV, and the US title being the modern equal of the fabled Television belt. That’s pretty much the only way this whole thing can work, if each belt has different levels of importance in the pecking order of the Fed.
So, Rusev wins the belt. And he should defend it. On Raw. On Smackdown. On Main Event if you want. Hell, invent a show called ‘Rusev defends the US title’ and have him defend it there. The point is that Rusev should be dominating and crushing everything in his path for the next, say, year or so.
And after each match, he should gloat to beat the band. He should point out how he has dominated the United States in match after match. Lana can invent more medals to give him, rename the belt a la Mr. Storm as stated above, and just in general be a dick. It always works, especially if you don’t shoot him too far beyond what he can handle.
The enduring part of the whole storyline is that Rusev has to defend that belt all the time to drive home the point that a Russian is holding an American title because…..
AMERICANS ARE GIANT BITCHES ABOUT ‘MERICA:
We’re not exactly fond of people pointing out our shortcomings down South of the border.
I was sort of embarrassed, for any number of reasons, about the Swagger/Colter stuff over the last year; but the thing that BUGGED the shit out of me was the complete willingness of the crowd to chant ‘We the People’ after Colter was saying the most racist crap on the mic he could to incite as much of a reaction as he could. Yes, the crowd knew who the heels were supposed to be, but getting a crowd to chant along like a bunch of monkeys isn’t exactly rocket science.
But here’s what truly disturbed me about the whole thing; Swagger’s face turn didn’t involve ANY TYPE OF TURN. He just started saying racist/jingoistic shit about a BAD foreigner, and the crowd all of a sudden loves the guy, and Colter’s just lovable old Zeb who was kicked in the head by the bad guy and isn’t it swell that he’s back to support Jack and his quest to beat up said bad guy? It spoke terribly, at least to me, about how we have no self-awareness as a culture of people as to when we’re being played, that we’re willing to root for anyone who waves the right flag and boo the guy who waves the wrong one regardless of the substance of their character. It’s not a great reflection of the United States, if you think about it.
On the other hand….
But when there’s a dollar to be made, exploit the hell out of it. It’s the REAL American way. And exploiting American patriotism is so easy, our government does it on a regular basis and not only gets away with it, it’s one of the few things they occasionally get praised for. (Occasionally. Most of the time, we hate the bums so much, we just re-elect them.)
And we walk right into it, every time. As stated above, Lance Storm, not exactly the strongest promo in the world, had quite the thing going in re-christening every title he won in WCW as a Canadian belt. Imagine what Lana could do with the US title on her arm and the mic in her hand.
It would be a thing of beauty.
The fact is, Rusev’s character was made for this belt, and this time. It will allow you to build up a babyface using the ‘Merica aspect of that character if they choose, or they can just use Rusev as a machine to draw the heat. Either way, it actually uses the United States title as something that is, stunningly, relevant; a feat which it has been struggling to accomplish for quite some time now.
And that would be something to salute.
@MrSoze on Twitter