It’s been a long time since WWE’s United States Title has meant anything. Vince McMahon largely treated it like a prop. Triple H has other ideas.
WWE‘s secondary titles—the United States and Intercontinental Championships, in particular—haven’t meant much in recent years, but it appears that Triple H is aiming to change that. The US Title was featured prominently during the August 1 episode of Monday Night Raw. That’s particularly noteworthy because SummerSlam happened just two days earlier, where Roman Reigns defended his unified championship against Brock Lesnar, yet he wasn’t physically on the show.
Meanwhile, the United States Championship was front and center. Two different three-way matches were held, and the winners of those two bouts squared off for the right to wrestle Bobby Lashley on next week’s Raw. Not only did a majority of the wrestling on Monday night center on the US Title, but WWE also produced a video package to remind fans of the history and lineage of the belt. It was almost certainly a signal that, under Triple H‘s watch, the secondary championships will be elevated, and the mid-card will matter more than it has in years.
When the IC and US titles hold value and meaning, WWE has more opportunities to build up superstars. Over the last six or seven years, Vince McMahon has focused on turning Reigns and Lesnar into megastars, but virtually no one else has mattered. This creates a problem where, if those two aren’t facing each other, no wrestler really feels like a credible threat. For instance, if Ciampa were to challenge Reigns for the unified title right now, zero percent of the audience would believe he had any chance of winning.
What if Ciampa was coming off of a dominating six-month reign as United States Champion, though? What if he wrestled almost every week, putting on banger after banger before finally stepping up to challenge Roman Reigns? At that stage, he’d be taken seriously as a danger because he’d been booked that way. It’s a bit of an old-school philosophy that hasn’t been leveraged by WWE in quite some time. Whenever someone wins one of those belts, they pledge to make the titles matter again, but if the guy holding the book isn’t on board, those are empty promises.
It’s not an accident that on a Raw that had been described internally as a statement show heavily featured a secondary title. Triple H worked closely with Ciampa while in NXT, and he’s in line for a big push under the new regime. Everyone in WWE benefits from the United States Championship mattering again. Audiences can settle back into viewing these as the workman’s titles while the world champion (Reigns in this case) is treated like a bigger deal. Only the latter had been happening over the last half-decade, so this will be a breath of fresh air for WWE fans.