WWE has made an effort to elevate the United States Championship over the last six months, but the current storyline has more than run its course.
Following the January 16 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, it’s fair to say that the United States Championship scene has become stale. Bobby Lashley won a six-way elimination match and will wrestle Theory at Raw’s 30th-anniversary show next week in a fight fans have been exposed to too many times as of late. The company has made an apparent effort to elevate the title since Triple H took over the book at the end of July 2022. Vignettes spoke to the prestige and importance of the United States Championship, and bouts for it were no longer given midcard filler spots. With Roman Reigns holding the WWE Championship following WrestleMania 38, there was an opportunity for WWE to reestablish this secondary title on the red brand. And, for a few months, that plan worked.
Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, and Austin Theory have taken turns with the US Championship, goading each other into rematches and insulting each other during promos. Yet WWE fans have seen these three interact with each other a ton over the last half a year. Almost every week, some combination of this trio has wrestled or had a promo segment with each other. Despite the talent of everyone involved, the US Title scene has slowly decayed to the point of predictability and eye-rolling results. It’s not Vince McMahon territory—at least the storyline makes sense—but there’s a desperate need for the company to reheat this feud with new wrestlers and fresh outlooks.
WWE Missed An Opportunity On Monday Night Raw
On the most recent episode of Raw, Triple H could have introduced a new face into the US Championship picture. The six-way elimination main event that Lashley won included The Miz, Finn Balor, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Seth Rollins. The Visionary and The All Mighty were the two clear-cut favorites to win, but the other names involved carried enough weight to create some doubt.
Miz hasn’t been involved at the top of the card for quite some time, and his promos with Theory and Rollins would have been fun. Balor is playing the fourth fiddle in Judgment Day and could have used the US Title push. Then there’s Corbin, who fans love to hate. WWE could have leveraged that in the coming weeks to propel Rollins even further into top babyface territory. Ziggler’s best days are behind him, but having him wrestle Theory would have made sense, given the interactions those two have had over the last few weeks.
Yet WWE went back to the well with Lashley, missing out on a huge opportunity to add a fourth star into this ongoing and lengthy program. Having someone like Finn Balor or Corbin looming in the background would have freshened up the United States Championship outlook while giving Lashley, Rollins, and Theory a bit more space to work through their angle. Now fans will see Theory Vs. Lashley at Raw‘s 30th-anniversary show, and the company probably has some big plans for Bobby.
Heel Bobby Lashley (& The Hurt Business) Incoming?
It seems safe to assume that Bobby Lashley will be turning heel sometime in the near future. It’s been teased for months, with fans still cheering him as he talks about how he doesn’t care who he was to hurt to win the US Championship. WWE fans might witness this come to fruition at Raw on January 23, but it isn’t easy to imagine the audience in Philadelphia suddenly gaining sympathy for Austin Theory. He’s played the role of smarmy heel wonderfully, and there aren’t on-screen redeeming qualities for the crowd to latch onto, even if Lashley does go full-blown heel in the match. Austin has so much heat that trying to turn Lashley heel against him on Raw might not even work. Professional wrestling is weird sometimes.
The bigger picture here will involve reforming The Hurt Business. So far, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander have struggled to get onto the same page with MVP. The tag team lost to The Street Profits on January 16 in an odd match—the finish almost looked like a botch—perhaps signaling that they’re missing the essential piece of the puzzle. Lashley joining back up with Benjamin and Alexander would immediately give Raw two new midcard heels while also putting a fresh spin on Bobby Lashley’s US Championship chase and/or defense. Add Omos into the equation and things start to get interesting. Would a heel Lashley be enough to freshen up the US Title program, however? Especially considering Theory probably isn’t going to be getting cheered anytime soon?
WWE was always going to punt between Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble a few times. With more than two months between premium live events and the NFL stretch run and playoffs to compete with for attention, the company was never going to shake things up significantly. Still, the United States Championship program desperately needs that shakeup. Raw‘s 30th-anniversary show and the Royal Rumble provide WWE two opportunities to inject some new life into Rollins Vs. Theory Vs. Lashley. If this all leads to The Hurt Business Vs. The Bloodline at Elimination Chamber, then a few stale episodes of Raw during the company’s slow season, will have been worth it.
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