Secondary championships have been a staple in pro wrestling for many years.  They’ve been around since at least the late 1920’s.  At first, they were created to recognize different weight classes.   The oldest secondary title lineage I could find was the National Wrestling Association (the “original” NWA, which predated the National Wrestling Alliance) World Middleweight Championship, which was established in 1928.  Over the years, secondary titles have gone from distinguishing weight classes, to essentially just being “#2” titles, disguised with names like “Intercontinental,” “United States,” and “North American,” just to name a few examples.


Not that it’s a bad thing, though.  I think it’s always good to recognize the talents on a company’s roster.  During the Greatest Rivalries: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels DVD, Hart and Michaels said that Vince McMahon used the Intercontinental title to reward “the best wrestler in the WWE” at the time, whereas the WWE Champion was whoever was drawing money/outside media interest.  And that makes sense.


But now with the trend of having the best wrestlers as World Champions, what does that mean for the holders of secondary titles?  Does it mean “this guy is next?”  Or is it just “he’s doing alright, let’s put a belt on him?”


Let’s take a look at the WWE’s secondary titles to find out where we’re going.


IC title: Greatest Secondary title ever?

We’ll start with the Intercontinental Championship, formerly held by some of the greatest names to ever step into a WWE ring.  Currently held by Cody Rhodes, he won the belt August 9, 2011, and has only had two PPV title defenses.  TWO!  Granted, he has defended the belt on Raw and Smackdown, but WWE somehow feels the need to ignore their second most important championship in the company.  Currently, he’s in the mix for the upcoming Elimination Chamber PPV, so there’s another PPV with no IC title defense.

On Raw, we have a curious case with the United States Championship.  When WWE established the US title, they connected the lineage to the former NWA/WCW version of the US title, meaning the title has a “who’s who” lineage of greats from the last thirty years.  Right now, Jack Swagger lays claim as champion, defeating Zack Ryder on Raw, who is/was suffering an on-air injury.  A real shame, as Ryder is one of the best success stories in all of wrestling. Swagger’s reign isn’t very old, so I won’t criticize it yet.  The man Ryder beat for US title, Dolph Ziggler, also got ignored somewhat as US champ, in the sense that he didn’t defend the title every PPV.

TNA TV title: Pick a name already!!

In TNA, their secondary championship is the World Television Championship.  It was originally introduced as the Legend’s Championship, then, renamed the Global Championship, before they finally settled on TV.  Holy crap, TNA!  With a couple exceptions, the title’s lineage is pretty unspectacular.  It’s currently held by “Jersey Shore”-inspired wrestler Robbie E. (known better to northeast US indy fans as Rob Eckos; he deserves better), but it isn’t being ignored, as it’s defended regularly on PPV.

TNA’s other secondary title is the X Division title.  The “X Division” has had so many different meanings over the years, and trying to explain all the different changes will take three or four different articles on its own.  Basically, it started as a Cruiserweight championship, but became the “#2” championship (this was before the Legends/Global/TV title existed), but is now a cruiserweight title again.  I think.  The X Division is what set TNA apart when they started, and it’s something that I, and many others, feel that TNA has dropped the ball with.  Austin Aries is currently the well-deserved champion (actually, he deserves to be making millions of dollars with WWE, but that isn’t my call), but TNA’s cruiserweights are plagued with injuries currently, so there isn’t much competition outside of some of the newer talent that TNA has brought in to fill out the division.  Just with the TV title, the X Division title is defended regularly.

Now, we all criticize TNA for their mismanagement of just about everything, but how are they keeping their secondary titles relevant?  It’s an easy answer: they get defended.  They may not have the best guys as champions (looking at you, Robbie E., but in gimmick only), but the belts are being defended and building prestige.  WWE may have brought back the “classic” look to the Intercontinental title, but I wouldn’t put Cody Rhodes in the same league as Randy Savage, Curt Hennig, or even Shawn Michaels.  Not yet, anyway.

This begs the question: what happened to the importance of secondary titles?  Why does the US championship go unmentioned for a full two hours on Raw?  Why does Cody Rhodes not have a high-profile feud over the IC title?  I think it’s because there’s so many guys who are main event-ready.  Think about it.  What does it mean if Dolph Ziggler or Kofi Kingston wins the IC or US titles again?  Not much, because they’re both multi-time secondary champs.  In my book, that’s main event-ready.  Guys like CM Punk, Big Show, and Kane?  They’re all above secondary titles.  Once a guy has been World champion, it doesn’t make much sense to have them win a secondary title.  Did anyone care when Ric Flair was IC champ?  I didn’t.

Zack Ryder with US title: WWWYKI

Zack Ryder winning the US title was a great thing.  Here was a guy who legitimately EARNED his spot as a champion, and all his “broskis” felt like they won the US title when he did.  It was quite a journey, especially if you didn’t care about Ryder before “Z! True Long Island Story” (like me).

Is anyone else ready to take a Ryder-like journey to secondary title glory?  Honestly, I don’t think so.  The next generation of WWE stars is in FCW, which is where they’re probably stuck for a while, seeing as the main event and mid-card are overloaded and not given enough time as it is.   Until then, the WWE’s secondary titles will remain pretty stale, and TNA will (shockingly) be the example of how to handle them.

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Another IWC Jerk is a self-proclaimed pro wrestling guru.  Follow his live tweets every Monday for Raw, every WWE PPV, sometimes TNA, and other sporting/pop culture events.

Twitter: @AnotherIWCJerk


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