Stop me if you've heard this before: WWE is missing the mark.
There are very few things that wrestling fans can agree on regarding the industry today. Finding something that two generations of fans can agree on was very difficult for a long time, but WWE somehow has found a way unite them.
Seth Rollins and Finn Balor are two examples of this unity. Both are in the midst of pretty good face runs. Both have gimmicks that work well with older and younger generations of fans. Both are excellent wrestlers who routinely put on quality matches.
Having them wrestle for the No. 1 contender's spot for a midcard championship when they should be challenging for the WWE Universal Championship doesn't make much sense.
Brock Lesnar is a credible WWE Universal champion. He did end the Undertaker's streak. He did upend Goldberg at WrestleMania (like it or not, that lends credence). His gimmick as the destroyer plays well. He certainly is a more suitable champion at this point than, say, Goldberg, or even Roman Reigns, who needs to marinate a bit more before entering a program with Lesnar.
Here's the thing: Lesnar's current title run is coming at the expense of Balor, who was the first WWE Universal Champion. Balor had to relinquish the belt after suffering an injury in the match in which he won it. It's also costing Rollins, who was close to the brass ring more than once before suffering injuries himself that sidelined him for one WrestleMania, and almost two.
And having Lesnar on top is probably most damaging for the Miz, who was the hottest thing on "SmackDown" and was probably en route to a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship had he stayed on the blue show.
All three guys essentially have a right to the big belt, so what does WWE think is the logical thing to do? Have them all challenge for the midcard title.
Monday's "Raw" main event between the three proved one thing: They all should be in the main-event scene. The Triple Threat match for the No. 1 contender's spot was an absolute gem: It showcased each wrestler's talents equally and appropriately. It told it a great story.
Unfortunately, the match was "main event" in spot only. You can bet that once Reigns and Braun Strowman return, the trio will again take a back seat and wallow in midcard obscurity with pointless feuds that will do nothing for their careers.
To be fair, the Reigns-Strowman program has been infinitely entertaining. It's your classic beat-the-crap-out-of-each-other angle, which usually works with the right guys. But Reigns' ultimate destiny is still with Lesnar at some point, which means Balor, Rollins and Miz won't be getting championship runs any time soon.
This is one of the many recurring issues with WWE over the past few years. The company seldom gives the main-event titles to guys who really deserve them. If/when it does, it's usually too late. See: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and countless others.
Sure, WWE gave Kevin Owens a well-deserved Universal Championship run, but because it had to be justified in bringing back Goldberg as an unstoppable force, Owens was forced to cough it up. By proxy, Goldberg then essentially beat Undertaker's streak by defeating Lesnar. Lesnar, by the way, hasn't yet defended his Universal Championship, and he won't until July.
Is that a potential roadblock for these three? Sure. But it's a roadblock than can easily be avoided by — wait for it — not giving Lesnar the title.
Also important to note: Lesnar is the company's top-paid performer. According to Forbes, he's scheduled to make $12 million, which is $4 million more than John Cena, the face of the company and its workhorse.
Lesnar and his paycheck haven't been seen since the "Raw" after WrestleMania 33 where his manager, Paul Heyman, issued an open challenge to Reigns, the only other man ever to defeat the Undertaker at WrestleMania. If there's any way to kill the prestige of title, it's by not showing up on "Raw" every week. That "tradition" was popularized by The Rock, who took the title from then-workhorse and WWE Champion of 434 days, CM Punk. The Rock barely showed up at any "Raw" shows leading up to that WrestleMania. Brock Lesnar followed and is keeping that tradition alive.
It's understood that part of the reason WWE is doing this, is to give the Intercontinental Championship more prestige and value. But the way the company is going about that raises several issues:
1. It's devaluing the Universal Championship, which is still a relatively new title and should be built up.
2. The midcard titles should be used to propel future stars, not stall established guys who are regular main-event players. WWE has plenty of midcard talent that isn't The Miz, Rollins or Balor that could be put in high-leverage matches for a midcard title.
Maybe I'm in the minority in thinking Monday's main event would have been better if we knew it was for the Universal Championship No. 1 contender spot and not the Intercontinental. I'd just like to see these guys and their talents maximized now, rather than later.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to build up a midcard title, but doing it at the expense of the main-event scene and screwing deserving guys in the process isn't the way to do it.