In perhaps the clearest sign that the winds of change are blowing through WWE following Triple H's appointment as head of creative, last night's Raw saw the promotion endeavour to make the oft-neglected United States Championship feel like a big deal.
Undermining secondary singles titles had long been a hallmark of Vince McMahon's leadership. Now, with the 76-year-old gone, Raw suggested a renewed focus on the US Title, the glittering legacy of which was highlighted through a typically slick video packaging.
Showcasing the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Eddie Guerrero alongside current champion Bobby Lashley, the video presented the strap as a prize worth chasing.
Lashley, who flattened Theory to defend the US Title at SummerSlam 2022 (30 July), didn't wrestle on the show. He instead cut a backstage promo after Ciampa was crowned his next number one contender, claiming he wanted to bring respect back to his division.
Further focus was placed on the United States Championship through the series of matches that crowned Ciampa as next in line for a shot at Lashley. WWE held two Triple Threats won by AJ Styles and Ciampa, who then collided one-on-one with the goal of setting up a title match for next week. The former NXT Champion scored the victory over AJ following intervention from The Miz.
Renewed focus on WWE's midcard titles has been something fans have been calling for for a long, long time. Until now, they had fallen on deaf ears, and while one week is obviously a tiny sample size, Raw at least offered hope that things will improve under Triple H's creative leadership.
The United States Title's history goes back to 1975, when Harley Race was crowned the first champion, making it one of the most storied belts in wrestling. Lashley is currently 30 days into his third reign with it, having defeated Theory for the strap at Money In The Bank 2022 (2 July).