WWE said there would be one champion at the end of the night following TLC, for everyone expecting a swerve it was not to be. Randy Orton defeated John Cena with no interference to win what is now titled the “WWE World Heavyweight Championship.” While watching it with friends of mine, we agreed with the outcome using the logic of, “If they are getting rid of the big gold belt, let it be absolved by one of the signature guys for Smackdown that has history with the belt.” As most fans may remember, a 24 year old Randy Orton won that same title at Summerslam 2004, by finding it after it had gone missing since Wrestlemania XX. (Chris Benoit no longer exists in any shape or form in the history of major American pro wrestling, according to the WWE.)
If this is truly the end for “The Big Gold Belt” I will always think of it as the title of Ric Flair, Sting, Edge, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, HHH, Booker T, and WCW. While the title has taken a hit in prestige over the last few years, we should not forget the times where it was the top belt in the business. But I digress.
Randy Orton has just had his best showing in a main event during this current heel run. The other matches have been marred with overbooking, non-finishes, and general boredom. I am not a member of the “Randy Orton is Boring” club, but even I had to wonder what was going on at certain times. Orton defeating a chief rival in John Cena sets up numerous possibilities going forward. With the Royal Rumble on the horizon, there are plenty of men waiting to knock Orton off of his perch. More so now than ever because only one major title is in play. Returning Superstars, legends and previous opponents (sound the Daniel Bryan Alarm) are all looking to headline Wrestlemania 30.
The Celtic Warrior is due to return to action soon, and WWE will be looking for a way to insert him into something meaningful. With his show stealing performance at Money in the Bank, (he carried the match) Sheamus can handle a big match situation as well as anyone. We’ve seen superstars go missing for lesser reasons than injury come back and get a shot at world championships before; I’m talking to you Jack Swagger. Sheamus is light years above Swagger in WWE’s hierarchy, and with the companies track record of hotshotting feuds for Wrestlemania, this is more than possible. He has history with Randy Orton, having faced him in a Hell in a Cell match. It also seemed like this feud was being teased at times earlier in the year while both men were still faces. Now that Orton is a mega heel again, locking up with Sheamus would be a great feud.
Sheamus and Randy Orton are two of Triple H’s handpicked guys behind the scenes, and he could possibly set them up to headline Wrestlemania 30. The problem is, everyone else would hate it. WWE has too much invested in possible payoffs for other guys. Right or wrong the injury cooled The Great White’s jets a bit, and there are too many guys in front of him. If Wrestlemania season was not just around the corner, I could see this feud happening. Look for Sheamus to clean house in the Royal Rumble, or go back to his roots as a heel upon returning.
Chances of Facing Randy Orton: 5 Percent
Before WWE tried to rewrite history calling Randy Orton the first unified champion, there was one man that defeated The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in one night to merge the WCW and WWE Championships with the proper lineage. That man’s name is Y2J Chris Jericho.
Jericho has been awesome since his return in 2012 and really any time before that in the last 20 years. If not for his self-imposed hiatus, “The Ayatollah” was on track to be in-ring performer of the year. With stellar showings against Rob Van Dam, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Ryback, Fandango and going 45 minutes in the Royal Rumble as the surprise #2 entrant, WWE could easily have Jericho win the Royal Rumble for what would, shockingly, be the first time and have a meeting of the original Undisputed Champion and the current one.
I’d have no worries about the match quality, because Jericho and Orton would deliver in spades. I would love to hear Jericho run The Authority down on the mic, including HHH and Stephanie McMahon. That would be a real throwback and would be great for younger fans that missed Jericho’s weekly tirades against them in the early 00’s. He could no longer call her a 2 dollar trashbag hoe anymore, but Jericho is talented enough to adapt.
The thought of Chris Jericho winning the title in the main event of Wrestlemania 30 would be a tough sell, however. As great as Jericho versus Orton would be, Jericho at this stage in his career can be used for so many other purposes. Jericho has put over so many guys recently that I am no longer sure if he could be looked at as a legit title threat. There is also a rather large number of guys ahead of him. So Jericho will come in, get a feud with a young guy and prove why he is the best in the world at what he does. (Jericho vs Rollins, Anyone?) How about Jericho vs Sheamus? Jericho and The Wyatt Family? Jericho vs The Undertaker?
All I know is Chris Jericho will steal the show. It’s just what he does best.
Chances of Facing Randy Orton: 15 percent
The seeds for this feud could have been planted at last week’s Championship Ascension ceremony. CM Punk and Orton tussling set the stage for everything that followed. All types of reports for the last few months have pointed at a Wrestlemania 27 rematch. With Punk freeing himself of The Shield and the time that he has spent away from the WWE Championship adding up; many, including myself, would love to see the “Best in The World” get a shot at dethroning “The Viper.” It would certainly be one of the most tattooed main events in Wrestlemania history.
CM Punk has strangely been in an alternate universe then The Authority since Summerslam. Really, there is no one better to go against them. He’s the evolutionary Chris Jericho when it comes to making HHH’s skin crawl, and can drop a pipebomb at any moment on Orton. CM Punk also has never won a Royal Rumble, and all top stars at some point seem to win one so there is that to consider.
John Cena, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Randy Orton are currently part of the 4-headed monster of top fulltime stars. Right now I see him sitting in third, with Orton at 4. WWE will look to shuffle the card around these 4 men, with the two men not in the WWE Championship match possibly facing off against each other. However, I cannot see John Cena or Daniel Bryan not involved with the WWE title at Wrestlemania and that hurts Punk immensely. Punk will likely end up going to battle against Triple H or even GASP …… Shawn Michaels. Remember, Shawn played Sweet Chin Music on Punk’s jaw and I’m sure CM Punk hasn’t forgotten.
Chances of Facing Randy Orton: 20 Percent
The champ is here! After losing the unification match, I assume he has a rematch clause. We could see him face Orton at the Rumble winning back the title and further complicating things, but WWE cannot be asked to remember trivial details such as kayfabe contractual obligations during Wrestlemania season.
Part of me thought Cena would unify the titles and The Rock would win the Royal Rumble, entering at #30 setting up thrice in a lifetime. I was preparing 10,000 words of fury for WWE. Luckily that’s not the case. The sell is easy here: Cena is always around the title, is owed a rematch and Cena vs Orton is one of the longest running feuds between top stars in WWE history. Wrestlemania 30 surely could be sold around another Cena redemption story and another chapter in the book of Orton vs Cena.
Most of my twitter followers, and those I follow seemed to be speculating just that. WWE giving us John Cena vs Randy Orton would be the easy way out, in my opinion. That could be what they decide to do. I mean y’all saw Wrestlemania 29, right? John Cena is the face of WWE regardless of what any McMahon says and will be a major player in WWE’s biggest show ever.
Chances of Facing Randy Orton: 25 Percent
YES! YES! YES! Daniel Bryan is the most logical opponent for Randy Orton to anyone with two eyes and a properly functioning brain. Since Wrestlemania 28, Bryan has steadily been on the upward path toward mega stardom. The “YES!” chant has been the best thing that has ever happened to him. The payoff has been delayed from his initial Summerslam victory over John Cena; where he immediately had a Money in the Bank briefcase cashed-in at his expense by…..oh, that’s right…THE CURRENT WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION…..RANDY-BLEEPING-ORTON!!!
Month after month of getting jobbed out of the title had to be for a reason. Daniel Bryan will reach the WWE mountain top on its grandest stage. Fans have clamored for Bryan to claim the top spot since the dissolution of Team Hell No. WWE wisely gave us a taste of him as champion, then yanked the rug out from underneath us while reinvigorating Randy Orton and unifying both titles to make this potential moment mean as much as possible.
Daniel Bryan is the odds on favorite to win the Royal Rumble. It will be the definitive underdog story of our generation. Someone who is not Vince’s ideal superstar, most say. I believe Vince’s ideal superstar is anyone that will bring in the cash, sell the merchandise, put on quality matches and connect with fans. If that isn’t Daniel Bryan, who is hotter than 12 suns right now, then I don’t know who he is rolling out to challenge Orton for the title. Just know that if it’s not “The American Dragon,” two words will echo over the main event from every direction inside The Superdome.
Chances of Facing Randy Orton: 35 Percent
Agree? Disagree? Comment here or contact me on twitter @DangerRich32 @OneNationRadio