Will Randy Orton Drop The WWE Title To Big Show, Daniel Bryan Or John Cena?
Who will take him down? (Photo: ibtimes.com)
Many were surprised and disappointed when Randy Orton, with the aid of the powers that be, emerged from a four-month feud with Daniel Bryan as the victorious WWE champion. To his credit, Orton's heel turn appears to have shot some adrenaline into his tired persona, making him more entertaining to watch than he has been in years. As a heel champion, however, fans want to know who will be the one to finally knock him off of his pedestal.
The Big Show
The most immediate threat to Orton's reign is The Big Show. Big Show's rivalry with The Authority played out like a backstory to Daniel Bryan's struggle for the title, with Show serving as both ally and antagonist to Daniel Bryan at the time. He's currently being positioned as the abused blue collar worker standing up to power-mad bosses (the Stone Cold factor), a position until recently occupied by Daniel Bryan.
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Big Show is a tried-and-true veteran certainly up to the task of carrying the WWE championship, but it remains to be seen if fans will get behind him the way they got behind Bryan. It might seem odd if Big Show can accomplish in a single pay-per-view what Daniel Bryan couldn't in four -- hold onto the title for more than 24 hours -- given the deep sack of dirty tricks at the disposal of the Authority.
Ultimately Show's beef is ultimately with Triple H, not Randy Orton. A title win might help to agitate Triple H further, but is hardly necessary to continue their feud.
Rumors have been circulating around the Internet that the WWE is at least partially blaming Daniel Bryan's alleged lack of drawing power for Summer Slam's disappointing buy rate. If that is the case, then that bodes poorly for Daniel Bryan's future as a main eventer, but it's difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to his character. Does the company really believe he's not A+ material or are they saying that to build up his cred as a scrappy underdog? Regardless, Bryan is out of the title hunt for the immediate future as he's embroiled in a tag team feud with the Wyatt Family.
Bryan's road back to the title hunt would most likely go through a Royal Rumble victory, setting him up for a shot at Wrestlemania. In the meantime, the next few months should give us a sense of how much faith, or lack thereof, WWE has in the bearded one.
Cena looms like a forboding shadow over the main event title picture, always on the periphery, the "real" champ in the company's mind. That said, I don't think we're going to be seeing Cena in the WWE championship title picture anytime soon. The company's decided to put Cena's considerable muscle behind the World Heavyweight Championship, presumably to help elevate that title back up to main event status.
This begs the question: will the WHC replace the WWE championship as the top prize in the company (the WWE doesn't officially rank one title over the other, but booking suggests otherwise)? Will the top of the card be John Cena WHC challenge at Wrestlemania? Either way, Cena's occupying a different space in the program and will probably continue to do his thing there for the foreseeable future. There is, of course, always the horrifying possibility of him holding both belts.
With the roster somewhat lacking in full-time star power, there aren't that many credible challengers for the title at the moment. Here are the other possibilities:
CM Punk: Punk's long WWE championship reign ended last Royal Rumble, but a second run -- this time as a face -- could be in the cards for him.
Mark Henry: Henry's proneness to injury has derailed a lot of his momentum over the years, but many would like to see him hold the strap, at least for a little while.
The Rock: The Rock's program with Cena was great for business but not something fans necessarily want to see again. If the Rock does wrestle at Wrestlemania, it probably won't be for a belt.