In unsurprising manner, Daniel Bryan was able to scrape by last night at The Royal Rumble to retain his World Heavyweight Championship. Can't say I'm not surprised really, if only because WWE spent so much time with Bryan as Mr. Money in The Bank, they might as well ride this out.
That said, his run as world heavyweight champion has been...well, so far it's been boring and uninspired. Now, I'm no big Indy guy, so maybe Bryan was better in ROH. Don't know. Don't particularly care. Why should I? He's in WWE now and what he does now is what I see and what makes me get interested in the character.
So, with all that said, I'm hoping WWE gets its act together and has Bryan drop the World title at the last stop before WrestleMania: Elimination Chamber. I see EC as the best place to have Bryan drop his belt, because everyone can be happy. Bryan doesn't have to be pinned to lose his title, we can get a better champion and it makes for interesting television, pending whatever Sheamus does.
So, without further delay, allow me to introduce the five men I think could all take Bryan's title in Elimination Chamber and my reasons for thinking such.
If ever there was a man who deserved a World Championship, it would have to be the man from Blackpool, England named William Regal. It's not difficult to make a case for why William Regal should be and could be a world heavyweight champion. He's got all the tools a superstar could ask for, and quite frankly can outwrestle and outperform a lot of the younger guys in the back.
He's got the mic skills, the showmanship, the charisma and the ability to be one the best world champions in recent memory—age be damned! It's not even difficult to envision where William could go from winning the World title at EC.
One idea has him fighting his former student (not CM Punk) and the former world champion in Daniel Bryan with the backdrop of Regal appalled at the actions and recklessness of his student, while Daniel could come back with barbs about what he was able to do in less time than Regal had in his whole career before proclaiming himself to be the better between the two and that the student has surpassed the master.
Another storyline has Regal feuding with the young Intercontinental champion Cody Rhodes, with Regal remarking about how disappointed he's been with some of the younger guys in the back and how they seem to have little respect for those that paved the way for them (citing DB calling out Big Show and Cody's' treatment of Goldust and Booker). This could cause Rhodes to continue down the path of the Legend Killer by challenging Regal, saying that it's time for the old guard to step aside and let the new generation take charge.
This is all just speculation, but honestly, I think Elimination Chamber could be a good place to give William Regal what he deserves.
Randy Orton, the Apex Predator of the WWE, has made his return to SmackDown and looks to be off to a venomous start, as always, and I highly doubt WWE will pass up putting The Viper in Elimination Chamber.
With that said, I think with all the good Randy's done this past year, he should be rewarded. I was a bit surprised he didn't end up winning the Royal Rumble, but who's to say a World Heavyweight Championship run couldn't be in his future for helping to elevate the likes of Cody Rhodes and Mark Henry.
Honestly, for all the flack Orton catches off being excellent in the ring and mediocre on the mic, he's no different than Daniel Bryan (except he has the classic Greek god look WWE goes for, while Bryan does not), but with Orton I just feel more people will be entertained.
As for where Orton would go once he won the title, there are several directions. Going back to feud with Wade Barrett is one way to go. Especially if The Viper is willing to put over the brawler from England at WrestleMania, and judging from recent months, it's hard to see Orton not wanting to do so.
On the flip side, there's another route that can be taken as well. It's one we saw all last summer, and I know I'm being hopeful when I say they could make the end of this something great by righting a wrong that happened earlier this year, and giving Christian "ONE MORE MATCH." I mean, honestly, if they can make Christian look strong and go over at Mania, then I honestly think WWE could create the "feel good" moment of the century right there.
Again, I know I'm being hopeful, but at the very least, Christian and Orton will put on a classic worth watching, despite the outcome.
The current reigning Intercontinental champion and my favorite superstar currently looks to be on a quest to not only restore the image of the Intercontinental Championship, but also to pull an "Ultimate Warrior" and become not only the Intercontinental champion, but also win a World Championship. At Elimination Chamber he could very well do that.
This past year, Cody has proven himself to simply be head and shoulders above his peers on both brands, from Wade Barrett to Dolph Ziggler to Zack Ryder to Daniel Bryan. He's shown growth and remarkable improvement from his days as a tag team specialist on RAW and it looks like WWE is realizing they have something special on their hands with how they've been handling him.
Now, I'll admit that it may seem a bit much to put Cody in such a spot like having him hold the secondary and world titles, but to be the honest, he's been in some spots before when he's been in high-profile matches like at Survivor Series and during his feud with Orton, and Cody held his own the entire time.
As for where we go with Cody from EC with the World and Intercontinental titles, the bigger question would have to be where couldn't you go?
Justin Gabriel looks to be in the hunt for the I.C. title, and even if he loses out on the feud, I think having a good program with Cody Rhodes can really give Justin the rub, as he was touted as perhaps the second-most talented superstar of The Nexus. (Perhaps third, behind Skip Sheffield.)
Cody could also strike up a rivalry with his former mentor Orton again, and avenge their mutually bad performance at Vengeance by putting on a clinic like we know they can at WrestleMania, as Cody looks to cement his place as the most dominant champion in history and the new Legend Killer against former friend Randy Orton.
Speaking of the road to WrestleMania, I believe it's about time we start seeing The Undertaker again, isn't it? Granted, this is one guy I actually don't like seeing in EC only because of how banged up his body is. He probably has one big match left in him, saved for Mania, but on the chance that I'm wrong, here's another guy that could take the title off Bryan, no questions asked.
I could probably write about five good articles and still only scratch the surface of The Deadman's storied career if I wanted to, so I won't go too much into history.
So, ignoring that, I'll focus a bit on why he could take the title at Elimination Chamber. There are several reasons, but I think one of the biggest would simply be the status and how it could change the complexion of his match at Mania—especially considering it's still kind of up in the air as to who he'll face.
A Randy Orton versus Undertaker rematch has been thrown about. Lord knows it would be a fantastic contest with two veterans like Taker and Orton in that match, and I think Taker could handle the legwork as far as promos go during this feud.
A couple of other candidates to face Taker include Mick Foley (funny how he talked about how his kids never got to see him Wrestle at Mania,) and Chris Jericho (perhaps the end of the world as we know it starts with ending the streak?)
Honestly, I think Taker and either one of those men could have a five-star match at Mania, and I would love to see the promos. Mick Foley could go through his mind and perhaps bring out Cactus Jack or maybe even Dude Love. Myself? I'd prefer that tortured soul of Mankind.
Jericho, well I can only imagine how his promos would go, but I'm very sure they'll be awesome, as his promos (when he speaks,) usually are.
Wade Barrett was one of my picks to win the Royal Rumble, but I'm not disappointed either, because after SmackDown, I'm sure that his feud with Orton will continue and I'm enjoying watching Barrett's stock rise as many knew it would.
I do believe Barrett will win his way into the Elimination Chamber, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him walk out with the World Heavyweight Championship draped over his shoulder. The fact that Barrett has yet to win a World Championship is surprising, but I don't think it'll be long before we see Barrett regularly competing for The Holy Grail of Professional Wrestling that is the World Heavyweight Championship.
I see no reason Barrett couldn't walk out with it, and I actually think there's more good side to having him win the belt here than perhaps anyone else on this list, simply because he can feud with just about anyone else in the chamber and have it make sense and even go to WrestleMania with a back story to a feud with Sheamus.
With Cody, (though they're heels so I don't see this working) they could simply fight over who's the better superstar and who's hurt Randy more, been the bigger star.
With Regal, it could be a battle of Old England versus New England. (You can understand what I mean by that.)
Randy and Barrett are still feuding so having the World title on the line only adds fuel to the fire.
Regarding Bryan, (again, heel versus heel so probably won't happen) they could play off their time on NXT together where Wade Barrett was pretty much the best while Daniel Bryan never even won a match on his own.
Lastly, with Undertaker, they could actually have a chance to revisit exactly why The Nexus attacked Undertaker last year. (Seriously, am I the only one who still ponders that?)
This whole list was made taking into consideration who's injured and who's not, so that's why the likes of Christian, Sin Cara and Mark Henry were excluded from this list as participants.
Thanks for reading, by the way.