Santino Marella deserved the spotlight at WWE Elimination Chamber 2012 last night.
He has worked hard with whatever ridiculous ideas WWE has given him. He's dressed in drag and has gotten over with a finishing move that involves a green snake sock puppet.
The WWE was wise to let Santino last until the end. The crowd ate it up, and for a moment we could actually believe Santino just might pull it off.
Having Santino take technical perfectionist Daniel Bryan to the limit went along with the Rocky theme Santino had been parodying all night; Rocky Balboa went 15 rounds with Apollo Creed in Rocky I.
However, I think WWE should have gone one step further, making Elimination Chamber more like Rocky II than the original. In the sequel, Rocky wins the heavyweight championship of the world from Apollo in another 15-round slobberknocker.
The WWE missed an opportunity to create a memorable moment that we would recall for years to come. Instead, Bryan retained the title and the 2012 Elimination Chamber became just another pay-per-view like all the others.
Here's why the WWE should have put the World Heavyweight Championship on Santino Marella, even if it was only for one night:
The Milwaukee crowd was electric when Santino slipped the Cobra puppet on and spiked Daniel Bryan in the throat.
Counting along with the pinfall—"one, two..."—the crowd was louder than it would be all night.
Everyone in the place wanted to see Santino Marella shock the world and win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Alas, it wasn't to be, but that doesn't take away from Santino's popularity.
The audience popped huge for Santino when he won the Battle Royal to earn the vacant spot in the Elimination Chamber, and that adoration continued last night.
Sure, Santino Marella winning the World Heavyweight Championship in a match with five other contenders wouldn't really be in the realm of reality, but this is pro wrestling; it's not supposed to make sense all the time.
If wrestling was always easy to predict and always went by the book, where would the fun and excitement be?
Moments like Santino's near-win in the Elimination Chamber are what we live for as wrestling fans, whether we like to admit it or not.
Sure, we love the technical ability of Daniel Bryan, but we also love the sheer absurdity of characters like Marella, and for once, it would have been refreshing to see that type of character have a place in the World Heavyweight Championship picture.
Santino Marella shocking the world with a win would have fit right in line with some of the other championship stories the sports world has seen this year.
The Dallas Mavericks, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Giants each unexpectedly went on long runs that culminated in a championship against a favored opponent.
Meanwhile, Harvard graduate and former benchwarmer Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks has captivated the world with his surreal rise to the top of the NBA.
Santino could have been the next great underdog story, following in the footsteps of the others who have surprised us this year.
Even if Santino doesn't own the credibility to be World champion, the Elimination Chamber is the perfect match concept for a shocking victory.
Marella didn't exactly dominate the match, but he bided his time, stole a few pinfalls and outlasted four other men.
It wouldn't have been totally unbelievable for him to pin Daniel Bryan. After all, Bryan had been savagely propelled through the pod glass by The Big Show earlier in the match, so he wasn't at 100 percent.
It wouldn't have taken any credibility away from Bryan that he was caught by the Cobra after taking a beating throughout the match.
With CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho on everyone's mind, it was a poorly kept secret that Royal Rumble winner Sheamus would challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.
How would Sheamus have handled the situation with Marella holding the gold?
Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan would be left to explain his embarrassing loss and fight to get his title back from the Italian Stallion.
It would be comical to watch Marella try to elude these challengers as Crash Holly once did with the Hardcore Championship.
Even if he quickly lost the belt, at least one episode of SmackDown would have some uncertainty and excitement.