In my eyes, this match has three possible victors, and they're listed in decreasing levels of likelihood in the title of this slide. Unfortunately for the champion, however, his odds aren't that much better than the other two, although his chances are infinitely larger than those of Alberto del Rio.
Sheamus has not been built as an especially legitimate champion. While the backlash from the all-too-brief title match at this year's WrestleMania (in which The Great White won the title from Daniel Bryan) was expected by quite a few to bury Bryan, it did the opposite.
Bryan, in spite of losing the title in an embarrassing match, became more over than ever. His signature, "Yes!" chants rang out across the globe, even being observed at non-wrestling sporting events.
Dozens of audience members at TV tapings for RAW and SmackDown can clearly be seen holding signs with this signature catch-phrase on it, and the chants can be heard to ring out in matches for which Bryan is not even a part.
Sheamus, meanwhile, in spite of securing the title, has not enjoyed that same level of elevation. While still over as a face, he's not completely over as a champion, not having had a legitimate feud since the title changed hands over a month and a half ago.
If anything, his only crowning achievement since winning the title was defending said title against Daniel Bryan in a two-out-of-three-falls match. That match, while superb, was not enough in and of itself to really show the WWE Universe that this guy is the real deal.
It also didn't help that they tried immediately to throw him into a somewhat illogical feud with the returning Alberto del Rio, who has the singular distinction of having a personal ring announcer who is more over with the crowd than he is...and even Ricardo Rodriguez isn't winning them over the way that he used to.
With this, it would appear that the WWE creative team realized they did not have a winning formula on their hands in a program between these two, so they went into damage control mode.
They likely had to ask themselves two very important questions.
One: Who is the face of the SmackDown brand? That would be Randy Orton. Add him to the match...but wait, he's not exactly known for just putting people over.
Two: Who is actually known for putting people over, and just helped to legitimize another champion in this company by putting on an excellent program with him? Why, that would be Chris Jericho. Add him to the match!
With the addition of these two talented superstars to the match, they can accomplish some very important things.
First of all, they've got Randy Orton back into the title picture. It was only a matter of time, but they seem to have been trying to find a way to do just that. With him back in the picture, that increases the value of the SmackDown programming, and is just plain good for business.
They can also use this match to make Alberto del Rio look strong. They seem dead set on establishing him as a top heel, and coming off looking very good in a match with three top-caliber wrestlers could help build him up.
Additionally, they can either establish Sheamus as a champion, or put the strap on someone who would be over as a champion. The former is risky, as there are no sure bets in that regard. The latter could also prove catastrophic for the champion.
If Sheamus retains, that could mean a heel turn for Randy Orton, and a feud between the two in the coming months. While that has already been somewhat teased with the stare-downs and heated words between the two of late, turning one of their top faces heel is a risky maneuver.
In that respect, Orton securing the title via pin-fall over Sheamus could have the same potential repercussions. Heel champions are certainly not unheard of and tend to carry the strap well, but taking the strap off a guy you're trying to solidify as a top face, potentially burying him, and simultaneously turning another top face heel? That's a gamble.
That brings us to Jericho.
While I want to dismiss this possibility with a snarky, "He clearly doesn't win pay-per-views anymore, so that's out," he's still not to be ruled out completely. Especially since I figure his role in the match, win or lose, to be the most vital.
If he wins, that's not going to bury or besmirch the title, and there's no shame for The Great White in losing to a superstar with so much success throughout his career. Jericho's contract appears to be good through Summer Slam, which would be the perfect time for him to drop the title to Sheamus or Orton, in what would be a very competitive match.
That could only add prestige to the title, really.
If he loses, though, that would also be very, very important in the grand scheme of things. Essentially, the best way for Sheamus to actually retain the title would be by earning a pin-fall on Jericho.
This time around, Jericho has done an exceptional job of helping champions get over, and being pinned by Sheamus in a very tough match would be no different.
While my own personal bias wishes that Jericho could hold a title during this run, I understand that seems not to be his lot.
I expect Sheamus to retain, earning the pin-fall on Jericho.