At Extreme Rules a few weeks ago, WWE Diva Layla returned from a year-long knee injury and won the WWE Divas Championship from a departing Nikki Bella.
Last night at Over the Limit, Christian returned from a half-year hiatus to win a battle royal and then defeat long-reigning (save for a forgettable Big Show run) champion Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental title.
With this move, WWE may be setting a dangerous precedent. At any moment, Superstars can return without warning and immediately win titles from any of the current champions.
Be honest: Did anyone see Beth Phoenix losing that Divas title? And after regaining the Intercontinental strap from The Big Show, the majority of fans were gearing up for another extended title reign for Cody Rhodes.
I'm not implying in any way that Christian is unworthy. As a former World Heavyweight champion, his victory serves to further legitimize an oft-maligned mid-card title.
But consider the precedent that WWE is setting. Layla returns from injury and wins the Divas belt. Christian returns from injury and wins the Intercontinental belt. When Kharma returns from her pregnancy and subsequent troubles, she is considered a lock to win the Divas title from whoever the champion is at that time.
With that in mind, anytime a major superstar returns from injury (Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho, therefore, do not count), we are expecting them to win a title. Obviously, I'm leaving out notable examples. Alberto Del Rio returned from injury and did not capture the World Heavyweight title last night, but he did challenge for it at the very least.
It's a slippery slope for WWE. They can't afford to have a champion job out to a returning superstar at every pay-per-view. Doing so would be a step backwards for the legitimacy of their title belts.