The fact that Alberto Del Rio is the No. 1 Contender for Sheamus' World Heavyweight Championship isn't necessarily surprising. With Chris Jericho taking time off, Randy Orton set to take time off in the near future, and Dolph Ziggler already holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, there is a dearth of ready-made contenders, and Del Rio has the necessary credentials to (once again) challenge Sheamus for the belt.
No, Del Rio as the No. 1 Contender is not surprising. It is, however, kind of horrifying (at least to the degree that anything involving the booking of a professional wrestling promotion can be described as horrifying).
Del Rio was originally slated to challenge Sheamus for his title at No Way Out. But Del Rio got hurt just before the show, and Dolph Ziggler took his place. At Money in the Bank, Del Rio got his title match with Sheamus, and ended up losing. At SummerSlam, he got a rematch, but lost once again. And now, it looks like Del Rio will get another one-on-one shot at Sheamus at Night of Champions.
Here, in no particular order, is a list of really bad outcomes and implications that stem from this potential Sheamus/Del Rio re-match.
1) Wins and Losses Don't Matter- Again, Del Rio had two chances to beat Sheamus in a singles match, and he failed both times. Granted, the ending to the match at SummerSlam was controversial, but it was hardly the first championship match in history to end because of a referee's mistake, and the challenger is never perceived as being owed another match based on these mistakes.
So theoretically, Del Rio should now have to work his way back into the title picture and let someone else have a shot at Sheamus. That's how it works in literally every other organization that features champions. I mean, when the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, New England didn't get a rematch. And they wouldn't have gotten one even if they had lost solely due to one of the refs messing up.
And believe me, I get that professional football and professional wrestling aren't really the same thing, ridiculous Aaron Rodgers touchdown celebrations notwithstanding. The point is that wins and losses in the NFL (and AFL, and NHL, and whatever other league you can think of) really matter, because the team that wins the most games is acknowledged as the best. That is not how things work in the WWE.
Of course, one could argue that because professional wrestling and other professional sports are fundamentally different, that wins and losses don't have to matter or shouldn't matter as much in wrestling. But if wins and losses don't matter, then why watch the matches in the first place? The WWE certainly has more room to play around with who its top contenders are than any other organization, but it would be nice if their choices had at least a little bit of rationality behind them.
2) Alberto Del Rio is Literally the Only Heel On Smackdown Who Matters- Unfortunately, this is barely hyperbole. Dolph Ziggler matters, but as I implied before, he's probably not going to have any title matches until he successfully cashes in his MitB briefcase.
Looking at the other heels who spend most of their time on Smackdown, there just isn't very much there. Guys like Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes are fantastic, but they haven't yet reached the main-event status of Alberto Del Rio.
But hey, you know what would be a really quick and easy way to get them that kind of credibility? Putting them in a title match with Sheamus! I know what you're thinking: a guy like Rhodes is way too busy in his feud with Sin Cara to interrupt it for a title match. But that's not necessarily true! It's possible that he might even benefit more from a World Heavyweight Championship feud than he would with his feud with Sin Cara.
So here's the point of all of that heavy-handed sarcasm. You can never be totally sure where WWE is going with any of their angles, but it's tough to imagine that Dolph Ziggler isn't going to win the WHC from Sheamus sometime in the near future. We've already seen him tease cashing in on Sheamus a number of times. If it turns out that Ziggler doesn't win the belt from Sheamus, then please just disregard my next few sentences, because they will have been rendered completely irrelevant.
All that said, assuming Ziggler is going to win the title from Sheamus, why have Sheamus continually feud with Del Rio? Like it's going to hurt Del Rio any if he's out of the championship picture for a month or two? The bottom line is, this would be a great time to build up someone like Cody Rhodes and give them the kind of main event credibility that they might need later and will only help them going forward. I honestly can't see any kind of logic behind continually throwing Del Rio and Sheamus out there, unless that match is a huge draw and I just somehow failed to notice this.
Also, Ziggler is going to turn face and win the title from Del Rio and make me look really, really stupid for writing all of this.
3) Having The Same Match Three Times In A Row Doesn't Really Help Anyone- Yes, it's that simple.
Regardless of whether he wins or loses at Night of Champions, Del Rio isn't going to come out looking all that good. If he wins, that helps him out a little, but he's still the guy who lost to Sheamus twice in a row before beating him. Of course he was going to win one of those times. Blind squirrels do find nuts occasionally.
And if he loses, then he's the guy who couldn't take advantage of THREE title matches in a row. If that happens, he might as well have Ricardo Rodriguez embroider the phrase "I probably don't deserve any championship matches for a while" on his scarf.
As for Sheamus, he obviously looks good if he wins, but not as good as he would look if he defeated three different wrestlers instead of constantly beating up on the same guy. And it goes without saying that losing probably won't help him any.
Like I said before, none of this does anything for any of the other Smackdown heels who could certainly benefit from having one of Alberto's title shots.
And finally, there's the fans. I can only speak for me, but I would very much like it if the WWE could give its audience more than one WHC feud over the course of (basically) the entire summer.
So if doing Sheamus vs. Del Rio again doesn't help anyone, then why was it booked in the first place? Seriously, does anyone out there know? Because I definitely don't have a good answer. I'm not saying there isn't one. I'm just saying I can't think of one.
Again, all indications are that Ziggler will win the WHC soon enough, giving us fresh matches. Until then, we'll have to accept the same old, same old, even if we're not entirely sure about the reasons why it's still happening.