Sheamus has defeated Alberto Del Rio at Night of Champions to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. It's the third consecutive pay-per-view victory for the "Great White" over the "Mexican Aristocrat."
Even though the feud has spanned nearly the entire summer, it has failed to make the type of major impact the WWE was probably hoping to see. Interest has been waning, so hopefully Sunday night's match marks the end of the storyline.
The victory extends Sheamus' title reign to nearly 170 days. It's the longest period of time anybody has held the belt since Batista in 2005. He originally won it from Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania and has proceeded to become the top guy on SmackDown.
He now has a couple challengers for the spot, though. Randy Orton has returned from a Wellness violation, Dolph Ziggler possesses the Money in the Bank briefcase and Wade Barrett just made his way back following injury.
While Sheamus has done a nice job of holding down the fort during a period where SmackDown lacks top-end superstars, the lack of enthusiasm surrounding his reign in recent weeks signals that it's probably time for a change.
The blue brand has been stagnant as of late and needs something to get fans excited about the Friday night shows again. Giving Ziggler or Barrett a chance to hold one of the top titles would accomplish that, and Sheamus can stay in the title mix. Orton is always a safe backup plan.
That said, it was the right decision to keep Del Rio from taking over the heavyweight title. It would have been a mistake to put the championship on him for one simple reason: The vast majority of fans aren't interested in his character and haven't been for awhile.
Even though Del Rio has made nice strides both in the ring and on the mic during his time being booked as a main-event talent, he doesn't get the crowd reaction necessary to hold the World Heavyweight Championship. Fan involvement is crucial for any champion.
Regardless, it certainly seems like the battle for the heavyweight belt is going to get a lot more intriguing in the coming months. As long as the creative team finally pulls the plug on Sheamus and Del Rio, of course.
As for now, Sheamus remains the title holder.
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