Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio are embroiled in one of most universally hated feuds that I can remember in the WWE, and they will do battle for the world heavyweight championship once again at Night of Champions.
Whether you like both competitors, hate both or are indifferent, I can't imagine anyone wants to see this rivalry continue past Sunday.
In order for it to come to an end, Sheamus must retain his title cleanly against Del Rio, and I believe that is precisely what will happen. The writers have created some doubt by making the Mexican aristocrat look quite strong over the past few weeks, but I feel it's all a ploy to make it look like the Great White is in peril.
It would shock me if Del Rio came out on top, and it would likely shock the vast majority of WWE fans as well. The WWE has a perfect opportunity to move on from this feud by having Sheamus go over, but it had that same opportunity at SummerSlam and didn't take advantage of it.
Here are five reasons why I believe Sheamus will retain the big gold belt at Night of Champions and send Del Rio back to the midcard.
No matter how much the WWE tries to push the Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio rivalry as a legitimate one, the fans simply aren't buying it.
This feud has exceeded its shelf life by at least two months, yet it continues to rot and fester on SmackDown. I believe it is starting to prevent normal SmackDown viewers from watching the show.
Truth be told, I feel like people would rather see Sheamus feud with Heath Slater than continue his angle with Del Rio because fans simply want something different.
If Del Rio wins the title on Sunday, he and Sheamus are going to have at least one more match based on the automatic rematch clause, and that would be unacceptable.
The writers already blew it by having the SummerSlam match end controversially with Del Rio's foot on the ropes, and we certainly don't need anything like that happening again.
I have to believe that the WWE brass fully realizes that the fans hate this entire angle, so hopefully they finally take action on Sunday and allow this feud to officially run its course.
Of all the reasons why I can't possibly see Alberto Del Rio winning on Sunday, the most obvious is perhaps the fact he simply wouldn't be a credible world heavyweight champion.
He may have been a year ago, but all the work that the writers put into building Del Rio into a top heel during his first year in the company has gone by the wayside, and he's pretty much just another guy right now.
Del Rio was booked to look very weak when he won the title last year, and I don't believe that he has ever recovered from that. Rather than building him back up and making him look like a true threat to Sheamus from the start of the feud, Del Rio has lost to him on multiple occasions and his credibility is absolutely shot.
The creative team has done damage control as of late by giving Del Rio some big wins, but all of his losses to Sheamus can't be undone. As much as people hate this feud, I feel like most have an issue with Del Rio more than Sheamus.
There is no doubt that Sheamus can be a great champion if he's put in the right feud, but I'm not sure the same can be said for Del Rio.
If Alberto Del Rio wins the world heavyweight championship, it's hard to imagine who he would feud with.
Del Rio would have to defend at least once against Sheamus, but I'm not sure there is another face worthy of challenging for the title right now. Randy Orton would be the best option, I suppose, but he is supposed to begin filming 12 Rounds: Reloaded soon. Therefore, I doubt he's even in the picture.
There would be no shortage of opponents for Sheamus to feud with, on the other hand, and the returning Wade Barrett would top that list.
I realize that Barrett has never been a world champion. All he has done since dislocating his elbow on the night after Elimination Chamber is beat Yoshi Tatsu in a squash match. However, he is an absolutely perfect opponent for the Great White.
Sheamus is touted as a tough customer who is never going to back down from a fight, but most heels are just the opposite.
Barrett is now being marketed as a street-savvy fighter, so he is probably the one guy who would be willing to stand toe-to-toe with Sheamus and go at it.
I believe that Barrett is the total package as far as mic skills, size and in-ring ability goes, so Sheamus absolutely must retain and feud with him.
In real life, when the odds are stacked against somebody, they are rarely able to come through.
The opposite is true in the world of professional wrestling, however, as top faces like John Cena, Randy Orton and even Sheamus have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds many times over the years.
Sheamus has been placed in such a situation ahead of Night of Champions.
His finishing move, the Brogue Kick, has been banned by SmackDown general manager Booker T.
Booker laid down the gauntlet on Monday when he told Sheamus that he would be stripped of the title if he used the Brogue Kick, and he's obviously not going to be stripped of the title.
The WWE has tried to make Del Rio look very strong in recent weeks, while taking the biggest bullet out of Sheamus' chamber to create doubt, but it's all a red herring at this point.
Many have taken to calling Sheamus the new Cena due to his penchant for steamrolling the competition, so it would only be fitting if he were to beat Del Rio in a Cena-esque manner.
Even if Booker T comes out on SmackDown and says that Del Rio is allowed to use a gun and a sword in the match, while Sheamus has to have all appendages tied behind his back, I still won't believe that Del Rio has a chance. He is simply too devalued right now.
Sheamus has been in the WWE for a few years, but until about a week ago, I had never seen him use a submission maneuver.
He used Dean Malenko's patented Texas Cloverleaf to defeat David Otunga, however, and all we have heard about since is how Sheamus has introduced a new submission move into his incredible arsenal.
If the Texas Cloverleaf isn't going to play a huge role in the match at Night of Champions, nobody would be talking about it. Sheamus isn't allowed to use the Brogue Kick, so he has to beat Del Rio in some other manner, and the Cloverleaf would seem to fit the bill.
Del Rio is a submission specialist in his own right, with the Cross Armbreaker, and it would probably embarrass him to have Sheamus win via submission. Therefore, I anticipate that happening.
The overarching point is that Sheamus is so great that he doesn't even need the Brogue Kick to win, and that is what the Texas Cloverleaf represents.
For casual fans, it may not seem like a big deal. However, when it comes to fans such as myself, who have been watching the product forever, it is blatantly obvious that this particular move is going to be very important. Sheamus can't use the Brogue Kick, but he's going to beat Del Rio at his own game.