WWE Night of Champions 2012: Breaking Down Top Contenders for US Title Shot

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2012

Courtesy: WWE.com
Courtesy: WWE.com

The WWE will hold a battle royal on the Night of Champions pre-show to determine which superstar will get a chance to face United States champion Antonio Cesaro on the pay-per-view. Cesaro won the belt last month at SummerSlam.

There are no shortage of contenders available because there are so many superstars waiting for their chance. A mid-card title can be the starting point toward bigger and better things if it's handled correctly, making it a very good opportunity.

With that in mind, let's take a look at three main contenders to win the battle royal on Sunday night. It should be an intriguing way to start Night of Champions regardless of who emerges victorious.


After a couple months of squash matches, Ryback has finally won over the crowd. The "Feed Me More" chants are now audible during all of his matches, which should mean he's ready to take the next step forward in his push. The crowd involvement was previously limited to "Goldberg" chants.

Having him clean house in the battle royal would further establish him as a dominant force heading into the United States title shot. It seems like ideal timing for him since it's a type of match that would typically favor the more powerful superstars.

The Ryback character has a lot of potential, so bringing him along slowly instead of a huge push right off the bat was a good decision. Now he's ready to make another step up the ladder.

Zack Ryder

Ryder looked like a superstar on the rise late last year. The WWE was helping promote his YouTube show by mentioning it on air, giving him regular appearances on the weekly shows and eventually making him the United States champion.

His title reign lasted less than a month, however, before he was defeated by Jack Swagger. Since then he's been involved with some wacky storylines and once again become an afterthought. But now he's quietly put together a Raw winning streak.

Ryder was never really given an opportunity to show what he was capable of during his first stint with the U.S. title. Sunday night would be a good time to give him another look as champion.

Brodus Clay

The "Funkasaurus" was on a rapid ascent for awhile but has cooled off as of late. In many respects, he's in a position similar to Ryback. While Clay got an earlier start to his push and has had more storyline involvement, both are waiting for their big break.

Perhaps Clay's time will finally arrive at Night of Champions. He should have a bright future in the business because he's an athletic big man, so it's just about finding the right situation for him to maximize his chances of succeeding.

If it doesn't happen at Night of Champions, it's probably time to repackage Clay as a heel to see if he has any more success. But a title reign would be a good test for him.