First things first. The World Heavyweight Championship plays second fiddle to the WWE Championship. Not only does it headline fewer shows than the WWE Title—although the latter has been doing remarkably less headlining in the past year—but it is also the main championship on WWE's B-show.
It has been the default strap for soon-retiring, underrated veterans (think Christian and Mark Henry) as well as the go-to title for abrupt switchovers (think Big Show and Daniel Bryan. Hint: 45 and 18 seconds).
Despite its usual booking as the "also world championship," the WHC is still an important fixture in the WWE, especially for former champions, in which case both WWE Championship and WHC reigns are added together.
Its physical form, the Big Gold Belt, is also the better-looking of the world titles. It's an important trophy heading into a new year, which brings with it a Royal Rumble and a new "Road to Wrestlemania."
Since the WHC's inception in 2002, more Royal Rumble winners have challenged for a World Heavyweight Championship opportunity than have sought to dethrone the WWE Champion.
As we head towards WrestleMania 29, the WWE Championship is already teeming with contenders. With the current champion, CM Punk, feuding with John Cena, and The Rock scheduled to face whoever carries the title into the Royal Rumble, it already seems to have a well-planned trip to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey where WrestleMania will take place in 2013.
Whether it will be these three men all the way or we will have roadblocks in the form of Brock Lesnar and/or The Undertaker remains to be seen.
For everybody else, the WHC is the title to aim for. It is still very open for just about any superstar. The current champion, Sheamus, is scheduled to defend it inside Hell in a Cell against the Big Show as the Money in the Bank winner, Dolph Ziggler, awaits an opportunity to pick up the spoils.
Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio have made repeated claims, and the former WWE Champion and current Intercontinental Champion, The Miz, isn't too much of a straggler.
To that list can be added other former champions like Kane, Daniel Bryan, Christian and Rey Mysterio as well as hopeful young contenders like Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes.
And there are missing-in-action superstars like Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Chris Jericho and (shudder) The Great Khali, who might just appear out of left field.
So, how will events take place, leading towards the "Showcase of Immortals?" Your guess is as good as mine, as just about anything can influence the minds of the powers that be. Add to that list the risk of injuries and/or suspensions, and we have a truly chaotic composition.
Despite the chaos, I base my prediction on the following points:
1. Dolph Ziggler has to (successfully) cash in his briefcase.
2. The World Heavyweight Championship match at the Royal Rumble has to be capable of holding its own in a card that has The Rock.
3. The Royal Rumble winner should challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.
4. The title match at WrestleMania 29 should make amends for the 18-second fiasco at WrestleMania 28.
So, this is how I would want to see the World Heavyweight Championship's road to WrestleMania:
Big Show defeats Sheamus at Hell in a Cell to become the new champion. Dolph Ziggler attempts to cash in his briefcase, but the attempt is cut short by the former champion, who wants his return match before anyone else challenges the giant. Sheamus gets a rematch for Survivor Series.
Big Show successfully defends his championship at Survivor Series, but is attacked after the match by Dolph Ziggler, who successfully cashes in his briefcase to become the new champion.
Dolph Ziggler's opponent for TLC is decided by a battle royal. As is a fairly common occurrence in such a situation, Christian and a returning Chris Jericho both touch the floor at the same time, setting up a triple-threat ladder match at the TLC pay-per-view.
Dolph Ziggler retains at TLC. His opponent for the Royal Rumble is Randy Orton.
After a dramatic back-and-forth affair, Randy Orton defeats Ziggler to become the new World Heavyweight Champion at the Royal Rumble.
At the next pay-per-view, Orton successfully retains inside the Elimination Chamber against Ziggler, Jericho, Christian, Big Show and Sheamus—all the men who have been challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship in the past few months.
The winner of the Royal Rumble match chooses to challenge Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 29.
Wade Barrett defeats Randy Orton to become the new World Heavyweight Champion in their match at WrestleMania 29, making amends for the opportunity that was missed due to injury in 2012.
Would you enjoy this direction for the World Heavyweight Championship? Would you prefer somebody else for a championship run? Please leave your ideas and comments below.