Currently, the Big Show holds the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt—the crown jewel of SmackDown.
History tells us that Show won't hold the title for a long time.
His last reign lasted all of 45 seconds.
Since there is most likely a title change coming up in the near future, the WWE creative team needs to think carefully about who will be the next standard-bearer for Friday Night SmackDown.
Here are my choices as possible successors to Big Show.
Is it time for the return of Mark Henry?
I gave consideration to a few other superstars before compiling my final list.
Mark Henry is set to return from injury sometime in late November. He would make a credible foe for Big Show, as The World's Strongest Man is able to match the power of the current champion better than anyone else on the roster.
There are problems with putting the belt on Henry, however.
First of all, you'd be replacing one giant with a giant of another stripe. Really, you'd have the same champion with a different name.
The other issue with placing Henry atop the card is his injury history. Henry has a disturbing tendency to get injured at least once a year.
Until he can show some durability, it's probably best to keep the title off of him.
Sheamus had a long run with the belt following WrestleMania and would definitely be a popular choice with the fan base.
One issue with making Sheamus the top dog on SmackDown again is that it would almost necessarily force his feud with Big Show to continue, and that matchup has been done nearly to death already.
A second thing to consider is that Sheamus, sort of like John Cena, seems able to keep his fan appeal with or without the belt. Since there's no need to give him a title to get him over, why not use the belt to boost someone else to the top level?
Sheamus could also move into a feud with CM Punk for the WWE Championship, and the company wouldn't skip a beat.
Alberto Del Rio's act is wearing thin for me.
He has decent in-ring skills and a developed character, and those attributes would seem to make him a legitimate choice as World Champion, but I just don't see it. Del Rio seems to be at his best when he is chasing someone.
Alberto seems most effective when he covets the gold, not when he has it.
If WWE put the belt on Bryan, who would say no?
Though currently half of the WWE Tag Team Champions along with Kane in Team Hell No, Bryan is best as a singles competitor.
When teamed with Kane, Bryan is booked as the weak half of the team, and that is beginning to hurt his credibility as a mat competitor.
It would be in WWE's best interests to take the tag titles off of Kane and Bryan by having them drop the belts to Team Rhodes Scholars at Survivor Series. Then, an easy breakup angle could be implemented, freeing both Kane and Bryan to pursue individual titles.
Bryan is one of WWE's best mat grapplers, and he has proven that he can get over as either a babyface or a heel.
Giving him the belt would allow for storylines with just about any wrestler on the roster.
It has been a while for the Apex Predator
A lot of WWE fans will say that they are tired of Orton's act, but the fact is that he still draws huge crowd reactions and has credibility in the ring.
There are certain superstars who are considered a big deal by the fan base.
Orton is one of those guys.
Giving him the belt lends credibility to any grappler who engages in a feud with WWE's Apex Predator. Having the belt would also make it easier for Orton to implement a heel turn, which is something that he always wants to do.
There's also the added benefit of sparking Orton's interest. Randy often seems to be going through the motions lately.
Maybe having the title belt would inspire him to take his performance up a notch.
The Miz looks like he might be making a babyface turn, having quit Team Punk (now Team Ziggler) for Survivor Series.
As the newest member of Team Foley, Miz is positioned with the other babyfaces for the PPV.
As a babyface, Miz makes an interesting choice as World Champion. While his in-ring skills aren't on a par with those of Daniel Bryan, CM Punk or Dolph Ziggler, he's good enough in the ring to be a credible champion.
His mic work is some of the best in the WWE, and a change of direction might help freshen up his act.
Miz has accomplished about all he can at this time as a heel. A run as a babyface is the next logical step.
Having the belt around his waist would add credibility to the turn.
It's time for Kofi to step up
In a recent article, I listed Kofi as one of five WWE superstars who are currently overpushed. This doesn't mean that I don't appreciate Kingston's athletic ability or recognize his fan appeal, though.
The reason I thought that he was overpushed is that nothing about his act has changed in a long time. He's playing a happy-go-lucky babyface that occasionally overcomes the odds to take one of the mid-level title belts.
WWE needs to try out some new faces at the top of the ladder, and Kingston would be a credible choice.
The live crowds love him, and he's in need of freshening up. As World Champion, Kingston could add some edge to his current character, and he could have good matches with the majority of the heel contenders.
Since his return from injury, Wade Barrett has been the recipient of a solid push from the WWE creative team.
Barrett is solid in the ring, with a good tough-guy persona. His mic skills are top-notch, as evidenced by his run as the voice of The Nexus.
He would make an excellent foil for the current stable of babyface contenders.
Just about every time Barrett wrestles, Michael Cole and JBL pump him as a "future WWE World Champion."
Maybe the future is now for WWE.
If the WWE is going to make a title change on SmackDown in the near future, Dolph Ziggler is the most logical choice to be the next World Champion.
He already holds the Money in the Bank briefcase, which gives him the ability to challenge for the title at any time. He's solid on the mic and one of the best mat wrestlers in the company.
Ziggler's ability to sell makes all of his opponents look good, which makes for great matches at the top of the card.
Ziggler also has flexibility as either a babyface or a heel.
While a heel at the moment, Ziggler has a babyface turn ready at any time. All he has to do is break away from Vickie Guerrero. That will turn him from a bad guy to a good guy in an instant.
It's time for Ziggler to have his turn at the top of the card.