The World Heavyweight Title has not always played second fiddle to the WWE Championship. Back when the company's two world titles were very much brand-exclusive, the former often closed out pay-per-view events, and could even be seen as the most important of the two during certain times. WrestleMania 20, 21 and 24 all culminated with the World Heavyweight Championship match.
In recent years, however, the waning of the brand-extension and the death of Raw and Smackdown as distinct competitive franchises within the company has arguably led to the gradual downfall of the company's second world title.
While the World Heavyweight Championship remains prestigious and its matches are usually well hyped, there is no denying that it has begun to decline in importance, as showcased by it being contested in the opening bout of the last two 'Manias.
Nonetheless, it could be that the Tables, Ladders & Chairs event offers re-invigoration for the "Big Gold Belt" by inserting two of WWE's hottest commodities into its picture: "Mr. Money in the Bank" Dolph Ziggler and John Cena.
Let me preface this scenario with the acknowledgment that it is by no means the most likely—or even the best—idea for the WWE going forward.
It would appear likely that the TLC pay-per-view will be the last we will see of the Sheamus/Big Show feud, as it will be the third consecutive event in which the two have faced off in singles competition with the strap at stake. In addition, the outcome of the WWE Championship match is fairly certain, with CM Punk the heavy favourite outside of kayfabe to retain and go on to face The Rock at Royal Rumble in the new year.
Who would you most like to see leave TLC as World Champion?
Could this mean that we see Smackdown's World Title picture completely shaken up? Crazier things have happened, and with "The Great One" waiting in the wings for Punk, a little end-of-year surprise could go down well with fans and critics alike.
Perhaps the most logical way of introducing John Cena into the World Heavyweight Championship scene would be to book the MITB briefcase into the seemingly inevitable match between Ziggler and Cena on Dec 16. This would have logical foundations in that both superstars won their respective MITB ladder matches back in July; the only difficulty is explaining why Cena deserves yet another world title opportunity. Nevertheless, according to reports, this is a stipulation that is being considered internally.
The scenario could play out effectively in more ways than one:
- Ziggler/Cena match goes on before Sheamus/Big Show with the MITB briefcase on the line, meaning the respective winners could end up facing each other later on in the night.
- Sheamus/Big Show goes on first, with Ziggler cashing in successfully before Cena gets his chance at the briefcase, which could lead to Cena somehow getting a World Title match on the night of TLC.
- Ziggler/Cena goes on first; whoever wins and tries to cash in on a chair-beaten champion later in the evening is thwarted by their rival from earlier in the night.
Ultimately, regardless of the outcome, there are a multitude of opportunities at the final pay-per-view of the year to bring prominence back to the World Heavyweight Championship—reminding viewers that it is more than an upper-mid-card title.
It is hard to picture John Cena actually winning the company's secondary belt for a third time at this stage.
Yet having him involved could recreate the buzz that Smackdown's main championship has lost over the last couple of years since the departure of the likes of Edge, Batista and, of course, The Undertaker.