TLC has come and gone, and Big Show is still the World Heavyweight Champion. Dolph Ziggler cashing in his Money in the Bank contract certainly seemed like a distinct possibility, but that didn't come to fruition. Now, the WWE must press forward with Big Show as the titleholder and find a new challenger for his belt.
Big Show had been feuding with Sheamus for the past few months, but he defeated The Great White decisively in a chairs match on Sunday, and it appears as though he is ready to move on to someone else. I wouldn't put it past the WWE to continue the Big Show vs. Sheamus feud, but I have to believe that the TLC match would have been more competitive if that was the intention.
The creative team is currently in an interesting situation, as there are very few potential challengers due to a lack of main-event faces. Also, Ziggler continues to lurk with his Money in the Bank contract in tow, so he is obviously a factor. Regardless of that, the writers have to figure out something for Big Show to do leading up to the Royal Rumble.
Here are the three most likely challengers for Big Show's World Heavyweight Championship in the coming weeks and at the next pay-per-view.
3. Randy Orton
If not for extenuating circumstances, Randy Orton may very well be at the head of this list. The biggest issue for The Viper, though, is that he is expected to miss some time with a separated shoulder. According to WrestlingInc.com, Orton suffered the injury at Tribute to the Troops, which resulted in him getting written off television for the time due to an attack from The Shield.
He will reportedly only be out of action for two weeks, though, so he is still in the mix for the World Heavyweight Championship. There are six weeks between TLC and the Royal Rumble, and that means that a No. 1 contender for Big Show's title doesn't necessarily need to be named right away. The WWE can simply wait for Orton to return and then begin building toward a match with Big Show.
Perhaps the big question mark, though, is whether or not the WWE brass wants to put Orton in that situation. He hasn't really been in the title picture in over a year, and his 60-day wellness policy violation suspension seems to have made the company gun shy. But Orton is an established, main-event guy, and putting him back in title contention would be a definite change of pace. He is certainly in the mix despite his injury.
One of the hottest rumors in the WWE right now is that Big Show will carry the World Heavyweight Championship into WrestleMania and ultimately drop it to Ryback. I don't necessarily buy that since having Ryback beat a guy like Brock Lesnar at 'Mania would be much bigger. Ryback is technically still in the WWE Championship picture since he didn't get his rematch with CM Punk—and he is tied up with The Shield as well—but he is a definite option when it comes to taking on Big Show.
After defeating Sheamus with relative ease, I can see Big Show boasting that no man is capable of beating him. That would open the door for Ryback, as he is one of the few men on the WWE roster who is as physically impressive Big Show. Also, Ryback is getting an incredible crowd reaction, so the WWE might want to capitalize on that by putting a title on him as quickly as possible.
Having Ryback face Big Show for the title at Royal Rumble could also help protect Ryback, if the goal isn't for him to win the Rumble match itself. Ryback has lost at three consecutive pay-per-views and the WWE might be wary of having him get eliminated in the Rumble match itself. Putting the title on Ryback would put Ziggler in a state of flux since he likely wouldn't be able to cash in on Ryback, but it's a definite option if the WWE is buying into the Ryback hype.
1. The Miz
While both Randy Orton and Ryback are definite possibilities to challenge Big Show next, my money is on The Miz. Not only is he fresh off a face turn, but he is healthy and isn't currently engaged in any other feud, so his path to the main-event scene on SmackDown is quite obvious. The Miz is starting to get over as a face already and the perfect way to cement his face status would be a feud with Big Show over the World Heavyweight Championship.
The Miz hasn't been a main-eventer as a singles star in well over a year and putting him back in that position would be refreshing. Also, it would be a change of pace from the Big Show vs. Sheamus feud. The in-ring action between them was entertaining, as they beat the hell out of each other, but their promos were lacking and the feud dragged on. The Miz can carry Big Show on the mic, though, and is likely to engage the audience much more than Sheamus did.
Also, The Miz and Big Show have a history, as they used to be tag-team partners, so there is already a built-in connection. If the goal is to set up Ziggler to become World Heavyweight Champion by WrestleMania, then perhaps Miz can win the belt at either Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber, beat someone like a heel Randy Orton at 'Mania and then Ziggler can cash in afterwards.
There is no obvious next step for Big Show at this point, but Miz gives the creative team the most options, and he stands to benefit the most from a feud for the world title.