As we reported days ago, word has circulated that WWE has finalized the top four matches of WrestleMania XXIX's card. None of them include Alberto Del Rio, but now he’s the world heavyweight champion.
So how, if at all, will Del Rio’s title win effect the WrestleMania card?
In the days following Big Show’s loss, it was reported that WWE put the belt on Del Rio in order to substantiate his babyface turn. They wanted fans to know that they’re serious about Del Rio being a top fan-favorite.
Assuming that’s not completely false information generated by internet dirt-sheets, we can infer that WWE doesn't plan on Del Rio being a transitional champion, since that would be completely counterproductive to their goal.
The top Smackdown matches that are allegedly penciled in are Sheamus vs. Randy Orton and Ryback vs. Big Show, but where does that put Del Rio?
We saw plenty of Orton vs. Del Rio in 2012 and it wasn’t particularly exciting, but it’s plausible that WWE will turn Orton heel and have Del Rio replace Sheamus for a Del Rio vs. Orton showdown at WrestleMania. That certainly seems more likely than Del Rio facing either Big Show or Ryback.
Then again, fans couldn’t get enough of the Sheamus vs. Del Rio feud of 2012. It was a great rivalry and its only flaw was that it ended too soon, but WWE left the fans wanting more, so maybe they'lll cash in on that for a Sheamus vs. Del Rio match at the show of shows.
That is a joke of course; even with the changed dynamic of Del Rio being a babyface, just the thought of renewing their feud is too much to bear.
Since the brand split really doesn’t seem to matter anymore, it’s possible that WWE may get someone from Raw to have a WrestleMania rivalry with Del Rio, but if it’s kept to just Smackdown stars, that really only leaves Dolph Ziggler.
Which is a good thing, because Ziggler’s talent would be much better utilized in a world championship match than a multi-man tag match.
Integrating Ziggler into a program with a babyface world heavyweight champion would be easy from a booking standpoint, and a match between Ziggler and Del Rio could be something special if given enough time.
Maybe Ziggler could be the first person to cash in his Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania?
But if that does happen, chances are it won't get the time or attention it needs. The world heavyweight championship only got 18 seconds of the spotlight at last year's WrestleMania, so it desperately needs more attention this year.
So perhaps WWE could enlist the help of one of the four part-time megastars returning to the ring for WrestleMania? If Triple H can get over the idea of the totally unnecessary Triple H vs. Lesnar II, Brock Lesnar could be a great opponent for Del Rio.
Wrestling is in Del Rio's heritage, Brock Lesnar turned his back on the industry after it gave him everything. Both of them are former MMA stars. It basically writes itself.
It would be of great help to both Del Rio and the world heavyweight championship, and much better use of Lesnar, but it doesn't seem likely.
Let's just hope that this year's world heavyweight championship match lasts at least as long as Undertaker's entrance.
What do you think? Who would make the best opponent for Del Rio? Should he even keep the title until WrestleMania? Tell us your opinion in the comment section below.