As many of you know by now, WrestleMania is just a few short days away. Whether you're excited about the show or not, I think we can all agree that the WWE is in for some change when the Granddaddy of them All is said and done.
Of particular interest, is the case of the WWE Championship. Unsurprisingly, the main event of WrestleMania looks to have even the most condescending of fans a bit rattled as to what to expect. Even though he's billed as appearing, nobody really knows what role The Rock will play at Extreme Rules.
This brings us to a question people have been pondering for awhile. With so much going on, and Cena sure to have a strong title reign, who will be the first person to challenge for the championship? All too often people have cried fowl over people giving and taking title shots without anyone challenging them to these claims. Well, perhaps now would be a good time to bring back one of the many fun concepts of the WWE version of ECW. Specifically, The Championship Chase.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it's pretty simple. Back in 2007, then-ECW General Manager Armando Estrada set up the first Championship Chase where the winner would go on to face CM Punk for the ECW Championship.
The rules are pretty straight-forward. We begin with a set number of superstars—let's say four. Armando selected Elijah Burke, Kevin Thorn, Tommy Dreamer and Stevie Richards. The chase was on in a Fatal Four-Way that saw Stevie eliminated by Burke, with Elijah, Thorn and Dreamer moving on to a Triple Threat the next week, which Burke would also win, eliminating Kevin Thorn.
This set up a one-on-one match between Dreamer and Burke, where Dreamer picked up the victory, and looked to be on a collision course with Punk for the ECW Championship. That is, until Big Daddy V made his presence in the House that Hardcore Built known.
This is a formula I feel could be used to find a new, worthy competitor for the WWE Championship come Extreme Rules. Let's just go out on a limb and assume The Rock isn't wrestling at Extreme Rules, but announcing his plan to win the title back at SummerSlam. (This could be done the night after Mania on RAW, but I think Rock would want a grander stage). So, let's say we need to know who Cena will face at the PPV. Six weeks—I say we can work with six competitors.
I think, as far as potential candidates go, there are a host of guys eligible for a WWE title match. For this particular instance, I'm just going to throw some names out that could use this as more than just a means for spotlight, but to advance other feuds.
The Miz: His selection could be used to spark a feud between him and Jericho, allowing one of them to turn heel.
Chris Jericho: See The Miz
Wade Barrett: His selection would be something of a push towards the main event picture, with him making it to the final two.
Antonio Cesaro: His inclusion is for the benefit of both himself and Ryback, as during the course of the chase, Antonio would attempt to appease his loss by having Ryback put his spot in the chase on the line against Antonio's U.S. Title, giving Ryback even more momentum going forward and allowing the rebuilding of Cesaro to begin.
Ryback: Eventual winner
Cody Rhodes: The start of a jealousy angle involving Sandow, with Sandow costing Rhodes his spot in the chase and turning Rhodes' face in the process—would be parlayed later down the road into a feud over the Intercontinental Championship with Barrett. He also plays the role of the dark-horse pick getting a mini-push from his inclusion.
The key to making this work is to make it seem that everyone is having a feud with the WWE Champion and each other, and perhaps to make the matches interesting as we go along.
The first match could end up being a six-pack challenge, where the winner gets to select who gets eliminated. Week two could turn into an Over-the-Top-Rope Battle Royale, but with the person being eliminated being the first one thrown over. Week four, we have an Extreme Rules Fatal Four-Way. Week three, a Triple Threat before the finals. The last match could be anything from a singles match, to a lumber jack match, to a ladder match.
As for making the title feel important, having Cena on commentary for the matches would be a nice touch, as it would allow some of the contestants to interact with Cena from time to time, giving more of a feel anyone could win this feud.
This is easily done by a couple of backstage segments. Maybe a promo with Cena putting over the contestants and his personal pick to win. Connect this with the obvious jockeying for position between the six competitors and you've got a good angle to push til Extreme Rules.
Not only are we given near guaranteed great main event matches, but with top superstars all busy, we may get more time to see other names not normally used to making these scenes. 3MB could get a chance to show what they're capable of in the tag division, some new blood from NXT might have a window to make an impact, The Divas could get more time in their matches and segments, and underutilized talents like Zack Ryder, Justin Gabriel or Rufus Patterson can make a winning appearance.
Of course there are a ton of variables going forward with this. Rock may actually wrestle at Extreme Rules, someone could get injured, Cesaro or Barrett could lose their title, etc. Still, this is an idea I think WWE should explore. The Championship Chase hasn't really been used, and it's a fun concept that should be brought back to the WWE Universe. What better way to do that than with a chase for the WWE Championship?