The credibility and prestige of the World Heavyweight Championship has been fading in recent months. It has been years since the title was considered on par with the WWE Championship. Not only is it without question the secondary championship, it is being booked more as a midcard title rather than a genuine world championship.
If we consider the push of the top two contenders to Dolph Ziggler's championship, Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger, the label "upper midcarder" feels more appropriate than "main eventer." Ziggler himself, despite being the current World Heavyweight Champion, remains on the fringes of the main event, and certainly is not a draw capable of headlining a pay-per-view.
This is not the fault of Ziggler himself, Rather, his opponents are not over enough to make him look like a true main eventer in a successful title defense.
Now that the match for this Sunday's Extreme Rules has been changed to a No. 1 contender match between Swagger and Del Rio, the best thing for the state of the World Heavyweight Championship is to have the victor face Ziggler in the main event on SmackDown, rather than dragging out the feud another month until Payback.
After Ziggler knocks off either Swagger or Del Rio, his opponent at Payback should be one of the company's top faces, and Extreme Rules allows for a perfect setup.
Randy Orton, Sheamus and Chris Jericho are all competing in one-on-one action in St. Louis this Sunday. A victory for any of these three could end their respective feuds and propel them back into the World Heavyweight Championship scene.
While the company may not be comfortable putting a title on Orton due to his previous suspensions, there is no reason he cannot be used to give Ziggler a pay-per-view victory over a legitimate main eventer. Orton has been booked very strongly of late, winning 10 of his 12 televised matches since WrestleMania.
Sheamus, too, has been on a roll since 'Mania, winning six of his eight televised bouts. Having held the World Heavyweight Championship for 210 days last year, Sheamus has established himself as a legitimate world title competitor. Should he defeat Mark Henry on Sunday, Sheamus' character could easily argue for a championship match.
Chris Jericho would perhaps be the safest option if Creative is looking to give Ziggler a victory over an established former world champion. However, Y2J recently lost in a Triple Threat match for the midcard Intercontinental Championship, as well as to newcomer Fandango at WrestleMania 29.
Ultimately, WWE has plenty of options for new and interesting feuds for Ziggler, and the sooner Del Rio and Swagger are removed from SmackDown's main event scene, the better the credibility of the World Heavyweight Championship.