Damien Sandow lost a friend on the way to winning the Money in the Bank briefcase, but he's almost certain to gain the World Heavyweight Championship to fill that void.
Every moment the world champ is down, hurt or vulnerable, fans will look to the entrance ramp, wondering if this is Sandow's time to cash in. That big moment can happen at any time from now until next year's Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
Expect WWE to be patient with Sandow's transition from briefcase owner to champion as they were with Dolph Ziggler.
Like Ziggler, Sandow is an unproven commodity. There are sure to be debates in WWE meeting rooms about if he's ready to carry that title. Look for the company to hesitate a few times, proceed with uncertainty and await a perfect opportunity.
The other Money in the Bank winner is likely to cash in first.
Randy Orton promised that he wouldn't wait around to make use of his briefcase, so it's logical to think WWE will try to space out the two cash-ins to let each one have its own moment. Orton has the flexibility to turn heel, meaning he's likely to cash in on just about anybody. Sandow, though, is more likely to prey on a fan favorite.
When can we expect Sandow to bring his special brand of decency and intellectualism to the world title picture?
Let's begin with SummerSlam.
It's simply too soon for Sandow to cash in at SummerSlam.
Firstly, he will be too busy fending off Cody Rhodes, who was cheated out of the briefcase. WWE appears to have those two former tag team partners in a full-on rivalry—one that will at least have them battle at SummerSlam.
It's likely he’s too drained from that bout to take advantage of a fallen champ.
Alberto Del Rio's rib injury could lead to a brand new champion being crowned around this time. Depending on what happens there and if Del Rio can work through it will affect Sandow's plans.
This is more likely to be Orton's spot to trade the briefcase for gold though. Orton cashing in on Daniel Bryan would make him a hated man and reignite their fabulous feud.
Night of Champions/Over the Limit: 30-1
These pay-per-views are a few months away.
That possibly gives Sandow enough time to end his rivalry with Rhodes. It also likely provides two more moments for Del Rio, or whoever is champ, to defend the title. It still feels too soon though.
Having Sandow possess and boast about the briefcase is an entertaining opportunity WWE may choose to milk.
It took a feud with John Cena for Ziggler to prove he was ready for the main event. It may take a similar clash with a big star for WWE to fully commit to Sandow as world champ.
WrestleMania XXX: 20-1
In a way, the timing is right here.
Sandow will have had ample opportunity to carry around the case, dispatch Rhodes and convince Rhodes that he's ready to carry the belt. It's just too big of an event though.
WrestleMania is huge anyway, but because it is the 30th edition, it is going to have the company lean on big, established names. This will more likely be a night for big moments from Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and perhaps The Rock or Steve Austin as well.
Going with Sandow's cash-in here would be big for him, but it's hard to imagine WWE choosing such a bright spotlight for Sandow’s coronation when bigger stars will crowd him.
Episode of Raw in 2013: 12-1
As much as Sandow is associated with SmackDown, after debuting on that show and doing some of his finest work on Friday nights, Raw is a better option simply because it's live.
To get the most of the moment with no fear of spoilers to hamper the fun, expect WWE to have Sandow make use of the briefcase on a Monday.
With a few months left in the year, WWE has some time to entertain us with Sandow's briefcase antics and make him look more and more dangerous, but that time can slip away fast. With as many feuds and Superstars as the company juggles, it's quite possible that Sandow's story gets less attention until after the year ends.
Hell in a Cell: 10-1
The hellacious nature of the Hell in a Cell match will open the door wide for Sandow.
The world champ may be embroiled in a personal feud that leads to battling his enemy inside the steel. After surviving the bout, drained and barely able to stand, the last thing he'd want to hear is Sandow’s music.
That's why this is a good spot for him. It gives Sandow a scavenger aura and tilts things in his favor, as he'd likely prefer.
TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs: 6-1
That same reasoning is why the last pay-per-view of the year is an even better time for him to cash in.
Last year's Hell in a Cell event didn't feature the signature gimmick match for the world title. Perhaps that happens here again. TLC, on the other hand, is so stipulation heavy that Sandow is sure to find his victim thrown through tables, beaten with chairs or smacked around with ladders.
It also allows WWE to end 2013 on an intriguing note, with Sandow entering the new year as champ.
Episode of Raw in 2014: 4-1
The smart money is on Sandow lurking and waiting until 2014 to strike.
That gives WWE plenty of flexibility to make the title changes it wants to before Sandow cashes in. WrestleMania season could get an extra buzz with Sandow's moment, or WWE could very well repeat itself and make Sandow wait until after the big event.
The part-timers signed on for the road to WrestleMania will be gone, and it could be Sandow who comes in and injects a Monday night with a surprise moment. One dramatic option is to have Sandow wait until near the contract's expiration date and have him fail a la Ziggler a few times.
The ticking clock in his ears could make a face champion look savvy for fending off his cash-in attempts before they happen while entertaining us with Sandow's struggle to make use of the briefcase before it's too late.