Legacy is on the line for Christian at SummerSlam.
Defeating Alberto Del Rio on Sunday would give him more than the World Heavyweight Championship—it would establish him as a bigger star.
Right now, even with his Intercontinental title reigns and time as ECW, Hardcore and European champ, many feel that Christian will always be the Robin to Edge's Batman.
The narrative of his career right now is so closely entwined with his former tag team partner, that it's hard to pick apart Christian’s career on his own from what he accomplished with Edge. That's who he first wowed crowds alongside in the classic TLC matches, who he battled for the IC title in 2001 and whose retirement provided a pathway for his time as world champ.
The first time Christian won the world title, Edge watched on from a jeep.
Del Rio had climbed halfway up the ladder, halfway to being world champ when Edge drove in with his horn beeping. It was that distraction that allowed Christian to push Del Rio over and grab the championship for himself.
That moment was just as much about Edge as it was about Christian.
The just-retired Edge helped him to the title which he was won more times than anyone else. Edge clapped for him in the ring and then raised his friend's hand in victory.
This Sunday, should Christian win that championship once more, it will happen without Edge's shadow covering him. While a good chunk of his resume will still have Edge's name next to his, this will be an accomplishment all his own.
Since his two world title reigns in 2011 and since Edge has been out of WWE, Christian has sputtered. He missed out on plenty thanks to various injuries.
An ankle injury had him miss Survivor Series, a neck injury prevented him from being a part of WrestleMania 28 and a shoulder issue had him miss nearly a year from the summer of 2012 to June 2013. This had some calling him injury-prone.
After the glow of his moment with Edge wore off and after Randy Orton won his title back at SummerSlam 2011, Christian's career had little to boast about. That was exhibit A for those making a case that Christian was the Marty Jannetty of his duo with Edge.
Now back to electrifying crowds with his speed and athleticism, Christian has spent the last few weeks delivering standout performances. He seems to be making sure that the home stretch of his career is a memorable one.
He's had superb showings against Del Rio including their battle on the Aug. 9 episode of WWE SmackDown. He's looked great in a six-man tag match against The Shield, one-on-one action versus Daniel Bryan and in a thriller for the right to face Del Rio at SummerSlam.
This recent roll has him back in the championship hunt, with a shot at becoming the world champ for the third time in his career.
In the history of the World Heavyweight Championship, Orton, Triple H, Edge, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Undertaker and Batista are the only men who have held that title three times or more. Joining that group would be huge for Christian. He doesn't often get thrown into a group with names of this ilk.
His two previous reigns only added up to 30 days as champ.
Winning the belt once more adds a significant item to his resume. It allows him to not only join that elite group of wrestlers above but he'd do it without needing the emotional power of Edge’s retirement to do so. Getting this "one more match" is big.
Right before turns 40, Christian can prove that he belongs on WWE's upper rungs two years after he was last there.
This chapter of his career would help counteract any discussion of him being a midcarder at best without his Hall of Fame friend. Sure, tons of his career highlights will have Edge in the picture, but SummerSlam gives him a chance to create more solo shots on the mountaintop, more images of him succeeding alone.
Winning the title at SummerSlam will have Christian looking less like sidekick and more like a superhero.
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