Alberto Del Rio and Christian's collision at SummerSlam 2013 will result in one man remaining standing and the other falling.
The cross armbreaker clamped onto him, Christian scrapped and struggled down to the last second of that world title match.
It was as if this struggle was a metaphor for each man's career. Christian was fighting to keep from losing his upper-level spot in the WWE hierarchy, but he was eventually overcome by his foe. Del Rio did not let go, like he refuses to let go of his current position as a gold-laden villain.
Wins and losses don't always define a Superstar's career trajectory in WWE, but they will in this case.
Christian's loss sends him away from the spotlight. Del Rio's win will keep him champ, keep him the hunted one and assures him a spot at Night of Champions.
Come at the King
Christian came for his crown at SummerSlam, but Del Rio fought him off.
The next night, the commentators on Raw suggested that if Cody Rhodes could beat Damien Sandow again after defeating him on Sunday, he'd be the No. 1 contender for Del Rio's World Heavyweight Championship. Rhodes won.
Rob Van Dam later came out with Ricardo Rodriguez as his new corner man. The two went after Del Rio, setting up a possible feud. To further confuse things, Del Rio's continued insistence that he is the only true hero to the Latino people has begun speculation about a returning Mysterio facing off against the champ.
Which one of these men is going to get a chance to dethrone the king next?
They all will. Prepare for a number of Triple Threats and Fatal 4-Ways in the coming months as the field seeks the leader.
Van Dam should give us some excellent matches against Del Rio. Rhodes' recent rise has world title challenger written all over it. Mysterio's star power and contrast to Del Rio makes him an ideal rival as well.
Many of Del Rio's best matches have involved several foes at once. He battled for the world title against Kane, Edge and Rey Mysterio at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2010 and faced off against Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and Sheamus at Over the Limit 2012. His work against The Miz and CM Punk at TLC 2011 was excellent.
The strategy of several foes at once offers WWE two options.
Either it has Del Rio looking mightier as he escapes matches with multiple opponents or it allows for a new champ without taking away from Del Rio's dominant aura. It's also easy to have a number of Superstars involved in high-profile matches at the same time with little creativity needed.
Just have all of the challengers state their case and have an authority figure unable to decide who to make the top contender.
With enemies coming at him from all sides, Del Rio may soon wish he was just facing Christian once more.
Descent Following Defeat
Christian's loss is going to have him slide down the WWE ladder. It will be just be a matter of how far down he goes.
On Monday's Raw, Christian didn't demand "one more match" as he has become so famous doing. He wasn't even on the show.
Instead, Van Dam and Rodriguez confronted Del Rio.
There's still a chance WWE makes the world title match at Night of Champions a Triple Threat with Christian involved, but it's not likely. The world title picture is a crammed one that may not have room for Captain Charisma.
Rhodes' wins over Sandow give him a case to be the No. 1 contender. If Mysterio returns, he would further clog up the situation. In addition, Sandow lurks with his Money in the Bank briefcase in hand.
Christian's peeps may see him shut out of contention for the championship just as he was after last being beaten for the World Heavyweight Championship.
After losing the world title to Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2011, Christian got one more shot at the title on SmackDown. He faced Orton in a cage match and lost. Following that, his time in the world title scene was over for two years.
It looks like history is going to repeat itself in that Christian will miss Night of Champions. There are typically only one or two non-title matches on the card, and being out of the running for the world title may have him on the bench this time out.
His job following that could be to elevate an up-and-comer.
Christian will be 40 this year, and WWE is brimming with young talent getting ample portions of the spotlight.
Bray Wyatt and Big E Langston are two Superstars under 30 who need big names to knock down to lengthen and better their resumes. Playing Chris Jericho's recent role of putting young talent over, Christian could spend the next few months taking beatings from Wyatt and Langston.
It will be the young, hungry beasts looking to become alphas who will step over him, trying to get to the peaks that Christian has reached.