The World Heavyweight Championship has been in a state of decline since Jack Swagger cashed in Money in the Bank to win his first world title over three years ago. More recently, the lackluster reigns of Alberto Del Rio, Big Show and Sheamus seemingly solidified the "Big Gold Belt" as the company's second title: a championship for upper-midcarders.
However, the standard of challengers are as guilty as the champions in contributing toward the waning of the prestige of the title; in recent times, the biggest names, such as CM Punk, The Rock and John Cena, have overlooked the blue brand's world championship, until now.
Having Cena return to challenge Del Rio at Hell in a Cell came as a surprising decision, and one has to wonder whether WWE has rushed its company's true face back into action as a result of consecutive disappointing pay-per-views in Night of Champions and the inaugural Battleground.
From a cynic's point of view, Cena may just be returning at this time for one night only to boost buyrates. However, the fact he has been inserted into the world heavyweight title scene is good for the WWE, the prominence and prestige of the title, and the fans.
For a start, when was the last time anybody really cared about SmackDown's top feud heading into a pay-per-view? Like him or not, as a pro wrestling fan, you are almost certainly intrigued by Cena's placement in the match.
Why has WWE brought John Cena back early to face Alberto Del Rio?
In terms of continuity, the world of WWE kayfabe also benefits greatly from Cena's impending world title challenge. Over the past few months, many fans have come to think of Del Rio's as a sort of "Super-Intercontinental Championship," so for the sake of branding the title in the same category of prestige as the WWE title, Creative has taken the necessary measure of placing a genuine main event performer and star attraction into its contention.
Even if Cena does not walk away from WWE Hell in a Cell with gold, this is the first World Heavyweight Championship match in recent memory that garners enough public interest to feasibly main-event a pay-per-view.
That being said, even with a returning Cena involved, the match will still almost certainly play second fiddle to the blow-off match between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, illustrating that SmackDown's top-tier title needs more than just one feud and one significant match to restore the prominence it enjoyed in its days belonging to The Undertaker, Triple H, Edge and Batista.