Sunday night at Hell in a Cell, John Cena made his return from injury and wasted little time in adding to his vast championship resume, defeating Alberto Del Rio in a hard-fought match and capturing the World Heavyweight Championship.
The following night on Raw, he had to overcome a vicious assault by Damien Sandow that involved attacks to his previously injured arm with a steel chair and the ring steps in order to retain the title in another outstanding performance.
Del Rio, on the other hand, made his intentions known as he brought up his rematch clause and threatened to beat on Cena's arm until it broke.
With Survivor Series on the horizon, the futures for both Cena and Del Rio became much clearer Monday night.
World Heavyweight Championship rematch
WWE loves rematches. Don't believe me? Take a look at the past three pay-per-view main events.
Rematches are not necessarily a bad thing, especially when they have a strong story to them and give the fans a reason to invest themselves in a match they have already seen.
As the build to the inevitable Cena-Del Rio match at Survivor Series commences, it will be important for the creative team to come up with ways to make the former champion look like a legitimate threat to Cena. No one really expects him to take the title back so quickly after Cena won it, so building Del Rio through strong promos and segments where he can showcase his aggression will be key.
Remember, it was the aggression and lack of remorse he showed during the match against Dolph Ziggler at Payback that made the double-turn in that bout work as well as it did. Allowing him to target the injured arm of Cena leading into Survivor Series, much in the same way Damien Sandow did on Monday's Raw, would go a long way in making the Mexican Superstar look strong heading into the match.
Cena, on the other hand, needs to allow himself to look weak. He did an excellent job of that during the aforementioned match against Sandow. Continuing to do so would create doubt as to whether he can survive another targeted assault on the arm and still walk away with the title intact.
Bottom line, anytime a rematch is booked, the audience has to believe the loser of the first match has a legitimate shot at winning the second or they have no reason to care.
In the case of a Cena match, where most already expect him to win, the importance of a strong opponent is magnified.
The Damien Sandow factor
Yes, Mr. Money in the Bank cashed in his briefcase and lost to Cena on Monday night's Raw, but he did so in such a fashion that he immediately looks better for it. He did everything he needed to do to beat Cena and he fell just short.
Had he won the title after such a long losing streak, which was ended only the night before in a win over Kofi Kingston, he would have likely gone the route of Jack Swagger. Swagger was an immensely talented performer who won Money in the Bank and cashed it in to become World Heavyweight Champion.
The win came too early in his career and on the back of a losing streak, and Swagger never really connected as champion, despite some quality performances on his behalf.
The same would have happened to Sandow, who had not built up enough goodwill with the audience to even have them carry him if he stumbled as champion.
On the heels of the finest performance of his career, even in a losing effort, Sandow is much hotter than he was prior. And, though previous booking decisions prove that it is possible, surely the company will not allow the talented young star to fade back into obscurity.
While he may not be directly involved in the build to the Survivor Series rematch, do not be surprised if the Intellectual Savior of the Unwashed Masses is a factor in the World title picture throughout the rest of 2013 and into the early months of the new year.
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