Despite what WWE may have its fans believe, champions and championships remain a major part of professional wrestling.
Storylines are very important and, while some fans may be more concerned with Big Show's lawsuit against Triple H and WWE or Kane's motivation for joining The Authority, there is an allure with titles that will always have fans interested in championship bouts.
Today's World Wrestling Entertainment touts several very talented champions, and with one of its trademark pay-per-view events, Survivor Series, on the horizon, those men and women appear poised to play a big role on the show.
WWE champion Randy Orton is on a crash course with Big Show, as announced on Monday Night Raw, and World champion John Cena will likely defend his newly won World Heavyweight Championship against former champion Alberto Del Rio, but who will win those matches and what will the other champions be doing at the annual November event?
There are a number of scenarios each champion could find themselves in over the next month.
What are those scenarios, and who will the champions find themselves competing against in Boston later this month?
Let's take a look.
As announced on Monday Night Raw, Randy Orton will defend his WWE Championship in a match against Big Show at Survivor Series.
It was an announcement everyone knew was coming, an announcement that has been built over the last two months but one that managed to excite few.
Big Show, for as well as he has played his character this fall, is not the guy to carry a major angle at this point, and his matches with Orton earlier this year, though solid, were largely unspectacular and failed to capture the attention of the WWE Universe.
The angle involving Show, his firing and subsequent rehiring, has consistently been among the lowest-rated portions of Raw over the last month, and while live crowds have been eating it up, as evidenced by the reaction for the giant Monday night, the general audience could care less.
Which is disappointing because it finally feels like Randy Orton is readjusting to being a heel. He is exhibiting the tendencies that made him one of the most despised characters in World Wrestling Entertainment for the majority of his first six years in the company.
The despicable manner in which he brought up Brie Bella and terrorized her during his feud with Daniel Bryan was great and did a lot to showcase just what lengths the Viper was willing to go to in order to get what he wanted.
Even prior to his match with Big E. Langston this past Monday, he had broken out of his shell and cut a fairly entertaining promo that interjected a fair amount of charisma and cockiness.
Unfortunately, by the end of the evening, he was once again involved in another beatdown angle to close out Raw and was left playing second fiddle to Triple H.
How that is supposed to make Orton look like a legitimate threat to retain his title against his gigantic opponent, who nearly fended off the champion and The Shield on his own until chairs were introduced, is a mystery.
It is way too soon to take the WWE Championship off of Randy Orton. That much is certain. Taking the title from him now would be tantamount to committing character homicide.
Booking Orton must be done with kid gloves. He lost clean to Daniel Bryan at Night of Champions, was left lying at Battleground and only won the WWE title at Hell in a Cell after interference from Triple H and Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels.
He has racked up a number of victories over midcard talent since turning heel in August but has yet to score a definitive win over a main event player in a high-profile match.
Taking the title off of him at Survivor Series would kill his momentum, his heat and any chance he has at gaining acceptance as a top heel by an audience that is already struggling to boo the immensely popular Superstar.
That leaves one of two options. The first one sees him defeat Big Show either cleanly or through some sort of chicanery. Cheating would help both Show and Orton save face, but it would also set up a rematch in December that no one actually wants to see. Either that, or it sets up a Show-Triple H match at TLC that, again, overshadows Orton.
Winning cleanly essentially kills Big Show's character.
The second option sees the match end in some sort of messy disqualification or count-out. I say messy because it would be the second of three consecutive pay-per-views to end with a terrible finish. The Battleground conclusion, which saw no finish to the main event and the setup for an angle that would be paid off for free the following night on TV, was heavily criticized.
After delivering two unsatisfactory booking decisions involving pay-per-view main events in the last three major events, the company simply cannot afford to leave fans unhappy with the product they paid hard-earned money to see.
After analyzing every option, the safest direction to take appears to be one in which Triple H involves himself in the conclusion of the title match (please God, not another Montreal screwjob ripoff), setting up a match between he and Big Show at TLC.
Orton retains the title for another month and becomes overshadowed by The Game for what seems like the umpteenth time in his career.
Survivor Series is presented by World Wrestling Entertainment.
WWE loves rematches.
Is there any doubt that John Cena will defend his title against Alberto Del Rio in one of those rematches at the aforementioned Survivor Series?
The answer is "no."
World Heavyweight champion Cena and No. 1 contender Del Rio have a ready-built rivalry heading into Survivor Series. Del Rio is the former champion and will be invoking his rematch clause against the new champion.
The fact that Del Rio utilizes his Crossarm Breaker that plays into Cena's injured triceps only adds to the angle.
The likelihood that the Mexican Superstar leaves Cena's hometown of Boston with the World title is about as low as it gets in WWE, but fans should expect a very good match considering the track record they have on pay-per-view throughout their careers.
The World Heavyweight Championship match on November 24 will see the champion retain and hopefully move on to the more interesting and entertaining Damien Sandow in time for December's TLC event.
Cena will go out of his way to make Del Rio strong, but the former champion will still fall in defeat, leading to his departure from the title picture for the next month or so.
Curtis Axel currently finds himself in a state of limbo.
His manager, Paul Heyman, has seemingly been written off of television for the time being following a loss to CM Punk, and Axel's Intercontinental Championship has been devalued even more since he won it than it was prior to his victory over The Miz and Wade Barrett back at Payback.
An injury halted a potential program with Big E. Langston, and now Axel finds himself floating aimlessly throughout the abyss known as WWE's midcard.
Luckily for him, the Survivor Series is the one pay-per-view every year that has a tendency to feature a large number of stars from all different areas of the card, thanks in large part to the traditional Survivor Series tag matches.
This past Monday night on Raw, fellow "Heyman guy" Ryback dispatched of Great Khali and assaulted Santino Marella after the match. While a comedic angle against those two Superstars is not ideal, it may result in both men getting on what is sure to be a stacked Survivor Series card.
Curtis Axel is involved in some sort of Survivor Series tag match and is eliminated far earlier than one would imagine, perhaps setting up a feud over the Intercontinental Championship.
Strictly from an in-ring quality viewpoint, a rivalry with Tyson Kidd would be outstanding. Unfortunately, the possibility of the aforementioned Marella challenging for Axel's title makes more sense and, given how over he is with the audience, would not be such a long shot after all.
Santino pins Axel, setting up a throwaway match between the two at December's TLC, just to really kill off whatever heat and potential to succeed Axel had in the first place.
With fellow Shield members Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns stealing shows across the country in matches against Tag champions Goldust and Cody Rhodes, United States champion Dean Ambrose has spent most of his time at ringside backing them up.
He has engaged in a mini-feud with Big E. Langston, defending his title against the freakish athlete at Hell in a Cell and on Raw the following night. But there was little mention of their issues with one another on this week's show, and Ambrose went back to joining Randy Orton in a four-on-one beatdown of Big Show.
What the talented in-ring competitor does at Survivor Series is almost exclusively tied to what his teammates do.
Will he find himself a member of a traditional Survivor Series team, or will he be defending his U.S. title, maybe against the aforementioned Langston?
Perhaps he will be involved in something else.
Rollins and Reigns have been embroiled in the Tag Team title hunt from the minute they lost the titles to Rhodes and Goldust in early October, and they seem poised to compete in some sort of multiteam match for the championships on November 24.
That frees up Ambrose to do one of two things.
He could defend his U.S. title, likely against Langston, or he could be part of an eight- or 10-man tag team elimination match.
Recent Survivor Series events suggest there are only one or two of those elimination matches per card, and with one involving Punk, Bryan and the Wyatt Family and another potentially including some mixture of Ryback, Great Khali and Santino Marella (ouch!), it does not leave much room for Ambrose.
Expect him to defend his title, and, given the push that Langston is enjoying at this point, do not be surprised if WWE crowns a new United States champion at its annual November pay-per-view.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust have been, without a shadow of doubt, the hottest act on WWE television since they came together to defeat Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns at Battleground. They have stolen nearly every show they have been part of and have received some of the biggest reactions of either of their careers.
Most importantly, they have done significant good for the Tag Team titles, which have been elevated since they won them. Not only is it their star power helping to lend credibility to the titles but also the matches they have had with The Shield, the Usos and the Real Americans.
All four of those teams have been intertwined for the past two months, and it appears as though they may continue to be on the road to the Survivor Series.
While it would be smarter to throw all four teams into a traditional Survivor Series tag team elimination match and save the payoff to the rivalry at December's TLC pay-per-view in some sort of high-risk gimmick match, do not be surprised if WWE delivers a Fatal 4-Way match for the Tag titles on November 24.
It would be another instance of the odds being against the Rhodes brothers, who have consistently fought from underneath and managed to survive and thrive.
If the company chooses not to go in that direction, a basic tag match between the champions and their top contenders, Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro, would be a suitable replacement and just as likely to steal the show out from underneath the night's more hyped main events.
The direction WWE takes the Divas Championship at Survivor Series may be the most difficult to predict at this point.
In recent weeks, AJ Lee has lost matches to both Natalya and rookie Diva Eva Marie. The Bella Twins continue to hang around the title picture as well, creating questions as to whether WWE even knows where it wants to go with AJ and her title.
AJ and Brie Bella have demonstrated strong chemistry while working together over the last two months and deserve praise for their match at Hell in a Cell, which used every second allotted to them to deliver an above-average Divas title bout.
Natalya has yet to receive a singles title match against AJ and with increased attention given to her thanks to the upcoming episode of Total Divas in which she marries longtime boyfriend Tyson Kidd, it would seem fitting that she receives the next shot at AJ's title.
Lord only knows where they are going with the Eva Marie win, but if the company is even entertaining the idea of giving her a title shot, the Divas Championship match on November 24 could turn into a train wreck fast.
Eva has shown great charisma and has had no trouble portraying her character on the reality show, but she is nowhere near ready to be mixing it up in title matches without the safety net of tag partners to spell her when she gets lost or confused.
While a Divas title match means more to the division, expect some sort of multi-Diva tag match, not unlike those we see on Raw or SmackDown every week.
With no clear direction heading into the big event, WWE will likely throw a bunch of face Divas and heel Divas onto teams of four or five and deliver a mediocre tag match, elimination rules or not, to kill some time on the pay-per-view while it figures out what it wants to do with the title next.
Even the third consecutive AJ-Brie Bella title match would be much preferred than the unexciting tag match.