After a Survivor Series that was in some ways both the best and the worst of the sorry lot of pay-per-view shows that followed an amazing SummerSlam, the biggest issue coming out of the show was a brand new one. Well, brand new in the sense that it wasn't an issue going into the show.
In the top two matches, we got the expected outcomes with both John Cena and Randy Orton retaining their titles. Both matches fell pretty flat. Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio was technically proficient but never really got going, even in Cena's hometown of Boston. Orton indulged his worst instincts in a very short main event against Big Show that received audible chants of "boring" and "take it home."
Meanwhile, there was a backstage segment where Orton and Cena faced off in The Authority's office. It seemed like one of those long-term planned teases they used to do...at first.
After Orton dispatched of Big Show with a RKO/punt combo off The Authority's distraction, Cena came out with his belt to do a posedown similar to the one he did with CM Punk the week after Money in the Bank 2011, and that's how the show went off the air.
Orton vs. Cena in a title unification match had been a rumored WrestleMania main event for a while now, as noted by PWInsider (h/t Wrestle Zone's Matt Killam). While the backstage segment seemed like a clear tease in that direction, they wouldn't end a PPV the way they did Sunday night if it was building a match that's not taking place for over four months. So I guess it looks like they're facing off next month at TLC?
At first I wasn't sure what to think of it. On one hand, not saving the match for WrestleMania seems kind of crazy, but it wouldn't be the first time they did that, as the original "Undisputed Championship" unification in 2001 also occurred at the December PPV.
On the other hand, Randy Orton vs. John Cena is not a compelling WrestleMania main event, especially since there's no secondary/non-title issue of note in play right now with Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H seemingly over.
Even though Orton and Cena haven't really squared off since Orton turned babyface right after their last feud four years ago, the match was done to death back then and feels more stale than, say, Cena vs. CM Punk, which has been done plenty of times in the last three years.
They became inextricably linked years ago, so even though they've been kept apart, it still feels like a match that's been done too much to close WrestleMania.
So with that in mind, I just don't see a way that the unification gimmick itself works as a WrestleMania headliner if it's for Orton vs. Cena. So if that brings us to TLC, it's actually a hell of a hook for a B-show, especially if they go with the obvious imagery of a ladder match with both belts hanging from the ceiling a la Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X.
If WWE unifies the two titles, they also don't have to worry about having to build up two challengers at once, especially with the slim pickings they have right now:
- They clearly don't want Daniel Bryan or Damien Sandow in main events.
- Del Rio and Ryback are done after being dispatched so convincingly by Cena.
- CM Punk is biding his time in midcard feuds until he's put back on the road to another title reign.
- Big Show just got punted, and they'd be fools to rematch him with Orton.
- Dolph Ziggler is in purgatory.
- Christian might as well not even be in the company with how easily he gets seriously injured nowadays.
- Sure, Rey Mysterio is back, but, uh, see Christian.
Mark Henry could be plugged in against Orton since he's a compelling character who has popped business in his title programs the last couple years. Where does that leave Cena, though? Henry wouldn't be the right type of wrestler for a babyface match, he was a one and done challenger during the Summer and there are no heels in line for a title shot.
Sure, something like Cena vs. Roman Reigns would be compelling and probably a great match, but it would be a bad idea right now. Reigns is at the point where he shouldn't be losing to anyone in singles matches but also shouldn't beat a champion until he actually wins the title.
With one champion, you don't need to worry about that. Reigns could even beat Cena en route to his singles push if Orton was the only champion, but the field would be a lot different without the upper part of the card being scorched earth as victims of two champions.
Of course, I'm not really sure what WrestleMania would have at that point beyond something like Undertaker v.s Brock Lesnar, but at least they wouldn't have to worry about filling two iffy title matches instead of one much stronger one.