The outcome of the John Cena vs. Randy Orton match on January 26 at the Royal Rumble will go a long way towards indicating exactly which direction the company is heading in terms of its marquee matches for WrestleMania XXX.
With one referee's three count or one Superstar's tapping of the mat, fans will get a peek at what they can expect come the Showcase of the Immortals, making the match one of the most important of the young year.
That means the finish of the match becomes incredibly important.
Who wins and how he goes about doing so will greatly impact fans' perception of them heading into the biggest, most prestigious show of the year. One booking mistake could be the difference between fans signing up for the WWE Network, ordering the pay-per-view broadcast from the cable operators or skipping it all together.
Who needs a clean win? Can the company escape the match without hurting either man? Does Cena really need another title reign?
These are all questions surrounding the main event title contest in just two weeks.
In preparation for the big match, here is a look at three of the more likely finishes fans should be on the lookout for come the Royal Rumble.
With "The Animal" Batista likely returning to WWE as a babyface, and emerging as the early favorite to win the 2014 Royal Rumble match, it would make great sense for Randy Orton to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship over John Cena and provide the heel opposition to the Washington, D.C. native at WrestleMania XXX.
To do that and to be considered a legitimate threat to actually beat Batista, he will need to be pushed as a champion should. He cannot afford to continue escaping matches with fluke victories or underhanded wins. As Stephanie McMahon stated on the December 30 Raw, there will be no special stipulations and no excuses when Orton takes on Cena in a basic wrestling match with the title on the line.
What better way to cement Orton as the champion, to leave no doubt in the mind of the fans as to who the champion is, than by having The Viper defeat Cena clean in a high profile title match on one of the most prestigious pay-per-views of the year?
Of course, such a win would set up what appears to be a title match in February at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view between Orton and "the Beast Incarnate" Brock Lesnar. How the company gets around the heel versus heel aspect of that match and manages to convince fans to invest themselves in it should be interesting to watch play out, if that is the direction they opt to go in.
Because, really, that's what he does.
WrestleMania is the biggest event of the year, and it only makes sense that WWE would want its biggest star to be featured in the marquee match of the show.
That does not necessarily mean he needs to be WWE champion to be in that match. Look no further than the epic clash between he and The Rock that closed out WrestleMania XXVIII. But with so many huge names returning for WrestleMania XXX, and many of them gunning for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it would not be out of the question for Cena to show up in New Orleans with the title around his waist.
Potential championship matches with Brock Lesnar, Batista or Undertaker would potentially be enough to justify fans paying the pay-per-view fees or signing up with the WWE Network to catch this year's spectacle. It would also give the company that one huge main event that they could really build or hype as being truly special.
The Cena-Undertaker match is the one huge money match that the company has yet to capitalize on.
Imagine a championship versus streak match featuring one of the most respected stars in the history of the sport (Undertaker) and one of its most polarizing (Cena). The crowd reception for every near fall would be off the charts and would make the 30th WrestleMania feel like the truly special occasion that it is.
A match against either two of the remaining above mentioned stars would also be big in that they are names recognizable outside of wrestling taking on the sport's top competitor.
But for the importance of those matches to be magnified more than they already are, Cena needs to take the title from Orton at Royal Rumble.
No one likes a countout or disqualification. Especially when they are shelling out $45-60 to watch a major title bout on pay-per-view.
Sometimes, however, booking justifies the decision to go with that finish. Such may be the case come January 26 when Cena and Orton clash over the top prize in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Cena is coming off of a fairly clean loss to Orton in the Tables, Ladders and Chairs match main event at TLC and, while he can most certain survive a second consecutive clean loss to The Viper, the company has proven to be very hesitant to have him defeated cleanly twice.
Orton, on the other hand, cannot survive a clean loss to Cena. He has been booked so poorly as champion that it is already difficult to accept him as a legitimate champion capable of beating anyone at any time. A pinfall or submission loss, in a match with no special stipulations, would confirm the idea that he was unable to win a straight wrestling match against a top star on his own.
This presents a catch-22 as neither is likely to go down in defeat cleanly at the hands of their opponent. So what other option does the company have?
Do they risk disappointing fans with another disjointed, interference-filled title match, the likes of which became tiresome late last year? Do they go with the lame count-out finish that is universally despised?
Or do they replicate the finish to all of their matches that have taken place over the last two months on house shows across the country?
The best bet is the disqualification finish. It would allow Orton to continue looking like the sneaky heel who does whatever is necessary to retain the title, even if it is counterproductive to potential WrestleMania plans to have him booked that way, while ensuring that Cena does not drop a second consecutive pay-per-view main event.
Not the most satisfying finish in the world but probably the safest.