Good times are ahead for Damien Sandow.
WWE likes to use the “it's always darkest before dawn” booking when it comes to a Superstar and pending big events approaching. The character looks defeated or out of his groove and then makes a big impact.
Last year, Dolph Ziggler carried around the Money in the Bank briefcase for nearly nine months before cashing in. It started to seem like he could cash in on WrestleMania night. The entire road to WrestleMania, we saw Ziggler continue to lose or look unfavorable.
WWE does this to drop the performer out of sight as best as possible without excluding them from television. It lowers expectations. It's an attempt to get the fans to drop their guard, as well as the other wrestlers (most notably the champion), to make the cash-in process and win more of a big deal.
Triple H, John Cena, Shawn Michaels. All names who have come back from injury, cold-turkey entered in the Royal Rumble and won in heroic fashion.
It's simple storytelling, and WWE is telling it again with one of the best talents they've had in a long time in Sandow.
He had the Money in the Bank briefcase and cashed in unsuccessfully. Normally, the cashing in is the big night of success. For him, it was where his problems began. He cashed in against John Cena on Monday Night Raw at the end of October and has been struggling ever since to get momentum back.
We should have spoken up and seen it then. This has all been by design to set Sandow up for a Royal Rumble highlight-reel-like performance.
WWE even acknowledged on Raw and recapped the past few months of losing disaster for Sandow, which gives more weight to the fact this is a careful design.
It sets him up to have a strong showing at the Royal Rumble. He's not going to win it. If there were still two world titles, then potentially he could.
He won't win, but he doesn't need to win. I can easily see Sandow doing what we've seen many times, where a guy comes into the Rumble as one of the first five entrants and is around until the very end. A final-four finish for Sandow would be fitting, and puts the wheels in motion for his WrestleMania season and 2014—a year where he will become WWE Champion.
But before that, Sandow is being shaped up for a big run to WrestleMania. A match against a proven opponent would fit the bill—similar to how Fandango worked against Chris Jericho last year, but Sandow would get more out of it. Fandango won, but by the end of the week people were more concerned about the his entrance song than remembering his win over Jericho.
Sandow versus Jericho, or some other veteran name, would work. It's hard to continue to type other options because you never know who is coming back. We keep hearing rumors of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper being involved with WrestleMania to play off of him main eventing the first. Piper doing something with Sandow is another interesting scenario.
One more week until the Royal Rumble, which means one more week of Sandow losing, which is the first week of the rest of Sandow's bright career!
Justin LaBar is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He also is the creator of the Chair Shot Reality video talk show and Wrestling Reality radio show. He's been featured by various outlets including several appearances on NBC Sports recognized as a lead wrestling analyst in the country.