At the WWE Battleground 2014 Battle Royal, a number of possible narratives await: redemption, title unification or a newcomer wearing his first crown.
Of the official entrants so far, Sheamus, Damien Sandow, Cesaro and Bo Dallas are the most appealing options to walk out of the Tampa Bay Times Forum with the Intercontinental Championship on July 20. The appeal of the stories of them winning and the directions WWE could take afterward put them in that category.
Should Kofi Kingston win, it would leave fans suffering from deja vu. He has been IC champ four times already.
Big E and Curtis Axel have held the title recently, but the stories of them achieving victory don't have the same pull as WWE's most exciting potential winners. The following foursome would offer company officials a way to cull the most out of this Battle Royal and the IC title.
Should Sheamus win, WWE would not only get a new champion, but a new championship. The Celtic Warrior has taken to social media to promise that him winning means that the Intercontinental and United States titles will become one.
WWE has recently done a good job in showcasing both champs, but that hasn't always been the case. Dean Ambrose went for long stretches without defending the belt Sheamus beat him for, for example.
Merging the two midcard titles will make it easier to book, with less chance of one of them getting shafted.
The move would also instantly give the new title—whatever it's called—elevated prestige. Right now, it's unclear whether the U.S. or IC belts is more significant. Unification would put the new title just under the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the title hierarchy.
As a bonus, WWE would have room to bring back an old title, perhaps the Cruiserweight Championship to make full use of NXT stars like Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and Kalisto once they come up to the main roster.
Sandow winning would be a fantastic underdog tale.
He has spent months suffering at the bottom of the card, going from one costume to the next. For a man who was fighting in a leotard in early June and playing a bad Santa Claus back in December to outlast men like Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio to become champion would be stunning.
He enters the bout as one of the men least likely to win. Thanks to how often he has suffered defeat and embarrassment as of late, his victory would be hugely surprising.
It would be Sandow's first title win and, better yet, a chance to repair his character. Perhaps WWE has him rediscover his confidence after becoming champ or has him believe that all his costume switching was what got him here, inspiring him to dive further into the habit and become less mentally stable along the way.
With both directions, the victory would be a catalyst for a wrestler in desperate need of something other than the status quo.
The more ridiculous the costume he's wearing at Battleground, the more fun his win would be.
Fans of The King of Swing were surely hoping he'd end up with the WWE title at Money in the Bank, but this would be a solid consolation prize.
Adding the Intercontinental Championship would not only better Cesaro's resume, but also assure him plenty of spotlight in the near future. That means more great matches and more Paul Heyman.
WWE would then have a standout brawler as U.S. champ and one of its top mat workers as the IC titleholder. That certainly makes it easy to produce quality matches on TV and pay-per-views.
The win also allows WWE to continue to build Cesaro up, perhaps eventually placing him on a top tier.
A long reign as IC champ could have him uppercutting foe after foe before he starts seeking out bigger prey. According to F4WOnline (h/t WrestleZone) WWE is considering a WrestleMania 31 matchup with him and Brock Lesnar. A memorable run with the title is a smart route to lead him there.
One of the more outside-the-box options involves pegging Dallas as champ.
Despite being on a winning streak in singles matches, he enters Battleground as a massive underdog. Tangling with El Torito doesn't exactly scream champion.
The surprise factor makes him an exciting option as does the fact that a title win would further expand his already bloated ego. With something tangible to brag about, Dallas has a chance to be one of the most annoying figures in recent memory.
Imagine him taking a victory lap with the IC title raised in the air, his recently eliminated opponents glaring at him.
Choosing Dallas here gives him a test run to work with as well. If he can't get fans to hate him while shoving his title in their faces and the added spotlight being champion brings, WWE can temper their expectations for him accordingly.
A Dallas win also could lead to an intriguing match once Bad News Barrett returns.
Their brief history together in early 2013 and the fact that Barrett didn't get beat for the belt are all items WWE can toss into this story. Barrett coming back as a face to make use of the popularity he was attaining before his injury would be smart.
A grinning, contemptuous nit with Barrett's title on his shoulder would be waiting for him.
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