At Night of Champions, The Viper struck with speed and frequency to become WWE champion once again, the seventh world title reign of Randy Orton's career.
The new face of the WWE could be in for a lengthy title reign, and the challengers will come from all angles.
Who are the men who will give The Viper their best in hopes for the top spot in the WWE Universe? Let's take a look at the top five challengers for Orton's WWE Title heading into 2011.
Unlikely as it may be, you can never count out The Game.
All signs point toward Triple H returning to feud with Sheamus, but rumblings around the Internet have pegged Trips with a desired return as a heel.
It would be strange to see Sheamus continually mention how he took out Triple H, only to have Trips return to feud with someone else, but this is WWE creative we're talking about.
Word is, Triple H has wanted to turn heel for quite some time. Now that his best friend, Shawn Michaels, is no longer around, now may be the time The Game returns as a heel...a heel gunning for Randy Orton's WWE title.
After tonight's effective death sentence for The Nexus, Barrett is going to have to have a program heading into the winter.
Though the title shot he earned by way of winning NXT has been used, Barrett seems poised for a lengthy stay in the world title picture on Raw.
A program between Barrett and Orton would be fresh, unlike the programs Orton would have with some of the men ahead of Barrett on this list.
It would also help push Barrett's character in the right direction.
Barrett would not have to claim the world title to be established as a main-event player—a feud with the biggest superstar on Raw will do just fine.
It wouldn't be the WWE Title picture without John Cena firmly entrenched in the center of it all.
While it seems as though WWE creative is warming to the idea of taking the proverbial ball from Cena and giving it to Randy Orton, Cena will be in the world title hunt as long as there is a world title in the WWE Universe.
A feud with Orton may not actually be a bad thing...if Orton comes out on top.
A feud through the winter, leading into the build for the potential World Title Unification Match at WrestleMania, would establish Orton as the unchallenged alpha dog of Raw.
If WWE could stop playing hot potato with the WWE title—there hasn't been a WWE title reign longer than three months since early 2008—Orton is the man to lead Raw into the new year and to WrestleMania.
Coming out on top in a feud with Cena would leave no doubt who "The Man" on Raw really is.
Michael Cole won't let us forget just how awesome The Miz is. By the end of 2010, he may live up to Cole's lofty prognostications.
The Miz is slated for a huge push in the coming months, and if WWE creative continues the game of hot potato mentioned in the previous slide, The Miz may cash in his Money in the Bank contract to become WWE champion before the year ends.
Like Barrett, The Miz could benefit from a strong feud with Orton. The Miz is on the precipice of the main event, but a real feud with a main eventer (his program with John Cena counts for nothing) will help establish The Miz.
Needless to say, the time of The Miz is about to arrive. And once it does, it won't end quickly.
The Celtic Warrior appears to be the man most likely to feud with newly minted WWE champion Randy Orton in the immediate future.
The likely main event at Hell in a Cell appears to be the beginning of our WWE title feud for the remainder of 2010.
Though we've seen Sheamus and Orton in the spotlight for much of the year, a strong program between the two could be quite entertaining. Sheamus has been built as the guy who can't seem to win on his own, but seeing him push Orton to the limit may finally give Sheamus some clout.
At worst, WWE creative could use the feud as a placeholder for Orton leading into the potential world title unification bout at WrestleMania.
Regardless of who challenges Randy Orton for the WWE title, main events like the one we saw at Night of Champions need to come to an end.
It's been months since we've seen a true one-on-one feud for the WWE Championship. A solid world title feud could anchor Raw with the impending roster flux, likely end of The Nexus storyline, and (hopefully) the revealing of the anonymous General Manager.
And please, WWE creative, keep the strap on one guy for a decent period of time. For once.