The Case For:: Survivor Series was definitely lucky for Dolph last year, so who’s to say lightning can’t strike twice? Just last Raw WWE was reminding people that Ziggy saved the day at Survivor Series 2014, and now that he’s out of go-nowhere feud with Rusev, the very capable show-off has a chance to finally ascend to where he was born to be. Not only did he recently resign a deal with WWE, he also filmed a WWE-backed movie, and the crowd is still behind him, even after a storyline involving Sheamus’ ass. Sure, he might need to turn heel and join The Authority to collect the strap, but Dolph can be a pretty great bad guy when given the chance.
The Case Against: As frustrating as it may be for his fans, it seems like Vince and co. never view Dolph as championship material. Ziggler certainly shined brightly at the previous Survivor Series, but that accomplishment was almost as quickly forgotten by the next January. Currently he’s wrestling a younger, blonder star over a cute girl, which isn’t exactly an A storyline, so I don’t think Ziggler will be boosted to the top so quickly, even with a sexy new heel turn to make his star rise.
The Case For:: Well, Sheamus literally has “The Case For” winning the WWE Championship. Before Seth’s injury, I would have had Sheamus pegged as the next Sandow-esque briefcase-wasting loser. However, now the Money in the Bank briefcase has so many great possibilities to propel Sheamus even further as a heel. Sure, you can have him skip (or lose early) in the tournament, only to come back at the end of the night and steal the belt from a tired champion, but there are so many other clever ways for the briefcase to come into play. He could come out at the start of the tournament and say that the briefcase gives him a match against the CURRENT champ and that since he’s challenging nobody, he wins the belt by forfeit and declares the tournament null and void! He could use the briefcase as a “skip to the finals for free” card, saying it grants him a CHAMPIONSHIP match, not a spot in a tournament. Sure, Sheamus as WWE Champion is a bit tired, but his path TO the belt could be fun!
The Case Against: I’m actually surprised that the WWE didn’t use their tour of Ireland to hotshot the belt onto Sheam-O. Have Rollins come to the show on crutches, curse Ireland’s health care, have Sheamus lightly tap him with the briefcase, and boom, new Champ and a reminder that sometimes meaningful things actually happen at house shows. Sheamus winning the title in Atlanta, GA? Yawn.
The Case For:: The hopes and prayers of hundreds of internet diehards rest on this man’s shoulders. Ever since arriving in WWE, fans of Cesaro have been frustrated with how poorly he’s been used by the company. He’s handsome, super strong, a polyglot, and a goddamn master in the ring who can wrestle whatever style you need, heel or face. This is the chance for the company to catch on to what the Cesaro Section already knows: NOW is the time to strap a rocket to Cesaro and make him a European champion. D’oh! I mean, make this European the WWE Champion. Have him become Triple H’s new project, make him a transitional dude to Reigns, whatever. Just do SOMETHING.
The Case Against: After hearing Vince literally say he thinks Cesaro can’t connect with audiences, coupled with Cesaro just recently being sacrificed to Big Show in a couple matches means the outlook isn’t so good for Cesaro. At best you’ll be able to have a great match in the tournament that can make the eventual winner and/or finalist look good. That’s really the best one can hope for. Sure, he’s a more likely champ than big baby Ryback, but that’s about it. Can he at least replace Kane as The Authority’s top enforcer? He’s the most believable strongman this side of Mark Henry!
The Case For:: I know this is the prediction made every time there’s a mystery opponent but hear me out. Daniel Bryan recently said in an interview he’s one doctor visit away from returning to the ring (or retiring forever, but let’s ignore that for now). Imagine that in the weeks following that he has secretly been approved and WWE is waiting for the right moment to have him return. Now fate has forced their hand, when they need SOMEONE to hold the belt while Vince tries to figure out how to reposition things for Roman to win the belt at Mania. The audience needs something big to cheer for to distract them from how many people are missing/booing at the inevitability of Roman Reigns being champ. I’m not saying the injury prone D-Bry should hold it for more than a couple months, but you need him to give the show some extra oomph.
The Case Against: Well, first of all there’s that whole thing about his career potentially being over. Not to mention the fact that even if he is cool now, giving him more gold after being stripped of two titles in two years seems to be courting fate. Best case scenario is that Bryan returns, but loses to whoever he’ll feud with into Royal Rumble, or even that he wins the belt only to immediately have it taken by Sheamus cashing in. It would definitely fit Daniel’s hard luck history.
We’ll have a better idea as the days go on, but short of Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, or CM Punk showing up, who else could be the next WWE Champ? We’re looking for suggestions in the comments, but seriously, don’t say Big Show. Our sides might just split.