Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
It's finally time for these two to engage in a match with the WWE championship on the line. Of course, it's a straight singles affair, so the potential for a smoz finish is high. In fact, it's almost guaranteed. But these two have great chemistry inside the ring and how well they sell this show may determine quite a bit later on.
The Road to Night of Champions
This all started as far back as a few months ago when Bryan was still running with Kane as the tag champions with Team Hell No. During that time, Bryan was perceived as the "weak link" and Orton helped perpetuate as much, even if he wasn't saying that in his promos.
The two had a mini-rivalry on the way to Bryan earning his shot at the WWE title at SummerSlam against John Cena. In fact, it was a clean submission victory over Orton in the main event of a Monday Night Raw that served as the catalyst for fans to understand that the powers that be within WWE are taking Bryan seriously.
Then, Orton won the WWE championship Money in the Bank red briefcase. One month later, Bryan defeated Cena -- clean, no less -- to win the strap at "the biggest party of the summer". It was then that Triple H, the acting special guest referee in the match, turned heel, nailing Bryan with a Pedigree and allowing Orton to cash in his briefcase to win the belt.
Fans were robbed of the result they wanted, making Orton and Triple H the biggest bad guys in the industry.
What proceeded to happen over the next month or so was a song and dance we've seen before, but felt mostly fresh -- if not a bit repetitive -- thanks to the characters involved. Bryan would be faced with long odds by those in power, namely Triple H, nearly overcome those odds, but ultimately fall in the end.
He only ever got the upper hand on the go home episodes of Raw and Friday Night SmackDown. You can decide if that gives away the result here.
What's At Stake?
The obvious answer is the WWE championship, and that is indeed the case. It's been made to feel important too, because Bryan has done everything he could to put it over huge as his ultimate dream. This is all he's ever wanted and with the evil corporation choosing its face of the company, it would mean so much more if he was able to capture the gold.
The larger implication here is whether or not Bryan can break the glass ceiling. It feels like he already has but it's still unclear if that's the case and if there's any doubt at all, that means he hasn't.
The problem is he might need a protracted run with the WWE championship to solidify his status as a top level superstar and that's what is really at stake here: whether or not the powers that be have any faith in him to carry the promotion while John Cena and Sheamus are out of action.
You could argue they are already showing as much by having him work the main event segment nearly every week but the true sign of staying power is having the ball handed to you and being told to run with it.
We'll see if that happens here. If it doesn't, it's possible it could happen later but it becomes less and less likely the closer we get to WrestleMania season.
All of this is without mentioning the implications of box office business.
There's an awful lot on the line tonight in the "Motor City", so stay tuned to CagesideSeats.com for all your coverage needs on Night of Champions.