World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio

BY Alex Giannini

August 24, 2012

World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and No. 1 contender Alberto Del Rio are certainly not strangers in battle. Over the course of the past few months, The Great White and The Mexican Aristocrat have continually crossed paths, with almost every instance inevitably ending in absolute bedlam.

Now, coming off Sheamus’ controversial victory over Del Rio at SummerSlam and The Mexican Aristocrat’s triumph over Randy Orton on the Aug. 24 episode of SmackDown to once again lay claim to No. 1 contender status, the two Superstars are primed and ready once again to duel it out for championship gold at Night of Champions.

Sheamus — who has held the World Heavyweight Title since his historic 18-second WrestleMania victory over Daniel Bryan — has proven to be one of the most dominant titleholders in a long time, racking up win after win on big stages with the title gold on the line.

At SummerSlam, though, Sheamus may very well have had the luck of the Irish on his side, thanks to an errant shoe toss by Ricardo Rodriguez. When Del Rio’s personal ring announcer took off his dress shoe and heaved it into the ring — presumably so his employer would be able to wield it as a weapon against The Great White — Sheamus intercepted the foreign object, and smacked his opponent with it. (PHOTOS)

The Celtic Warrior then planted Del Rio with the Irish Curse Backbreaker, a move that could well have signaled the end for The Mexican Aristocrat. But when the always-cunning Del Rio put his leg on the rope during the three-count, the clever Great White was able to knock it off the rope before referee Mike Chioda could see it. The oversight by Chioda led to Sheamus’ title retention and, soon after, a formal protest by Del Rio. (WATCH)

Addressing the situation on SmackDown the following week, General Manager Booker T concluded that Del Rio and Randy Orton would face each other in a monumental blue brand main event with the opportunity to become the No. 1 contender on the line. With Sheamus looking on at ringside, The Mexican Aristocrat defeated WWE’s Apex Predator, locking Orton in the excruciating Cross Armbreaker and once again proving his mettle inside the squared circle.

While it’s undeniable that he’s had his opportunities in the past and come up short, never has Alberto Del Rio looked as focused as he does now. His exceedingly impressive victory over The Viper sent a message to the WWE Universe and to Sheamus that this Del Rio is more dangerous than ever before.

Will Night of Champions be the proving ground for The Mexican Aristocrat to finally lay claim to his destiny? Or can The Great White continue on what has become one of the most dominant reigns in the history of the World Heavyweight Title? Find out Sunday, Sept. 16 at 8 ET/5 PT, only on pay-per-view!