Mani's 6 Degrees: Will CM Punk Make It to WrestleMania as the WWE Champion?

Rob Manisero@robmaniCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2012

Mani's 6 Degrees: Will CM Punk Make It to WrestleMania as the WWE Champion?

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    Welcome to Mani's 6 Degrees!

    This week, the focus is on our WWE Champion, CM Punk. This past week on Raw, Punk cut the best promo of his title reign by far, showing that he has what it takes to be a mainstay at the top of the card. But will he hold on to his title until the biggest show of the year?

    Punk faces an uphill battle at the Royal Rumble, facing Dolph Ziggler with John Laryngitis as the special guest referee. Even if he prevails next Sunday, there is still one more pay-per-view in the way of WrestleMania.

    If Punk is going to make it that far with the title, he is definitely going to have to show some serious resolve.

1—CM Punk

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    The WWE Champion made an unplanned switch from heel to face back in July, when his major promo and follow-up match at Money in the Bank made him a superstar.

    Since that point, Punk has been arguably the top face of the company, competing in high-profile matches at every PPV in the last half of 2011. 

    All of this led to a title win at Survivor Series and a declaration to change things up and hold the strap for a very long time. Now, however, we are proceeding into the most important months of the year for the WWE, and it is only natural to wonder if the company has enough faith in the Straight-Edge Superstar to keep him the champion.

    Remember those Staples commercials with the red button saying "that was easy?" Well, the creative team has one of those buttons. Every time someone presses it, the decision is made to put the championship back on John Cena. 

    It would not be very difficult for Punk to win at the Rumble, enter the Elimination Chamber and lose to Cena. While that would give Cena vs. Rock even more meaning, it leaves Punk on the undercard in a year when he became a superstar. 

    There is no denying the growth of CM Punk in the past year. Whatever the case, it is an improvement over wearing a mask and being accused of putting The Undertaker in a vegetative state by .....


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    Spoiler alert: It was Kane all along who attacked Taker. What a loving brother.

    The reemergence of masked Kane has been a breath of fresh air into a character that has needed a change for years. Kane is back to playing the mind games we know and love from his creepy and mysterious character.

    Where should all of this lead? With John Cena out of commission for WrestleMania, Kane's road should lead to the most relevant destination: The Undertaker.

    Kane and the Undertaker will be forever linked in WWE history. It is only fitting that these two face off one more time, especially if this is going to be Taker's last match. Chances are either this WM or next year's will be the end for the Phenom, and Kane as his opponent would be a perfect choice.

    No, the match will not be a five-star classic that we have become accustomed to seeing from "The Streak" contests, but the atmosphere alone will more than make up for the technical aspect. Kane will finally get one more opportunity to take down his brother at the biggest stage of the year.

    Unfortunately, I do not see the company going in this direction. Triple H is a more likely opponent, but this is the opportune time for Kane to face his brother because of his rebirth. For now, however, he will continue feuding with John Cena, playing mental and physical games with him and .....

3—Zack Ryder

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    Jack Swagger is now the new United States Champion after defeating a weakened Ryder on Raw.

    These past couple of months for Ryder have been weird to say the least. After his huge response from the crowd at Survivor Series, his time as the champ seemed imminent. But for it to only last a month and for him to lose it this way? I can't say I agree.

    Maybe Ryder will regain his title at an upcoming PPV. That in turn would hurt Swagger though, and it does not look like the company wants that to happen. Chances are Ryder might not have another title for a while.

    What exactly does his demeaning loss prove? We already knew Kane was a devastating force, as he has made that perfectly clear over the years. Swagger has the talent to be built back up, but it is hard to take him seriously when he basically had the title handed to him.

    Therefore, the only reason for last Monday can be a lack of faith in Ryder as a champion. I would like to think there is a longer term plan for Ryder (like there was for Christian), but it is not very often that the creative team thinks weeks ahead.

    Ryder's run may be coming to a halt for the time being, but a run is just beginning for the man he defeated for the U.S. title, .....

4—Dolph Ziggler

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    This man has main event status written all over him.

    He might need a bit more work on the microphone, but there is no doubting the man's wrestling abilities. With Vickie Guerrero at his side, he is guaranteed one of the most effective heel managers in years.

    At the Royal Rumble, Ziggler has a golden opportunity to gain the WWE Championship with Johnny L. as the guest referee. Then again, Ziggler had a pretty good opportunity last year as well.

    Just a year ago, Ziggler competed for the World Heavyweight Championship against Edge, with the stipulation that if Edge used the Spear, Ziggler would leave as the champ. It was another big opportunity, but one he could not take home.

    Chances are Ziggler will fall short once again. The man is the future of the company, and that is why he will probably not be victorious. He is the future, but CM Punk is the present. If this were later in the year, a Ziggler victory would be completely feasible. But to have him go into WrestleMania as the champ might be a bit premature. The Miz did it last year, and not only was he overshadowed by the Rock and Cena, but his WM match was also not good at all.

    Ziggler will have his time, and it is almost upon us. Even if it was a count-out win, the WWE had enough faith to let him brag about his victory two weeks ago over .....

5—John Cena

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    For years now, many people have been calling for the heel turn of John Cena. This is the closest we have come to seeing that happen, but will the WWE actually follow through?

    One thing is for sure: it does not matter how hard they try, Cena will never get more support at WrestleMania than The Rock. If the company is trying to accomplish that, it is a goal that was doomed from the start.

    In my opinion, Cena would be best off if he completed a heel turn in some fashion at WrestleMania. But there are plenty of articles on B/R talking about those scenarios, and I would like to focus on his current feud.

    What would be the best outcome for Cena vs. Kane at the Rumble? If they were to go down the path I mentioned before, a vicious beat down by Cena might be an ideal outcome. Also, Kane could win and then blame it on Cena's weakness, thereby driving him closer to the dark side.

    People want change, and more and more fans are making it clear that Cena's character has become a tired one. The same thing happened with Hogan, and in his case, the heel turn extended his career and heightened his drawing power significantly.

    It can be done, and Cena is a good wrestler, even if he falls into using the same moves. He proved he can showcase his abilities when he had the feud of 2011 against .....

6—CM Punk

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    Even with the odds stacked against him at the Rumble, and with the Elimination Chamber PPV looming, Punk should be the title holder come April 1.

    With the John Laryngitis feud heating up, I would not be surprised to see a match between the two at the Elimination Chamber in February. Like Shane McMahon vs. Randy Orton three years ago, it would give Punk a worthwhile match without his title being in danger.

    This could allow interference from a possible opponent at the big PPV, possibly Chris Jericho. It would set up plenty of opportunities for a future feud, as well as finally getting Punk and Laryngitis in the ring.

    CM Punk is still the hottest thing going in the company right now, and it would be a mistake not to have the title on him when WrestleMania rolls around.


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