Punk is looking to extend his lengthy title reign that started way back in November 2011 at Survivor Series, while Kane is trying to win his first WWE title in 14 years and Bryan is trying to win his first WWE title ever.
At least on paper, Punk seems like the odds-on favorite.
He’s defeated Alberto Del Rio, The Miz, Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler and R-Truth in WWE title matches during a reign that’s lasted more than six months, and outside of maybe Jericho, no wrestler has posed a true threat to him.
Until now. And that threat is none other than the man formerly known as Bryan Danielson.
Bryan has done in 2012 what Punk did in 2011: He’s revolutionized the business.
Punk did it with his worked shoot. Bryan’s done it with that three-letter word that now echoes throughout the arena at every WWE show.
Bryan has undoubtedly become the breakout star of the year, and along the way, he’s also become the hottest act in the wrestling business.
“Yes!” is now the most popular word in the WWE. Bryan, though technically still a heel, is one of the most popular stars in the company, too.
And let’s rewind back to a year or so ago when Punk was doing the same, when he was the WWE superstar that everyone was talking about.
What happened then? Vince McMahon put the WWE Championship on Punk, right?
He—as the cliché goes—struck while the iron was hot. He saw that he had a good thing going with Punk, and he made sure that he capitalized on that by putting the most prestigious title in the company on him.
Roughly a year later, we’re in that exact same spot. Only, Punk has been replaced with Bryan.
Bryan is the wrestler who the WWE fans want to see, he is the one that the Internet is abuzz about, and he is the one who—at least at this very moment—is the best performer in the business.
While the WWE may not want to put the WWE Championship on Bryan for whatever reason, he may not give them a choice.
The fans are treating the very heelish Bryan as if he were a huge baby face, and even though Bryan the character is a jerk, Bryan the wrestler is someone who the fans want to see at the top of the WWE.
If he continues to follow in the footsteps of Punk like he has been over the last six months or so, that’s exactly where I think he should be and exactly where I think he will be.
Although Kane has reportedly been added to this rivalry as a “smack at smarks,” I think there’s one other very big reason why the WWE title match on Sunday is a Triple Threat: To get the belt off of Punk without him taking the pin.
We all know that Punk currently gets the treatment that is typical of a top baby face like John Cena or Randy Orton—he rarely loses, and when he does, his loss happens in a way that protects him.
I think that’s exactly why Kane is really in the mix here.
By throwing Kane into this match, Punk can easily lose the WWE Championship without being involved in the finish, while Bryan can win the title after someone else does all the work for him.
Think about it. It’s the perfect setup.
Punk hits Kane with the GTS and goes for the pin, but Bryan pulls Punk out of the ring, slides in, gets the pin for himself and becomes the new WWE Champion.
With one simple finish, you help reestablish Bryan as the weasel-like heel, you protect Punk and you set up a better story with the baby face Punk chasing the heel Bryan.
Hey, at least that’s how I’d book it.