Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!
WWE: 7 Superstars Who Deserve a Shot at CM Punk
On this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, WWE Champion CM Punk was granted permission by Raw GM AJ Lee to choose his next No. 1 contender.
Punk revealed that his pick was John Cena, but that was on one condition: Cena had to admit that Punk was "the best in the world."
Cena didn't do that, though, so we're left without a No. 1 contender for the WWE title.
Although I think we can all see where this is headed, it's worth considering all of the possible options for Punk to feud with in the coming months.
He's already faced a number of the WWE's top stars throughout his current WWE Championship reign, but that are still plenty of opponents he can face in the not-so-distant future.
But who deserves to step up and challenge Punk?
Well, here are seven superstars who deserve a shot at CM Punk and his WWE Championship.
7. Daniel Bryan
Yeah, I know--CM Punk and Daniel Bryan just feuded over the WWE Championship for a few months.
But honestly, this is one of those rare times when I wouldn't mind seeing a recycled feud because of the two guys involved.
You could definitely make a case that Bryan and Punk have been the WWE's best two performers throughout 2012, and Bryan especially has been in an absolute zone since WrestleMania 28.
He's so over right now, it's borderline ridiculous. It doesn't even matter that he consistently loses because he's been so damn good that, in Chris Jericho-like fashion, the fans can forget about those losses rather quickly.
Bryan is on a roll, and his character continues to be the most entertaining one on WWE TV.
I'm glad that the WWE rewarded Bryan with a much-deserved win over Kane at SummerSlam, but being that Bryan is probably at the peak of his popularity right now, the WWE might want to capitalize on that by keeping him in the title picture.
After all, Punk vs. Bryan has been fantastic every single time it's happened this year, and with Bryan generating some great reactions and Punk slowly turning heel, it'd be an interesting scenario to see two guys who are essentially tweeners battle for the WWE Championship.
Remember what transpired between CM Punk and Christian back in March?
The then-heel Christian returned after missing more than four months of action and was scheduled to wrestle Punk in his return match. But the match never happened.
Instead, Christian attacked Punk before the match, but Punk turned the tables and laid a brutal beatdown on Christian that wrote him off of TV for another couple of months.
Did the WWE ever follow up on this? Of course not.
It was always my hope, however, that a returning Christian would come back a couple of months after that beatdown, target Punk and feud with him over the WWE Championship.
I honestly think that a series of Punk/Christian matches could have rivaled what Christian and Randy Orton did on SmackDown in 2011.
But I guess we'll never know because Christian is now a forgotten mid-card babyface rather than a main event-level superstar.
That's a shame because Christian's a great talent, and after being one of the best and most consistent performers in the WWE for a while, he's certainly deserving of another run at the top.
5. Randy Orton
There are those who think that Randy Orton should be buried for the foreseeable future as punishment for his second Wellness suspension.
I'm not one of them.
Orton "served his time" by being suspended for 60 days, and he got a second punishment when he was left off the SummerSlam card and missed the big payday that comes along with it.
Now, it's time to push Orton like the top star that he is. Well, in reality, that's already happening.
Since Orton came back, he's looked next to unbeatable, destroying Heath Slater and even picking up a couple of big victories over Alberto Del Rio.
That being said, the continuation of the never-ending World title feud between Sheamus and Del Rio (seriously, why is this still going on?) leaves Orton in a state of flux, and there's no clear-cut rivalry lined up for him now or anytime in the near future.
Orton has revealed that it won't be long before he takes yet another TV hiatus to film the second installment of 12 Rounds, though, so perhaps that's why he isn't getting involved in any sort of major rivalry.
I think Orton has looked great since his return, however, and it's only a matter of time before he makes it back into World title contention.
So, how about a feud with CM Punk?
Yes, they've feuded before. But that was before Punk became the breakout star he is today.
It's time for a re-do: Punk vs. Orton, with the WWE Championship on the line.
4. The Undertaker
Over the last year, CM Punk has feuded with (and beaten) just about every top WWE star.
Except for The Undertaker.
Now, I honestly have no idea if Undertaker will ever wrestle at a non-WrestleMania pay-per-view again, but either way, I want to see him take on Punk one more time.
Of course, we all remember that these two feuded over the World Heavyweight Championship back in 2009, which resulted in that infamous "screwjob" angle in which Punk won with a controversial "tap out."
But here we are three years later, and Punk has become the WWE Champion and one of the biggest stars in the industry while Undertaker's WrestleMania streak has become even more impressive after his wins over Shawn Michaels and Triple H.
No one has been able to stop Punk's WWE Championship reign, just like no one has been able to end "The Streak."
Now, I'm not saying that these two need to go one-on-one at WrestleMania 29, but putting them in the ring together again sure sounds like a great idea to me.
And if anybody deserves to get a WWE Championship just because, it's The Undertaker.
3. Wade Barrett
Over the last few weeks, the WWE has begun airing vignettes promoting the return of Wade Barrett.
Barrett, as we all know, has been out of action for about six months now after suffering a nasty elbow injury during the buildup to WrestleMania 28.
The injury could not have come at a worse time for Barrett, who seemed poised to have a major match at Mania and was rumored to be in line for a major push.
Apparently, that push was set to take Barrett to a WWE Championship feud with none other than CM Punk.
Now, plans have probably changed by now (especially with Punk's slowly evolving heel turn). But even if that's the case, Barrett deserves to be back in the WWE title picture.
He was there in 2010 against John Cena and Randy Orton, but that really came before he was ready. Now, however, Barrett has developed into one of the better all-around performers in the WWE and one of its top heels.
Of course, Barrett has never feuded with Punk, and despite the sizable pushes he's received, he's largely stayed away from the World title scene since 2010 as well.
That's gotta change.
Judging by the videos we've seen, Barrett's coming back renewed and refreshed, and after all the strides he's made as a performer over the last couple of years, the new-look Barrett should be going after Punk and the most prestigious title in the WWE.
2. Brock Lesnar
Paul Heyman posted a video on his Tout account this Monday during Raw in which Brock Lesnar revealed that he was leaving the WWE and never coming back.
This, of course, was the second time that Lesnar "quit" the WWE since his return (can the WWE not come up with something more creative?), but we all know that is was really just a way to write him off of TV.
There is a lot of speculation now that Lesnar will go away for a while, only to come back for another match with the man he dismantled at SummerSlam on Sunday, Triple H.
Gosh, I hope not. There's no payoff to a rematch between those two (especially if Triple H wins), and it's time to move on.
It's time for Lesnar to feud with that other "Paul Heyman guy," the WWE Champion CM Punk.
Even though I'm not crazy about part-timers getting World title shots, Lesnar certainly seems worthy of one after the way he manhandled Triple H, made him tap out and broke his arm on Sunday.
Lesnar looked like "The Beast" he's billed as on Sunday, and Paul Heyman has said that Lesnar has now conquered the entire WWE Universe.
If Lesnar really wants to do that, then he has to win the most prestigious title in the WWE. He has to win the WWE Championship.
There's one way for him to do that: Beat CM Punk.
1. John Cena
I know the John Cena haters will criticize what I'm about to type, but I'm going to type it, nonetheless: Cena deserves another WWE Championship match.
Looking at things purely from a storyline perspective, Cena has gotten screwed three times so far.
After outlasting four other former WWE Champions to win the Money in the Bank match, Cena gave Punk fair warning before he cashed in on Raw 1000, but interference from Big Show crushed his chances of winning the WWE title.
Then, at SummerSlam, Cena (along with Punk) made Big Show tap out, but instead of winning the match, the bout was restarted. Cena then followed that up by hitting Big Show with an AA only for Punk to sneak in to steal the pin and the win.
You can look at this situation a number of different ways, but if you're looking at it through Cena's eyes, it's safe to say that he got the shaft at least two or three times.
Yeah, Cena has had about a million title shots throughout his career and doesn't need another one. But after all the controversial things that have happened during his recent title matches, he should get one more shot.
Sorry, Cena haters. "The Champ" isn't leaving the WWE title picture anytime soon.