WWE Night of Champions 2012: What's Next for CM Punk and John Cena After NOC?

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

Photo courtesy of WWE.com
Photo courtesy of WWE.com

Regardless of what you thought about the ending of their match at Night of Champions, CM Punk and John Cena are unquestionably engaged in the hottest feud in the WWE. Their bout ended in a draw on Sunday night, so there is no end in sight for their current rivalry.

It seemed pretty obvious heading into Night of Champions that Punk vs. Cena would end in a manner that would allow for at least one more match and that was the case. Neither man could put the other away as they kicked out of finisher after finisher, but the conclusion came when Cena executed a German suplex off the top rope.

Cena was initially determined to be the winner as he celebrated with the WWE title, but the decision was ultimately reversed and ruled a draw as both men had their shoulders pinned to the mat simultaneously. Punk was able to escape with his title, but Cena still looked strong since it appeared that he had won.

I wasn't a fan of the ending. Pay-per-view main events should have a clear-cut winner. Having said that, I do appreciate what the writers were trying to do. There isn't a logical feud out there right now for either Punk or Cena, so their angle has to continue, and what occurred on Sunday night was one way of ensuring that.

The top face crop aside from Cena is pretty weak right now. Sheamus is world heavyweight champion and Randy Orton is set to leave and begin filming 12 Rounds: Reloaded soon. With that in mind, there really isn't anyone for Punk to feud with between now and the Royal Rumble, where he'll face The Rock if he remains WWE champion.

The same can be said for Cena. His other options include the likes of Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. Cena has already feuded with three of those guys, though, and none of them are over to the point where they would keep Cena near the top of the card.

Punk and Cena need each other right now and they are likely to remain linked through the next two pay-per-views at the very least. If the plan is for Punk to retain until Royal Rumble, the draw at Night of Champions allows the writers to have Punk win dirty at Hell in a Cell and perhaps end the feud once and for all at Survivor Series.

I figured that Sunday's match would end with Punk winning thanks to help from Big Show, Brock Lesnar or both. Although that didn't end up happening, there is a decent chance that it does at either Hell in a Cell or Survivor Series as they form a stable based on the fact that all of them are Paul Heyman favorites.

If things go the way I expect them to, with Punk continuing to get the better of Cena over the next couple of months, I imagine that we'll see Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE championship at the Royal Rumble and Cena in the Royal Rumble match itself.

The Punk vs. Rock match will end controversially with Punk's cronies helping him pick up the win, while Cena will win the Rumble. The questionable ending will result in Rock receiving a rematch at Elimination Chamber, which he'll ultimately win. Since Punk will be entitled to a rematch and Cena will be allowed to challenge for either world title, a triple-threat match for the WWE championship at WrestleMania seems likely.

Whatever the case, Punk and Cena are going to remain the top two dogs in the company for the foreseeable future and the wishy-washy ending at Night of Champions reinforced that notion. If nothing else, I like the way Cena has been portrayed as a guy who can't beat Punk no matter what he does, so hopefully the writers keep that going.

Punk was lucky to retain against Cena on the past couple of occasions, but he has looked like Cena's equal in the matches, which often isn't the case when it comes to top heels feuding with Cena.  It's refreshing to see that type of rivalry and hopefully it continues that way moving forward.


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