With John Cena on the shelf for what has been reported as six to eight weeks after having bone chips removed from his elbow, WWE Champion CM Punk needs to engage in a mini-feud for at least a few weeks. The events of RAW suggest that feud will be against Ryback, but I can't help but think it's a poor choice.
Punk and Cena confronted each other in the ring at the close of the show, and while Punk was readying to attack, Cena pulled out a lead pipe and hit the WWE Champion in the stomach with it. Punk was then shown walking in the backstage area where he saw Mick Foley, who had lectured him in the ring earlier in the night. Punk turned around and kicked the hardcore legend in the gut.
Punk was then going to come back for more, but a look of shock came over his face. The camera than panned back to a prone Foley laying on the concrete with the massive Ryback standing beside him. The show ended with Ryback staring Punk down, which is almost certainly a harbinger of things to come.
The WWE has finally gotten serious about building up Ryback properly, as he scored a non-title win over Intercontinental Champion The Miz on Monday night. Even so, the vast majority of his run has been spent beating jobbers, so I don't necessarily buy him as a main-event guy yet.
In terms of his size and ferocity, Ryback can believably beat anyone on the roster, but there is more to being a top star than that. Ryback showed some potential on the mic as Skip Sheffield, but he has barely been given an opportunity to speak as Ryback, so I'm not sure he can keep up with Punk in that regard.
Also, Ryback is a guy with essentially one quality win under his belt, while Punk has held the WWE Championship for well over 300 days. I can't help but think that there were better choices out there. Randy Orton is the one that immediately comes to mind, as he is a nine-time world champion who has been built nicely recently and has had good feuds with Punk in the past.
He's essentially the No. 2 face in the company behind Cena as well, so I believe he would have been the ideal fill-in. Outside of Orton, though, there is admittedly a shortage of faces on the roster who can compete at a main-event level. With that in mind, why not turn a guy like Miz face and elevate him back to main-event status?
Miz is a guy with all the tools to be atop the WWE, but he lost his way, for whatever reason. I figured a run with the IC title might rectify the situation, but he has constantly lost while holding the strap. Miz is great as a heel, but he seems well-rounded enough to pull off the face role as well, so I would pull the trigger on that in a second.
Cena can come back and reclaim his spot as No. 1 contender by Hell in a Cell, but once Punk vs. Cena is over, there would be another viable challenger in Miz. Based on the fact that Ryback beat him on RAW, however, it doesn't look like there are any such plans for the Awesome One.
As things stand, the WWE has put itself in a no-win situation. If Punk beats Ryback, then it ends Ryback's winning streak and possibly kills his momentum. If Ryback wins, then it makes the WWE Champion look weak for losing to a guy who has been beating local enhancement talent for weeks.
The only logical route I see is having Ryback beat Punk by disqualification or count-out. It would make Punk look somewhat cowardly, but at least it would preserve him to a point and keep Ryback's impressive streak alive as well.
I'm definitely interested to see where this potential feud is going, but I'm not sure the payoff is going to be a satisfying one. Perhaps Ryback will prove me wrong and quickly solidify himself as a main-event guy, but I can't help but think that the WWE is jumping the shark out of desperation in this situation.