CM Punk has now been WWE Champion for well over 300 days and many believe that it's a foregone conclusion that he'll hold it until Royal Rumble at the very least. In the interest of keeping things unpredictable, however, the creative team should consider going a different route.
With John Cena on the shelf with an elbow injury, Punk will have to take part in a hold-over feud for the next few weeks. It was teased on RAW that he would be doing a quick program with Ryback as the mountain of a man came to Mick Foley's defense after Punk attacked him.
While I wouldn't expect more than one or two matches between them, with Ryback winning due to disqualification or countout, Ryback will come into play a little further down the line. As long as Cena heals in time for Hell in a Cell, though, he'll be Punk's opponent at the next pay-per-view.
Although the point of Hell in a Cell is to prevent outside interference, somebody always finds a way to get involved. I still don't see Punk beating Cena cleanly, so I would have Paul Heyman bring Brock Lesnar back into the fold to get revenge on Cena and form a partnership with Punk.
That would then lead to Survivor Series, where I would love to see a traditional match as the main event. For the past several years we have only seen one inconsequential four-on-four or five-on-five match per Survivor Series, but it's about time that the WWE went back to its roots.
Survivor Series used to be one of the biggest events on the calendar and the main event usually featured big, multi-man matches with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Andre the Giant and many others. The WWE has an opportunity to do something similar this year.
Have a heel team consisting of Punk, Lesnar, Big Show and perhaps Antonio Cesaro, since he's an independent guy Heyman might recruit, take on a face team of Cena, Ryback, The Rock and either Triple H or Mick Foley. I'm not certain what the plans are for Triple H, so if he isn't scheduled to wrestle yet, then Foley would make sense because of his run-in with Punk.
All of the wrestlers on the face team have some sort of history with Punk, including The Rock who would be slated to face him at Royal Rumble. The stipulation would be that if Cena's team wins, he gets one more shot at Punk's title at TLC, but if Punk's team wins, then Cena never gets another opportunity as long as Punk is champion.
In an interesting twist, The Rock and Punk would be the final men for their respective teams with Rock getting the victory and helping his rival receive another WWE Championship match. This would seemingly set up Punk vs. The Rock at Royal Rumble as well, but their confrontation will come a bit further down the line.
At TLC, Cena will get his last shot at the title and Lesnar will interject himself once again, but this time Ryback will counter and help Cena capture the WWE Championship for the first time in well over a year, ending Punk's year-long reign in the process. That will set up Cena vs. The Rock at Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship and plant the seeds for a potential Lesnar vs. Ryback match at WrestleMania.
Between TLC and Royal Rumble, Punk will protest and attempt to get into the WWE Championship match, but he'll be turned away and will ultimately have to settle for entering the Rumble match itself.
Punk will, of course, win the Rumble which is great, since he has yet to win one over the course of his successful career. The Rumble match normally headlines the pay-per-view, but since Rock vs. Cena II is such a big deal, it will serve as the main event.
The match will be an exciting back-and-forth affair, but it will ultimately come down to interference from Punk. It will be an intriguing moment since Punk has an issue with both Rock and Cena, but he will ultimately choose to screw over Cena in order to challenge The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
The following night on RAW, Punk will announce his intention to face The Rock in a singles match at WrestleMania, but there will be one more twist. Elimination Chamber takes place between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, and it is there that the WWE Championship picture will change once again.
There are usually two chamber matches on the card, so one will be for the World Heavyweight Championship and the other will be for the No. 1 contender of the winner's choice. Cena will win that second match, but instead of going after the world title, he'll choose the WWE Championship to make it a triple threat at 'Mania.
That would leave us with top-level matches such as Punk vs. Rock vs. Cena, Lesnar vs. Ryback, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton or any number of guys against The Undertaker and perhaps even Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels, if HBK chooses to come back for one more match.
This night will belong to Punk, however, as he finds a way to overcome both Cena and Rock to regain the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Cena is the top guy in the company and probably will be as long as he's in the fold, but if the goal is to help Punk ascend to a similar level, then he needs a signature victory.
Punk's WrestleMania record is abysmal aside from his win over Jericho this year, so he needs to do something that truly puts him over the top. Beating two of the biggest stars in the history of the business would certainly qualify,
There are a lot of directions that the WWE can go with Punk over the next six months or so, but I believe the one that I've laid out would provide the most excitement and give Punk the biggest push possible when it's all said and done.