Every once in a while, the WWE will throw a curve that not even the IWC will see coming. When Vince wants something to be a surprise, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be a surprise.
The most recent example: Ryback confronting CM Punk.
I was shocked when Ryback came out during the MizTV segment. Luckily, the resulting match was non-title. I don't think Ryback is ready for the Intercontinental Title yet. Maybe the US Championship, after Cesaro gets a decent run with it. But not the IC Title.
And definitely not the WWE Championship.
Maybe WWE creative freaked out about Cena's surgery, and threw Ryback in at the last minute just in case Cena can't compete at October's pay-per-view.
Maybe Ryback's role was more of a pro-Foley stance than an anti-Punk move. If Foley were returning to television full-time, that might be a plausible explanation.
Maybe they're just killing time until Hell in a Cell. Cena can't compete for at least a few weeks, so maybe Punk will mix it up with Ryback once or twice, allowing Ryback to get a win over Punk similar to his win over The Miz, in a non-title capacity.
But all that would do is make Ryback look unstoppable (thus making any feud he has that isn't with a main event star a step down) or make Punk look incredibly vulnerable. Sometimes, you want a heel to look vulnerable, but not to the point that he does a job for a relative newcomer.
In my opinion, the only way to successfully make sense of Ryback's appearance at the end of Raw is for Ryback to eventually be "a Heyman guy."
Think of what that could set up. Between now and HIAC, Ryback continues to mysteriously appear when Punk is about to pounce on someone. Ryback never says a word, Punk always looks terrified, but no explanation is ever given.
On the last Raw before the PPV, Paul says things that implies Brock will be making a return at HIAC. They could even play it up like Ryback is siding with Cena, watching his back at the PPV, and Heyman implies that Brock will be there to even the score. At the PPV, as it is clear that Lesnar isn't showing, Heyman and Punk look nervous all night.
Then, after remaining silent at ringside during the main event, Ryback eventually finds his way into the Cell, takes out Cena, and Punk escapes with the title.
This makes booking the Survivor Series easy: Team Heyman vs. Team Cena. Team Heyman consists of Punk, Lesnar, Ryback, and Jack Swagger.
Swagger, as you remember, left Raw with the implication that he needs to reboot. His return could be that as "a Heyman guy."
Cena's teammates would include Triple H and a face-pairing, like Kofi and R-Truth, or Mysterio and Sin Cara. Of course, The Rock could be substituted for any of Cena's teammates, if he is willing to work Survivor Series.
At TLC, Cena would get the opportunity to face a yet-undefeated Ryback. It may take an assist from Heyman, Punk, or Swagger, but Ryback gets the win over Cena and continues his streak. Meanwhile, Punk faces someone like Rey Mysterio or Christian, someone who can give him a solid ladder match to continue Punk's build towards The Rock at Royal Rumble.
At the Royal Rumble, The Rock defeats CM Punk for the WWE Championship. In the Royal Rumble match, Cena and Ryback last until the final four, at which point they eliminate each other.
Who should compete for the WWE Championship at HIAC?
Between the Rumble and the Elimination Chamber, friction begins to build between Ryback and Team Heyman. Whether it's Punk or Heyman that rubs him the wrong way, it's clear that Ryback doesn't feel he's getting the respect he deserves.
The final nail in the coffin could be something along the lines of Ryback earning a spot in the Elimination Chamber, then Heyman managing to get Ryback taken out of that spot and replaced with Punk, a decision that was made without Ryback's knowledge or approval.
At the Elimination Chamber, Ryback accompanies Heyman to ringside. As Punk's match gets down to three remaining competitors, Punk his the GTS on one of the opponents and gets the pinfall. As they open the cage to let the eliminated participant out, Ryback rushes past the referees, takes out Punk, and costs him his chance to compete for the WWE Champioship at WrestleMania 29.
That sets up CM Punk vs. the undefeated Ryback at WrestleMania 29, the winner of which moves on to compete for the WWE Championship with whoever holds it after WM29.
Unless, of course, The Rock is the champion after WrestleMania ends, he forfeits the title the next night on Raw as he announces his official retirement, and then Punk and Ryback are both part of a tournament for the WWE Championship, with the semi-finals and a final match at Extreme Rules.
Don't get me wrong: I don't think this will actually happen. But I like the way this goes more than the way I think WWE creative will be going.
But they're keeping us guessing. In my book, that means they're doing a good enough job.