The WWE is in a very interesting spot right now with John Cena recovering from elbow surgery while still being involved in a feud with WWE Champion CM Punk. It seems like Cena will be away from WWE programming for a couple weeks, but a hold-over feud appears to be in place for the champ.
Punk and Ryback had a stare down at the close of Monday's show, so it looks like the writers have decided to accelerate his push. That is the story that most WWE fans have been talking about this week, but there have been tons of other happenings as well.
A new No. 1 contender was named for Sheamus' World Heavyweight Championship, a popular diva may be on her way out of WWE, preliminary pay-per-view buy numbers are in for SummerSlam and a non-wrestling personality may soon find himself competing in the ring more often moving forward.
While Hell in a Cell may still be well over a month away, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to the WWE. Here are the biggest news pieces and rumors emanating from the company for the week beginning on Sept. 23.
With John Cena supposedly on the shelf for six-to-eight weeks after having bone chips removed from his elbow, WWE Champion CM Punk is now in limbo.
He and Cena cut promos on Monday and they are expected to face off at Hell in a Cell if all goes according to plan with Cena's recovery, but even so, Punk is going to need to feud with someone in the interim.
After Cena hit Punk with a lead pipe on RAW, Punk was walking backstage and attacked Mick Foley, who had gotten in Punk's face earlier in the night.
When Punk turned around and was seemingly coming back for more, he stopped dead in his tracks as Ryback was standing next to Foley. The show came to a close with Ryback intimidating the WWE Champion.
I realize that Punk has to do something to remain in the spotlight between now and Hell in a Cell, but I'm not a big supporter of a mini-feud with Ryback. I'm fairly lukewarm on Ryback as I don't love him or hate him, but there is no question that he is being rushed.
Just a couple weeks ago he was beating local jobbers and Jinder Mahal, but suddenly he is considered a big enough deal to go up against the WWE Champion.
From a physical perspective, Ryback would obviously be a credible threat to Punk, but his resume is lacking. He may be undefeated, but he hadn't faced anyone of note until beating Intercontinental Champion The Miz on Monday.
The WWE is in a lose-lose situation because a Ryback loss breaks his streak and a Punk loss hurts him as WWE Champion. The only logical outcome is a DQ or countout win for Ryback, but I'd much rather Punk face someone like Randy Orton and go over leading up to Hell in a Cell.
When World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus beat Alberto Del Rio at Night of Champions for what seemed like the hundredth time, I was cautiously optimistic that their feud might finally come to an end.
Sheamus and Del Rio have dominated SmackDown for the past several months, but their feud hasn't had legs for a very long time, so Sheamus needs to move on for the sake of the blue brand.
It was announced that Big Show and Randy Orton would do battle for the No. 1 contendership on SmackDown and Del Rio was left out of the conversation altogether. Del Rio attacked Orton before the match, though, and that was one of the reasons why Big Show was able to come out on top and become Sheamus' next challenger.
As happy as I am that Sheamus vs. Del Rio is now a thing of the past, I don't feel like the writers made the correct decision. There is most definitely a lack of main-event heels on the roster right now, but there were better options than Big Show.
I will concede that Big Show is more interesting than he has been in a while as a monster heel, but we've seen him in the main-event scene so much over the years that something fresh would be preferable.
My hope was that Wade Barrett would get the next crack at Sheamus. Barrett returned from an elbow injury a few weeks ago and could have done something impactful, but all he has done is squash low-card guys thus far.
Barrett is the total package, though, and would have great chemistry with Sheamus. Another option would have been The Miz, as he and Sheamus seemed to have a good rapport during Miz TV, but that didn't happen either. All I can hope for at this point is for Sheamus vs. Big Show to be a one-off thing.
It is no secret that the divas division is in pretty rough shape right now, but it stands to get even worse if rumors of a popular diva's departure prove to be true. According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Beth is booked through the month of October and will reportedly be leaving the WWE once her contractual obligations are met.
This hasn't been confirmed by Beth, the WWE or anyone close to the situation, but it has been widely reported just as the Bella Twins' departure was. Phoenix worked a match with Natalya in her hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. on SmackDown and was suspended by Eve, but that decision was overturned by Booker T, so a final angle with the Divas Champion may be in the works.
I'm not a huge fan of divas wrestling, but there are a select few women who can really go in the ring in WWE, and Beth is one of them.
Most WWE divas come from a modeling background, but Beth has been a fan of the WWE since she was a little kid and competed in amateur wrestling as well, so she has always wanted to be a wrestler and has put in the work necessary to become a great one.
The fact of the matter is, though, that she hasn't been used correctly since the end of her title reign. Beth clearly should have had a feud with Natalya, but it never came to fruition and now she is usually stuck putting over Eve and Layla.
I honestly wouldn't blame her if she left, but I'll continue to hold out hope that she stays and is used more effectively. If not, it looks like she'll be going out with one last feud for the Divas Championship, and it promises to be a fairly good one.
There is no question that the main goal of Vince McMahon and the WWE when they brought Brock Lesnar back into the fold was to make money.
It appears as though that is precisely what has happened as preliminary numbers for SummerSlam's pay-per-view buys are strong. According to PWTorch.com, this year's SummerSlam did 350,000 buys, which is up 18 percent from last year.
Lesnar headlined the event as he took on Triple H and defeated him with a Kimura Lock. SummerSlam also featured CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Big Show, so it was a fairly strong card overall, but there is little doubt that Lesnar is the one who made the difference this year.
Based on the way pay-per-view buys have tumbled over the past couple years, the WWE brass has to be absolutely thrilled with Lesnar's output thus far.
Not only did his presence at Extreme Rules increase buys for that event significantly, but he was able to get SummerSlam buys back to a 2010 level.
The diehard fans haven't all been complimentary of Lesnar's work thus far, but you simply can't argue with the results he has provided.
Because of Lesnar's limited contract, he can't be used on WWE television all the time, but I have to believe that McMahon wants to get him back in the mix as soon as possible.
My best guess is that Lesnar will make his return at Hell in a Cell during the WWE Championship match between CM Punk and Cena.
Paul Heyman is now an associate of Punk's and Lesnar has a score to settle with Cena, so expect Lesnar to interfere and then be a part of Survivor Series in some capacity.
For the past couple years Ricardo Rodriguez has served as Alberto Del Rio's personal ring announcer and he has competed in the ring quite infrequently. Ricardo has a vast wrestling background, though, so he can perform if called upon.
It looks like that may indeed be happening as Rodriguez worked as a masked luchador known as El Lo Cal against Sin Cara for a Saturday Morning Slam Taping this week, according to WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
Ricardo also competed in a six-man tag match on Monday as he teamed with Del Rio and David Otunga against Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio and Sheamus.
In a lot of ways you could say that Rodriguez is equally or more over than Del Rio is, so it would make some sense to split them up and see if Ricardo is capable of making some noise as a wrestler.
I was actually at the taping where Rodriguez competed as El Lo Cal, but I didn't realize that it was him at the time.
He was doing mostly comedic stuff since it was for Saturday Morning Slam, but he held his own and I would be fine with him becoming an active roster member.
A large portion of the roster struggles to connect with the fans, but Ricardo is successful in doing so.
I'm not sure if having him wrestle that match under a mask was a one-time deal or if it is a harbinger of things to come, but it was interesting to say the least.
With Ricardo in the fold the WWE actually has the makings of a dynamite cruiserweight division as the likes of Sin Cara, Mysterio, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd and many others could put on some fantastic matches together.
I doubt that will ever come to fruition, but you never know what the WWE might do if things go over well with Ricardo.