Is Vince McMahon's master plan to have CM Punk lose his title at WrestleMania 29?
Every day that passes is another day that CM Punk keeps a stranglehold over the WWE Championship.
As Monday night approaches and Punk has to make a decision on who he will be facing at Hell in a Cell, choosing between the motivated John Cena and the unstoppable Ryback, many are wondering how many more days they need to be counting Punk's historical title reign until it ends.
To be realistic, Punk should only lose it at a big event and few are bigger than WrestleMania 29 next April.
WrestleMania 29 is still 25 weeks from now, which would put Punk's current championship reign over 500 days and make it the sixth-longest in WWE history. In the month of November, Punk would pass Diesel, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
Punk would then become the sixth-longest reigning champion on Dec. 5, when he passes John Cena's reign. Punk would first earn that honor prior to TLC in December, but would need to make it through Hell in a Cell and find a way at Survivor Series.
The odds are being stacked against CM Punk for Hell in a Cell and, should he remain champion, the pressure will mount as Punk approaches the one-year anniversary of his title reign beginning and also at Survivor Series, the event that this reign began at in the first place.
There is just way too much attention on Punk at the moment and having the babyface (Cena or Ryback) chasing the title is a textbook example of booking.
There's no real guarantee that Ryback isn't more than fool's gold in the main event. Just because he is hanging around Punk doesn't mean that he is going to challenge for his title. Since when has a victory over Tensai meant anything in terms of a title shot, especially a world title shot?
Ryback is simply involved to get people excited. There is no actual "just in case" option if Cena cannot be ready for Hell in a Cell.
WWE wouldn't dare to risk Ryback's undefeated streak and CM Punk's title reign, which is the longer of the two, and have it culminate, with a lack of build, at a second-rate pay-per-view. Cena will be at Hell in a Cell, even if his arm is severed from his body.
Cena will not walk out of the cell with the title. There's just too much of a risk to give a title to a guy who still won't be exactly 100% in all likelihood come Hell in a Cell. A John Cena at 90% is better than some others at 150%, but Cena is the cash cow and the face of the entire brand. Trying to start another title reign when you cannot guarantee his well-being is foolishness that WWE will not mess with.
Cena is 35 and is still in great condition that a few more good years is within reach. He's also a 12-time world champion, so his next world title reign could possibly be his last. The longer he is kept away, the sweeter that payoff will be to his fans.
So, in all reasoning, Punk should at least reach TLC still as WWE Champion. This puts WWE just one pay-per-view away from the WWE Champion facing The Rock at Royal Rumble. At first glance, it would seem unlikely that The Rock would be given this title shot and guarantee another reign with the title, all just to see him lose.
Initial reactions claim that The Rock will be WWE champion in January and could take it to WrestleMania 29. However, The Rock is a busy guy and having weeks of RAW without the WWE Champion anywhere to be seen will not go over well, even if the celebrity that The Rock is now and putting a title on him is good mainstream exposure.
I do believe that The Rock will win the WWE Championship one day, but having him main-event a WrestleMania as champion is a bit much. What isn't too much, however, is having The Rock main event a WrestleMania in a WWE Championship match... as a challenger.
The Rock will be involved with the card on some way more than likely, so why not have The Rock lose in an underhanded or unusual way, much like a lot of challengers at Royal Rumble pay-per-views in recent years.
The Rock will want another chance at the title and, whether he is given it directly or must earn it at the Elimination Chamber, will get just that for WrestleMania.
Ryback, John Cena and The Rock are the only honest roadblocks between CM Punk and a 500-day WWE Championship reign. There is reason to believe that all are not prepared to be WWE Champion just yet, so why move away from what has worked for over 300 days?
Some fans may be sick of the long title reign by now, but it all goes to build some momentum and relief from the following champion, who can be celebrated as ending the historic reign of CM Punk.