A few years ago the WWE made the decision to rebrand a handful of pay-per-views and market them around specific match types.
What we’ve gotten as a result is plenty of WWE PPVs that share their names with some of the top gimmick match types in company history: Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank, TLC and, of course, Hell in a Cell.
We’re less than a week away from the 2012 Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, and it’s become clearer than ever that the WWE’s recent obsession with themed PPV events is coming back to bite the company in the rear-end.
Why? Because of the WWE Championship Match.
Like many wrestling fans, I’ve maintained for years now that having gimmick PPVs essentially paints the WWE into the corner, forcing them to hold matches that may not necessarily fit the feud that’s going on at the time. That’s painfully evident when you look at the upcoming WWE title match between CM Punk and Ryback.
At least traditionally, the Hell in a Cell match has been used as the blowoff bout to a long-running feud between two bitter rivals. We’ve seen this several times throughout WWE history, most recently when The Undertaker took on Triple H inside the demonic structure at WrestleMania 28.
While the current feud between Ryback and Punk is an intriguing one between two of the most over acts in the company, we all know that the WWE Championship match between the two is nothing more than “Plan B.” With John Cena taking longer than expected to recover from elbow surgery, Ryback has been plugged in as his replacement.
In many scenarios, there wouldn’t be any real problem with this. The WWE would be giving an up-and-coming star a huge opportunity to take on one of the biggest names in the business.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t one of those scenarios.
The basis of Ryback’s gimmick is that he is an unstoppable monster who cannot be defeated. He has yet to lose a match, and really, he hasn’t even had a formidable challenge at any point during his six months on the roster.
His ever so popular “Feed me more!” chants have become the most appealing thing about Ryback’s character. He is an undefeated animal who has easily and quickly destroyed anyone in his path.
Although Ryback will undoubtedly have to lose at some point, I thought that point would come at least a year or so after he debuted. Not six months.
Yet, here we are in late October, and the WWE has wedged itself between a rock and a hard place by putting Ryback up against Punk, whose WWE Championship reign is nearing the 400-day mark—a very impressive feat to say the least.
When you look at where both Ryback and Punk are in their respective careers, neither can afford to lose at Hell in a Cell. Ryback can’t lose because his first loss would likely be a huge blow to his appeal, and Punk can’t lose for a laundry list of reasons.
After all, putting the strap on Ryback could result in a Ryback/Rock match at Royal Rumble that ends the possibility of Punk/Rock taking place instead, and having Ryback win the belt only to lose it back to Punk a month later (at Survivor Series, perhaps) would destroy the prestige of the title that Punk worked so hard to build back up over the last year-plus.
Is CM Punk vs. Ryback a lose-lose situation?
Any which way you look at it, it’s a lose-lose situation for the WWE, and it stems largely from the fact that this match is taking place inside Hell in a Cell.
If this were a standard wrestling match on another PPV, the finish would be easy: Ryback wins with some sort of DQ finish, allowing him to look strong while also keeping the title on Punk where it belongs.
Unfortunately for the WWE, though, the HIAC match is one where there is no DQ. Someone is going to walk out of that match as the winner, and someone is going to walk out of it as the loser.
The WWE could decide to book some sort of “no content” finish or something along those lines to circumvent this, but that would significantly cheapen the HIAC concept, and I’m not sure the company wants to do that with one of its most unique gimmick match concepts ever.
Therefore, when Punk and Ryback meet at Hell in a Cell, odds are that one is going to pick up the victory and end the other man’s impressive streak.
But the thing is, neither should.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!