In the past nine days, wrestling fans and critics have lamented the possible outcomes for the WWE Championship bout between incumbent champion CM Punk and fresh challenger Ryback at the upcoming Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. Matches contested inside the demonic structure typically end decisively, and many fans see a clear win for either man as the only plausible result.
As our current President would say, this simply is not true.
The Hell in a Cell match is renowned for its brutality, and it is not beyond reason that we could see both CM Punk and Ryback incapacitated to the point of an official stoppage.
Granted, WWE likely will not choreograph a spot that has a good chance to legitimately injure either talent; I cannot envision Punk and Ryback "Foleying" off the top of the cage and crashing through the Spanish announce table together. That absolutely will not happen in this day and age.
I can see Ryback attempting his Shellchock finisher atop the cage, only to break the roof and send both men tumbling through to the ring below. While this is not safe, I am sure WWE could employ methods for making it less dangerous than it has to be. Of course, there are other believable ways to safely injure both characters in this match.
Ending the match with a double-injury angle would resolve several problems that WWE currently faces in regard to the finish:
CM Punk will come out of the match as a legitimate tough guy who stood up to an unstoppable, marauding beast and end up no worse for wear than Ryback himself.
Ryback will not appear weak. Instead, his Shellshock will appear more powerful as a result of breaking the cage and shelving the WWE Champion indefinitely. Ryback, on the other hand, would play up an injury in order to warrant an end to the match. He then could simply appear at the next Raw to compete, whereas CM Punk could not.
One question would remain: Will CM Punk be stripped of his WWE Championship due to this injury? The injury would need to be presented as serious, at least to the point where he might be out of action for 30 days, or both the Hell in a Cell gimmick and Ryback's formidability will lose some narrative strength.
WWE could leave the fans hanging for another week as it waits for Punk's test results. It can be stated that Punk may be out of action for more than a month, and rather than wait out the 30 days, Vince McMahon can strip Punk of the title immediately. Of course, if WWE wants to keep Punk's extended title reign going, the creative team can play out a scenario where Punk would be ready to compete by the next pay-per-view, Survivor Series.
In 1998, the WWF Championship was contested at the Survivor Series in a 14-man, one-night tournament dubbed "Deadly Game." This was done in an effort to shake up the main event and save potential matches for the following year's WrestleMania XV. The Rock won his first WWF Championship that night, and Mankind became a legitimate title contender by making it to the tournament finals.
The Deadly Game tournament is also featured in THQ's WWE '13 video game, which launches Tuesday, October 30th, just in time to begin the hype for Survivor Series. This would be a good marketing opportunity for WWE.
As a critic, I would say a return of the Deadly Game tournament at this year's Survivor Series is what the WWE Championship sorely needs; an entire pay-per-view would be devoted to the company's top narrative prize, and such a tournament would firmly establish WWE's pecking order in terms of character weight.
This scenario would also be able to take Ryback out of the title picture, as any number of feuds could start at this event. Big names could be slotted into this tournament, either as competitors or disrupting figures. Brock Lesnar, anyone?
As a fan, I would love to see the Deadly Game return. I would absolutely buy this pay-per-view. It would be the perfect chance for WWE to promote its top prize with 16 major names rather than only two.
Just a thought.