This Sunday at Hell in a Cell, CM Punk will defend his WWE Championship against Ryback.
I’ll just come right out and say it: This shouldn’t happen, and Punk should be defending his title against John Cena.
A little over a week ago on Raw, the WWE hit the panic button when company officials didn’t think Cena would be cleared to compete against Punk at Hell in a Cell. So, instead of building toward another Punk/Cena match, the WWE switched gears and announced that Ryback would be facing Punk instead.
There’s a laundry list of reasons why this was a bad move, but it can be basically be summed up by saying that it’s almost an impossible match to book.
Neither Ryback nor Punk can afford to lose at this point in their careers. Ryback can’t afford to because a loss would stop him dead in his tracks, end his undefeated streak and destroy much of the appeal that comes along with his unstoppable character. Punk can’t afford to lose because it would prematurely end his title reign and, in all likelihood, throw a huge wrench into any future creative plans concerning him.
If that’s not enough reasons to make you think that Cena should be facing Punk at Hell in a Cell instead of Ryback, then consider this: Cena is medically cleared to compete on Sunday.
Whether Cena’s revelation on Monday’s Raw that he’s now medically cleared is legitimate or not, it doesn’t make much sense storyline-wise for a completely healthy Cena to be left out of this.
It’s clear that the WWE didn’t even consider the possibility of Cena getting back to 100 percent between the time that creative made the switch to Ryback and the time that Hell in a Cell actually took place. I don’t see how that could happen, though.
It was more than a week ago that Ryback “replaced” Cena in the WWE Championship, and there is a 13-day gap between that announcement and the WWE Championship match itself.
Realistically speaking, couldn’t the WWE have held off on announcing who would face Punk at Hell in a Cell until this week’s Raw?
In that scenario, Cena would have been medically cleared to compete, he could have been revealed as Punk’s Hell in a Cell opponent, the mystery of who Punk’s opponent would be could have played out a little longer, and then, there’s the big one: The WWE wouldn’t have forced itself into a Punk vs. Ryback match that is nearly unbookable.
Who should CM Punk be facing at Hell in a Cell?
There are, of course, ways to circumvent the traditional HIAC rules and to have neither Punk nor Ryback win the match. There are also ways to end the match with a shady Punk win that ends Ryback’s undefeated streak but keeps “Big Hungry” looking strong.
But the WWE’s road to the 2013 Royal Rumble just got a lot more complicated by putting Ryback in the biggest match of his career against Punk.
Now, the WWE has put itself in a nightmare situation that could have been avoided if the company simply had enough patience to hold off on announcing the WWE title match for just one more week.
We’ve grown accustomed to PPV matches being announced at the last second, and the “who will it be?” mystery between Cena and Ryback could have actually made for some entertaining TV on this week’s Raw.
Instead, we’ve got Punk vs. Ryback in a match that figures to be average at best while Cena does nothing at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.
I just don’t get it.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!