So, CM Punk versus Ryback. Who ya got?
To say that this one is a big deal is to make a huge understatement. The WWE Champion, who has held the title for nearly a full year, facing off against a monster who has caught fire and is itching to prove himself on the pay-per-view stage.
WWE knows drama.
With all apologies to Mr. Turner on that one, I will say that I am really looking forward to this match. While there has not been the incredible amount of build-up that we have traditionally seen in the past from WWE, there is a tangible electricity surrounding this championship match.
And not for the reasons you may think.
Yes, it’s a big deal that CM Punk, WWE’s hottest heel, is putting his groundbreaking title run on the line at Hell in a Cell. And yes, it’s also a big deal that Ryback, a guy who is a totally unproven main-event commodity, is the man stepping up to the plate. It seems as though that should be enough to make this match big and important, right?
But for me the reason why this match possesses the energy it does is because of the complete uncertainty that surrounds it.
On one side, you have the champ. Punk has accomplished more in one year than he has in his entire WWE career. He is the uncrowned face of the company, second only to John Cena and he has been WWE Champion for almost 12 months. He has had some great moments, some great matches and he has totally redefined what it means to be a WWE Superstar on the main-event level. There is no doubting his ability to work or his ability to entertain.
On the other side, you have Ryback, the WWE Superstar formerly known as Skip Sheffield. Ryback has been pushed, promoted and featured as an unstoppable beast who devours everything in sight. He asks for no mercy and gives none. His ferocity is limitless and it’s that animalistic persona that has led him to an undefeated career in WWE.
Now for the uncertainty.
Who’s going to win? Who, how and why? It’s a good one, right? I think so, too.
If Punk wins, then all the work that has gone into making Ryback will be for nothing. Ryback would have to lose as a result of a screw job, not a straight-out legal three count. If that happens, then Ryback has his first loss and his push is dead in the water.
If Ryback wins, then the momentum that Punk would have had going into a possible Royal Rumble showdown with the Rock is over. No championship equals virtually no reason for those two to face off.
Add to that the fact that Punk has been champion as long as he has, with all the experience he has, only to lose to a guy who has accomplished nothing in his own career? Just like that?
For me, it’s a no win situation. But the truth is, WWE has painted itself into a corner with this one.
Ryback has been rolling along, mowing down whatever competition that’s been put in front of him. Showing one feat of strength after another and building his character one match at a time, Ryback’s slow burn reached critical mass on the night that he first stared down the WWE Champion.
But, it had to happen. It was inevitable. Why?
Because Ryback was too big. He had too much buzz. And he was undefeated. With those facts in play, the truth is that Ryback had his run of the place. His character would have supreme confidence, and only be concerned with who his next victim was going to be.
Ryback would not be intimidated by CM Punk’s position or his domination as WWE Champion. So when he decided that Punk was going to be on the menu, he moved ahead without a second thought. WWE did a lot of work with Ryback and has made tremendous strides in getting him over with fans.
But they had to know that the quicker they moved him along, the quicker he would cross paths with Punk. And that was likely the plan from the beginning.
So, now he’s here, he’s working Punk at Hell in a Cell and we’re all left wondering what will happen now. For me, it’s an impossible situation, with no easy answers in sight.
At the end of the day, WWE moves ahead based on the strength and drawing potential of its new stars. They always have to think of the future and what talents they can cultivate to help them keep going forward. They undoubtedly feel Ryback is the next, newest guy to make that happen.
Now if only they can figure out what to do with him on Sunday.