It is a fairly general consensus amongst wrestling fans that WWE creative has rather "painted itself into a corner," to borrow a line from Drake Oz, with regard to the WWE Championship match this Sunday at Hell In A Cell.
However, this issue does not end this weekend, as the roots of all problems with the WWE title at the moment lie much deeper than the impending onslaught from Ryback.
It could be argued that the mess that surrounds the title picture dates back to July 23 on Raw 1000, when The Rock rather anti-climatically announced that he will be facing whomever the WWE Champion is come the Royal Rumble.
Not only has this made many fans confident that Punk will hold the belt until January 27, but it also has led to title matches in the meantime, such as the one this Sunday, as feeling slightly forced and out of the blue.
While the buildup for CM Punk vs Ryback has been entertaining, with the latter being put over as a genuine threat, the most likely outcome this Sunday remains 'The Best in the World' retaining the WWE championship. This is where creative has arguably dug itself into a hole that it cannot logically escape from.
Perhaps the most likely outcome this weekend is that Brock Lesnar returns and somehow causes the match to become a no contest, thus keeping the strap on Punk whilst Ryback is able to remain undefeated.
Where does creative go from there? Well, this could allow for two big Survivor Series matches to take place:
- Brock Lesnar vs Ryback
- CM Punk (c) vs John Cena (last chance match of some kind)
Now, the main problem for creative is knowing who to turn to at TLC to face CM Punk, should he overcome John Cena. The build for TLC would be greatly hindered by the fact that CM Punk will almost certainly retain in order to go on to face The Rock at the Rumble.
Of course it must be remembered that John Cena could very well defeat Punk on the same pay-per-view that "The Second City Savior" began his current reign, but due to the rematch clause, this would only serve to stretch out the feud yet another month, until well into December.
Moreover, a match between Ryback and Brock Lesnar at a top-four PPV would no doubt kill the loser's momentum for the foreseeable future.
This is why there is certainly a case for this year's Survivor Series event to feature no WWE championship match, and instead hold a marquee traditional elimination tag team match. This would make even more sense if Lesnar somehow becomes involved in Ryback.
Perhaps a realistic Survivor Series main event would be something along the lines of:
- (Team Heyman) CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, Antonio Cesaro and The Big Show vs (Team McMahon) John Cena, Ryback, Daniel Bryan and Kane
Obviously, the downside to this scenario is that it sucks out potential big-time players from other feuds and matches and makes the event more centralised around one or two important matches. This could be an issue with WWE's current thinning roster, but could arguably be overcome if a solid 30 minutes is given to the match.
This would also mean that CM Punk and John Cena could finish their feud at TLC in December, with a considerable amount of the build surrounding the winner defending against The Rock at the Royal Rumble, giving a fresh element to the almost exhausted feud.
Furthermore, this would not be the first time in recent memory that the WWE title has not been defended at WWE's second oldest event. Survivor Series 2003 featured then WWE Champion Brock Lesnar in a five-on-five elimination tag match which saw his team lose to Team Angle and 2006 saw John Cena captain a team to victory as champion.
Ultimately, it is most likely that a WWE championship match will be on the card next month, but perhaps it would be worth sacrificing the pull of a title match for one pay-per-view in order to have a highly anticipated final showdown between Cena and Punk, with The Rock waiting in the wings, at Tables, Ladders and Chairs.