By now you likely know what went down between CM Punk and Ryback during the WWE Title match at Hell in a Cell. And you may have already read the varied opinions that are surely floating around, some of which are suggesting that Ryback should have won and walked away with the belt.
Admittedly, none of us knew what would happen last night, and the truth is, WWE had really painted themselves in a corner despite what outcome they went with.
Ryback had a world of momentum going into the match, as he had been pushed to the forefront of Raw and had become the talk of fans all over the world. The criticism he has received due to his lack of experience, the constant comparisons to Goldberg, both combined with his growing popularity, and he has consistently been the No. 1 topic of discussion.
He has been given quite a bit in a very short time, and it’s because of his undefeated run that the popular opinion has been that he would go over against Punk. Anything less would mean that his rise to the top would be squashed faster than his unknown opponents. I have to admit that definitely made sense.
But there’s the other side of the equation—CM Punk, who has been WWE Champion for nearly a full year.
Having him lose to such a new face in their first match together would have made him look weak, as if the past year had all lead to nothing. After all, he has not been a heel the whole time, he has won plenty of title defenses without having to resort to dirty tactics.
Plus, some fans felt that giving Ryback so much so quickly seemed like a knock against Punk and all he’s accomplished thus far in WWE. Not that he would be above working with someone like Ryback, but it seemed he would lose too much by doing so.
In the end, there was only one way for this match to end. The good old reliable screw job. It’s tried and true, it’s a pro wrestling tradition, and when nothing else will work, it’s the Hail Mary pass.
Just consider Vince McMahon the Brett Favre of WWE.
Last night he threw another one, as referee Brad Maddox hit Ryback with a nutshot just as he was about to finish Punk with the Shell-Shock and likely become the new WWE Champion.
Talk about trick plays, right? Okay, enough of the NFL analogies.
Here’s the thing. While some fans are likely playing armchair booker today and thoroughly bashing the move, after having slept on it, I have to say, I think I’m okay with this one.
Because WWE is so predictable at times it can be insulting. They often do exactly what you expect, right when you expect it. It’s infuriating and often gives fans enough reason to want to turn their back on the product.
But then there are the moments when something so far out of left field happens that you suddenly stop and find yourself giving props to that same company. That can be infuriating too, right?
However, for me, it’s times like this when WWE is at its best. Indeed, nothing is worse than knowing everything that’s going to happen before it happens, so when something different goes down, it’s a good thing. Now, instead of a flat-out victory, the match ends with more questions than answers.
Didn’t think that was possible? Me neither.
But WWE has made it happen; now we have to wait and see what will be said in regards to the ref and why he would take the match into his own hands.
The easy answer is that Paul Heyman got to him. The evil genius made a phone call, sent a text, deposited some money and spread his influence to the man charged with officiating the biggest match of Ryback’s young career. Heyman didn’t see a way out for Punk and this was a guaranteed way for him to leave with the WWE Championship.
A very plausible explanation.
Or, Maddox could have went into business for himself, deciding to pull the plug due to the hard time he had received from AJ Lee when she was Raw General Manager. Maybe he had decided to prove that WWE referees have more stroke and more influence than they have been given credit for and he wanted to show that to the world.
Yeah, I’m not really buying that one myself.
But I will say that a possible third scenario exists, one in which AJ convinced the ref to help Punk win, in an effort to curry his favor once again. A heel turn could be good for her character and working with the team of Punk and Heyman might make for some interesting TV.
No matter how you look at it, it’s not a perfect match ending. But, I think it’s the perfect ending to this match. Punk had to win and Ryback had to get screwed. Mission accomplished.
Now the Rock is waiting, biding his time for the Royal Rumble, Ryback wants revenge, and CM Punk is left with a cocky smile on his face as Paul Heyman holds the WWE Title above his head.
“Best in the world!”
Definitely the right ending.