From a "Dusty finish" at Night of Champions, to a referee screwjob at Hell in a Cell, CM Punk has managed to slither his way into retaining the WWE Championship. His reign continues after being virtually manhandled by Ryback for most of the match, with multiple lacerations to prove it.
The biggest question post-match is—what is next for Ryback?
Many of us knew that if he wasn't going to win the title, his loss would not be clean. Theories such as Brock Lesnar appearing, Paul Heyman being involved—among others—topped the list of WWE Universe's ways that the swerve was going to play out.
With Ryback suffering his first loss, he has to quickly rebound to stay relevant as both a character and a potential main-event mainstay.
Here are five ways to continue his relevancy.
Justin Gabriel was a good choice to feud against Antonio Cesaro. Their matches on both Raw and SmackDown were good, and it was shocking to see Gabriel pick up a victory.
However, the US title picture has been bleak since Zack Ryder's petition angle last year. I'm a Santino fan, and think his character is good for the business, but he did a horrible job as champion.
Ryback would definitely give the division its much-needed resurgence, feuding with Antonio Cesaro.
Ryback's feud against the Miz would have been a good way to further propel him if it was properly done. Many even believed that he was destined to win IC gold.
However, when he was abruptly tossed into the WWE title picture due to John Cena's injury, Miz was just used simply as bait to feed Ryback.
Feuding with one or a few upper midcard heel(s) such as Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow or even the Miz again, would buy some time for Ryback to get back in the title picture after the CM Punk/John Cena/Rock feud concludes.
He wasn't seen at HIAC, but a Brock Lesnar run-in to cost Ryback his match at Survivor Series wouldn't hurt either. This could lead into a match at the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania 29.
The Sheamus/Big Show feud was not the best angle to watch, but the WWE did manage to squeeze as much as they could get out of it in six weeks. The match on PPV was surprisingly good as well.
A Big Show/Ryback feud may be a far stretch, but it would not be a bad feud. Similar to the beginning of Big Show's feud against Brock Lesnar posing the question—"Can he get him in the F5?"—competing against Ryback would cause the same amount of intrigue.
I know what you're saying—he couldn't get Tensai in Shell Shocked. However, he did the first time, and I'm pretty sure that Ryback and Big Show would rehearse the proper execution of the move many times.
This may be the best option for Ryback.
If he wins the Royal Rumble, he could choose whichever champion he wants. The Rock made an announcement on Raw 1000 that he will be competing at the Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship, which basically pigeonholed WWE Creative at least from December to April.
The Big Show could still be champion at that time, and Ryback could pick the Big Show as his WresteMania opponent.
Seeing how the WWE still wants to make Ryback a top guy—especially after the conclusion of HIAC—he may very well win the WWE Championship at Survivor Series.
I don't see a Rock/Ryback match at the Royal Rumble, though. Wouldn't make any sense at all. So at best, Ryback would win at Survivor Series, just to lose it a month later at TLC.
Even with only a one month reign, he could cement his career as a main-eventer.
This option could very well tie in most of the previous options—he could win the title at Survivor Series, lose it at TLC, win the Royal Rumble and feud with Big Show for the WHC leading to WrestleMania.
Whatever the option may be, don't look for Ryback to be an afterthought anytime soon.
Where should Ryback go from here? Comment Civilly below.
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