The time period from Hell in a Cell to WWE TLC is normally a down period for the company, with so many people biding their time until the Royal Rumble kicks off the road to WrestleMania. But upon the completion of Sunday’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, the WWE could turn this into the best late fall and early winter in recent memory. How? The answer is simple.
CM Punk: champion on the run.
Following his victory at WWE Hell in a Cell, CM Punk is a marked man. Punk put red in Ryback’s ledger, and the “human wrecking machine” is bound to be out for revenge.
CM Punk defeated Ryback to simultaneously retain his WWE Championship and end Ryback’s undefeated streak. “Big Hungry” is bound to be out for revenge against the long-standing champion.
But Ryback won’t be alone.
John Cena stepped aside for Ryback, fully endorsing him on Raw in the buildup toward the Hell in a Cell main event. In the events that led up to Cena’s surgery, the face of the WWE implored CM Punk to prove that he’s what he claims he is—the best in the world.
Cena’s challenge was for Punk to enter Hell in a Cell and prove that he could truly defeat him without the help of a double-pin, Paul Heyman or any other outside factors. Punk dismissed Cena’s challenge as frivolous based on Punk’s past victories over Cena.
Believe it or not, it doesn’t end with John Cena, either.
CM Punk is only a few weeks removed from his Raw main-event scuffle with WWE chairman Vince McMahon. Following that exchange, Vince revoked Punk’s privilege of selecting his Hell in a Cell opponent and allowed John Cena to make the decision for him. Cena then elected to make Ryback Punk's challenger.
Even as Punk made a final pitch for McMahon to cancel the match, the man who pioneered wrestling on a national stage challenged Punk to enter the Hell in a Cell structure and prove he’s really the best.
And while most conversations can end at Vince McMahon, this one continues.
WWE legends Bret Hart, Mick Foley and Jim Ross all took John Cena to task for his complaints about respect and his inability to earn theirs. All three believe in Punk’s ability, but none of them want to see Punk retain his championship on a double-pin or a crooked referee.
One or more of those legends is bound to confront Punk about his most recent actions.
Since making a claim of disrespect, CM Punk has retained his WWE Championship at three pay-per-view events. He stole John Cena’s pinfall on The Big Show to win at SummerSlam, and a double-pin saved him from losing his title to John Cena at Night of Champions. At Hell in a Cell, Punk needed a crooked referee to stop an unstoppable monster in Ryback.
Bret Hart, Mick Foley and Jim Ross are going to be unhappy with Punk’s actions. Vince McMahon won’t be pleased at Punk’s instance on merely escaping with the championship. John Cena is going to be ashamed that such a man represents his company as its champion. And Ryback is likely to be on a war path looking for revenge.
Mick Foley is up first, as his team faces Punk's at Survivor Series. This also seems to confirm his involvement in a match with CM Punk at December's WWE TLC in Brooklyn, N.Y.