Deciding who is the favorite to win the WWE title match at Survivor Series is an extremely complex matter, since there is no definitive answer.
This is an extremely exciting prospect for all WWE fans as there can be a genuine debate over the merits each wrestler brings to the table, both in the imaginary world of the WWE and in the fickle world of professional wrestling booking. Every decision that has been made by the WWE over recent weeks has been carefully looked into, and fans are none the wiser to who will walk away as the champion.
Ryback looks to be favorite from a purely wrestling perspective, as the monster has torn through the roster and was only denied at Hell in a Cell because of crooked referee Brad Maddox. Yet his character is under-developed, which is makes his role as champion difficult to envisage, and the lack of credible challengers—after the way he has been booked—may cause additional issues.
John Cena could well slide into the role as champion after being away from the title for over a year. He has certainly beaten a number of top guys in recent weeks and has reformed his character enough that critics would accept him as champion once again. However, Cena is currently in the middle of a scandal angle with AJ Lee, Vickie Guererro and Dolph Ziggler and that would be heavily complicated by Cena being the champion.
The incumbent champion CM Punk looks the weakest on paper, having gotten away with the title—rather than holding onto it confidently—over the past couple of pay-per-views. He was also made to look like the fall guy at the end of Raw. Yet there are plenty of reasons to keep the title on Punk, who would pass the one year mark as champion if he were to retain the belt.
Punk is definitely the strongest heel left on Raw—despite being weakened over the last few months—and has plenty of opponents to go up against. He is also gaining a reputation of being able to get out of almost any situation, and this will be confirmed if he escapes with the title against both Ryback and Cena at the same time. These are compelling reasons to keep him as champion.
Ultimately, the decision over who will win the belt will come down to who the WWE wants to face The Rock in two months at the Royal Rumble.
This means the next champion is unlikely to be Ryback, who does not hold the esteem of his two more experienced opponents, although this does not completely rule him out of a title win. He could pick the belt up at Survivor Series and then lose it again at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view, but this would take away from his monster character significantly.
It is more likely that Ryback will be left out of the final decision at Survivor Series—probably as a result of some outside interference—in order for him to continue his development outside the title spotlight.
This leaves Cena and Punk, who are both legitimate candidates to face Rock. The most likely course of action is that one will face “The People’s Champion” at the Royal Rumble, while the other gets a chance at WrestleMania.
Rumors are circulating that Punk may be given the headline spot at WrestleMania 29, after holding the belt for so long, which does suggest that Cena will win at Survivor Series.
However main-eventing WrestleMania does not necessarily mean fighting for the title anymore. Taking on Undertaker and “The Streak” is considered a bigger deal in some quarters, while the man who gets to face a returning Stone Cold Steve Austin—if that ever happens—would have more kudos than any other wrestler on that show.
This would allow at least two big main events at WrestleMania—Punk against whoever and Rock verses Cena II— which would be even more lucrative for the company.
It is likely that this decision as to who should take on Rock is a dilemma that WWE’s officials are struggling with right now.
Of course the belt could change at Tables, Ladders and Chairs, but this is unlikely. The WWE will want some finality to the CM Punk verses Cena feud before reintroducing Rock into the situation, which means a singles rematch between the two wrestlers involved in the decision at Survivor Series.
So there is no certainty over who will win at Survivor Series, although it is almost definitely won’t be Ryback. The most probable winner will be CM Punk—surviving until the Royal Rumble—where he will get his legends payoff match against The Rock.
The one thing that can be said for definite is that this is exciting booking from the WWE as it has everyone guessing.