CM Punk is still the WWE Champion, but his victory over John Cena and Ryback certainly didn’t come without controversy.
Although Punk got what was technically a clean pin on Cena in the main event of tonight’s Survivor Series pay-per-view and did indeed retain his WWE Championship, he only did so after a major assist eliminated Ryback from the bout.
In what has to be considered a huge shocker, NXT stars Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, disguised as security guards, rushed the ring, attacked Ryback and powerbombed him through the Spanish announce table just after Ryback looked like he might have been about to put Cena away for the win.
Of the countless possible ways this match could have ended, the actual ending was one I never saw coming. It was undoubtedly a major surprise to see the three NXT standouts make such a huge splash with their main-roster debuts.
Needless to say, I’m intrigued about where this angle might be headed and, more specifically, whether Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose were actually in cahoots with Punk. If that is indeed what’s going on, a massive (and very talented) stable consisting of those four seems like a very real possibility.
But to be honest, I think that the shocking debut of that trio was less about Punk and more about Ryback.
After rushing him to the WWE title picture far too quickly, the creative team needed a way to remove Ryback from the title scene but to still transition him into a storyline that will keep up his portrayal as a top star. In other words, the attack by Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose is their “out” in this situation.
There’s no doubt that a big angle like this will get a boatload of TV time whether Punk is involved or not, and I think it’ll be Ryback who proves to be the top star at the center of this storyline—whatever exactly it turns out to be.
After all, the trio of NXT stars made a huge statement with their debuts tonight, one that was eerily reminiscent of the debut of The Nexus back in 2010. In both cases, they invaded a big-time match, attacked a top star and vowed to wreak havoc in order to make names for themselves.
That seems to be exactly what’s going on here, with what, at least on the surface, appears to be almost a Nexus 2.0. Even though I don’t expect this trio to be a carbon copy of that group, the similarities are obviously there.
So, what’s the next step? I think we’ll learn that, for whatever reason, Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose have made Ryback their primary target (and have ignited a feud with him as a result).
Perhaps it will have something to do with them feeling “overlooked” while Ryback is becoming a star or something along those lines—I don’t know. There simply has to be a logical reason why the group targeted Ryback but not Cena.
No matter what that reason is, though, Ryback obviously will have beef with all three guys going forward, and it looks like that will be his next feud, as he’ll leave the title scene to go after the guys who essentially cost him the WWE title.
Is Punk the puppet master behind the trio that debuted at Survivor Series?
It makes a lot of sense, after all. Ryback’s over like rover right now, so debuting Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose in a feud with him is a great way to get those three guys over as big-time heels right away. That’s the type of impact that debuting superstars should always make.
If what transpired at Survivor Series tonight spirals off into a different storyline with Ryback taking on the WWE’s newest trio, then that will also give Cena the opportunity to go back to what’s been his bigger feud as of late: His rivalry with Dolph Ziggler.
It initially looked like we’d get Ziggler vs. Cena (or maybe Team Cena vs. Team Ziggler) at Survivor Series, but when the WWE rearranged the PPV card, these two kind of went their separate ways. They still have been crossing paths on Raw, however, with the WWE keeping this rivalry alive without having them actually get in the ring with each other.
Logic says that the next step is that the WWE picks up right where it never really left off, with a legitimate rivalry between Cena and Ziggler that culminates with a match at WWE TLC next month.
Ziggler is fresh off a big-time win tonight and Cena is fresh off an even bigger loss, so perhaps now is the time for Ziggler, who’s suddenly on a roll, to topple the face of the company.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!