After successfully retaining his WWE Championship tonight at Survivor Series, CM Punk's reign will reach one full year.
He has defeated both John Cena and Ryback on multiple occasions, which now leaves us wondering who the next challenger will be.
With the Rock's guaranteed title shot coming up in January at the Royal Rumble, who will get the title shot next month at WWE TLC in Brooklyn, NY?
What about other superstars who may not have ever gotten a chance?
Looking at the Rock and the rest of the WWE roster, let’s take a look at the top nine challengers for CM Punk and his WWE Championship.
After losing to Big Show once again, should Sheamus get another shot at the World Heavyweight Championship?
Despite a controversial end that will most likely lead to another rematch at TLC, perhaps Sheamus needs a change of pace.
Between the teased match on Raw and the actual match on Main Event, Sheamus and Punk would certainly deliver some great matches.
The World Heavyweight Championship title picture needs some new faces. The best way to make sure this happens is by moving the current challenger.
Although it is unlikely to happen, WWE should consider having Sheamus challenging for the WWE Championship in the future.
Kofi Kingston is known for his long-term status in the midcard of WWE.
However, after his tag team championship run with R-Truth ended, WWE pushed Kofi.
Although he did not get pushed to the main event, Kofi was chosen by the WWE as the man to finally defeat the Miz for the Intercontinental Championship.
Kofi Kingston is well liked for his high-flying skills and energy. He seems to be very popular with the younger audience members, which has him looking good in the eyes of the WWE management.
Perhaps after this Intercontinental Championship run, WWE will finally push Kofi to the main event and the WWE Championship for the first time.
The Big Red Machine is no stranger to the WWE title picture.
He is a former WWE Champion and was challenging for the title with his tag team partner Daniel Bryan back in June at No Way Out.
Although he is most likely to stay in his current situation with Daniel Bryan as Team Hell No, when the team’s reign finishes its run, Kane may reach the top once again.
Kane is not only very dependable, but also one of the longest-tenured superstars on the WWE roster. Whether he has a mask on or not, Kane can be a top star again and challenge for the WWE title.
Despite coming up short at Survivor Series, Randy Orton needs to be the next challenger for the WWE title.
Since returning from suspension, Orton has not been nearly as successful. His feuds with Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio were entertaining, but felt somewhat like filler feuds.
Must Randy Orton turn heel in order to gain WWE gold again?
Although I expect Orton to turn heel sometime in the future, it won’t happen yet.
WWE still needs to establish a few more top faces. If Ryback and the Miz can be as popular as Randy Orton, perhaps he can turn heel.
Until then, WWE needs to do something useful and productive for Orton.
Who wouldn’t want to see Randy Orton versus the Rock at the Royal Rumble?
The only way for that to happen is for Randy Orton to be the next challenger for the WWE title.
YES! YES! YES!
Daniel Bryan and CM Punk delivered some of the greatest matches in a long time earlier this year, but I felt the feud was cut way too short.
Understandably, WWE seemed to want to build up CM Punk’s long title reign as WWE Champion.
However, Daniel Bryan has become one of the most popular superstars, and it won’t be long until he is World Champion again.
I have a very strong feeling that Bryan will be World Champion in 2013. With the new year just a couple of months away, Daniel Bryan must be considered a challenger for the WWE title sooner rather than later.
What if the Miz were the next challenger for the WWE title? It would be…awesome!
The Miz is quietly turning face, which should help him get back to the main event level where he once was.
For someone who assists the WWE with outside projects such as movies and books, it didn’t make sense for the Miz to be buried.
It also didn’t make sense for the Miz to be a heel. If you have someone promoting WWE as much as the Miz does, he should be a face.
He challenged for the WWE Championship last December at TLC, so perhaps he will be in line for another shot this year.
Ryback is still hungry.
After being attacked during the Main Event at Survivor Series by what will be known as the NXT invasion, I’m sure, Ryback will surely be scrounging for another meal with CM Punk.
Ryback was not the one to be pinned this time, which helps his argument for another chance at the WWE Championship. Ryback may look for revenge against the NXT invasion first, but he is still trying to achieve the dream of becoming a WWE Champion.
With Ryback on the poster for WWE TLC, perhaps we are getting a hint as to who the challenger for the WWE title will be at the pay-per-view next month.
Although he was cleanly pinned this time by CM Punk, Cena will continue to try to become an 11-time WWE Champion.
John Cena has discussed wanting to face the Rock again and the best way to do that is as WWE Champion. I don’t want to see Cena and Rock again at WrestleMania, but I would have no problem seeing it at Royal Rumble.
With TLC coming up prior to Royal Rumble, it is Cena’s last chance to guarantee himself another match against the Rock.
Punk may have pinned Cena at Survivor Series, but it still wasn’t a one-on-one match. We may need one more Cena versus Punk match to end the feud once and for all.
Time is running out for the WWE Champion before he has to face the Rock at the Royal Rumble.
Somehow the Rock was guaranteed a shot at the title despite only appearing once every six months.
Who will go one on one with the Great One?
According to the Rock’s recent tweets, it does not matter.
The Rock has been itching to become WWE Champion again and will get his chance in less than two months. It is still to be determined if he will be WWE Champion come Royal Rumble, though.
Many believe it would be a bad idea because of the message it sends to the rest of the roster. Some people say that doesn’t matter because Vince McMahon will do it regardless of how it makes others feel.
Either way, the Rock is the next top challenger for the WWE title.
So who will be the next top challenger for CM Punk's WWE Championship?
Ryback may be the most deserving of any superstar, with John Cena a close second. However, just because someone deserves a title shot doesn't mean they will get one.
We almost didn't even see a WWE Championship match at Survivor Series until Vince McMahon appeared at Raw and announced the match.
Who do you think is the most deserving of a shot at CM Punk’s WWE Championship?
With Ryback on the TLC poster, does that mean he will be getting a third match against CM Punk for the title?
Please leave your suggestions and comments in the section below.
It’s been Me. It’s been Me. It’s been the G-U-DOUBLE T!
Seth Guttenplan is a teacher by day, writer by night. In addition to being a Bleacher Report writer, Seth is the owner of GuTTWrenchPowerBlog.com and a host for ProWrestlingPowerhouse.com Radio. To read more from Seth, follow him on Twitter (@sethgutt) and visit http://guttwrenchpowerblog.com