There is one final stop on the WWE's monthly pay-per-view calendar before "The Great One," The Rock faces the WWE Champion in what is sure to be the main-event of January's Royal Rumble.
At this stage, it would appear that only a drastic change of plans by the Creative department could lead to anyone other than CM Punk facing "The Brahma Bull" at the event, especially considering that John Cena seems to have been, for now, discarded from the title scene.
Therefore, the WWE Championship match at Tables, Ladders and Chairs on Dec 16, should arguably be used for one purpose: getting CM Punk over as a legitimate threat to The Rock.
Having had a string of tainted victories in pay-per-view title defenses, whether it being a rogue referee, interference from a trio of NXT competitors or the draw with John Cena at Night of Champions, CM Punk does not look as strong as he could considering he has held the strap for a couple of days over a year.
Of course, his weasel-like character is partly the reason behind this, but nonetheless, it would seem reasonable to suggest that Punk needs a solid win at TLC in order to have maximum momentum going into his matchup with The Rock.
An opponent that has been discussed is Mick Foley, which would at least make a degree of sense, considering the on-and-off rivalry that the two have been embroiled in over the past few months. However, Foley's absence from RAW implies that Creative are in no rush to culminate this feud in a title match at the final pay-per-view of the year.
Personally, I am not too disappointed by this.
While there are a large number of fans calling for this match to happen, it seems that Foley is in no fit shape to have a solid championship match with Punk. This match would make sense in that the champion could go over clean against a legend (Like The Miz versus Jerry Lawler at Elimination Chamber 2011) thus giving him some solid momentum.
Nevertheless, there are other options that should be considered before throwing Foley into what could be his final match.
Ryback, at present, seems to be the most likely opponent for Punk at TLC considering that he interrupted the champion's celebration on Monday night. However, we could perhaps see Ryback in some sort of handicap match with Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose at TLC, especially when recalling Vickie Guerrero's words, telling Ryback he had "blown" two title opportunities.
While Ryback is arguably the most logical opponent for Punk at TLC, the merits of such a match have to be assessed.
There is almost no chance in hell that we will see Ryback versus The Rock at the Royal Rumble now, so why have him lose a third pay-per-view match in a row to Punk? Moreover, if this was to happen, Punk would likely win in a tainted fashion once again, not giving him the clean win he arguably needs.
John Cena can almost be counted out as Punk's next challenger.
All his focus on Monday night was on the AJ/Ziggler storyline, and considering he was pinned after being "Shell Shocked" at Survivor Series, don't expect to see the 12-time world champion in the title picture come TLC.
On a side note, it is a shame that Punk and Cena arguably never really got to finish their rivalry after their draw at Night of Champions. Cena's injury prevented another one-on-one championship match, but surely we'll see plenty more in the months and years to come.
So who else?
It feels like these days No. 1 contender matches are rarely contested, with challengers to titles being anti-climatically announced rather than being determined in the ring.
Therefore, I am proposing, the WWE Championship match at Tables, Ladders and Chairs should be determined by a No. 1 contender match this week, or next, on RAW. Perhaps the best way to go would be having a number of superstars demanding a shot, a fatal-four-way being made for the main event and the winner facing Punk on Dec 16.
- Randy Orton vs. Ryback vs. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan
This could work, as Orton could win by pinning Kane or Bryan (who cause each other the match) whilst Ryback is once again taken out by the NXT invaders.
CM Punk could go over Orton cleanly at TLC without any major momentum loss to Orton's character, who can rebuild in the new year, after a period of putting talent (such as Dolph Ziggler) over following his suspension earlier this year.
Ultimately, Punk could still drop the title before meeting The Rock in January, but the likelihood of this grows slimmer by the week.
What do you think?
Who should CM Punk face at Tables, Ladders and Chairs next month?