It doesn't take an expert to know that losing CM Punk changes up a lot of things. It hurts Ryback's momentum (another match against a top level performer like the Straight Edge Superstar would have been beneficial), and it makes the TLC pay-per-view a little less appealing.
The person that is most affected by CM Punk's emergency knee surgery, though, is Dolph Ziggler.
With the way that things were being set up, chances are we would have seen the TLC pay-per-view ending with the WWE Heavyweight Championship between CM Punk and Ryback. The streak has been heavily promoted as of late, so management would have wanted the fans to end the night wondering if it was finally going to be broken.
With CM Punk being removed from the pay-per-view, WWE announced that Ryback would instead team with Daniel Bryan and Kane in a six-man tag team match against the Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins). While the NXT guys have sparked some interest, it's much too soon to end a pay-per-view with that trio.
That means Dolph Ziggler has been promoted to the main event at TLC. With WWE, when all else fails, they turn to John Cena, who can basically step in the top spot on a moment's notice.
The other thing that the CM Punk absence affects is whether or not Dolph Ziggler walks out of the event as the winner. Since he's in the main event now, things have changed.
As the next to the last match, WWE would have gladly given Dolph Ziggler the win and credibility boost. Since it's closing out the show, there's a much greater chance now that John Cena will send the fans home happy by being victorious at the end of the night.
WWE has a tendency to stick to their time-tested formula. If they were willing to think outside of the box and take the risk by having Dolph Ziggler close out the night on a positive note, then a new star can be born.
For better or worse, Dolph Ziggler will be most affected by the absence of CM Punk later this month.
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