It's not good news for the company, it's not good news for the fans and, most importantly, it's not good news for the upcoming TLC (Tables, Ladders & Chairs) pay-per-view and the affected storylines moving forward.
Prior to his injury, Punk was set to defend his WWE Championship against Ryback in a TLC match at the PPV, which no doubt would have been the final event of the night. However, with the champion unable to compete, Ryback will now be teaming up with Team Hell No to take on The Shield in a six-man tag team match.
Some are of the opinion that, because CM Punk will no longer be involved, Ryback's match will no longer be the main event of the PPV. WWE will, as it has so many times in the past, turn to super-duper-star John Cena to "carry" the show and move his ladder match against Dolph Ziggler into the final slot.
There is even a belief that CM Punk's injury has doomed Ziggler to lose to Cena.
I, for one, have a different opinion from those above, and for several reasons.
Firstly, just because The Shield may not be ready to main event a WWE pay-per-view doesn't mean it's not a PPV main-event worthy match.
Kane and Ryback both have experience in PPV main events, and no one in their right mind would argue that Daniel Bryan isn't capable of main eventing a PPV. Furthermore, The Shield is one of the hottest—if not THE hottest—storylines going in WWE right now.
Whether they appear last or second-to-last, it would be wise of WWE to delay their match until the end of the night.
But there is one BIG reason why I believe Ryback and Team Hell No vs. The Shield could very well be the final match at WWE TLC. That reason is Paul Heyman.
As of right now, it's unclear as to whether or not The Shield is in cahoots with anyone, let alone Heyman and/or Punk. But several hints have been dropped that Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins could, in fact, be "Heyman guys."
Most notably, when Michael Cole interviewed them on the Nov. 26 episode of RAW, he asked if they were working for CM Punk... but never said anything about Heyman.
The prospect of Heyman working with other talent is not at all far-fetched; it was flaunted right in front of our faces when he was shown whispering to Brad Maddox prior to his match against Ryback. And hiring mercenaries, if you will, to protect his most valuable client is just the kind of down-low dirty thing Heyman would do.
It seems inevitable that The Shield will be revealed to be working with Heyman—possibly against Punk's knowledge. That reveal could very well happen at WWE TLC, which would certainly be a big enough deal to boost their match into the main event.
As mentioned above, some are of the opinion that not only will CM Punk's injury affect the match order at WWE TLC, but also the outcome of the Cena-Ziggler ladder match.
The argument is that, with Cena-Ziggler assumed to be the final match of the night, WWE would want to send the CeNation home happy with a win for their hero, whereas if it was the penultimate match WWE would be willing to put Ziggler over.
To be blunt, this just seems silly to me. Since when does match order determine who's going to win? Isn't it the ability of the workers and the potential for storylines moving forward that determines that?
If anything, the strongest argument for a Ziggler loss is the simple fact that he's facing Cena.
But no matter who WWE prefers to win that match, the outcome isn't going to be determined by where it takes place on the card. And even if it was, I personally think a Ziggler win would be a lot more shocking—and therefore a lot more main-event worthy—than a Cena win.
And if you think I'm crazy for saying that, I'll just let this excerpt from F4WOnline.com via Wrestling Inc. speak for itself:
We noted on Tuesday that WWE officials [have determined] that Wade Barrett and Dolph Ziggler are now ready for the "big time" main event booking, Ziggler more than Barrett.
Sure, being booked in the main event doesn't necessarily mean also being booked to win, but I wouldn't be so quick to discount that possibility for Ziggler.
To me, "big time" main event booking means being booked to win in the main event; after all, it doesn't get much bigger than that in the world of professional wrestling, and Ziggler is more than ready for a victory of that caliber.
So yes, while CM Punk's absence will certainly affect WWE TLC, it may not do so in the way you think.
Katie Gregerson is a former wrestling trainee-turned analyst. Follow her on Twitter.