While CM Punk sits on the shelf recovering from knee surgery, WWE has apparently decided that the WWE Championship title will sit on the shelf beside him...at least through WWE TLC 2012.
After that, who knows? According to F4WOnline.com, Punk will appear on Raw for the next several weeks, but he will not be wrestling.
We know this much about the post-surgery ramifications: Punk already is out of WWE TLC 2012. His title match with Ryback was replaced by a six-man tag team battle with The Shield vs. Team Hell No and Ryback.
Neither WWE nor anyone else associated with Punk has specified when he will return to action, but everyone is hopeful that Punk will be back in time to defend the WWE title against The Rock at January’s Royal Rumble.
But what happens if Punk’s recovery does not go as planned? Does WWE roll the dice and hope that he recovers in time to face Rock, or do they step in and declare the title vacated because of his inability to defend it?
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon is sticking with Punk as the champion. However, think about the possible story lines that could develop should WWE decide to reverse itself and strip Punk of the belt.
If WWE declares the title vacated, Punk could have a field day with that. The promos on that decision would make his worked shoot on Raw last year look like a church picnic.
Since turning heel shortly after Raw’s 1,000th episode last July, Punk has complained about not being respected by the WWE Universe for his accomplishments and his 380-plus title reign. Just imagine what he could say if WWE takes the title.
Punk could claim that WWE showed him the ultimate disrespect by swooping down and taking the title from him while he was recuperating. He could also claim that Ryback was acting on orders from Vince McMahon and Triple H by powerbombing him through the table and purposely hurting him. He could point out that an NFL quarterback normally does not lose his starting job due to injury, and because he is the WWE champion, he essentially is WWE’s quarterback.
Heck, he could even blame Washington for doing WWE’s dirty work by throwing him off the fiscal cliff.
By the time Punk was finished, the ring would look like a large piece of Swiss cheese with the holes created by all those pipe bombs.
WWE realizes that Punk is the best heel and the best talker among the company’s ring talent. They could load those pipe bombs by taking the title from Punk.
On the other hand, WWE knows that a Punk-Rock match at Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship would be a tremendous draw. Like Punk, Rock makes the WWE Universe perk up their ears every time he opens his mouth, and Rock promised on Raw’s 1,000th episode that he would return at Royal Rumble to face the WWE champion for the title.
If the belt is taken from Punk, then WWE would have to decide the best way to award the belt. WWE possibly could have a tournament where the winner either gets the belt or gets the opportunity to face Rock at Royal Rumble for the title.
In the first case, the winner would be a transitional champion at best, because WWE would tell that person to drop the belt to Rock at Royal Rumble. In the second case, that gives the winner the opportunity to face Rock and lose without having the stigma of being a transitional champion.
Of course, all this is pure speculation based on how long it takes Punk to recover. The whole discussion could be moot if Punk returns almost immediately after TLC and has enough time to generate a program with Rock.
Gosh, all this anticipation is enough to drive you to your knees.