Following Monday's edition of Raw, it appeared as though we were in store for a run-of-the-mill week in the WWE, but that quickly changed. WWE champion CM Punk had to undergo emergency surgery to repair a slight meniscal tear on Tuesday and he has since been removed from the TLC pay-per-view.
Punk was initially slated to defend his title against Ryback in a tables, ladders and chairs match, but the WWE has instead decided to let Punk rest in anticipation of his huge Royal Rumble match against The Rock. While TLC must go on as scheduled, it will no longer involve the man who has now held the company's top title in excess of 380 days.
Speaking of the aforementioned Rock, things have become a bit clearer with regards to his potential WWE schedule as the Royal Rumble pay-per-view inches closer. He is now being advertised for several dates leading up to the event and that is sure to electrify the WWE Universe.
As great as that news is, the WWE has gone through some trials and tribulations over the past week as well. Raw ratings took a major hit, the company continues to struggle when it comes to bringing back a former superstar and another former WWE talent took to Twitter to blast one of the WWE's top stars.
Learn about all of that and more as I break down the biggest news stories and rumors surrounding the WWE for the week that began on Dec. 2.
Most WWE fans on Tuesday afternoon were probably thinking about how the WWE would book CM Punk to defeat Ryback at TLC. The focus soon shifted, however, as WWE.com reported that the WWE champion had to undergo emergency knee surgery performed by famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Punk's knee was scoped successfully and a piece of torn meniscus was removed. However, it was soon announced that Punk would not be defending his title against Ryback at TLC due to the injury. Instead, Ryback will now team with Kane and Daniel Bryan to take on Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, better known as The Shield, in a tables, ladders and chairs match.
There is no question that the news of Punk's sudden knee surgery took me by surprise, but now that I've had plenty of time to think about it, I've concluded that it isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Heading into TLC, it was blatantly obvious that Punk would once again defeat Ryback, since Punk is likely to go on and face The Rock at the Royal Rumble. With that in mind, the WWE would have had to figure out a way for Punk to win unfairly yet again. The Shield, Brad Maddox, Brock Lesnar or whoever else probably would have interfered in the match.
With Punk out of the equation, though, Ryback can be protected by winning the match or by having one of his partners take the fall instead of him.
Punk's knee injury wasn't caused by Ryback putting him through a table as the WWE explained it. He had been favoring his knee for weeks prior and the surgery is likely something that was plotted out ahead of time.
The WWE was very calculated in this decision and actually did a nice job of tying up all the loose ends.
On the 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw, The Rock announced that he would challenge the WWE champion for the belt at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
The Rumble is now less than two months away, and while we haven't seen The Rock in a WWE ring since CM Punk laid him out with a GTS that very night, his hiatus will end very soon.
According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, the WWE is advertising The Rock to appear on Raw on Jan. 7, Jan. 21 and Jan. 28. The Jan. 21 edition of Raw is the go-home show prior to the Royal Rumble, while Jan. 28 is the night after the event.
Assuming that CM Punk's knee heals properly and he is still WWE champion as expected, those three episodes of Raw should be absolutely electric as Punk and The Rock go face to face.
As an unabashed fan of The Rock, I simply cannot wait until he begins making appearances for the WWE again.
Selfish fans will continue to bash him for not appearing more regularly, all the while forgetting that he has more than paid his dues in the wrestling business. With that being said, many others won't be so petty. Whether you like him or not, there is no getting around the fact that WWE programming feels bigger, more exciting and more important when The Rock is a part of it.
I wish that The Rock could be on Raw every week just like everyone else, but these three dates should be plenty in terms of building toward the Rumble and putting a bow on what happened at the event.
The popular school of thought is most definitely that The Rock will beat Punk at the Royal Rumble, but I don't see it happening. That means The Rock would either have to wrestle at Elimination Chamber or there would be no WWE championship match, and I doubt that's going to happen.
Whatever the case, the Punk vs. Rock feud promises to be a great one.
It's no secret that Raw ratings have been down over the past several weeks and months, but viewership reached a new low for the year this week.
According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Raw averaged only 3,437,000 viewers this week, which was even worse than the Oct. 22 edition of the show that was the lowest-rated, non-holiday Raw in 15 years.
This week's Raw technically had a higher rating than the Oct. 22 show as it scored a 2.55 as opposed to a 2.48, but it wasn't a great night for the WWE regardless.
While some of the more pessimistic fans will act as though a night of poor ratings will lead to the demise of the WWE, it's important to look at the extenuating circumstances before jumping to conclusions.
As a rule, Raw ratings have been down this year and over the past couple of years, so it isn't overly surprising to see that the show scored poorly this week.
The biggest reason for that was the presence of Monday Night Football.
While I realize that Raw has been going up against Monday Night Football for the past few months, this week's game generated a ton of buzz. The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants took on the Washington Redskins and the most explosive player in the NFL in Robert Griffin III.
Not only did that take two huge markets out of the equation for Raw, but even fringe football fans wanted to see what RG3 was all about. That detracted from the viewership in a big way.
It wasn't as if it was a go-home show prior to a pay-per-view, either. I wouldn't worry too much about it. The WWE has no competition, and television ratings don't matter much unless they dip to unseen levels. The more important statistic is that pay-per-view buys are up this year when compared to last year, and that proves fans are willing to pay for the product they're being presented with.
Chris Jericho's most recent WWE tenure came to an end on the night after SummerSlam when he lost a match to Dolph Ziggler with the stipulation that he would have to leave the WWE if Ziggler defeated him.
Most fans knew it was only a matter of time before that happened since Jericho had business to attend to with his band, Fozzy, but those same fans are eagerly anticipating his return.
According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Jericho was in negotiations with the WWE last month, but things ultimately fell through.
Jericho reportedly wanted to work a light schedule that involved him appearing a couple of times per month or whenever his band schedule permitted. However, the WWE wouldn't budge as it wanted a long-term commitment from Y2J.
While it's unfortunate that Jericho and the WWE couldn't come to agreement, I have no doubt that we'll see Y2J back in the WWE again at some point.
With that said, I blame the WWE for the breakdown in talks if the reports are accurate. I understand that it's ideal for a top star like Jericho to be available constantly, but the company has already set a precedent for part-timers such as The Rock and Brock Lesnar. Jericho should be afforded a similar opportunity.
Although Jericho doesn't rake in the same amount of revenue that Rock and Brock do, he has paid his dues far more than either of them and made a full-time commitment to the WWE during his last run as he was even wrestling house shows.
The WWE is simply being hypocritical if it doesn't give Jericho some flexibility within his contract. Even so, it's a matter of when rather than if Jericho will be back in a WWE ring.
Tyler Reks requested his release from the WWE several months ago so that he could spend more time with his daughter.
I considered it to be an admirable move at the time and there didn't appear to be any hostility between Reks and the WWE, but that changed this week as Reks had some less-than-flattering things to say about John Cena on Twitter, according to WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
Reks didn't pull any punches as he accused Cena of forcing him to stop using his Burning Hammer finisher. He also said that Cena stole his gimmick idea and helped give it to The Miz and R-Truth.
On top of that, Reks seemed to hint at Cena being the reason for Alex Riley's stalled push. Reks had plenty of complaining to do for someone who claimed not to be a bitter ex-WWE employee.
I'm not willing to say that Cena has never used his backstage clout to stifle somebody, but even if Reks feels as though he was wronged by the WWE's top star, he went about things the wrong way.
Nobody asked Reks to shoot on Cena. He simply brought it up himself and appears to have a major vendetta against him. It's almost as if he is blaming Cena for not getting over in the WWE, which is something that I find to be laughable.
I actually didn't mind Reks in the WWE and thought that he and Curt Hawkins could be a solid tag team, but Reks was never going to be a main-eventer. He wrestled most of his matches on Superstars and rarely appeared on Raw or SmackDown. I highly doubt Cena felt threatened by him in any way.
While the Cena haters have been stroking Reks' ego on Twitter throughout the week, he is the one who looks petty in this situation while Cena chooses not to get involved.