Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2012 is a thing of the past, and with that, the WWE champion is still none other than CM Punk, of course.
For close to 400 days, the Straight Edge Superstar has ruled supreme over all competition. Whether as a hero or a villain, he got the job done and became the longest-reigning titleholder of the past 25 years.
Waiting in the wings, however, are his greatest challenges to date.
The road to WrestleMania begins at the Royal Rumble. Who is next in line to challenge? None other than "The Great One" The Rock himself.
Between now and the show of shows, the "Voice of the Voiceless" will have to work hard for his money and go through more than one challenger if he hopes to be in the main event on April 7th.
There are so many names...
Feed me more!
Despite two losses (although questionable) to the champion, the monster challenger Ryback has lost none of his steam and is set to face CM Punk in early January.
Whether the average fan goes for the shear brutality of this character or not, none have taken Punk to his limits more that him.
You cannot run nor hide from him for too long, he will sniff you out and come for you. The reigning champion will have to pin him fair and square next time or else he will keep on coming.
Ryback will surely become a champion in 2013. He will meet CM Punk in the ring again, but he will not be the one to end the longest reign in decades.
Captain WWE may have lost his match and his claim to the MITB briefcase Sunday evening, but it is hardly the last chance he'll ever get to take home some gold.
There is still a looming possibility that the main event of WrestleMania XXIX consists of WWE champion vs. world heavyweight champion, so don't count "The Champ" out just yet.
He will most likely be a participant in February's Elimination Chamber match, thus having a one-in-six chance to win. Odds he can easily overcome if one knows full well the history of the Cena character.
No stranger to facing CM Punk for a championship, John Cena somehow steps out of his usual self and delivers four to five star matches every time, and these are desperate times calling for top-quality matches.
However, unless the stars align themselves correctly in order to have an Undisputed Championship match, this man of steel will not be the one to dethrone the Straight Edge Superstar.
Of all the news that made worldwide headlines in the pro-wrestling world this year, none was bigger and more exciting than The Rock announcing his position as the No. 1 contender at the Royal Rumble of 2013.
This prompted CM Punk to take matters into his own hands and deliver a GTS to the "Great One" and begin his turn to the dark side. A much-needed turn if you consider the fact that he plays a much better "heel" and would never have become the top "face" of the company.
The Rock will prove to be the greatest challenge CM Punk has ever had, and on this day, no one knows for sure who will come out on top. It is a tossup really. Whomever wins will surely have to defend at the chamber the following month.
If the intent is to have Rock-Cena II, then The Rock wins the belt, but it is so far-fetched, no one can truly take this to the bank.
The CM Punk vs. The Rock confrontation will be worth its weight in gold and could be a strong contender for "Match of the Year," but in my personal opinion, despite all the mixed signals, I do not believe there will be a change of the guard in January.
The "Awesome One" just made a sharp right turn toward the side of the light and has tons of fans to support him.
His path has been a roller-coaster ride since his loss of the WWE Championship in May 2011, so in order to cement his recent change, something big must happen. Winning the Royal Rumble is just what the doctor ordered.
It is due, honestly. The Miz had a decent 2012. He returned with a new look and won the intercontinental championship, making him the 25th Triple Crown champion in company history.
His recent altercation with CM Punk, Paul Heyman and The Shield are a prelude of things to come. Simple WWE booking. Everything happens for a reason, and for this man to pin the shoulders of the "Best in the World" would be the biggest, unsuspecting, unpredictable upset in years.
If The Miz is going to be a great Superstar, then he must compete against the best and prove he can go toe to toe with him the whole time.
The coming weeks will surely reveal some sort of clue as to what Creative has planned, but don't count this scenario out just yet.
This is it, fellahs.
La crème de la crème of all booking for early 2013.
It doesn't matter if Brock Lesnar or The Rock are in town. The only thing that comes close to equalling the WWE Championship in grandeur and prestige is The Undertaker's Streak.
Think back to 2009. Who is the one to have wrested the world heavyweight championship from CM Punk? It was inside Hell in a Cell.
The man of darkness, of course.
It would be the single most unforgettable moment of the current champion's career. The honor of main eventing WrestleMania as well as having a crack at The Streak (considering there aren't that many left) is something Punk and WWE cannot pass on.
Even if it were predictable, can anyone think of a better way to end the best title reign in years without losing any luster?
Win-win, nothing less.
Match of the year, for sure.
Despite suffering from a knee injury right now, WWE champion CM Punk is very much in control of the situation.
There are tons of worthy contenders for his title. Names like Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton, Sheamus, the list goes on, but only a small handful can logically be inserted into the champion's immediate future.
Go back and consult the list back there.
The Elimination Chamber match may throw in some much-needed confusion to the equation, but in the end, this championship will not be switched back and forth on the road to WrestleMania.
It would be a sin to do so, considering how long it has been since the WWE Universe had such a fine long reign as CM Punk's.
Everything is in the right place right now, a fine and healthy place.
This is all for the richest prize in the game after all.