It may seem like an odd school of thought, but the fact that WWE Champion CM Punk had to have surgery in order to repair damaged cartilage in his knee will prove to be beneficial to both him and the overall product moving forward.
Punk's ailment came as a shock to many when it was revealed a few weeks ago and it was even more surprising when it was announced that he would be unable to defend his title against Ryback at TLC. While the lack of a WWE Championship match at TLC was disappointing, the pay-per-view didn't miss a beat due to the six-man tables, ladders and chairs match between The Shield and the trio of Ryback and Team Hell No.
Since that match was so good that many are considering it a match-of-the-year candidate, Punk's in-ring presence wasn't missed at TLC. Fans were spared yet another Punk vs. Ryback match on PPV as well, which was great due to the fact that everyone would have known going in that Punk would come out on top.
If SmackDown is any indication, Punk will have to defend his title against Ryback on the Jan. 7 episode of Raw, but that is far more palatable than Punk and Ryback doing battle at three consecutive pay-per-views. Punk's injury has allow his feud with Ryback to continue to some degree, but Ryback has also been able to branch out into a rivalry with The Shield that has helped put them over as legitimate threats.
Perhaps better than all of that, though, is the rest that Punk has gotten due to the procedure. Whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that Punk's WWE Championship reign of nearly 400 days is impressive. As entertaining as it has been for me to witness, the company's top champion has a lot of responsibilities and essentially has to compete non-stop.
That has been the case with Punk up until his knee injury was addressed. Cartilage and meniscal damage are things that happen over time, so Punk has definitely dealt with some wear and tear due to his grueling schedule. On top of that, Punk is a fairly diminutive guy compared to most of the other superstars, which means his body isn't as equipped to take such a beating.
It may not seem like Punk was wrestling a lot prior to his injury due to the fact that he often cut a promo on Raw in lieu of wrestling, but he would usually compete in the post-show dark match and would defend the title at Raw house shows as well. Even though we didn't see that at home, Punk was wrestling almost on a nightly basis as champion.
Punk would have benefited from a lighter schedule regardless of his medical status, but the knee injury made that type of adjustment a necessity. A month off should do Punk's body a world of good, especially with his huge Royal Rumble match against The Rock on the horizon.
Had Punk's knee issues not come to light until just prior to his match with The Rock, then Punk may not have been 100 percent and the bout likely would have suffered because of it. Punk versus Rock is the biggest WWE match since John Cena versus The Rock at WrestleMania, so the WWE needs its champion to be in top condition, especially since he'll likely have to do most of the heavy lifting.
Rather than being worn down and beat up, Punk figures to be refreshed, revitalized and ready to put on a great show at the Royal Rumble PPV. It would have been nice to see Punk wrestle at TLC, but it was nowhere near as important as the Rumble promises to be.
I never like to see somebody get injured, especially the WWE Champion, but Punk's in-ring absence will prove to be more positive than negative. Punk will now be fresh with the road to WrestleMania approaching and he allowed The Shield to steal the spotlight at TLC, so there is no shortage of silver lining.
Provided Punk is back by the Jan. 7 edition of Raw and is fighting for the Royal Rumble event, his trials and tribulations will have been well worth it in the grand scheme of things.
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