CM Punk will take on Ryback on the first Raw of the year for the WWE championship. Any jaded wrestling fan worth their salt should immediately be scoffing upon seeing the words "Raw" and "WWE championship" in the same sentence.
The WWE championship rarely changes hands on television, unless you're unofficially Chris Jericho or Vince McMahon. In fact, the WWE title has not changed hands on Raw since John Cena defeated Rey Mysterio on July 25, 2011.
Mysterio had won a phony Raw tournament earlier in the night. Alleged babyface John Cena pounced at the opportunity at the WWE title against a fatigued opponent that same night. CM Punk would return following the Cena victory wearing a WWE championship belt. The titles would eventually be unified after Punk beat Cena.
So did the title really change hands that night in July?
Either way, the WWE is leaving a three-hour trail of candy for its universe to to follow. The trail will lead to the first time a "biggest match of the year" will take place between CM Punk and Ryback.
Ryback was booked like a house afire en route to back-to-back losses to Punk on pay-per-view. Still fresh in the mind of WWE fans, the title losses may raise skepticism among consumers as to whether or not another title opportunity for Ryback will amount to anything.
The big names that will be part of the WrestleMania and Royal Rumble picture are expected to include Triple H, The Rock, CM Punk, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and Ryback.
One of these things does not belong—at least not yet.
The Rock has been announced to appear on Monday's episode of Raw. The Rock and CM Punk will figure to promote WWE's next installment of "biggest match of the year" at the expense of Punk-Ryback III.
A Ryback win for the WWE Championship would mean the end of Punk's storyline-dominating streak. It would take Royal Rumble down a notch, as Ryback would be paired with Rock, as opposed to the Punk-Rock dream match.
The Undertaker has a better chance of doing the job to the Repo man at WrestleMania than Ryback does of leaving Florida with the WWE championship.
Expect a disqualification, incapacitation, maybe even a cancellation, but not a coronation—at least not for Ryback.
Hang in there, WWE creative team. There are just 21 days until the WWE championship match matters again.