The saga of CM Punk versus Paul Heyman looked to be culminating as the standard tale of comeuppance at Night of Champions.
Curtis Axel was made to look strong both leading up to and during his handicap match against CM Punk. Axel defeated Kofi Kingston to retain the Intercontinental Championship in an impromptu match earlier in the night.
Then, during his portion of the no-disqualification match against CM Punk, Axel doled out much of the punishment. Using a kendo stick, and at one point dangerously blocking a diving CM Punk with a steel chair, Axel effectively went toe-to-toe with Punk before succumbing to a GTS, followed by an Anaconda Vise.
The surprising turn of events was twofold following Punk's victory over Axel. The crowd was hot for Heyman, who was entertaining as a ringside agitator, to get what was coming to him. Punk took his time with a kendo stick, handcuffing Heyman before bludgeoning him with a weapon.
But not only did Ryback insert himself into the match with a spear through a table, Heyman would go on to win the match following an assist from the monster bully.
The compelling rivalry between Punk and Heyman will now continue, and the Ryback character, currently in transition, now has stability and relevancy in a much-needed alliance with Paul Heyman.
Despite WWE's best efforts to overcomplicate him, Ryback's heel blueprint is simple: seek, destroy and allow a charismatic manager to do all the talking.
The addition of Ryback to the Paul Heyman guys could be WWE's way of quietly admitting that the Curtis Axel experiment has failed. Ryback's in-ring acumen will only improve while working with CM Punk. And if all of Heyman's resources are now used to revamp Ryback, he has top-heel potential.