Upon returning to the ring at June's WWE Payback pay-per-view, CM Punk told Paul Heyman that he was no longer in need of his managerial services. Heyman took this quite personally, as he later had his other associate Brock Lesnar brutalize Punk that same night on Monday Night Raw.
Punk feuded with Lesnar over the course of the summer, leading to a No Disqualification match between the two at SummerSlam. Despite taking Lesnar to his absolute limit, Punk was unable to overcome The Beast following interference from Heyman.
The ruthless rivalry between Punk and Heyman didn't end there, though, as Heyman enlisted Intercontinental champion Curtis Axel to do his dirty work for him in Lesnar's absence. Thus, a match was made for Night of Champions, pitting Heyman and Axel against Punk in a Handicap Elimination match.
Although Punk was finally able to to get his hands on Heyman at the end of the match, it was Ryback who shockingly aligned himself with Heyman to help him pin the former WWE Champion for the three count. The Straight Edge SuperStar's path to retribution continues, but the next obstacle he will need to overcome before getting to Heyman will be Ryback.
Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that Punk and Ryback have crossed paths, as the two were involved in a bitter rivalry late last year over the WWE Championship. At the time, Heyman was aligned with Punk, but the tables have been turned a year later.
More than likely, Punk will face Ryback one-on-one at WWE Battleground in a few weeks, but predicting a winner will not be easy. Will Ryback flop as Heyman's newest client by losing to Punk at the event, or will the Voice of the Voiceless come up short for the fourth consecutive time on pay-per-view?
Obviously, Punk is currently outnumbered in his feud with Heyman, as the founder of ECW has Ryback, Axel and Lesnar (when he eventually returns) at his disposal. That being said, why not have someone aid Punk in his quest to rid the WWE of his former friend?
No one fits the bill better than Kofi Kingston.
Earlier in the evening at Night of Champions, Kingston contended for the Intercontinental Championship in an impromptu match against Axel. This was due to Kingston defeating the multi-generational star on two separate occasions prior to the event. Therefore, the two have been feuding with each other for several weeks now.
Although Kingston came up short of winning the title, I am certain his quest to regain the gold is far from over.
If you can recall, Kingston also has history with Ryback, who put him out of action back in May with a shoulder injury. Unfortunately, though, the Ghana native never exacted his revenge on Ryback and the two haven't clashed since.
So, having Punk and Kingston join forces to battle Ryback and Axel in tag team action at WWE Battleground seems only logical. Remember, the former ECW Superstars captured the World Tag Team Championship together in October 2008 (almost exactly five years ago), in addition to the fact that they are good friends outside of the ring.
Furthermore, Kingston was the mentor of Axel during his days in NXT when he was still known as Michael McGillicutty, and they could always play off that as well.
If WWE can maintain the partnership between Punk and Kingston long enough, perhaps they can challenge The Shield for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Of course, the tag title would be a step down for Punk at the moment, but it would be a nice way of bringing him into the current corporate storyline.
As noted before, the primary reason this would be done is to avoid Punk and Ryback from taking a loss in singles competition at Battleground this early in their feud. It would also help stretch their feud to Hell in a Cell, where they could collide one-on-one if they pleased.
With Battleground looming, it will undoubtedly be interesting to see what direction WWE takes the ongoing rivalry involving Punk, Heyman and Ryback going forward.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on whether Kingston should align with Punk to rival Heyman's henchmen. As always, your criticism and overall feedback of my latest piece is welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Graham Mirmina, a.k.a. Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.