The quest for revenge leads to WWE Battleground 2013.
CM Punk and Cody Rhodes will savor retribution at the inaugural event while Alberto Del Rio denies his challenger the same pleasure. The pay-per-view offers Punk a shot to shift his hurting win-loss record, Del Rio a chance to remain champion and a means for Rhodes to catapult himself into the limelight.
Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton will once again headline, but these three Superstars will end the first-ever Battleground in celebration, ready to charge ahead to the next challenge.
The Best in the World Regains Momentum
WWE suckered the audience in at Night of Champions and delivered the surprise of the night when Paul Heyman pinned Punk.
It seemed like Punk's vengeance was inevitable and that this story was coming to its expected close. In stormed Ryback to wreck all of that.
Heyman has aligned himself with Ryback and taken to riding a Rascal scooter.
The feud is refreshed for the moment, as Heyman can boast about his victory over Punk, and Ryback sent Punk flying through a table on Monday's Raw.
Now, Punk heads into Battleground with a bigger, stronger opponent than he faced at Night of Champions, but one he will defeat soundly. After a 2013 that has seen him lose to The Rock, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and now Curtis Axel and Heyman on previous pay-per-views, WWE is unlikely to pin yet another loss on him.
Punk is one of the company's biggest stars, and having him lose yet again weakens the aura of his toughness. It gets harder to take him seriously as a contender if he can't end this rivalry with a win over "The Big Guy."
WWE has made Punk suffer plenty on his road to revenge, a road that ends on Oct. 6.
It's hard to imagine this story going beyond Battleground. "The Second City Saint" has been at war with Heyman since Lesnar attacked him in mid-June. It's time for Punk to end this, to put Ryback on his back and regain the momentum that has been slipping from him in recent months.
Wickedness' Reign Continues
Everything is set up for Rob Van Dam to extract major revenge on Del Rio.
At Night of Champions, Del Rio wormed his way out of their title match by getting disqualified in order to retain the title. Del Rio has since ambushed Van Dam at every opportunity, looking to break him down before their rematch at Battleground.
The most satisfying way to end this narrative would be to have the ever-popular Van Dam overcome the wicked champ and add the World Heavyweight Championship to his collection of titles.
It won't end that way, though.
For one, Van Dam's contract is reportedly set to expire after Battleground, per Wrestling Observer, via WrestleZone.com. The chances that Van Dam wins the championship before taking a leave of absence are slim. There is certainly the option of Van Dam winning, but finding himself a victim to a Money in the Bank cash-in from Damien Sandow.
Van Dam being on Triple H's bad side decreases his odds of taking Del Rio's title, though.
"Mr. Monday Night" spoke up to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon on Monday's Raw and was involved in the mini-revolt on last week's episode. Dealing with Del Rio is one thing, but having WWE's dictator against you is a surefire path to suffering.
Expect Triple H to give Del Rio every advantage he can and to possibly soften the impact of Van Dam's loss by having Big Show or another goon play a part in it. Del Rio will be the benefactor of these circumstances, extending his title reign to well over 100 days.
A Fight for Family
Rhodes doesn't have a scheduled match yet, but bet on him regardless of his eventual opponent.
All signs are pointing to a huge push for Rhodes. For the last month, the Rhodes family saga has been a prominent story, one that feels like it's designed to make Rhodes a main event Superstar.
Rhodes lost to Randy Orton resulting in him losing his job. WWE has kept that narrative front and center ever since, having Rhodes' brother and father both fall to the Triple H regime.
On Monday's Raw, Rhodes sneaked into the Allstate Arena with Goldust and clawed at The Shield like some rabid animal.
Even while not competing, Rhodes' momentum has grown. Should he and Goldust face some combination of The Shield or Rhodes face Big Show, the smart money is on the hero coming out on top.
If there's a bigger story in the works, a victory at Battleground to get Rhodes his job back is a great first step.
Rhodes can deepen his fan base and brighten the spotlight aimed at him before Triple H then makes his life hell. Del Rio and Rhodes may very well soon be facing off for the world title at Hell in a Cell or a later pay-per-view.
A win at Battleground for both men sets up that eventual collision.