The stipulation added to the CM Punk vs. HHH match at Night of Champions (that if Punk wins, HHH will be forced to resign from his position of Chief Operating Officer of the WWE), practically ensures a victory for the Cerebral Assassin.
If WWE were to throw a huge—and somewhat nonsensical—curve-ball and have Punk win, there would be a (kayfabe) vacuum at the top of the WWE's chain-of-command that would need to be filled by another shocking character, each of whom would bring a unique angle to this storyline.
Listed here are the 10 most credible, if not most desirable, choices for the position, should it become vacant.
The most obvious choice to return to the position, as he is the man who is iconic in that position.
Now to many, possibly including myself, this would be a very disappointing choice as the main change brought about by CM Punk so far would be reversed, but if handled correctly, it could add more fire to this storyline.
There are many ways this could play out, but one suggestion could be for Mr. McMahon to return and try to purge the WWE of those who have thrived since he has left, people like Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne, and, of course, CM Punk.
In storyline terms, this would be a huge challenge for the babyfaces, but in reality, it would be an even greater platform for them to perform on.
Ever since being mentioned off-hand by CM Punk in the shoot heard around the wrestling world, Johnny Ace moved to the center of WWE television.
Once Mr. McMahon's 'stooge,' when HHH was promoted to the position of COO, Laurinaitis has been a constant thorn in his side, booking matches behind his back and undermining his decisions.
Last week, when Laurinaitis left the arena with the newly-fired Kevin Nash, the imaginations of WWE fans started to run wild.
Perhaps with HHH gone, Laurinaitis could step in to the fore, finally having 'glad-handed' his way to the top, and with the re-employed Nash as his enforcer.
Ever since what appeared to be a red herring when the guest host of WrestleMania XXVII was about to be announced and a pair of women's legs were shown arriving to the arena, fans were buzzing about the return of Stephanie McMahon to television.
That night, The Rock was the surprise, but recently, in response to the insults and accusations of CM Punk, SMH has started appearing on TV again.
What better to symbolize the McMahon-Helmsley strangle-hold on power, and the status-quo Punk has been referring to than by having another McMahon fit the bill, especially the 'idiotic' daughter that has such a personal issue with "the Voice of the Voiceless."
A CM Punk-Steph rivalry would be truly unique; not sheer macho violence like Austin-Vince, but forgoing the sexual tension that is between Jericho and Steph.
Michael Cole sprung to mind because of his time of spokesman for the anonymous RAW General Manager. Indeed, it is possible WWE penciled Cole in to be the anonymous GM.
One of the best things about this is that it would presumably get Cole away from the announce booth, which at the minute, would be great. Not only that, but given the nuclear heat he has, he would be a great cowardly, antagonistic authority figure.
One characteristic of Cole is that he unflinchingly supports all the heels to get them over and so he would have a better platform to do that as an authority figure, stacking the cards in favour of young heels that need his help, such as Jack Swagger, for instance.
William Regal has previous experience as an authority figure, and as a commentator for FCW and NXT, he has only gained in charisma.
He is one of the few people on this list that would probably be a babyface GM as he has recently gotten over as a babyface. Given that he is a semi-retired wrestler, he should be able to stand up to threatening heels in a way that laymen authority figures struggle to.
Maybe his character could even continue to help the careers of up-and-comers like Zack Ryder, which is something he has seemed keen to do in real life when appearing on "Z! True Long Island Story."
The Rock is back! Well, sort of ... Indeed, the very fact that he is back but won't be wrestling as much makes him perfect COO caliber.
For the same reasons as Regal, he could be a great babyface GM, but even more popular. The People's Champion could be a great representative of the people, and maybe leading in to his huge WrestleMania XXVIII main event with John Cena, he could find inventive ways to embarrass Cena and test his character, possibly even pushing him into heeldom.
The Heart Break Kid is one of the icons of the business, but when Michaels was in retirement, the only way he could appear on TV was as the WWE/F commissioner.
The playful side of HBK from DX could come out more, giving us unique matches and, I'm sure, thinking up novel ways to punish those who deserve it.
Not only would that, but his closeness to would make his appointment very interesting, especially if HHH has to wrestle for him for the foreseeable future.
I can imagine HBK making difficult decisions that don't necessarily benefit his best friend, but that is 'good for business'.
Either that, or HBK could return to being a heel for the first time in years and be part of the 'status quo' Punk and hopefully others are railing against. Either way, it would be refreshing!
My personal favorite WWE authority figure, Commissioner Foley was goofy, but fun and fair, setting up his offices in endlessly strange settings throughout arenas across the world.
Foley is destined to make a return of some description to WWE any time now, and what better way to utilize perhaps the most popular man in wrestling history then as the COO of WWE again.
Commissioner Foley would be able to bring back some fun to the authority figure position, and his endless sincerity would make for a new angle on this CM Punk/WWE story.
As Linda McMahon once said, "It's going to be a bit less formal ... cut-off jeans, how about a little profanity in the office, drinking on the job."
Now this might not be what I personally would want to see, but if WWE instated Stone Cold being as COO, he could potentially bring about the end of the 'PG era', and with Austin at the helm, RAW could once again become truly RAW.
Not only that, but it would allow for more TV time between fantasy rivals CM Punk and Stone Cold, which would be magical television. Perhaps they could realise they're not so different and go on a rampage to save WWE ... or perhaps they could just fight.
If not the Rattlesnake, then how about the main agitator himself, CM Punk?
He has given himself the task of ridding the WWE of HHH as its COO, and saving the WWE for future generations. Perhaps if he was successful in the first goal, he could be the one to bring about the change needed to ensure the second.
With Punk in charge, yes-men would be a thing of the past, body-builders would be discouraged, some of the best indi workers in the world would be hired, and the WWE would enter in to a fresh, modern 'Reality Era.'
I'd cheer for that! Pipebomb!