Before the WWE Championship match at Hell in a Cell, WWE fans were brimming with excitement that the evening might see the birth of a new star: Ryback. But Ryback lost, albeit due to a crooked referee.
With Ryback no longer undefeated and the WWE Championship still firmly in the grasp of CM Punk, fans are questioning whether or not WWE made a mistake in keeping the belt on Punk. What some fans may not know, however, is that WWE simply can't afford to give up on their well-laid plans for the title.
Like it or not, CM punk is still the WWE Champion. Ryback fans decry WWE's decision to have him lose to Punk as one of the worst mistakes in years. Ryback is no longer undefeated, meaning he'll never have that "Streak vs. Streak" match with Undertaker at WrestleMania that so many were hoping would happen. So many other storylines are impossible now that CM Punk retained at Hell in a Cell.
What will further frustrate Ryback fans is that WWE has no intentions to put the belt on Ryback any time soon.
In my humble opinion, WWE has had a plan mapped out for the WWE Championship for nearly a year. That plan, whether or not the hardcore fans like it, will play out over the coming months. I knew that Ryback was not going to leave Hell in a Cell with the WWE Championship. If Ryback had won, then WWE would have been throwing away at least one feud: CM Punk approaching and surpassing John Cena's 380-day title run.
Chris Jericho, in a call to the Busted Open Radio show, felt that the length of a title run meant nothing to WWE or to CM Punk. Many fans agreed. However, WWE had made such a big deal out of this title reign that I believed it would continue.
More importantly, WWE is heavily invested in the 2013 Royal Rumble, where the Rock will face the current WWE Champion. The bad blood between CM Punk and "Dwayne," as Punk calls him, has been slowly simmering for some time, and there will be no better time to let that feud come to a head than at the Rumble.
At the Royal Rumble, I believe that the Rock will defeat CM Punk and win the WWE Championship.
Why? Because the Rock holding the title sets up the biggest rematch in WrestleMania history: Rock vs. Cena II. But this time, the WWE Championship will be on the line. Cena will avenge last year's loss to the Rock, and win the WWE Championship in the process. That will end the feud between the Rock and John Cena.
Love it or hate it, all signs point to Punk versus Rock at the Rumble, setting up Rock versus Cena II at WrestleMania.
Unfortunately for Ryback, that means that the next chance he'll get to put the strap around his waist will be at Extreme Rules in May of next year. What will WWE do with him in the meantime? That's the subject of another article. For the next six months though, expect the expected with the WWE Championship.