Originally at Survivor Series this year, CM Punk was booked in the traditional elimination match against Team Foley, led by Ryback.
One week later, the entire setup changed.
Instead, CM Punk will face Ryback and John Cena in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship while Team Foley faces Team Ziggler in a match that has no real purpose behind it. If you're interested in my opinions on how that will go, here's a link to my article on breaking down those teams. When it comes to the WWE Championship, though, the issue isn't what the match is about but rather what the finish will lead to.
Yes, I'm already throwing out there that my prediction is that CM Punk will retain the WWE Championship. I have no doubts about this. If I am wrong, I'll be about as shocked as I would be if Triple H were to put someone over clean.
Many people think that CM Punk will be dropping the title because it would be funny to see him fall just short of the one-year time frame. To me, the value of that comedic effect is left in the dust when compared to the value of keeping the title on CM Punk for over a year.
So, if we move past the general idea that he needs to win the match, how exactly do you book a win for him when he's facing the essentially undefeated Ryback and the Superman of the WWE, Cena?
First off, we can rule out disqualifications and count-outs as Triple Threat matches don't have them. We can also assume that CM Punk won't be retaining his championship through a submission victory against either of these two men. That leaves a pinfall decision as the only way out of this other than a draw, which I highly doubt they'll do so soon after the last Cena vs. CM Punk title defense ended that way.
Who gets pinned, Cena or Ryback?
When you have two men that don't look like they're able to be pinned on a regular basis, it makes things difficult, but in World Wrestling Entertainment, the progression of the storyline means more than anything. You can have plot holes that make no sense, you can ignore previous things that have happened, and you can have your wrestlers act completely out of character if it serves the purpose of getting you from one week to the next.
That's why Cena is going to be the one to take the fall in this match and you can count on Dolph Ziggler being the man responsible for it.
If you don't want Ryback to win the WWE Championship, he has to either be the one to lose the match or the man on the outside of the decision. Seeing as how he has no real feud going on other than with Brad Maddox, who was last shown being taken away in an ambulance and has already cost him his chance at the WWE Championship, Ryback will more than likely not even be in the ring for the pinfall. It hurts Ryback too much to be the one to take the loss and he'll have a much harder time bouncing back from it than Cena will.
Since Cena and Ziggler are not on opposing Survivor Series teams, nor do they have a singles match with each other, this storyline about Vickie Guerrero and AJ Lee continues as a focal point, it will need to play a factor into the pay-per-view.
It's far too simple to ignore the option of having Ziggler interfere in this match and do something that results in Cena being pinned by CM Punk. It furthers the feud between Ziggler and Cena, gives CM Punk a cheap victory, negates Ryback's presence, and also helps boost Ziggler back up after what I'm assuming will be a loss for Team Ziggler in the elimination match.
CM Punk at that point has now passed the one-year mark.
Where does he go from there?
There are four potential options as I see it. At the TLC PPV, CM Punk can either face Ryback alone or have a Fatal 4-Way with Ryback, Cena and Ziggler.
The Miz is a reward for leading Team Foley to victory, or he can possibly even face Mick Foley himself. Every one of these options allows CM Punk to retain once more, leading up to the inevitable match with The Rock at the Royal Rumble. My personal preference would be a singles match with Mick Foley, but that remains to be seen.
I might be jumping the gun, but I wholeheartedly feel what was outlined above to be the layout you can all expect to see come Survivor Series this Sunday. What do you think is going to happen? Whether you agree or disagree, let me know in the comments below.