With the news of WWE Champion CM Punk’s knee surgery and shortly after the news that he would not be competing at the TLC pay-per view in less than two weeks, the WWE Universe was briefly left wondering what and who would fill the coveted spot at the event.
The answer was swiftly given by WWE chairman Vince McMahon when he announced that Punk’s intended opponent, Ryback would now team with Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) to do battle with the upstart group known as The Shield.
Now that the initial confusion over the fate of the main event has been settled, fans are left wondering what can and will happen, and more importantly, how the situation will now play out for all parties involved.
This marks the first pay-per view in recent memory that Punk will not be competing at, as well as the first in about a year where he will not be defending the WWE title.
This is a fairly large loss for the company, because love him or hate him, Punk equals ratings. The fact that one never knows what he will do or say keeps the fans eagerly anticipating his next move.
For Punk, it somewhat knocks him off of his pedestal, as he will not be able to compete at a pay-per view for the first time in several years. It does nothing to damage his legacy of course, since the injury does not appear to be very serious, just enough to knock him out of this match. And we can likely still look forward to Punk’s promos week to week even while he is healing from his surgery.
For Team Hell No, this last minute change is for the best. With little direction heading into TLC, Bryan and Kane will now be front and center at the Barclays Center, competing in a match to restore their honor after repeated attacks by The Shield.
Since winning the WWE tag team titles in September, Team Hell No has been on a tear, defeating all comers, and seemingly bringing new life to a dying tag team division. It has long been rumored that the company was attempting to bring some legitimacy back to the tag team titles, and by putting the belts around the waists of popular but completely different superstars, they have done exactly that.
For members of The Shield, it gives them a chance to showcase their individual talents in a match, rather than the gang attack scenarios that they have participated in for the past several weeks. Individually, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns all have unique and special talents, and at the pay-per view, we will all get to witness them.
Ambrose, who seems to be the unspoken leader of the group, if not only its main mouthpiece, is incredibly gifted on the mic, and will likely build unbelievable heat for the group going forward. One needs only to look at his feud with William Regal in FCW for proof of his prowess at cutting a promo. That feud also cemented Ambrose’s place as a vicious and calculating technical competitor, as he went hold for hold with Regal and never looked overmatched.
Rollins, however, is another story altogether. While he is not completely lost when given the opportunity to speak, the current (and inaugural) NXT champion’s main strength is his ring work. His fast paced style is second to none, with a deceptive array of power moves mixed in. He is innovative and exciting to watch. There is little wonder as to why he has become the face of NXT, and will likely be a force within the WWE for many years to come.
Reigns is the wild card of the group. He has shown flashes of brilliance in both FCW and NXT, where injuries have hampered what could have been a long run at the top of both companies. He is big, incredibly powerful and his virtual lack of speaking in promos gives him a mysterious quality. His work in the ring is average, but his potential is huge.
As a whole, The Shield will finally get to showcase what it can do in the ring, and for that reason, this change in the main event at TLC will likely benefit it the most.
However, the person that will be left out in the cold in all of this will be Ryback.
After essentially being cheated out of the WWE title twice, his match with Punk was highly anticipated and many believed that even with The Shield lurking around, Ryback might have walked away from TLC with the WWE title around his waist.
With these new developments, that scenario is now impossible. Yes, he may be able to exact a measure of revenge on three up-and-coming talents, ones that have caused him great pain and suffering in recent weeks, but will that be enough to satisfy his ever-growing hunger?
Unfortunately for The Shield, it is very unlikely.
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