CM Punk’s lengthy title reign looks like it's coming to an end at the Royal Rumble. So what happens to Punk after he loses the title?
After Punk drops the belt, there is no reason to believe he’ll be out of the title picture or without the belt for long.
When Punk beat Alberto Del Rio for the WWE championship in November 2011, it couldn’t have been predicted he would still be champion in January 2013. This lengthy reign makes him the sixth-longest-reigning champion of all time.
Punk’s biggest challenger to date is undoubtedly The Rock. The two will face each other at the Rumble, a first-time clash between the two.
It doesn’t take much to figure out, and it isn’t a spoiler to know, Punk is going to lose at the Rumble.
A previous article on Bleacher Report revealed The Rock’s schedule. He’s heavily booked throughout January and is scheduled to appear at both Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania.
The Rock is a huge mainstream name who did wonders at his last pay-per-view appearance. According to the WWE corporate website, WrestleMania 28 broke records. He wouldn’t be brought in to lose to Punk. It wouldn’t make sense business-wise.
No, The Rock is going to carry the title through to WrestleMania 29.
So the question is, what happens to Punk after he loses the title?
Punk will not be leaving the title picture after his loss of the belt. Thanks to the good old-fashioned rematch clause, he’ll get another shot.
The problem is, the rematch will be inside the Elimination Chamber, most likely involving John Cena, among others.
Punk won’t win the belt inside the Chamber. But neither will Cena or anyone else. With The Rock booked to appear at WrestleMania, too, it will be too big a temptation for the WWE to resist having Rock-Cena II. Cena will claim the belt on the big stage.
Since Punk won’t be in the title match at WrestleMania, this only leaves one man for him to face: The Undertaker. A win over The Undertaker—and ending the streak—would gain Punk the level of respect that has driven his heel turn. It's an easy storyline to set up.
But Punk won’t end the streak, although it will be a spectacular match.
After WrestleMania, he will be back in the running for the title. With Cena now champion and The Rock gone, expect to see a new series of pay-per-view bouts between the two.
Their match at Extreme Rules will be either Falls Count Anywhere or Iron Man, to capitalize on the great chemistry the two have. They’ll rematch at Over the Limit and Punk will regain the belt at No Way Out.
The WWE can then squeeze out a few more bouts between the two before Punk drops the belt again at Night of Champions.
Punk is too much of a proven commodity for the WWE. He can work, successfully, as both a face and a heel. With genuine wrestling ability, he can be put in the ring with anybody and create a compelling match.
His bouts with Ryback are a perfect example of this. Their bout Monday was one of the most exciting matches aired on Raw in the past year.
Punk won’t have another title reign in 2013 after dropping the belt back to Cena. But, he’ll earn his next shot and a huge dose of respect when he enters and wins the 2014 Rumble.
Punk has been a polarizing figure in his time with the WWE. It’s this personality and persona that continues to drive fans to the product. He’ll never eclipse the length of his current reign, but he will remain one of the top stars until he decides to leave the sport.