In a very refreshing change to the WWE title scene, the man formerly known as Skip Sheffield, now going by the moniker of ‘Ryback’, is set for a titanic bout this Sunday, at the Hell In A Cell pay-per view against WWE Champion CM Punk. While the length of Punk’s reign has been well-documented and heavily promoted by both Punk and Paul Heyman, there cannot be any argument whatsoever discerning Punk’s rightful status at the upper echelons of the greatest WWE Championship reigns of all time. Defending the prized possession numerous times, against the likes of Daniel Bryan, Y2J, John Cena, and Alberto Del Rio etc. in phenomenal bouts, Punk has lived, breathed and backed up his claim of being the ‘Best in the World’.
Ryback is undefeated in his current run in the WWE, having racked up a whole host of victories against local jobbers and lower card talents like Jinder Mahal. His biggest win came against former WWE Champion The Miz, but that doesn’t seem to count for anything as The Miz only seems capable of beating Yoshi Tatsu these days. Ryback is definitely a credible threat to Punk inside Satan’s structure, and is getting extremely popular with the crowd, as we see more ‘Feed Me More’ signs cropping up by the day. While Ryback can ( and will) be a future WWE Champion, many do not see the wisdom in putting the prestigious belt on a man who still hasn’t wrestled for over five minutes in a competitive setting.
After all, Punk is one the biggest names on the current roster, and the WWE have invested too much time and effort in his reign just to have him drop it to an untested, injury prone wrestler despite his massive surge in popularity. But Ryback has captured the imagination of the audience with his pure brutality and power, not to mention his belief that the WWE is a ‘jungle’ and that a ‘food chain’ should be established.
Even John Cena has put the man with the insatiable appetite over (only because he isn’t medically cleared), and Vince McMahon personally selected Ryback to be Punk’s opponent. Despite being endorsed by the boss himself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Ryback will be the next big thing (ask Drew McIntyre). ‘Big Hungry’ (yes, I know AWFUL nickname) is feared by the sinister Straight Edge Superstar, evidenced by the look of pure horror on Punk’s face (excellent acting on Punk’s part) when he first encountered the beast. Punk has also acknowledged the threat posed by the man from ‘Sin City’, labelling him ‘the devil he doesn’t know’.
Ryback’s current momentum lies with his rising winning streak, and Punk’s momentum rests solely with the length of his title reign. Longer the winning streak, louder the cheers for Ryback. Longer the title reign, louder the boos for the former hero. Usually a disqualification victory for Ryback would settle the deal, leaving both streaks untainted, but this is Hell in a Cell, a match without rules of any kind, aka, an ideal extreme rules match. It has been reported that this issue has resulted in several sleepless nights for the creative team, with plans reportedly being changed numerous times and the end result still not being finalized despite the event being mere hours away.
If you were Vince McMahon, whom would you have to win? Sure, Ryback is hot right now, but what if Dolph Ziggler was right? In a recent episode of Raw, he labelled Ryback as the ‘flavour of the month’, and nobody would remember him after his 15 minutes of fame at Hell in a Cell. Could the ‘Show-Off’ be right? Punk is still cheered by portions of the audience despite his dastardly nature, because he’s that beloved. The money would still be on CM Punk to retain his title by all means necessary, as he is on a collision course to face the Rock at the Royal Rumble in January, and if he’s still champion by that time, Punk will have held the belt for over 400 days. An astonishing feat, something that hasn’t been done for nearly 25 years. It will truly immortalize the man who loves to talk, reaffirming his status as ‘Best In The World’.
So I believe Punk will retain the title at the Cell, as in the words of Vince McMahon, it’ll be ‘good for business’. What do you guys think will happen?
CM Punk or Ryback?