This isn’t good.
After Monday Night Raw, WWE Champion CM Punk had surgery to remove a piece of torn meniscus from his knee. Dr. James Andrews (yes, THAT Dr. James Andrews) conducted the surgery and they say he will make a “full recovery.” Unfortunately, that full recovery won’t happen in time for Tables, Ladder and Chairs. WWE claims that Punk injured his knee after getting put through a table by Ryback. That seems a bit not true. Punk looked like his knee was already hurting last week during his match on Raw and he could have been dealing with this for much longer.
While no specific timetable for Punk’s return has been made yet, he has been taken out of the main event for December 15th’s TLC PPV. He had been scheduled to face Ryback (again) for the WWE Championship. Instead, Ryback will join Kane and Daniel Bryan against The Shield in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match that, for the first time ever, will be decided via pinfall or submission. Normally these matches involve climbing a ladder to get a prize (like Ziggler’s MITB briefcase), but since Team Hell No are not putting their tag team championships on the line, there is nothing to suspend from the ceiling (except maybe a steak for Ryback).
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is a pretty devastating blow to the upcoming events. Punk is the top heel and his current WWE Championship streak is a huge talking point. Ironically this occurred just as he was passing John Cena for the longest run in the last 25 years at 380 days. We knew Punk was going to keep the title anyway leading into a match up against Rock at Royal Rumble, but watching him do it is the whole idea here. Now not only is a top heel absent from the card, but there will be no WWE Championship match. A big no-no for sure. It gets more confusing if Punk isn’t ready for the Royal Rumble. Rock has a title shot regardless. Would Punk be forced to surrender the title? That would certainly make for good TV and give him reason for a title shot whenever he was ready, but it would also rob them of what was sure to be an epic defeat to end what has been an epic run. Also, with Punk out, what does Paul Heyman do? He has been glued to Punk for months now and there would be little place for him if both Punk and Lesnar are not around. This just keeps getting worse and worse.
As for the TLC PPV, Cena and Ziggler now get pushed to the main event which is actually fine by me because I was looking forward to it more anyway. Big Show and Sheamus currently have the biggest title on the line with the chairs match for the World Heavyweight Championship. I’m curious if Randy Orton would have joined Team Hell No against Shield if Ryback wasn’t thrown in. Orton was the other guy that got attacked on Raw and the only one that didn’t run out at the end. Orton currently has nothing to do at TLC and something will have to be pulled together quick. The only other match currently on the card is Kofi Kingston versus Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship (which should be match of the night), with R-Truth likely to get a United States Championship rematch against Antonio Cesaro. That means Orton, Miz, Sandow, Del Rio, the Prime Time Players and Sin Cara (and Mysterio if he’s back from wherever he is) all need to be booked somewhere. I assume there will also be a Divas match.
Miz looks to be headed toward an angle against Damien Sandow. If I see another Orton/Del Rio match I might scream, but it certainly looks possible here. I’m sure more will develop next week on Raw. The one other interesting part of this was in Vince McMahon’s statement regarding Punk and the update to the card. He said that “…Ryback does deserve a WWE Title match against CM Punk and will have the opportunity in the very near future.” How near? Royal Rumble is booked for Rock. Could it be on Raw? It mainly stands out to me because he doesn’t just say a title match, he includes against Punk. Trying to read between the lines here, it could mean Punk might retain past the Rumble (not likely) or it’s just an odd choice of words that I’m looking to much into.
We won’t have anything close to an answer until Punk actually starts rehab, but until then the WWE certainly has a big hole to fill without its WWE Champion, top heel, and the best promoter in the business.