Hell In A Cell came and went this past Sunday, and as usual, I was left considerably underwhelmed. Sunday was one of those rare nights in WWE where I was truly speculative about how WWE would approach their Main Event. I knew that the outcome would likely include Punk retaining, but how he would do it was a complete mystery. They needed Punk to retain and Ryback to look strong, which seemed nearly impossible because of the Hell In A Cell stipulation. There were multiple scenarios posed by fans, most of which were more completely conceived than the finish the WWE decided to go with. Not that the finish they chose was bad per se, it’s just conceptually played out, fundamentally uninteresting, and altogether too safe.
The crooked referee seems to be Vince’s favorite deception, but the finish at Hell In A Cell could have set up something much greater with a little more thought, and some guts. This week I’m trying something different. I've always been a big fan of the old "What If" comics and I'm going to emulate them today in my writing. What If I had booked the finish to CM Punk vs. Ryback at Hell In A Cell. What would I have done and how would I have solved the dilemma of making Ryback look strong and making Punk retain the title and look like an evil genius?
I know there are some of you that aren’t into "fantasy booking" (if so this piece isn't going to be for you), but I felt like it would be fun to dabble in it for today. Rest assured, unless there is an overwhelming amount of positive feedback (and honestly, even if there is), I will not extensively be engaging in fantasy booking like this again. With that said, Let’s Do This!
Sunday October 28th – Hell In A Cell
CM Punk faces Ryback in the Main Event. The brawl spills outside the Cell and Punk climbs the cage seeking refuge from Ryback’s relentless onslaught. Ryback follows Punk to the top and the two battle high above the arena floor.
Eventually in a high-risk spot, Ryback delivers a maneuver to CM Punk that results in both plummeting from the top of the cage and crashing through the announce table below, leaving both incapacitated. Trainers and medical personnel rush to the ring to check on both Superstars. The PPV goes off the air silently, with EMTs attending to an unresponsive CM Punk and Ryback.
Hours later on WWE.com, it is reported that Ryback and Punk have been taken to a nearby medical facility and are being treated for injuries suffered in their hellacious drop from the Cell.
Monday October 29th – Monday Night Raw
The next night on Raw, Michael Cole updates us on Ryback and CM Punk’s condition. Ryback has been released from the hospital with minor injuries but Punk hasn’t been as lucky. He is still in hospital undergoing tests and very little is known about his condition at this time.
During the week, WWE.com will post updates on Punk’s condition, and on Sunday November 4th announce that Punk will be on Raw the following night to give the WWE Universe an update on his condition.
Monday November 5th – Monday Night Raw
Vince McMahon enters the arena and addresses the dangerous spot at Hell In a Cell. He then introduces CM Punk, who comes to the ring severely banged up and without his WWE Championship. Vince leaves the ring and allows CM Punk to emotionally announce that he suffered a career ending injury in the fall from the Cell, and has been told he must retire from in-ring competition. He mentions that he hopes to be back one day years down the line like Shawn Michaels was able to do, but fears that like Adam (Edge) he will never be healthy enough to compete again. CM Punk will then give a short good-bye speech. He thanks the fans for allowing him to entertain them and for giving him a home. He loves them and he loves all the boys and girls in the back for making the ride a memorable one.
At the end of the night after cameras have stopped rolling, the entire roster will come out and pay respect to CM Punk, in an emotional farewell that will later be posted as a WWE.com exclusive.
Vince McMahon later announces that there will be a tournament to determine a new WWE Champion culminating at Survivor Series. The next night on Raw (Monday November 19th), CM Punk will officially forfeit the WWE Championship to the winner of the tournament. As a tribute to Punk, until that Raw on November 19th, CM Punk will “officially” remain WWE Champion, so that his reign as Champion will reach the one-year mark exactly, before the title is forfeited to a new Champion.
Monday November 12th – Monday Night Raw
CM Punk does an interview from his home in Chicago to discuss how he’s adjusting to life without wrestling. He’s happy to be alive and he’s happy to be with his family. He would love to be able to go out there and wrestle but his family is making his transition easier. He’ll be on hand at Survivor Series.
Sunday November 18th – Survivor Series
John Cena wins the tournament. After the match he salutes CM Punk in the crowd.
Monday November 19th – Monday Night Raw
At the end of the show, CM Punk joins Vince McMahon and John Cena in the ring, where Punk will forfeit the title to Cena. John gives a speech that details his and Punk’s history, and speaks highly of everything that Punk was able to accomplish in his time in the WWE. He says he will never have a greater adversary and that he’s sad to see Punk go. Vince will then say a few kind words about CM Punk before giving the mic to Punk, so that he can address the WWE Universe one last time before handing the belt over to Cena, and riding off into the sunset.
Punk takes the mic, emotional from the beautiful things said about him, and mouth to John Cena “I’m so glad it was you.” Punk then says something along these lines:
“Thank you John, Mr. McMahon, all the boys in the back and the WWE Universe for the adoration and respect you have showered me with since I announced my condition and retirement. Who knew it took me leaving unceremoniously to get the respect I deserve. I busted my ass day in and day out to prove to you all that I was the best in the world, and none of you wanted to admit it, but now that I can’t do it anymore, you’re all clamoring to tell me how great I was… pardon me, I am.
All the emails, the twitter messages, the touts, I read, listened and watched each and every one of them and each message made me sicker than the last. Respect is what I deserved from day one and I didn’t get it till my last day. You don’t respect me Vince, just like all the boys in the back and these people don’t respect me. You were happy to see me go Vince. Admit it John, you’re happy to see me go because you know you couldn’t beat me on your best day. You were all happy to see me walk out that door, a broken man.
But I’m not bitter; I just want to thank you all for doing exactly what you do best. Thank you Vince for capitalizing on my injury for publicity and pandering to me like only you can do. Thank you John for continuing to be the most gullible clown to ever be employed by the WWE. And thank you WWE Universe for proving once again that you are sheep that I can control any time I want. My career isn’t over, and I’m going to be here for years to come. I fooled all of you, and it brought me great pleasure to see you all embarking on this wild goose chase, this tournament for nothing, because I am cleared for competition, I am NOT retiring and I am still the WWE Champion! The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the masses he didn’t exist!”
John Cena stares at Punk in shock before Punk clocks him with the WWE Title. Vince is irate and visibly seething at this turn of events. Punk sadistically smiles at Vince before clocking him with the title and nailing him with the GTS. He grabs his title, raises his hands in the air and screams “BEST IN THE WORLD!” before running from the ring to the back. Backstage he gets in a car with Paul Heyman who is grinning from ear to ear. The two drive from the building as quickly as possible as the show goes off the air.
The idea is at its core what Punk pulled off in ROH, on a much grander scale. If it were believed that he was truly being forced to retire due to injury, this deception would get CM Punk nuclear heat and establish that he is in so many ways the devil incarnate within the WWE. I would much prefer that to seeing Punk arbitrarily assemble a team of superstars that he has openly expressed disdain for to beat a team Mick Foley has picked.
It would also set up the main event for TLC, John Cena vs. CM Punk, the WWE’s greatest hero taking on its most despicable villain, for the right to face The Rock at The Royal Rumble. More importantly, the angle would create a plethora of buzz surrounding the WWE if they were able get people to believe that Punk really suffered a career ending injury at Hell In A Cell.
Ryback will still look strong having not lost to Punk, and can be redirected to another feud having fulfilled his purpose as a stand in for John Cena. After The Royal Rumble, he and Punk can face off again to settle the score.
There you have it, just me having fun engaging my imagination, but as always I’d like to know what you think? Do you see a reason why the WWE couldn’t have done this? Did you like the crooked ref finish? Do you think that WWE Creative have decided why Brad Maddox helped CM Punk yet?
I’ll be back next week with an edition of A Matter Of Character, but until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween.