And to think, CM Punk was almost out of the woods.
The Second City Saint had carved himself a nice little out for Survivor Series following his controversial defeat of Ryback at Hell in a Cell: a Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match in which he was the captain, his title was not up for grabs and he had eight Superstars to separate him from Ryback. The end result was almost guaranteed that Punk would saunter out of the fall classic with the WWE Title in his clutches and, potentially, spare himself from further physical harm at the hands of the beast.
But that, as they say, was then.
Now, Punk faces his most significant test since going into business for himself as WWE Champion: The Voice of the Voiceless has been ousted from the 10-Man Elimination Tag Team Match and thrust into a proverbial lion’s den of a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship against both Ryback and John Cena.
The match, mandated by Mr. McMahon after he deemed Punk’s participation in a Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match unsatisfactory, seems tailor-made to relieve The Second City Saint of his precious title. Unlike the Triple Threat with Cena and Big Show at SummerSlam, opponents Ryback and Cena have no outstanding beef with each other to distract them from destroying Punk. Rather, both men will be focused squarely on The Voice of the Voiceless and his WWE Championship. And while Punk owns a handsome win-loss record over Cena, his defeat of Ryback at Hell in a Cell was largely the result of referee Brad Maddox’s interference in the contest.
But counting the champion out at this point would be both premature and naïve for a WWE Universe that has been proven wrong, time and time and time again, by the resilience and instinct of The Second City Saint. Punk is among the shrewdest of champions, an expert at either manipulating a scenario to suit his needs or taking advantage of a turn of events in the name of preserving his stay atop the mountain. (Would it really surprise anyone if Ryback and Cena turned on each other in an attempt to score the championship fall, only for Punk to pick the bones by pinning one of them?)
The elusive one-year mark looms closer than ever; if Punk escapes Survivor Series as champion, he’ll likely notch one turn around the sun with the WWE Title. The validation Punk seeks in his own mind is closer than ever before, and despite this last hurdle placed in his way by WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon, it’s safe to say Punk will do whatever it takes to persevere.
In other words, to say that CM Punk has nowhere to hide in this match is a small exaggeration, if it is one at all. But he’s survived such odds before.