As 2012 comes to a close, the entire landscape of WWE is undergoing a huge change as WWE Champion CM Punk finds himself unable to defend his title at WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, and The Shield is scheduled for its first official match. What will unfold on the last Raw before the final pay-per-view event of the year? Here are five things to watch for Monday at 8/7 CT on USA Network.
How long will CM Punk’s reign last?
WWE Champion CM Punk has ridden a huge wave of success since first capturing the WWE Championship at Survivor Series 2011. Even after controversial title matches at this year’s Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series, Punk found a way to keep his coveted title. And after recently surpassing John Cena’s 380-day title reign, Punk became the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the last 25 years. (CHARTING PUNK’S REIGN)
But things can change in the blink of an eye in WWE, and Punk’s recent surgery is a perfect example. (ARE LONG TITLE REIGN’S CURSED?) With Punk no longer defending his title at WWE TLC as per Mr. McMahon (FULL STORY), just how long can he hold on to his title? When will The Second City Saint be back at 100 percent and ready to compete again? Do you think the recovering CM Punk should relinquish the WWE Championship? (VOTE NOW) On Monday’s Raw, will the WWE Universe know more about the fate of the WWE Championship?
CM Punk’s whole schtick is being a douchebag to anyone that comes in contact with him. But over the weekend, he was totally approachable and candid during his Q&A. A few tidbits include a story about him wearing an Obama shirt in 2008 just to piss Vince McMahon off, wanting Dean Ambrose to be the wrestler to retire him, and some pretty on-point observations about how WWE isn’t creating any new stars.
Tattooed on the flesh of the WWE Champion is a classic phrase of rebellion, self-confidence and the general fearless attitude that often accompanies a world-beater in the vein of CM Punk.
“Luck is for losers,” the words go. Of course, in light of Punk’s recent scope to trim a cartilage tear in his left knee, he might want to rethink that particular credo. Not only has the injury effectively removed Punk from the main event of WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs and may endanger his 381-day reign as WWE Champion, but also as it turns out, the champ’s sorry serendipity is not without precedent.
Call it the “long-reign curse,” if such a thing exists, and before the WWE Universe starts crying foul or accusing us of undue superstition, consider the facts. Two of the longest-tenured champions of the last decade met similarly ignominious fates as The Second City Saint did during their runs at the top, ultimately relinquishing the title as a result of their injuries. The first instance came in 2006, during Batista’s unprecedented stint as World Heavyweight Champion. In the midst of a nearly 300-day run with the “Big Gold Title,” Batista suffered a triceps tear against Mark Henry at a WWE Live Event. The ramifications of the injury forced The Animal to relinquish his prize in a tearful address on the Jan. 3 edition of SmackDown, cutting his reign short at 285 days. (WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE HISTORY)
The second instance came at the expense of, oddly enough, the man CM Punk just surpassed on the list of WWE Champions of the modern era: John Cena. (CHARTING PUNK’S REIGN) The Cenation leader had been champion for a year and change when he tore his pectoral muscle clean off the bone in the midst of a match against Randy Orton on Oct. 1, 2007. Though Cena persevered and finished the contest, it ultimately came at a cost as Mr. McMahon vacated the title the next night on ECW. Cena’s injury ended his reign at 380 days. News of Punk’s knee surgery — eerily enough — broke on day 380 of his own stint as WWE Champion.
So we ask again: Are these simply unhappy coincidences? Or did Punk truly fall victim to the force dismissed by the marks on his skin?
On one hand, it’s tough to say a long-reign curse is a concrete certainty, given the silver linings of all the prior instances. For one, Batista is still the longest-reigning World Heavyweight Champion in the title’s 10-year history. Cena’s career didn’t exactly suffer following his injury, and it took five years for a Superstar to surpass his 380-day benchmark. As for Punk, The Chairman did promise Ryback would get his title opportunity in the near future, but at least it won’t be a TLC Match. Plus given Punk’s history of defeating the beast, there’s a solid chance he’ll carry the title with him to the Royal Rumble for a showdown with The Rock for all the marbles.
But at the same time, the evidence is there. Who knows how long Cena and The Animal would have held their respective mantles (we’re guessing it would have been a while) had they not been struck down at the point of making history?
Pitchers in professional baseball practice discretion in determining the frequency and length of their time on the mound to preserve their arms. So the curse could be a simple case of pushing too hard, for too long, at a championship-caliber level. But tearing one’s muscle seems to be a bit too random, too extreme of a freak accident to have seen it coming. And Punk’s knee surgery certainly didn’t carry any warning signs. He looked fine wrestling on it the last couple of months.
Granted, Dr. James Andrews, who performed Punk’s surgery, is optimistic about The Second City Saint’s recovery and insists the champ will be up and running in no time. But injuries are a fickle, fickle matter, and nobody knows what unforeseen complications could await Punk while he rehabs. Being stripped of the title due to an inability to compete is not yet off the table for The Voice of the Voiceless. While that would certainly light a fire under him the likes of which have never been seen, it would certainly seem to lend credence to the existence of the curse.
So really, what we’re trying to say on the matter is the evidence is there, but the jury is out. Either Punk will evade the fate suffered by Cena and Batista and continue to claw his way through the history books … or his title reign will meet a similar, sudden end. We’ll just have to wait and see how his luck holds up.
Credit: Wrestling Observer Newsletter
WWE champion C.M. Punk undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on 12/4 has led to a revamping once again of the 12/16 TLC PPV show, the company’s debut event at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
With Punk out of action, the main event in a TLC match will now be Ryback & Kane & Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield (Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns) in a TLC match where the match will end via pin or submission, not climbing a ladder, since there is nothing to climb up and get.
Punk had been working with right knee problems that had been gradually worsening, with the knee locking up due to meniscus damage. Through arthroscopic surgery, Dr. James Andrews, considered the leading doctor in the country for top level athletes and the WWE’s go-to guy for its top talent, cut out some loose cartilage that was causing his knee to lock up. The cartilage was trapped between his femur and tibia.
According to WWE officials, his recuperation time will depend on how well he progresses while rehabbing the knee, but he is not expected to be out of action longer than a few weeks. The unofficial estimate from a few people close to the situation was around three weeks, but that was just a guess and a better time frame is expected to be released within a few days.
The scheduled Punk vs. The Rock WWE championship match at the Royal Rumble is not in jeopardy.
The knee problem was noticeable in some recent matches when you could see some awkwardness and pain when he used his knee to post when trying to get up from the ground, and in another match, had a noticeable limp for a brief period of time. But for the most part, he’s been gutting through it without any outward sign of problems, and has been carrying the Raw television shows.
In storyline, the injury was attributed to Ryback putting Punk through a table at the 12/3 Raw in Greensboro. We’re told the table spot was not put in specifically because he was going to have surgery but it was there in case he needed time off.
The show, which included a late pushed return of Vince McMahon, drew 3.43 million viewers, which was the lowest actual number of viewers (and third lowest rating) for any episode of the show in almost 15 years. The main culprit was the Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants game. Next week, with the Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots, it is also likely to be a struggle and the week to watch out for is when Raw goes head-to-head with the BCS championship game on 1/7.
At first there wasn’t expected to be an announcement regarding the PPV. Even a few close to the situation thought as late as just hours before television, that there was a slim chance he’d be able to do the TLC show although the general feeling even before a public decision was made was that 12 days was pushing it. There have been wrestlers and football players who have come back from a scope that quickly, but that was in the days when the mentality regarding athletes and injuries was very different and WWE is far more cautious about injuries than even a few years back.
Instead, the announcement of the six man tag was made both on the company’s web site and for television, on the 12/5 edition of Main Event. It will be interesting how the show fares, because it’s a gimmick show that usually does reasonably well, but no WWE title match nor Punk on the show. If it does well with The Shield in the key role, it will show that you can get people over that are completely new and draw money with them if they are pushed hard in the mix with the top guys, since Show vs. Sheamus and Cena vs. Ziggler are not matches that are going to make a money difference from usual levels.
It is believed that The Shield trio was going to be added at the go-home Raw to the PPV in a match against Kane & Bryan and a third person, most likely Randy Orton or The Miz, in a tables match had Punk not needed surgery. They seemed to start a Miz vs. Sandow program at TV on 12/4. Orton and Del Rio has been done to death but it’s possible, just because neither has anyone else to face, that they could end up doing the tables match.
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match with the Money in the Bank briefcase at stake, along with the already announced Big Show vs. Sheamus chairs match are the two other main bouts. It is expected a tables match of some sort will be added to the show. Other official matches are Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett for the IC title and Antonio Cesaro vs. R-Truth for the U.S. title.
Cena vs. Ziggler has been promoted thus far as a one-sided feud. On the 11/26 Raw, Cena pinned Ziggler clean with the Attitude Adjustment. At the Smackdown tapings the next night, Cena laid out Ziggler again with the Attitude Adjustment in a brawl. And then on Raw on 12/3, in a tag match with Cena & Sheamus vs. Show & Ziggler, the finish came with Cena pinning Ziggler with the Attitude Adjustment. Given the stipulations and build, one would think Ziggler wins the match, because after all these losses, Ziggler failing to cash in the Money in the Bank doesn’t make sense for a guy that almost everyone sees as a guy who should be in the top mix at a time when new people are getting a shot. Cena has no need for the briefcase, but it’s WWE and you never know.
Two other key players who may be off the show are Divas champ Eve Torres and Rey Mysterio. Torres is banged up. She did work weekend shows but her three-way matches on the road were changed to tag matches where she did very little, and didn’t do anything on television. Mysterio was pulled from all shows, both television and house shows, for the time being. The official word is he is off a short period of time attending to personal matters.
Based on advertising that was out and other internally, the original card was going to be Cena vs. Ziggler in the TLC match, Punk vs. Ryback in the tables match and Show vs. Sheamus as is in the chairs match. There was talk of Kane & Bryan vs. Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. Prime Time Players in a three-way ladder match for the tag titles. The three-way was in the plans originally whether ladder match or not, plus the U.S. and IC title matches.
— C.M. Punk is scheduled for Raw on Monday, and for each week going forward, although he won’t be wrestling for a few weeks.