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Chair Shots: Punk being force-fed to Ryback?

Well, I can honestly say I didn't see that coming. John Cena's elbow is clearly not ready to go, evidenced by the fact that Ryback was chosen as the challenger for CM Punk's WWE Championship gold at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in two weeks. Either that, or WWE is just swerving us for a week to see if Cena might be better off before making it a Triple Threat match. Bottom line, I did not expect Ryback to get a one-on-one match with Punk in the main event of a pay-per-view.

But I'm certainly excited for it. For all those clamouring for something different, well, you're getting it. There is a ton of intrigue in this match. CM Punk has been champion for 330 days and counting. Ryback is undefeated. It's inside Hell in a Cell, which means Punk can't get a cheap disqualification victory.

How can they keep the title on Punk without doing damage to Ryback's build? That's the question the smart wrestling fan is asking today. And there is no obvious answer. To a casual fan, it seems like the stars are aligning for a title change with a new face becoming champion. That's why the PPV will be worth paying $60 to watch in two weeks.

The final segment of the show, I thought, was excellent. Cena was perfect in putting over Ryback as well as bowing out of the situation without losing any heat for himself. Ryback played his role perfectly too. As I mentioned in yesterday's column, I like Ryback as the silent killer type. Having him cut lenghty promos in the style of Cena or Sheamus could expose him and turn a segment of the fans on him if he stumbles. Letting his actions do the talking with a few catch phrases is perfect for where his character is at right now. ...

-- Where does this leave Cena? If he isn't ready to wrestle, I wonder if he couldn't be made a special referee of some sort in the match. That would seemingly stack the odds even higher against Punk. I also would not put it past WWE to panic and add him to the match on next week's Raw, making it a triple threat, depending on the online reaction to last night's announcment of Ryback as the challenger. Cena could also be left off the PPV entirely, a la last year's TLC. How the show draws without Cena will give them an indication of whether Ryback really is ready for prime time.

I know this is out there, but why not have Cena wrestle Dolph Ziggler in the under card of the PPV? Ziggler is desperate for some sort of rivalry and he and Cena had a stupendous series of matches a few years back on Raw and Smackdown around the holidays. I was hoping for Ryback vs. Ziggler at Hell in a Cell, assuming Cena was getting the title shot, but this would be an equally excellent addition to the card.

-- Speaking of Ziggler, I liked that he basically bailed on the two-on-one match with Ryback, leaving his partner David Otunga out to dry. Perhaps Ryback vs. Ziggler one-on-one is going to get booked for next week's Raw or something. It's definitely a match I want to see. Ziggler is the best bumper in WWE right now and is also a credible opponent for Ryback, who's toughest opposition so far has probably been Tensai (at least in a one-on-one situation).

WWE keeps bringing up Ziggler's promise of cashing in his Money in the Bank contract at Hell in a Cell, but that just seems like a big tease. I don't think he'll actually do it, although Big Show is easily the most physically imposing opponent Sheamus will have faced to this point. Storyline-wise, even with a victory, Sheamus should be prone to a cash-in.

-- How can people not be sold on the Sheamus-Big Show match? I know the so-called smart fans have soured on Sheamus' character and his long title reign (meanwhile lapping up Punk's reign with a spoon, but that's a column for another day) and most of that same group has never liked Big Show because of his in-ring style, but I think their match should be a very stiff and entertaining one. Sheamus' pale white skin shows the wounds of war better than most, and I think these two will have a high level of brutality without using weapons of any sort.

By the way, it's worth noting that the World Championship match likely won't take place inside the cell. I'm OK with that. It doesn't need it and I think having multiple cell matches on one show -- even a PPV named Hell in a Cell -- waters down the concept.

-- Using the WWE Tag Team Champions as fodder for Big Show isn't my favorite thing in the world, but I don't have a real problem with it because of the history Show has with both Daniel Bryan and Kane. The opening promo with Show wanting to avenge his 45-second title reign against Bryan made perfect sense. Bryan got in enough offense to look credible, but really, he shouldn't have a snowball's chance against a guy that size. The other thing it did was prove Bryan can very easily get over as a babyface, even though his current act is that of a heel.

Kane standing up for his tag partner against Big Show was cool too. There are a lot of little stories being told in his Kane-Daniel Bryan "alliance" and WWE's continuity has never been better. Show vs. Kane is a good match to set-up on Smackdown (where I expect Show to go over and continue building momentum), and I wouldn't be surprised if Bryan draws Sheamus as an opponent, too.

-- Assuming the Rhodes Scholars win the tag team tournament (the match was postponed a week because Rey Mysterio is ill), and I think they will, it would make perfect sense for them to take on former teacher Matt Striker as their manager against Kane and Daniel Bryan after the tag champs have tortured him the past few weeks. I think the Rhodes Scholars actually have some longevity, if WWE wants them to have it, whether they win the tag team titles or not.

Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow defeated Epico and Primo in a longer-than-I-wanted-it-to-be match, but I got the impression that's the time they had allotted for the tournament finals and they pulled the plug at the last minute when Rey couldn't go. (Probably not the best choice of words, considering he's apparently suffering from a stomach virus.) Still, a nice momentum building win for the Rhodes Scholars.

-- The Prime Time Players got some of their momentum back by defeating Team Co-Bro in short order, but when they promptly left the ring, you had to know Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal were going to be ready to strike. Not sure why, but they obviously have an issue with Zack Ryder and Santino Marella. The 3MB (Three Man Band, I assume?) had a new look with them all wearing leather jackets and sunglasses, rather than appearing as a mismatched trio in their wrestling gear.

Look, I get that people hate these three, but isn't that the point? I think the fact they've found a way to make Slater, McIntyre and Mahal -- all low-card heel jobbers -- relevant is a good thing, even if the group doesn't have an obvious reason for (pardon the pun) banding together, other than the fact they were going nowhere as singles stars.

-- Does the Miz even know how to spell his name correctly right now after that nasty Trouble in Paradise kick in his match with Kofi Kingston? Holy heck that had to hurt. Pro wrestling secret, friends, typically, a wrestler puts their hand up to shield their face and cause the smacking sound of those headshots. Miz seemed to be a tad late -- or Kingston a bit early -- and the kick instead connected clean. I wouldn't be shocked if Miz has a concussion and the Intercontinental Championship match scheduled for Main Event (being taped tonight) is pushed back to allow him to recover. While I typically don't like seeing a nontitle match between the two competitors just days before their title match, I think the point here was to hard sell the likelihood of a title change on WWE's newest show.

The promo exchange between these two on Miz TV was very good as well, and I thought Jim Ross was teriffic in furthering the story of Kofi being a nice guy who needs to be more aggressive and referencing what should've been his breakout moment against Randy Orton at MSG a few years back.

-- Alberto Del Rio made short work of Brodus Clay, and I couldn't help but think that the Funkasaurus character has worn out its welcome and is now relegated to jobber-to-the-stars treatment. Clay still hasn't had much of a real feud. I'd like to see something done with the Clay and R-Truth connection from last week. Truth is another character with no direction now that Kingston is getting his big singles push.

Del Rio vs. Randy Orton was made official for Hell in a Cell. What more can you really saw about that one? Their Smackdown matches have been really good, so I expect nothing less on a PPV stage.

-- Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett delivered a good, hard-hitting match for the second straight week, once again ending without a finish when Big Show got involved. I like the tease here. I think WWE is testing the waters to see how Barrett and Sheamus work together. The answer: Great. I'd like to see Barrett actually beat Sheamus after a couple no-decisions to set him up as the next challenger for the World Championship, perhaps at Survivor Series.

Barrett needs a victory over a significant opponent sooner than later, in my opinion. If Clay is going to be doing jobs on the reg now, that would be a good place to start before all the shine is off the Funkasaurus.

-- After succesfully defending the Divas Championship in successive weeks against Kaitlyn and Layla, I'm not really sure what the next step is in the Eve Torres storyline. Have they dropped the whole blonde-wig attacker of Kaitlyn? Honestly, after the emotional pre-tape promo Layla had about her mom dying from breast cancer, I kind of expected her to win the match last night. I guess Layla has an out because she got her foot on the rope, even though the referee didn't see it (that old chestnut? I'd rather Eve has used the ropes for leverage).

The action in the Divas match was surprisingly good, with Eve using a lot of various submission moves. Did I hear correctly? Was that a "this is awesome" chant during a Divas match? Did I miss something?

-- Justin Gabriel and Antonio Cesaro had great chemistry in their match, I thought. Cesaro's in-ring work is very good was complemented by Gabriel's high-flying ability. Gabriel's springboard into Cesaro's uppercut was sick. I wish Gabriel and Tyson Kidd would get more of a chance as a tag team on TV instead of being jobbers-to-the-stars, but their time will come soon enough.

Back to Cesaro, however. I think he's doing great as the U.S. Champion and starting to really establish the anti-American gimmick. Wonder who the patriot will be to finally knock him off?

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