For the longest time, predicting WWE’s booking was a thing that happened on a month-by-month basis. Let me explain. Armchair booking between friends and fellow wrestling fans is a common occurrence. “Put the title on Wrestler X” Guy Y and Guy Z should have a feud! They work great together.” That sort of thing. And while yes my predictions, as I’m sure many of yours, would often go far into the future, months ahead, usually to whichever of the “Big Four” PPVs was up next. And while it’s fun to go off the rails and talk about your wildest fantasy booking, I’ve often tried to stay within some semblance of reality. Starting from where the WWE is now, no bringing back way long shots for anything, and other self imposed rules. I’m sure you have your own similar set of self-regulation when trying to explain to people what the WWE should be doing right now.
The thing is that this kind of fantasy booking would have to be updated at least once a month, after each PPV. When titles would change hands, rivalries would end, new ones would begin, other wrestling shenanigans would have to be sorted out. No matter what you booked in your head, it would often have to adjust greatly after a PPV to get back inline with the new, current WWE landscape. But then the Rock went and changed everything.
Last year when it was announced that Rock and Cena would be facing each other at WrestleMania a year before it actually happened, that added a whole new element. No matter what you might be booking for Cena in your head, or with your friends it had to be over and done within the year. We even got to see this problem a bit on the screen at the top of the year, when Cena was put into a “going nowhere” rivalry with Kane because it was too early for the Rock to come back and Cena still had to be on TV. And this isn’t an isolated incident Again, thanks to the Rock, we know what half of the title match will be in January months in advance.
Why bring this up now? Because this Monday, current champ CM Punk was put in a match with Ryback at Hell in a Cell. This is a near yearlong championship reign being put up against an undefeated streak that has run since the character’s debut. Under normal circumstances this would actually be a really interesting setup. Which way will the WWE go, who will they back? Ryback clearly has fan support and creative support. It’s kina early for this guy to get the title but then again it was early for Sheamus, and he had support from backstage as well. At the same time, Punk has held the title for nearly a year, when he does eventually drop it; it will have to come with some major fallout. And because of Hell in a Cell stipulations one of these two streaks will have ended by the end of the month no matter what.
The only think is that we know the end of the story without knowing everything in the middle. Just three PPVs later, whoever is the current champ will face The Rock. And knowing that puts a damper on any buildup for the current PPV. Sure these two might put on a great match together, but as far as story and buildup go, the questions aren’t really about Punk and Ryback, but Punk and Rock. Thoughts like having Rock breaking a two-month title reign is a lot less impressive than having him break one that’s lasted over a year. Or knowing that as soon as Cena can get back in the ring, he will very likely be going after the title as well. And do you want to turn another face into a heel just so they can have a Cena rivalry? (It would be the second one in four months)
I can’t say for sure that Ryback is guaranteed to go down at Hell in a Cell, but it doesn’t look good. And everything that makes it look grim for Ryback is something that will be taking place after October 28th. Which on one hand is frustrating because I sat through months of Ryback jobber matches only to watch the whole streak end on a filler feud. But it’s even worse because the whole thing feels like a filler feud. Like Cena and Kane, we’re just waiting for the Rock to get back or at the very least for Cena to get back into the ring. And that’s the thing. I’m not really sure what the advantage is for announcing Rock’s title match so early. I don’t know if these extra months result in extra buys for the PPV at all. They’re not talking about it on TV, so they’re not using that extra time for buildup. The Rock isn’t on the show at all so it’s not like we’re at least getting the trade off of seeing The Rock. Instead all we’re getting is a few more filler matches. Filler matches that WWE wants us to pay for.