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Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship
CM Punk: 76.8%
Sometimes there are iconic moments in professional wrestling that you don't see coming. You look back years later and realize they changed the landscape of the business, for better or for worse. But tonight's main event title match isn't so subtle. It's appropriate that a giant storm looms angrily off the United States' east coast as I type up this preview, because I honestly feel like I'm in the "calm before the storm". Tonight's Hell in a Cell championship match has a big feel to it; it could very well effect a lot of things, for better or for worse.
Ryback winning means the end of a 340 day title run for CM Punk. I'm not totally against that; it had to happen some time, right? The problem isn't with Punk losing the belt, it's with Ryback being the guy who does it. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I'm a big fan of "The Ryback", as my friends at Wrestle Reaction effectionately call him, but even I'll admit this all seems way too soon. He's got a lot of steam, and the fans are WAY behind him. Giving him the WWE title and letting him run through the company for a few months might be the best idea ever...or maybe not.
Ratings are in the toilet, and with the NFL not ending until early 2013, don't expect them to bounce up until the Road to WrestleMania begins. IF they bounce back. The reaction you hear on Raw doesn't always translate to pay-per-view buys and cable ratings; Ryback winning the title will be big, the question is: for how long? The scary thing about all of this is it's a situation where I can't predict an outcome. Either Punk retains and ends the best build-up to a career wrestling has seen in a long time, or WWE takes a huge leap of faith and hope Ryback can hold the company. OR they go with a swerve, and we don't get to see the match at all.
For anyone who is paying to see the match tonight, that would be a very, very, very bad move on WWE's part. I know personally it's the only reason I'm forking over $50, and if at the hour mark they go the direction of a swerve and throw John Cena into the match, I'm going to be upset. That could have bigger consequences than just giving Ryback the belt in the first place. Learn something from the recent controversy in the UFC: book a show and deliver. But deliver WHAT!? I don't know...I honestly don't.
Will Brock Lesnar interfere? Will John Cena somehow walk out the Champion? Will Steve Austin just show up and beat the holy hell out of CM Punk? There's a better chance of a snowball surviving in hell, but that would be the absolute best route for them to go down. Imagine "Stone Cold" costing Punk the title! Not quite the swerve we expected, but how big would that be for wrestling? For Punk? There's a dozen scenarios that could play out tonight at Hell in a Cell, and I honestly don't expect it to end in a way that makes me happy. There's nothing that can make everyone happy, but with so much on the line comes a laundry list of expectations; ones that will be damn near impossible to deliver on. The best I can hope for is that the fallout of the match takes pro wrestling in a postive direction...
Prediction: Ryback Wins, New Champion
Order WWE Hell in a Cell on pay-per-view tonight at 8/7c, and follow along with Wrestlezone.com throughout the night for exclusive results and coverage. And follow me @MikeKillam on Twitter, as I'll be updating my account live, throughout the event.