Precap to the Oct. 22, 2012 episode of WWE 'Monday Night Raw', or the one before 'Hell in a Cell'

Previewing the Oct. 22, 2012 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, the go-home show for Hell in a Cell, featuring the WWE Champion CM Punk and Ryback's final confrontation as well as the finale to the number-one contenders tournament for the Tag Team Championship. YES! YES! YES!

Punk! Ryback! Cena! Vince! Heyman! Disorder at the Peak! WWE Championship!

It's official, folks. CM Punk will be facing Ryback for the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell. It is, at the very least, an interesting turn of events from how the fall season started. We were supposed to get a few months of Punk and John Cena, the two biggest powers on the roster today, battling each other for ultimate supremacy of WWE.

Now we have something a little... less.

That is not to say that Punk vs. Ryback can't be a good feud, or that we should assume the match will be horrible before the Pay-Per-View (PPV) even gets started. It's just that between the potential matchups of Punk, Cena, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and possibly Stone Cold Steve Austin, the name "Ryback" just doesn't seem to fit in.

But by gawd Vince McMahon will do his best to try, won't he?

What's utterly fascinating to me is not just that Ryback will be main eventing a PPV, but the fact it was John Cena who gave Ryack the go ahead to close last Monday's (Oct. 15) show. I'm not trying to say Cena has a long history of failing to put his fellow wrestlers over cleanly, has been involved in more shmoz finishes and shenanigans than clean losses, or that when push comes to shove each opportunity to grow a new star comes and goes without it ever being taken advantage of...

Wait, that's exactly what I am saying. (I look forward to your scathing comments.)

The point I am trying to get at, though, is that I am interested in WWE's long term plans for Ryback. Throughout his re-debut I have taken him as a faux-Goldberg, little more than a joke on the former WCW and WWE star. In that sense Ryback played the role perfectly. A monster face of few words who destroyed jobbers and "local talent." Eventually, he might rise up the ranks to actually challenge for a midcard title, but that was supposed to be a while down the road.

Then Cena got hurt, and now Ryback will be entering Hell in a Cell.

If Ryback is simply a stopgap, then WWE is throwing away the entire gimmick for a one-off match. However, with Cena endorsing the guy like he did, I'm not sold on that theory. It's entirely possible that Ryback is being considered as WWE's "next big thing".

We're winding down the days of Cena, Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio as the babyfaces of the "Brand Split / PG Era." With Sheamus as the lone face of the next generation, there is room for a few more bodies at the top. CM Punk may be retiring soon. Daniel Bryan is being flipped back and forth between face and heel (in between getting "buried"). The rest of the roster has failed to truly get themselves over. And who knows how long it will take the talent on WWE NXT to break into the major leagues.

As weird as it is to say, Ryback may be the only option available at the moment.

So I look forward to how WWE opts to handle the monster. They may push him to the moon this month, only to forget about him the next. Or this could be foreshadowing of many things to come.

I've yet to decide on what is the worst case scenario: a WWE where Ryback is the champion? Or one which has been left completely barren?

Monday Night Raw is three hours long, and yet there seems to only be one story with enough meat to flesh out. Such is WWE, I guess.

Everything Else! Bullet Points!

  • The finals to the number-one contender tournament for the Tag Team Championship should be tonight. We'll see if Rey Mysterio has overcome his "illness" to face Rhodes Scholars. It doesn't really matter, though, because we all know who will be getting the victory. (Hint: it will be Rhodes Scholars)
  • I finally realized why AJ Lee was made the General Manager of Monday Night Raw. When Triple H or John Laurinaitis was in charge, it was impossible for Vince McMahon to show up without some type of power struggle. With AJ, though? No one thinks twice about what the infamous "Board of Directors" said about Vince running the day-to-day operations. Pretty sneaky, sis Vince.
  • Hell No is still awesome. That is all.

Hopefully, this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Leave a comment about what you are looking forward to, and please join Nolan, myself, and the entire Monday night cSs gang in the live blog right here.

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