It was the source of endless discussion in the week leading up to the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) event last night (Sun., Oct. 28, 2012) in Atlanta, Georgia. How would WWE book the finish between Champion CM Punk and challenger Ryback?
The general consensus seemed to be a smoz finish was in order because the company wouldn't want to give up on Punk as its champion, especially when a big money match against The Rock at Royal Rumble is just around the corner.
At the same time, though, Ryback had yet to lose and he needed to be kept strong because well, that's the entire basis for his character. He can't rightfully be billed as an ass kicking machine if he's not, you know, kicking asses.
The answer? Do both, but with backstory to boot.
After a decent match, nothing special but not bad, either, Ryback set up Punk for the Shell Shocked finish. He picked "The Straight Edge Superstar" up, marched him around the ring, and set up to dump him on his back.
That's when referee Brad Maddox stepped in the way, halted Ryback just long enough to adequately confuse the big lug, and dropped to one knee to swiftly deliver a low blow Ric Flair would be proud of. This, of course, put "Big Hungry" down on the mat long enough for Punk to get the cover and Maddox to count a quick three.
Punk retains the title after screwing over Ryback thanks to a seemingly planned spot with a crooked referee. It was the perfect way to do it, too, considering it doesn't matter how big a man is, if he gets it hard and clean in the nutsack, he's going to be damn near paralyzed.
After, Punk and Maddox failed to open the cage door in time and ended up at the mercy of the recovered Ryback. That's when he got to go into full blown pissed off roid rage destroyer mode and toss Maddox around like a rag doll. The former Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) superstar bumped big for him, too, serving his purpose.
To really drive the point home, Ryback went after Punk again. Just beating on him a bit wouldn't get back the heat he lost with his first loss, though. They needed something big, a spot that would live in fans memories for some time to come.
So Punk ran away by climbing the 20-foot cage and Ryback, all 300-some pounds of him, followed. Standing atop the Hell in a Cell structure, Ryback hit the Shell Shock finish and stood triumphant over Punk. No victory, no belt.
Already, the WWE.com recaps are planting seeds that Paul Heyman concocted some master plan and Maddox is just a piece of the puzzle. It's a nice way to build interest for Monday Night Raw later this evening and the continuing journey of Punk as WWE champion.
Clean finishes are always best but if a smoz had to happen here -- and I truly believe it did -- this was probably the best way to go about it.
Agree or disagree?