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WWE TLC match card preview: CM Punk vs. The Shield

It won't matter who's paying for the services of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, as all three Hounds of Justice are unleashed on The Best in the World on Sunday night in Houston.

Three-on-One Handicap Match

CM Punk vs. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns)

CM Punk has barely had a second to breathe even after eliminating Paul Heyman from his life. The Straight Edge Superstar has found himself directly in the cross-hairs of The Shield, and now his back is against the wall in an impossible 3-on-1 match against The Hounds Of Justice at TLC.

The Road to TLC

The night after Survivor Series, CM Punk grabbed a mic and expressed his displeasure with HHH's lack of creativity. Not surprisingly, The Shield came out later on during Punk's match and Roman Reigns speared him into oblivion, severely injuring his ribs. The Shield then finished Punk off with a bone-crushing triple power bomb.

The next week on Raw, CM Punk accused HHH of sending The Shield after him. Kane, the Director of Operations, reassured Punk that a completely unbiased investigation into the matter showed that The Authority had no involvement in the attack. The Shield suddenly ambushed the ring and were ready to pounce, when Stephanie McMahon halted their impending assault and said that CM Punk was to be respected and admired. Kane then showed his respect and admiration for Punk by booking The Best In The World into a 3 versus 1 handicap match at TLC against all three members of The Shield.

Punk later told Renee Young that he knew he was going down at TLC. The Shield had spent the last year running roughshod over the entire WWE and taking out all of the top superstars including The Rock, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, The Undertaker, Sheamus, and even the main event player Brodus Clay. Punk knew that he was facing impossible odds, but he was still determined to take some members of The Shield down with him at TLC.

However, all hope was not lost for Punk because The Shield began to finally show some subtle cracks in their unity around this time. Ambrose interrupted Roman Reigns during an interview to selfishly assert that he was clearly the baddest man in The Shield and that he should be the obvious man to take out CM Punk in a singles match. Reigns didn't look to pleased to hear this news. A similar occurrence took place at The Slammy Awards, as Dean Ambrose interrupted Reigns during a presentation when Reigns was about to announce the nominees for the Double Cross of the Year award. A sign of foreshadowing, perhaps? Ambrose's Shield brethren did not seem to appreciate his desire for the spotlight at their expense.

Later that night Ambrose battled Punk in a singles match. Towards the end of the match, a cocky Dean Ambrose got in the face of Rollins and Reigns and told them to take a hike, as he didn't need them standing ringside to defeat Punk. Reigns and Rollins incredulously left the ringside area, while Punk recovered and finished off Ambrose with a GTS. This painted the one clear path to a Punk victory at TLC - take advantage of a miscommunication with The Shield and finish off an isolated member.

What's at stake?

The unity of The Shield could very well be at stake on Sunday night at TLC. If CM Punk can use his wits to outsmart The Shield and pit them against each other, he has a chance to take the entire unit down all by himself. But CM Punk's ribs are also on the line at TLC due to all the spears he has endured in recent weeks. Punk's body could easily reach its breaking point if The Shield can keep their egos in check and utilize their near-perfect tag team strategy against him.

For complete results and live match coverage of Survivor Series tonight click here.

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