Watch Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Braun Strowman create mayhem after the main event in this slow-motion footage, captured during the Jan. 16, 2017 edition of Raw.01/19/2017 - 13:30
Who is the biggest threat to CM Punk's WWE Championship?
Pop quiz: WWE Champion CM Punk is locked in a room with Daniel Bryan, Kane, and AJ. Who poses the biggest threat to his championship, and why? ( POLL)
Punk will have to deal with all three, in some form or another, at No Way Out when he defends his title against Kane and Bryan in a Triple Threat Match ( PREVIEW), and yet the answer is not as cut and dry as the WWE Universe might assume. Kane and Bryan are two wildly different breeds of Superstars with incredibly different motivations for wanting to square off against Punk. And AJ? Well, we can’t figure AJ out at all, which makes her just as much of a wild card as anyone. And when Punk has to contend with Bryan and Kane in the ring, with AJ likely lurking in his corner at No Way Out, it’s likely the WWE Universe is in for a wild set of twists and turns, with the champion besieged by threats to his reign from all sides.
But who poses the biggest danger to Punk’s title? This is where we come in …
Anytime a Superstar steps into the ring against The Devil’s Favorite Demon, they’re rolling the dice with their physical and mental well-being. Kane is legend among the ranks of WWE for both his mind games and punishing physical strength, but the catch is that we’re not entirely sure a championship reign is high on his list of priorities. He did insert himself into contention for Sheamus’ World Heavyweight Title on the 666th episode of SmackDown ( PHOTOS), but that’s the only time since his “resurrection” last December that The Big Red Monster has seemed even remotely concerned with winning a championship. Even his WWE Title opportunity last week on SmackDown – and his inclusion in the Triple Threat Match – is something he was granted by John Laurinaitis, not something he actively sought out.
Kane’s M.O. since his re-masking has been complete and utter destruction, like his psychological warfare with John Cena and Randy Orton, coupled with his utter decimation of Zack Ryder over the course of several months. Not once was a WWE title on the line during any of those rivalries, and not once did that stop Kane’s vicious assault on his opponents’ hearts, bodies and minds. Kane’s been used as a pawn in Bryan and Punk’s rivalry for a month now; this match could be his chance to simply get both of them in the same space together and exact his vengeance. A title opportunity is just a bonus, and besides, Kane wants to punish both men equally.
Is Kane a threat to Punk’s physical well-being? Oh yes, absolutely. But if Kane failed to claim the title and still left Punk a beaten mess on the canvas, it seems like the sort of statement performance that would satiate him all the same.
Daniel Bryan, on the other hand, is all about vindication, and since his ascent to the top last winter, the only way he knows how to vindicate himself is by winning and keeping World Championships. Most recently, he’s out for a bit of payback after a narrow loss to Punk in a WWE Title Match at WWE Over the Limit ( PHOTOS). The loss left Bryan seething, and he’s likely to keep targeting The Second City Saint until he gets what he wants. Plus, Bryan did score a win over Punk in a neck-and-neck contest on Raw SuperShow, which means that the “Yes!” man is more than capable of getting one over on the WWE Champion. Fortune kept Bryan from the prize the last time he challenged Punk for the championship, but it might not favor Punk so much this next time.
Then again, of course, there’s one more X-factor to consider …
Yes, that AJ. The hundred-pounds-soaking-wet, shy-smiling, girl-next-door “Geek Goddess” who may good and well be the biggest threat walking to CM Punk’s WWE Championship. It’s an odd thing to consider, since AJ’s entire role in all of this has been a slavelike devotion to Daniel Bryan, followed up by an odd fixation on CM Punk. Since her acrimonious split from Bryan after his WrestleMania loss to Sheamus, AJ’s become more than a little unhinged, decking her best friend Kaitlyn backstage and mauling Natalya in a Divas Match on SmackDown ( WATCH). And now she’s taken to shadowing Punk and wearing his T-shirt, alternating between wracking sobs and a crazy-eyed eagerness to please that seemed to alternately terrify the WWE Champion and pique his interest.
Thus far, AJ’s actually proven herself of use to Punk, tossing him a chair to fend off an attack from Kane on Raw SuperShow. And Punk seems to like having her around, what with him “digging crazy chicks” (his words, not ours) and all. But one thing AJ has shown is that she’s incredibly unpredictable, and let’s not forget she doesn’t have the greatest of track records as a good-luck charm for a World Champion. Her infamous pre-match kiss with Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XXVIII directly led to the jaw-shattering Brogue Kick from Sheamus that robbed Bryan of the World Title in a record 18 seconds. We doubt Punk is quite so easily distracted as that, but through no fault of her own, AJ’s Fatal Attraction obsession with The Voice of the Voiceless might end up costing CM Punk the WWE Championship one day very, very soon.
Come to think of it, it may just happen at No Way Out …