What does Punk’s surgery mean for WWE TLC?

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December 04, 2012

On the heels of the breaking news that WWE Champion CM Punk underwent emergency knee surgery Tuesday — a mere 12 days before a scheduled title defense against Ryback — the WWE Universe is abuzz with speculation about how the surgery will affect the lineup of WWE TLC. Punk is currently slated to face Ryback for the championship gold he holds so dearly in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match at the Dec. 16 pay-per-view.

Details on the extent of Punk’s knee injury are still scarce, and WWE officials have not yet signaled any changes to the WWE TLC card or its WWE Championship Match. (FULL STORY) But with less than a fortnight separating Punk’s emergency surgery and a scheduled title bout, is it all but inevitable that a big shakeup is coming the way of WWE TLC?

Without word from the office of Raw Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero, it’s likely too soon to write off Punk for Dec. 16. In the scenario that medical personnel do refuse to clear him, however, what would happen to the WWE Title and the rest of TLC?

If he lands on the disabled list for an extended period of time, could The Second City Saint actually be forced to relinquish the championship? As Punk rests up in a hospital in Pensacola, Fla., on this, the 380th day of his championship reign (and the day he ties John Cena as the longest-reigning WWE Champion in the modern era), is it possible his impressive run on top could come to an end without Punk so much as losing a fall?

Ironically, if that were the case, Punk’s reign would come to a close in stunningly similar fashion to the way Cena’s reign ended: After tearing his pectoral tendon in October 2007, the Cenation leader was forced to surrender the title. WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon awarded the championship to Randy Orton days later.

If Punk is not stripped of the title, WWE TLC could become the first pay-per-view in years not to feature the WWE Champion in action. Considering Raw Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero’s seemingly tenuous grip on WWE’s flagship program, it appears unlikely she would let matters come to that. Alternatively, perhaps The Queen Diva is already hard at work on a contingency plan that would impress even Mr. McMahon. Could an interim champion be named? It was only last year that Punk’s walkout with the title at Money in the Bank necessitated the crowning of a new champion. That duel-champion controversy was resolved at SummerSlam 2011 with an Undisputed WWE Championship Match between Punk and Cena. Could a similar situation happen this year?

And what would Punk’s absence from WWE TLC mean for his scheduled opponent, Ryback? Maybe WWE’s dominant omnivore, finding his order of Punk out of stock, would seek out a new three-course meal of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, known collectively as The Shield?

Let it not be forgotten either that should Punk vs. Ryback be scrapped, the WWE TLC event would still be in need of a bout that carries the Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match stipulation. Vickie’s tenure in charge of Raw has been nothing if not capricious. Could Ryback find himself warring amid tables, ladders and chairs against a brand-new opponent? There are still top Superstars without matches announced for WWE TLC, most notably Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio and U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro — all of whom would be fresh matchups for the bald-headed shredder.

Until an official direction is announced by WWE officials, though, all the WWE Universe can do is simply speculate about the many, many possibilities.

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