Hell In A Cell is one of the most brutal one-on-one concepts that WWE has, and it’s supposed to be used in the most heated of feuds. As it’s the theme for the upcoming pay per view, the matches for respective top championships on each brand seem inevitable. But now a John Cena injury leaves CM Punk without a viable opponent.

As arguably the top heel in the company, CM Punk would need to fight a decent face with the championship on the line, but who’s available? There are certainly plenty of names we can cross off the list right at the start:

Brodus Clay

In a perfect world, CM Punk would show up on Monday, talking about how he has no viable opponent for the pay per view, and run down the crowd about the faith they’ve put in John Cena and how no one else is even capable of coming close to beating him for the belt. Brodus Clay could show up, enter the ring without dancing, and CM Punk could laugh at him. Hard. And Punk could talk about how Clay is a joke, and Brodus could get visibly upset. The monster could grab the mic from Punk and talk about how he loves entertaining the fans, even though it would be much easier to just let his “monster” side come out – which could arguably make him more dominant. Brodus Clay could say that he hasn’t ever challenged for the WWE Championship, but he’d like to give it his best shot so he could possibly help the fans not have to listen to Punk’s rantings anymore. The match could happen later in the evening, Brodus Clay could look determined, show up for the big match, put up a good attempt… only to have to tap out after the match.

But that’s just a RAW. The match would be decent, and the fans could be hot for the match, but it’s not the sort of thing that could be dragged out to lead up to a Hell In A Cell match. Maybe eventually Brodus Clay could be the type of competitor who could be in that spot, but he’s not even close at this point.

Jerry Lawler

Obviously after having a heart attack, Jerry Lawler isn’t going to be getting back into a ring anytime soon… nor should he. I would argue that it was a bad idea for him to get into the ring at all in the past six months… or even the past six years… but he certainly shouldn’t be the option for the next pay per view. If he hadn’t had the heart attack, and WWE was in the position of needing to replace John Cena, I would list Lawler as one of the top options simply because he would have the fans behind him, he’s got heat with CM Punk already, and there’s no harm in feeding him as another successful title defense for CM Punk.

R-Truth

His work as a heel with John Cena was decent, and although he’s a fairly popular face at this point, he’s not a credible threat. Sure, he’s coming off of a tag title reign, but he’s a more laughable threat than Brodus Clay at this point. At least with Brodus Clay they could play up the idea that half of Punk’s offense won’t work on him. I can’t see R-Truth being successful against Punk in the slightest.

Sin Cara

His inability to talk limits the fans from getting behind him, and it would create the opportunity for CM Punk to absolutely eat his lunch in the build-up to the match. He doesn’t even seem like a viable option to take the Intercontinental Championship at this point, so no one would believe him as the #1 Contender to the WWE Championship.

Zack Ryder

Despite his fan following (which is waning), WWE rarely puts him on television, and certainly hasn’t made him a viable contender – even to the mid-card championships. At this point, he’s fodder, but not for the upper echelon.

Potential Opponents Who Aren’t Quite There

Rey Mysterio

With his recent concussion, WWE is smart to want to limit his potential to reinjure himself. Tag team matches, four-way matches, it’s clear that Rey Mysterio is being protected for the time being. Going into Hell In A Cell isn’t the direction they should be going at this point. He doesn’t have much of a compelling story with CM Punk at this point, short of drudging up their long-since-past history.

Kofi Kingston

Imagine this: CM Punk shows up on RAW, rants about Cena’s injury and bemoans the lack of competition – which he admits he needs if he’s going to gain respect. He then calls out Kofi Kingston, who is confused as to why he’s coming to the ring. Punk talks about how they traveled the road together, but says he hasn’t seen much of Kofi as of late. Kofi could mention that he traveled with R-Truth (and Little Jimmy) due to their Tag Team Champion commitments. Punk could say he understands all that, but questions why Kofi doesn’t really talk to him backstage anymore, didn’t congratulate him on some great victories. Kofi could say that it slipped his mind or he was too busy, and Punk could say that’s not the case. Punk could make the case that Kofi’s head got too big as a “World Tag Team Champion”, and how Kofi was out of line in not showing him respect. Kofi could shrug it off, but Punk could demand an apology. Kofi starts to leave, but Punk pulls him back, goes for the Go 2 Sleep, but Kofi escapes and backs off. Punk says that Kofi has a chance to reconsider the apology, but Kofi could get back into the ring and say that if Punk wants respect, that’s not the way to go for it.

This time Punk hits the Go 2 Sleep.

Later in the show, Punk could shrug off an interview, and then Kofi Kingston shows up, drowsy, and calls Punk a bitch (or something to that effect). Punk and he shout at each other, but they’re held apart by WWE officials.

Maybe at that point Kofi could win a #1 Contenders match including Brodus Clay, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton (taken out by Dolph Ziggler), Zack Ryder, Tyson Kidd, hell, even Yoshi Tatsu. CM Punk could be on commentary all match, and when it’s done, Punk could attack Kofi from behind.

To start RAW the next week, Kofi could demand his shot THAT NIGHT, and maybe Punk attacks a “determined” Kofi on the way to the ring, grabs a mic and beats him with it while talking about deserving respect. R-Truth could show up, hoping to help his tag team partner, and that just distracts Punk while Kofi recovers, and then Punk brawls with Kofi outside the ring.

That sets up the idea that they need Hell In A Cell. They can have a six-man tag match to further help the build, pairing R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio against CM Punk and the Prime Time Playas (who Punk could endorse as deserving more respect as the LEGIT #1 contenders to the tag titles for all they’ve accomplished).

And yet… Kofi Kingston still doesn’t seem like a credible threat to a 300+ day title reign from CM Punk. If it were just a four-month reign and Kofi Kingston had been doing anything in the singles ranks in the past year, he’d be viable. But he hasn’t, so he’s not.

Ryback

The fans are behind him. He seems dominant. There would definitely seem to be the danger of CM Punk losing to Ryback, but he’s not the right person to end Punk’s reign. Not at this point. What he’s doing right now – targeting The Miz – is perfect for him. And an Intercontinental Championship reign will be perfect for him. But he’s not the right option to beat Punk at Hell In A Cell, he’d take a beating on the mic leading up to it, and unless WWE had him totally demolish CM Punk over the next few weeks and had plans for him to be involved in the title scene through the Fall, he would take a huge hit by losing to Punk.

The Most Likely Options

Randy Orton

He almost seems like the only option at this point. He’s a former World champion who has enough heat with CM Punk to seem to warrant a Hell In A Cell match. Dolph Ziggler could get a lot of heat by interrupting a Punk / Orton match at the pay per view to keep Orton from getting the victory, thus allowing Punk’s reign to continue and not taking too much away from Orton. Because let’s be honest, Orton needs to not win this match, and Dolph Ziggler needs his feud to continue with Randy Orton so that Dolph can benefit from having battled Randy. To this point, he hasn’t. And if Alberto Del Rio vs Sheamus is also happening on this pay per view, there needs to be some star power in the main event. ESPECIALLY if Alberto Del Rio is going to take the belt from Sheamus… and after defending against him at 4 straight pay per view events (and 5 of the past 6),  you would think ‘berto would be getting the belt. But that’s a different story all together.

And that leads me to the best option in all of this.

Triple H

Although Triple H is not active at this point, and he’s supposed to be healing up from a broken arm, let’s just toss that out the window. He obviously has heat with Paul Heyman. A case could be made that he had more heat with Paul Heyman leading into SummerSlam than he did with Brock Lesnar. With CM Punk aligning himself with Paul Heyman, this certainly seems like the perfect opportunity to give CM Punk a high profile opponent.

Isn’t Triple H supposed to be the master of Hell In A Cell, or at least one of the best in that environment aside from The Undertaker?

Wouldn’t Triple H get tired of Punk’s rantings about respect, especially as he aligns himself with Paul Heyman?

Couldn’t the WWE consider having Triple H end CM Punk’s title reign (as bad as that idea would be) so they could transition it to Brock Lesnar?

Might CM Punk want some revenge after the way Triple H de-railed Summer Of Punk last year?

It’s easily the best option WWE has available, though that’s not saying much.