CM Punk will face The Rock at the Royal Rumble after beating Ryback in controversial TLC match
Last Updated: January 8, 2013 3:29pm
The Rock: will fight CM Punk for the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble
The match is on.
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CM Punk will defend the WWE Championship - the belt he has held since November 20, 2011 - against the legendary Rock at the Royal Rumble after overcoming Ryback in a TLC clash on Raw.
And the Second City Saint was left licking his wounds at the culmination of Monday's show, when the Great One ended their verbal joust by hitting Punk with a Rock Bottom.
However, Punk's route to the Rumble was not without controversy after rogue group The Shield helped him conquer Ryback in a weapon-filled title match, just as they did at Survivor Series.
Ryback, whose championship bout with Punk at WWE TLC was shelved due to the titlist's knee injury, seemed on the verge of claiming gold in Tampa, Florida, when he chucked his opponent through a table.
But just as Big Hungry prepared to pluck the belt which was hanging above the ring, the Shield - Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns - appeared, beating down Ryback and allowing Punk to climb the ladder, seize his strap, and secure his meeting with the Rock on January 27.
Elsewhere, John Cena dealt with interference from former love interest AJ Lee and the monstrous Big E. Langston to defeat arch-nemesis Dolph Ziggler, while Team Rhodes Scholars knocked off Tag Team Champions Team Hell No in a non-title duel.
Sheamus and Randy Orton, who have become embroiled in a game of one-upmanship as of late, each recorded wins over a member of 3MB; the Celtic Warrior besting Jinder Mihal and the Viper pinning Heath Slater.
World Heavyweight Champion Big Show, meanwhile, beat dethroned Intercontinental titlist Kofi Kingston after administering his lethal Knockout Punch to the sprightly Ghanaian.
Plus, the new Intercontinental strap holder Wade Barrett conquered Santino Marella; United States champion Antonio Cesaro saw off the Great Khali courtesy of an emphatic Neutraliser; and Kaitlyn defeated Divas titlist Eve via count-out.
For more on all these stories and for all the Royal Rumble build-up, head to WWE.com, and then tune into WWE Smackdown, 10pm, Friday, Sky Sports 2 HD.