What A Difference A Year Makes: Opining The Days Of An Angry CM Punk
CM Punk can do no wrong. Even going back as far as his Ring of Honor days, the man has always delivered both in the ring and on the mic. For people familiar with his pre-WWE work, last years “Summer of Punk” was no great shock. More shocking would be the fact that it took WWE that long to realize what an amazing talent the guy truly is. He can drag a quality match out of anyone (see his most recent match with Big Show), his promo work is always spot on, and since becoming the WWE Champion, has been the consummate pro, doing countless interviews and appearances on behalf of the company. Over the last year, CM Punk has been everywhere, and right there is where I think my ever so slight issue with how WWE is using him begins.
I understand the need for the WWE Champion to be front and center at these media events, that’s a given. WWE is a global giant with an almost unparalleled marketing reach. As such, their top guy has gotta make the rounds and shill for the product. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it’ll always be, but this is where I think WWE should have tried to think outside of what was standard practice. See, CM Punk isn’t just your typical good guy WWE Champ. He’s not Hulk Hogan, he’s not John Cena, so trying to wedge him into that mold isn’t right. Once an anti-hero to millions, CM Punk has, for me, become just another guy. Don’t get me wrong, he remains the highlight of WWE programming virtually each and every week, but over the last few months, the CM Punk character has taken a not-so-interesting turn. His current storyline with Daniel Bryan and AJ, while intriguing, has done something I think most CM Punk fans would have preferred to not see, and that’s turn the WWE Champion into a ‘nice guy’.
Perhaps I’ve simply retained a bad taste in my mouth over how severely WWE screwed up the CM Punk/John Cena angle from last year. Over the course of less than 2 months, they took the first hot angle pro wrestling has seen since the days of the NWO and the ‘Attitude’ Era, and reduced it to just another half-baked, poorly planned, by the numbers WWE angle, watering it down with HHH and Kevin Nash and taking all the spotlight off Punk. I honestly think had they left the angle alone, RAW1000 would have even more meaning. Make no mistake about it, Punk/Cena could have been a Hogan/Piper angle for this generation of wrestling fans, and for whatever reason, WWE killed it. Now he’s out there kissing AJ, looking confused, and just being a generally decent fellow. CM Punk could walk out and wrestle a mop handle and I’d enjoy it, but I’d like it that much more were he to cut a scathing promo on the mop handle after the beatdown. At least from the outside, it just doesn’t seem like WWE has the first clue about how to maximize the talent of so much of its current roster.
In my humble opinion, both Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler have supplanted Punk as the most interesting characters in WWE. Both men seem completely comfortable in their roles, both appear to be firing on all cylinders, and both are getting a great crowd response. That it not to say Punk isn’t as well, because he most certainly is, but seeing him try and protect AJ from the conniving Daniel Bryan, something about that just seems a tick off center. When you have a talent as unique as CM Punk, why would you put in the ‘good guy’ role of a love triangle? To me, the knight in shining armor bit fits a guy like John Cena a whole lot better. Having said that, the angle would appear to be nowhere near completion, so I suppose many might say I’m writing about a bit prematurely. Perhaps this is true. Maybe this all ends with us bowing at the feet of WWE and their ability to pull one over on us. Maybe the angle takes a hard left turn and throws us all off the scent, taking us down a path we’d never expected. I’m hopeful this is the case, because currently it’s doing little more than make the WWE Champion seem like a secondary player, the very thing Punk so despised about his role more than a year ago when he was all but out the door of WWE.