Is CM Punk a "good guy," a "bad guy," or a "tweener"? For the entire week following his historic attack of The Rock on the 1,000th Episode of Raw, I think most WWE fans just assumed the logical answer was #2. Not me. After all, wasn’t John Cena, himself, delivering his finisher to "The Great One" just a few months ago?
Maybe I missed the entire point of what Punk was saying throughout last night’s follow-up Raw, but to me he just came off more as a bitter fan favorite than anything. It was as if he had a sudden epiphany that he’d been disrespected by the WWE matchmakers, who continually failed to put him in a single pay-per-view main event since winning the title in his current run. Look it up. He has yet to close a PPV since winning the title at last year's Survivor Series.
More importantly, in spite of all his anger and all his jealousy directed at his WWE peers, there is one all-important group to which Punk has stayed loyal … and I think they’ll respect him even more for it.
He has yet to turn on the fans.
Over the past week, I’ve had a lot of people tell me that this angle - Punk "turning" – is the 2012 version of WWE’s big summertime angle, in the vein of Nexus, Mr. McMahon’s limo explosion, the "pipe bomb," and Hornswoggle’s revelation as a McMahon. I don’t see it.
Yes, CM Punk attacked The Rock on July 23, and followed that up with an assault on both Cena and Show this week. Can you really blame him? Is anything that he said untrue about Rock coming in for the occasional payday and taking the spotlight off of Punk and so many other guys who no doubt deserve more attention than they get? And if it were Cena sitting at commentary and Punk thrown through him, does anyone really envision Cena just getting up, straightening his cap, and continuing to stay out the match he was just thrust into?
Here’s what I do see. I see a very successful WWE champion. I see a man who has, in many ways, surpassed John Cena in terms of notoriety among his peers and fans alike. It’s like CM Punk has been trying so hard for so long to be that Cena main-event alternative that WWE fans have been craving for so long … and he’s just now realizing there is a ceiling to his ability to ever really be that alternative.
I don’t like this year’s Punk "turn," if it even is one. Ironically, though, it’s not because my anger is directed at him. Rather, WWE’s corporate machine is the villain who has painted Punk as a bad guy just for continuing to do what he has for nearly all of his career - good, bad, or otherwise - and stand up strongly for all that he believes. Last year, CM Punk was a "good guy" with a chip on his shoulder, taking on stars such as John Cena, Triple-H, and Alberto Del Rio. Now I’m supposed to think that same chip that made him the most popular wrestler in the company has transformed him into a heinous baddie, when many of his opponents are still the same? This turn doesn’t have any teeth, because Punk SHOULD be - and I suspect really is - a sympathetic figure.
And without any teeth, all WWE can do is continue feeding us mush.
PWI Contributing Writer