Wrestling Soap Box: The Examination of CM Punk in a Post Royal Rumble World
Jan 30, 2013 - by Atlee Greene
-Wrestling Soap Box: The Examination of CM Punk
434 days of championship bliss was ended by the people’s elbow on Sunday night. The 26th edition of the Royal Rumble is officially in the books, and The Rock is your new WWE Champion. If you are a hardcore wrestling fan who scourers the internet, you were probably bored with the predictable nature of this show. If you are a casual fan who stays away from the internet, or one who used to watch wrestling and came back for the Rumble, you probably loved this show. I spoke to a boat load of former fans leading up to the Rumble and here are some of their poignant comments in regards to CM Punk.
“He is not all that”
“This Punk guy is a joke”
“He is not believable at all”
“Why would this guy be your longest reigning champion?”
“The Rock is fighting that guy???”
“He looks like a skinny crack head”
CM Punk is arguably the best worker in the business today, but today is a different time for professional wrestling. When The Rock did his thing in the attitude era, he had the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Undertaker, Mick Foley, Triple H, and Kurt Angle to work with. CM Punk has not had the same luxury of talent to work with during his run as champion. That is not a knock on the current crop of wrestlers but from a perception stand point, John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, and Ryback are not as impressive as the latter.
You can’t knock CM Punk for this because he is a product of his time. Just like the true greats of this business, you make do with what you have. Punk produced some of the most exciting, most memorable and most talked about WWE championship matches in a very long time. However, besides his rematch with the Rock and his rumored WrestleMania match with the Undertaker, where does the Chicago native go from here?
Given the WWE’s track record, it is not outside the realm of possibility that CM Punk could get lost in the shuffle. Even though he may deserve a slight portion of the blame, Raw ratings hit record lows during his tenure as champion. Ratings jumped back into the 3.0 range once The Rock returned. What if ratings dive back into the 2.0 margin after WrestleMania? Even though Punk won’t be the champion, that wacky WWE logic could kick in and place the blame on the straightedge superstar.
I touched on this in a previous column, but it is highly probable CM Punk would have dropped the title to Ryback, at Hell in a Cell, if the match with the Rock was never booked. This means his reign would have been one month shy of a year which also means creatively, 434 days was never a company priority. We could see him assume the role that Randy Orton has been currently relegated to.
Despite mid-card status being a legitimate possibility, the painstaking and ingenious detail in which CM Punk applies his craft won’t allow that to happen. He is that rare breed of worker who is amazing in the ring and on the microphone. Punk’s match with the Undertaker is the ultimate consolation prize because Punk is the one guy on the roster who can give the “Dead Man” a match worthy of the streak.
Rock vs. Cena headlined last year’s WrestleMania without a stipulation. This year’s Rock vs. Cena match will have a stipulation: The WWE Championship. The belt is the reason why this rematch will be the highest drawing event in wrestling history and it’s all thanks to CM Punk. The body of work he exhibited during his championship reign dramatically increased the title’s worth.
Punk flipped the script in an era where title runs are almost meaningless. The belt wasn’t just an accessory to drape over his shoulder. It was reason for being. On Raw, CM Punk sold his title loss like a possessed mad man which is exactly how a dethroned king should act. In return, the payoff is more tickets and pay-per-views sold. When all is said and done, Rock and Cena should break off a piece of their bonus check to CM Punk and say “Thank You”.