WWE: How CM Punk Can Replace John Cena as the WWE's Top Face
Despite his top billing at WrestleMania, the era of John Cena being the top face at the WWE may be ending soon.
Two weeks ago, the WWE introduced the CM Punk/Chris Jericho feud twist which has since become known as "CM Drunk," explaining Punk's life decision of living straight-edge as being based on his disappointment with his alcoholic father.
Although Punk has always used his lifestyle choice as one of his big identifiers throughout his career, it's the first time since turning face last summer that Punk and the WWE have made this a large story point.
Many viewers were (and still are) concerned that the twist itself may be inappropriate for younger audiences, but Punk's commitment to sobriety should only be seen as a plus to impressionable young viewers and the feud presents an opportunity to teach youngsters about the dangers of substance abuse.
Punk's confidence and mastery of his craft are traits that can be admired and that fact that Punk is able to be as successful as he is while abstaining from drinking and drugs makes him a positive role model for fans of any age.
Although he isn't preachy about his straight-edge lifestyle, the WWE would be wise to make fuller use of this defining characteristic while promoting Punk as a face and the brand in the upcoming year.
Since turning face, Punk has largely been defined as a loudmouth who calls out perceived injustices and takes matters into his own hand, and he stands out as a face in these post-Attitude Era times, due to his courser language and physical appearance.
Punk has largely appealed to fans over 18 and smart marks and it's his less-than-family friendly traits that have been pointed out in the past as being the reasons he hasn't been pushed within the WWE until last summer.
At this point, Punk seems likely to retain the WWE Championship title after WrestleMania and will likely be the focus of much of the upcoming wrestling year, possibly replacing John Cena as the face of the company (though Punk isn't so much a WWE company man as he's the vanguard of professional wrestling as a whole).
If John Cena's kid-friendly face persona was built around the idea of being loyal to your friends and respecting your family (Hustle, Loyalty, Respect), then Punk's persona can become one of standing up for and respecting yourself and your body.
That's not to say that the WWE should reintroduce Punk's "Straight-Edge Society" in a more positive spin, but if Punk is spending the year as a fighting champion, the WWE can continue to find ways to work Punk's lifestyle into storylines organically. Doing so can help define Punk's more positive traits to families who might be concerned that the WWE is going into a less-than-savory direction and curb a potential loss of audience.
But while it's important for Punk to be family-friendly for the health of the WWE, I don't think he will do so by betraying his own brash ring persona that has earned him the legion of fans that he's had for years.
After the dust settles after WrestleMania, most eyes will be on Punk moving on to his next feud and how the WWE chooses to portray him and who they choose to pair him against will have a big impact on the rest of the year.
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