As we get close to being able to rest our weary legs from accompanying the WWE superstars on their roads to WrestleMania 28, we can look back on who has had the most fulfilling route in this journey.
Cena has had a particularly long road, though it has been somewhat worthwhile having shown at least a hint of character development at times. Sheamus and Bryan have also both had good runs, confirming that they are both deserving of main-event status.
The one man who has clearly taken the most fulfilling route, though, is CM Punk.
His path has been walked with Chris Jericho, and it is thanks to Y2J’s ability to take the low road that it has been such a rewarding journey for Punk.
The sudden evolution that occurred in this feud when Jericho went beyond the ropes and involved Punk's family in his promo work left many fans a little taken aback.
An angle over who was the best in the world suddenly became something more—something personal. CM Punk’s reaction to this, though, also left fans slightly surprised.
That’s because we didn’t get the cocky and sarcastic “Voice of the Voiceless” responding to the initial revelations on Punk’s father. We got someone else.
Punk took to his soapbox and talked on an issue that went beyond wrestling and into real life. He turned a piece of promo work into a genuinely inspiring speech. There wasn’t an ounce of sarcasm on show, just heartfelt emotion on a subject that has clearly had a huge impact on his life.
It was the kind of speech that could make a positive difference in someone’s life in the real world. He showed himself as a role model, an example and an inspiration.
For years, this task has been left to John Cena, and his ability to do this with the younger portion of fans has been the key factor in him holding his undisputed spot as the face of WWE.
In tackling the subject of his father’s alcohol issues, Punk showed that he could do this job as well—if he was asked to.
Jericho then continued in his button-pushing promo work by bringing Punk’s sister’s alleged substance abuse issues to the fore, and then claiming Punk is legally a bastard the following week.
Punk’s reactions to these two claims were different again. There was no inspirational speech in response and there was still no sarcastic downplaying of the situation. His reactions were again emotionally filled, but not in the same way.
He showed us vulnerability in letting these claims get to him followed by a demonstration of unbridled anger.
The savage beating he dished out to Christian showed us something we’ve not seen before from Punk; he gave us a man who’d seen red and taken it out on the nearest person to him, irrelevant of whether he was involved in the situation or not.
This is the kind of ruthless steak shown by another superstar and is the key aspect that gets him over with the crowd.
That superstar is, of course, Randy Orton.
I bring Orton, and previously Cena, up because they are the other two superstars in what many would consider WWE’s "Big three," and in order to make a point.
The point is that the issues raised in this feud, and more specifically Punk’s reactions to them, have not only added depth to his character, but already shown that he truly is the best in the world.
He has shown that he could play the role of Cena if he wanted to, and that he could take the part of Orton if WWE asked him.
I am not suggesting that Orton and Cena are, or should be considered contenders for the title of "best in the world" for a second.
What I am saying is that showing an ability to take on the roles of the two men that carried the company for years, on top of everything else CM Punk has in his locker, means he has already shown himself to be the best in the world.
CM Punk is not the jack of all wrestling trades; he is the king.
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