When Chris Jericho brought up that WWE Champion CM Punk’s father was an alcoholic on the March 12th edition of Monday Night Raw, it seemed like a gripping new twist in their angle with an irresistible allusion to real life.
Certainly, Punk played it well. In facing his family’s dirty laundry being aired in such a public manner, the star was completely devastated. After Jericho’s promo had finished, the champ hung his head in shame and wandered out of the ring, looking despondent and slightly stunned.
It was one of the most powerful moments of Punk’s lukewarm title reign so far.
So, what went wrong? How did this go from being one of the company’s best feuds to being so awful and unintentionally hilarious?
Indeed, while the two most recent angles—which has seen Jericho pour beer and other alcoholic beverages over a vulnerable Punk—should have been dramatic, they were mostly greeted with apathy from the fans in attendance.
Well, the first problem is that Jericho really didn’t know where to stop as far as Punk’s family was concerned. The following week, the dastardly Jericho confronted Punk on the Titantron again and claimed his sister is a drug addict, continuing to mock the star for coming from such a messed-up family unit.
Punk was furious and even swore at his foe on air (per the PG guidelines in WWE, it was speedily bleeped out).
The week after that, Jericho then scandalously claimed that Punk’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Punk, got married—GASP!—after he was born, thus making the WWE Champion illegitimate. Yes, in 2012, this apparently passes as a “serious allegation.”
Punk, who really should have just laughed at this absurd attack, instead looked completely mortified.
Far from being dramatic and gripping and adding great heat to their storyline, Jericho’s follow-up promos made the whole thing unintentionally hilarious. What next? Will he bring up that Punk’s other sister had several unpaid parking tickets? Or announce that his great grandmother is a crazed kleptomaniac?
Of course, per an outraged Punk in interviews, Jericho’s latest rounds of accusations are a complete fallacy. His sister is not a drug addict, nor was the claim that he was born out of wedlock true.
Since these stories are not true—and in the case of ludicrous wedlock accusation aren’t remotely a big deal in present times anyway—it remains deeply perplexing why Punk can’t just laugh them off instead of growing so deeply irate and allowing it to get to him so blatantly. It’s incredibly obvious what Jericho is doing, and for the WWE Champion to fall for it so easily makes him look weak and foolish in the eyes of his fans.
Another problem in constantly dredging up Punk’s family issues is that they are not characters on the show—nor are they likely to be—and thus viewers have no reason to care about them.
Safely tucked out of the way, the Punk clan are too abstract for us to really sink out teeth into the storyline.
Bringing up so many of his family members is also an issue. The company could have gotten away with outing his father’s struggles with alcoholism, but mentioning his mom/sister/second cousin twice removed just serves to take away any of the initial drama of the initial alcoholism story.
It’s not an interesting angle anymore; it’s a silly soap opera.
Not to mention the inconvenient question of how the Punk clan feel about constantly being disparaged and denigrated on one of the USA Network’s most watched shows. Even if everyone knows it’s all a storyline, that still can’t be pleasant. Here's hoping they don't get any grief from their neighbours.
Summarily, what started out as extremely interesting idea (using the problems of Punk’s father to add a new dimension to his character) has spiraled out of control are become a burden to an already-floundering program.
Currently Punk—and the WWE Championship by osmosis—is playing second fiddle to Brock Lesnar’s sensational return to the organization and his upcoming match with John Cena at Extreme Rules. Punk and Jericho are already struggling to remain relevant; a muddled, melodramatic angle like this does them no favours whatsoever.