CM Punk has held the WWE Championship since November 2011, but his title reign might only just be getting started.
Even though it wasn’t long ago that I thought Punk might drop the belt to Daniel Bryan or even John Cena, the recent turn of events has definitely changed things.
Punk may not have any shortage of challengers at the moment, and thus, it may seem like he’s only one match (at SummerSlam, perhaps?) away from dropping the title that he’s held for the better part of a year.
But with the way things have been shaping up recently, Punk looks poised to hold onto the WWE Championship past SummerSlam and well beyond it.
Here are seven reasons why CM Punk will keep the WWE title all the way until the 2013 Royal Rumble.
During his lengthy WWE Championship reign, CM Punk has successfully defended his title against a number of the WWE’s top stars, including but not limited to: John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, The Miz, Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler, Kane and Daniel Bryan.
In other words, he’s beaten just about everyone who has posed a viable threat to his title reign.
Therefore, when you really think about it, there probably aren’t very many superstars that the WWE would be willing to have go over Punk at this point.
Jericho couldn’t do it, Del Rio couldn’t do it, and neither could the hottest act in pro wrestling in 2012, Daniel Bryan.
Someone obviously has to end Punk’s reign at some point, but given that a majority of the WWE’s top stars haven’t been able to do that in a nine-plus month span, I honestly can’t see anyone changing that anytime soon.
Well, scratch that—there is one glaring exception in John Cena.
At least in my view, it’s either going to be Cena who ends Punk’s WWE title reign in the near future, or it won’t end until the Royal Rumble at the very earliest.
I just don’t see anyone besides Cena ending what is turning out to be an historic WWE title reign, and if that opportunity slips away from Cena, then Punk should be good to go for a very long time.
A babyface World champion turning heel in the midst of a lengthy title reign is a very rare occasion—something that hasn’t happened since the days of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
Now that CM Punk is gradually turning heel, he’s doing something that is essentially going to wipe his slate clean and allow him to “start over.”
Yes, we all know that Punk’s title reign is actually continuing, and he’s not technically starting a new title reign. But at least to me, it seems like an entirely different reign has begun.
He’s got a new demeanor and new attitude, he’s likely going to have new opponents (more babyfaces in the future), and overall, he’s going to have a fresh new take on his reign as WWE Champion.
We aren’t just going to pretend like Punk’s previous nine months as champion never happened, but at the same time, you have to think that his gradual heel turn is basically the start of a new title reign.
If the WWE is viewing things like that (as I am), then Punk’s title reign is just getting started, and a reign that lasts well into 2013 doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.
Babyfaces tend to do the honorable thing, and that’s worked for CM Punk so far.
After all, he’s managed to hold onto the WWE Championship largely through clean victories throughout his nearly year-long title reign.
But now that he’s going bad? Punk’s got plenty more ways to keep his WWE title.
He can win clean, he can get himself disqualified, he can use the ropes or hold the tights, he can intentionally get counted out, etc.
While Punk has won his WWE title matches in clean fashion throughout most of the last year, there’s a good chance that his newfound heel ways will cause him to do less-than-honorable things to retain his title.
Of course, this doesn’t ensure that Punk will hold the WWE Championship for any exact amount of time.
But I’m willing to bet that his slow and gradual heel turn will result in him slowly but surely doing heel-like things to retain his title, and don’t be surprised if that means he holds onto the belt until the New Year.
Over the last year-plus, CM Punk and the WWE worked incredibly hard to firmly entrench Punk as one of the company’s top babyfaces.
But now it’s back to square one.
Since Punk is now looking to establish himself as a top heel rather than a top babyface, the creative team has to essentially do the same thing it’s been doing with Punk over the last year all over again. Only, this time it’s to turn him into an elite bad guy rather than an elite good one.
When the WWE wanted to help Punk get over as its No. 2 face, the company did so by making him the centerpiece of the WWE title picture and giving him a title reign that has lasted almost a year.
Chances are that the exact same thing is going to happen now that Punk is heel.
In order to make the fans stop cheering Punk and help them recognize him as a full-fledged heel, the WWE is going to have to keep the WWE Championship on him and get him over as a World title-worthy bad guy.
That, in turn, should result in Punk holding the WWE title for the foreseeable future.
CM Punk is in the midst of a major character change just a year after he underwent his last one.
And remember in 2011 when Punk dropped the WWE Championship to Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam after those two epic matches with John Cena at SummerSlam and Money in the Bank?
That destroyed all the momentum that Punk had built up during the “Summer of Punk.”
The WWE absolutely cannot afford to kill Punk’s momentum once again by taking the title off of him at the wrong time.
Punk obviously rebounded from that bad booking decision last year, but it would be dumb of the WWE to risk ruining his current storyline and heel turn by doing an ill-advised title switch.
Creative absolutely cut Punk’s legs out from underneath him last year by involving Triple H and having Punk drop the WWE title to Del Rio, so let’s hope those guys remember that this time around.
If they do, Punk’s WWE Championship reign will continue all the way until the Royal Rumble, where it would set up a potentially epic match for the WWE title with a certain legend.
One of the WWE’s biggest problems over the last several years has been its short title reigns, which have really hurt the prestige of its major titles.
Thankfully, though, Triple H has issued a mandate that the WWE’s World champions be given longer reigns to restore the prestige to those championships.
That’s a great idea, one that could presumably be thrown out the window were CM Punk to lose the WWE Championship anytime soon.
Although Punk has already had a very lengthy title reign, having him drop the belt seems likely to result in a dangerous game of flip-flop in which the title bounces back and forth between guys like Punk and John Cena on the road to WrestleMania 29.
I don’t see Cena winning the WWE Championship and holding it all the way until the biggest pay-per-view of 2013, and if that’s not the case, then chances are we could see two or three short title reigns between now and next April.
Now, does that sound like restoring the prestige to the WWE’s World titles? Absolutely not.
In order to truly do that, Punk needs to hold the WWE Championship until it makes perfect sense for him to drop it.
And that time shouldn’t come anytime soon.
If CM Punk holds the WWE Championship all the way until the 2013 Royal Rumble, there’s a good chance it will be because of one man: The Rock.
On the 1,000th episode of Raw, The Rock announced that he would be challenging for the WWE title at the Royal Rumble, no matter who the champion at that time might be.
Later that night, Punk attacked The Rock by nailing him with a huge clothesline and a GTS.
Obviously, the events that transpired that night mean that we’re going to get The Rock vs. Punk at some point, and it seems like a lock that that point will come in 2013.
I’d bet my bottom dollar that this potentially epic match will be held at either the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania 29 and that it will be for the WWE Championship.
And if either of those scenarios is what the WWE currently has planned, then why on earth would Punk drop the title before then?
Well, common sense says he shouldn’t and wouldn’t.
If it’s going to be Punk vs. Rock for the WWE title at any point in early 2013, then taking the title off of Punk any time before then doesn’t seem like a very logical thing to do.
Now, it’s just a matter of the WWE deciding whether to do the logical thing.