WWE: Will 2012 Ultimately Go Down as CM Punk's Year?

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2012

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

CM Punk owned 2011.

As wrestling fans, we often tend to disagree on things, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re all on the same page with that assessment, right?

From the moment that he dropped his first pipe bomb and became the “Voice of the Voiceless,” Punk was the center of attention in WWE.  All eyes were on him, focused on his every move and hanging on his every word.

He reached a place that most guys can only dream of.  His matches became must-see television, his promos were blistering hot and he had the crowd’s full support, despite what he said, or who he said it to.  

He played second fiddle only to John Cena, the face of WWE and the man with whom he had what Bleacher Report writers voted as the match of the year at Money in the Bank.

Last year is in the books as belonging to CM Punk.

And don’t look now, but the same may just be said about 2012.

Punk started the first half of the year the same way he ended last year.  He defended the WWE Championship against all challengers, he had the match of the night virtually every time he was on the card and he remained the highlight of WWE programming.

He also became stale, stuck in a rut, a man who had lost his edge and was no longer controversial, but painfully predictable.

At least, that’s what some fans said.  Not me, though.  As far as I know, me and Punk?  We’re good.

I have to say that after a lifetime of being a fan, and two full years of being a pro-wrestling writer, there are moments when I do still find myself shaking my head at some of the opinions that exist out there.

Everyone is entitled to their own, of course—there have certainly been plenty of times when I have put forth my own view on a subject, and been told that I could not be more wrong.

I took the liberty of deleting all of the expletives on that, by the way.  I’m working PG here.

For me, CM Punk’s best work came this year, after his critics claimed he had “cooled off.“  

Punk got everyone’s attention with his initial promo last year.  He grabbed the fans, and did not let them go.  Once he had the crowd, he got down to business, becoming the best worker on the program, proving why he was worth all of the hype and deserving of the WWE Championship.

Now, with his heel turn on the 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw, CM Punk has won back some of his detractors, who have changed their stance on his character.  He appears to have regained some of his edge, finally once again moving in the right direction.

However, now he has a brand-new batch of critics, who believe that his heel turn is not only ill-advised, but that it could ultimately lead to his downfall in WWE.

You can’t win them all, I suppose.

But for this writer, I believe that CM Punk is exactly where he needs to be.

The allure of Punk’s character is his ability to reinvent himself.  Just when you think you know him, he does something to completely throw you off.  He keeps you guessing, every time he changes paths, as to what his motivations may be.  And, the funny part?  The one thing that made you love him is the one thing that will make you hate him.

His brutal honesty about the state of WWE and those around him will now translate to any babyface wrestler who gets in his way.  But, instead of being true to life, his words will now be that of a heel, who sees everyone around him as inferior.  

His view as being underappreciated, with which many fans at the time agreed, has now become a feeling of being disrespected.  Now he will sound like a paranoid crybaby, demanding that the spotlight be on him despite who else is on the card, including any of the other top babyfaces.

Punk is very good, knows who he is and is fully capable of making a storyline work, especially as a heel.  If indeed fans were right in their assessment that he had become stale, then all of that has changed now.  Once again, he has become the center of attention on Raw, fan interest is up like before and now the real question is what happens next?

Or rather, who happens next?

Punk and the Rock have begun to buzz a bit back and forth on Twitter, in a tone very reminiscent of Rocky’s heat with Cena.  I personally find it hard to believe that the two would build heat only to not see a payoff at the Royal Rumble.

We as fans know that anything can happen in WWE, so just because Rocky had a few words with Punk, leading to the champ sucker-punching him at the end of Raw, does not necessarily mean that it was foreshadowing of a showdown to come.

It was hard to say that one with a straight face.

The fact is, John Cena and Rocky had their time.  This is CM Punk’s time.  It’s further validation that he deserves his place in the company, has earned everything he has, and belongs on the top tier in the industry.  And, working the Rock at the Royal Rumble will allow him the opportunity to do the one thing that he does best: shine.

We spent the majority of the first part of 2012 talking about how 2011 was Punk’s year.  And, come the first part of 2013, we will undoubtedly be talking about how 2012 was also Punk’s year.  

Makes you wonder what could happen going into 2014.