CM Punk's infamous shoot promo on Raw of June last year was perhaps the biggest reason for his current push to a now nine-month WWE Championship reign—and his elevation to become the second face of the company behind John Cena. Though we now know it was a work, the promo created the biggest buzz around the company in years and culminated in one of the best matches of all time at 2011's Money in the Bank.
In the promo, CM Punk criticized the promotion of company men John Cena and The Rock over himself, and over the following weeks when he moved on to a kayfabe-challenging feud with Triple H, he spoke about respect and the the treatment of talent. Fans felt he stood for the promotion of great wrestlers to the top of the company, as shown by the rumours that sparked of Colt Cabana and Ring of Honor's Kings of Wrestling featuring in a possible Invasion angle spearheaded by Punk.
But following the Raw walkout on Triple H, Punk's character changed.
As one of the three superstars who defied the strike, he came out in support of The Game and the man who a few weeks earlier had declared "This is Phil Brooks talking to Paul Levesque" was now shouting "Yippee!" at being allowed to wear his jacket. The pipebomb-dropper had become just another face, and a company man at that.
The WWE Championship soon followed. After a match, Punk locked the anaconda vice on Alberto Del Rio until he agreed to give him a title match. Rather than recognizing Del Rio as a good wrestler and worthy competitor in the feud, he went the obvious route of mocking his Mexican aristocrat gimmick.
This set the tone for CM Punk's title reign: He became like Bart Simpson in character. He was usually disrespectful and disparaging of his opponents, was the original aggressor in his feud with John Laurinaitis, and most notably went against the Be A Star spirit by calling Daniel Bryan "goatface."
This of course is not the fault of CM Punk himself. The writers created a compelling character with the worked shoot and the following feuds with Cena and Triple H, but perhaps couldn't see what to do with him and his pipebomb style in the long term.
And despite his disappointing character change, Punk has had many high quality matches with Del Rio, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry, Kane and Daniel Bryan. In this way, he was certainly true to the spirit of great wrestling he seemed to stand for.
With his heel turn and the resumption of his feud with John Cena that many fans have longed for, we finally have the CM Punk whose worked shoot rocked the business last summer. And I for one am more excited than ever.