Ever since Raw 1000, CM Punk has been teasing a heel turn; he has begun victimizing himself and speaking up on the current WWE state of affairs, constantly declaring that he lacks the respect a WWE Champion deserves.
The tirade peaked at SummerSlam, as the triple threat WWE Championship match reinforced Punk’s idea that he was the victim, as he did not have to be pinned to lose his title.
And while CM Punk has previously questioned the status quo, his actions at SummerSlam are improving his character.
While the definition of a heel and face have become vague over time, the cunning manner in which CM Punk successfully defended his title at SummerSlam is frequently reserved for heels.
Just as John Cena finished what would be the match-ending AA to the Big Show, CM Punk slyly stepped in and shoved Cena out of the ring to get the win.
This is once again creating anticipation for a complete heel turn, but it looks like the transition may be gradual given that Punk has only had a few heel-like actions so far.
CM Punk’s pink and black tights, an obvious homage to Bret Hart, signify more than just respect for the Canadian WWE Hall of Famer.
Considering all the talk Punk of being screwed, the tights may be a reminder of the Montreal Screwjob.
The similarities between the current feud involving Cena and Punk and the Montreal Screwjob are vast, but inconspicuously inverted.
Hart was the outspoken wrestler who was widely known as a traditional good guy in a transitional WWE where themes became more and more suggestive over time. Shawn Michaels represented this with his sex appeal and disregard for authority.
CM Punk, on the other hand, is the outspoken wrestler who speaks his mind about the stale condition of WWE, regardless of who listens. On the other side of the spectrum is the traditional face in John Cena, who represents everything wholesome about the current PG product that WWE is producing.
The Montreal Screwjob culminated in one of the most memorable moments in WWE history, and while that accomplishment is tough to best for Punk and Cena, an outcome of that magnitude wouldn't be surprising considering the early signs.
Last year saw CM Punk give one of the best promos in recent history, as he complained about virtually everything wrong with the current WWE product.
His infamous shoot was successful in making CM Punk the anti-Cena; Punk was regarded as the wrestler to like if you disliked Cena.
Fast forward a year, and CM Punk has taken a natural progression to a traditional face, albeit an outspoken one.
He has become a face in the same way Stone Cold Steve Austin was—for being the anti-hero. And because he is a face, he is immediately aligned with the likes of John Cena.
In order for Punk to truly stand out, he needs to separate himself from Cena, and the way in which he won at SummerSlam is a step in the right direction.
CM Punk is inadvertently bringing legitimacy to the WWE Championship by constantly talking about how he lacks the respect he deserves as champion.
Punk has already demonstrated how he wants every Raw to end—with him ending the show since he has the title.
This not only puts the spotlight on himself, but the WWE Championship is placed into importance again.
Announcers have even begun to count the days that CM Punk has held the championship. This little detail—while trivial at the moment—reinforces the idea that CM Punk is looking after himself and the title, especially considering that he won the triple threat championship match at SummerSlam.