The WWE is currently in an arduous process of turning a significant portion of their audience against CM Punk, who garnered unmistakable babyface support last year for his anti-establishment sentiments as he made complaints of feeling disrespected by WWE's front office.
Now, WWE's plan is to reprise CM Punk's heel role as the current WWE Champion once again chooses to focus on lingering respect issues.
Fan reaction to Punk's heel character over the past few weeks has been mixed, at best, with live crowds choosing to cheer Punk more than boo him.
This was never more typical than the partisan outpour of cheers Punk received from his native Chicago crowd this past week on Raw. While the WWE did an admirable job in booking Punk to take a personal day in order to turn his hometown crowd against him, any such heat evaporated by the end of the show with the return of Paul Heyman in CM Punk's corner.
In selecting the vociferous non-wrestling personality—who is all but worshiped among the same stubborn hard-core wrestling fans who refuse to boo CM Punk—as Punk's manager, the WWE is taking a step backwards in what should be a gradual heel turn.
As good of a heel character as Heyman can be, he often has similar problems drawing heel heat in unanimity given fan respect for his on-air talents.
Universally unlikeable former Raw GM John Laurinaitis would have probably been a better choice, as this would have created more of a sense of betrayal for Punk to align himself with such a despicable personality.
Does the return of Paul Heyman make CM Punk more unlikeable?
The promo exchanges between Heyman and Punk should be quite entertaining to watch. Of course, if they're too good, fans will simply opt to give the villain tandem babyface treatment as they prepare to do battle with John Cena.
Booking CM Punk against John Cena, whose own polarizing nature reactions has become a story in and of itself, was one of the catalysts for a Punk babyface turn in 2011.
Now, this is the WWE's plan, yet again, as Punk continues to awkwardly transition to the dark side.
The CM Punk character is being unnecessarily complicated as the WWE continues to make decisions that empower the vocal pocket of "smart" fans to amplify their approval of Punk.
The eventual payoff to this shaky strategy could be as mixed as Punk's reaction.
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