If you had any doubts about CM Punk's heel turn before you watched Monday night's Raw show, those doubts should be miles away now.
CM Punk is far better as a heel than as a face. As a matter of fact, he's probably the best heel WWE has had in quite a while.
Apologies to Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, Alberto Del Rio and the rest of the bad-guy roster, but Punk proved Monday night that he is head and shoulders above everyone else when it comes to generating lots and lots of crowd heat. He practically put on a clinic Monday night with his interrupting, insulting, browbeating, humiliating and overall nastiness. He practically had everyone inside the arena in Oklahoma City (and 90 percent of the viewing audience) wanting to jump up in the ring and kick his butt all the way to Tulsa and back.
It may have been "Jim Ross Appreciation Night," but by the end, Punk clearly was the star of the show.
So what makes Punk such an unbelievably believable heel character? All you have to do is look at his actions and the way he carries himself.
He's not the biggest or the loudest or the toughest, but he believes in his heart that he is the best in the world. He demands respect, and he does not care what he has to do or who he has to step on to get that respect. Other Superstars, referees, broadcasters, even select members of the WWE Universe. No one is safe when Punk gets rolling.
Did you see Raw a couple of weeks ago, when Punk teased a child in the audience by going to shake the kid's hand, then slowly pulling back until he was tantalizingly out of reach for the kid? Not since Ted DiBiase offered to pay a kid $500 to dribble a basketball 15 times in a row only to kick it away at the 14th bounce has a youngster been so publicly wronged in a WWE show.
Plus, he has the perfect yes-man in his corner with Paul Heyman. Their storyline relationship leaves everyone guessing. Is Heyman his manager? His advisor? His pool boy?
Punk's character likes to call himself a "Heyman guy," but it is clear who the boss is. When Punk comes to the ring, Heyman walks behind him carrying the WWE championship over his head like some kind of royal banner. He calls the champ "Mr. Punk." He acts as the voice of reason when the Voice of the Voiceless runs out of voice.
Punk is the instigator, and Heyman is his enabler. If Heyman looked more like a wrestler and less like Humpty Dumpty in a cheap suit, they probably would be a threat for the tag-team titles right now.
Another reason for the success is the obvious fun that the WWE Creative Team is having dreaming up scenarios for these two. Sure, they may come up with the stories, but you have to have talented folks like Punk and Heyman to really sell it.
Take Monday night, for example. The show started with Punk and Cena coming out to berate John Cena and Mick Foley as only they can do, and then claim there would be no belt rematch for Cena at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view later this month. Then they lit into Raw GM AJ Lee, and Heyman insisted that he would be a better GM than Lee.
We don't know what the temperature was outside the arena, but inside, the heat these two generated was rivaling any of that in Hell.
By the time all was said and done, Punk and Heyman, along with Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero (who also wants to be GM) had talked and whined themselves into a tag-team match later in the show against Team Hell No, Kane and Daniel Bryan.
Later, when the Jim Ross lovefest started, here comes Punk and Heyman again to spoil the fun. This time, the target of Punk's venom was good ol' J.R. It was Punk's goal to humiliate Ross, and man, did he succeed. Ross was doing the famous Walk of Shame from the ring when Ryback's music hit, and the arena practically exploded.
But what sold this act more than the first Punk appearance was how Punk reacted to Ryback in the ring. The second staredown in two weeks between these two was absolutely enjoyable to behold. Punk really sold this one by playing the role of the cowardly heel who intimidates lesser characters but tucks tail and runs whenever a bigger dog joins the fight.
Ryback is getting the traction he needs from this story arc to make the jump from mid-card to mega-face. The Creative Team needs to keep this story going for as long as they can.
But on the other hand, Punk is so stratospherically good with his character right now, he could probably put a dining room table over with the crowd.
So what's next? The stories are practically limitless.
Perhaps Brock Lesnar comes back to form a heel stable that will rule the ring for some time to come. With Punk as the pompous loudmouth, Lesnar as the relentless muscle and Heyman as the opportunistic sleazy-shark manager, they practically could write their own ticket.
John Cena is going to have to REALLY dig into his thuggery roots to stop this speeding train.
Follow Bill Atkinson at @BAtkinson1963.
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