WWE gave CM Punk an abundance of airtime on Raw, and he ran with it.
After the controversy surrounding him, Ryback and referee Brad Maddox at Hell in a Cell 2012, fans expected to see plenty of the WWE champ during the episode. They didn't see him wrestle, but he delivered every time he had a microphone in his hand.
Punk opened the show by addressing the controversy.
He claimed to not have anything to do with Maddox's decision to take a swing at Ryback's testes. He made a kryptonite reference and claimed once again to be the best in the world.
It wasn't until Mick Foley stepped into the ring, though, that Punk's verbal momentum truly got going.
"Here he is, the homeless guy displaced by the storms in the Northeast."
Punk's first insult of Foley threw in the current real-life situation of Hurricane Sandy making landfall. One could argue that it's a subject best left untouched.
If the storm turns out to be extremely devastating, suddenly his joke will become more tasteless.
In terms of his character, it suits him perfectly. It has him give off an air of coldness and callousness, character traits he has been forging this summer and beyond.
But Punk is no robotic villain—he's a wisecracking one.
Mick Foley, were he not famous, might actually get mistaken for a vagrant. With his face covered in hair and his clothes possibly chosen from Bill Belichick's giveaway pile, Punk’s quick jab was right on.
While he and Foley began to argue, a single fan could be heard clearly saying, "You suck, Punk."
Punk whipped out a simple, impromptu line that enlivened the crowd.
"I don't suck; I'm not from Charlotte, North Carolina."
Normally the "blank city sucks" routine comes off as cheap, cookie-cutter heat, but the fans ate this up. The fact that this wasn't scripted, that Punk just tossed it on that one fan, made it far more authentic.
That guy in the crowd is likely going to be bragging to anyone who will listen about how Punk responded to his taunt.
Foley and Punk met again at the end of the episode. They were to reveal their Survivor Series teams to each other.
Foley, as we've come to expect, brought tension and believable emotion to the segment.
He has twice now been the perfect verbal foil for Punk. The WWE champ seemed energized in the presence of one of wrestling's best interviewees. Punk whipped out some choice lines here as well.
First he talked about knocking out Foley's two remaining teeth and then poked fun at The Hardcore Legend's famous mutilated ear.
"I know you're missing an ear. Which one is the good one?"
Punk then started to shout condescendingly at Foley.
Wrapped up in the excitement of the moment, the immediacy of the present, fans tend to overpraise Punk. While some of that adoration is hyperbole, some of it is clearly warranted.
Punk is one of the best talkers in the business today.
During the Raw episodes leading up to Survivor Series, he and Foley are going to have some sharp-tongued tussles. Fans are going to have a great time watching them.