As CM Punk rehabs from knee surgery, thoughts have turned to his WWE Championship, which he has held now for 394 days. If Punk keeps the belt through the Royal Rumble on Jan. 27, and WWE has not given any indication yet that he will lose it before then, the reign will be about 435 days.
In this era of short attention spans and quick turnarounds, that definitely is an accomplishment. Punk set the modern-era record for a title reign on Dec. 5 when he passed John Cena’s 380-day reign from 2006-07. So one would have to think Punk’s record may be safe for some time.
Enjoy Punk’s reign now because you likely are never to see another year-long run with the WWE belt or any other championship belt anytime soon.
Lengthy title reigns used to be the rule.
Hulk Hogan held the WWF title for 1,474 days between 1984 and 1988. Bob Backlund held the title on two occasions for a total of 3,605 days between 1978 and 1983.
Now, a year-long title run is the exception. Before Punk and Cena, the closest anyone came was Diesel. He held the belt for 358 days from 1994 to 1995.
To put Punk's reign in perspective, he has held the WWE title longer than the previous eight champions combined.
Overall, WWE is a grown-up version of the playground game, “King of the Mountain.” Everyone clamors to make it to the top, but only one person does it. However, the others keep fighting until they finally knock the king off the perch and assume the throne.
Granted, in WWE, it is not the actual performers who knock the king off the perch but rather the Creative Team. That team decides who will get pushes and who will get pushed off.
Right now, there is no one who could seriously match Punk charisma for charisma…at least among the full-time roster. The only one who can do that is The Rock.
Rock will challenge Punk at Royal Rumble for the title. And all signs point to the Great One winning it.
But it is a foregone conclusion that Rock will not be a longtime champion. He still has too much Hollywood in his blood to ever hold the belt for long.
WWE Creative likely will have him go to WrestleMania 29 against John Cena. And since there has not been a WWE Championship title change at WrestleMania in some time, it’s a good bet that Rock will drop the title to Cena and return to making movies.
After that, the title reigns will last about as long as the attention spans of the WWE Universe.
With CM Punk, WWE caught lightning in a bottle, and they knew it. They did everything they could to keep the cap on that bottle.
Punk’s character is no pushover. The WWE Universe loves to hate him because he knows just what to say and do to get under their skin. A WWE Championship title around his waist only adds to his charm, if you will.
In the old days, the strongest were shoo-ins for championships. Today, strength does not guarantee a title. If it did, Ryback would have beaten Punk back at Hell in a Cell.
Nope. A titleholder not only has to hold the title, but he also has to hold the attention of the WWE Universe. Over the past 390-plus days, no one did that better than CM Punk.
That is not to say there is not anyone on the current roster or in WWE’s developmental territory who could eventually step up and hold the belt for an extended time. But they have a pretty high bar to overcome, thanks to Punk.
In WWE, there is no such thing as “once in a lifetime.” Only time will tell if there can be such a thing in WWE as lightning striking twice.
Don’t bet on it, though.
Bill Atkinson is a columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.