Punk began and will end 2012 as the WWE champion, but he certainly will not be the same person at the end of the year as he was at the beginning.
At first, he was getting the loudest pops of any superstar. His promos were almost as good as the matches he was working—and those promos are among the best in WWE today. He benefited from solid bookings against the likes of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho.
Then came Raw’s 1,000th episode. Punk turned on The Rock when Rock came down to help him against the Big Show. He started claiming he was being disrespected by everyone, from WWE management to the folks who cleaned up after the shows.
When Punk aligned himself with Paul Heyman, the heel turn was complete. The monster pops turned into monster heat.
Now he ends the year with several questions over his head. How will his knee hold up? How will he fare against The Rock at next month’s Royal Rumble? Is he working with The Shield?
As tempting as it would be to toss a lump of coal in his stocking, the heel turn actually was a stroke of genius. A Punk mic session already was like listening to a graduate-level course of how to cut a promo. Throw in the vitriol that he routinely tosses in the direction of the fans and the other superstars, and you have the best doggone heel WWE has seen in years. So…
He gets a: Candy Cane