His current state of overwhelming frustration has been the best thing for his persona since his heel turn last summer. Punk is apparently at his best when making his way up the mountain, not being on top of it.
Some wrestlers thrive at being dominant.
Ric Flair made his championship reigns entertaining with his playboy style and slick talking. Nick Bockwinkel and Chris Jericho flourished while perched on the top of the ladder.
Punk, on the other hand, is best suited for the role of pursuer.
After Punk fended off his mightiest challengers and after he surpassed John Cena's 380-day WWE title reign, the power of Punk's performances seemed to wane.
In his celebration on Raw of being WWE champ for a full year, Punk seemed to have less spark.
When Punk mocked Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin in pantomime, he didn't even seem into it. Instead, he went through the motions half-heartedly.
Gone was the anger that fueled his transformation from anti-hero to full-on villain. His verbal skills stayed the same, but there was less conflict for him to feed on.
It almost felt as if he became complacent on the throne. This was how Punk's reign wound down. With no impetus driving him on, he had less of a story to tell.
Punk, like the New York Giants, may just be an inherently better challenger than defending champion.
Some Men Are Born the Hunter
The night after Punk's loss to The Rock, he prowled the ring with a newfound energy.
His body shook in anger. He stumbled into the ropes. He berated the crowd.
He said, "You're all no-good thieves, cheap swindlers just like Vince McMahon. Just like The Rock."
This was Punk at his best. He managed to appear both pathetic and infuriating.
Frustration must act as Punk's rocket fuel. His delivery was more emphatic here. There was more of a palpable sense of drama.
If one thinks back to Punk's career highlight—June 27, 2011—he's been riding the thrust of dissatisfaction for some time now.
It was the mix of real-life issues with how WWE had been underutilizing him and an emotive delivery that made that speech so memorable. Punk can't just keep popping off pipe bombs, but his best work will be when he is caught in a struggle, when he's wading through frustration.
It seems that if WWE is to best use the self-proclaimed best wrestler in the world, it needs to put Punk in a constant state of traveling up river.
A cheated Punk is an entertaining Punk. He needs to nearly achieve success, but have it stripped from him by a hero he can then verbally thrash.
Punk's ideal home is clearly not the mountaintop, but quicksand instead.
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