CM Punk's Absence and How It Is Affecting the WWE Product

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2013

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CM Punk last appeared on WWE programming back on April 15, when he cut one final promo before hugging Paul Heyman and leaving the ring.  Though the moment was fairly surprising, the fact is that we knew Punk was due to take some time off.  This was just the company’s way of giving him an exit. 

But now that he’s gone, the question is, how has his absence affected the WWE product?

We are so accustomed to seeing Punk in the ring, having one 5-star match after another, outworking nearly everyone else in the locker room.  He has made a career of stepping through the ropes and putting on a show, to the point that we expect it from him.

How do you replace that?

The truth is, you don’t.  When you have a guy like Punk, who gives his all in the ring and leaves the crowd wanting more, it is almost impossible to just insert someone else into his spot.  But that does not mean that WWE is not trying.

The most obvious name that comes to mind is Dolph Ziggler, the current World Heavyweight champion.  Dolph has become a workhorse in WWE, a Superstar who turns it on from the opening bell to the ending bell.  Ziggler takes pride in what he does and it shows every time he performs.

But is he filling the void left by Punk?

Chris Jericho is another great example.  Chris is a veteran, a guy who can step up in any match against any opponent and have the best bout of the night.  Jericho is no stranger to the main event scene and he is also one of the best that WWE has ever seen.

Not a bad fill-in, wouldn’t you say?

Daniel Bryan impresses every time he’s in the ring.  Since his tag team with Kane began, Bryan has gotten red hot and is more than capable of having a high-quality match on any given night.  There are many fans who feel that Punk’s former Ring of Honor nemesis should be given a new main event singles push and perhaps even the World title at some point this year.

I cannot argue that point at all. 

But what about Punk’s ability on the mic?  CM Punk is quite simply one of the best talkers that WWE has ever known and has cut some of the most memorable promos of all time. Punk has the ability to either make you love him and want to cheer him or make you hate him and want to see him dead.  He is a master on the mic.

So, how do you replace that?

Paul Heyman is without a doubt the man who has kept the microphone warm for CM Punk.  In the month since Punk left WWE, Paul has entertained on the mic as only he can.  Heyman just makes it look easy, and the fact is that he may very well be the best talent to ever cut a promo in WWE and not be a ring worker.

Collectively, The Shield is very good at grabbing your attention when the three members speak.  Their backstage promos are always well done and all three men have become completely absorbed in their characters.  When Dean Ambrose speaks, you can feel the intensity.  He sets the tone for The Shield’s promos and each one makes its own unique impact.

John Cena is s genius on the mic, a man who can hold an arena full of fans in the palm of his hand when he speaks.  His timing is impeccable, his jokes are hilarious and whenever he starts talking, the world just seems to slow down for a moment so we can all enjoy.

OK, I was kidding on that last one.  I was just having a bit of fun—relax people.

The truth is that CM Punk is very hard to replace.  He is a technician in the ring and a great talker on the mic.  He is the definition of the modern-day WWE Superstar and he improves the company’s programming anytime he is on TV.

So, what is the opinion among fans?

For those who love CM Punk, he cannot come back soon enough.  The WWE product is struggling without him and has quite frankly grown stale and boring.  He brings an edge to the company that no one else can and until he returns, it will just not be the same.

For Punk’s critics, however, the fact is that the guy is just overrated.  He whined and complained until he got the main event spot he wanted and once he got it, he lost his edge overnight. For these people, Punk could just stay home because he doesn’t add a thing to the company.

Where do you stand?  Do you think that WWE is just not fun anymore without CM Punk?  Are you patiently waiting for his return, anxious for the moment when he takes his place back in the main event spotlight?

Are you a CM Punk guy?