WWE Payback: Will CM Punk Be Ready to Shine in Chicago?

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WWE Payback: Will CM Punk Be Ready to Shine in Chicago?
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I often appreciate the comments that are left after I write columns and slideshows here on Bleacher Report. While I do not always agree with the readers of the site, I respect their viewpoints and often write other columns based on them.

This is one of those times.

In writing “Curtis Axel: What Is the Real Meaning Behind His Sudden Push?” the other day, I wanted to portray Axel as a man who may be good for the WWE, but his sudden push may be squandered because of the lack of faces who could put the “Next Big Thing” over in the WWE.

Then, I was reminded by one of Bleacher Report’s readers, Benjamin Halverson, what the meaning of Axel's place in the company is about:

The real meaning is this, CM Punk is not ready to come back yet and they don't want to pre-maturely burn up Lesnar's dates so they needed some excuse to keep Heyman (one of the best things going) front and center in their programs...Axel is a stopgap and a low risk gamble where he is useful if he succeeds and useful if he doesn't.

Thanks, Benjamin, for allowing me to see this from another angle, but also to allow me to answer the question, “What if CM Punk is not ready for WWE Payback?”

The company needs Punk now more than ever. Apparently, his time off from the WWE has not been long enough (48 days so far) for his injuries to heal and for the “Second City Saint” to be at full speed in time for the next pay-per-view.

In an article via Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc.com), the company wants Punk in the ring for the upcoming pay-per-view. Nothing else has been said since the clip was written on May 9 by Mark Middleton.

If he cannot compete in his own hometown, it would be a shocking set of circumstances, but it would also be a shocking blow to cable buys and the WWE, itself.

Punk delivered the most shocking performance in WWE history when he walked away with the WWE title two years ago at Money in the Bank and "left the company" and proved to the wrestling world just how important he is to the business and just how valuable a commodity he is to the company.

I still think he is more valuable to the company than the man carrying the WWE title right now. That is just my opinion.

If Punk cannot go, then yes, Axel makes sense and he has a shelf life until Punk makes his triumphant return. But what happens after that?

Does Punk turn on Heyman, Lesnar and Axel? Does Punk, again, change character (which I also think is a mistake) and becomes the beloved favorite of the WWE Universe? A “heel” Punk is just like a Punk without the WWE title; he is more hungry, gives a better promo and relates better to the WWE fans with his words and his actions.

If Punk remains out of action until we get to SummerSlam, it could be a great thing for Axel, and he will get the push he needs. But the WWE itself will be in despair because yet another WWE Superstar will have sat on the sidelines for an extended period of time while things within the company continued to fall apart.

Oh wait, that is already happening.

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