Paul Heyman is set to reunite with client CM Punk at WWE Payback, which will be held live just outside Punk's hometown of Chicago.
Punk is currently a heel aligned with the decidedly sleazy heel manager. Regardless, he will receive a hero's welcome inside the Allstate Arena. Even if he cuts a promo confirming he has renewed the World Series curse of the Chicago Cubs, the love affair between Punk and the Second City will still flow like a fine wine.
Come June 16, he'll be a sitting duck.
It's an unwritten rule and hardly an unprecedented storyline: The manager reunites with his client after one of them sees a long layoff, only for things to go awry.
It happened when Triple H returned from hiatus to join manager-friend-bromance Ric Flair in tag team action. Following a victory against Carlito and Chris Masters, Triple H bludgeoned the living legend with a sledgehammer.
The shoe was on the other foot when Eric Bischoff was brought back to WCW TV in 2000. His first order of business was to turn on longtime client Hulk Hogan, leading to an improbable win for new flame Billy Kidman.
The pseudo-tradition goes as far back as the days of the Memphis wrestling territories, where Jimmy Hart didn't even wait for Lawler to return from a leg injury to betray him. Speaking analogously, Hart famously said of an injured Jerry Lawler, "What do you do when a horse breaks his leg? Baby, you shoot him!"
Last time CM Punk was seen in a WWE ring, he inexplicably walked out of it, leaving Paul Heyman dumbfounded. Heyman will now have cause to deem CM Punk weak, coming off of three consecutive pay-per-view losses before taking a sabbatical.
Upon his return, Punk will be showered with praise in a sea of Rosemont admirers when he wrestles the comparably popular Chris Jericho. It will be the perfect setting for an eventual double turn in a match in which Jericho will already be the de facto heel.
Will Paul Heyman turn on CM Punk at Payback?
This past week on Raw, Heyman was sure to point out that Chris Jericho is also a Paul Heyman guy. The claim was a nod to Jericho's brief stint in ECW, where he made his first impression on the national wrestling scene.
Jericho's character has become stale due to his excessive losses since his return. A Jericho heel turn with the endorsement of Paul Heyman will spawn a handful of summer storylines that will bolster WWE's business.
With Mark Henry injured and Big E. Langston in the embryonic phases of a face turn, WWE's current and potential top heels are few and far between. Should Ryback lose to Cena in the Three Stages of Hell match at Payback—a likely scenario—Jericho could be the perfect candidate to trifle with Cena's WWE championship hopes for a month or two.
As for CM Punk, a natural one-off program between him and Brock Lesnar could culminate at SummerSlam, with Brock Lesnar doing Paul Heyman's bidding.