WWE Payback: Will Punk's Return Equal Jericho's Redemption?

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2013

Photo Credit: WWE.com
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Just over a year ago, Chris Jericho made his return to World Wrestling Entertainment and wasted little time in setting his sights on the man known to fans across the globe as "The Best in the World," CM Punk. After all, it had been Jericho who first took to referring to himself as the best, and now Punk was providing opposition to that claim.

The program developed quickly, and the rivalry led to two outstanding matches in the spring of 2012.

At WrestleMania 28, Jericho and Punk engaged in an extraordinary display of hold and counterhold that saw then-WWE champion Punk withstand the onslaught of offense from his challenger and apply the Anaconda Vise for the submission win.

Four weeks later, they would enter Chicago's Allstate Arena for Extreme Rules—the WWE title once again on the line. This time, however, technical wrestling would be replaced in favor of a more personal, hardcore street fight in front of the friends and family of the so-called "Second City Saint."

Again, Punk proved to be the better man.

Now, some 14 months later, those same two men enter that same arena for a third pay-per-view bout. Like last April, Punk will have his friends and family in attendance, while Jericho will step through the curtain faced with a hostile crowd that cannot wait to see him lose.

Unlike last year, where it was Punk fighting to secure his championship, Jericho now has the most to fight for. It is not a championship or a No. 1 contender's opportunity. No, Y2J enters the Allstate Arena in hopes of achieving redemption, of proving that he is every bit as good as the man touted as the best in the world.

There are no fake concussions creating family drama to help hype a floundering angle. There is no need for gimmicks, such as lumberjacks or ambulance matches, to help sell a match fans are having a difficult time getting excited for.

Instead, the battle between Jericho and Punk centers around pride and around redemption. And fans will always be able to connect with a man looking to make amends for past failures. It is a story fans can relate to, and as a result, Jericho and Punk will not only have fans eating out of the palms of their hands, they will also steal the show.

And for Jericho, a win would not only erase the disappointment of his return a year ago, it would establish this year's return as an unbridled success.