When the dissension between Paul Heyman and CM Punk began at WWE Payback last month, it was rather obvious what it was leading to.
Punk had been off of TV for roughly two months, and as one of the WWE’s most beloved stars, it was always going to be next to impossible to bring him back as anything but a babyface.
Unsurprisingly, the catalyst for Punk’s face turn has been the man who has been by his side for the last year now, Paul Heyman.
Punk is generating some of the biggest babyface pops in the WWE right now, and yet, he still hasn’t been able to completely distance himself from Heyman, who is arguably the most hated heel in the company at the moment.
Clearly, the WWE is going with a slow burn here, with the dissension between Heyman and Punk gradually developing over time before it inevitably explodes.
Anyone who’s been watching the WWE over the past few weeks knows that the beef between Punk and Heyman is eventually going to reach a boiling point. What’s less clear, however, is exactly when that point will come.
Logic says that it will ultimately be revealed that Heyman ordered Brock Lesnar’s attack on Punk and that Heyman has aligned himself with Lesnar after Punk told him that his services as a manager were no longer needed.
It’s also probable that Punk and Lesnar will go one-on-one in one of the main events of SummerSlam, at which point the feud between the two will come to a climax.
But exactly when will Heyman officially turn on Punk and turn the dissension between the two into all-out hatred?
That time will come at Money in the Bank.
Although it would be great to see the WWE let this story play out over the course of several months, the company is famous for rushing or condensing angles in order to get to the big payoff sooner rather than later.
Realistically speaking, the feud between Punk and Lesnar is one that could play out all the way to the Royal Rumble or even WrestleMania 30, primarily because Lesnar isn’t around all that often.
But with the WWE likely wanting Lesnar vs. Punk to happen at SummerSlam, the friendship between Punk and Heyman is bound to be blown to smithereens at Money in the Bank.
Punk has made it clear that he doesn’t want Heyman in his corner for his matches anymore, and when Punk participates in the MITB “All Stars” match, Heyman probably won’t be with Punk at the beginning of the bout. But when the match is almost over, that’s when Heyman will finally make his presence felt.
One of two potential scenarios could play out here: Either Heyman could inadvertently cost Punk the Money in the Bank match, or he could purposely do so.
The first scenario could see Punk nearing a victory in the match, only for—in a finish similar to John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler at WWE TLC 2012—Heyman to push the ladder down and cost Punk the match. This would undoubtedly turn the ongoing dissension between Punk and Heyman into a full-fledged rivalry.
In the second scenario, Heyman could, in what he thinks are in the best interests of his friend, try to help Punk when it looks like Punk is going to lose (or even win) the match—only to actually end up costing Punk the match instead.
This would be a rather interesting scenario that could immediately cause Punk to explode and go crazy on Heyman, or perhaps it would just cause more dissension that would spill over to the episode of Raw after Money in the Bank.
Regardless, there really isn’t a whole lot of time between now and SummerSlam, and judging by what’s happened on TV recently, Punk vs. Lesnar is going to be the main event (or one of the main events) of that PPV.
In order for that to happen, though, the WWE will need to pull the trigger on fully igniting an actual rivalry between Heyman and Punk rather than just teasing dissension between the two.
There’s no better place for that to happen than at Money in the Bank.
At the PPV, Punk will be just one step away from regaining the championship that he held for a whopping 434 days, and Heyman will be just one step away from costing him that match.
If Heyman is truly aligned with Lesnar, as it appears, then expect him to turn his back on Punk at Money in the Bank and set the wheels in motion for one of the biggest feuds of 2013.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!