CM Punk is embarking on his latest WWE run, a run that began a few weeks ago when he returned at Payback to face Chris Jericho. Though Punk played the heel in that match, he was in front of his hometown crowd in Chicago and has since rode the wave of crowd support to a definite face turn in the company.
And I have to say, I for one miss the heel CM Punk.
Before I go any further, let me assure you that this is not one of those pieces that criticizes a WWE Superstar for changing sides. There are far too many fans out there that often tend to get a little too caught up in that topic for my taste.
At the end of the day, it just sounds like a lot of complaining and whining to me. So trust me, that is not what’s happening here.
The fact is I just happen to believe that Punk is a great heel and I feel that his last run was perhaps the best of his WWE career. And that is not exactly an easy thing to say about a Superstar who has had such a successful career as a heel.
After all, we cannot discount the feud that Punk had with Jeff Hardy back in 2009. The straight-edge Superstar used his belief system as a weapon against Jeff and called him out on his own lifestyle outside of the ring. For some fans out there, Punk was merely speaking the truth.
But for the majority of fans, Punk became one of WWE’s most hated heels.
Then there’s the CM Punk who decided to spread his gospel to three fellow believers when he formed the Straight Edge Society later in 2009. Just when we thought that Punk could not get anymore devious, any more controversial, he goes and does exactly that.
The SES was an extension of Punk’s extremist heel persona. Everything Punk said, they echoed. Everything he did, they mimicked. Luke Gallows, Joseph Mercury and Serena blindly followed Punk on his mission, and they quickly became one of the most successful heel stables of all time.
So how do you top that?
How do you top a smiling CM Punk who is painted up like Jeff Hardy, all in an attempt to psych him out? How do you top an iron-fisted CM Punk who spews forth his rhetoric in a cult-like faction who obey him as if he were Christ himself?
Try dumping an urn full of ashes onto The Undertaker and then bathing in it.
CM Punk’s character stooped to lows that fans have never seen and brought the controversy like he never has before. He was relentless in his pursuit of Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak and unstoppable when it came to drawing heat with the crowd.
There was nothing that Punk would not say, nothing that he would not do. With Paul Heyman by his side, Punk’s arrogance was accentuated even more, and he became a better heel and a stronger performer because of it.
And now it’s all over.
Now, CM Punk is smiling again. He is working the crowd, getting them to react. He is showing respect to other Superstars like Randy Orton, something that he never would have done during his last run. Punk is playing nice with everyone around him, and for right now, we are encountering a kinder, gentler CM Punk.
Again, I’m not complaining that Punk’s character changed. The fact is that this is WWE we’re talking about here; that’s what guys do. The moment fans get comfortable with a Superstar is usually the moment that the guy makes a significant change in character.
This is the way it works in pro wrestling: stars go up and down; back and forth. It’s all part of the character’s evolution, about keeping it as fresh and as current as possible. Let’s face it, Punk had done so much as a heel that by the time he faced Undertaker at WrestleMania 29, he was practically out of tricks.
It was time to move on, and that’s exactly what he did. I get it; the concept makes perfect sense to me.
But the truth is that I will miss CM Punk as a heel. He was so good at being bad, such a natural at being controversial, that it’s hard to imagine him being able to top it as a babyface. But if anyone can do it, Punk can.
And I won’t complain about it when he does.