The feud between CM Punk and Paul Heyman is one of the most interesting angles WWE has come up with in quite some time.
The veteran Heyman and the ultra-talented CM Punk have created a feud that is not about wrestling at all. This feud is about personal relationships.
A feud between a wrestler and a non-wrestler can often rely on the non-wrestler having a credible wrestler to represent him. Curtis Axel is not at a level where he could believably beat Punk in a match, so Heyman has had to carry the weight in this storyline.
Various factors contribute to the success of a feud. This article will explore and grade some of them.
The Turn: B+
While Paul Heyman's turn at Money in the Bank was a great way to set this feud in motion, it was not as shocking as it should have been.
WWE not only planted some seeds to signal this feud was coming; it also all but told us the feud would happen before it happened.
Heyman's turn on Punk could have been one of the biggest shockers of the year. WWE made the decision to use the slow-burn method to build up to the obvious turn that was coming from Heyman.
Even though WWE missed out on an opportunity to shock everyone, it still planned a great storyline by taking the slow road.
The friction started after Punk returned from hiatus to face Chris Jericho at Payback. Punk got the babyface response, and you could clearly see he was not happy about Heyman nearly costing him the match.
Punk tried to respectfully tell Heyman he didn't want him ringside, but Heyman took it as a slap in the face. The feud kept building until the climax at Money in the Bank, where Heyman turned on Punk and cost him his chance to be a three-time MITB winner.
Heyman's turn was good, but it could have been a little better.
The Mic Work: A+
On one side, you have CM Punk, who is arguably the best promo man in the business today. On the other side, you have Paul Heyman, who is known as one of the best minds from the last 30 years of wrestling.
The mic work throughout this feud has been top notch in every way. Heyman's emotions seem almost genuine, especially when he talks about the betrayal he felt when Punk told him to stay away from his matches.
Punk is always great on the mic, and since he is working with a man of whom he has been a vocal supporter for many years, you can tell he is giving it every ounce of effort he has.
Curtis Axel is just there to take beatings from Punk at this point, so WWE has been smart to limit him to a few sentences and leave the rest to Paul Heyman.
Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk: A
Brock Lesnar and CM Punk had what is probably the best match Lesnar has had since returning to WWE. Punk looked like he actually posed a threat to Lesnar many times, but the best part of the match was Lesnar's obvious desire to prove he could keep up with the best in the world.
The match was brutal. Both men took multiple chair shots, including one or two to the head in one form or another, and both men used every trick in their playbooks to make this a great match.
Punk lost, but he received a standing ovation from the crowd after Heyman and Lesnar had left the ringside area.
CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman: B+
Curtis Axel and CM Punk put on a pretty good match before Punk eliminated him, but it was the beating Punk gave to Heyman and the attack by Ryback that made this match memorable.
Heyman deserves a lot of credit. He took dozens of shots from a kendo stick. Even at half speed, those things hurt worse than anyone would expect.
The attack by Ryback was totally out of the blue, and that made it more interesting than anything else he has done in recent weeks by a large margin.
By joining Heyman, Ryback has almost guaranteed a jump back up the roster into the main event scene, He might not be the next Brock Lesnar, but Heyman might be able to make us think he is better than he appears.
Ryback costing Punk the match means we will likely see Punk vs. Ryback at either Battleground or Hell in a Cell. If anyone can make Ryback look good, it's CM Punk.
The Use of Curtis Axel: D
This might be only slightly related to the overall feud, but booking Axel as Punk's whipping boy has ruined both the momentum he had after his initial debut and the remaining prestige of the intercontinental title.
The least WWE could have done was book Axel to win by cheating or with Heyman's help, but instead we have seen Axel take the brunt of Punk's punishment.
Ryback coming into the picture hopefully means Axel will focus on defending his title, because being in the feud with CM Punk has done Axel no favors.
Overall Grade for the Feud: A
Axel being booked as a sacrificial lamb keeps this feud from getting an A-plus. Everything else has been absolutely fantastic, and WWE might be able to keep thing interesting by bringing Ryback into the mix.
Before this one, it had been a pretty long time since a nontitle feud was the most interesting feud going on, but Punk and Heyman have managed to outshine the WWE champion and his rival every week.
WWE can probably get at least one or two more PPVs out of this feud before it will be forced to have Punk move on, but if the rest of this feud is anything like what we have seen thus far, it will be a great ride.
What are your thoughts on the CM Punk and Paul Heyman feud, and how would you grade the different elements listed above?
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